NOTE: This story is rated NC-17 and contains graphic sexual content. If you are under the age of 18, back out of here right now. Otherwise, please note that the Star Trek characters are copyright by Paramount Studios. The rest of the story is copyright (c) 1999 by T'Eros and may not be reproduced in any form without express written consent of the author. A single copy may be downloaded for personal enjoyment of the reader. Respect the rights of authors and artists!


R & R



Christine couldn't contain the contented smile that had seemed to grace her features continually for the past few days. She'd noticed that same idiotic grin on nearly everyone's faces.

And she knew why the entire crew had apparently gone totally goofy of late. The Enterprise was pulling into the Starfleet repair facilities in orbit around Earth for a short stay in space dock to remove and replace the ship's entire air supply. A coolant leak during a high warp chase a little over a week before had contaminated most of the ship's 10,000 tons of recycled air. They were getting by on emergency tanks but frankly the whole ship smelled like a locker room on a hot August afternoon. Christine would swear that somebody had stuffed the ventilators full of dirty socks. And it was getting worse. It wasn't like they could open a window, of course. The only remedy was to purge the ship and pump in fresh atmosphere. That meant that absolutely everybody had to leave the ship unless they enjoyed breathing vacuum.

What it meant to the crew was shore leave. Furlough. R&R for a full week.

A week's freedom from shipboard duties and military rules and regulations. A week's vacation to do anything on Earth they wanted. The library computer had been working overtime supplying vacation brochures and travel information. Communications hummed with calls to hotels and resorts on Earth. Plans flew hot and heavy and everywhere were little knots of crew sorting out schedules and meeting places.

Christine herself really didn't have a firm idea of what she planned to do. She and Uhura had discussed spending their week at a spa in Paris, shopping and sightseeing in between being pampered. But when they took a look at the price tag attached and compared it to their individual credit accounts that plan was quickly dropped.

"Well," Nyota sighed. "I think I'll just make do with a nice visit home. I need to see my father anyway. I can still get in a couple days in New York before we have to report back. Want to come?"

Christine considered. "Thanks, and no offense, but there's nothing more boring than visiting someone else's relatives." She smiled as Uhura rolled her eyes in agreement. "I'll find something to keep me occupied."

And so the two women had parted. Christine had about decided that she was going to have to spend the time with her own family when the buzzer to her cabin sounded. "Come," she answered, wondering who it could be. She was surprised when Spock entered, hands clasped behind his back, looking thoughtful. "Mr. Spock!" she said. "Is there something I can do for you?"

"I have come to inquire if you have made any plans for the coming week," he answered, his expression a bit embarrassed.

"Why, no, as a matter of fact, I haven't," she responded, wondering what this was leading to.

He nodded. "In that case, I would like to ask if you would accompany me on a ... camping trip."

That took her a moment to digest, then she answered, "Camping, Spock? You? That's not something I would ever expect you to do!"

"Camping is not the correct word," he mused, still looking a little uncomfortable. "I have secured the use of Captain Kirk's vacation cabin in the western mountains of North America. The Captain is going skiing in New Zealand and he has graciously offered me the facilities of his mountain cabin for the week. He assures me it is ... um ... 'just the ticket' for rest and relaxation."

Christine chewed this over for a long moment, considering what this unusual invitation might mean in terms of her relationship with Spock. She decided to be up front about it.

"What's this about, Spock? You've never asked me to go anywhere before."

He was practically scuffing the toe of his boot on the carpet. "I felt that it was time I did so," he answered, his gaze on the floor. But then he seemed to realize how nervous he was acting and straightened, looking up at her. "I will be frank. You have made no secret of your feelings for me, Christine, and our experience on Platonius caused me to devote a good deal of thought to what I ... feel for you," he said softly. "Over the years of our service together, I have developed an ... appreciation of your abilities."

She peered back at him in amusement. "Appreciation of my abilities? Do you think you'll need medical attention on this camping trip of yours?"

He frowned and glanced down again. "I am not expressing myself very well. Christine, I have developed an appreciation for you. One might even say that I feel ... affection for you." He looked back up at her with a curious expression on his face. "You are not making this easy for me, you know. I would have expected more enthusiasm on your part."

She smiled warmly at that admission and walked over to stand before him. "I'm sorry, Spock. I was teasing you. But this is just so unexpected. What plans do you have for us up in that cabin, if I may ask?"

He was silent for a long moment then answered in the same soft voice, "I do not know at this point. I believe that it will give us the opportunity to discuss our relationship and determine if ... we have a ... future together."

Her heartbeat picked up for a moment as she studied his impassive face. Impassive except for the subtle expression of longing in his eyes. He wanted her to come, was anxious for her to come. How could she even think of refusing?

"Spock, I think I would have a wonderful time," she finally answered. Well, at the very least it would be the most interesting week she'd spent in a long time. That was certain! "What do I need to bring?"

He visibly relaxed. "Casual clothing suitable to the environment. Toiletries. The Captain assures me that the cabin is fully stocked with food and necessities."


"I must finish my duty shift and then arrange my own belongings. A backpack would be appropriate as a carryall. We will be doing a bit of hiking to reach the cabin's location. Shall we meet in the transporter room tomorrow morning at 0630?"

"Getting an early start, hmm? Okay. I'll see you then."

"That is highly agreeable. I shall see you tomorrow morning." He was looking decidedly pleased and almost smiled at her. "Until then..." and he turned and left her cabin.

* * *

They had beamed down somewhere in the woods, somewhere in the mountains. Spock had supplied the coordinates to the transporter officer and that's all she knew about it. But after the stuffy, smelly prison that the ship had become, the sudden intake of crisp clean air nearly staggered her, as did the unbelievably beautiful scenery.

"Oh, Spock! This is gorgeous! And smell those pine trees!"

"Yes, it is rather spectacular. I can understand the Captain's fondness for this area." He hefted his backpack into a more comfortable position. "Shall we go? It is late morning here and we have several miles to traverse."

"That far? Why didn't you just have us beamed to the cabin?" she asked, also settling her pack onto her shoulders.

He looked at her quizzically and his eyes crinkled in amusement. "It is my understanding that ... how did the Captain put it? Oh, yes, 'getting there is half the fun.' I have no idea why, but he insisted that a hike was an essential part of the experience. Shall we?"

"Let's go," she responded with a bit of resignation.

* * *

Two hours later, Christine was beginning to have second, third and fourth thoughts about this whole trip. She had thought she was in superb physical shape, but toiling up the mountain trail had quickly proven her wrong. Spock was faring better, of course, because of his naturally stronger physique.

The third time she slipped and fell to her knees, he turned back to offer his hand in assistance. She took it and allowed him to pull her to her feet, but then she leaned against a tree trunk and panted, "Let's take a break, Spock. I'm beat!"

"Very well. There is no need to over exert yourself, Christine," he answered. "This is, after all, supposed to be a pleasure trip."

She sat down on the ledge of a boulder protruding from the hillside. "I'm beginning to think that Captain Kirk has set you up in an elaborate practical joke." She rubbed her shin where a patch of nettles had slapped across her leg above the woolen socks she wore with her hiking boots.

Spock sat down beside her. "I do not believe that was the Captain's intention. He genuinely enjoys activities of this sort. Here, let me see that." He took her injured leg and pulled it onto his lap. Although he'd wisely worn long heavy cotton pants, she had dressed in hiking shorts, failing to anticipate that this would leave her legs mostly bare and vulnerable.

Spock bent to examine the red, inflamed flesh and then shucked his backpack and pulled out a first aid kit. Taking out a tube of cream, he rubbed a little into the abrasion. "That should form a sealant and help the injury heal."

"Thanks," she answered, leaning back propped on her hands, her leg still across his lap.

For a long moment, he kept it there, his big warm hands resting against her skin, caressing the smoothness and softness of her limb. Then he looked up at her with an expression she had never seen him wear before, one almost of yearning, of need for her. She met his gaze and suddenly she could feel the emotions he was experiencing. She didn't know if he was consciously telegraphing his feelings to her or if their physical contact had simply allowed his emotions to wash over her.

In any case, she caught her breath at the sensation of it and unconsciously projected back her echoing sentiment of longing and love for him. It was automatic on her part.

He blinked abruptly and the emotional tide shut off, as if he'd suddenly realized what he was doing and raised his mental shields. Gently he pushed her leg off his lap. Standing up, he quickly stuffed the first aid kit back into his carryall and heaved it onto his shoulders. "We should be going. I want to reach the cabin before it gets dark."

He didn't look at her as he turned and started back up the trail. But, even in the dappled sunlight of the woodland, she had caught the color of his face and wondered if he was flushed from embarrassment or from the surge of sexual excitement that had engulfed her when she looked into his eyes.

* * *

They stopped again an hour and a half later and took a break for lunch. Christine had packed cheese sandwiches and apples for them and they washed their meal down with water from their canteens. As they rested in the quiet afternoon, listening to birdsongs and the light wind soughing through the treetops, Christine tossed her apple core down the slope a bit, then whispered, "Sit very still, Spock, and watch."

He did so and was delighted when a squirrel cautiously made its way down a pine trunk and approached the piece of fruit. It watched the two people with its bright black eyes and jerked its bushy tail nervously, prepared to flee at the first sign of movement. But they could have been carved from stone and it finally approached the apple core close enough to sniff at it. It snatched a tiny bite but evidently the apple wasn't to its liking for it sat up, groomed its whiskers with its forepaws, and shot back up the tree.

Christine sighed and grinned. "Well, the birds will eat it."

Spock looked over at her, a little smile pulling at his lips. "Fascinating. How did you know the animal would do that?"

"Oh, the little beggars used to drive us crazy at home," she answered. "They're cute as tribbles, but they are master thieves. You can't keep them out of a bird feeder for love or money!"

From his position close by her side, he continued to gaze at her and she could feel the warmth of his body so near to hers. She returned his soft scrutiny but was unprepared when he reached up to lightly stroke his thumb across her cheek. She caught his hand and gently squeezed it, holding his fingers against her face.

"You are full of surprises, Spock," she whispered, her eyes never leaving his.

"As are you," he answered in just as soft a tone.

He stood and pulled her to her feet. "Come. We are only about an hour away from the cabin now. We can rest once we get there."

Coming to her feet, she pressed up against him for a few seconds and he instinctively steadied her by taking hold of her upper arms. It brought their faces very close together and she barely constrained herself from following the action through fully, of going on to complete the contact of her mouth on his. Instead, she paused there to see if he would initiate the next step, but he seemed to be waiting for her to do so.

After a few seconds, he backed off a little. "Come. Let's get to the cabin," he said in a murmur.

She stepped away, her heart pounding, and felt the same incipient tightness in her chest and pelvis as she had before. She couldn't tell which of them was the source but the electricity between them was definitely there.

* * *

The last part of the trail led them through an aspen grove and along a burbling stream that flowed at the bottom of a ten foot incline. The trail was steep here and their climbing slowed somewhat.

Christine was winded, the pack she carried seeming heavier with each upward step. At last, she called, "Spock -- wait! I've got to rest for a minute and readjust my backpack." She halted and shrugged the carryall off her shoulders, dropping it to the ground. Then she stood, rolling and flexing her arms to work the cramps out of them.

Spock turned and started back down the trail to her. "Watch the edge," he said. "It does not look very sturdy."

"Hmmm ... yes, I will," she responded, not really paying any attention. Something moved near her feet and she glanced down, then screeched and leaped back reflexively. "Snake!"

The ground gave way beneath her and she found herself tumbling head over heels down the slope to end with a splash in the stream. A minute later, Spock crashed down beside her, not having fallen, but having thrown off his backpack and bounded down the slope to her rescue.

"Christine! Are you all right?!" He splashed out into the ankle deep water and knelt to help her up, ignoring the fact that his hiking boots and pants were getting soaked in the process.

She sat up and rubbed the back of her head, slowly registering that she was drenched and muddy, her hair cluttered with dirt and leaf litter from her roll down the hillside. "I'm okay," she said as Spock slid an arm around her and assisted her to her feet. He solicitously helped her to the bank then checked her over for bruises or cuts.

"I'm all right, really," she insisted. She smiled and shook her head a little. "That was a stupid thing to do," she commented. He stopped his inspection and stared at her. "My jumping at a snake like that, I mean. Not what you did. That was gallant and noble and I really appreciate it. You could have been hurt yourself, running down that slope like that." She slipped her arms around him and hugged him before he could react, getting his shirt thoroughly wet in the process. "Thank you, Spock."

"There is no need to thank me," he answered, looking down into her face. "I am just gratified that you were not injured." He rested one hand on her shoulder and reached up with the other to smooth wet hair away from her cheek. "I would be most distressed if you had been hurt." His voice had dropped to a whisper as he continued to gaze into her eyes and hold her in a loose embrace.

He stroked her cheek again and, with his fingertips lying lightly against her face, she once more felt the telepathic emanations of his thoughts. It wasn't a mind meld, but his emotions flowed into and over her, inflaming her with his desire for her. Her heart pounded in her chest as she sank into the warmth and longing in his eyes, then suddenly he pulled her harder against him and his lips were upon hers.

She leaned into him, returning it fully, the arousal she felt in him echoing through her soul. She wasn't ready to stop when he ended the kiss and gently pushed her away from him. There was promise in his eyes as he stepped back. "Can you climb this incline without assistance?" he asked, his voice a bit husky.

"Yes, I think so." She felt breathless but it was because he had taken her breath away. But she turned to the dirt slope and he gave her a boost to get her started. Nearly on hands and knees, she made her way back up to the trail, Spock scrambling up behind her.

Once there, they both paused and realized how dirty and wet they were. Christine laughed at their appearance. "I didn't know you had mud wrestling on the schedule, Spock."

"It was not my intention," he responded wryly. "We can clean up once we get to the cabin. However, I neglected to bring another pair of shoes with me. I did not anticipate getting these wet."

"Me, neither. Well, we'll just have to make do. Come on. This breeze is chilly and I am dying for a hot shower!"

They retrieved their packs and started back up the trail, hurrying now. The sexual tension that was reverberating back and forth between them had become an almost constant presence now.

* * *

The cabin was made of logs with a porch that stretched across the front. A stone chimney rose on one side of it and it nestled into its wooded setting as if it had grown there, part of the natural habitat. After Spock had deactivated the security system with the pass key that Kirk had provided him and they had shed their wet, squelchy shoes and socks beside the front door, they stepped inside and looked around. The interior was deliberately rustic but well decorated and comfortable. It consisted of one large room dominated by a big natural stone fireplace at one end. An overstuffed couch and chair with a low sturdy coffee table faced the fireplace. The back wall was taken up by a well-appointed, modern kitchen, with a window over the sink that looked out into the back yard. A doorway in the far end of the room led into a spacious, fully equipped bathroom, complete with all the modern appliances and conveniences. The remaining corner of the room was dominated by a large bed. It was old-fashioned, the head board deceptively rough-hewn although closer inspection showed it to be a well-made piece of modern furniture. It did not escape Christine's notice that there was only this single bed available. This trip was getting decidedly interesting, she mused.

But right now all Christine wanted to do was clean up and get into some dry clothes. She glanced down at her filthy garments and said, "I think I'll give the shower a try."

"Excellent idea. Why not do that while I get a fire going?" he answered. He gestured at his own grimy appearance. "We could both use a bath, I'm afraid. After the hike up here, I dare say that it is becoming difficult to remain in my presence."

She grinned up at him, her blue eyes twinkling. "You don't stink any worse than I do, Spock. And my hair must be horrible." She moved in the direction of the bathroom. "I hope I didn't forget to pack my shampoo..."

He watched her retreat and close the door, his gaze caught by the way her shapely hips moved in the khaki shorts. Within a few minutes, he heard the hum of the sonic shower.

Turning back to the task at hand, he found a small stack of seasoned wood and kindling in the woodbox beside the hearth and set to work getting a fire started. In short order a lively blaze was crackling in the fireplace. He sat down on the edge of the coffee table and for several moments watched the flames dance among the logs, thinking about the week ahead and the time he would spend with Christine.

He knew she was puzzled by his seemingly sudden interest in her and that, in the back of her mind, she must wonder if he was again experiencing the first symptoms of pon farr. It wasn't that, he was certain. It had only been two years since the disastrous trip back to Vulcan and that had been well and fully resolved. The relief he felt at finally having T'Pring out of his life was enormous.

He had realized early on, when they were still in their teens, that he no desire to be bonded with her. She was beautiful and graceful and highly intelligent, but he had also discovered that she was vain, cold and ruthless in getting what she wanted. So, even though they were formally betrothed and should have been married long since, he had fled from her into Starfleet and she had retaliated by taking a lover.

He didn't care, truthfully. He was glad she had something to keep her from demanding that he return home and fulfill their marriage contract. He had compelled a promise from her that she would not force him to do so until pon farr came upon him, and afterwards he prayed mightily to the ancestors that for once his human heritage would prove dominant over the Vulcan. The ancestors heard him for many years, but ultimately, they turned their backs on him and the fever came crashing down upon him.

He realized now that the majority of the stress he had felt during that time was not the fact that pon farr had finally caught up with him, but that he could no longer avoid going through with his marriage to a woman he simply could not bear. Perhaps he could have tolerated it, could have managed to join himself with T'Pring if he hadn't had Christine's daily reminder of the difference. The two women were like night and day and he had found himself being drawn almost irresistibly toward the warm, sympathetic love of Christine Chapel. Undoubtedly it had been the heightened emotional state he'd been in but suddenly his eyes were opened to what had been before them all the time. When Christine had come back to his cabin, risking another outburst of fury from him, he had suddenly seen her as if for the first time.

He couldn't get the words out to express how he felt, talking of dreams and their natures. It didn't make any sense to her. He wasn't sure it made any sense to him, either. And, when she had wept, he struggled to understand that, too. Human tears had always puzzled him and confounded him. They seemed to convey so many human emotions. Was she happy that they were on their way to Vulcan? Sad that she would never now have him as her own? Frightened at being caught uninvited in his cabin and fearing what he might do to her?

His emotions had swirled in a chaotic storm as well that day. When he'd awakened to Christine's presence beside his bed, he had been surprised but then almost immediately his heart had leaped with excitement and anticipation. But as quickly, he damped down the sexual surge that had jolted through him. His hormone-charged system screamed for T'Pring, for kali'farr, for complete joining with his Vulcan wife. And yet the overwhelming emotion he felt was despair because it meant that he would be locked mentally with her for as long as they lived.

Christine had stood before him, warm, compassionate, wanting to comfort him. And he didn't dare touch her. Didn't dare loose the demons that he barely held in check. Just wiping the tear from her cheek had made him want to pull her against him and crush her lips to his. Had made him ache to take her down onto his bed and in her arms sate the sexual firestorm burning him alive. Instead, he had sent her for soup, a simple kindness that was at once an apology and a necessity to get her out of his presence before he lost total control.

Now, with a sigh, he rose and shut the glass and brass doors that folded across the hearth, insuring that no sparks or embers would be popped out onto the floor. Stepping away from the fireplace, he peeled his damp shirt off and hung it over the back of a kitchen chair to dry. He could hear the shower continuing to hum invitingly and could not stop the vision that came into his mind of Christine standing in all her glory within the sonic waves. He'd never lost the excitement he felt for her, although he'd buried it almost completely until Parmen's games with them had caused it to surface with a vengeance. His blood surged once more for her and he knew the time had come to put aside any reservations he might still have within him.

The time for hesitation behind him, he turned and walked toward the closed bathroom door.

* * *

Christine stood happily underneath the sonic shower, the waves tingling her all over. After a bit, she turned off the sonics and turned on the water. It was shockingly cold for a few seconds, then hot water began to stream out of the nozzle and she almost groaned with the pleasure of it. She turned her back to the stream and reclined her head, allowing the hot water to drench her hair until it hung long and heavy down her torso, then she turned around to face the shower.

She heard the door to the bathroom open. "I'll be out in a few minutes, Spock," she called.

"There is no need," his voice answered and the shower door slid back. He stepped in behind her, naked.

Shocked speechless, she nevertheless felt her heart hammer with excitement. She must be dreaming, she thought. Blushing, she kept her back to him and, almost instinctively, crossed her arms over her breasts.

Reaching up, he adjusted the shower nozzle to a wider field, then leaned into the stream, letting the water pour over his head and body, sluicing away the grime and sweat. She couldn't resist looking over her shoulder at him, caught by how sensuously handsome he was as he straightened and shook wet hair away from his face, water droplets still hanging on his brows and lashes. He met her gaze for a long moment, then gently took her shoulders, turning her away from him.

He didn't say anything, but reached past her and retrieved the shampoo, pouring a little puddle of the pink liquid into the palm of one hand. Setting the bottle back on the shelf, he rubbed his hands together and then brought them up to work the cleanser into Christine's shoulder-length blonde hair. Lather foamed up quickly and his long fingers gently and thoroughly buried themselves in the thick mass, massaging her scalp and stroking the rich lather into the pale strands.

It was the most luxurious shampoo she'd ever had. The most erotic one, too, because all the while she was intensely aware of him behind her.

At last he turned her around to face him, but it was only to lean her back slightly so that the water from the shower nozzle flowed through her soapy hair, rinsing it. He was still running his fingers through it, helping the water reach all parts, and he seemed unaware that they were standing almost touching, naked and soapy and wet. His gaze was fixed on her hair, intent on his work.

Hers wasn't. She found her eyes focused on his beloved features, visually tracing the line of his dark brows and sinking into the deep brown velvet of his eyes. And then her gaze moved lower, over his shoulders to his torso. Water streamed down through the dusky hair on his chest, down his taut stomach muscles to the dark thatch at the base of his abdomen. Before she could catch more than a glimpse of the regions below that, he gave a playful little tug on her hair.

"I can't rinse it properly if you don't hold your head back," he said softly.

"Here, let me," she answered and brought both her hands up to plump her hair and get the rest of the soap out.

The action delighted him unexpectedly for it caused her lush breasts to lift dramatically into full view. They were slick and shining wet and water dripped off the tips of her rosy nipples. The sight was unbelievably erotic and he felt the incipient tingle in his groin begin to tighten into a throb.

She paused, caught by the hungry expression on his face, and felt her own body answering. But she wasn't ready yet. Not quite. "Okay, let me do you," she said and his eyebrows quirked up in question. "Your hair, I mean," she clarified and reached to pour a little shampoo into her palm.

Obligingly, he bent his head forward, his eyes closed, and she worked the liquid into his shining black hair, rubbing and massaging. On impulse, she slipped her hands down to the back of his neck and gently kneaded the muscles there. Eyes still closed against the soapy water, he gave a little moan of pleasure, then leaned more fully into the water stream and reached up to work his fingers quickly through his hair, rinsing out the shampoo. Lather cascaded down his torso, following the lines and curves of muscles, accentuating his masculinity. He lifted his head and again shook the water from his face, his sleek cap of dark hair still trickling little rivulets down his cheeks.

She continued to massage his shoulders and neck and then she moved her hands up to lightly stroke his ears. She had never done that, never trailed her fingertips along the intriguing and exotic curves of his ears although they were one of his most distinctive features. He stood watching her, allowing her exploration, then he smiled a little and reached to reciprocate by gently drawing his fingertips along the rounded contours of her ears.

She laughed. It tickled. She supposed it tickled his ears as well, and she let her hands slide down onto his muscular shoulders. The delighted expression that had covered his face faded a little into a more intense, deeper one, his eyes locked onto hers, drawing her into their depths, entrancing her with their promise.

"Do we stop or continue?" he asked quietly. "I shall do whatever you wish. We will go no further if this is not something you desire."

She stared up at him in surprise, then smiled a little, her heart bursting with love for him. "Spock, do you have any sense of timing at all? What a thing to ask! If you stop now, I swear I'll strangle you!"

For a split second, he thought she was serious and then he realized that she was being deliberately dramatic in her answer. He was pleased with that answer, too, because he had no desire to stop either. His heart cried out for her and would be denied not a moment longer.

Gently, he slid his hands around her waist and pulled her against him, then he leaned forward to capture her lips in a kiss that rapidly grew hot and hungry. Their tongues pushed and danced against each other as the level of their passion increased.

He bent to nuzzle her neck, teasing her skin with the tip of his tongue, and she sighed and moved her head to bare her throat. Instead, he moved down to her breasts, pulling one into his mouth, gently sucking at it while his hand engulfed the other, massaging and tweaking the nipple until it stood upright and firm. After a few minutes of suckling and tonguing one breast, he switched and did the other one. His other hand stayed firmly around her waist, anchoring her as she arched back to give him better access to her breasts.

She could feel his impressive erection pulsing against her thigh and she reached down to grasp him. He caught his breath for a second as she began to stroke him, sliding her hand up and down his length from tip to base and back again. He groaned then straightened, reclaiming her mouth and eagerly pushing his tongue between her lips. Her tongue met his and they fenced and dueled again.

Sliding his free hand down her abdomen, he slipped his fingers between her legs, causing her to gasp as he found and gently manipulated the gloriously sensitive center of her womanhood even as she continued to stimulate him. Before long, her legs began to shake so hard that she was finding it difficult to stand. He withdrew his marvelously adept fingers at that point and, the way now clear, she instinctively guided his engorged penis into the slick depths that ached for him.

"Put your arms around my neck," he whispered urgently and, as she complied, he slipped his hands underneath her buttocks, taking a firm grip. Abruptly, he lifted her off her feet and into position. At once, she understood and straddled his hips, breathless with desire. His rigid shaft probed against her luscious folds, found her opening, and pushed partway in.

Turning them both so that she was pressed up against the tile wall of the shower, bracing her, he gave a strong shove with his hips. She was unable to suppress a rapturous cry as he was suddenly hilt deep within her, hot and hard and filling her completely. She clung to him and wrapped her legs around his body, leaning her head back against the wall, eyes closed in ecstasy as he began thrusting into her.

The sensations that assaulted her were nearly overwhelming ... the cool tile against her back, the warm water streaming down her body, her sensitive nipples rubbing against the rough hair on his chest, the sound and feel of his pelvis pounding into hers, the musky scent of his skin, the taste of his mouth on hers.

He drew away from their kiss and she opened her eyes a little to find his face very close to hers, his dark eyes gazing intently into hers, consumed with the rapidly approaching peak of his excitement. She closed her eyes again and gave herself totally over to the wave engulfing her, unable to contain the little cries that escaped her throat with each impact of his body against hers.

The tempo and force of his movements picked up and she felt his breath coming quick and strong against her throat, his muscles like granite as his body tensed for complete orgasmic release. And then she felt him falter and shudder, thrust hard and deep twice, three more times, and then the hot gush of his eruption deep inside her. She nearly screamed with the unbelievable emotional and physical sensation that exploded within her and she clutched him, savoring it as long as she could.

Then, as it faded gradually away, she felt his arms tremble from supporting her fully and she released the clasp of her legs around him. He set her on her feet, his spent penis slipping out of her. Breathing hard, he leaned against her and over her, resting his face against the tiles, eyes closed. The water from the shower still poured over them but now she felt a hint of coolness. The hot water was running out.

"Let's get out before it really turns cold," she murmured in his ear. He opened a curious eye and then understood.

"Yes, a cold shower right now would be extremely unwelcome," he replied. He straightened and reached around to turn the water off.

They stepped out of the shower stall and found a stack of towels on a shelf, then proceeded with the delightful business of drying each other off, taking the opportunity to examine the other's body more closely.

She rubbed her hair dry and then retrieved her wide-tooth comb to get the tangles out of the blonde mass. He took it from her hand and spent a few minutes in the sensuous business of pulling the comb through her shoulder-length locks, the gentle tugging and stimulation of her scalp making her close her eyes and shudder a bit. Then, that done, he began to run one of the thick, soft towels over her back and limbs. He found that she had three little moles that formed a pyramid on her left shoulder blade and then, as he turned her, that one of her breasts was just ever-so-slightly larger than the other. He gently buffed the soft/rough texture of the cloth over her nipples, teasingly, then knelt in front of her, running the towel down her legs. There he discovered evidence of a long jagged cut on the inside of her right thigh and he turned her leg to the light in order to see it better.

"What's this?" he asked.

"I fell through a glass window when I was nine," she explained as he studied it. "There wasn't a doctor in town with the equipment to seal it properly. That took fourteen stitches to close. Hurt like hell!" Still crouched before her, he bent to softly kiss the mark in her flesh. She caught her breath at the tenderness of his action and dropped her hand to stroke the top of his head, tangling her fingers in his thick, wet hair.

He glanced up at her then stood. "There. Now it is my turn."

As she set to work drying him, she discovered that he also bore the testimony of his Starfleet service etched into his skin. There were thin, pale lines cris-crossing his back which she remembered were from the beating he had taken on Ekos. The whip had cut deep and Dr. McCoy hadn't been able to completely make the new tissue regenerate cleanly. There were a couple of other scars that marked out injuries he had received, the arrow straight marks of surgical incisions and closures. She could detail their stories because she had assisted in their creation. That one was the exploratory surgery Dr. McCoy had performed at Deneva after the attack by the brain cell creature... And that one had been made by Dr. M'Benga in digging a bullet out of Spock's partially destroyed liver after he'd been shot down with a primitive firearm on Neural... He'd nearly died that time, and she felt an exquisite stab of pain in remembering how close she had come to losing him forever.

She knelt down as he had done in order to rub the towel over his legs and suddenly found herself at eye level with the imposing evidence of his manhood. Strong, well-built and very virile, he stood oblivious to her sudden scrutiny, his attention directed instead to toweling dry his still-wet hair. She glanced up at his face then looked again at the body of the man she loved so much, the man she had yearned for and could not have, but who had now miraculously opened his heart to her in return.

And she suddenly wanted him desperately once again, wanted him in the most physical, elemental way possible. On impulse, she leaned forward and planted her lips against the embodiment of his masculinity.

His reaction was immediate -- he took a startled step back away from her and stared down at her in shock. "Christine!" he said. "What --?"

She colored. "I'm sorry. I thought you'd-- I mean, I didn't know you'd-- " She got to her feet, defensively holding the towel up in front of her, suddenly embarrassed for both herself and him.

He was blinking at her in confusion and surprise. "Why did you do that?"

"It's considered pleasurable by many humans," she explained self-consciously. "It's a form of foreplay."

He didn't answer but glanced down at himself and she followed his gaze. His penis had twitched up partially erect again. He looked back at her and she could see that the shocked expression was fading, being replaced by something else. "It does seem to be having the desired effect," he commented. "It's just that I have never been touched in that manner before. You startled me."

With a timid smile, she lowered her towel and stepped toward him. "Shall I continue then? There's a lot more to it than just a kiss."

His surprise had faded completely by now as he understood her intent. "You are referring to oral stimulation," he answered, allowing her to press up against him once again. "Fellatio."

She shrugged ingenuously. "To put it clinically. There were other, cruder terms for it."

He slipped his arms around her shoulders and pulled her close. "It would be an interesting experience and one that would undoubtedly result in mutual pleasure. But not here or right now," he answered in a near-whisper.


"No. I have something else in mind first and there is a more comfortable place to continue our activities. Why not dry your hair and we shall proceed."

She nodded and spent a few minutes in the drying unit, the warm air swirling around her. Spock joined her for a few seconds, all it took for his hair to lose its dampness. Once done, Christine peered into the bathroom mirror and finger-fluffed the soft curls around her face. "It doesn't look very good," she commented.

He slid his arms around her from behind and nuzzled into her neck. "I think you are very beautiful, Christine," he murmured. "Come." He turned and steered her through the door of the bathroom, switching off the light as he went.

The fire that Spock had started was crackling invitingly, filling the darkening cabin with golden light. She hadn't realized they'd spent so much time in the bathroom, but the sun had set behind the mountains and the last light of day was waning fast. But, most remarkably, she discovered that there was fresh linen on the bed and the blankets had been turned back, awaiting them.

She glanced up at him. "My, you were busy while I was in the shower."

"It is always best to be prepared," he answered innocently.

She peered up at him again. "I didn't know you were a Boy Scout, Spock."

"I was not," he answered, a bit puzzled by the reference, although understanding it. He decided she was being rhetorical and that her tone implied sexual teasing. He replied softly in the same manner, "But I know how to start a fire."

She grinned at that and turned to snuggle sensuously against him, slipping her hands up around his neck. "Oh, yes. You definitely do know how to do that!"

Their lips met in a long, languorous kiss, each savoring the other. Then Spock pulled away a little and moved toward the bed, drawing her after him. She came willingly and slid between the sheets beside him. She sank into his arms and shared another easy, lazy kiss with him, more than ready for things to heat up between them.

But instead he lifted his mouth from hers and for a long moment gazed seriously into her eyes, still holding her close. "Before we continue," he said softly, "I would have you understand why I asked you to come here with me. I would have you know me as I would know you."

Puzzled, she pulled back to stare into his deep brown eyes. "I have wondered about this sudden about face," she admitted. "Are you ... uh ..."

"No," he answered and shook his head slightly, amused. "I knew that would be the first thing you would ask, but that is not the case this time. I would never subject you to that in an isolated cabin in the forest. Humans tend to think that it is nothing but a voracious, uncontrollable sexual appetite, but it is so much more than that. So much worse..." He sighed and his dark lashes hooded his eyes for a second. "I could not begin to explain the insanity and rage that accompany it. It is ... indescribable."

He closed his eyes at the painful memory and Christine reached up to caress his face. "Spock, I would gladly do whatever you needed. You know that."

He looked back up at her. "Don't say that, Christine," he answered. "Because few humans have ever fully experienced a mate in pon farr. My mother did, going willingly into it without understanding, and she nearly died as a result that first time. Had my conception not resulted, I wonder if she would have had the strength to stay with my father."

"She would have stayed, Spock," Christine responded softly, slipping her fingers up to trail lightly over the tip of his ear and then down the length of his neck.

"You underestimate the power of the Vulcan mating drive."

"You underestimate the power of human love," she replied. "She would have stayed because she loves your father more than anything." She paused then added purposefully, "Just as I love you."

He couldn't answer her for a moment. Instead, he closed his eyes and pressed his forehead against hers. They lay silent until finally he raised his head once more to look into her eyes. "I want to touch your thoughts, Christine," he said softly. "And to share mine. It is the only way I can express to you what has led us here. And where I hope we will be led in the future."

She hesitated for an instant, then smiled warmly at him. "I said I would do whatever you asked of me. Tell me what I need to do now."

"Just relax and open your mind. I think you will find it a pleasant experience." He brought his hand up to her face, his strong fingers lightly finding pressure points on her cheek and temple. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath to release her tension.

She felt his fingertips press into her face and abruptly she felt dizzy as he delicately adjusted nerve responses and blood flow. A strange euphoria came over her then and she felt an odd sensation of light-headedness. Suddenly she felt weightless, as if her body was hovering above the bed, or perhaps she had left her body altogether to exist solely as mentality, intellect.

"Good," Spock's disembodied voice whispered to her. "Your body floats. Open your mind and thoughts to mine. Feel my thoughts merging into yours. We are one..."

* * *

The sensation when he fused with her was like nothing she had ever experienced. Even when he had pushed into her body as water streamed around and over them, even as he had filled her with the essence of his soul, even as she had tasted and smelled and drunk of him so that she had felt indelibly joined with him ... even then, it was nothing as now. She could feel his heart pumping blood throughout his veins, could feel his lungs draw in air and exhale it onto her lips, could feel what he felt as her skin pressed against his, inflaming him.

She was Spock, his thoughts, his emotions, his memories. And as Spock, she remembered...

Being cradled in a mother's arms for a brief, an oh-so-brief time, loving and being loved, then being forced to set aside that love in favor of rigid self-control. Being ridiculed and taunted unmercifully by schoolmates and learning not to show the slightest loss of composure lest the bullying descend into physical violence. Retreating to the back of an overgrown garden and there burying his/her face in the thick brown fur of a beloved pet, muffling sobs of frustration and despair so that no one would hear.

She remembered being brought together with a petite, doe-eyed girl and informed that they were to be pledge-bound, to be mated when grown to adulthood. Feeling for the first time the touch of another's mind, that of a frightened little girl sealing her life to that of a bewildered little boy, a political union of influential families. And how pleased everyone was, except for the two whose lives it affected most.

She remembered fighting and arguing with an implacable father and growing rebellious, desperate to get out, to get away. Feeling a surge of hope in a life of hopelessness when the horrible, traitorous, unfathomable thought of Starfleet first appeared. At sixteen gathering courage and applying directly to Starfleet Academy and the surprise and elation of being accepted. And then the explosive confrontation that had ended a parental relationship, and facing the future alone and with pounding heart.

She experienced the strangeness and loneliness of Earth, of culture shock, of hazing and military life. Then gradually a sense of belonging, of succeeding on his/her own, of friendship and accomplishment. And with it came something totally new -- the realization that the tall, slim, dark-eyed boy was considered sexually attractive and desirable by the human females around him. And realizing that T'Pring meant nothing to him and he had no desire to marry her.

T'Pring had other plans, however. By now grown into gorgeous womanhood, she demanded that he fulfill his pledge. At last they reached a compromise of sorts. He would pay her bride-price, supporting her financially as he would a bonded wife. In return she would not force him into full marriage bond until they were brought together at pon farr. He was 19 and should have already summoned her to kunat kali'fee. But not every male went through it in his teens. That point was sure to arrive within a year or so. Neither knew then that he would be 36 before it did. By that time, she was ready with a terrible vengeance in retaliation for the humiliation she had suffered at his hands.

There were other memories ... first assignment, shipboard life, being promoted, coming aboard the Enterprise for the first time.

And here Spock hesitated and almost hid his memories from her, but then he opened himself fully and allowed Christine to see, to know. He would be honest with her, she would know him as he had promised...

Newly promoted to lieutenant, assigned to the Enterprise as Captain Pike's second officer, Spock had stepped aboard the ship that would be his home for the next twenty years. And here he had met a woman, a young Vulcan widow, and they had been drawn to one another with a power that defied all logic. He had loved her in a way he had not thought himself capable and he had made the decision to divorce T'Pring and marry T'Pris, who now shared his heart and his bed. And then she had been killed and he thought he would die as well.

But he didn't. He pulled the armor of Vulcan control and stoicism around himself and he went on. He buried his emotions deep, realizing at last the wisdom of the Elders, that the intensity and passion of Vulcan emotions were too strong, too painful. They must be suppressed and held in rigid check.

Time went on and a new captain was assigned to the Enterprise. A promotion to lieutenant commander and first officer of the ship. A new crew and a new voyage. And among that crew was a tall blonde nurse -- and Christine saw herself now through Spock's eyes.

Suddenly Spock's memories began to overlap hers and she remembered them in a peculiar double perspective. She was able to share with him another view of events. Together they explored the painful day over Psi 2000 when she had opened her heart to him and he discovered that he was not so invulnerable after all. She lived his confusion and turmoil, the roiling emotions exploding within him, and that he had barely stopped himself from turning back to sick bay and her arms.

That had been the first chink in his armor. From that point on, pieces had been falling away with regularity.

She experienced his relief at finding her alive in the caverns of Exo III. He felt her pain and disappointment at the death of the man she had come to find and the horror of what he had become.

And when she decided to stay with the Enterprise, something inside Spock had felt glad at the prospect. He could not say why he felt this way because every other instinct and reflex was telling him not to let himself be hurt again, not to give his heart over to another woman as he had T'Pris.

But time after time Christine had been there for him. When he lay in sick bay after the attack on Deneva, battling pain more horrible than he had ever imagined, she had been there, unable to help him but there just the same. And when later he had sat blinded and in shock, he had felt her presence and wished he could reach out and grasp her hand, giving him a physical anchor in a world he suddenly did not know.

When she had stood by his bed as he lay deep in a healing trance following the bullet wound, she had done just that. Taken his hand and through the tactile sensation of her touch she had transmitted a depth of love to him that had affected him more than he would admit.

When Sargon had placed his consciousness in Christine's body, he had felt as if his soul had been opened to hers and he had scarcely been able to wind a mental shield around his mind to avoid sinking into a full bonding with her.

Then, when they were forced to play out the charade of Parmen's game, he had realized with a shock where Parmen had gotten the idea of pairing him with Christine. It was from his own mind, his own secret desires that he thought were buried too deeply to be acknowledged. The pain and frustration he had felt at being unable to stop her public humiliation distressed him more than he would have expected. And the knowledge that he was the source, the reason she was here was almost more than he could bear. They both fought against their forced kiss, but deep down something was telling him that it was what he had wanted to do for a very long time, ever since the time of pon farr, when she'd stood before him in his cabin and they'd both thought the other lost.

After Platonius, after the intimacy with her that he could not avoid, he had been forced to be honest with himself. He admitted to himself that he cared deeply for Christine. No, he had chided himself harshly. Be completely honest. And then he knew. He loved her, when he wasn't even sure what that emotion was or felt like anymore, when he had sworn after T'Pris' death that he would never allow himself to feel such an emotion again. But, when he had looked into her pleading eyes as she lay beneath him, eyes full of fear and confusion and hope, he only knew that he wanted her and needed her and couldn't live without her. And he had failed her, failed her when she needed him the most.

Christine found herself back in her own body, her face close to Spock's, his fingertips still touching her cheek. "No," she whispered to him, reaching up to caress his face. "Oh, no, Spock, you didn't fail me. How can you ever believe that of yourself?"

"I wasn't strong enough," he answered. "I should have been able to prevent the way Parmen used you."

"He used all of us. He was almost a god in his mental powers. And you did defeat him ultimately. You and the Captain combined. That's want counts." She slipped her arm around his shoulders and pulled him closer. "But what's more important is that it finally brought us together. Otherwise, I don't think I would've ever had the courage to do what Parmen forced us to do."

He stroked his fingertips lightly down her face. "I know I would not. I would have gone on denying my emotions and my feelings for you and we should not have come to this point. I wanted you to understand the reasons I turned away from you so many times before. The reasons I would not permit you into my life ... or permit myself to love you."

She blinked back tears and leaned toward him, kissing him with a passion that bespoke all the love she felt for him. He gathered her to him, holding her close and giving himself fully to her. Quickly the flames rekindled and roared up into full blaze. He rolled her onto her back and his lips burned their way down her throat as his hand found the soft globe of her breast. The time for words had ended and he now moved to demonstrate what he had conveyed to her through their mind meld, to make up to her for the too many times when he had thought of her and pulsed with desire, but had turned away because he was a Vulcan, and Vulcans didn't allow themselves to feel such things.

There was now a long night ahead of them and he intended to use it all.

* * *

Christine opened her eyes to the pale new light of morning and to the delicious warmth of Spock spooned against her back, still holding her after their last session of lovemaking had finally sent them into fatigued sleep. After a minute she realized what had awakened her -- a soft, rhythmic buzzing sound coming from his vicinity. Gently, she shifted onto her back and looked at him. He was asleep, his lips parted slightly and, with each breath he took, he was making the quiet rasping noise.

Absolutely delighted at this unexpected revelation, Christine moved so that she was lying on her stomach, her arms folded across her pillow and her chin resting on her forearms. In that position, she settled down to watch him sleep.

After a few minutes, something must have alerted him because he opened his eyes sleepily and peered at her with a puzzled expression. "What's wrong?" he murmured.

"Nothing," she responded.

He gave an incoherent mumble and closed his eyes again. She continued her smiling surveillance.

He opened his eyes again, more alert this time, and stared back at her. "What?" he demanded.

"Nothing," she insisted, but her eyes were twinkling. He looked at her suspiciously, knowing something was going on. She leaned forward and lightly kissed him on the tip of his nose. "You snore," she said.

His eyebrows went up in protest. "I do not snore."

"Yes, you do."

"Christine, Vulcans do not snore."

"One Vulcan does," she grinned.

"I assure you, I do not."

"I assure you, you do!"

He was beginning to look slightly annoyed. "No," he persisted.

She shrugged and smiled. "Well, somebody in this bed was sure sawing logs."

He lifted himself onto one elbow and leaned toward her. "I never realized what a stubborn person you are," he commented.

"Well, you should know," she responded and moved closer until her lips met his.

When she pulled away, he considered her and asked softly, "What do you want now?"

She grinned. "Breakfast."

He sighed. "After last night, I'm not sure I'm capable of ... breakfast, but if that is what you wish..."

"No, you idiot!" she laughed in delight. "Breakfast. I'm starved! We skipped supper last night, remember?"

"Ah... Now that you mention it, food is an excellent idea. What do you have in mind?"

"Hmmm ... I don't know." She leaned over and kissed him lightly once more, then threw the blankets back and sat up on the side of the bed. "Yow! It's freezing in here! Isn't this place heated?"

She got up and hurried to where she'd left her backpack to retrieve clothing. Spock lay in bed watching her, enjoying the play of morning light on her skin and tantalizing curves, thinking he might possibly be capable after all.

Quickly, however, she retrieved underwear, shorts and t-shirt and dressed, which he enjoyed watching as well. "Here," she said and tossed his pack onto the bed. He acknowledged her action and pulled out a shirt and exercise pants while she ducked into the bathroom. He heard the lock click this time and smiled, understanding.

When she emerged a short time later, he was in the kitchen, surveying the contents of the food keeper. "What is there to eat?" she asked, joining him.

"There is quite a variety in the stasis box. I have chosen blueberry waffles for myself."

"That sounds good. Oh, look!" Christine reached past him through the shimmering stasis field, in which time literally did not exist, and pulled out two eggs. "How about scrambled eggs with that? Uh, do you eat eggs, Spock? I'm never quite sure how absolute your food taboos are."

"Eggs and dairy products are acceptable to the Vulcan diet," he answered. "They do not involve the death of animal life and we include them frequently in our foods. Of course, the eggs we eat do not come from chickens nor the milk from cows. It might shock you a bit to discover their sources."

"No, it wouldn't," she responded, moving over to the stove and looking for a pan. "I've seen h'nan and paran. I've even eaten pickled h'nan eggs and I think they're quite good."

"Fascinating!" he answered characteristically. "You truly do continue to surprise me, Christine."

"Why is that?" she asked him, pausing to smile gently up at him. "Don't you think I would want to learn about the culture of the man I love?" That caught him off-guard and he bent to kiss her. They exchanged a long, loving look then Christine turned back to the stove. "How do you like 'em? Hard or soft?"

"Whatever suits you," he answered. He turned to get the waffles started but she finally shooed him out of the kitchen when he began to get in her way.

"Go get the fire going again while I finish up," she instructed.

He did as ordered, adding more wood and poking the embers until a blaze flared up once more. Their shoes were standing side by side on the hearth where he had set them the night before and he checked to see if they were dry yet. The leather was still a little damp but they should be wearable later on.

He turned as Christine set their breakfast tray on the coffee table. "I'm sorry there wasn't any hiralin tea for you," she said. "The Captain doesn't seem to go in much for Vulcan cuisine."

"Coffee is acceptable," he answered. "I am quite accustomed to Terran foods." He settled onto the couch beside her and they enjoyed a leisurely breakfast together.

After Christine had poured their second cup of coffee, she cradled her mug between her hands and snuggled against him, curling her legs up beneath her on the couch. "What do you want to do today?" she asked him.

"Filling leisure time is not something I often do," he replied. "I am open to suggestions."

She grinned lasciviously at him. "Well, beyond the obvious..."

He laid a hand on her bare leg. "I do require a bit of recovery time, Christine. You were quite enthusiastic last night."

"Okay." She dropped her gaze and took a sip of her coffee. "Sorry." She smiled and her blue eyes crinkled up in amusement. "You were pretty enthusiastic yourself, you know." Inwardly, she quivered a bit at the memory of it all, never having imagined Spock capable of demonstrating the amount of passion he had shown her the night before. "If you keep that up for the rest of the week, I won't be able to walk by the time we have to report back!"

"In that case, it would be logical to cease all further amorous action," he responded, completely deadpan.

"Remember what I said about strangling you?" she threatened, reaching a hand toward his throat.

"Then you place me in a dilemma. Either I render you immobile or you will murder me." He set his coffee cup on the table and took hers from her hand, doing likewise. "Since I have no desire to die at the moment, I see no alternative but to immobilize you."

And with that he turned and seized her, bearing her backwards onto the couch. She shrieked and play-fought him, finally stopping as he lay atop her, his weight pressing her into the sofa cushions. "I thought you needed a rest," she murmured against his lips.

"In fact, I do," he answered, kissing her lightly. "Later. I promise." He kissed her again and let her up. "You were saying ... what shall we do today?"

"Well, let's see what's around here. And see what kind of supplies we have. We may need to go on a shopping trip ... providing there's anywhere to shop."

"Agreed. I do believe there is a settlement not far away," Spock replied. "I recall the Captain informing me that there is a large lake within walking distance and that there is a small village that serves as a focal point to several other cabins in the vicinity."

"Great," she answered. "Let me get the breakfast things cleaned up and put away and we can go do some exploring." She leaned over to kiss him long and slowly. When she lifted her lips from his, she whispered, "And I'll hold you to that promise later. You can count on it!"

* * *

The lake turned out to be closer than they had imagined, only about a quarter mile stroll from the back yard of the cabin along a trail through the pines. There they came upon a small, but stunningly beautiful body of water, a mountain tarn, glacier created and glacier fed so that, even in summer, its waters were much too cold for swimming. It lay in the hollow of the mountain's side, reflecting the intensely blue sky above it, the deep green of the surrounding trees, and the stone and snow of its parent peak.

Nestled over on one shore was a small collection of buildings, looking old and weathered from a distance, but quite new and modern when they reached them. It was, in fact, a tiny community that catered to the needs of the people who rented the cabins surrounding the lake. There was a postal center, a bar/restaurant, and a market.

The market turned out to be small and limited to basics, but Christine discovered that they had a computer link to various large cities and she was able to order a variety of Vulcan foods while Spock looked over her shoulder and made suggestions.

Having a Vulcan present caused a quiet stir among the locals for it was rare that any of them ever got to see a non-human. Spock found himself the object of many subtle glances and overt stares, his sharp hearing picking up snatches of conversation that the originators thought were whispered to each other. He sighed and quirked an eyebrow up philosophically and ignored it. He was used to the attention whenever he went off-ship and refused to allow it to bother him.

While they were waiting for their order to arrive via transporter from San Francisco, they browsed through the holovid section of the market. Christine picked out two or three recent adventure tales and a sentimental romance that featured the latest vid idol and leading lady.

"Why buy that one?" Spock asked her. "It has been available in the ship's theater for the past three solar months. You could avail yourself of a viewing without an outlay of credit."

"I want to add it to my library," she answered. "I love it. It always makes me cry."

"That is highly illogical, Christine," he responded, standing in a characteristic pose with hands behind his back. "Why would you want to subject yourself repeatedly to a holovid that causes you emotional turmoil?"

She rolled her eyes and addressed the ceiling. "Honestly! I don't care what the species, men are alike all over!" She looked back at him. "Because -- and don't tell me how illogical this is -- because it makes me feel good! I just like it, okay? You don't have to watch it with me. I'll put it away until I get back to the ship."

His eyebrows rose in a slightly affronted expression. "I was merely expressing my opinion that--"

"I know, I know. I'm sorry, Spock. Just count it as a human, female quirk. Is there anything that you'd like to see?" Christine gestured at the vid racks.

"No. I rarely spend time watching holovids," he answered, back to his usual, placid self. "I seldom have time for that on board. I find my duties more than fill my schedule."

"Well, I'm going to get these in any case." She smiled up at him, her eyes twinkling mischievously. "It might give us something to do on those long, quiet evenings."

He raised one eyebrow at her in puzzlement. "Indeed? I would have expected you to prefer other activities." He looked at her meaningfully.

To his surprise, she blushed. "I do," she answered softly. "I was joking. And we don't have to talk about it in the middle of a food store."

"Very well. I see your point." He looked across the market to where one of the employees was signaling them. "I believe our order has arrived."

They retrieved the several parcels of vegetables and other foods, paid for their purchase, and started back toward the cabin, hefting the sacks in their arms. They made a striking pair -- a tall, shapely blonde in khaki shorts and black t-shirt walking next to the even taller figure of the slim, muscular Vulcan, his dark exotic appearance forming a marked counterpoint to her sunny looks.

By the time they reached the cabin, it was time for lunch. There was a little patio at the rear of the cabin and they elected to dine al fresco, enjoying the sound of birds in the trees around them. The light filtering through the trees turned her hair into a golden halo around her face and her body into that of an ethereal woodland creature. He could scarcely take his gaze away from her.

She felt much the same, watching him. The sun brought out reddish highlights in his dark hair that she'd never noticed before. She'd always thought of it as black but she could see now that it was just so intensely dark brown that it appeared that color. Without the grooming gel that he used to keep it sleek and in place, it was not so acutely shiny but was softer and more natural, the light breeze ruffling through it like the fingers of a phantom lover. And when he turned to look at her, the angle at which the sunlight struck across his eyes turned them a rich, burnished bronze.

Their lunch all but forgotten, they rose and took their dishes inside to the kitchen. Christine automatically turned to the cleaning unit to feed them through but Spock stepped up close behind her and slid his arms around her waist, bending to nuzzle her neck. "Leave them," he said softly. "I believe I made you a promise this morning. I would like to fulfill it."

She leaned back against him, loving the feel of his lips on her skin. "Right here? By the kitchen sink?"

"If you like, although I think the bed would ultimately be more comfortable," he murmured.

"Mmmmm..." she sighed and turned in his arms to face him, lifting her face up to his. They spent what seemed like a long time exchanging exploratory kisses, their tongues playing against each other. She could feel his growing excitement pressing into her so it didn't surprise her when he suddenly swung her up into his arms and carried her across the room toward the big unmade bed, rumpled as they'd left it that morning.

He laid her down on it and straightened, running his hands down one of her legs until he reached her foot. Unhurriedly, he untied her hiking boot and slipped first it and then her sock off, dropping them to the floor. He massaged her foot, rubbing his thumbs into the arch, but being careful that he didn't tickle her.

It felt absolutely wonderful and she lay back savoring the sensuous feeling, then he set that foot down and repeated the whole process with her other foot.

Next he moved back up to her waist and unsnapped the catch on her shorts. With slow deliberation, he unzipped them and then drew them off her hips and down her long legs, at last tossing them away. She now lay clad in her upper garments but only in silk panties from the waist down. Her heart pounded in anticipation, wondering which of her garments he would remove next.

Instead, he sat down on the bed beside her and began to take off his own shoes and socks while his nearness tantalized her. She stretched her arms up over her head, lengthening her body and thrusting her breasts up higher, her nipples peaking up through the fabric of her shirt and her soft bra. It was a calculated pose but one that also heightened her own arousal.

With provocative casualness, he peeled his shirt off over his head and partially turned to look at her lithe form. She peered back through half-closed eyes, her lips slightly parted in a seductive little smile, inviting him, daring him.

Lounging back beside her, propped on one elbow, he slipped his other hand down her abdomen and along the silk-covered treasures below. Softly, he let his fingers slide down over her mound and stroke her gently through the thin cloth. He could already feel her wetness and it excited him even more, although he maintained his calm. He continued to fondle and tease her until she was nearly writhing beneath his touch.

She finally caught his hand. "Oh, gods, Spock!" she moaned. "Is that all you're going to do? I can't stand it!"

"What else would you like me to do?" he asked innocently, his fingers still lightly stroking her sensitive flesh.

"Get your pants off, for one thing," she responded, her breath coming in short gasps. "So I can get to you."

"You are too eager, Christine," he answered with maddening calmness, the corners of his lips lifting in a little smile. "Do you not wish to prolong the sensation a while longer? Perhaps this would be more to your liking." And he slid his hand down inside her panties.

She gave an incoherent little cry as his fingers slipped into a particularly sensitive spot. "I'm going to have a heart attack if you prolong this much longer! Oh, gods!" She jerked against his hand again.

Reaching lower, he pushed a finger inside her and moved it gently in and out. She arched her back up with a gasp and threw her head back, eyes closed in ecstasy, grasping the sheets nearly in a death grip. Her response made it difficult for him to maintain control of his own reaction, but he persisted, his heart pounding in excitement as he watched her build to a climax beneath his deft manipulation.

Finally, as he felt her sag limply, he relented and removed his fingers. She lay shuddering for a moment longer, then she sat up and skinned her shirt off over her head and quickly shed her bra after it. Her wet silk panties followed immediately and, naked, she got onto her knees and leaned over him. "Okay, it's my turn," she grinned and pushed his shoulder so that he lay down flat on his back.

She moved lower and grasped the waist of the gray exercise pants he wore, taking them and his briefs down at the same time. She got them off him with a little assistance, then she turned back to survey him. He was throbbingly hard, ready, and she decided that he was too close to be able to stand much.

She bent over him and kissed her way up the length of his shaft, making him gasp in surprise at the sensation. As she reached the head, she ran her tongue over it then took him into her mouth, sucking with care. He groaned and endured the exquisite torture for a few minutes, then he reached down and tangled his fingers into her blonde hair, ever-so-gently pulling her away from him.

"No, please, Christine," he said in a hoarse whisper, his breath coming short and hard. "I wish to be within you."

"Okay," she answered and moved up until she was astride his hips. Taking his pulsing rod in her hand, she held him steady as she slowly lowered herself onto him.

He caught his breath as the head penetrated her hot folds and she watched his face in delight as she released her grip and settled fully onto him. His eyes were closed, his face flushed somewhat, and she leaned forward, her hands on his shoulders as she began to move.

He slid his hands up her thighs to rest for a moment on her hips then moved up to cup her full breasts, squeezing gently and rolling her nipples between his fingertips. Opening his eyes, he locked his gaze on hers for a long moment, his dark eyes filled with a hungry intensity that sent a charge of excitement down through her and quickened her thrusts against him.

She could feel how near he was to fulfillment, his muscles rock hard beneath her, and he let his hands move back down to her hips. His head falling back onto the pillow, his eyes closed again and he grasped her and held her firmly to him, at the same time shoving upward with his hips, deeper into her. Heat pumped into her as she gasped and arched back, shuddering with him as wave upon wave of sensation swept over her.

As she came down from her high, he reached up and pulled her down against him, rolling over with her so that he was suddenly lying on top of her, his firmness still fully inside her. He had not lost any of his erection and, gazing into her eyes, he began to move once more within her. This time she lay back and let him control their joining, her intensely sensitized flesh fairly screaming as he pushed in and pulled out over and over again.

Then, just when she was thinking that it couldn't get any better, he added another element. Pausing with his throbbing hardness shoved deep into her quivering body, he touched her mind with his and opened a link with her that allowed her to experience every nerve ending, every sensation, every primitive Vulcan emotion that he was feeling as he began thrusting strongly into her once more.

It was almost more than she could endure. Digging her nails into his back, she clutched him and rode the crashing wave of orgasm as it took her, unable to suppress the primal cry that escaped her throat as he slammed into her one last time.

When he collapsed on her at last, she knew they had both reached the end and she held his trembling body close to her, bathing him in love and adoration through their still-open mind link.

He raised himself at last and looked down into her face, smoothing her sweaty hair back and caressing her flushed features. He leaned down and kissed her long and thoroughly, then lifted his lips from hers and whispered, "T'hy'la..."

"What does that mean?" she murmured back, although she could see in his mind how he saw her.

"It means 'beloved'," he answered, still breathless. "It means 'mate of my heart.' 'Bonded wife'." He paused and gazed deeply into her eyes. "It means ... 'the one I will love forever'."

* * *

Snuggled together, they slept through the afternoon, the sweet fatigue of their lovemaking keeping them drowsy and lethargic. As the last rays of sun were streaming through the curtains, filling the cabin with warm orange light, Christine finally roused herself from Spock's embrace and got out of bed. She felt a little stiff and bruised. She didn't like the way she smelled, either.

Leaving Spock peacefully napping, she went into the bathroom and decided that a nice, long soak in the big oval bathtub would be wonderful. She started water running then checked the cabinet for soap. To her surprise, she found a half-empty bottle of bubble bath and wondered exactly who Captain Kirk had been entertaining up here. Smiling to herself, she poured a capful under the running water and watched it begin to foam up.

She pinned her hair up as the tub filled, then shut the water off and lowered herself into the steamy, bubble-frothed water. For a while, she simply leaned her head back and sat there, allowing the heat and gentle lapping of the water to penetrate her to the bone. After a time, though, she stirred and retrieved a big, soft natural sponge lying on one of the tub's borders. She spent the next little bit smoothing suds over her arms, legs and torso and then washing them away by squeezing the sponge along the same areas.

A deep, quiet chuckle made her spin toward the door, where she found Spock leaning against the doorframe, watching her in delight. He was dressed only in his gray exercise pants, his arms folded over his chest. She had no idea how long he'd been there and she blushed at getting caught by him.

There being no further need for stealth, he dropped his arms and walked toward the tub, still smiling. Without speaking, he knelt down beside the bathtub and took the sponge from her, languidly drizzling water over her breasts and stomach, then dipping the sponge into the water to fill it and repeat his action. "Want to join me?" she invited softly.

"There isn't room," he answered, carefully holding the sponge so that water pattered into and around her navel.

She wriggled and said, "Sure there is. It's big enough for both of us."

He shook his head. "No. I would not want to be forced to summon help to extract the two of us from this tub should you be proven wrong." He dribbled water around the base of her throat, then leaned far over and kissed her lightly. "Finish your bath. I'll start supper for us."

He handed the sponge back to her and got to his feet, reaching for a towel to dry his hands. With another smile for her, he left the bathroom, shutting the door behind him.

She decided she'd been soaking long enough and got out, drying herself with one of the thick white towels on the rack. She had noticed a small laundry unit built into the bathroom counter. She'd have to wash the towels or they'd run out of clean ones. And the sheets on the bed needed changing now, too. She'd put fresh ones on before they went to bed tonight. She'd do their dirty clothes, too, the ones they'd worn on the hike up and taken that inadvertent spill in.

Once she'd finished drying herself and had pulled on fresh underwear and a soft blue floor-length gown, she stuffed the used towels into the laundry unit and started it going. It would take about 30 minutes to totally run through the cleaning and drying cycles. Leaving it to do its work, she went out into the main room and found that Spock were nearly done heating up a couple of the pre-made dinners they'd ordered that afternoon.

"I didn't know you knew your way around a kitchen, Spock," she commented.

"I am proficient enough to place a packaged meal in the oven and press the proper button," he shrugged. "I do not guarantee anything beyond that. What beverage would you like?"

"Are you making tea? I'll have that, too."

They settled again onto the couch. This time they opened up the armoire that stood to one side of the fireplace, hiding behind its doors a modern entertainment center. Christine put in one of the adventure vids she had bought that afternoon and they watched while they ate.

After a while, however, Spock seemed restless and said, "I am afraid I find this story totally illogical. If it is agreeable with you, I will go bathe and then I would like a short time alone. I have neglected my meditation."

"Oh, of course, Spock! I'll just lie here and watch the vid. Take as much time as you need." He rubbed his hand along her leg in assent then arose and went to do his own personal chores. She stretched out on the couch and relaxed. After a while, she heard him quietly go out the back door onto the patio.

After the vid ended, Christine clicked over to the program guide. Despite the remoteness of the cabin, there was a full hookup to the Federation Information Network and she glanced through the evening's offerings. She found the usual stale comedies and dramas, news programs for two dozen different species and in twice that many languages, every sport imaginable, and more religious programs than she could count, everything from Old Terran Pentecostal Christianity to a Rigellian cult that worshiped a particular form of fungus. Interesting topics for a xenosociologist but none of it appealed to her tonight.

She got up and shut the holotank off and noticed that Spock hadn't yet returned. Making them both a fresh cup of hiralin tea, she went outside onto the dark terrace. He was sitting in one of the patio chairs, his hands steepled before his face, still deeply in meditation.

She stood silently, knowing not to disturb him until he was finished, but he soon lowered his hands and turned to look in her direction. "I hope I didn't interrupt you," she said.

"No. I had finished."

Christine walked over to him and handed him one of the cups of tea that she held. He took it with thanks and settled back to sip its warmth. Standing behind him with her own cup, she slipped her free hand down over his shoulder to rest lightly on his collarbone, her fingertips softly massaging the muscles of his upper chest. He reached up and took her hand, lacing his fingers through hers.

For a few minutes, they were both quiet, looking up through the trees at the bright dusting of stars in the dark sky. "I wish we could stay here," she murmured at last. "I don't want to go back to the ship."

"A pleasant sentiment, but not one likely to occur," he answered. "I expect recall in approximately four days, as soon as the ship is habitable once more."

"You don't get a full week's leave?"

"I sincerely doubt it. My position requires my presence back aboard before the rest of the crew returns. The duties of a first officer are myriad."

"Yes..." she answered with sad resignation. She released his hand and went to pull one of the other chairs up close beside him, then sat down and leaned against his shoulder, taking his hand once more. "Spock ... what shall we do when we get back to the ship?"

"What do you mean?"

"About us. How do you want to handle our relationship?" she asked. "Shall we be open about it? Keep it secret? What?"

He didn't answer for a long moment then spoke quietly, "I believe that in a small, closed environment such as the Enterprise, attempting to keep it secret would be futile. If nothing else, our intrepid Lt. Uhura is sure to notice and deduce correctly the nature of our time spent together this week. After such a discovery, there would be little point in secrecy."

Christine laughed. "That's the truth! We might as well get on the ship's intercom and announce it as soon as we come back aboard!"

Spock cast her a puzzled glance. "I do not think that would be necessary."

"Oh, I was kidding. But you know what I mean. If Nyota didn't figure it out, Leonard would. And he'd be less subtle about it than she would."

"That much is certain." He sipped his tea and pondered their dilemma. "On the other hand, however, my position as first officer dictates that I maintain objectivity and a strictly professional attitude toward all crew members. I cannot afford to jeopardize command decisions with any form of personal sentimentality."

"But it's not forbidden for you to have personal relationships, Spock. Lots of first officers in the Fleet are married or have romantic partners."

"But seldom serving on the same ship," he pointed out. "Circumstances could force me to order you into a position that would put your life at risk and you know that I must put the ship's welfare above any individual crewman. Even you."

"I know that," she answered seriously, looking up at him. "I would be appalled if you ever did otherwise. And I believe that you are capable of doing just that. I've seen you in command, Spock, and you are one of the best commanding officers I've ever laid eyes on. When you're sitting in the big chair, nothing phases you. Nothing."

He smiled a little and looked uncomfortable. "I wish your assessment were totally accurate. In truth, I am in constant analysis of any situation and attempting to meet each situation correctly."

"Of course you are. And do you think Captain Kirk isn't the same way? That's what makes him such a great commander. He knows when to bend and when to stand fast. You're the same way, Spock." She leaned closer to him and squeezed his hand. "That's why I know that if you logically decided that you needed to assign me to a deadly situation, I know you'd do it without a single thought to any personal relationship we had. You'd grieve later if I were killed, but you'd know that you did the right thing."

He sighed. "Then how shall we handle our relationship aboard ship? Knowing that I might have to order you to your death at some point?"

"Spock, I took an oath when I joined Starfleet, just like you did. I came into the Service knowing full well that it was dangerous and that there was always a chance that I could be killed in the line of duty. It's a hard life but we both chose it and we love it. But it doesn't mean that we should deny ourselves love and companionship when we find it. There are plenty of professional couples serving together in Starfleet. The Service is changing, Spock. It won't be long before ships will have whole families living on board, maintaining a normal family life as they go out deeper into space."

He nodded. "I have heard that the new Ambassador class ships will have living arrangements for some family members."

"That's because on extended voyages it's healthy to maintain the basic family structure. Yes, it places those families in danger sometimes but that's nothing new to humans. We're been taking our families with us into new territories since the first caveman took his mate and child and moved over the next hill."

Spock cocked a curious eyebrow at her. "An unusual analogy."

She waved her hand in dismissal. "I know. I've been around Leonard too long. The point is, I think that while we're on duty, we can both maintain a strictly professional relationship with each other. After hours, well ... people are going to figure it out anyway. It would be illogical to pretend there's nothing going on between us."

"Agreed," he conceded. "Shall we continue to maintain separate living quarters?"

She nodded thoughtfully. "Yes. For now, anyway." She squeezed his hand again. "As much as I love you, Spock, I don't know that I'm ready to move in with you. I think we should see how things go first."

"Yes, I agree. I do not think that even an executive officer's cabin is large enough to accommodate two inhabitants." He paused. "And co-habiting is a challenge I am unprepared to confront just now."

"Especially since your cabin doubles as your office." She giggled suddenly and continued, "Just think if you were conducting official business and there were stockings and a bra hanging up to dry in the bathroom!"

He turned a slightly horrified look her way. "I would not find that amusing at all, Christine!" That sent her into another fit of laughter, during which she hugged his upper arm and leaned against his shoulder for strength.

At last, however, she settled down and looked up at him adoringly. "I do love you, Spock," she whispered. She squeezed his arm once more then said, "I'm going in. It's getting chilly out here."

"I shall follow you in a moment or two."

"Finished with your tea?"

"Yes. Thank you." He handed the empty cup back to her and she rose and went back into the cabin.

For the next several minutes, she puttered around doing chores -- laying down fresh linen on the bed, folding the few towels in the laundry unit and starting the soiled sheets cycling through, then going back into the kitchen and feeding the dishes into the cleaning unit. She paused there, discovering that she'd been humming happily, and a couple of words from ancient history went through her mind ... "domestic tranquility."

With a start, she realized that was exactly what she'd been practicing here. The quiet tranquility of domestic chores done in a loving home. She paused and peered out the window to where she could just make out the tall, dark figure once more in meditation on the patio. And she began to think about what it would be like to make a home with him, to come into his arms every night, to be a wife to him, to bear his children and watch them grow... To see him at his best and his worst, in sickness and in health, for richer or poorer... Again she paused as this other ancient passage whispered through her thoughts.

No, hold it, she told herself. She was jumping way too far ahead here. He had barely acknowledged his feelings for her and was still exploring them. They both had a lot of exploring to do before they were even near that point in their relationship. For one thing, they had more than a year left on this assignment and there was no way they could marry -- providing it went that far -- until this tour of duty was over. Afterrwards, maybe...

She made herself put that train of thought behind her and she turned out the kitchen light. Going over to the bed, she got undressed and slipped between the sheets, relaxing into the wonderful softness, already feeling drowsy. He came in and locked the back door, then smiled to see her waiting for him. He turned out the rest of the lights and stripped down, sliding into bed at her side. They had both come to love the wonderful, exciting sensations of snuggling up skin to skin, with nothing standing between them.

Taking her into his arms, he held her close, not initiating any immediate sexual moves but simply enjoying the feel of her so near. For her part, she nestled into his embrace and closed her eyes, listening to his heartbeat and his quiet breathing. It had been a long day and both drifted into sleep almost immediately.

* * *

Christine awoke from an especially erotic dream in which Spock was making love to her with inexhaustible energy. The dream left her in a very aroused condition and, as she came more fully alert, she realized that he was lying propped on one elbow, watching her face, and that he was lazily and softly running the tip of his index finger over and around one of her taut, protruding nipples.

The discovery sent an electric jolt of adrenalin through her. His eyes opened wider as it did and she understood that he was telepathically feeling her excitement through his light contact with her. At the same time, she felt his erect penis twitch eagerly against her thigh in response.

Still muzzily caught in the dream's aftermath, she rolled over fully into his arms and her lips melted against his in a long, languorous kiss. As they lingered over this, their tongues probing about each other's mouths, she slid one leg over his, opening the way for his rearing hardness. She was more than ready due to her dream-love, and he easily slipped into her, not deeply, but enough to send her head back in reaction to the delicious shiver it sent over her, baring her throat to his mouth.

He moved his lips to her throat and lightly teased her flesh with the tip of his tongue, then she felt him begin to suck at the patch of skin underneath his mouth. The sensation made her gasp and she squirmed a bit away from him, but he held her firmly and sucked harder.

"Don't," she admonished him softly. "You're going to leave a mark."

He at last lifted his mouth from her throat. "I know," he answered. "That was my intent." He surveyed the purplish bruise he'd made on her neck. He looked up to meet her eyes, a hint of uncertainty on his face, wondering if she would be displeased. But her blue eyes were half-lidded with a hungry expression, and he felt more confident again. "I have marked you as mine," he whispered huskily.

She smiled with a slightly feral aspect. "I'm just thankful you're not Klingon," she said. "I hear the male actually bites the female's neck when they mate. They're like animals, or so people say."

"Yes," he answered, watching her intently, moving ever so slightly within her, teasing her. She wriggled her hips, attempting to draw him deeper inside her, beginning to match his motion with her own. "Would you like that?"

"What?" she asked, caught off-guard.

In answer, he abruptly withdrew from her and flipped her over onto her stomach. Before she could react, he had moved behind her and lifted her hips, spreading her legs open on either side of his lap. And then, without further word to her, he shoved his hot, hard shaft fully into her. She cried out with the unbelievably intense sensation of it, not in pain, but the fact that it almost sent her into an immediate orgasm, and that her gentle, considerate Vulcan was suddenly exhibiting an untamed, primal lust she'd never expected in him.

He held her hips steady and pumped into her, eliciting little cries of ecstasy from her at each impact. Leaning further into her, he caught her breasts and massaged them for a moment, then his hands slid back down her body and one hand slipped into the sensitive regions between her legs. It brought another cry of rapture from her as his fingers rubbed against her swollen clitoris while he pounded into her. Almost in a frenzy of sensual transport, she gripped the sheets with both hands, her fingers digging into the fabric, to give her an anchor point.

The intensity of his thrusts picked up, nearly lifting her off her knees with their force, and then she heard him groan deep in his throat and give a pronounced shudder, holding her hard against him, his hot essence filling her. She peaked as well, experiencing his climax through the lingering telepathic bond they had formed, and nearly tore through the sheets with her nails, so tightly was she clutching them.

As he relaxed and disengaged from her, he leaned over her back and swept her hair away from the nape of her neck, and suddenly she knew what he intended to do. "Don't bite me!" she cried.

His teeth inflicted only the lightest of nips and then his lips soothed the spot with a long kiss. "I would never intentionally hurt you, Christine," his deep voice whispered in her ear. "I intended only to complete the fantasy for you."

He lifted himself off her and allowed her to twist under him until she was once more on her back and then he settled himself beside her, drawing her close. They kissed softly, then she reached up to caress his still flushed face. "You're in an energetic mood this morning," she commented.

He looked at her closely, his dark eyes filled with sly, subtle humor. "Did you enjoy your dream?"

Her expression registered puzzlement. "How did you know... Spock, are you responsible for that?"

"No, not entirely," he confessed. "I had watched you sleep for quite a long while and found myself wanting you sexually. The feeling was quite strong. I touched your thoughts and merely imparted that desire to you. Your subconscious took over from there." He raised his brows innocently. "You have quite a strong libido, you know. Your dreams of me were extremely vivid and I found them more than a little ... stimulating." His eyes crinkled in amusement. "I am flattered that you think me capable of such intensive and unending activity! However, I do not believe I could sustain that level of performance even in the throes of plak tow."

She blushed and hid her face against the soft, crisp hair of his chest. "I'm not responsible for my dreams," she smiled. "Anyway, if this week is any indication of what you're capable of, I shudder to think what plak tow must be like! I'm starting to get a little bit tender as it is."

Immediately the humor left his face and he pushed her away so that he could peer into her eyes. "Why didn't you tell me this?" he asked. "I would never have urged you into sexual intercourse had I known that you would be injured by it."

The sincere concern in his eyes touched her and she ran her fingers up over his temple and through his dark, tousled hair. "Spock, I'm not injured. I'm just a little raw from all the sex we've been having. I've been celibate for the past several years, you know, so my body isn't used to this sort of activity and on this frequency. And as for urging me into having sex with you... Good God, if you only knew how many times I've lain awake at night, wanting you so much that I was tempted to run to your cabin and ravish you!" She laughed. "Oh, no, my dearest darling, this is exactly where I've dreamed of being -- in your bed and in your arms."

"Still, we should cease further activity until your body is healed. I wish you to feel pleasure when I enter you, not pain of any sort."

"I think I have some cream that will fix that problem," she assured him, again trailing her fingers down his cheek. "And I do feel pleasure, Spock. You know how much pleasure I feel."

He was silent for a long moment and she felt the gentle probing of his mind among her thoughts and memories. "Yes," he whispered at last. "I know."

He drew her close to him once more and held her, vowing to himself all the same that he would allow her time to recover. He could control his desire for her and there were other ways of giving her the pleasure he wanted her to have.

* * *

It had not been quite dawn as they lay in the aftermath of making love and Christine drifted back to sleep. When she awoke again, it was full daylight and Spock was also sleeping, this time with his back turned toward her. She snuggled against him, nestling her cheek against his shoulder blade and slipping her arm around his waist.

He didn't move except to lay his hand over her hand and twine his fingers through hers. From the easy rhythm of his breathing, she could tell that he wasn't really awake yet. She lay drowsily savoring the strange and wonderful fact that he was really here with her and she wasn't caught in a wishful dream world.

She let her eyes open a little and rest on the section of his skin closest to her. There was a slightly verdant flush to his skin tone from his dark emerald Vulcan blood. She'd never thought that a strange thing, just something that went with being "Spock", like the shape of his ears and the sweep of his dark brows. She'd always thought the Vulcans were a beautiful people and Spock had inherited his father's exotic, handsome features.

Looking closer at that particular part of his back, she could see one of the long whip-scars lightening his skin in a thin, pale streak. She thought back to the day of that mission, when he, the captain and Dr. McCoy had come into sick bay still dressed in the archaic Terran/Ekosian military uniforms. McCoy had tersely ordered Spock into her care while he worked on the captain.

As Spock sat down on the diagnostic bed and shed the gray tunic he wore, she caught her breath at what she found underneath. Someone had wrapped bandages around his torso, but they were soaked through with green blood and she hastily glanced at McCoy to see if he knew this. But the doctor's attention was focused on the captain's back, which was in an identical state except that the blood was red.

As she began cutting the bandages away, Spock flinched as they pulled away from the open wounds. "I'm sorry, Mr. Spock," she said softly, continuing to work. "I'll be as gentle as I can. What happened down there?"

"The Ekosian military found our presence objectionable," he replied.

"I can see that. What did they use on you?"

"I believe the term was 'bull whip'. I found it quite as effective on Vulcans as it undoubtedly was on cattle." Spock caught his breath in a sharp hiss as she eased the bandages away from a particularly raw section of his back.

"Beat the shit out of you two is what they did," McCoy interjected from where he was removing similar wrapping from Kirk. The captain wasn't so stoic about it as Spock. He had his teeth clenched tightly and was gripping the side of the examining table on which he sat.

"An emotionally over-wrought description, Dr. McCoy, but that is the gist of it," Spock replied.

Christine had the bandages cleared away now and she could see how deeply the whip had cut across his back and shoulders. The effect was absolutely horrifying and it took her a few seconds to draw herself up and respond with a completely professional demeanor. "I'm going to have to clean these wounds, Mr. Spock. There's no way around it. It's going to hurt."

"It already hurts, Miss Chapel. Please proceed."

And it had taken all of Spock's control to sit motionless while she did so. Then she had traded places with Dr. McCoy and worked on cleaning the captain's flayed back while the surgeon repaired and closed the gashes across the Vulcan's body. Later that evening, alone in her cabin, she had wept for him -- for both of them, really, but mostly for the pain inflicted on the man she loved.

Now she closed her eyes and gently kissed his back, holding him a little tighter.

"What is wrong, Christine?" he asked quietly.

"Nothing. I was just thinking of Ekos."

He gave a little sound of understanding deep in his throat and squeezed her hand. He moved so that he could turn over to face her. "There are better things to think of than that," he whispered. "That is past. Think instead of the present. Or perhaps the future."

"What is our future, Spock?" she murmured somberly in reply, gazing deeply into his warm brown eyes.

"I don't know," he answered honestly. "I cannot now imagine a future without you but I cannot yet say how that future will unfold." He reached up to caress her face. "There is too much uncertainty while we remain on our current mission. When it is over ... then we can speak of future plans."

"But you're hoping we can make plans, aren't you?" she questioned softly.


"Plans that might include a home together? A family?"

He looked away from her eyes then back up at her, seriously. "We cannot plan that far ahead, Christine. We can't even talk about it. Not yet. When our assignment is over." It was she who looked away this time, knowing he was right.

Feeling her sadness, he lifted her chin with his fingertips until she had brought her gaze back up to his face. "Perhaps we should make more immediate plans just now." He smiled and she couldn't help but smile back. That pleased him and he was encouraged to continue. "For instance ... what shall we have for breakfast and what would you like to do today?"

She laughed softly as her melancholy disappeared as if by magic. "I don't know what I want for breakfast, but I do know what I want to do later. I want to go on a picnic."

His brows lifted in surprise. "A picnic? Is that not where one takes food and eats sitting on the grass?"

"More or less. It's more than that, though. You'll see."

* * *

With a lunch packed into a coldkit, a bottle of wine they had found in the stasis keeper, and a folded groundcloth all stashed into the backpack that Spock carried, they had spent the late morning climbing up higher onto the mountain's slope, until they found what they were seeking, a natural clearing in the pine forest that offered a spectacular view of the lake and the snow-capped peaks stretching out beyond it to the horizon.

Here, in the shade of evergreens, they spread their blanket out and settled down for a leisurely lunch of Vulcan tikh-bread, cheeses from various regions on Earth, and fruits and vegetables from both worlds. They watched birds of several species flit among the trees, listened to the chatter of squirrels, and sat absolutely still as a cautious doe paused at the edge of the clearing with her fawn to stare at them with twitching nose before melting like a ghost back into the forest.

Spock had been sitting with his back to a large pine and now, admittedly relaxed by the serenity of their surroundings and by the wine, which he rarely drank, he leaned back against the trunk of the tree and propped his arms across his bent knees. He had once more dressed in the long, snug cotton pants he'd worn on the hike up to the cabin, a long-sleeved pullover shirt and his hiking boots. The mountain scenery up here was certainly spectacular but a bit on the cool side to his desert-bred system.

Christine, on the other hand, had worn shorts and t-shirts all week and now she stretched out into the sun. "I'm so glad it turned out to be another nice day," she said. "It's almost hot today. The summer should be a scorcher."

He lifted an eyebrow, amused. "Fascinating. I was just thinking that I should have worn a sweater."

"Are you cold, Spock? I always forget that you'd be more comfortable in the Sahara than the Rockies. Here ... I'll warm you up."

His other eyebrow went up to join its mate in speculation at what she meant by that, but in fact all she did was move over to him and scoot in between his legs, her back to him. Leaning back against him, she took his arms and wrapped them around her torso, then put her arms over his, hugging his hug. It was indeed deliciously warm and cozy and pretty soon he forgot about feeling cold.

For a long time they sat in that position, not speaking, but simply watching the clouds drift across the sky and reflect in the lake. Spock couldn't help thinking for a few seconds of Leila and the brief time they'd spent on Omicron Ceti III. He'd said later that it was the only time in his life when he was happy. But it was an artificial happiness, nothing like the contentment and fulfillment he had found these past few days.

"Tell me of yourself, Christine," he said in a quiet voice. "I wish to know you better. Your life before you joined Starfleet, what you like and dislike, what you hope for."

And so she did, talking of growing up and where she had gone to school, what her parents did, her decision to go into medicine and then medical research. She told him of meeting Roger and how they had fallen in love and planned to marry, but then Roger had gone off on a mission to research the extinct culture of Exo III and had disappeared. How she had waited until she couldn't wait anymore, then tried to find a way to get to him. Starfleet turned out to be that way, the only way, and so she had signed on into the only position she could get on the only ship that patrolled that sector -- the Enterprise. It had meant setting aside her career in research to take a nursing position, but at least it got her where she wanted to go.

Then, after the debacle at Exo, she decided that she liked it on the ship and that she was getting a hands-on education in space medicine that was rewarding and practical. She decided to complete her tour.

Her voice softened and she held him tighter. "I have to admit, Spock, that you figured a little bit in that decision. I hadn't realized that I'd fallen in love with you until Psi 2000 when I backed you into a corner in sick bay and practically tore my clothes off."

"It was hardly that, Christine," his deep voice assured her with a hint of amusement. "You were not responsible for your actions and in any case I might never have realized what you felt for me if you had not spoken up then."

"But I scared the heck out of you, Spock, and you know it. It was nearly a year before you stopped running in the opposite direction whenever you saw me coming!" She had to chuckle at the memory.

"I did not run," he protested.

"Well, walked faster then," she replied.

They talked for a while more, reminiscing about adventures they had shared during their time together on the ship, various planets they had visited and situations they had been in. Christine poured a little more wine for them and they fell silent once more, just enjoying their surroundings.

After a while, she snuggled a little deeper into his arms and began to feel the now familiar tingle inside her as her body responded to the closeness of his. Smiling a little to herself, she slipped her hand over one of his and guided it up to her breast, where his touch caused her nipples to harden more than they already had.

To her surprise, he gently but firmly removed his hand from where she'd cupped it around her breast. "No, Christine," he said quietly behind her. "Not until you're fully healed."

She twisted to look up at him in surprise. "Spock, I told you ... I'm not hurt. There's no reason we shouldn't make love if we want to."

"Nevertheless, you need time to recover. I do not intend to inflict further damage on you simply for the sake of sexual gratification."

"Spock, what do I have to do to convince you there's nothing wrong with me?"

He was gazing at her with his calm, utterly implacable expression. "I would prefer to wait," he said very softly in a tone that meant he'd made up his mind and that was the end of discussion.

She turned back around. "Fine," she said shortly.

"There is no need to be angry," he commented.

"I am not angry."

"You appear to be."

"I'm not."

"You know that it is logical that we wait--"

"Don't start with the logic!" she blurted and suddenly got up and walked away.

He watched her stride across the clearing and felt unaccountably irritated. He was right and she must know it, but her behavior made no sense at all. Then he recalled something Kirk had said to him once: "Mr. Spock, the women on your planet are logical. That's the only planet in this galaxy that can make that claim!" And he remembered his mother's outburst in sick bay that she was "sick to death of logic!"

One eyebrow went up as he began to understand. Logic was not something that human females tolerated well and they often allowed pure emotion to rule their behavior. Christine was reacting emotionally to his refusal to have sex with her when she had made the first move into foreplay. He had inadvertently insulted her and wounded her self-esteem by his rejection, no matter that it was logical and correct. He knew from experience with humans, and human females especially, that he would have to mollify her somehow in order to restore her good humor toward him. He had seen this quite often in the human men on the ship and had analyzed it as purely a mating ritual -- the male must stay in good grace with the female in exchange for the privilege of having sex with her.

He had just never thought he would have to practice such behavior himself, but now he saw that it was necessary in the courtship rituals. He did indeed want to keep on having sex with Christine but she was likely to refuse him unless he "made up" with her.

With a sigh, he rose to his feet and followed her across the clearing. She was standing stiffly with her back to him, her arms crossed resolutely, looking out over the lake spread out below them. "Christine..." he said softly. She refused to turn or move. "Christine, I'm ... sorry."

Her shoulders heaved minutely but otherwise she did not respond. He peered at her speculatively. "Please come back and sit with me," he continued.

"Why?" she asked.

"Because I wish you to. I apologize for making you angry. I have not had much experience at this."

She sighed and her shoulders sagged just a little. She didn't say anything but it was obvious that she was wavering. He forged ahead. "I was not rejecting you, Christine. I cannot express to you how much pleasure I have derived from being with you in a sexual context. I simply could not bear to be the instrument of harm to you. I ask that you understand why I said no to your sexual advances."

Her head bent forward and she sighed heavily once again. "I know," she said in a small voice. She reached up and quickly wiped her cheek. Instinctively, he knew what he needed to do next. He reached out and turned her, drawing her into his arms. She melted against him, burying her face against his chest and held him tightly. They stood that way for several minutes and he could feel that things were settled between them again.

When she drew away and looked up at him, he stroked her hair back away from her face, still holding her close. "Come back and sit with me," he said. "I have a way to give myself to you that will not harm you physically."


"Through joining with your mind," he answered. "It will be like in your dream but we will both be aware and in control of where we go and what we do."

"And where will we 'go', Spock?"

"Anywhere you wish." He led her back to their tree and sat back down the way he had been then held his hand up to her invitingly. She paused for a second, then settled back against him, his legs on either side of her thighs and his arms around her.

Then, he reached up and gently drew her head back against his shoulder as if she were a harp and he was positioning her for play. "Close your eyes and relax your mind," his deep hypnotic voice said. "Open your thoughts to me." She felt him touch his fingertips to either side of her face and then she felt herself falling into darkness.

* * *

The darkness was soothing. She floated in a sea of deeply-hued nothingness, at first purely intellect then with what seemed to be a representation of her corporeal form. Then she realized that Spock was there beside her, an aura encompassing him the color of lapis lazuli, flecked with gold. She looked down at herself and saw that she was haloed as well, with a pure light the color of dawn.

Come, he said to her, taking her hand. Come with me to my home...

And she walked with him on silver sands, sparkling in starlight. No moon slid its pale face across the skies above them, but diamond stars of extraordinary brightness lit their way. Their bare feet left faint prints in the sand, the gentle breeze erasing them in their wake. Far into the night they walked, hand in hand, until nothing but the silver sea surrounded them and there they halted, the only creatures alive in the world. And he took her in his arms and loved her.

The world changed from silver to rust and they stood on red cliffs overlooking a lava lake. A fountain of fire spewed like bursting fireworks into the air before them. The ground crackled and rumbled beneath them, sulphurous steam rising in yellow clouds to disperse into the ochre-colored sky. And rushing from the lake, over a cliff a thousand feet tall, there gushed a river of incandescent light, not a waterfall but a lavafall, tumbling so far below that it cooled in the air and crystallized into billions of obsidian needles whose impact gave a lyrical high note to the basso profundo issuing from the volcano's throat. And high above its fury, he pulled her against him and loved her.

The sound of trickling water, cooling and revitalizing, sang to her in the midst of a lush garden. Waving fronds of turquoise blue shaded them and they rolled in grass of canary yellow. Moist undergrowth dripped with morning dew, secret pockets of tropical vegetation hidden away in deep canyon strongholds. Scarlet bird-things trilled among the palm fronds and lace-winged insects the color of topaz crawled and nosed through amethyst flowers. And in this paradise, he crushed her lips to his and loved her.

Atop the black slopes and snow fields of the mountain that scraped the ceiling of his world, he reached and caught a spark of light for her. He had plucked a passing comet to weave into her hair and, when aurora played like rainbow fire across the rim of atmosphere, he seized that as well and clothed her in radiance. And then he gathered her to him and loved her.

From the mountain top, they rose in free flight, passing clouds and ice crystal life forms that lived in the upper atmosphere, out past the thin veils of air, into the avenues of space. And there they sailed on the solar wind, tingling with the ferocious particles of atomic annihilation. In the star-charged darkness, they tumbled -- and he loved her there as well.

On and on it went, worlds without end, familiar and strange. Places they had been on their journeys, locations they wanted to share, adventures they wanted to experience. But always, in variety that bowed the imagination under its weight, always was the message, the demonstration of his primal purpose here. He loved her.

* * *

Christine realized that she was sobbing uncontrollably and that Spock was holding her tightly in his arms.

They still sat in the position they had been in, under the shade of the pine tree, gazing across the little meadow at the azure lake in the distance. But it seemed days, weeks since they had come here. Surely years had passed since they had begun their journey, but instead the sun was still high in the sky, barely moved in its pathway west.

"Shhhh," Spock was saying in her ear. "Please don't cry, Christine. There is nothing to be frightened about."

"I'm not ... frightened," she gulped, trying to bring herself under control.

"I did not anticipate that you would become so upset," he said, obviously distressed. "My actions seem to be having that effect on you today."

"Oh, Spock, you don't have a clue, do you?" she smiled, sniffing and wiping her tears from her face. "You've just made love to me on a hundred planets. I'm so ecstatically happy I feel like I could soar right off this mountain!"

"And that has made you cry?" he questioned, confused. "I don't understand this reaction, Christine. I had thought that humans shed tears only when they were sad or afraid."

"We cry for lots of reasons, Spock," she answered. "Sometimes we cry when the love we feel for someone is so overpowering that we can't contain it." She closed her eyes and a few more tears squeezed out between her lashes as she snuggled her head under his chin and she hugged his arms tighter around her. "And I do love you, Spock. I love you more than I can say."

"I have felt this," he responded in a whisper, nestling his face against hers. "That is why I wished to mind meld with you, t'hy'la. It was the only way I could adequately express myself. And I know now, as well, that you were not injured by our joining. I feared that ... that I had lost control of myself and inadvertently hurt you. I am gratified to know this was not the case."

She felt a fresh bout of tears welling up and forced them down. She wiped her face again and said, "Maybe we'd better start back to the cabin. If we stay up here much longer, we're going to get caught in the woods when it gets dark."

"Yes. I agree," he replied. He helped her up then got to his feet, dusting pine needles off his pants. They quickly packed up the picnic supplies and put them into the backpack, then Spock shouldered this and they paused for one last look at "their" meadow. She looked up at him with eyes luminous as the sky, still moist from her tears, and he thought that the spectacular beauty of the mountain scenery could not compare to the beauty he held in his arms.

Without speaking further, they slipped back into the forest of pines, following the trail home.

* * *

Despite their best intentions, it was dark by the time they got back to the cabin. Christine would have been hopelessly lost in the trees but Spock's night vision was better, raised as he was on a planet with no moon to light the darkness. As they closed the door behind them, she flipped on the kitchen light and he winced and clenched his eyes closed painfully, then blinked several times while shading his eyes from the brightness. She could see that his pupils had expanded so much that his eyes were almost solid black and it took a moment for his vision to readjust to normal.

Packing their things down the mountain trail and straining to see in the darkness had obviously tired him and Christine took the pack from him. "Why don't you go soak a while?" she suggested. "You've done all the work today. You deserve a rest."

"An agreeable idea," he answered. "I am rather weary."

He retired to the bathroom and she could hear the water running into the tub. She busied herself putting away their left over food and wiping off the groundcloth. As she folded it and bent to put it away in one of the cabinets, something caught her eye and she drew out a box of fat white emergency candles and old-fashioned matches.

Glancing over at the half-filled bottle of wine they'd brought back, she suddenly was struck with an idea. She'd meant to put the wine back in the stasis keeper but instead she took two fluted glasses from the cabinet above the kitchen counter and set them beside the wine bottle.

She went and prepared herself, then opened the entertainment system and started a program of soft instrumental music playing. That done, she picked up the things she needed and quietly opened the bathroom door.

Spock was lying back in the tub and looked around in surprise when she entered. His expression changed to one of even more puzzlement as she set the wine bottle and glasses down, then proceeded to place the candles in small clusters on drip plates and light them.

"Christine, what are you doing?" he asked.

"Creating the proper atmosphere," she smiled.

"May I ask for what?"

"You'll see."

She turned out the ceiling fixture so that the golden, flickering light of the multiple tiny candle flames caressed and surrounded them. Satisfied, she then poured the sweet wine into the glasses she had brought and strolled over to the tub, handing one to Spock. He took it, although still looking a little apprehensive at what she was up to.

She set hers down for a moment and reached to her waist to untie the wrap belt of the silky robe the wore. The garment slipped from her shoulders to the floor, revealing her creamy nude body underneath. His eyebrows went up as he gazed at her and she let him look for a long moment, enjoying his appreciative expression.

Then she stepped over into the tub and settled down facing him. "See?" she said, retrieving her wine glass. "I told you there was plenty of room."

"I am corrected," he acknowledged. He touched the rim of his glass lightly to hers and they each drank. Then he looked at her curiously, a hint of mischief in his eyes, and asked, "Now what?"

She was silent for a second and then tipped her head back and laughed. "I don't know! This is as far as I ever got in this scenario!" Then she handed him her glass and said, "I've got an idea. I just did this all wrong." She adjusted her position so she facing the opposite direction and settled herself back into his arms, sloshing a bit of water out in the process.

The feel of his body against hers, the hot, steamy water lapping around them, and the juxtaposed sensation of cool tile and porcelain were absolutely decadent. She took back her wine glass and they simply lounged back enjoying each other and the sensuous atmosphere. It didn't surprise her that she felt him coming erect against her and her own arousal increased accordingly.

She twisted around slightly, lifting her face up, and he leaned down to kiss her. Reaching back to caress his cheek, she pulled her lips away from his for a second to say, "You need a shave."

"I know," he answered. "I'll do it tonight."

"Mmmmm... No, leave it. I kind of like it," she whispered, stroking her fingers lightly down his face as she brought her lips back to his. Their mouths were wine-sweet and it didn't take long before he had set his glass down on the floor beside the tub so that he could gather her more closely in his arms, his tongue probing between her lips to play against hers.

It was an awkward position, though, and he finally lifted his lips from her mouth and turned her slightly around to face forward. "You *did* come in here to take a bath, didn't you?" he asked rhetorically and picked up the bottle of body wash on the tub rim.

He up-ended it and squeezed a line of the opalescent fluid across her breasts and stomach, making her jump and give an inadvertent little squeal. "Spock! That's cold!"

"In that case, I must warm it for you," he replied, setting the bottle down. With that, he slipped his hands up around her breasts and proceeded to stroke and massage them gently, working the soap into a lather, running his fingertips over her nipples until they were hard and upright. From there, he worked his hands up and down her torso, from breasts to pubis, until she was gasping at the feeling it generated in her.

Finally, he let one of his hands trail down her soft stomach, tickle at her navel, then continue past the thick dark patch of hair at the base of her abdomen. She willingly spread her legs for him and his fingers slipped between her secret folds to gently massage the pulsing core of her femininity. She flinched as he fondled her and writhed at his touch.

After a few moments of this, she lifted herself from his embrace and moved around once more, this time onto her knees facing him. She retrieved the body wash and squeezed out a little onto his chest, then spent a luxurious few minutes working it into a lather over his lean, muscular body. He smoothed suds over her arms and shoulders while she washed him, then she got the big sponge and began rinsing them both off.

He watched lather cascade down her body and into the alluring triangle of dark hair between her legs. Unable to resist the temptation to touch her, he slipped his fingers back between her thighs, gently rubbing and caressing her once more. With a little moan of pleasure, she leaned forward until she was kissing him again, her hands braced on his shoulders. The depth and intensity of their kisses increased and she finally reached down to grasp the thick, throbbing rod hovering just below the water's surface.

With supple manipulation, she stroked him into even greater hardness, fondling and teasing him until he felt that he would explode. Idly, he wondered what it would be like to simply lie here until she brought him to a full climax with her tantalizing fingers. No woman had ever done such a thing to him before and the thought sent a surge of excitement through him.

But, as he closed his eyes and groaned in ecstasy, she whispered urgently against his lips. "I want you in me, Spock. I want to feel you come in me over and over again."

"There really isn't room to engage in intercourse here," he answered, still caught in the building exaltation brought on by her insistent hands.

"Then let's get out. Now! I don't know how much longer I can wait!" she murmured forcefully.

She released him and got up, stepping over the side of the tub onto the bath rug. He followed, water drizzling down through the hair on his body and off his prominent erection. She grasped his hand and pulled him toward the outer room.

She fell back across the bed and he came after her. Neither cared that they were both wet and dripping onto the floor. The only thing that mattered was that he was paused at the threshold of her body, tensed as he held himself in rigid control to keep from entering her too quickly, too hard.

She clutched at him, pulling him into position above her, groaning, "Oh, please, I want you in me now! I need you!" She arched her back up, her body yearning for his penetrating flesh.

He could hold back no longer, as hungry for her as she was for him. Cautiously, he pushed into her and she responded with a gasping cry. He paused again, then saw that it was anything but a gasp of pain. Taking hold of her waist to steady her, he set himself and heaved himself all the way into her. She cried out again, then wrapped her legs around his hips and drew him down onto her, slipping her hands up around his back as he began pumping into her.

She was so eager, so hotly ready for him, that the flames of his desire roared up into a full inferno, and it didn't take long before he felt the gut-twisting surge of orgasm grip him. He rode it over the climax, then gently pulled out of her, his penis still half-erect.

"Don't stop," she pleaded, her face and body flushed a rosy hue.

"I'll be right back," he answered and ducked into the bathroom. He returned in a moment with several of the big white fluffy towels. Quickly, he dried them both off then spread one over the area of the bed where Christine's wet body had lain.

He shifted her lengthwise on the bed so that her head lay on her pillow and then he moved into position above her, fully erect once more. Hungrily, she opened her legs to receive him but he paused again just at the brink of her quivering depths. Placing his hands on either side of her face, he captured her gaze with his hypnotic dark eyes and opened a link between them.

This time when he pushed back into hot, tight depths of her eager body, he also slipped his thoughts and desires into her receptive mind. She embraced him enthusiastically, both physically and mentally, feeling what he felt as his inflamed manhood moved inside her, intensifying and echoing each other's building sexual excitement.

Take me back to Vulcan, she pleaded. To the white desert.

He complied immediately, transporting them to the silvery dunes where he had mentally made love to her before. But this time he was really within her, really thrusting again and again into her fevered flesh. The bed of soft, yielding sand caressed her, cushioned the force of his body's impact with hers as he drove into her. And then she felt him gasp and fill her with his surging heat.

She expected him to withdraw from her then, to pull his spent penis from her body and rest for a while. But he was not spent. He was as hard as ever and he rolled over in the sand with her so that she sat astride him.

He pumped his hips up into her several times to encourage her and her took over the rhythm with joy. Impaled on his pulsing shaft, she rode him until she fairly screamed with an unsurpassed orgasm that left her weak and light-headed.

He took over again and rolled back atop her, still buried fully inside her. Holding her steady beneath him, he slammed into her with pile-driver force, his eyes intently locked on hers. She could not look away, and suddenly a slight thread of fear shot through her, for there was a fire and purpose in his eyes she'd never seen there before.

As he gripped her in the raging fervor of climax, his hard body pumping its essence once more into hers, something inside her mind said pon farr and she caught her breath at the prospect, at the sexual violence threatening to explode within him.

Instantly he reacted, coming back to himself. No, no, t'hy'la, his mind whispered soothingly to hers. It is not pon farr. It is shan hal lak. The engulfment. The fire of bonded mating.

She blinked up at him, into his once more gentle brown eyes, and realized that they were once again in the comforting confines of the cabin, embraced tightly upon the bed. He was still firmly within her, still holding her close, and she felt that he had not yet completely lost his erection. His face was flushed and hot with the exertion of their lovemaking and, moreover, their mental link was still securely open.

She communicated her confusion to him and his eyes searched intently into hers once more. We have triggered a bonding link between us, t'hy'la, he told her. We have merged together in shan hal lak, as if we had joined our minds in kae'farr, the mating bond.

She swallowed to wet her dry throat. Spock ... I don't understand ... are you saying that you just married me?

He smiled down at her and caressed her face. No, t'hy'la, but we have joined ourselves as mates. If you wish us to fully wed, we must undergo a more formal ritual. And if you wish to sever our mindlink, there is a way of doing that as well.

Her blue eyes soft with emotion, she slipped her fingers up along either side of his face. And what do you want, Spock? What is your wish?

For a long moment, he gazed deeply into her eyes then his voice whispered into her mind. I wish you always with me, ever within me. I wish to feel your presence beside me for as long as we live.

Her eyes filled with tears and she asked him, What is the Vulcan word for 'husband'?

'Adun', he answered.

She drew his face down to hers in a long, hungry kiss. When he finally pulled away, she looked up with all that she felt for him shining in her eyes. My adun, she whispered to him. My darling, beloved adun.

She felt his heart leap within him with a surge of emotion and he bent to her lips once again, crushing her close into his embrace. As he raised his head, he shifted his hips slightly, beginning to move softly within her once more and she closed her eyes in exultant anticipation of loving him yet again.

beep ... beep

They both stopped and lifted their heads, listening. The beeping sounded again and Christine laid her head back on the pillow, saying out loud, "Shit."

Spock looked down at her in shock, surprised at her language. Then, as the beeping sounded a third time, without pulling away from her, he reached down over the edge of the bed and fumbled for the pair of pants he'd worn that day. From one pocket, he retrieved a communicator and flipped it open.

"Spock here," he answered in a completely normal tone of voice.

"Lt. Uhura here, Mr. Spock. This is a recall. Report time is 1800 tomorrow."

"Acknowledged. Spock out."

He cut the circuit before she could go any further and dropped the communicator back onto the clothing lying on the floor. Then, he settled himself and picked up where he had left off, Christine doing likewise. They were just beginning to forget the interruption when there was another beep, this time from her backpack.

Spock stopped again and peered down at the woman beneath him, who was beginning to shake with suppressed laughter. "Would you like to use your expletive again?" he asked.

"And then some! Here, let me up."

He rolled off her and allowed her to sit up, reaching over to grab the backpack that had once again stubbornly beeped at her. Pulling her own communicator out, she opened it and replied, "Chapel here."

"Nyota, Christine. Recall. 1800 tomorrow."

"Understood. Why so soon?"

"Directive from Starfleet. We've got to go save the galaxy again I suppose."

"Are you on board?"

"Oh, no. They're not done up there yet. I got called back this morning from Mombasa to Fleet communications. So much for my vacation! How's yours?"

Christine glanced over her shoulder to where Spock was lying with a slightly impatient expression on his face, obviously eager to get on with what he'd been in the middle of before they were so rudely interrupted. She smiled and answered, "Well, actually, I can't talk right now, Ny. I'm a little busy at the moment. I'll tell you all about it when I get back. Chapel out."

Spock had lifted both brows at that last remark. "Indeed?" he commented. "What was that you said about broadcasting it over the ship's intercom?"

She scooted back over to his side. "Don't worry," she answered, reaching to draw him back to her. "I'm required to practice complete confidentiality in my position. Now ... where were we?"

* * *

They spent most of the next day setting the cabin in order, cleaning and putting things away, storing the supplies in the stasis keeper where it would sit suspended in time until it was brought back into the "real" world again. Afterwards, they each cleaned up and dressed in freshly laundered clothing. Spock had emerged looking as formal and clean cut as he usually did, freshly shaved and with his hair neatly brushed down into its usual shining cap. Christine sighed wistfully at that. She had begun to like the casual, more natural appearance he'd had all week.

They took a long last walk down to the lake shore and had lunch at the little restaurant in the village, then as it was nearing time for them to report back to the ship, they made sure that all their belongings were stored in their packs and Spock checked to insure that the cabin was securely locked.

As they stood together in the middle of the big main room, he drew her into his arms and kissed her long and tenderly. "I cannot imagine now what my life would be like without you," he said softly. "I had not realized before that I had become so empty."

She smiled up at him. "I'm going to start crying again if you keep that up," she whispered. "Where shall we sleep tonight? Your cabin or mine?"

"Mine," he answered. "I have a bigger bed than yours and it will be more comfortable for the two of us."

They kissed again then he stepped away from her and pulled out his communicator, flipping it open. "Spock to Enterprise," he said.

"Enterprise," replied the transporter chief's voice.

"Two to beam up."

"Acknowledged. Enterprise out."

A few seconds later, the transporter beam engulfed them and the cabin they had shared dissolved away into a shower of golden particles. When those faded away, they were standing in the familiar surroundings of the ship's transporter room.

What Christine noticed immediately was how crisp and fresh the air was, although a little bit antiseptic. She took a huge breath and exclaimed, "Oh, the ship smells wonderful! I hadn't realized how bad it was before! I think they even cleaned the carpets! Oh, this is heavenly!"

She glanced over at Spock, who was regarding her with an amused expression. She caught herself and smiled up at him, a little embarrassed. "Well, don't you think it smells a lot better than it did?"

His eyes crinkled up with humor and love as he answered softly, "Indeed ... although I think I prefer the scent of pines."