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. This story is the sequel to "Horses that Beggars Might Ride." Rated NC17.



Roses and Rhapsodies

Jade Nocturnias



Spock spent the next two hours on the bridge attending to mundane duties, scheduling the shore leave parties, recording events in the log, checking the sensors efficiency ratings. But another part of his mind was preoccupied with the upcoming shore leave and spending the day with Christine.

When he had felt her mind with his, filled with determination and an inexplicable sorrow, he did not understand any of it. Now he knew the cause of her sadness, as well as how it felt to be a part of her. Her sacrifice had touched him, and his awareness of her in the back of his mind was not the irritating feeling he might have once thought it would be. Instead it was a warm, quiet presence that was soothing. Even when he'd kissed her and felt her emotions running haywire, he had not been repulsed as he would have thought he would be. Granted it was somewhat unsettling, illogical... but experiencing her joy had also been...euphoric.

He was uncertain as to how things were to proceed. Being Vulcan, he'd never made any attempt at establishing a relationship because of his bonding. Now T'Pring was gone and he was free to select a mate of his own choosing. But he realized that he knew very little of human (or Vulcan) courtship rituals. Only those whose mates issued challenge or died selected others, and he had only a basic idea of the methods used to obtain a new mate. Besides, he wasn't trying to obtain a marriage with her at this point; only to learn more about her to see if anything permanent would be feasible between them. Still, he felt that he required at least a basic working knowledge on the subject. He did not have this, but he knew the best person to ask.

He walked over to the captain. Pitching his voice very low, he said, "Jim, may I speak to you in the ready room?"

Kirk looked at him in mild surprise, then said equally quietly, "Of course." The two officers left the bridge after Kirk issued instructions to Uhura and Sulu and made their way to the ready room.

Inside Kirk sat down and stretched, enjoying the knowledge that leave was less than an hour away. Spock stood nearby, hands clasped behind his back, and Kirk could have sworn that the Vulcan was nervous.

"What can I do for you, Spock?" he asked casually.

"I need some...advice on a....personal matter."

"All right." Kirk's surprise grew stronger, but he kept it hid as he asked, "What's your problem?"

Spock half-turned. In spite of the close friendship he shared with Jim, he was slightly uneasy. At length he said, "I need advice on... interacting with a woman on a somewhat... personal level."

Despite Spock's obvious hesitation, Kirk couldn't help but smile.

"Spock... are you asking me how to have a date?"

A slight green flush stained Spock's cheeks. "I believe that is the Terran term for it."

And Kirk's eyebrows rose higher than Spock's ever could. "May I ask..."

"With whom?" Spock allowed himself the smallest chuckle. Then he turned to face Jim. If he were going to do this, it had to be all the way.

"Nurse Chapel."

Kirk cleared his throat, taken aback by both Spock's declaration and the intended recipient of his attentions. He doubted if he could have been more surprised if the Vulcan had announced that he was going to take up skydiving. He knew that the request had to be one of the most difficult Spock had ever made, as difficult than his admissions about pon farr. Maybe...

"Spock, you know as your friend I'll do anything I can to help you," Kirk said gently. "But as your captain AND your friend, I need to know something. Is this because you're...well, because it's time again for..."

"No." Spock shook his head quickly. "It has nothing to do with that, Jim."

"I see. " For one of the few times in his life, Kirk was at a loss for words. When he gathered his wits again he spoke quietly, but with intensity. "Well, Spock I'm... pleased for you, I suppose, if that's what you want. I must say I'm surprised, though; I didn't know that you shared Miss Chapel's feelings."

"Neither did I," Spock confessed. "Until today."

"What made you...?"

"I do not know." Spock hated to lie, but there was no way he could tell Jim everything. "I only know... I do, now."

"I see." Kirk decided to switch gears before Spock became any more embarrassed. "Well, Spock, what do you want to know?"

"Tell me of how you... talk to a woman. Get to know her. What is acceptable behavior for a first...'date' ."

And smiling inside, Kirk told him everything he could.

* * *

Spock was more nervous about the reactions of the crew than about the shore leave itself. He knew Christine well enough to know that she would be discreet and reserved in public. But still, they would be seen together and there would be gossip. Not that he was ashamed; far from it. His main concern was for it not to effect their working relationship. There would be time to discuss that with her later that day, he decided. He did not want to "get off on the wrong foot" by bringing it up immediately. Personal relationships among crewmembers were not against any regulations, and he was not her immediate superior. Indeed, when her promotion came next year to Lieutenant Commander, he would only be one rank above her. She was a doctor as well as a nurse, and he considered her to be a professional equal.

While waiting for the orders to finalize from the star base, he'd taken the opportunity to read some of her academic papers. He'd had no idea she had such a scholarly background; she had written over a dozen articles in the past three years alone. He found her work highly intelligent, well reasoned and quite interesting. He even planned on discussing his own knowledge of the Telegen phenomenon and its relation to Jarend's Disease with her. He was certain it would prove stimulating.

Christine walked into the transporter room to find him already there. She was wearing a deep blue dress with white sandals. He was struck once again by her features; she was like the sun with her golden hair and sky-blue eyes. Such a contrast to his own darkness. He reluctantly allowed himself to admit that she was lovely.

Lieutenant Kyle was operating the transporter, doing his best not to stare as they took their places on the pad. "Energize, Mr. Kyle," Spock said in his normal command voice.

"Yes, sir. Energizing."

And once again Christine found herself on the surface of a planet with Spock.

The warm air of Denara 7 blew across Christine's hair, lifting it back from her face. She luxuriated in the feeling; it wasn't often they got to go planet side in such pleasant circumstances. And being with Spock turned the pleasant into the extraordinary.

She knew he was concerned about gossip aboard the ship. So was she. But they would handle it. She knew the captain would not allow it to go too far. She smiled. When she'd told Leonard her was spending her leave with Spock, he was speechless. Then he'd muttered something like,"Damn crazy Vulcan... I think I'm starting to figure him out and then he goes and pulls a stunt like this" and smiled before walking off.

Christine didn't care. All that mattered to her was that Spock was with her.

She looked him over out of the corner of her eye. He was wearing a plain black tunic and black slacks. Even when off-duty and planet side he chose to maintain a dignified and formal appearance. But when he turned to look at her, his gaze was far from professional.

Spock, remembering what Jim had told him, steeled himself for what he was about to do; it was an offer he had never made to any other woman. He extended his arm to her and asked, "If you are ready to proceed?"

She took his arm in what felt like a dream, linking hers through it. "I'm ready," she answered with a slight smile. Her nerves tingled slightly from the physical contact. She felt amusement from him at this, coupled with a slight amount of reciprocal excitement. He only glanced at her, one eyebrow raised up as they turned.

Arm in arm, they wandered through the streets. Star base Twelve covered only one twentieth of Denara Seven's surface. The rest was filled with pleasant parks, centers for the arts, and a gigantic lake that people swam in. Memory of the lake gave Christine an idea.

"Spock, can you swim?"

He looked surprised. But he answered without hesitation. "Yes. I learned on Earth years ago. Why do you ask?"

"I thought maybe we could go swim in Lake Horizon later."

The eyebrow went up again. "That should prove very interesting. Yes, a swim would be most enjoyable. We will need to procure bathing wear, however."

"Don't worry. There are a hundred stores around here that sell that sort of thing. But for now, shall we visit the Museum of Higher Art?"

"That, too, would be very agreeable. Let us go."

Christine looked up into the clear green sky and smiled. It was going to be a very, very wonderful day.

* * *

The museum was, to use Spock's phrase, "fascinating." It featured everything from original works by Terran Poet Edgar Allan Poe to the latest writings of Lo'W'Kia of the planet Giros. They walked through it slowly, stopping whenever one of them saw something they wanted to read. They discussed authors they each enjoyed reading; Christine was surprised that old Earth poet Robert Frost was one of Spock's favorites, and Spock was impressed to learn that she had taken six weeks to read T'Shia of Vulcan's epic "Ven Dow." "The reading itself wasn't the most difficult part," she told him. "It was trying to understand the context of the words once I had."

Spock nodded. "Archaic Vulcan is not easy to comprehend, even for Vulcans today. I am surprised that you even made the attempt."

"Because I'm human?" she asked teasingly.

"Because it must have been difficult and frustrating, without knowing the Vulcan language."

Christine stopped walking and looked at him. "Q'lil retarak, Spock," she said, barely able to hide her amusement and pride. She'd waited for three years to be able to show this off to him.

Both eyebrows climbed up into his bangs. He was speechless for a few seconds. Then he said, "I was unaware that you could speak Vulcan." His tone was casual, but Christine could tell that he was impressed.

"I'm not very good, I have a terrible time with pronunciation. I'm not fluent, but I studied it when I was there five years ago."

"I was also unaware that you have been to Vulcan before."

She smiled. "There are many things of which you're not aware, Mr. Spock."

"It would seem so. Perhaps you would tell me of your visit?"

"It wasn't a visit, exactly. I was doing research." And she proceeded to tell him of how she had been studying various plants indigenous to Vulcan in hopes of finding a treatment for Larl's Disease. She described her desperation, her exhausting search through hundreds and hundreds of species, and her joy at finally finding a flower that could be used to make a vaccine and a treatment. She didn't add that not long after that her work had led to her meeting Roger Korby. That wasn't anything she wanted to discuss, least of all with Spock.

Spock listened attentively while she spoke, occasionally interjecting comments or questions. "I am pleased to learn that you were instrumental in finding the cure," he told her. "One of my family members had been afflicted, but was healed before permanent damage could occur thanks to the serum."

"I was glad to be a part of it."

They finished their tour in silence, each of them reflecting on what they had just learned about the other. When they left, Christine asked; "Are you ready for a swim?"

He nodded. "I believe that this would be an excellent time for it."

"Then let's go get some swim clothes and do it."

"Agreed."

And with that, they set off for one of the tourist stores. Half an hour later they were standing on the bank of Lake Horizon. They had chosen to go to the south end, away from the visitors. Spock wore black swim trunks and Christine a dark blue one-piece suit that nonetheless showed off her curvy figure. She saw Spock looking at her from the corner of his eye. Did he find her desirable? She shivered at the thought.

Trying to keep things casual, she busied herself putting down their towels. She removed a tube of sun block, putting some on her palm before handing it to Spock. She had rubbed it in on every exposed area but her back when he said, "Allow me."

He smoothed some of the cream into her skin and proceeded to rub it over her shoulders and down towards her waist. His hands were warm, gentle but firm. Her skin tingled from the contact. He worked slowly, kneading her muscles as he did. She grew sleepy from his touch and the heat of the sun.

When he was finished, she thanked him and took the sun block, moving around to sit behind him. "Your turn," she said.

He said nothing, only raising an eyebrow. Her hands shook slightly as she touched his back. She could feel the heat radiating from him due to his naturally higher body temperature. She took her time, savoring every minute of the feel of his firm, muscular back beneath her fingers. It took an extreme amount of willpower not to initiate kissing him, but she restrained herself. They were in public, after all. There would be time for that later. She'd waited this long; she could wait a little more.

Finished with the task, she dropped the tube into the canvas bag that held their belongings. "Ready?" she asked.

"Yes," he replied.

"Good," she grinned... and with a swift, unexpected movement pushed him into the water.

He came up to the surface quickly; the deepest part of the entire lake was only twenty feet and they were near the edge. He smoothed glistening hair out of his face before turning to look at her with one brow arched.

"Oops," she giggled.

" 'Oops,' indeed," he replied. "For you..."

With the quickness of his race he had reached her before she had time to react. Somehow maintaining an expression of dignity, he picked her up, ignoring her squeals of protest. He proceeded to carry her into the lake with him. She had stopped trying to get away and was laughing as he put her down beside him. "Come on, I'll race you to that rock!" she laughed and took off.

They spent the next two hours swimming and floating. They discovered that while Spock could swim faster than her, he could not hold his breath under water as long as she could. "Vulcans' lungs are evolved for a desert climate," he explained. She nodded, enjoying the sight of him shirtless and dripping with water. Idly, she wondered what they would do later that night aboard the ship.

They got out and toweled dry, then spread a large blanket they had also purchased. Christine opened a basket she'd gotten while Spock was talking to the captain via communicator. She took out cheese, grapes and strawberries, French bread, and some vegetarian turkey. She also opened a bottle of fruit juice and poured them each a glass.

Spock studied her as she set up their lunch. She had obviously taken care to select things she knew that he would enjoy. No one had ever done that before, save his mother. Perhaps it was a human trait. He felt pleased at her thoughtfulness.

After they ate they both became drowsy and decided to take a nap. Their bodies were not touching, but they were close. Christine felt as if it were all a dream. But it was real. She closed her eyes, listening to the birds and hearing the gentle splashing of the lake.

A few hours later the sound of Spock's communicator awakened them. He awoke instantly and opened it. "Spock here."

"Mr. Spock, good news. There's a meeting for all the commanding officers in the area tomorrow morning, so we are on layover until tomorrow afternoon," Kirk's voice said.

"Indeed. That is...pleasant. Are we to return to the ship this evening?"

"Are you crazy? You can do what you want, but I'm going to a little bar off the northern outskirts with McCoy and Scotty, and I will definitely be staying planet side tonight."

"Understood. Enjoy your evening, Captain."

"Care to join us, Spock?"

Eyes on Christine, Spock smiled faintly before replying; "Thank you, but I have other plans."

"Very well, Mr. Spock. Enjoy yourself. I'll contact you at 1100 hours. Kirk out."

No sooner than Spock had closed the channel than Christine's comm unit beeped. She opened it. "Chapel here."

"Hey, Christine, guess what!" It was Uhura.

Chapel smiled. "Let's see... there's a conference in the morning so we get to stay here overnight?" she asked, winking at Spock. He raised his eyebrows at her.

"How'd you know? I just found out."

"Inside source," Christine deadpanned. "Have fun tonight."

"Do you want to go shopping with me and Elaine?"

"No, thanks. I've got plans. But have a good time."

Uhura's voice held mischief as she replied: "Indeed. All right, see you tomorrow. Uhura out."

Christine closed her communicator with a sigh. Nyota's wit could be deadly when she wanted it to be. She must have figured that Spock was close by and behaved out of respect for her.

"Well, Spock, it would seem that we now have the evening before us as well. What would you like to do?"

He shook his head. "Since I was operating under the assumption that we would be returning to the ship this evening, I have made no plans." He looked at her. "Do you have anything to suggest? I am somewhat unfamiliar with the offerings here."

"Well, there's a symphony tonight at the Lexington Music Hall. Would you like to attend that?"

"That would be highly enjoyable. For the immediate time, however, I think it would be a good idea to find overnight accommodations for us."

"You mean, stay here tonight... together?" She was taken aback.

"Does this idea displease you?"

"No!! Not at all. I would... I would like it very much. I just... didn't want to suggest it because I didn't want you to feel pressured."

This time his expression was definitely one of amusement. "If I felt 'pressured,' as you put it, I would not have suggested it."

"Um, yes, that's true," she said.

"Then shall we go? I would like to get settled and get some clothing suitable for the evening we've planned."

"Sounds good to me," she replied.

She wondered if he detected the slight breathlessness in her response. If so, he gave no sign of it as he picked up their bag. With her carrying the basket, they walked to the inter-planet transporter system and beamed into the heart of the star base.

Christine was still puzzling over Spock's intentions when he turned to her and announced, "I believe this will suit our purpose."

She looked at the building he was indicating. The Denevan Embassy Hotel? One of the nicest on the base? Well, it wasn't as if she couldn't afford a room there. "Yes, it's very nice."

She was still slightly nervous as they went in and uncertain as to what exactly he was planning on doing.

Spock, apparently, had no hesitations. He strode up to the front desk and informed the woman there that he wanted a room for the night.

"How many guests?" she inquired.

"Two," he replied.... and Christine felt her heart flutter again.

"One or two beds?"

"One."

Now Christine was REALLY confused. One room, one bed? So he intended for them to...sleep together. Far be it for ME to complain! she thought to herself.

Having completed the transaction, Spock came back to her. "Our suite is on the 17th floor," he said. "It has a view of the garden."

"That's wonderful." She didn't really know what else to say at the moment, so she simply followed him onto the elevator and into their room.

Their suite was magnificent. A king-sized bed was on one wall. A table held a vase of fresh roses. The sitting room had a couch and two chairs. The walls were silver and the carpet and trim were pale lilac. There was a small replicator and a comm terminal as well.

Christine found her eyes drawn back to the bed. The spread and sheets were a dark rose, with three fluffy pillows. The last time she and Spock were in a bed together, it had been in his room on the Enterprise and they were....

"Christine?"

She shook her head and returned to the present to find Spock looking at her. "I'm sorry, what did you say?" she asked.

"I was inquiring as to whether you find this room to your liking."

"Oh, yes, I love it! Thank you." To cover her embarrassment she went to the balcony door and stepped outside.

The flower garden was as incredible as the rest of the hotel. She could make out roses, orchids, lilies, and at least a dozen other ones native to Earth. The scent that drifted up from them to her nose was heavenly.

Spock came to stand behind her. They had put their clothes on overtop of their swimwear and she could smell the lake on him. "Very colorful and aesthetic," he commented.

"I love flowers," she said. "That's one of my best memories, going through all the ones on Vulcan to find a cure for Larl's Disease. They're fragile, but strong at the same time. No matter what happens, they endure."

He raised one brow at her. "Your words are somewhat lyrical, but scientifically accurate. Like many plants, flowers are usually fairly adaptive."

"Are we going to have a botany lecture now?" she teased.

The eyebrow rose again. "If you wish, I'm sure I can provide one." He reached out to touch her cheek, their minds brushing slightly at the contact. "However, I would prefer that first we change from our swim attire and find our clothes for the evening."

"All right. "

"I am going to contact the Captain briefly. Please feel free to go ahead and change."

Christine nodded, taking the extra outfit she had brought and going into the bathroom. By the time she came out Spock had changed as well and was sitting at the table waiting for her. They went down to the lobby and back out into the base.

For an hour they simply walked around, looking. In an antique store Spock purchased a leather-bound copy of a book entitled "Poems of the South" for McCoy's birthday, and Christine found a 17th century fountain pen with a red plume. "Just the thing for Leonard," she told Spock as she bought it.

"But there is no need for Dr. McCoy to hand-write anything. It can all be entered into the computer."

"But Leonard likes to give things the old-fashioned, personal touch. You know how much he hates being too dependent on machines."

"True," Spock admitted, "The good doctor has quite a disliking for technology, ironic considering all the medical advances it has brought to us."

"Leonard is a walking contradiction."

Spock looked at her with amusement. "I believe that is one of the most accurate descriptions of Dr. McCoy I have ever heard."

"Just don't tell him I said it."

"I believe the expression is: 'I wouldn't dream of it.' "

Christine laughed at him. She spotted what they were looking for -- a store that sold eveningwear. "Come on. Over here is what we need."

Inside the store Christine found her hands lost in velvet, silk and chiffon. Spock told her he knew what he wanted and would wait outside the door when he was finished. Apparently he had a good idea of what happened when women looked at clothes. She assured him she wouldn't be too long. He only raised an eyebrow and left to go to the men's department.

After about 15 minutes of looking, Christine chose a daffodil-colored floor-length dress. It was made of satin and clung to her breasts while it flowed over her hips. She didn't usually wear much yellow, but something about the dress had caught her eye. She bought a small black purse and black satin shoes to go with it and left to find Spock waiting, just as he said he would be.

They returned to their suite, whereupon Christine took her make-up bag and clothes to the bathroom. She dressed and applied make-up with the utmost care, wanting Spock to find her beautiful. When she was finished she smiled at her reflection before turning off the light. "Well," she said as she walked into the bedroom. "What do you--" and stopped. And then she wondered if Spock knew revival techniques, because she was sure she was about to go into a dead faint.

He was wearing a tuxedo and the sight of him in the crisp white shirt, bow tie, black trousers and black dress jacket was almost too much for her senses to bear. She'd never seen him in anything like that before, and he looked even more beautiful than he did in uniform. She knew she was staring, but she couldn't help it.

"Is there something wrong with my appearance?" he asked, concerned. He'd never worn a tuxedo before and thought perhaps he'd put something on incorrectly.

She smiled. "Spock, there is absolutely NOTHING wrong with your appearance."

"Then why were you staring at me in that manner?"

"Because...." She started to make up an excuse but thought, why be coy now? You've been intimate with him, even though only one of you remembers it. She shrugged mentally and said, "Because you look so good."

He tilted his head. "I am glad you find my appearance pleasing." His voice became slightly husky as he added, "As I do yours."

'Breathe, Christine,' she admonished herself. 'This is not the time to pass out.' She looked down shyly for a moment. When she looked up again Spock was standing no more than a foot away from her. He pulled her close and touched his lips to hers.

The kiss left her dizzy and aching for more. He trailed his fingers down her face and smiled. "There will be time for that later tonight," he said softly.

She blushed, realizing that the contact had enabled him to read her thoughts as they kissed. But his expression wasn't one of distaste. It was one of an answering desire.

Christine nodded. "We should get going," she said. She picked up her purse, smoothed her dress down. When she was finished Spock held the door open for her and they left to go to the symphony.

* * *

The symphony wasn't too crowded when they arrived, and they were able to get third row seats. When the music began both of them closed their eyes, absorbed in the sounds and images that came to their minds. The orchestra played everything from DeBussey to K'Tarok. Once Christine opened her eyes to glance at Spock. His face was composed, but she could tell he was as enraptured as everyone else. She smiled and went back into her own little world the music took her to.

When the symphony was over, they walked slowly back towards the hotel. It was now 2100 hours, still fairly early. They were discussing the performance. "Yes, I agree that the tempo was perfect for the Ferdinando movement," Spock said. "However I think that the Melan'at'aris could have been slightly better."

"I'll say. My interpretation is much more emotional," Christine said, then cursed herself for letting her secret slip.

Spock, of course, never failed to notice anything. One eyebrow went up and he asked, "Am I to infer, Christine, that you play an instrument?"

She blushed for a moment before replying: "Yes, as a matter of fact, I do. The violin."

"Indeed," he said, his voice full of intrigue. "I was completely unaware of that fact."

She laughed. "Not too many people on board know about it. Just Len and Nyota, and now you."

"Is it a secret?"

Now she laughed even harder. "No! I just don't go around broadcasting it. I only play for them, and myself of course."

"How long have you been playing?"

She smiled. "Fourteen years," she said quietly.

Both eyebrows went up. "You must be quite proficient," he commented.

"I guess you could say that." She didn't tell him about the competitions she'd won; how she'd played in the Starfleet Symphony Orchestra for a year. No need to sound like I'm bragging, she thought.

He looked at her thoughtfully as they entered the hotel lobby. "I would be honored if you would play for me," he said softly.

She blushed again, looking down for a moment. Inside she felt nervous. Her? Play for Spock? Spock, who astounded those in the rec room on the infrequent occasions he played the Vulcan harp there? Anxiety griped her for a moment before she made herself calm down. She was good; she knew she was with no false sense of bravado or arrogance. So why not show him?

"I will, gladly," she said with a smile.

They went to their room. Spock went into the bathroom, saying that he wished to change before doing a meditation session. She waited until he was in the sitting room and placed a quiet call to the ship.

When Spock returned, she was sitting on the edge of the bed wearing a long gauze gown of deep blue, a violin cradled in her hands. He sat down without speaking. She looked at him for a long moment, then took a deep breath and began to play.

She poured every ounce of passion, precision and drive she possessed into the instrument. The bow moved as though it were a part of her body. She played Brahms, Beethoven, Veirtrh, and finally her interpretation of the Melan'at'aris they'd heard earlier that evening. When she was done, she gently placed the violin back into its case, wiping a mild sheen of sweat off of her brow. She looked at Spock expectantly and nervously.

He rose and came to sit beside her on the bed. "Christine, that was exquisite," he told her. She smiled. "I am truly astonished by your talent," he said.

"Thank you," she replied, not knowing quite what else to say. He continued staring at her. She felt embarrassed again. To cover it, she said, "May I ask you a question?"

"Of course."

"I've never seen it anywhere, and I've always wondered; what does your name mean?"

He smiled. "It means 'Uniter.' My father chose it to represent my dual heritage."

"Uniter," she repeated softly. "That's beautiful."

"And you? I believe your name means "Christ-like," does it not?"

She nodded. "Christian-like, of Christ; there are several interpretations."

"Were you named after your mother?"

"Yes, actually, I was. Her name is Christianna. My father's name is Michael."

"Fascinating," he said. "All Biblical names, or derived thereof."

"All healers and servers of good," she said with a smile.

"And you are an excellent healer as well. Dr. McCoy is fortunate to have you on his staff."

This night was getting better and better, Christine decided. "Thank you, Spock."

He rose, and for a moment she thought he was returning to the sitting room to meditate. Instead he turned off the lights and opened the curtains halfway so that the moonlight spilled through into the bedroom. She didn't have a chance to say anything before he took her arms and slowly drew her to him. She smiled and he traced the outline of her mouth with the tip of his index finger. He kissed her slowly, and Christine felt her entire body melting from it just as she had when she made the wish on the necklace and he came to her. She sighed.

He stopped and looked into her eyes. "Is this what you want, now?" he asked. "If you are not ready we will go no further."

"Not ready!" she laughed. She slid her hands up his back. "Spock, do you have any idea of how long I have been more than ready for this?"

"Indeed." He smiled fleetingly. He moved away from her and turned the sheets down on the bed. She looked at him with nervous anticipation. He came back to her side and drew her into his arms again.

She looked into his eyes, bathed in the moonlight. He was so beautiful he made her heart hurt. He reached out one hand, two fingers extended. She did the same. As their hands touched the connection flowed between them. He spoke in her mind.

"Very well...since we are both ready…"

And he once more touched her lips with his.

When Spock kissed her she felt the same delicious weightless sensation that she had experienced only days before. The current that flowed between their fingers began to spread through her body like wildfire, causing her to gasp into his mouth. His kiss swallowed the sound as he ran the fingers of his other hand through her luxuriant blonde curls. The subtle scent of her inflamed him. He was unused to close physical contact with a woman and now he could begin to understand why human crewmen said the scent of a woman could drive them crazy. It stirred primal desires in him he hadn't acknowledged existed until now. What he was doing was, of course, not logical. But in the past few years he had learned that some of the most rewarding experiences in life were not based on reason. It was only with the knowledge of the true events of the past few days that he had decided to put what he'd learned to the test in a romantic sense.

Slowly he unzipped her gown and it floated in a swirl of sky blue to the floor. She was nude underneath it, which both startled and delighted him to discover. He sat on the edge of the bed and looked at her.

Christine blushed and started to cover herself with her arms, but he took her hands in his. "No. Please. I want to look at you," he whispered.

It took a lot of willpower, but she managed to resist the urge and allowed him to drink her in with his eyes. They traced the lines of her neck, the gentle slopes of her rounded breasts, the smooth curves of her hips. She trembled as she watched him watching her.

He pulled her close, wrapping his arms around her waist as his lips found her right breast, nuzzling it before gently pulling it into his mouth. As he kissed it her knees went weak and she might have stumbled if not for his embrace. She sighed again. He moved to the left breast, repeating his actions as she moaned and arched against him.

He raised his head to look at her, and she could have sworn she saw a gleam in his dark eyes. "Do you find this enjoyable?" he inquired casually.

"Spock -- oh, yes," she breathed.

"Indeed," he said in feigned surprise. "What about ... this?" And he stroked her nipples slowly with his tongue.

Her moan of pleasure made it unnecessary to reply. He started to push her back on the bed, but she stood firm. He looked at her quizzically.

"Only one of us is….properly unattired," she whispered huskily.

As he raised one elegant brow, she gathered the bottom of his black T-shirt into her hands. In one quick pull it was over his head and on the floor. His black boxer shorts followed and then he, too, stood naked. She moved back a few steps to look at him.

Spock now understood how she had felt as he looked at him; he had never been stared at so openly. He held himself still, though, just as she had, allowing her to look freely.

He was just the way she remembered. Exquisite in every detail. She sat on the edge of the bed, reaching out to stroke one hand down his chest. She could feel the faint scars from old wounds there. She suddenly wanted to take the hurt away, to remove the pain it must have caused him even though the wounds were long since healed. She brushed her lips across the marks, planting tiny kisses all along the soft black hair on his chest. He made a soft sound that she took to be pleasure. She worked her way slowly downward.

When she took him into her mouth he gasped sharply. Immediately she stopped and raised her head, looking into his eyes. "What's wrong? Did I hurt you?" she asked, alarmed.

He shook his head faintly, a half-smile touching his lips. "No, you did not. I am simply…I have never experienced that before."

Christine kicked herself mentally. Spock wasn't human; he didn't have the experience a human male would when it came to sex. What if she had scared him off? "I'm sorry, I didn't think of that," she said. "I only wanted to give you pleasure." She looked down.

He raised her head until her blue eyes met his brown ones. His voice was the only thing that gave any indication of emotion, but it was there. "I do not recall saying otherwise."

She smiled, still looking a little self-conscious. Then she started again. She took her time, placing kisses here, lightly licking there. He didn't say anything more, but she could tell by the expression on his face that he was enjoying it. After a few minutes he stopped her by moving her back onto the bed and lying down beside her. He took her into his arms and held her, one hand touching the contact points on the side of her face. She felt his mind brushing hers, felt the link flow between them. It was a link that had transcended logic, went beyond the boundaries of time. Something that she had thought she'd never feel again after wishing away the necklace, and had mourned the idea of its loss. Now it was here again; HE was in her thoughts, in her heart.

He "heard" all of this, felt her joy; a joy that was so pure and strong it was almost tangible. Never would he have believed that he could make anyone feel this way. But it was there before him, sweet and true. He could feel her gentle probing, her questioning of his own thoughts and emotions. He almost ran from it; old instincts were hard to change. But he stopped himself and allowed her to see thing as he saw them.

Being a Vulcan, and living among humans. Struggling to control his emotions lest they control him. Watching Kirk and Dr. McCoy and their unashamed displays of feeling. Feeling a part of himself recoil from it, and another part screaming to do the same. Being exhausted from always having to keep himself in check. The slow, sometimes frightening realization that some things transcended logic. His decision to explore this part of himself. And she saw herself through his eyes; saw how he had always both feared and hungered for everything she represented. Now he was here with her, still afraid but desperately wanting to reach out to her, be a part of her. It was so beautiful that she wept silent tears as she felt what he did. And he wiped her eyes, kissing them, then kissing her. She tasted her salt on his lips, and thought that it had never tasted so sweet.

She pulled him on top of her. For an endless moment they kissed, fingers twined so tight he was afraid he was hurting her hands. But she welcomed this pain, rejoiced in it, because it was something that for years she had thought she would never feel. He braced himself above her on his arms, looking down at her with a faint smile. To her no sun could ever be as bright as his smile, or as beautiful. As their eyes locked on each other, she opened herself to him and he gently entered her.

Christine remembered this feeling perfectly, but for Spock it was a new experience. It was not the first time for him, but the ecstasy he felt was unlike anything that had came before her. This wasn't the result of spores, or a time reversion. This was entirely of his choice, in his normal frame of mind. There was no deceit in Christine, no desire to do anything necessary to keep him. She'd had that chance, and had chosen to give it up rather than do that to him. She was nothing like Leila or Zarabeth or T'Pring. Her love was almost sacred in its sincerity. No one had ever loved him this way, purely for himself, accepting him as he was. It deeply moved him. He wanted to express to her what this meant to him, only to feel through the link that she already understood.

He moved inside of her so carefully she thought he must have believed she would break otherwise. But she loved it, loved having him as a part of her beyond description. It went on and on, time blurring so that she had no concept of it. They kissed and touched like virginal lovers exploring each other for the first time, while their bodies remained joined together. When Christine felt that she was on the edge of exploding, he quickened his movements. With an almost mathematical precision he timed his rush to the brink with hers. Together they soared over the cliffs of release, both of them crying out softly as they rose and fell and rose again. When they finally landed they clung to each other, bodies and minds trembling from the intensity of it. They whispered each other's names mentally as their mouths met for yet another kiss. After a while Christine became aware that it was now almost midnight. She stretched against Spock drowsily. "What time is recall?" she asked, the first words either had spoken out loud in the past two hours.

"Fifteen-hundred hours," he replied. After a moment he said, "I had thought that perhaps tomorrow we could return to the lake."

She smiled. "I'd like that." Then her thoughts turned serious. "Spock, while we're there tomorrow I think it might be a good idea to discuss where we're going from here."

He raised an eyebrow. "I believe that our orders are to proceed to sector 17," he said.

Christine smothered a laugh. "No, Spock! I meant with US. Where WE are going in terms of you and I." She suddenly felt afraid and pulled back. "Or is there not going to be an 'US'?"

He sighed and pulled her back to him. "Christine."

"Yes?"

He kissed her fiercely, taking her breath away. After a few minutes he broke the kiss and looked at her. "Christine. Vulcans do not play games. I do not play games. "If I had no interest in developing a relationship with you, I would not have asked you to come with me today."

She reddened. "I'm sorry."

"Do not be sorry. Given our previous interactions, you had every right to be uncertain. But understand this; when a Vulcan does make a commitment, it is for life. I want both of us to be certain that is what we want before we contemplate bonding permanently."

Christine stared at him in shock. "You mean you've…thought about us being bondmates?"

"Indeed. I have been giving it a good deal of thought."

She smiled at him. "I'm…pleased to know that."

He returned her smile briefly, then moved the covers over them. "We should sleep now. We have another day ahead of us to spend together tomorrow."

"Yes," she agreed. She started to instruct the alarm clock to wake them, but Spock told her that wouldn't be necessary. "I will awaken us at 0800 hours." He kissed her once more, curving his body against her back before saying: "Good night, Christine."

"Good night, Spock" she replied softly. And with their bodies sated and their hearts full of happiness and promise, they went to sleep.

* * *

The lake was less crowded the next day when Spock and Christine returned. They once again brought a lunch, but this time they did not go swimming. They simply sat next to each other, talking and eating while birds flew overhead and trilled gentle songs.

When they had finished and packed up the basket, Spock surprised Christine by pulling her into his lap. They leaned against a giant oak tree and stared up into the sky, both of them fascinated by the variety of birds and gliding mammals they saw. After a time, Christine started to feel slightly nervous. The last thing she wanted to do was pressure Spock in any way. But her good intentions did nothing to alleviate her tension. She couldn't help but wonder about what would happen once they were back on board.

Spock sensed the change in her and turned her to face him. "You wish to talk about our future now," he stated.

She felt embarrassed. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to be so obvious," she said.

He cocked his head to one side. "You were not being 'obvious.' I sensed the change in your mood through the link."

"Yes…" She tended to forget about that at times. Well, not forget exactly. But his presence was faint, just barely there unless he was projecting something to her. Right now he was projecting reassurance, which made her feel much more at ease. But she was still unsettled. "What do we do now, Spock? Do we keep this a secret? Acknowledge it? I don't want to push you into anything…" She broke off when she saw the amusement in his eyes.

"To deny that we have an involvement with each other would be both illogical and insulting. I have no intention of doing that. As to what we are going to do…" His voice trailed off for a moment. When he resumed speaking, he was reflective, almost analytical in tone.

"There are no regulations that would prohibit our relationship off-duty. Unless, of course, it becomes more intense. I have heard that there is a bill being proposed in Starfleet that would allow executive officers to have spouses aboard the same ships. We must see how both our relationship and the bureaucracy progress in the future before making any permanent decisions."

She nodded. "I agree." Contented, she leaned back against him, reveling in the heat of his higher temperature. After a few minutes she asked: "What about, um, sleeping arrangements?"

She could almost feel his eyebrow go up. This time she heard his amusement in his voice. "I would presume that we will be sleeping together, at least part of the time. Do you have a problem with staying in my quarters when we do?"

"No, not at all." She knew it would be easier for her to adapt to his room than for him to adapt to hers. To be able to sleep beside him she was more than willing to make that adjustment.

"Then I believe that for now, everything is settled. We will spend several evenings a week together and see how things evolve. Is that agreeable to you?"

"It's more than agreeable," she said with a warm smile.

He smiled back at her, squeezing her hand briefly before pulling her to her feet. "It is time to reboard," he told her.

She nodded. They held each other close and enjoyed one more long, gentle kiss before he pulled out his communicator and opened a channel. "Spock to Enterprise."

"Enterprise," came Uhura's voice.

"Two to beam up, Lieutenant."

"Acknowledged, Mr. Spock. Enterprise out."

As the transporter took them, Christine thought of how her life was about to change and decided that no bird could ever sing a song that matched the happiness that beat within her heart.

* * *

Christine looked around sickbay with a sigh. It had been two months since she and Spock had become lovers. Two months of careful control, of endless waiting for the verdict on Starfleet's issue of married officers being on board the same ship. Now, today, that decision was being made. A decision that would affect their lives dramatically one way or another.

She had decided that if need be, she would take a planet side research job. Science was more important to her than having to be on a ship, and Spock was more important to her than any of it. It was only logical for her to transfer, since that would be easier than the Enterprise having to replace him. Or at least she hoped he would see it that way.

She was startled out of her thoughts by the comm system whistling. "Attention all crew," came the captain's voice. "I have an announcement to make."

"As you all know, Starfleet has been debating the issue of permitting officers serving on the same vessels to marry. The decision has been made… and the decision is yes."

Christine almost shouted for joy, but restrained herself to a huge grin. Kirk continued. "As of 1100 hours today, any crew members who wish to marry and still remain aboard the Enterprise are legally allowed to do so, and I will be honored to perform any wedding ceremonies that may occur. Kirk out."

On the bridge, Spock permitted himself a small sigh of relief. He walked down to Kirk's chair. "A most opportune piece of news, Captain," he commented casually.

"Yes, Mr. Spock, I thought you'd think so," Kirk said quietly but with a smile. "Why don't you go down to sickbay and see if… Dr. McCoy needs help with the diagnostic sensor calibrations?"

One eyebrow flew up. "An excellent suggestion. I will return shortly."

Once in sickbay, Spock and Christine went into her office, closing and locking the door behind them. For a long moment they held each other, feeling in each other's minds the happiness they both felt. Finally Spock pulled back, stroking her cheek with a smile. "I have something for you."

"Oh?"

He removed a small black box from his pocket. "I purchased this a month ago," he confessed. "Illogical, since we did not know what the outcome of the proposal would be. But I knew that one way or another, I wanted you to have it."

Christine opened the box with trembling fingers. There, against a bed of black satin, lay a diamond ring. It was a marquis cut and looked as though it was a full carat. "Spock…" she breathed.

He took the ring out of the box, holding her left hand as he asked softly: "Christine… will you marry me? Be my bondmate and wife?"

"Oh.. yes, Spock. Yes!!"

He slipped the ring on her finger, pressing her hand to his lips. "And I will be your bondmate and husband."

"Spock, I'm so happy…" She had to stop speaking before she choked on her tears. She gasped for air and continued. "When… do you want to do this?"

He slipped his arms around her waist. "We will be 1.3 light years from Vulcan on our present course in 3.7 weeks. I would like for us to beam down and undergo the Vulcan ceremony at that time. I am sure you would also like a Terran ceremony. I am prepared to do that whenever you wish."

"How about in a week? That will give us time to prepare."

"That is quite satisfactory." He kissed her, and they both shivered from the contact. "In a week you will be mine," he whispered.

She smiled. "I'm all yours as it is, Spock. I have been for years."

"And now I am yours. And will be for the rest of our lives."

As they kissed again, Christine knew that for the rest of her days she would always believe that, just as she had thought three months ago, dreams really could come true.

THE END