NOTE: Star Trek is copyright by Paramount and Viacom. This is a work of non-profit fan fiction and no copyright infringement is intended. This story is copyright 2000 by Jade Nocturnias and may not be posted, distributed, or linked to without my consent. Rated NC17.



Rise

Jade Nocturnias



Commander Spock glanced carefully around him. The landing party was so far meeting his usual standards of excellence and expectations. Everyone working efficiently and quickly to scan and categorize the previously unknown planet. Why he felt a small twinge of unease was illogical and beyond his comprehension. He firmly pushed it away as Dr. McCoy practically bounced to his side, sporting a huge grin across his normally scowling features.

"Yes, Doctor?" he inquired calmly.

"Spock, this place is a gold mine!"

"Gold mine, Doctor?" Spock asked with a slight frown. "I have detected no sensor readings indicating that minerals of that type are present here. Are you informing me that my tricorder is malfunctioning?"

McCoy made a small "Humph!" and rolled his eyes. "No, Spock, what I mean is, this place is rich! Rich in plant life! Why, there must be well over a hundred new species! Who knows what sort of diseases we might be able to treat or prevent with this treasure trove!" He smiled again, knowing it was wasted on the likes of Spock but feeling too happy to care.

"I am gratified to hear that, Doctor," Spock told him. "It is indeed fortuitous that I detected the planet before we left this system. Although it is odd that it did not show up during my initial scan…"

"Who cares, Spock! What's important is that you found it!"

Spock resisted the urge to sigh. It was no use trying to discuss anything with McCoy when he was in such an emotionally excited frame of mind. He merely nodded, turning his gaze towards Christine Chapel as she walked over to them.

"Dr. McCoy, my analysis of these flowers shows high levels of bortaite," she told him, showing him the soft purple blossoms with curling leaves and deep red stems. "There are larger quantities in a field about 50 meters from here, and what looks to be another species of the same genus. I'd like to go investigate them."

"Sounds like a great idea, Nurse Chapel. Spock, why don't you go with her to help? We've got everything under control here."

Spock inclined his head slightly. "A logical suggestion, Doctor. I will accompany you, Miss Chapel. Where is this field?"

"Thirty degrees southwest, sir," she replied, waving her hand in the general direction of the meadow.

Spock turned to McCoy. "Join us after you finish here. I would like to take numerous samples of these plants."

"You got it," McCoy replied, and then wandered off towards a beckoning Sulu.

"Shall we proceed, Miss Chapel?"

"Yes, sir."

The field smelled of sunlight and flowers. Christine sighed to herself, thinking of how different this would be if the situation was different between her and Spock. Oh, well. No point dwelling along those lines, she reminded herself firmly. Instead she walked around taking readings and preparing sample containers. That was the safest thing for her to do; keep her mind occupied on her work.

She came to a halt at the sight of the hole. It was a good three meters across and she had no idea how deep. Abruptly her tricorder began a series of erratic signals that soon had Spock at her side. They both stood gazing from the readings towards the hole. "Fascinating," Spock said. "There is an indication of a metallic structure 2.3 kilometers below the surface."

"I wonder why we didn't pick this up before?" Christine asked.

"I, too, am at a loss to understand it," Spock confessed. "I shall call the Captain and alert him of our findings." He started to pull out his communicator when they both heard a small rumbling from inside the hole. "What was that?!" Christine exclaimed.

Two smooth metal arms shot out of the hole, one wrapping itself around each of their waists, and Spock and Christine had been pulled in before they even had a chance to react. The grass and earth began to pull itself back over the opening, and a moment later the hole vanished as though it had never existed. A muffled scream came from underneath where it had been. Then all was silent.



* * *

"What the hell do you mean, vanished?" Captain Kirk asked McCoy. "People don't just disappear, Bones, especially not Spock! Now tell me again what happened!"

"Jim, all I know is that Spock and Nurse Chapel went off to get some flower samples, and now nobody can find a single trace of them! No tricorder readings, no tracks, no nothing! I don't understand it any better than you do, but those are the facts!" McCoy's voice was haggard and worried.

"All right, Bones. Sorry. I'm beaming down to your coordinates. Kirk out."

* * *

Christine woke slowly. She was disorientated, slightly sore, but other than that she felt fine. She could feel light and heat, though neither in large quantities. She heard the faint sound of running water along with other sounds she couldn't identify. Her head lolled for a moment before the memory of what happened jerked her quickly upright.

Spock!

She forced herself to open her eyes, wincing slightly as they adjusted to even the small amount of illumination. It was coming from a large circular globe suspended from the ceiling about twenty feet away from her. The room had walls made of rock, with metal beams suspended from the top running the length of the room. There was one other light, at the other end of the room, suspended from a beam as well. The effect was not much stronger than candlelight, but it was enough for her to see the contents of the room. Including Spock.

He was lying on his back on a metal table about two feet away from her. Like hers, his head rested on a cushion; unlike her, he seemed to be unconscious. He was strapped down spread-eagled and with a shock she saw he was nude. It was only then that she realized that she was in the same predicament. As she gazed from her body to his, his eyes opened and stared into hers.

She watched him as he assessed their situation, raising an eyebrow and keeping his full attention on her face as he spoke.

"Are you injured, Miss Chapel?"

"No, Mr. Spock. Are you?"

"Except for some mild bruising, I appear to be undamaged." His eyes moved around the room. "Most interesting."

Secure in the knowledge that Spock was all right, Christine joined him in looking at their prison. There were several small machines positioned within a few yards of them, as well as one console that had two sets of wires with what looked like electrodes attached to them. Shiny metal trays stood nearby the machines, holding tools whose functions she could not even begin to guess, and didn't want to.

'We're in a lab,' she thought. The implications made her shudder involuntarily.

Spock seemed to have reached the same conclusion, for he turned to face her again and said: "It would appear that we are to be subjects for some unknown test."

"I think you're right," Christine said quietly.

The sound of soft, scraping footsteps echoed from outside their room. Christine swallowed hard as fear stung her eyes and sent her pulse exploding.

She glanced towards the entrance, then back at Spock.

"And I think we're about to meet the test administrator."

There were more footsteps. Whatever it was, either it didn't move very fast, or it was deliberately taking its time. Whatever the reason, it only served to prolong the anxiety Christine was experiencing. Spock pulled on his restraints, shaking his head at her hopeful face. Her heart sank. The footsteps grew closer. Just when Christine thought she would go crazy from the waiting, it appeared.

The creature was huge, easily nine feet tall, with long shaggy white fur that brought to Christine's mind a Yeti. Its eyes were green and glowed even in the dim light. Its large hands looked surprisingly graceful. Its feet were long and had three toes on each one, each toe ending with a small claw. It shuffled its way into the room, coming to a stop between the two captive officers.

Spock raised an eyebrow, and then spoke. "I am Commander Spock of the U.S.S. Enterprise. You are keeping us here against our will. Do you understand me?"

The creature cocked its head in puzzlement. Then a broad smile punctuated by tiny pointed teeth lighted its features. It pointed at his mouth and then smiled again.

"It would appear that our captor cannot understand us," Spock told Christine.

"It looks like it. Although it does seem happy to know that you can make sounds." She didn't want to think about why.

"Indeed." Spock looked up again. "Can you understand me?" he asked again.

Their keeper smiled again, making a few guttural sounds in a language Spock could not even begin to fathom. If it was even a language. Before Spock could say more, the being extended an arm and touched his hair with its long slender fingers.

Spock stopped himself from acting out of reflex. He lay still as the creature ran its fingers over his face and ears, then began to roam down his body. He found it hard to keep from reacting, but he knew the situation called for him to endure it. When the hand brushed over his genitals, he closed his eyes. Inwardly he trembled at the violation, even though he knew it was simple curiosity that drove its actions.

Christine forced herself not to watch. She didn't want to add to Spock's shame. A moment later her body jerked as she felt the hand on her, wandering and learning. She squeezed her eyes shut and gritted her teeth, determined to follow Spock's example. After a few minutes the fingers were gone and she opened her eyes to find Spock looking at her.

"I… regret you had to endure that," he said quietly.

She shook her head. "It wasn't your fault. It's probably very curious about us."

"I agree. That prospect is, however, not a pleasing one." At her puzzled expression he explained: "What other… inquiries will it make in its effort to learn more about its specimens?"

Her eyes widened as her face turned grave. "I see what you mean."

The sound of metal clanging made them both turn their heads. The creature was pulling a tray closer to them, and Spock knew that their ordeal had only just begun.

The being favored them with another grin and stepped between them again, looking from one to the other as though uncertain of which one of them to start with. Finally it seemed to reach a decision; because it turned and rummaged around in the tray for a moment before it took out something polished and pointed. Then it moved to stand beside Spock.

Spock jerked reflexively as a slender piece of cold metal touched his face and then he was motionless. There were several small devices attached to the probe. The creature shone a light into his eyes, watching as his pupils contracted and expanded as the light was turned on and off. Another attachment went into his left ear, emitting a whining noise that increased and decreased in volume. Their captor seemed to take note of the range of sounds Spock could and could not hear. His nose and mouth were prodded as well, with the being making notes into some kind of recording device. Spock glimpsed the text when it set the object down. The symbols were complex groupings unlike anything he had ever seen. He had serious doubts about being able to communicate with the being in any way that it would comprehend. After a time it put the scope away and shuffled back to dig through the rest of its equipment.

A moment later it returned to Spock carrying a small black metal box. A thin wire ran from the box and ended in a pair of what resembled electrodes. The being put them on Spock's temples, then turned a small dial on the box. A mild electric current jolted through him. It continued to turn the dial, increasing the current by degrees. Spock gritted his teeth and set his mind in his disciplines for as long as he could bear it, until he could not suppress a small gasp of pain. The creature immediately stopped, made copious notes, then moved the electrical devices to his chest and repeated the process.

By the time it was over, Spock was weak and slightly nauseated. It seemed to understand that something was not well, for it removed the devices completely and put the apparatus away on the tray. It then slowly headed out of the room. Christine hoped it would be a long time in returning.

"Mr. Spock? Are you going to be all right?" she asked softly, twisting her head to see him.

He raised an eyebrow wearily. "There is no serious damage. Given a few hours I shall recover."

"I hope we get that option," she said, casting a worried glance towards the entrance. But there was no sound of footsteps.

"Indeed," Spock said in a near-whisper. "Doubtless there might be more experiments to come."

She managed not to let the terror his words struck in her show on her face, but it seemed as though he could sense her distress. "Perhaps we should attempt to rest," he suggested. "I do not see an immediate way of escaping our predicament. We should be alert for the first opportunity that presents itself."

She opened her mouth to ask him if he was insane, suggesting such a thing at a time like this, but stopped. His idea was logical; just because she was in no mood to hear it was no excuse to snap at him. Instead she nodded, casting one last glance at him before closing her eyes and desperately willing herself to sleep.

* * *

Christine awoke to the sound of clanging. She didn't want to look, but she knew that was only postponing the inevitable. Reluctantly she opened her eyes to see the creature dragging a glass chamber into their room. It was about three meters tall, six meters wide, and four meters deep, with several small holes. There were small knobs on the side, along with several gauges with silvery needles. The being attached some black hoses to the holes back of the chamber, then stood back looking at its handiwork for a moment before walking to them.

Spock was awake now as well and watched it with calm but wary eyes. The creature moved to Christine, unfastening her restraints and pulling her to her feet. She stumbled for a second before regaining her balance, looking at it inquiringly. It pointed not at the chamber, but towards a dark corner of the room. She began walking in that direction. She discovered there was something that seemed to be a toilet there and a small device that ran a continuous stream of very warm water. She managed to use the alien latrine, washing her hands in the water afterwards. The creature then prodded her into a nearby stall made of the same material as the chamber. She realized that it wasn't glass after all; it felt more like plastic but seemed very durable. More warm water ran out of a hose at the top. She was given something that passed for soap and a large piece of fabric. She felt somewhat self-conscious but realized that this was a pointless reaction. She washed her body and hair thoroughly, drying herself off with the cloth when she was finished. The material was thick and extremely absorbent; it seemed to almost suck the moisture out of her hair and off her body. Within a few minutes she was amazed to find herself completely dry.

She was taken back to her table and once again restrained as Spock was allowed to use the latrine and shower. He, too, seemed somewhat surprised by the material of the towel. When he was finished he was brought back and strapped down again as well. At least their captor seemed to have a basic understanding of anatomy and physical needs, hopefully because they were similar in both their species.

She wondered what the purpose of the chamber was. It was big enough to comfortably accommodate both her and Spock, but for what reason? She didn't know, but she was certain they would eventually find out. She hoped they would get some kind of nourishment soon; she was starting to feel mild hunger pangs. She pushed the thought of food away as another box with electrodes was brought out, this time attached to her temples. She glanced at Spock, fear visibly written in her eyes. His gaze calmed her somewhat. She took several deep breaths, mentally trying to prepare herself for whatever was going to come.



The being hadn't finished, however. It went back over to Spock and attached more of the electrodes to him as well. Christine lay shivering, though she wasn't cold. What was going to happen now? She hated the waiting. It gave her too much time to think.



She didn't have to wait long. She saw the small sparks fly as Spock was jolted with a current. Each one got a little stronger. As she watched, his features went from stoic to tense, until finally he seemed almost ready to scream. She could smell the tiny crackling bolts from where she lay helpless. As his pain had become more evident, she had become more agitated and angry, pulling at her bonds though she knew it was useless, her worry for him written darkly across her pale face. And still it went on.



Finally she couldn't stand it any longer. She found her voice and brought all her rage and pain into being through it as she screamed: "STOP! You're going to kill him!!"



Immediately the creature turned the dials and the currents ceased. She sagged back onto the table, watching Spock's body trembling with the aftershock of the electricity. His eyes were glazed slightly and unfocused, but he didn't seem to be seriously injured. She breathed a silent sigh of relief.



The creature was gazing at her curiously, seemingly looking at one set of readings, then another. When it had finished, it turned a different set of dials, and Christine braced herself as she felt the first shock. It was very mild, like rubbing your feet on carpet and touching something conductive. However, she knew that was only the beginning.



Within seconds wave after wave of pain coursed through her. She gritted her teeth, but it didn't help and she shrieked in agony from the intensity of it. A small trickle of blood ran from her mouth. Dimly she heard Spock scream for their captor to stop.



Once again the machine was turned off at once. Spock called her name, but she seemed to be unconscious. He shot a glance at their captor. More comparing, more notes. Spock watched in curiosity and a slight sense of unease. He understood what the being was doing. It was not only comparing their tolerances, but also comparing their responses to seeing the other one being hurt. Studying physical strengths and emotional weaknesses. Whatever other kinds of tests it would run would probably have similar qualities. Spock could not fully speculate. But he knew that he did not want to be a research subject.



* * *

Christine stood under a stream of steaming water, trying to collect herself. It had been a few hours since she had awakened to the sound of Spock calling her name. His voice had been cool, yet there had been an undertone of rich warmth in its urgency. On the other hand, maybe it was only her dilapidated condition that caused her to think so. She had dragged herself back to consciousness to find their researcher standing over her as Spock called to her. Sweat coldly matted her hair and face and she tasted her own blood. The being trailed a large furred finger down her cheek while she shuddered. Then, in a gesture totally at odds with its earlier behavior, it took a warm damp cloth and cleaned the blood away.

Now she was in the shower, making a mighty effort to keep her wits about her. So far she was succeeding. It wouldn't do for her to break down now, not in front of Spock. She might be Human, but she was capable of control. And she was determined to show both of them that.



She wondered what was happening aboard the Enterprise at that moment. Doubtless the captain was leaving no stone unturned to try and find them, and doubtless Leonard was having a fit of the vapors. She was certain that she and Spock wound be found… wasn't she? She didn't know for certain. She had long ago concluded that they had been allowed to suddenly pick up that tricorder reading. It had been the bait for the trap. What if the crew couldn't locate them? Or, maybe worse, what if their captor decided that it wanted more specimens?



She was pulled from her thoughts by a hesitant rapping sound on the door of the shower. She jumped, turning around reflexively, then stared with open dismay as Spock opened the door, prodded to do so by the creature. She quickly lowered her eyes and turned back towards the water, cursing to herself the entire time. What sadistic maneuver was this?



She realized, rationally, that the creature probably had no idea of what it was doing, that it had brought Spock in because he, too, needed a bath. She would have to accept it, just as Spock would. In spite of her pragmatism, she could not stop the small shiver that went through her as she felt him close to her. He seemed to be waiting for a response of some kind; she sighed and turned to look at him.



"I am sorry," he said quietly.



She cocked her head. "There's nothing for you to be sorry for, Mr. Spock. This is no more your choice than mine."



"Indeed. It would seem our captor does not have any idea of how Humanoid species do and do not interact."



"Isn't that the purpose behind all this? It's learning about us?"



"True," Spock replied. An apologetic look crossed his features. "If you will permit me…"



"Of course," Christine replied, moving out of his way and turning her back to him as he bathed. She congratulated herself on her poise, reminding herself that this was a very grave situation and no time to be thinking about Spock being so close to her. That would, put simply, not be good.



He just had time to finish before the water was turned off and their keeper returned, pointing a small metal device that was probably a weapon at them. 'We could try and disarm it,' Christine thought.



Spock had obviously reached the same conclusion, for he suddenly sprang at their captor.



What happened next was so fast it was almost a blur to Christine. But she saw Spock strike the being, trying to knock the weapon away and saw that not only did the creature not drop the weapon, it didn't seem to even be injured. It then proceeded to strike Spock with a blow that seemed to be a small gesture on its part, but sent Spock stumbling back a good four of five feet. She had moved to help him, but by the time she did the device was being pointed squarely at her. The being gestured for Spock to move back over to her. Christine debated. Should she try and distract it so Spock could try again?

She didn't get the chance to choose. The being fired first at Spock, then at her. Christine couldn't see anything, but she heard a noise and suddenly felt extremely lightheaded. She stumbled, tried to clear her head, but it took all her effort just to remain standing. Dimly she registered that it was having the same effect on Spock. Having little choice otherwise, they allowed themselves to be pushed forward. This time, instead of returning them to the tables, they were directed to enter the box the creature had brought in previously.



Christine blinked. Inside the once-empty cube there were now what seemed to be 2 beds. There was also another of the strange commodes. Her heart skipped a beat as she realized that they would apparently be staying in there indefinitely. 'Why?' she thought. 'What the hell does all of this mean?' She could see nothing attached to the box, except the hoses. It seemed to just be a… cell. And why the hoses? The air was breathable in the cave. Or were they being put into a sealed environment for some reason?



Maybe, she thought, it was ready to see how they would interact together. It was a thought she could take no comfort in save that they would no longer be strapped down to metal tables. They were herded into the box, the door closing behind them, the creature staring at them for a moment before lumbering away.



When the being was no longer in sight, they slowly turned to look at each other. As if suddenly remembering they were both naked, they then directed their gazes towards the room. On each bed was something that appeared to be a robe. Christine picked hers up; it was black and made of the same material as their towels. She put it on, finding it warm and soft. It went nearly to her knees. Spock put his on as well. He was pleased to have the garment, although somewhat at a loss to understand why the clothing had been given to them. Perhaps their captor had somehow discerned their discomfort in being without clothes. If so, it was learning quickly and able to pick up on nuances that seemed unknown to its own species. It obviously had a fairly high intellect. Perhaps they would be able to communicate with it eventually after all.



He broke from his thoughts when the being came back, this time bringing them what seemed to be food. Small brown square cakes of some type and what seemed to serve as glasses and a pitcher of water. It set them down inside the box, pointed at them and then at the food, then left. When they tasted the cakes they were surprisingly good, sweet with a slightly nutty flavor that brought to Christine's mind walnut bread. The water was cold and pure, and both of them quickly consumed the meal.



When they had finished the creature took the glasses and pitcher, then ushered both of them back to the tables. Christine breathed a sigh of relief that they were allowed to keep their robes on as they were bound to the tables. She hated being unclothed. It made her feel more vulnerable. Not to mention the awkwardness of being that way in front of Spock, with him stripped as well.



For the next few hours, their sense of smell was tested. The being placed different objects in front of them, then recorded any reactions they made. It used a variety of plants, flowers, even the skins of some small animals. Some of the things were native to the planet's surface; others were items that neither Spock nor Christine could recognize. One flower reminded Christine of a cross between roses and orchids, and she enjoyed the scent despite the circumstances. By contrast, a small piece of something that resembled moss had such a foul arid scent that she retched a bit as soon as it got near her. It seemed to have a similar effect on Spock, though he only showed by a slight twitch of his nostrils.



When this was over, their hearing was investigated. Small devices were placed over their ears, and numerous sounds were played at varying volumes and frequencies. Some sounds appeared to be too high for Christine to hear but not Spock; on the other side of that, he could not tolerate listening to certain pitches as well as she could. Several times she was afraid their eardrums would burst, the sounds were so loud; fortunately as soon as the creature saw that they were in pain it apparently recognized their distress and stopped. For lab rats they were being fairly well treated, Christine thought… at least for now.



When these tests were over they were directed to shower again and again they were put in together. They simply took turns turning their backs as the other one showered. Spock wondered at the frequency of the bathing, but could only speculate that perhaps that was how often their captor's species practiced cleansing themselves.



He had spent the past two days analyzing their situation, trying to determine a means of escape. So far he had not come up with one. Perhaps when they were left alone he would be able to devise a means of getting out of their holding cell. For now there was not either of them could do but wait.

A small gasp from Christine redirected his attention. She was standing under the water, her blue eyes dark with apprehension as she look out. "Miss Chapel?" he inquired, puzzled.



"It's watching us," she whispered.



He followed her gaze. The being was indeed watching them; its mammoth head tilted in what might have been a look of curiosity. Christine finished quickly, and the creature turned and stopped the water. They were given more towels to dry on. Once they were done they put their robes back on and were directed back to the exam tables. Spock complied with a silent sigh, wondering what the next type of testing would involve.



He didn't have to wonder for long. The creature stood beside Christine and opened her robe. To her utter horror, it placed a furry hand on her breasts. She jerked against the bonds, shrieking: "Stop!" But the creature did not stop. It carefully, clinically roved both breasts, squeezing, lifting, and pinching despite her pleas. When it finally stopped she was relieved, only to be even more horrified as its hand began wandering down her curvaceous form.



She closed her eyes tight, trying to block out the feeling of being violated. But nothing could stop the humiliation and fear. It squeezed her hips one at a time, comparing the flesh there with that of her stomach. It rubbed her arms, found her heart and felt its erratic beating, circled her navel. Then it slid its hand lower.



When she felt the first tentative touch of the fingers at her vagina, she pulled with all her might at the straps, crying out against the violation. Then, afraid of what the creature might do if she continued to act this way, she clamped down on her cries and lay still except for her trembling. The fingers brushed her labia, then slowly entered her. It seemed to sense her distress, for although it did not cease its actions its touch was gentle.

For what seemed an eternity to her it explored inside her, sliding, touching, and watching her face as it did so. Across from her, Spock had closed his eyes as soon as he had grasped the being's intent. Now with her wails of suffering, then silence, he forced himself to look over to make certain that she was not being injured. Her skin was stretched taught over the bones of her face. He saw where the creature's hand was. Anger on a level he was unaccustomed to feeling rose within him. For her to be treated this way, and him, her commanding officer, being helpless to stop it, was painful.



She cried out again. It had finished its exploration of her vagina and moved to her anus. Her muscles clenched against the invasion, making it more painful. She took a deep breath, pushing her muscles out, forcing herself to relax as much as possible while it continued its shameful investigation of her body. Spock turned away, his own face flushed in contrast to her paleness. He would not watch her be abused this way. Later she would need comforting, and he would attempt to provide it as best he could. That was all he could do.



The fingers stopped moving and then mercifully withdrew. She opened tear-filled eyes to see it studying its hand dispassionately, then it walked to the sink. As it cleaned its hands Spock whispered: "Christine? Are you all right?"



Her voice cracked a little, but was strong. "I'll never want to hear another joke about alien sex probes, but I'll live." She turned to look at him, hesitating… how the hell to tell him this without both of them dying of embarrassment? But for his sake she had to.



"Spock… when it… touches you inside… try to relax and push your muscles out. That will help it from hurting as bad."



His eyes widened, staring into hers in realization. She could have sworn he turned pale. The knowledge that he would be next, which he'd pushed away in the face of her distress, slammed into his mind and were he not Vulcan he would have panicked. As it was he could not entirely suppress the feeling of dread he was experiencing. Intellectually he understood it was simply a matter of examination. But the circumstances were very different from him being prodded by McCoy. He could not make any words form, so he simply nodded.



She closed her eyes as the creature returned. It went to Spock and began its probing of his body by feeling his chest. The fingers brushed his nipples, then roamed until it found his heart, making notes, Spock assumed, of the differences. It felt his muscles, his skin texture, brushing a hand through his chest hair, looking over at Christine now and then to compare.



Without warning the hand dropped down to his penis and he gasped before he could stop himself. He felt the hand slide up and down the flaccid organ, raising and dropping it, then move to his testicles to investigate them. It gripped them hard and he winced; better to react than have it apply more pressure. The squeezing stopped, but the examination of them continued.

When the hand moved down further, he almost jerked. It took all of his control to be still as the fingers slipped inside him as they had Christine. He followed her instructions, breathing deep while pushing the sphincter muscles out. It did help the pain, but nothing could ease his shame. The fingers went a little deeper, stopping when they found his prostate gland. The being was likely confused, as it did not feel this during its examination of Christine. The fingers rubbed it gently, and Spock was completely mortified to find that he was beginning to get an erection.



He tried to will it away, to stop the reflex reaction, but there was nothing he could do. Against his will he hardened, his cheeks flushed green and hot from humiliation, eyes shut tight. The creature withdrew its touch. Spock hesitantly opened his eyes to see it looking from his erection to Christine's vagina in puzzlement. What it might do if it figured out the sexual implications of the differences was something Spock did not care to speculate about.



After a long moment it went to clean its hands again. Spock found Christine staring at him, a questioning look on her face.



"I'm all right," he told her softly.



She nodded. Their captor returned, taking a small vial off of one of the trays. He sprayed a fine mist into the air right above Spock. Christine watched as the Vulcan fell asleep within seconds. Then it moved to her, and with a soft hiss she knew consciousness no more.



* * *

Spock was dreaming.

This was not an ordinary occurrence for him, being half Vulcan. Vulcans did not dream as often as Humans did, for several reasons. One was that they did not require as much sleep as Humans did. Four hours was usually all Spock needed to perform at peak efficiency. Another reason is that the Vulcan psyche was very different, and the communication of the subconscious took place almost entirely on a waking level. When he did dream, his dreams were normally a review of the day, with ideas and comments unfolding as he slept. They were the dreams of the pragmatic, the logical.

But not this dream. In this dream he was in a large, airy room. Dozens of candles cast flickering shadows. The faint scent of roses filled his nostrils. Strains of violin music played in the background. He was lying upon a large bed, surrounded by soft velvet pillows. He was nude under a gauzy blue sheet. And he was not alone.

Christine was beside him, nude as well, staring at him with blue eyes wide and shining. Her full lips parted as her breathing quickened, her breasts rose and fell beneath the sheet. He could see her dark pink nipples hardening as she breathed, and felt his body respond to the luxurious sight of her. His heart beat faster and his own breath came in gasps. He felt his arousal and shivered with the pleasure of it.

He was uncertain as to which of them made the first move. He only knew that suddenly the small space that had been between them had vanished and they were gloriously, passionately together, their mouths locked, arms and legs tangled so tight he did not know where he ended and she began. The kiss had no start or finish. There was only the two of them here together in a moment that stood outside of time. It all made sense somehow, there was no need to ask questions or hesitate. This was the way they were meant to be.

She moaned, the sound sending little shocks of pleasure through him. Her arms twined around his neck, slender fingers tangling gently in his hair as her mouth moved in slow circles against his. He responded by wrapping his arms across her back, fingers stroking the smooth skin, tracing patterns on her shoulders before moving down to pull her even closer to him.

She pulled back slightly, smiling at him, raising her head slightly. She slowly brushed her lips across his cheek, then used her tongue to follow the curve of his ear as she breathed hot moist air into it. Her actions provoked a deep shudder from him, causing her to smile and lean over to repeat the actions on the other side. After a moment he could stand it no more and caught her face between his hands, staring at her as though he could not get enough of the sight of her. Then he crushed her mouth to his, stopping only when she moaned again, moving his lips down her throat.

When he reached her breasts he took one eager nipple into his mouth, running his tongue over the firm peak before sucking on it gently. His other hand caressed the other breast, feeling the hot firm flesh fill his hand as she arched her back. After a few minutes he switched hand and mouth, using both to caress her until she was writhing beneath him. He lifted his head to look at her. Her face was flushed; her eyes glazed over with desire. He smiled at the hunger he had created within her.

Suddenly she moved from beneath him, pushing him over onto his back before he was aware of her intent. She laughed at his surprise, claiming his lips with hers and her hands came up to rest on the muscles of his chest, alternately toying with his nipples and brushing his chest hair. She caught his lower lip between her teeth, then sucked it gently. The sensation was beyond anything he had ever experienced. It was as though she was holding him helpless with this one simple act. The eroticism shook him, poured a cascade of white heat onto his skin that ran down his entire body. It slipped down his legs and pooled at his groin, bringing with it a deep aching need that caused him to groan softly into her mouth.

He felt rather than saw her smile as she released his swollen lip and glided her tongue down to his chest, tongue flicking over the hard muscle and soft black hairs. She was merciless in her teasing. With each move she made she brought him closer and closer to the edge. But at the last moment she would stop, gently guide him back down again; leave him aching for more. On and on she went, with him straining beneath her, wondering if he would ever be released from the blissful torment.

The hunger he felt went beyond anything he understood. He was as a man who had been wandering through a desert for days, only to find that the oasis was not a mirage. He wanted to feel her body meshed with his always, to never lose this moment with her. He reached down and pulled her lips back to his, needing more and more of her to try and quench the inferno she had started burning within him…

* * *

Three days.



Kirk paced the field for what seemed the thousandth time. Each time he did his eyes were fastened to the ground, or the sky; anywhere that he thought might give him a clue as to what had happened to Spock and Chapel. Each time he had been disappointed.



"Jim…"



He turned to see McCoy beside him. He hadn't even heard the doctor approach…



"Yes, Bones?"



"Any news?"



Kirk shook his head sadly. The two men stood together in silence, each desperately thinking the same thing. Where were they?



"What can we do?" McCoy asked.



"Do, Bones?" Kirk's voice was haggard. "The same damn thing we've been doing for three days. Try to find them before command makes us give them up and leave."



McCoy's expression became horrified. "You're not telling me that you'll just give up!"

Kirk's head snapped up and his voice hardened. "I will NEVER give up! I'm going to use every weapon at my disposal to make HQ let us stay here, Bones! And when we can't stay any longer, I'll threaten to resign! But they will come back, and someone WILL be here when they do! You got that, mister?"



McCoy's eyes were wide. "Yes, sir," he said softly. "Sorry, Jim."



Kirk shook his head. "No, Bones. I'm the one who's sorry. The strain of losing them… no warp signature from another ship, no transporter beam, no bodies… it's as though the ground swallowed them whole. This not knowing…" His voice trailed off.



"Believe me, Jim, I can understand. Spock and I hardly ever see eye to eye on anything, but he's my friend. And Christine… she's not just my chief nurse. She's like a member of my family. I want us to find them as much as you do."



"I know, Bones. And I know we can. If we can just figure out where to look."



* * *



Christine was dreaming.



She was dreaming of Spock, which despite of her love for him was not common. Neither was the nature of her dream. They were lying on a huge bed surrounded by candles. There were roses and violin music in the air. He was kissing her passionately, parting her lips gently with his warm tongue. She gasped for breath and arched against him. He molded her body to his as the kiss continued. She could feel every inch of his heated flesh against hers, her skin burning from long aching desire. She moaned as his hips pressed into hers, causing her body to reflexively grind against his. She was caught in an inferno of need and rejoiced in the blaze.



"Spock…" she groaned.



"Christine…" he whispered back, his hands moving to her breasts, his mouth leaving hers to take first one and then the other soft globe to his lips.

She whimpered from the electric current which shot through her, the ache between her legs growing stronger. "I can't wait, Spock! Please…" she cried.



He needed no further urging. Looking deep into her eyes, he gently brushed the strands of hair away from her face as he moved into position. She raised her legs, wrapped them around his waist. He carefully lowered himself closer to her, watching her face as he slowly joined his body with hers. She made a soft cry of pleasure as she felt him enter her. At her response he moved deeper inside her. She raised herself up to meet his movement and completed their union.



They stayed that way, unmoving, feeling the other, for a long moment. Then Spock began to rock against her, incredibly tender, as though afraid he might hurt her. With each stroke of his body she felt hotter, felt the tension within her building towards a release. She drew his head down to a kiss. This time she was the dominant one, opening his mouth with hers and exploring inside while he gasped. He quickened his movements, causing her breathing to come in shallow pants, and he pulled his mouth from hers to look down at her passion-glazed features. Her fingernails lightly raked down his arms, over his chest, finding his nipples through the hair.

When she touched him that way he groaned and moved harder against her. She felt herself reaching the brink. "Spock!" she cried loudly.



He continued his movements, and Christine suddenly gave another cry, arching her back hard, muscles contracting. When he saw that she had crossed her peak, he stopped holding himself in check, and with a few more thrusts and a moan he came, and it brought on another climax for her. He looked down at her face, flushed and happy…



* * *

Spock jerked awake, sweating, eyes wide in horror. Christine lay beneath him, neither of them dressed, his member still buried snugly inside of her body. She, too, was awake, staring mortified at their position.



Spock froze for a moment. Then he gently disengaged himself from her.



"Spock?" she whispered.



He touched her face briefly, moving from her bed to his while she covered herself with her robe. He found his own lying on the floor, where he had apparently removed it. He hurriedly put it on. Only then did he feel ready to look at her.



Her eyes were dark with confusion and fear. "Spock?"



He cleared his throat before speaking. His voice still had a rough edge, though, as he said: "When you were asleep, were you…"



"Dreaming -- about that? Yes," she admitted, cheeks crimson, tears spilling over. "But how? What's happened?!"



"I… was having a similar experience," he said softly. "It would appear that our captor has manipulated our sleep… and reality mirrored our dreams."



Christine stared at him, her face now a deathly pale mask of dread. "What?" she whispered.



He looked down again, his own features somewhat ashen.



"NO!" she cried out suddenly. "It can't be!" But even as she said it she knew he was right. There was no other explanation.



He looked up again, a hint of something in his dark eyes. "I… am greatly displeased as well," he admitted quietly. "But I have no other explanation."



She nodded, numb. "What can we do?" she asked.



"I am not sure I understand," he replied.



"How can we communicate with this being to let it know it can't do things like this?"



"That, too, I am uncertain about," he said reluctantly.



"Well, we have to figure something out!! We sure as hell can't let this happen again!" Christine realized she was getting hysterical and took several deep breaths. "I'm sorry. This is just… too much to absorb easily…"



"Believe me, I understand. This is… somewhat unsettling to me, as well," he told her, and suddenly she saw things through his eyes. His rational, supposedly unemotional eyes. For a Vulcan to do what he did, control of his own mind and body taken from him… it was a wonder he looked as calm as he did. His own torture over this was no less than hers, just different in some ways.



She looked away for a moment. "I'm sorry, Spock. For both of us."



He peered at her in puzzlement. "Neither of us is to blame for this, Christine. There is no need to apologize."



"Oh, for crying out loud, Spock! I don't mean that we are! I'm just saying I'm sorry this happened." She drew a ragged breath, aware that her emotions were close to being unstable right now. "Can we please try not to upset each other at the moment? It won't do us any favors."



Spock was about to tell her that he was a Vulcan and did not get upset, but the look on her face made him reconsider. "Agreed." He hesitated. "I meant no offense. I ask forgiveness for upsetting you further."



To Spock's amazement she managed a weak smile. "I think the cause was sufficient."



"Indeed," he answered, somewhat surprised of her knowledge of the ritual response to his apology, wondering what else he would discover about her before their captivity was over.



Christine looked down; Spock's response had made her feel oddly embarrassed. Her fingers nervously toyed with the edges of her robe. Spock tilted his head, wondering what caused this sudden shift in her moods and if he would ever begin to understand. He suspected he would have ample time to try if they were unable to escape.



The door to their cell opened and the creature pointed his weapon at them. They walked out. Christine stopped and looked at the being.

"What you did was WRONG. Do you understand?"



It merely looked at her in puzzlement, seeming to realize that she was agitated but not comprehending her words. Then, to her indignation and anger, it patted her on the head before pushing them towards the shower. She glared, but realizing that further words at this stage would be useless, continued walking. Once again they were both forced in together. Spock decided with a touch of dismay that this would probably be the norm. He sighed inwardly, turning his back as Christine began to wash.



The entire event had shaken him up far more than he had admitted to her, but it was his nature as a Vulcan not to reveal such things. What disturbed him more, however, was how this creature had KNOWN what sex was to manipulate them into doing it. And if it had happened once, what was there to stop their captor from doing it again?



He stole a half-glance at Christine to see if she was almost finished. It was only now that he fully realized this situation was a difficult one for her, as well. She was, by her own admission, in love with him. She had never tried to pressure him or make him feel guilty for not returning those feelings. For her to have been forced to commit a sexual act with him, knowing how things were between them… now he thought he understood her apology and once again he felt a twinge of regret for his initial comment. But she seemed to have genuinely understood, and he was grateful.

"All yours," she announced, and walking out from the spray turned her back as he bathed. When they were done and had dried off they were taken back to the cell. Once inside, Christine blinked. The material of the walls had been tinted somehow, so they could not see out. Spock noticed this as well.

"Fascinating," he said.

"So we can't see out," Christine mused. "Why? To give us an illusion of privacy?"

"Perhaps."

"But I bet IT can see IN," she said in a whisper.

"That is entirely possible."

She turned and looked at him. As if reading his earlier thoughts, she said, "Spock, do you think this being knows what sex means to humans? Why did it do this?"

He lifted a brow. "Perhaps it was curious. As to whether or not it fully comprehends humanoid reproductive habits, I cannot say."

"So what's to stop it from doing it again?" she demanded.

He sighed. "Quite possibly, nothing, if it has not satisfied its curiosity."

"Great," she said numbly. "Just great."

"I assume you are being sarcastic."

She frowned, then realized he was almost teasing her and managed another small smile before continuing. "It just worries me. If it can do this, learn this somehow… what else is it going to do?"

For one of the few times in his life, Spock was at a loss for words.



* * *



USS ENTERPRISE REQUEST RECEIVED LOSS OF CMDR SPOCK AND LT CHAPEL SYMPATHIZED. ENTERPRISE WILL BE GIVEN 1 MONTH TO EXPLORE PLANET FOR PERSONNEL SEARCH AND DATA COLLECTION. AFTERWARDS ENTERPRISE WILL REPORT TO STARBASE 14 FOR OVERHAUL AMD NEW ASSIGNMENT.

ADM T. CLARK

Kirk read the message carefully, McCoy peering over his shoulder the entire time. When he'd finished he sent back a reply.



USS ENTERPRISE MESSAGE RECEIVED AND UNDERSTOOD. THANK YOU, ADM CLARK. WILL KEEP INFORMED.

CAP J. KIRK



"A month?" McCoy echoed. "That's all we get?"

"That's two weeks longer than the standard, Bones. Clark knows me."

"Yeah, but still… it doesn't seem long enough."

"We'll make it be long enough," Kirk declared tightly.

McCoy sighed. He was used to being able to gently needle Spock every day, used to having Christie work by his side with her smooth efficiency. Their absence was deeply affecting him on both a professional and personal level. Although he'd often made flippant remarks about not missing Spock if he was gone, he vowed to himself never to make another one if only they would be found.

Well, wherever they were, at least they were not alone. He lifted an eyebrow reminiscent of Spock as he thought of how bitterly ironic it was that of all the people to be missing together, it was the two of them. He hoped they could put their feelings, or lack thereof, aside to help each other.

"Bones?"

With a start McCoy realized Kirk had been speaking to him. "I'm sorry, Jim, what?" he asked.

"Do you want some coffee?"

"Yeah… thanks."

As Kirk turned towards the small replicator in the captain's quarters, McCoy noticed how haggard he looked. This hadn't been any easier on Jim than it had him, though Jim would try and brush it off. Spock's absence hurt; plain and simple. Right now they had to try and push it aside to find them.

As McCoy accepted the cup he asked: "So, what's our plan?"

In response, Kirk activated his comm unit. "Kirk to bridge."

"Bridge, Lt. Uhura here." Like everyone else on the bridge, she sounded tired and worried.

"Uhura, I want you, Scotty, Chekov, and Lt. Young to report to me in the conference room on deck 5 in one hour. Please pass that along."

"Acknowledged, sir. Uhura out."

Kirk looked at McCoy. "All will be clear in an hour, my friend. Right now I'm going to follow your orders and get a nap."

McCoy nodded. "I'll see you in an hour."

Once inside his own quarters, McCoy sagged against the bulkhead and closed his eyes.

"Dear God, please let them be found…"

* * *

"No! No, no, no!"

The sound of Christine screaming brought Spock to wakefulness. He felt the weight of her body on his and knew what had happened even before he opened his eyes. She was astride him, in a position that left no doubts as to what they had done in their sleep. He closed his eyes for a moment against this second painful violation before opening them again.

Christine all but leaped off of him, not even bothering to put on her robe, and threw herself against the door. She banged on it with her fists, screaming: "Stop it, do you hear me, damn you? Stop this!"

"Christine…" Spock's voice trailed off when she whirled around. From the look on her face he judged that she was near a breaking point and was in no condition to listen to reason. Still, he had to try.

"Your response to this predicament might not be the most prudent."

She barked a short laugh. "Interesting choice of words, Spock. And it probably isn't, no. But I've had quite enough of this."

"We need to make a calm attempt to communicate."

"Fine. You do that. I'm going to see what making a scene does."

"You could get injured, or worse." His eyes were darker than normal.

She sighed, slumping down the wall to sit on the floor.

Her actions had not gone unnoticed. A moment later the creature opened the door, staring at her with the now-familiar look of confusion. It gestured for her to stand, then pointed out into the lab. Spock rose as well, but was stopped by the weapon being pointed at his chest. He could only watch in concern as Christine was taken away. He could not see out because of the tinting, so his only option was to press an ear against a wall, straining to hear something. A few minutes later he heard her let out a single piercing scream. Then nothing.

Three hours passed. Spock spent the time meditating, calming himself, trying to come up with a solution. Unfortunately, he could not. What had been happening between them was wearing on him as well, though he hadn't shown it much. It went beyond being disquieted. If it happened again… he was uncertain as to whether he would be able to keep himself from reacting. He could still smell her skin on him, a mixture of sweat and sex and her own natural scent. He pushed down at the feelings that started to rise within him. He was successful, to an extent. He knew also that if the contact continued, the two of them would develop a mental bond. He could already feel the bond trying to cohere, the telepathic part of his mind trying to reach out to hers. The only thing he could do was try and hold it off, and hope.

The door opened, causing him to start. He'd been so wrapped up in his thoughts he had not heard any exterior sounds. Christine walked in, and the door closed behind her. She seemed shaken up, but not physically hurt.

"Christine?" he asked softly.

She nodded. "I'm all right." She sat down on her bed, absently rubbing at her temples.

"What happened?"

"I'm not exactly sure," she told him. "I was taken to the exam tables, then there was a puff of white mist. Next thing I know, I'm being carried back here. How long was I gone?"

"Three hours, eleven minutes," he said.

Her eyes widened. "I must have been asleep or unconscious. What could it have been doing to me for that long?" There was a hint of fear in her voice.

"I do not know," Spock admitted. "How do you feel?"

"Fine. Odd, isn't it?"

"Yes," he agreed.

She rubbed her head again. Spock looked at her with new concern. "Are you certain you're uninjured?"

"Yes. Why?"

"That is the second time you have rubbed your temples since your return."

"I'm ok, Spock. Just… something feels weird."

"In what way?"

"Like I have a bump. It started two days ago, but it went away. I thought I had hit my head in my sleep."

He rose and came over to her. "If you will permit…"

She sat still as he examined her. When he touched a spot near her right temple she winced slightly, and his eyes grew dark again. She saw the look.

"What is it?" she asked.

He looked at her. "It would appear that something has been implanted under your skin here."

Her skin drained of color until she was ashen. "What is it?"

He shook his head. "I don't know, Christine. But I would speculate that given the events of the past few days, it somehow taps into your mind."

She jumped up, shaking her head. "No! I haven't been thinking about… what happened to us! I swear, Spock!"

"I believe you," he said quietly, and she calmed down somewhat. "Perhaps it has been reading your thoughts on a subconscious level. Or an unconscious one."

She shuddered hard.

"That would explain a great deal," he said thoughtfully.

"So what happened… is my fault."

"No. You are not to blame for it. Your mind has been violated, images taken from you without your consent. I do not hold you at fault for that."

An unshed tear glinted in her eye. "Thank you, Spock."

He did not know what to say to that, so he nodded.

She took a deep breath and spoke again. "But what else has it seen? We're right back to square one. It could be pulling other things from my mind, too… things it might be curious about."

"Agreed."

"And there's nothing we can do," she said bitterly.

"Not at present, unfortunately. We will have to increase our efforts to find a means of escape."

"I'm all for that."

"Then let us try to formulate a plan."



"What do you have in mind?"

His expression grew thoughtful. "If your assumption that it can see us is correct, you could feign illness or being injured. I will then attempt to over power it."

She didn't completely like this idea, but couldn't think of a better one, so she nodded. "All right."

She took a few hesitant steps forward, then swayed and crumpled to the ground in a very convincing manner. Spock knelt by her side, looking slightly concerned. The door was not long in opening. The creature stepped in, looking at her, then made more of the indecipherable sounds it had made several days ago. When it moved to her side, Spock acted.

He pressed the juncture between neck and shoulder, but nothing happened. As the being looked at him, he tried several other moves in an attempt to render it unconscious. Nothing worked. The creature made a noise that resembled a growl.

Christine opened her eyes. The door was open. "Run, Spock! Get out of here!" she yelled.

He glanced at the door, logic warring with emotion. "If I escape, it might become angry enough to kill you," he said.

"Do it anyway!"

He shook his head. "No. That I cannot allow."

Before Christine could say anything else, their captor pushed a button on a band on its right wrist. Searing pain flooded into her mind, and she screamed with the agony of it.

"Stop!" Spock cried.

The being looked at him, then reached out and roughly picked Spock up. It then pressed the button again, and Christine rolled over on the floor, the expression of agony leaving her face. Spock sighed with relief. He offered no resistance as the creature took him out, closing the door behind them. He was carried into the lab and strapped down. A moment later he was unconscious.

Christine now knew how Spock must have felt when she was taken. It seemed an eternity that she had paced and fretted before he was brought back, awake and seemingly unharmed. As soon as the door closed he touched his temple, nodding at her questioning look. Her heart sank. Now they both had the implant. And what had been taken from Spock's mind? What was the next phase going to be?

"You should have run," she told him.

"I could not leave you," he said simply.

"Anything could happen now."

"Then it will happen to both of us."

She sighed. There was no arguing with Spock. "Do you remember anything?"

His face became morose, to be Spock. "I attempted to communicate with it telepathically as it carried me."

"And?"

"My efforts were unsuccessful. The creature is esper blind."

"Nothing at all?" she asked in dismay.

"I could not pick up any impressions and it did not register any of my thought projections. I believe that is the reason for the implants. By hooking us up to the machines, it can manipulate our memories, look at past images as we think of them. It can only receive visual images. It sees, but speech as we know it has no meaning to it."

"Makes you wonder how their species communicates," she commented.

"Perhaps by pictures. Or a form of language we cannot understand. It is unfortunate that we did not have universal translators with us at the time of our capture."

"It's unfortunate that we got captured to begin with," she replied.

He lifted a weary brow. "Indeed."

Their musings were interrupted by the creature bringing them food and water. As they ate, Christine said: "But it has some basic understandings. It knows we need food and water. It knows we have an excretory system. And it knew those things even before my implant."

He nodded. "I have two theories on this subject."

"Which are?"

"One; it performed some sort of mind probe when we were first brought here and absorbed the basic information needed to care for us."

"And the other theory?"

"My other theory…" He hesitated for a moment.

"What, Spock?"

"Is that we are not the first species it has brought here to study."

She drew a shaky breath. "That had crossed my mind, too."

"And if that is the case," he said, "apparently there are still some things it wants to learn."

"Either way, it's not looking good for us," she said quietly.

"It does not seem to want us seriously injured, which is favorable," he pointed out.

Christine sighed. "Spock, I'm sorry, but right now I'm not sure exactly how much comfort that is."



He nodded in agreement. "You are correct."

At this point their conversation was interrupted by the return of their captor. It waved its weapon in Christine's direction, staring at Spock as it hurried her out of the room. Spock stood near the door, listening for any sounds of distress from her, even though there was nothing he could do if he heard any. It was not logical. But somehow it made him feel better. At least he was doing… something.

He was completely caught off guard when, a moment later, the tint of the walls faded, allowing him to see out into the rest of the cave. He saw Christine on one of the tables, apparently asleep. The creature was turning dials on a console below a large monitor. Spock watched, fascinated despite himself. His curiosity quickly turned to apprehension when images began to appear on the screen.

The image of a tiny girl smiled out at him. She had dark hair tinged with blonde, and large dark blue eyes. Spock knew it must be Christine as a child. The girl was sitting on the ground, petting what seemed to be a Terran Siamese kitten. The kitten scampered away and the little girl laughed. Spock realized that he had never heard Christine laugh before. It was a high sweet sound, a stark contrast to the woman lying awake and in fear on a cold metal table.

Awake?? Yes, she was awake now, her eyes darker than normal as she took in her surroundings. She looked at Spock with an expression of pure dismay. He looked back at her apologetically, wanting to be able to stop what was happening, knowing he couldn't. She shifted her gaze to the monitor, her features changing from worry to anger as she saw her mind being invaded.

"Stop," she said harshly.

The creature only looked at her. They stared at each other; divided by a lack of understanding so vast she didn't know how to even begin to breach it. Another dial was turned, Christine winced, and the scene shifted.

"Hey, Chrissy! Come and get me!"

Spock saw an older Christine, in her teens, now with dark blonde hair. She wore a yellow bikini and her skin was very tan. She was running after a slightly older girl wearing a black bathing suit. This girl had brown hair and the same blue eyes Christine had. Spock surmised it was a friend, or perhaps a sister. The other girl looked familiar somehow…

The girls stopped to lean against a tree and the dark-haired one spoke again. "Betcha can't catch me!"

"Oh, yeah? Better start running, Jessie!" And they took off, laughing and shouting as they ran.

Spock turned his attention from the viewer to Christine and was shocked to find that her face was streaked with tears. The being noticed this as well, for it shut off the machine and brought one finger down to a cheek. It stood looking back and forth from the wet digit to her, obviously puzzled. It seemed to reach a decision, for it unfastened her restraints and took her back to Spock.

Spock, meanwhile, had determined the identity of the other girl. He should not have been surprised, but he was. How had he never realized? Granted, their last names were different, and Number One had apparently changed her first name from Jessica to Leigh, but even so he should have known. Or perhaps he had, unconsciously, and not wanted to bring it to the surface. To do so would have led to a desire to talk to Christine about her, and he had not wanted to discuss personal things with Christine. Until now.

She sat down on her bed, not even acknowledging his presence. He took an uncertain step towards her. "Christine?"

"My sister," she said in a husky voice. "That was Jessica, my older sister, who drowned a few years ago." Her eyes flickered towards his, and then looked away. "I believe you knew her as Number One."

He nodded. "Yes."

"She thought highly of you, Spock."

Spock glanced down at his hands, at a momentary loss for words. Then he looked back at her. "I am sorry," he said simply.

She looked at him though matted lashes. "I'm more upset right now at what that monstrosity did than the memory of Jessie, Spock."

"Indeed. These experiments are taking an upsetting turn." He hesitated, then asked: "Are you all right?" He knew it sounded ridiculous even as he asked, but he did not know what else to say. Comforting was not one of his strong points, being as it was based in emotion.

"I will be when we can figure out how to leave this hell-hole," she answered, an edge to her soft voice. "And it needs to be soon… before it gets worse."



* * *



Kirk looked around the briefing room table. Five faces were turned towards his, five pairs of eyes ranging from dark brown to pale green staring at this man who was their captain. He didn't have to be psychic to know that they were all wondering what he was planning on doing to expand the search. He didn't plan on disappointing them.

He waited a few beats before he began. "I know this has been a difficult time for all of us. But we can't let that interfere with what has to be done. And what has to be done, is to find our missing crewmembers."

"Here, here!" McCoy said, then looked abashed. "Sorry, Captain."

"I understand, Doctor McCoy." Kirk swept his gaze around the table again. "I've asked the five of you here because you're the most qualified in your fields to perform the necessary tasks to help in our search.

"Captain…" Maika Young began, then stopped.

"Yes, Lieutenant?"

"Sir, what if they're--" She paused, uncertain of how to finish her sentence.

"I don't think that's the case," Kirk said. "Someone went to a lot of trouble to get them. Nobody is much use dead, Lieutenant."

"Yes, sir," she replied.

"Now." Kirk's eyes rested on Scotty. "Scotty, I want you to start a class one check. Look for warp signatures, ion storms, search that planet from top to bottom for transporter beam traces. But I want to know if they're still on that planet or if they've been taken away in a ship."

"Aye, sir!'' Scotty said passionately.

"Uhura, I want you to scan both on the planet and in space around us for any transmissions. See if you pick up anything. Isolate anything you get, no matter how trivial it seems. Send messages in all linguacodes, broad-spectrum, to see if anyone can hear us. Let me know what you find."

"Yes, Captain," she said, a determined gleam in her eyes.

"Chekov… until further notice, you are acting science officer. If there is anything to be found down there, I want you to find it. Search that field a thousand times if you have to, and then search it a thousand more. But find me what happened."

"Aye, Keptin," he answered.

"Bones, Lieutenant Young, you two are the medical side of this operation. I want those samples analyzed, and more samples taken. Everything. Plants, rocks, dig up some dirt, catch a bird. I need to know everything there is to know about this planet. Young, you're the xenobiologist. I want theories on possible alien life forms, where they might live, anything you can come up with."

Both nodded in understanding. Kirk continued. "I will personally be going round with each of you to help if need be. I will also be with the survey teams to assist them with the search. We have a lot of questions but no answers. Let's turn that around. Understood?"

"Yes, sir," they chorused.

"Good. This will start in 2 hours. Sleep, eat, plan, whatever each of you need to do. But be ready to get down to business at 0900. Dismissed."



* * *

Christine was running so fast she swerved when she reached the corner. And collided with something other than the wall. Her armful of belongings crashed to the ground. She began a profuse string of apologies, eyes downcast, when a rich male laugh stopped her and she dared to look up.

Steel gray eyes met her ocean blue ones. He was handsome, older than her by about ten years. He carelessly pushed a lock of premature gray hair away from his face as he asked: "Not in a hurry, are you?"

She stammered for a moment, caught off guard by the intensity of his gaze. He only smiled. "Here, let me help you pick up your things."

They both knelt to the floor, absorbed in the task of gathering her notebooks, diskettes, and research materials. He noticed the subject matter and asked: "Are you a bioresearch student?"

"Yes," She replied, pleased at finally being able to make an intelligent comment. "This is my last year. I'm getting my Ph.D."

"Congratulations," he said with a smile. "I'm doing my last year of teaching. Going off to do some space research."

"What do you teach?"

"By a strange coincidence, bioresearch. On an undergrad level, though. I'm sure I would have remembered you if you were in one of my classes."

"Because I'm so klutzy?" she asked with a grin.

"That… and because you're so beautiful."

She blushed, which caused him to smile again. Her heart thudded in her chest just like in the movies. Only this was real and hadn't happened to her very much. Her life had consisted of her studies and a few close friends. She'd dated a little; nothing serious. They were all either not ready to commit, or ended up being her friend. And none of them had made her feel like this.

"Are you free tonight?" he asked.

"Yes," she answered, so quickly it startled her.

"There's a concert in Albert Hall at 8 tonight. Would you like to go?"

"I'd love to," she said, and smiled.

"Wonderful. I'll meet you in front of the box office."

She nodded, feeling slightly dazed. Then a thought struck her. "Wait a minute!" She exclaimed.

"What?"

"I don't even know who you are," she said.

He laughed again. "Making dates with strangers. Both of us. What a pair we'd make." He glanced at his watch. "I have to go; Biochemistry 101 calls."

He turned and had walked a few steps when she called out: "But I still don't know who you are!"

He paused and looked at her. "Well, who are you?"

"I asked first."

"You bumped into me."

"Christine. Christine Chapel."

"Nice to meet you, Christine. I'm Roger. Roger Korby. And I'll see you tonight."

"Yes, tonight…" She remembered her own class was about to start, and rushed off.



* * *

Spock drew a deep breath. His back was to the screen, having no desire to intrude further on Christine's private memories. But as he was afraid she might awaken and call out to him, he was actively listening. He had heard every word of how she had met Roger Korby.

The sheer indecency of these violations shook him. The creature seemed to be systematically reliving parts of her life. In order. This upset him greatly. Not only for her sake, but he knew that if it progressed, soon Roger would be gone, then lost, then Christine would go looking for him on the Enterprise. And then…

'Stop this,' he ordered himself silently. This was not the time to be concerned with himself. He had to find a way for them to escape.

Apparently the being was satisfied for the moment, for it brought the still-unconscious Christine back to their chamber and placed her on her bed. After it left Spock sat cross-legged on his own bed, meditating on their situation while he waited for Christine to wake up. There was really nothing else he could do.



* * *



"What did you see?"

Spock was startled out of his meditation by the groggy sound of Christine's voice. She had turned onto her side and was staring at him intensely.

"I SAW… nothing," He told her truthfully. "However, as I wanted to be able to hear you if you called out to me, I... HEARD… a great deal."

She sighed, flinging an arm over her face.

"I can stop if you wish," he began, only to have her shake her head.

"No, Spock. I NEED you to listen. I need to know… what it's doing, what memories it's seeing. Even if I can't stop it."

He nodded. "Then I shall continue."

She lowered her arm and looked at him. "So what was it watching?"

He cleared his throat. "It appeared to be your initial meeting with Roger Korby."

"Great. Just fucking great."

His eyebrow rose at her use of an expletive, but he made no comment.

"Is it going to go through my entire life?" she said softly. She didn't really seem to want an answer, so he did not attempt to give one. He could only speculate on how painful this was for her, how it would feel to have one's life put on display like watching a film. Since the day she had gotten so angry she had closed herself off, exhibiting a degree of control that even he found impressive. He wondered how long her remarkable calm would last if these explorations continued.

"You know where this could end up, Spock," she said in the same quiet tone.

"Yes," he whispered.

She looked down for a moment, then met his gaze. "I'm sorry that I can't do anything about it."

"As I have said before, this is not of your choosing. It would hardly be fair for me to hold you responsible for our captor's actions."

"It still makes me angry."

"I… can understand that."

"Do you think so?" she asked. "Because your turn will come, Spock. What if this is a breaking point for both of us?"

"I will not allow that to happen," he told her.

"And you think you can stop it?"

"I do not know," he admitted. "But I shall try."

She started to speak, but yawned instead. "I'm tired. Funny how I was unconscious for a few hours and I woke up needing sleep."

"Then you should rest."

"I'm afraid to."

"There is no logic in that."

"No, there isn't. But I am."

"I will be awake. I will inform you if anything happens."

"And what if I wake up screaming? What will you do then?"

He was silent. She sighed. "Never mind, Spock. I have no right to ask you to be something you're not. You can't help it if you're incapable of comforting someone." With that, she turned over and pulled the cover over herself.

Spock was left alone with his thoughts. Her words stung him in a way he could not explain. She did not mean to be unkind. She was simply stating the truth as she saw it. But she left him with the idea that perhaps this was not the best way to handle their situation. Christine was, after all, Human. Would it actually be more logical to take more of an… emotional approach to dealing with her should their circumstances become too much for her to bear? He had noticed that when Humans gave vent to their feelings, they seemed to calm faster and be more rational when it was over. Perhaps being supportive during these moments would work the same way. He decided to give the matter more consideration as she slept.



* * *

"Jessie?"

Christine's worried gaze swept over the scenery. It was typical of her sister to go off on her own, testing herself in every possible way. She'd been doing that since they were kids. It was one of the reasons she'd joined Starfleet. However, it WASN'T like her not to answer when she was called. Which meant trouble.

Carefully climbing over the rocks, Christine continued to make her way along the riverbank, calling out to her sister as she went. Still no answer. She was about to give up and go back to their parent's house when she caught sight of something in the distance. It was Jessie's bikini top, snagged in a branch of a tree not far from the beginning of the waterfall.

"Oh, no…"

Christine ran so fast down through the woods she fell three times and skinned her knee, but she didn't even register the pain or bleeding. She scrambled down to the basin of the waterfall, screaming her sister's name, desperately looking in all directions. She glanced up towards the rocks jutting about fifteen feet up from the side, and her heart stopped.

Jessie's body lay unmoving, limp as a rag doll. Christine thought she saw blood seeping from under her head.

"JESSIE!"

With a primal scream she threw herself up the side, struggling to maintain her grip on the slippery earth. When she reached her sister and turned her over she knew it was too late. But she began trying to resuscitate her anyway, talking in between breaths, pleading for her to wake up. But it was no use. She had obviously fractured her skull on impact. She had probably died instantly.

Weeping, Christine gathered the now-frail body into hers arms, rocking it back and forth, her sobs so loud she couldn't even hear the waterfall. She sat that way for what seemed like hours, days, not wanting to let go. Finally she gently lowered the body and stood up. With great care she made her way back down. She would need help to get Jessie's body. Crying, bleeding, numb with shock, she made her way towards the house.

* * *

The moan Spock heard was not one from the Christine on the viewer. He looked at her. She had awakened this time and was watching the memory in obvious pain. She closed her eyes as tears streamed down her face like rain. The creature heard her, glanced down, back up, then shut the machine off, made some notes, and took her back to Spock.

Christine curled herself up on her bed, turned away from Spock, when she felt something warm on her shoulder. She turned to see Spock beside her on her bed, one hand resting on her arm. Her eyes widened and she started to speak, but he pressed a finger on his free hand to her lips. Then he used that hand to wipe the tears from her face. As she continued to stare in confusion, he stretched out so that he was lying beside her. He gently turned her over, resting closely behind her in spoon fashion, one arm around lightly around her waist. She could feel a thousand things at once; his heart, his heat, the angles and lines of his body. "Spock?" she whispered, wondering if she was actually dreaming.

"Sleep, Christine," he said softly. "I will remain here."

She closed her eyes, marveling at how she could feel such pain and such peace at the same time. "Thank you…"

As she drifted off she felt his breath in her hair and his arm tighten around her.



* * *

"Check."

Christine couldn't suppress a grin at the slight look of dismay on Spock's face. "Didn't see that coming, Spock?"

"I will admit that I was… unprepared for you to make such a rash series of maneuvers," he said.

"But it paid off."

"Perhaps," he said, one eyebrow arching at her.

Christine only laughed. It was her idea two days ago for Spock to implant a dream of playing chess onto her subconscious before she was taken for her "session," an idea that paid off by the creature seeing it in her mind. The next day it presented them with a crude chess board and pieces for one-dimensional chess carved from some type of wood. They had then hoped that if she projected their unhappiness at being captives they would be set free, but the creature either did not understand or it did not care. It had gotten angry at Spock's manipulations and caused Christine and Spock both severe pain through their implants. Spock had stopped interfering with her dreams after this.

'At least we have something to do now besides sleep and talk,' she thought. Not that she didn't enjoy talking with Spock. He was every bit as intelligent as she thought he would be, and she could not always keep up with him in certain topics. In some things, however, she held her own, or even knew more than he did. This made her feel proud. It was a shame that it took these circumstances for Spock to see her as a person, but at least now he did.

When she had awakened after that horrible incident reliving Jessie's death, Spock was still there, just as he said he would be. It had felt so good to be beside him, to feel his arm around her. Part of her wanted to be able to lie that way forever. But she didn't want to ask for more than he could give, and so after thanking him again she had gotten up. He assured her that he was merely making certain that she got a restful sleep, but she knew there was a little more to it than that.

They were now playing their third game of chess. Spock had won the first two, but now Christine was changing her tactics and completely confounding him.

He hesitated, then made a move. "I believe you will find that you are now unable to proceed," he informed her.

"Wrong, Spock." She made the move she had hoped he would not foresee, looking into his face. "Checkmate."

Another brow arched, and a hand slowly tipped over a king.

"Interesting," he commented. "I had not expected you to use the Rossi variant in that way."

"I'm full of surprises," she told him, unable to stop herself from smiling. She had just beaten Spock at chess. Boy, would Leonard hate to have missed this!

The thought of Leonard, of everyone on the ship, made her sad, and she got up and walked to a corner. She rested her head against the cool material of their cell, taking deep breaths. Dimly she heard Spock come to stand behind her. "Christine?" he asked, puzzled by the sudden change in her mood.

"How long, Spock? How long have we been here?"

"Eight days, two hours, thirty-seven minutes."

"Eight days…" she breathed. "It seems like an eternity."

"Time does pass slowly due to our lack of methods of keeping busy," he agreed.

She nodded. "Maybe it thought that a male and a female alone in a room would be… I'm sorry, Spock! I didn't mean to say that." She blushed and turned away from him for a moment, then risked looking at him.

His expression was thoughtful, not offended. "That is a reasonable speculation. Especially if it has studied only lower life forms before us."

"Maybe that's why it manipulated our dreams. We haven't performed for it voluntarily the way it wanted us to."

"And if it wants us to, and we continue not to do so… what will happen," he mused.

"Well, it's not as though we could just up and have sex," she exclaimed nervously.

He looked at her. "Indeed? Why not?"



Christine stared at him, agape. "What?" she squeaked.

"There is no logical reason why we could not engage in intercourse," he replied blandly.

It took a few seconds for Christine to find her voice. When she did, her words came out in a hurry. "Maybe not, but there are plenty of OTHER reasons why we can't!"

"Such as?"

"Good grief, Spock! Where should I start?! How about the fact that we have no emotional attachment to each other?"

He looked surprised. "I was unaware that humans had to have an emotional attachment to have physical relations."

"Not all of us do," Christine admitted. "But I'm not one of them. I can't have sex without a bond, without mutual caring."

"You are under the impression that I am uncaring about you?"

"That's not what I mean, Spock." She sighed in frustration. "I just mean that, given your nature, having casual sex with you would hurt me very badly."

"Indeed." He paused. "Whereas waking up to discover that we have performed this act in our sleep, with no conscious control over it, does not hurt you."

"Dammit!" She turned away from him, then turned back. "No, it upsets me a lot, Spock. But at this point I'm not ready to exchange one evil with another. It might not even happen again."

"That is true. However…" He hesitated, then steeled himself. "It is your right to know that because of the previous encounters, during which I had no mental control, we now have the beginnings of a mental link."

"What?" she whispered. "How long have you known this?"

Now it was his turn to sigh. "I… sensed it a few days ago. But I was uncertain then as to how far the bond had progressed."

"And now you know?" she asked.

"I am still not completely certain. However, I would estimate that two more such encounters will complete a low-level joining. Once that occurs, it will not take long for a full link to evolve."

Christine drew in a startled breath. Then her full lips twisted into a sad smile. "Damned if we do, damned if we don't."

"I do not understand the reference," Spock said, puzzled.

"You wouldn't," she replied. Before he could say anything else she added: "Thank you for telling me, Spock, though I wish you had told me sooner."

"I saw no logic in distressing you until I had fully determined the possibilities," he said.

She nodded. Recrimination would serve no purpose at this point. Best to stay focused on the present. "Let's wait and see what happens for now, okay? I won't forget what you said. I just… need to think."

"As you wish," he told her.

"Thank you," she said, feeling awkward about the discussion. To cover it up she asked: "Ready for game four?"

An eyebrow flew up as he acknowledged her change of topic, recognizing her need for it. "I believe the expression is… 'bring it on.' "



* * *

"Breathe, dammit! Breathe!"

Christine Chapel, RN, was furiously struggling with the ER machinery with one hand and trying to check the life chart with the other. Her first night in the emergency room, and THIS happens. Blue sparks began to fly from the equipment. Her patient was arresting. She had no time to think. Only react.

She threw the useless mass of metal and wire to the floor, grasping the child's head and beginning mouth-to-mouth. Her hands shook as they pressed on the heart of the 8-year-old girl. One, two, three, BREATHE!!

She dimly heard voices around her, orders being shouted, hands standing by to assist her. But her entire being was focused on the tiny body of this child. She pumped and breathed her entire being into the girl, willing her to respond, driven with the sheer ferocity that her will alone could return her from the world of shadows into which she had crossed.

She was rewarded by the faint sound of a gasp, and dark eyes fluttered open. "Come on!" Christine shouted. Dr. Ramirez quickly moved to her side, and together they stabilized the child who had reminded Christine so much of Jessie. Only when she knew that Alice was safe did Christine allow herself to sag against the wall in relief.

"You were great."

She opened her eyes to see Juan Ramirez smiling at her. She managed a weak grin as she said: "Thanks. How is she?"

"She'll be fine now. Why don't you take ten? Go outside."

"In this heat?" she laughed. But since it was night it should be tolerable. "Ok, thanks, Juan."

She left the ER and exited through the employee's side door, breathing deep. T'Kuht was shining brightly overhead, and a gentle arid breeze swirled at the distant red sand whose color she could see in her mind even now. Another tranquil night on Vulcan.

Spock was watching this with both eyebrows raised. He had been completely unaware that Christine had done her nursing internship on Vulcan, although that did explain how she spoke the basics and how she made such appetizing plomik soup. He then realized that, indeed, he knew little about her before now. And that it was ironic how he would now know more than she would probably want him to. But she had asked him to watch, and he would do so until she asked him to do otherwise.

Now the "memory" Christine was reading a crumpled letter. From the way she smiled, he assumed it was from Korby. There was a large diamond ring on her left hand, her engagement ring. From what little he knew, Christine had finished her Ph.D. in bioresearch, then completed her training as a nurse. It was at that point that Roger Korby had disappeared on Exo III. Christine had wanted to hire a ship to take her there, but the planet had been declared "off limits" after Korby's team had stopped contact. Only Starfleet vessels would be allowed to go and search. And so she had joined the fleet. Because of her excellent credentials and her personal situation, she had been assigned as head nurse on the Enterprise. The rest was painful history.

And how long, he wondered, until their captor found her memories of him? Of the Psi 2000 virus incident, of the plomik soup, the shared consciousness, the forced kiss? Things that Spock had shoved far back into his mind, as he assumed she had, to avoid examining them. Now that option would be stripped from them.

He could still feel the faint "hum" of her consciousness through the partial link. It was not strong enough for him to pick up thoughts or feelings, but he found himself constantly mentally aware of her existence. It was not unpleasant, exactly, save the circumstances under which it had occurred. Unfortunately for them, he knew their circumstances were far from over.



* * *

It seemed to Spock that all he did anymore was pace.

Pace and think. Pace and analyze. Pace and (he was loathe to admit this) worry.

Three more days had passed since the memory of her on Vulcan had been displayed for him to reluctantly see. Since then the creature had spent hours probing her mind, watching various highs and lows of her life. When she was returned each day to their cell Spock recounted to her what he had seen. She was taking it well, or so it seemed.

Their captor had also begun letting them walk around the cave. For exercise, Spock supposed. During this time they were forced to wear collars, attached to leashes which the being held in one large furry hand. From what they saw of the cave it appeared to be immense, with passages winding a labyrinth all throughout it. There were lights scattered along the passages, but where they all led to neither of them had any idea. Perhaps more of the creature's species, or more lab rooms. They were steered away from certain areas, so it was logical to assume there was something there they were not supposed to see.

He was interrupted from his introspection by the sound of a rich baritone voice. Were he totally human, he perhaps would have shivered. As it was he squeezed his eyes closed for a moment before his gaze was helplessly drawn to the monitor that showed Christine's memories.

He saw HIMSELF, in a way that was impossible otherwise. And he saw her. He wondered how the being had the ability to project her recollections from this third person perspective. It left him with the uneasy conclusion that this race was, indeed, extremely advanced in several ways the Federation was not. And not for the first time did he wonder what the outcome might be if there was hostility between the two.

"I love you. I don't know why, but I love you, I do love you. Just as you are."

Spock lowered his gaze, barely registering the rest of their exchange. He was awash in his own memories and perceptions of that particular event. He was startled back to the present when the creature stopped the probing and turned to stare at him. The expression on its face could have meant anything and he would not know it. It hurriedly turned back to the controls, and the image faded to be replaced by another.

An irrational, angry Vulcan. A sympathetic, confused nurse. Harsh words. A bowl thrown against a wall. Shouting. Curious eyes. A painful retreat on both their parts.

"No," Spock whispered. "Do not do this."

If his words were heard, they were ignored. Later that same day. Christine back in his cabin. Confusion again. Desire. Pain. Regret.

"It would be… illogical for us to… protest, against our natures. Don't you think?"

"I… don't understand." Blue eyes filled with concern, apprehension.

A glimmer of wetness in the dim light. A burning hand brushing away a tear with a gentle touch. A flicker of suffering, closed eyes. Torment, being so close.

"Your face is wet," he had whispered to her tenderly.

Before her reply could be uttered there was a animalistic scream. It took Spock a moment to understand that it was emanating from a very awake -- and very wild-eyed -- Christine.

"NO! NO!"

"Christine--" Spock called out, alarmed.

"CUT IT OFF!! CUT IT OFF, YOU MONSTER!"

Spock almost bit his lip. She didn't seem to hear him. And she was rapidly progressing from anger to hysteria.

"DO YOU HEAR ME, DAMN YOU?" She began to struggle wildly against her bonds, screaming all the while.

The creature looked at her, eyes wide. The screen abruptly faded. She continued her verbal outpouring for another minute or so, their captor watching her the entire time. Spock believed it was trying to deduce the cause of her rage. After another moment it rendered her unconscious again and brought her back to Spock. As it departed their cubicle it gave Spock what looked like one of its rare grins.

Spock sank down beside Christine's sleeping form with a sigh. Their masquerade of acting as though there was nothing between them had been ended. Their costumes had been ripped away, leaving them bare and vulnerable in front of each other and their captor. He had no doubt that another dream session would take place if they did not intervene first. The waiting time was over.



* * *

"Spock…"

"Yes, Christine?"

"I really lost it. I'm sorry."

He turned to look at her. This was the first time she had spoken since she had awakened an hour earlier. She'd curled up on her bed, turned away from him. He'd only had a second to glimpse the raw pain in her eyes. Now those dark blue eyes were locked with his calm brown ones, and he felt unsettled. He didn't want to feel anything. But he was, like an echo of her inner sorrow. Her emotions rippled across the surface of his mind, then disappeared. Her gaze was steady. He had to admire her demeanor; he would not have known how badly she was affected could he not feel a part of what she felt. His own feelings on the matter he wanted to lock away, never to be brought to light. However, he knew there was no chance of that. He sighed.

"It is illogical for you to blame yourself for being human. Your reaction was normal for an emotional person."

"Maybe. But It didn't make it easier for you."

"I am… endeavoring to cope with your emotions that I am experiencing," he said quietly.

"And what about your emotions?" she asked darkly.

For a moment she thought he would make the typical denial, spout off the rote that Vulcans recited any time they displayed anything that resembled feelings. She was shocked when he replied:

"I am… endeavoring to cope with those as well."

She blinked in disbelief, but decided that this was not the time to explore his admission. "What do you think will happen now?" she asked instead.

He tilted his head, considering. "Obviously, it now knows for certain there are feelings present between us." Ignoring her look of shock, he added: "I expect it will soon change the angle of the experiments. Exactly how, I am uncertain. However, I do believe that there will be more physical contact episodes between us. Now it will be even more curious as to why we do not engage in such actions on our own accord. And if we do not do as it expects, it may very well compel us again during our dreams."

"Surely it will see in my mind that you're different from me and stop doing that!"

He arched a brow. "From your mind it has now seen conflicting behaviors. It will want to know why."

"But it can't learn anything from making reality an extension of our dreams," she protested.

"And what makes you so certain that it cannot manipulate our minds while we are awake?"

Christine shook her head, too mentally exhausted to continue the discussion. "It can't learn through force," she said stubbornly.

"On the contrary. I believe that it has already learned a great deal. And will now desire even more knowledge."

"Spock, what are you saying? That we should avoid the Christmas rush and perform like good little lab specimens? This is serious! You're talking about voluntarily consenting to rape! The mutual rape of both of us!"

He winced at her words. She went on.

"I don't care what it wants to see or learn or study, I won't do it!"

His gaze was impassive. "I concede your point, and it is, of course, your right. Nor would I ask you to do otherwise unwillingly. Just remember the possibility that we might again not have a choice."

"I know. I know, Spock. But I can't." Her eyes shone with unshed tears. "I just can't."

He nodded, wiping the tears away with two elegant fingers. "We will speak no more of it unless you wish," he promised.

"Thank you," she said.

She was about to speak again when suddenly she felt dizzy. Her head throbbed where the implant was, and she closed her eyes. She heard Spock say her name, and then she heard nothing but the ringing in her ears.



* * *



"Urg…"

Christine opened her eyes slowly, trying to ignore the light throbbing in her head. She was lying in a field of warm blue grass, the light of two suns caressing her cheek. Dazed, she sat up, taking her time to do so. Where was she? How had she gotten here? The last thing she remembered was…

She couldn't remember anything!!

She had been on the ship, maybe? Yes, that would be logical. And now she was here on this unfamiliar world, and…

"Christine!"

Her head jerked in the direction of the cry. That was Spock! But where was he?

"Spock?" she called out. "Where are you?"

"Christine! Hurry!"

At the urgency in his voice she rose, a bit unsteadily, then began running in the direction his voice had emanated from. The field gave way to woods, where huge trees waved orange-brown limbs in the cool breeze. Bright violet leaves fell, sweeping past her, one or two falling in her hair. She ignored them as she continued to call to him, listening for his replies to steer her in the right direction.

She stopped abruptly at the sight of him, lying on the forest floor on a small bed of leaves. His left leg had been pinned under a fallen tree, and even his Vulcan mask could not entirely hide the pain he was feeling. He looked up as he heard her approach. His hands were scratched and torn from his efforts to pull himself free, and there was a small cut of his right cheek. A tiny emerald drop of blood slipped down his face like a tear.

She rushed to his side, falling as she did, struggling to help him pull himself free. With their combined efforts he managed to slide himself out. He drew a harsh breath, tried to stand, and promptly collapsed. She knelt beside him to help him get up. Just as she started to slip an arm under his, he froze.

"What is it?" she asked.

"Get away!" he shouted.

Confused, she turned to see a large animal lumbering towards them. It vaguely resembled a Terran canine, but was about 8 feet long with mottled red fur, six legs, and no tail. The mouth opened to reveal a set of short, pointed teeth, and a thin line of drool ran down its chest as it surveyed them.

Christine's wide eyes went from the creature back to Spock. "Get out of here!" he ordered her. "I cannot walk unaided. It will kill us both."

"No! I won't leave you!" she cried.

"You must! Go!" he shouted.

"No!" she cried again, frantically looking around. She picked up a nearby branch that looked sturdy and had some thickness to it, holding it like a staff as she stood up and faced the beast.

"Christine! Leave now!" Spock roared.

But she stood her ground, poised like an ancient Amazon warrior ready to do battle. As the creature leaped she swung the branch with all her strength, connecting with its head in a cracking thud. It dropped heavily to the ground and lay unmoving.

Gasping, Christine knelt again, slipping an arm under Spock's shoulders. "Come on, before it wakes up!" she exclaimed.

She reached with her free head for the stick just as the creature suddenly leaped to its feet and launched itself at her, teeth bared to connect with her throat…

Christine's entire body jerked and she gasped for breath. The forest was gone. She was standing inside a large empty room in the cavern. Their keeper was standing at the opposite side of the room, apparently making notes. Sitting on the ground beside it was Spock, chained hand and foot. He gazed at her for a long moment before looking down.

Christine stared at both of them, the realization of what had been done slowly creeping into her awareness. It took every bit of control she possessed not to launch herself at their captor. Only the knowledge that it would do more harm than good kept her from attacking it as savagely as she had attacked the apparition in the illusion. As it was she walked calmly beside Spock as they were led back to their cell, the weapon pointed at them. Only when he had been released and they were once again alone did she allow herself the luxury of shaking.

Spock sat beside her on her bed. "Are you injured?" he asked.

She shook her head, turning to look at him. "What did you see?"

"You appeared to be in some sort of trance, experiencing some very vivid illusions that I was injured and we were being attacked."

"Vivid doesn't even begin to describe it." She rubbed her temple. It throbbed lightly beneath her fingers, which she assumed was a result of the mental manipulation she had just experienced.

"So it's begun," she said quietly.

At his look of puzzlement she explained: "The new angle in the experiments that you said would probably happen. It's a whole new ball game now."

"Indeed. It would appear that dramatic changes will be taking place."

They looked at each other, the uneasy thoughts that each of them had mirrored in the other's gaze, but not a word spoken.



* * *

Warmth. Warmth and coldness at the same time…

Spock opened his eyes.

He was lying on his bed. His robe was gone. He was bound hand and foot, spread-eagled with only his blanket covering him.

He swallowed hard.

Christine was nowhere to be seen. His time sense told him that 4.7 hours had passed since their last experience. They had both gone to sleep, or so he thought. Since their capture he wasn't completely certain of much of anything. He had not heard anything, which led him to believe that either their captor had made next to no sound getting her out, or he had been drugged. He leaned toward the view that he had been drugged. The creature was not a silent mover.

He pulled at his bonds. There was no way he could break free. He was at a loss. Why restrain him to the bed, when he was locked in the room? And why nude? Why….

A chill swept over him, and Spock suddenly thought he understood all too well.



* * *



Christine opened her eyes. Why was she on the floor in the hall?

She rose, scowling at her own clumsiness. It was not fitting for a woman such as her to fall. Warrior women stood quick and proud.

She leaped gracefully to her feet. She had no time for this nonsense. She had to go to her chamber. She had a new slave to amuse herself with. He had been sent from… where? She could not remember. Doubtless he was a tribute from a neighboring kingdom. What was his name…

She started down the hall, thinking as she went. Spoik? No. Spaik? No.

Just as she opened the chamber door the name hit her in a flash.

"Spock!"

Spock looked up as Christine came in. From her bearing and stance, he saw that she did not seem like herself. He swallowed hard.

Although she was unclothed, she began making motions that suggested that in her mind she was undressing. When she stopped she looked at him with a cool smile.

"You are my slave now, Spock. You will obey my desires."

Both eyebrows shot up as he inhaled deeply. It was as he suspected. Now he had to figure out what to do.

Even if he tried to bring her out of it, there was a good possibility that he would not be able to break the mental hold. She might get angry and become violent. Or even if he could get her out of the illusion, the resulting mental stress could damage her psyche. That was not a risk he was willing to take.

Which only left him with one real choice.

He could try and stall her with conversation, but from the look on her face that would only be postponing the inevitable. Yet knowing how strongly she felt about the subject, could he really not even make an attempt to stop her? He found himself wishing that she was in her own frame of mind. Then at least she could make her own decision. Now he had to make the choice for both of them.

And what if he didn't cooperate? Would he be tampered with as well? Made to think he truly was her slave? Would she be subjected to pain if he resisted? All of these possibilities seemed very probable to him. His mind spun in circles.

A problem with no easy solution. But he had to decide.

He knew the creature was probably watching. She was slowly walking towards him. He was out of time. He reached a resolution and looked up at her with calm eyes.

"Yes… mistress."



She smiled again at his words, gracefully moving forward until she had reached the side of the bed. He fleetingly wondered what was taking place in her mind; what she saw, what she thought. His musings ended when she pulled the blanket off him, leaving him exposed and vulnerable to her gaze. He forced himself to stay calm. She had a look of satisfaction on her face, moving slowly to position herself above him…

And stopped.

Spock's head jerked up to look at her. She was rubbing her temple, looking dazed. Her blue eyes widened for a moment before she slumped over beside him.

"Christine!" He jerked against his bonds, knowing it was futile as he did. She appeared to have fallen unconscious. He strained his ears and heard the faint sound of their captor's footsteps moving quickly (as quickly as it could) out of the chamber. Before he had time to ponder this new development, she opened her eyes.

"Spock?"

She groggily sat up, eyes narrowing as she took in their circumstances. She appeared to be uninjured. Spock wondered what had made the creature stop the experiment. Whatever the reason, he felt grateful for it.

"I guess you were right."

The tone of her voice, calm yet sad, brought his attention back to Christine. "Though I don't know why I'd think otherwise. Have you ever been wrong, Spock?"

He cleared his throat. "There have been a… few instances where I was not entirely accurate."

She laughed. "I'll bet."

He cocked an eyebrow at her. "I doubt this came as any real surprise to you, however."

She sighed heavily. "I guess not. So what happened this time?"

"You were taken from here, and I was… placed in these circumstances. When you returned, you were in another mindset, preparing to…" Spock found that even he could not finish the sentence.

"I get the idea, Spock. No need for elaboration." But she smiled to take the edge off her words.

He nodded.

"What made it stop?"

He shook his head. "I do not know. It departed abruptly and you went unconscious, then awakened as yourself again."

"Then we wait for it to come back before we begin."

"Begin what?" he asked, puzzled.

Now it was her turn to raise an eyebrow.

"You are now willing to do this?" he asked.

"Spock, I'm no more 'willing' than you are. But I also don't want my mind taken over and me carrying out actions I'm not even going to remember. This being seems to enjoy inciting strong emotions… fear, anger, passion. Maybe we can get it to lay off the physical aspect if we give it enough to experience.

"It is also possible that the reverse will occur, and it will want more," he pointed out.

"True. But I'm going to look at it from a scientific perspective. As much as I love butterscotch, if I ate it every day, after a while I'd get sick of it. It would take time before I would want more again."

He nodded. "Your reasoning is sound."

She smiled again. "Spock, that is one of the nicest things you've ever said to me."



He didn't get a chance to reply before his sensitive ears caught the sounds of the creature returning from wherever it had gone. She caught his look, giving him a questioning one of her own. He nodded. She pressed her lips tightly together, and then exhaled. "Right. Time for this thing to really find out what the shouting is all about."

He raised both eyebrows at her words, but made no comment as she dropped over him on the bed. "Are you going to be able to do this consciously?" she asked, concerned.

"If I were not, I would not have suggested it," he replied.

"Smart-ass."

More raised eyebrows.

"Then try to look like you're enjoying it. The last thing we need is for it to wonder why you're not reacting like it might think you 'should' be and to try and see how it can fix that little problem," she said.

He swallowed hard as he considered the implications of that possibility. "Agreed. I shall endeavor to convey pleasure."

She smiled grimly. "And I'll endeavor to give it."

He had no chance to respond before she covered his mouth with hers.

He almost pulled back reflexively, but stopped. Instead he hesitantly opened his mouth to accept her kiss. She felt his lips parting beneath hers, his tongue brushing her own. Despite the circumstances, she felt a flutter of desire. He must have sensed it, because she felt his mind brush hers. 'May I?' he asked her mentally.

She drew a harsh breath, understanding what he was asking. But it was logical. They were already halfway there due to their captor's interference. It certainly would make things easier for both of them. They would have a lot to sort out later…

'We already do,' she reminded herself. And she mentally gave her assent.

She felt her consciousness expand, felt his mind trickle into hers as their mouths slowly moved against each other's. Her heart lurched, beating too fast, then slowed back into its own human rhythm. The weak link that he had spoken of before now became an open two-way connection between them.

She ran her hands over him, enjoying the feel of his lean body; the muscles that didn't bulge like the captain's but rather rippled across his skin. She ran her nails lightly down his forearms, and she felt him shiver in response, felt his mental intake of breath. She brought her mouth up to his bound hands, lightly nipping and kissing the tender flesh of his palms, and felt him shiver again.

'That's it, then. You like to just barely feel it,' she thought to him.

He hesitated, years of conditioning warring with emotion.

'You don't have to answer,' she thought to him. 'Just keep letting yourself go. It will get easier.'

She returned to kissing him. Her lips moved across his slowly, almost teasingly, licking and caressing them with her tongue. She was startled when he began doing the same thing to her. The flutter she had felt earlier slowly started to turn into a tremor. She felt her heart again, and his, though his was distant somehow. Both were beating faster.

'Spock…' she gasped.

She felt his slight smile. 'I learn quickly, Christine.'

'You aren't kidding!' she exclaimed as he drew her bottom lip into his mouth and began gently sucking on it. She moaned out loud before she even realized she had done it.

'And this is only the beginning,' she thought in a daze. 'Only the beginning.'

Slowly she managed to return her thoughts to their surroundings. She reached up and unfastened first one of his hands, then the other, while he murmured protests that were swallowed by her kisses. Nothing happened after a few minutes, so she slid down and freed his feet. It seemed that their captor had no objections. It was probably glad that its specimens were performing in the accustomed manner, Christine thought savagely.

She felt Spock move against her as he sensed the sudden burst of anger. He projected questioning and calm to her. She sighed, breathing deeply. His lips returned to their earlier action, sending renewed shivers of delight through her. Her hands slid up to caress the juncture of his neck and shoulders, tracing light patterns on his skin with her fingertips.

He tilted his head and looked into her eyes. She gazed in wonder at the sight of desire kindling in his. They were so dark, so deep she felt as though she would drown. But she knew she was safe with him, safer than she had ever felt with anyone. The knowledge made her happy, reassured.

Her fingers twined with his, palms sliding together, and she marveled at how hot his skin was against hers. Being next to him was like lying in the sun in the summertime. It awakened her desire even further. She moved her thumb back slightly to circle his palm and was rewarded by his soft gasp. She continued to make tiny circles until he captured her thumb between two fingers and brought her hand to his mouth.

He marveled at the taste of her. Salty and sweet and the same time. She brought to his mind the L'theraa tree that grew in the few oasis Vulcan possessed. Graceful trees that seemed fragile but stood their ground against the strong winds. The flowers that grew on them had a similar fragrance to that of her skin. Her skin that was pale and cool and velvet all at once.

She playfully pulled free, and he smiled slightly as she wrapped her arms around his waist. The total contact of their torsos brought about an entire new realm of sensations that left them both reeling. She arched against him, wishing she could melt herself into him. Not even this contact was close enough to fill her hunger. He felt her wanting and kissed her hard, tangling his fingers in the silk of her hair.

When he broke the kiss she look at him with face flushed and eyes bright. He put a finger to her cheek. "I burn for you as well," he whispered to her. "But not yet."

"Spock!" she cried.

"This is going to be more than a mere joining of bodies, Christine. Close your eyes and trust in me."

"I do trust you, Spock," she replied… and closed her eyes in anticipation.



She went limp on the bed, her body seeming to slowly melt with her eagerness. Her breasts ached from wanting his hands on them, her mouth cried out for the feel of his. She had never known a torment like it. It was as though she was under a spell and reality had faded away in the wake of her passion. She wondered if he was feeling any of it through their bond.

He slid his body up hers, slowly, and the feel of his engorged member left no doubt in her mind that he had been swept up in the sensations as well. She felt him lie down next to her, facing her, his breath lifting tendrils of her hair and caressing her cheek. His nearness made her tremble, and she sensed a similar effect occurring in him. She reached a tentative hand out and encountered his hair, the short smooth strands covering her fingers. She wrapped them around the soft mass, then playfully mussed it.

She opened her eyes to see the raised eyebrow she knew would be there, and she wasn't disappointed. She swept her hand down his neck to his chest to finger the thick mass of black curling hairs there, all the time watching his expression. She gently raked her nails on his muscles, delighted by his shiver. When her thumb pressed his right nipple he moaned quietly, then shivered again as she caressed it.

Spock felt utterly consumed by sensation. Her fingers on him were causing him to have feelings he had heard of and read about but never experienced. Vulcans were not the cold creatures many thought they were. The reticence Spock had about touching or being touched came from the desire to not be consumed by the emotions they felt. Now, here with Christine, he wanted more of her touch. He could begin to understand why humans were so preoccupied with the physical. The raw power of her wanting left him reeling and eager and weak. The thought crossed his mind that perhaps they were being affected by something. Perhaps their keeper had added a drug to the ventilation system of the cell. The intensity he was feeling seemed far beyond anything he could imagine experiencing. But even if they were being drugged, what could they do about it?

"Spock?"

At her speaking his name he focused on her. "Yes, Christine?"

"It's not too late to stop this… are you certain? This is a far cry from how it's going to get, you know."

"I am beginning to understand that. But I do not wish to stop." Now it was his turn to study her. "Do you?"

"No," she whispered, "Neither do I. I just didn't want to…"

"Nor did I," he reassured her.

She nodded. He could see she was still troubled. "This is not something you are pleased with, however," he said.

"No, I'm not pleased at all, Spock. It's unfair for it to be like this."

"True. However, this… joining is a choice we agreed to make."

"The lesser of two evils is still an evil," she told him.

"That, too, is true. But it is also still the best choice."

She moved down to rest her head on his chest, listening to the swift beat of his heart. Then she raised her head and moved down to kiss his hip, nipping at the sensitive skin. When he jerked in response she smiled.

"You're awfully sensitive."

"Your actions have a rather large role in that regard," he said dryly.

"Then let's see what else my actions can do."



He raised an elegant eyebrow at her, but said nothing.

She kissed his hip again, tracing a line with one fingertip up and down the bone. Her lips were gentle, then firm, and her touch copied the actions of her mouth. She heard a small inarticulate sound come from him and was pleased. But she had no intentions of stopping there.

She slowly traveled back to his chest. Two fingers twined in the hair around his right nipple while she grazed the sensitive nub with her thumbnail. Her other hand toyed with his left nipple in a similar manner. She bent her head to the right, languidly licking the flesh, feeling it harden beneath her tongue. She then sharply inhaled, causing a cold chill to course through him. After a few seconds pause she breathed warm air on it, then repeated both actions.

Now she heard another sound, a slightly more audible gasp. She grinned to herself. She had imagined he would be highly sensitive under the right circumstances, but not this much. His heartbeat had increased along with his breathing, and he looked slightly flushed. It made her wonder how he would react if she… no, she decided. That would wait. Just when he thought he could stand no more would she perform that little piece de resistance. For now she was beyond ecstatic to know that she was giving him the pleasure he was obviously experiencing.

She teased his nipples a bit more, rolling them between her fingers, gently biting, slowly caressing, then moved to his left arm. She began to kiss, nip, and caress her way down, gently stroking the hairs on his forearm, teasing the underside with her nails, laughing softly as he squirmed. When she reached his hand she took it between both of hers, and with her eyes focused on his, slid his index finger into her mouth.

His eyes widened.

Keeping that finger in place between her lips, she slid her mouth down to capture another finger, then another, until she had three of his fingers in her mouth. She sucked them hard several times up and down, then freed them to bring his wrist to her lips and lick it. Her teeth grazed his palm, the side of his hand, the sensitive skin between his thumb and fingers. All the time she looked steadily into his face. When he closed his eyes and swallowed hard she knew he was slowly letting himself go.

She released his hand, running one of hers slowly back up his arm, down his chest to his leg. She moved downward to the leg, planting wet kisses as she traveled down to his knee. Her fingers made light circles on his inner thigh as she kissed the kneecap, then slowly scratched her way there with her nails, enjoying the feeling of him twitching beneath her. She worked her way down to his foot. "Are you ticklish here?" she asked huskily.

"I... do not know," he stammered.

"Let's find out." She took his toes into her mouth as she had his fingers, teasing the bottom of his foot as she did. Other than making a sound of enjoyment, he didn't respond. "It would seem you're not ticklish… at least not here." She released his foot with a grin.

"It would… indeed appear so," he gasped.

"Of course, I'll have to check other parts of your body to be sure," she teased.

"That… will undoubtedly be interesting."



She moved slowly, sliding back up a bit on the bed until her upper body was near his waist. Her right hand crept to his thighs, moving up and down until she finally reached the juncture of his maleness. Her fingers stroked and caressed the thick black base of curls while he sighed.

When she curved her fingers around his organ in a gentle but firm grip a low moan escaped him. She luxuriated in the sound. Her hand moved to the head, circling it with two fingers, the others lightly rubbing up and down on the shaft. He jerked slightly beneath her touch, a faint green staining his cheeks.

Then she closed her entire hand around it again, moving it up and down as she had done with her fingers. The effect it had on him was immediate. The flush spread and deepened slightly in color, and he sighed again. She could feel her fingers becoming moist with the fluid of his arousal.

When she thought he couldn't stand much more, she stopped, causing him to make a small sound of protest. But even as he did so she was leaning down and replacing her fingers with her mouth.

He jerked upwards, eyes open wide for a second before closing them again in bliss. As her mouth stroked him his reactions intensified, the small sounds he had made earlier rapidly turning raw and animalistic.

"K'ai thiane," he whispered.

Christine stopped. "Spock? Am I causing you pain?" she asked.

"No! No," he whispered. "Just… so much sensation… I am unused to experiencing anything of this intensity. Please continue."

She returned to his organ, placing a small kiss on his hip before taking him in her mouth again. He whispered something too soft for her to hear, his breath coming out in harsh gasps. She had an idea that he had never done this before, but now wasn't the time to ask. She simply reached a hand up to toy with his left nipple while she continued to drive him into a state of frenzy.

Suddenly he sat up, pulling her away to lie down beside him, arms caressing her skin as he did so. She could feel him shaking. "Spock?"

His voice was rough. "I was about to… climax. I did not wish for that to be the way this happens." His hand brushed her hair gently away from her face. "I also wish to explore your body more fully."

"Do you now," she purred, stretching against him.

"Yes. You have worked me into a good deal of arousal. And I must repay you in kind."

"You… must?" she asked breathlessly, as he had cupped a breast and was rubbing the tender nipple.

"Indeed."



Christine watched as he moved to lie over her, bracing himself on his arms. His eyes searched hers for a long moment before he leaned down and pressed his lips to her throat.

His breath was warm, a direct contrast to the cold shivers his touch evoked. Full, soft lips trailed a path of desire down her neck, along her collarbone, across her shoulders. He was surprised to see a light smattering of freckles there. It was one of many things he was about to learn.

His mouth moved leisurely down to her breasts. He traced their outline with his tongue, then slowly worked his way inward on the right one as she whimpered. He gently pulled it into his mouth, tugging it slightly as he sucked the nipple, tongue flickering over it. Tiny showers of arousal caressed her skin as he did, rapidly pooling inside and dampening her feminine core. She twisted beneath him, fingers sliding through his hair, twining it in her fingers.

He moved to repeat his sweet torture to the other breast, making even more heat pulse within her. By the time he stopped and was sliding his lips towards her stomach she thought she would explode.

"Spock…" his name was a whisper, an entreaty, a breathless testimony to her want.

He only smiled, chin resting at the top of her stomach, before he skimmed over to one hip and began nibbling at flesh. He worked his way down to her thigh, then back up, and down again, each time getting closer and closer to her inner thighs and secret center. With each lick she felt closer and closer to shattering into pieces, but each time he brought her back only to repeat the process again. His skill amazed her. Was he acting purely on long-suppressed instincts? Or had he sensed in her mind the path towards igniting her passion and walked down it? Either way she was totally enthralled by him.

Suddenly she was aware that he had moved again and was looking down at her. She gazed back at him, blue eyes dark and wide with pleasure.

A half-smile crossed his lips, and as he slid back down her body she knew he was far from being finished.



Long slender fingers clenched the bed as she moistened her lips with her tongue and prepared for his arousing journey.

A mouth. Warm and gentle. Sweeping hesitantly against her tender sex, swollen and aching with need. Planting tiny kisses. Nuzzling.

Breathing fast. Body taut as violin strings. Trembling. Soft curves shuddering beneath smooth angles.

Just when Christine thought she could take no more, he slid heated hands under her hips to lift her against his questing tongue. And the explosion that had hit her earlier was nothing compared to the obliteration that now engulfed her.

Spock felt her pleasure as his own, stimulated by it, gratified. Her mind was a vast field of hazy excitement completely open for him to stroll through. She gave everything to him with no demand for a return. But he wanted to give her one. Her honesty and receptiveness demanded nothing less.

'You are flame,' he thought to her.

'Yes,' she cried out into his mind. 'Your flame.'

Sweeping, searching. Her thoughts and his tongue found the hidden pearl of her hunger.

"Spock!" she moaned.

He saw in her mind what she wanted and set about giving it to her.

"Yes,' she said mentally as he followed the visions. 'YES!'

He increased his speed, licking over and over on the spot that made her writhe, timing his moves with her thrusts. Closer. He could feel it. Closer…

"Wait!" Christine gasped aloud. She gently pulled him up.

His eyes showed his confusion. She could see the glistening of her passion on his lips. It was almost too much for her to bear, seeing him like this.

"Why have you stopped me?" he asked.

"Because I would have orgasmed if you'd kept that up!"

"You do not wish that?" Now he was more puzzled than before.

Christine laughed. "Yes, Spock, I most certainly do! But…together. I want to feel you inside me. I want to join with you first, as you did with me."

He nodded. "Now I understand." He kissed her, and she lapped at her fluids on his face, tasting her sweetness mixed with his musk.

He drew back slightly, looking deeply into her eyes.

"Now. I wish to be one with you now," he whispered.

She swallowed hard, then nodded. "Now."



There was no more room for teasing. Both their bodies demanded fulfillment. The raw pleasure, being so close to satisfaction then pulled away, had left both of them ablaze. The only way to quench the thirst was to completely descend into the firestorm. Neither had any doubts or hesitation: only that shuddering violet tinged need.

He rolled her on top of him, clasping her hips tightly, moving his hands up to her breasts to eagerly caress them as she positioned her wet oval of heat over his rigid shaft. As she sank down upon him, filling herself with him, she gave a soft cry of pleasure. Her world became Spock, and there was no room in this world for anything but the feel of her body joined with his.

Spock heard her cry, he felt her desire ebb and flow and meet his own until he was not completely certain where her feelings ended and his began. He decided that at the moment it did not really matter. There was no means of differentiating, so he would not try. His thoughts came back to her, feeling the desperate pleading of her body, her exaltation as she moved closer and closer to the peak. He had no wish to stem the tide of her desires. He thrust upwards with his hips as she bore down on him, and as she began to shake he heard her orgasm in his mind like ocean waves pounding the shore. She crashed into him, washed over him, then receded only to come back again and again. He was aware that his own body had followed suit, he could feel himself emptying into her. The beating of their hearts, one fast, one slow, gradually began to calm and their bodies descended back into a semblance of normality.

Christine carefully slid down to lie beside him. He rested his hands on her lightly, partly to reassure her, partly to maintain contact to determine if a bond had now fully formed. It was not possible to tell yet: they were still too close from the physical joining. He sighed.

"What?" she asked.

He shook his head. "Nothing." As she studied him he cocked an eyebrow at her. "So… that is 'what all the shouting is about?' "

She blushed slightly, remembering her earlier phrase, said so matter-of-factly. Words seemed so trivial compared to what they'd just experienced. Spock continued to look at her as if he expected a response.

"Yes," she said. "I guess that wasn't a good way to put it, in retrospect."

"Why?"

"Because it was so much more than just two bodies. It was amazing, Spock."

"Indeed. It was a rather… intense experience."

"Mr. Understatement."

"I am merely being precise, Christine. Emotional language does not always allow for that."

She scowled at him. "Some things aren't meant to be quantified with precise, rational language."

He surprised her by saying: "Perhaps not."

She yawned despite herself, resulting in the faintest gleam of amusement in his dark eyes. "Perhaps we should save discussion for later."

"Yes. I'll hold you to that," she said with another yawn as she moved closer to him.

"I sincerely hope not."



* * *

"Why?"

Kirk wearily looked up from where he was kneeling on the ground. He'd been staring at the grass for so long he'd forgotten that he wasn't alone. Bones' voice reinforced that reality.

"Why what, Bones? Why can't we find them? Why there's no trace of anything? Why is the grass green? What are you asking me?"

McCoy crossed his arms in an eerie imitation of Spock. "Dammit, Jim, you know how I feel."

"Yeah, Bones. I do," Kirk said quietly.

"If Spock was here, he'd say that people do not just vanish. Wouldn't he?"

Kirk managed a small smile. "I think that's a safe bet."

"Then why? Why the hell can't we find anything?"

Kirk winced.

"Jim, I'm not blaming anyone, for crying out loud! Except whoever took them. But this is starting to scare me a little! We've run test after test, scan after scan, and nothing."

"Nothing," Kirk echoed. "And what does that tell you, Doctor?"

"It tells me that whoever took them is damn clever and good at covering their tracks."

"Exactly. So, we have to be cleverer. How do we do that?"

McCoy shrugged. "I don't know, Jim."

Kirk rose, a renewed air of purpose around him. "I'll tell you how, Bones. We've run a hundred tests; we run two hundred more. A dozen scans? We do three dozen more. Even a methodical abductor can make a mistake. And we are not going to stop until we find one."

McCoy blinked at the vehemence in Kirk's voice. Then he nodded. "A logical plan, captain," he said quietly.

Kirk raised his eyebrows. "Bones, if I didn't know better, I'd swear you're trying to fill in for Spock."

McCoy's blue eyes widened. "Me? Be a proxy for that green-blooded ice bucket? You gotta be kidding me, Jim."

Kirk spread his hands in a gesture of mock surrender. "Ok, Bones, sorry. I don't know how I could ever have made such a comparison."

"Me, either," McCoy huffed.

As Kirk kept looking at him, McCoy found he couldn't keep his composure and broke into a grin. "Now cut that out!" the doctor ordered. "This is serious. You accusing me of acting like Spock. I think you need some bed rest and an eye exam, Jim. That would be the best thing for you!"

"Yes, well, Doctor, right now the best thing for me would be to find my missing crew. After that, I'll take all the naps and eye exams you want."

* * *

Vulcan.

Mount Seleya. The highest point on the planet, the only place high enough for snow. A place Spock had only been to once… in reality.

As he stood gazing up at the craggy peaks, he knew he was dreaming. But he had no idea of what was about to happen, or how to make it stop. Their captor had used mental tricks worthy of the Talosians. That combined with their forced physical closeness and captivity had turned both him and Christine into puppets, living puppets whose strings were carelessly pulled to force them to give various performances.

"Spock?"

He turned to see her coming to stand beside him. Her hair was unbound and tumbled around her shoulders in a swirl of golden curls. She was dressed in a simple long sleeved black robe with black sandals. She looked at him, then glanced up the mountainside. "K'ai veresha Seleya," she said quietly.

He nodded. "You have been here before?"

"Once."

Spock was surprised. Offworlders were seldom permitted to get too close to this sacred site. "You have been inside the shrine?"

"A friend of mine's katra lies within," she answered softly. "When he… passed from this existence, I was the only one with him. He had to pass his essence into me."

"That must have been difficult," Spock said quietly. It was by all accounts not easy even when the transference occurred between two Vulcans. However, between a Vulcan and a human it must have driven them both to the edge.

"There were… complexities," she told him, without a trace of irony. "But it ended well."

"I am gratified to hear that," he said.

Now her dark blue gaze was amused. "As well you should be. For it was your katra I carried."

Spock felt blood drain from his face. "What did you say?" he breathed.

"I carried your katra."

"That is not possible," he said harshly, uneasily. "I am alive. I am right here."

"Yes, you are. But this is not truly Mount Seleya. And neither of us are truly here."

"Then how could you have carried my katra? And if that is not the Hall of the Ancients, then where are we? And what happened to me? And you? Where am… I?"

She did not reply, only stood with her eyes fixed on his.

"I do not understand," he protested in frustration.

"No. But soon you will." Her image began to fade.

"Christine?"

Now all of his surroundings grew blurry, blending together into a blinding whiteness like the snow atop the mountain peaks. Winds howled and tore at the cloak he wore. Spock twisted desperately, straining to catch sight of Christine.

"Christine!"

But she was gone.



"AH!"

Spock awoke with a gasp, his heartbeat pounding in his ears like deafening drums. He sat bolt upright, staring around him without really seeing anything.

"Spock! What's wrong?"

He turned to look at her, sitting up beside him, resting a hand on his arm. She was real. He had been dreaming.

He slowly relaxed.

"Spock?" she whispered.

He shook his head. "It was a dream. A disquieting dream. Nothing more."

She didn't seem convinced of this. "Do you not want to tell me?"

"Perhaps later," he suggested, pulling her close and easing both of them back down on the bed. He held her tightly against him as though the feel of her would stop his body from shaking. She stroked his hair, making soft soothing sounds. His buried his face in her neck. "Later."



* * *



Christine jerked awake abruptly at the sound of their captor opening the door to their cell. Spock was already awake and staring at the being. Christine swallowed hard. Now what? They had given it what they believed it wanted: a display of sex. Would it want more? Or was there something else it had in mind?

Her answer arrived quickly. The creature gestured with its hand device towards Spock.

He slowly rose out of the bed. As he did she shot a hand out, touched his wrist. "Spock?" She didn't even know what she was asking him, only that she needed some kind of answer.

He glanced down at her, his gaze filled with resolution and something she couldn't quite place. "Do not be concerned for me, Christine. My disciplines will render any mental assault a short-lived one."

Christine nodded. What else could she do?

As Spock was led out into the rest of the lab, she walked to the wall facing the equipment, pressing her face against the still-transparent glass. Hopefully she would be allowed to watch. Indeed, the being seemed not to care if she did. It restrained Spock to the table, then began adjusting various controls. Christine waited with a mixture of worry and dread. Despite Spock's assurances, she wasn't entirely convinced that he would be able to hold onto his Vulcan shielding. She knew firsthand how powerful that memory probe was. Of course, there had been the time Spock withstood a Klingon mind sifter. She remembered feeling a great deal of respect for Spock as she entered that record into his medical file. Surely this wouldn't be that different for him. She was only such an easy target because she was human and had no mental shields developed.



The creature had stopped adjusting the controls and was looking down at Spock. Christine saw him wince, then his face went completely blank as his Vulcan disciplines wrestled against the assault on his psyche. For a moment everything seemed fine. Then she saw Spock's face contort, slightly at first, but with a rapidly growing agony. His entire body trembled, shaking as though he was having a seizure. Christine threw herself against the wall, then banged on it with ineffectual fists. "Stop it! You're hurting him, dammit!" she screamed.



Their captor seemed to understand that something was very wrong, for it reached to turn off the machine. As it did, sparks flew from the equipment. Christine watched in horror as a shower of blue and white sparks arced down to the wires and electrodes connected to Spock's face. He jerked as though convulsing, and she could see his teeth chattering from the force of the current. "STOP IT!! STOP IT!!"



The burst ended as abruptly as it began, the equipment ceasing to function with a soft whine and puff of smoke. Spock lay still, eyes closed, and she couldn't even tell if he was breathing. The being looked at him, then at her.



"Let me out!! Let me out to him!" Christine screamed at the top of her lungs. "He might be dying! Damn you LET ME OUT!!"



The creature understood her intent, if nothing else. It pressed a button which opened the door, allowing her to exit. She ran straight to Spock, ripping the devices from his skin. He was breathing, but unconscious.



"Spock? Spock, wake up. Can you hear me?" Christine anxiously opened one eye, then shook him hard. "Spock? Spock!"



The Vulcan still did not respond. Christine looked around frantically and spotted her medical tricorder. With no concern other than Spock she snatched it up and scanned him. The being watched, curious. She stared at the tricorder as though it were a snake, almost dropping it to the floor before she forced her numb fingers to put it back on the table. She shook her head, her voice an agonized whisper. "No. No, it can't be, please no…" She squeezed her eyes shut against the tears, but they fell like drops of acid onto her skin. "Oh, Spock, what am I going to do…"

Christine sobbed uncontrollably for a moment, then forced her trembling hands to pick up the tricorder again. She turned on the view screen and activated the database emergency system and voice mode function, stroking Spock's hair with one hand as she did.



"Medical sequence one-four-seven activated," the mechanical computer voice of the tricorder spoke. "What is the nature of the emergency?"



"Computer. Scan for all information regarding…" Her voice failed her and she had to stop, take a deep breath and clear her throat.



"Did not understand search request. Please repeat the information."



Her eyes shimmered and blurred with tears. "Scan for all information regarding catatonia."

* * *

Methodically, Christine put down the damp cloth she'd been using to wipe Spock's forehead. She slumped on the bed, wishing she could get some sleep. But every time she closed her eyes she only saw blue and black. Eventually her body's needs would override her conscious thought process and she would pass out. But that hadn't happened yet.

Two days had passed since Spock had entered a state of medical catatonia. And there wasn't a damn thing she could do. Their captor didn't understand, and even if it had she knew of little that could be done. His body was functioning. Heart rate, breathing, all vital signs normal. But his mind was gone, somewhere too far away for her to reach.

I have to get through to him somehow, she thought to herself. I'm the only chance he's got until we're rescued. What the hell do I do?

Almost as soon as the despairing thought came, she heard a voice in her mind. It was Leonard's voice, speaking in that soft southern drawl she loved so much. Well, Christine, it said, if you're the only hope he's got right now, you'd better get busy. Because you know he's damn sure not gonna get better by himself.

"I know," she said aloud in a choked voice. "I know."

On the positive side, they had been left alone since the incident. The being brought food and took her out to shower, but it made no further attempt to run tests. It stared at Spock, then her, a questioning look on its face. Each time she shook her head; each time it walked away. It seemed that part of their ordeal was over. But it was not letting them go. At least not yet.

"Maybe the piece of shit wants to see if Spock will ever wake up," she said. Almost immediately afterward she felt a twinge of remorse. But dammit, it was that thing's fault they were here to begin with. She couldn't bring herself to feel too badly about her caustic comment.

She also realized she'd been talking aloud a great deal since Spock's injury. She wanted to hear a voice. Even if it was her own. And it wasn't as though it would do him any harm.

No, she realized suddenly. But it might help.

Christine had read case studies about catatonics who had come out of their stupor. One of the key elements that they claimed had helped them was that they'd had someone talking to them constantly. It focused them, brought them back. She didn't have much in this prison lab. But she had her voice and her mind. She had to try.

She felt determined, settled. Suddenly she yawned so hard her eyes watered. She realized she wouldn't be of any use to Spock if she didn't take care of herself. With that in mind Christine rose and went to the other bed, falling asleep almost as soon as she stretched out.

When she awoke she had no way of knowing how much time had passed. Not that it mattered. She got up and washed her face in cool water, then poured some for herself in a glass. She went back to Spock's bed. He lay just as she had left him. Christine made certain every so often to turn him, and to move his arms and legs for a while to help maintain muscle integrity as best she could. She sat on the edge of the bed, took a deep breath and forced herself to speak in a cheerful voice.

"Hello, Spock. I thought I would sit here and talk to you."

* * *

"I bet you don't know this, Spock, but a lot of nurses and doctors will tell you that they knew they wanted to be nurses and doctors since they were little kids. Well, guess what? I didn't want to be either. Do you know what the first thing I ever wanted to be was?"

Christine paused as though to give Spock time to answer. In reality she wanted a sip of water. So far she'd delivered one lengthy monologue and was preparing for another. After she drank she turned back to Spock, keeping her tone light.

"No idea? Well, I'll tell you. I wanted to be an archaeologist."

She waited a few beats. "I'll bet that surprises you, Spock. But it's true. I wanted to dig in the dirt for relics. I wanted to help discover something amazing, something long lost that would change history as we know it. Remember when they found Atlantis and Imhotep's tomb on Earth? Or when they dug up the Forgotten Lyre of T'Kina on Vulcan? Well, that's what I wanted to do. I wanted to be the next great explorer. Sounds kind of silly now, doesn't it?

"But like all early childhood ambitions that one changed as I got older, although even in my early teens I still didn't know what I wanted for my life. Do you know what made me decide to become a bioresearcher? Or a nurse?

"I'll tell you. It was Larl's Disease. My brother had it. He was diagnosed with it when I was seventeen and he was twelve."

Despite her intentions to keep a casual tone, Christine's eyes watered and her voice grew husky with emotion. "Right then I knew what I wanted. To find a way to help Michael and everyone like him. So I went into bioresearch. Studied my ass off: sorry. I got my Ph.D. in it. I was lucky: while I was studying a cure was found. My baby brother is still alive. But for every disease we find a cure for, there's a hundred others that we haven't. And I also wanted to make a day-to-day difference in helping people. So then I started nursing."

She glanced at his unmoving form. "It's time for me to work your limbs," she said airily. She carefully began her thrice-daily regime of lifting, bending and flexing his arms and legs. "You're getting awfully thin, Spock," she joked feebly. "I'm going to have to figure out a way to fatten you up for Thanksgiving."

Although her tone was jovial, Christine knew that she had to rig up some kind of system to get fluid and nutrients into Spock. At her rough estimation he'd gone without for almost a day. Later their keeper should come to check on them. She would have to communicate, figure out some way to make it understand what she needed. For now she finished her task and covered Spock with the blanket. "I'm going to get some rest now," she told him. "I'll be right here," she said, pointing at the other bed.

/Like you could be anywhere else, / she thought wryly. But it was important to speak to him as though he could hear her. She stretched out on the bed, mentally reviewing the minimum equipment she would need to take care of Spock. She was still thinking of ways to explain it to their captor when she fell asleep.

The sound of the door being opened awoke her, and Christine sat up groggily as the being entered. It looked at Spock, then her.



Christine shook her head. Then she picked up one of the cakes that served as their food and took several bites. She pointed at Spock and shook her head. She then poured some water and took a few drinks, again pointing at Spock and shaking her head again.

Their captor tilted its shaggy head, looking from the food and water back to Spock. It rubbed its face a few times then departed from their cell.

"Wait!" she called frantically. She hit the door with her fists, watching as it shambled out of the room. "Did you understand me?!"

/Like it could tell you if it had,/ she reminded herself. She could only wait, and hope.

She sat next to Spock. "Good morning, Spock," she said. "I guess you're wondering what that was all about."

She carefully turned him over and began to massage his shoulders and back. She resumed talking. "I was explaining to furball there how you need an alternate source of nutrition and fluid right now. I think it got the message."

Christine continued massaging, working her way to his legs and feet. "I hope this… feels ok. It's a therapeutic massage we give patients. I know you dislike being touched, but look at it this way. At least it's me and not Dr. McCoy! Oh, that was a joke. Leonard's a wonderful doctor, and even though you hate being poked and prodded even you'd have to admit that."

She turned Spock over again and worked on his other side. "You know, even though you two don't agree on much of anything, and you're very different in temperament, he really respects you, Spock. Oh, I know he teases you, and calls you names, but he only does it to see if you'll react, to see if he can bring out any of your emotions. Kind of unfair to you in a way, but that's Leonard's nature. He's a firm believer in emotions and it bothers him to think of you never showing any.

"It isn't that he doesn't respect that you're part Vulcan. He admires your Vulcan physiology a lot. And even your logic, as much as he can't stand it. He knows it's valuable. But I think his behavior towards you is partly because he's so emotional, and that's his approach to a lot of things. Some doctors don't have a good bedside manner. Hell, in all honesty, a lot of doctors don't deserve to be doctors. They treat patients like dolls or machines instead of living beings. But Leonard doesn't do that. He cares and he's not afraid to show it. He's the best doctor I've ever worked with. And you… it frustrates him that he can't relate to you in a lot of ways, it makes him feel that he can't ever help you. And for a doctor, or a nurse, there's no worse feeling than feeling like you can't make someone better. To see that you can't do anything, that you can't ease a burden or heal an injury… it's like failing. And I think that deep down there's a part of Leonard that feels like he fails you.

"Mind you, if you repeat any of this, I'll be forced to find a way to make you take a physical every month!" She warned with a grin, knowing Spock couldn't see her expression but that he would hear her tone of voice. "I'm not sure why I even told you all of this, except I guess I wanted you to be able to see his side. Goodness knows he'll never admit to any of that!"

Christine was interrupted by the return of their keeper. It held in its large paw-like hands something that resembled an IV bottle. Christine stood back, watching carefully as it connected the bag to a small box it brought in. It then gestured to her. Hoping she understood, Christine took Spock's right arm and inserted the needle into his vein. She watched, transfixed, as a pale yellow fluid seeped down the tubes and into Spock's arm. It was working! She laughed in relief.

After giving her several more bags, the creature turned to go. Christine hesitantly touched its back, and it swung around to face her.

"Thank you," she said quietly.

It affected a puzzled look, and then patted her on the head as it had done once before. Then she was alone with Spock again. Obviously they were not going to be set free, at least not yet. She didn't know what more would be done to her or Spock, but it seemed that they would be left in peace while he was catatonic. Christine poured more water, ate a cake and resumed her position at the foot of his bed.

"Ok, Spock, what can I talk about now?"

* * *

"If I had a credit for every time I've scowled in the past hour," Dr. McCoy began.

"You'd have twenty-seven credits," Kirk interrupted with a yawn.

"Keeping track, Jim?"

"Somebody has to."



From a few meters away Uhura let out a loud sigh. "Still nothing, Captain." She kicked at the dirt in frustration. "It's as though the ground opened and swallowed them up!"

Kirk spun around, hairs pricking up on the back of his neck. "What did you just say, Uhura?"

She looked startled, but replied promptly: "I said it's as though the ground opened and swallowed them up, sir…"

"Uhura, you're a genius!"

"I am?" she asked, partly puzzled, partly amused.

"What are you getting at, Jim?" McCoy asked eagerly.

Kirk walked over to Uhura, and then looked over at the doctor. "We've searched for signs of a ship here and found none. We've looked for traces of a ship that left here and found none. We've searched the sky and the ground." His eyes took on their familiar determined gleam. "But what if they're somewhere under us?"

"But Captain, we've made scans of that, too," Uhura reminded him.

"I know, Uhura. But I've got a hunch. If I'm wrong, we can eliminate that possibility. But think of this: what if they were taken into some kind of underground compound, a place that's shielded from our sensors for some reason?"

"It's possible," Uhura said.

"Damn right it is!" McCoy exclaimed. "Hey, maybe…"

"Maybe something is interfering with our readings?" Kirk finished with a grin. "Maybe we should've looked at that more closely instead of assuming they'd been taken away." He pulled out his communicator. "Kirk to Chekov. Meet us at the beam down coordinates."

* * *

"Magnesium, Viridium, Choridal, Fosatran… Aldanium?"

"Yes, sir. A very unusual alloy. And very uncommon," Chekov replied.

"Could it cause an inaccurate tricorder reading?"

Chekov reflected on the question. "It does have a negative polarization effect in combination with certain minerals." His dark eyes lit up. "And one of them is Viridium!"

"Bingo!" McCoy shouted.

"Keptin, I don't know why this didn't occur to me before," Chekov said. "I knew the composition… I should have made the connection sooner."

"We've all been chasing our tails on this, Chekov," Kirk said. "One of the best places to hide something is right under a person's nose. It just took a while for us to remember that. This combination: it's extremely rare, isn't it?"

"Yes, sir. I only know of two other planets that have it."

"There you go. Stop beating yourself up over it, and start working on a way to overcome the problem," Kirk smiled.

"Yes, sir!"

* * *

An hour later Chekov had reconfigured the scanners. "There it is!" he exclaimed.

"I see it, Chekov," Kirk replied. "Registering a structure 2.3 Kilometers below the surface." He glanced at the team he'd assembled: six people from security, himself, McCoy and Uhura. "Phasers on stun." He signaled the Enterprise. "Kirk to Mr. Scott."

"Scott here, Captain."

"I've transmitted the coordinates to you, Scotty."

"Aye, sir, I've programmed them in."

"Good. Energize."

* * *

"I didn't really know what to expect when I came on board the Enterprise," Christine told Spock in a soft wistful voice. "I mean, one of the most famous ships in Starfleet, with an equally famous crew. It was a lot to live up to."

She was holding Spock's right hand in her left hand, fingers absently stroking the cool smooth skin as she spoke. "It wasn't that I didn't feel qualified, I knew that I was. But there's always that nervousness. 'Will I fit in? Will I make friends?' Being Vulcan you didn't have those concerns as much as a human would. But I think it was probably important. Even Vulcans need friends.

"Not going to argue that? I'm shocked, Spock," she said in a teasing tone. "You know, I'm really happy that I'm part of the Enterprise crew. Even after what happened with Roger. The ship has really become my home. I do good work in a field I enjoy; I have great friends like Leonard and Nyota. The only thing that's been missing is, well… you.

"Dammit," she swore, wiping her face with her free hand. "I'm sorry, Spock. I shouldn't have said that. I've never wanted to burden you with my feelings. It's not your fault. It's no one's fault." She sniffed for a few seconds, then looked down at Spock's comatose form on the bed.

"Listen, Spock. What happened with us… we've been manipulated. Used like lab rats. I won't hold it against you; I want you to know that. When we get out of here we can just pretend it never happened." Tears formed anew in her eyes, but she held them back. "I'll always love you, and I'm glad I got to know you as a person. No matter what happens, please remember that."

She stopped as she heard a sudden commotion from outside the chamber. She rose and went to look out the side. Voices, did she hear voices?

"Hello?" she called loudly.

"Jim, that was Christine!" It was Leonard!!

"Dr. McCoy?! Captain? We're in here!" she yelled, beating on the walls with her fists.

A moment later the very welcome sight of the Captain, Leonard and Nyota filled her eyes.

"Be careful! Our captor is around here somewhere!" Christine cried.

"Oh, we saw it," McCoy answered as the security team set about opening the door to their cell. "But it probably won't be putting up much of a fuss, seeing as how it's unconscious." His eyes darkened as he studied Spock. "What happened, Christine?"

"Trauma induced catatonia," she answered clinically, forcing herself to sound detached. "I was able to convey to our captor that he needed liquids and nourishment, but that's all I could do…"

By now the door was open. Kirk stepped in and surprised her by giving her shoulders a brief squeeze. "I'm sure you've done everything possible," he said firmly. He signaled the Enterprise. "Kirk here, Scotty."

"Captain! Did ye find them?"

"That we did, Scotty. Lock on our coordinates and beam us up. And have a med team standing by for Mr. Spock."

* * *

"How long has she been like this?"



If Kirk's voice startled McCoy, the doctor didn't show it. "Oh, only ever since we beamed up," he said softly.

From the window in the lab the two men could easily see Christine sitting at the foot of Spock's bed, speaking to him. She wasn't touching him, but her entire demeanor suggested that she had every right to be there. And perhaps she did. She hadn't been very forthcoming about the events of their capture. When Kirk had gently pressed her for details she'd sighed and told them everything in a flat monotone that somehow still managed to convey the pain she'd experienced. McCoy had immediately told her to take a week off and not to even think about arguing. Were Spock not still in his coma he would've received the same order. As it was the Vulcan had little choice but to be tended to.

Christine had insisted that she be allowed to check on him and sit with him, and seeing the fire in her eyes McCoy had acquiesced. It wasn't really work, and it seemed to have a positive effect on her. If only Spock would snap out of it…

As if he'd been walking in the footsteps of McCoy's thoughts Kirk asked: "What going to happen to him, Bones?"

McCoy sighed heavily. "I wish I could tell you, Jim. But right now I honestly don't know. We've repaired all the physical damage to him. Now we just have to wait for him to decide to wake up."

Kirk nodded. "I understand. I know you're doing everything you can."

"And more," McCoy added, nodding at Christine. "I hope he comes back soon… otherwise I'm gonna be short my head nurse."

* * *



"Spock."

Spock turned and looked around, puzzled. Someone had spoken to him. But where was he? And where were they?

"Who are you?" he called, looking around him. He was resting against an oak tree. The sky overhead was a deep blue with a few wisps of white clouds. "I am on Earth? But how?"

"Spock," the voice spoke again. This time there was no doubt as to the speaker's identity.

"Christine?" He called. "Where are you?"

"Nearby. But you are not. You are fading, Spock."

"How did we get here?"

"We are not truly here, Spock. We are in your mind, your memories."

"Why do you say I am fading?"

"Because you are becoming lost to your life. You have been in a coma for twenty-three days. Your life force is ebbing."

"That is not possible," he said.

Now he could see her, drifting at the edge of his sight. She was wearing a long white linen robe and sandals, her hair loose. She looked like she had in his dream, except this time she wore the traditional white robes of those who were the carriers of the dead. His breath caught and he moved towards her until he was only a few feet away.

"I am alive. I want to be alive."

"Then you must come back."

"I…"

She shook her head in sorrow. "I will not force you to choose that which you do not want. But I, too, want you to live. Even if it is without me. This is my love for you." She tilted her head and studied him, golden curls swirling in the breeze. "Do you understand?"

"Yes. But I… want to go back… with you."

"Then go." She turned and walked away.

"How?" he called out sharply.

She turned and smiled. "Your heart knows the way, if you listen."

He shook his head, confused, as she disappeared.

He sighed and sat down under the tree to ponder her words. He leaned back, closing his eyes, centering himself. He thought of the ship. He thought of Kirk, and McCoy. He thought of Vulcan and his parents. And finally he thought of Christine. Dimly he heard her voice again. He rose and began walking towards the sound. It slowly grew louder and louder, and the forest faded and in its place was a dazzling white light, and his eyes widened with wonder as he walked into it…

"Mister Spock!! Dr. McCoy, come quickly! He's waking up!"

* * *

Christine was asleep in her quarters when the buzzer sounded. She groaned slightly, hitting the button with a resounding smack. "Who is it?"

"Spock."

The warm richness of his voice made her sit bolt upright in bed. It had been two days since he'd awakened from the catatonia. She'd seen him briefly since then, but hadn't had a chance to talk to him. Neither had she wanted to press the issue, opting to give him some time to himself.

And now he was here. "Just a moment," she called, hoping her voice sounded casual. She rose and tied her robe around herself, then deactivated the lock. "Come in, sir," she said.

He entered, hands clasped behind his back in that familiar pose. As the door hissed shut behind him he said: "I apologize for awakening you, Christine. However, I… felt it necessary to speak with you now."

"Quite all right, um… [did he just call me Christine??] Spock."

He tilted his head at her, his eyes dark and unreadable.

"Please sit down," she said, waving a hand at her couch.

He did so, hands resting at his sides. She moved to sit on the opposite end. "What can I do for you?" she asked, confused by this unexpected visit.

"I came to discuss a statement you made shortly before we were rescued."

"You… a… Spock, are you telling me you heard me talking to you and remember what I said?"

He glanced at her, puzzled. "Indeed. Was that not your purpose in speaking to me?"

"Well, yes, but… I don't think I expected you to remember it all," she stammered, feeling heat rise in her face.

"Nevertheless, I do," he said quietly. "And that is precisely why I am here."

She said nothing, bowing her head and studying her toes, idly noticing that the paint on her toenails needed a touch-up…

"Look at me, Christine." His voice was quiet.

She felt movement and timidly glanced up to see that he had moved closer to her, so close their legs were almost touching. She stared at him, afraid to think of what it could mean, afraid to think anything at all.

"Your statement that we could 'pretend it never happened' is incorrect. It did happen. It would be illogical to deny it."

She felt a surge of anger rise in her. This is why he'd come? "Well, thank you for informing me of that Spock," she began, only to have him shake his head.

"Please, Christine, let me finish."

She sighed.

"There are other factors to consider." Now it was his turn to glance away. "Such as the fact that I… do not wish to forget it."

"What did you say?"

"I said, I do not wish to forget what happened. As painful as it might have been, and though we were compelled to do it by forces outside our control, the… feelings we shared were genuine." He looked into her eyes. "I do not choose to try and forget these feelings. And I still have them."

"Spock what exactly are you telling me?" She whispered.

Now it was his turn to sigh, though she could swear there was the slightest hint of a twinkle in his eyes. He slid the few remaining inches to her and drew her into his arms.

"Perhaps a demonstration would be more effective," he murmured.

She opened her mouth to stammer something incoherent, only to have her words silenced by his kiss.

THE END