DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of SterJulie and is copyright (c) 2004 by SterJulie. Rated PG.

The Call of Duty: A Private Little War

Ster Julie

Christine Chapel felt a movement by her hand as she worked by Spock's side, settling him into bed after surgery.

"Nurse?" Spock called weakly. He found her hand and grasped it.

"Mr. Spock," she replied, startled that he was holding her hand.

"Tell me," he answered.

"Tell you what?" she puzzled.

"What ... damage." Christine understood. Spock wanted to know how badly he was hurt.

"You were shot by an..." Christine stopped as she saw Spock flick his eyebrows in frustration. Of course he would remember that, she thought.

"Damage!" Spock winced as he spoke, the stabbing pain in his chest preventing him form speaking further.

"Specifically? You were shot through and through by a lead projectile, entering your back in the intercostal space between the fifth and sixth thoracic vertebrae and exiting through the lower portion of your sternum. The small lobe of your liver was shredded and had to be removed. The bone and cartilage fragments of your sternum were patched together as best we could with the help of osteo-plast mesh.

"The numerous torn blood vessels, muscles and skin were fused back together and the two wounds sealed." Christine grew silent. "Mr. Spock, you need to thank your guardian angels that your spinal cord and nerves were missed. A millimeter either way and you would be paralyzed."

"Angels," he repeated weakly with another slight flick of an eyebrow.

"Do you need any pain medication?" Christine asked as she felt Spock's hand slip from hers. "Mr. Spock? Spock?"

* * *

(After Spock has recovered.)

"Come," Christine called as the buzzer sounded at her door.

"Miss Chapel?"

"Mr. Spock!" she replied in surprise. "Is something wrong?" Spock looked at her carpeting for a moment.

"I have a ... personal request."

"Personal?" She repeated. Spock brushed his fingers over his jaws where livid bruises were starting to appear.

"Can you help me cover these up?" he asked quietly.

"Did Geoffrey do that to you?" she asked, gently examining the bruises. Spock nodded.

"Dr. M'Benga is very strong for a human," Spock replied.

Christine moved to the replicator and removed a wand. She motioned Spock closer and passed the wand over his hand.

"What are you doing?" Spock asked.

"I am scanning in your skin tone," she replied. "The replicator will produce a cover-up makeup that will match your color."

"The bruises are on my face, not on my hand," Spock replied. Christine smiled in reply.

"We want a patch of skin that is not bruised and without 'five o'clock shadow,'" she said as the machine began to work. Soon a small jar of cream was produced. Christine took the jar and opened it, showing its content to Spock.

"Put a little of this on your finger," she instructed, "and apply it over the bruises." Spock dipped an index finger in and winced as he rubbed it over his jaw. "No, no, no," Christine interrupted. "Be gentle! Use little dabbing motions. Pat it on." Spock looked at her in confusion. "Here, let me show you," Christine continued as she daintily put some of the cream on her finger and dabbed it onto Spock's face. "See? Be gentle. You're sore here, for one thing, and for another, the cream will blend into your skin better."

The feel of Spock's smooth, warm skin began to mesmerize Christine. She finished one cheek and moved to the other, trying to prevent the blush that threatened. For his part, Spock kept his eyes closed.

"All finished," Christine replied quietly. Spock looked at his reflection in the mirror and nodded.

"That will be adequate, Nurse," he replied. "Thank you."

"If I'm going to teach you make-up tricks," she smiled, "you could at least call me Christine." Spock appraised the nurse for a moment.

"I did not know that your duties included 'make-up tricks,' Christine. She beamed as he called her by name.

"Oh, I do a lot of things in the line of duty!"

* * *

"Spock? Are you wearing make-up?"

Spock raised a hand to his cheek as he turned toward his captain.

"I didn't think you were that vain!" Kirk continued. Spock shook his head.

"I assure you, it is not vanity, Captain," he replied. "I simply thought that the first officer of Starfleet's flagship should not look like a prize fighter."

"Scotty told me that Chapel and M'Benga were slapping you around in Sickbay," Kirk commented. Spock's only reply was a raised eyebrow.

Both men continued their ride in the turbolift in silence. Kirk turned to Spock.

"Did you take that bullet for me, Spock?" Kirk said quietly. Spock looked at Kirk. "You can outrun me any day, yet today you lagged behind as we were being chased by those villagers."

Spock turned his eyes front again.

"It was not my intent to be wounded, Captain," he answered just as quietly, "but it was my duty to protect you. If that meant 'taking a bullet for you...'" Spock turned back to Kirk. "I would do it again in a heartbeat."

Kirk gave Spock his trademark half grin.

"With the same outcome, I hope, my friend," Kirk answered. "With the same outcome."