DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Gueniver and is copyright (c) 2003 by Gueniver. Rated NC17. This story contains consensual sex (well, as consensual as the Pon Farr gets) between Spock, Christine Chapel and Jim Kirk. If that's not your thing, then stop reading now before you get all upset.



And Then There Were Three

Lady Gueniver



Christine Chapel moaned and writhed on the bio bed uncontrollably.

McCoy watched helplessly as her temperature rose and dropped and her adrenaline spiked dangerously high. Her heart raced and slowed, she was sweating and crying. Blood once again oozed from her restrained wrists and ankles.

She had long since stopped communicating with people around her. Her eyes, now white crescents, belied the madness that had consumed her.

McCoy treated her symptoms as they came in silence.

He didn't spare a thought about Jim and Spock. The ship was still following their ion trail desperately trying to find them.

He knew Spock was alive at the very least, because of Christine. Her symptoms worsened with time, but they were a clear indicator that Spock was alive. And if he was alive then surely Jim was alive.

He had hope and with all the work he had that was more than enough.

Suddenly Christine pulled on all of the restraints at once and let loose a banshee like cry. The monitors spiked and alarms went off.

Then she went limp.

McCoy panicked, reaching for a resuscitator but the monitor overhead blipped calmly and the gauges slowly receded from their elevated levels.

The readings weren't normal, but they were fast approaching it.

Something had happened.

McCoy looked from the monitors to Christine's flushed damp face. She didn't appear to be in any pain. Indications were that the fever had passed. Although he was at a loss as to how it could have happened.

He didn't know much about it but he knew one thing for sure, you just didn't get over pon farr.

* * *

When Scotty found them, sensors showed that there had been some serious damage to navigation and propulsion. They had landed on an asteroid to avoid being detected after narrowly missing being destroyed.

Chekov's long range scans showed that the shuttlecraft had almost no power. Life support had been lowered to a bare minimum and even at that there was only 14 minutes of breathable air. The two life signs were barely alive. By the time they were in transporter range Scotty had decided that the only way to save them was that they be beamed directly to sickbay.

Dr. McCoy was waiting with a full medical staff standing by.

The transporter locked in. Everyone cleared the area. There was the familiar hum.

It only took a moment to assess the situation.

Jim was battered, bruised and unconscious.

Spock looked haggard as well.

The medical staff, for all their professionalism, stood dumb for a moment as they took in the sight of the pair.

Naked.

Locked in embrace.

A lover's embrace.

McCoy blanched and tore a glance at the third bed, the one occupied by his friend and colleague. He desperately hoped that somehow in this chaos she still slept.

She did not.

Christine sat impossibly still.

After a long moment she swallowed hard and nodded slowly to Leonard acknowledging his concern.

In answer she rose painfully from her bed and moved across the stillness of the room to the unconscious pair. Fearlessly, tenderly she reached forward and lifted Spock's hand from the position where it rested on Jim's temple.

The Vulcan sighed slightly and all the tension left his body. He slid heavily from his position over Jim into Christine's strong arms, his head rolled back onto her shoulder.

McCoy stepped forward as well, scooping under Spock's arms. An intern moved as well lifting the man's legs and the three moved the limp Vulcan to the bio bed nearby. Immediately they went to work on him.

The second team huddled round their Captain and soon the silence was filled with the sounds of a professional medical staff doing their jobs.

Later if anyone had spoken of it, even in hushed tones, it was only to say that through it all they never saw Christine cry.

* * *

The sound of the comm seemed so foreign in the silence of the captain's quarters. It was particularly bothersome because he already knew who was there, knew without asking who stood dutifully in the corridor awaiting permission to enter.

He drew in a long breath and sighed as he pushed the comm button.

He could not resist acknowledging his friend's presence with a knowing "Come in, Spock." Not caring who might overhear. He knew how ship's gossip worked and he couldn't be bothered to worry about it. Hell a small part of him hoped it was there. A rumor mill 'fact', scuttlebutt in the corridors that could lend some credence to the feelings he had.

He hoped that the silence he felt from his friend wasn't -

Wasn't what?

Wasn't the prelude to a break up?

Wouldn't you actually have to have a relationship in order to have a breakup?

Spock entered his cabin as he always had, with even measured steps to just a few steps into the room.

Jim's heart leapt into his throat at the sight of him then fell as he recognized the worried clench of Spock's jaw.

Jim swallowed hard suddenly not willing to acknowledge the sadness that was there. Instead he asked evenly, "Can I get you something? I was just about to get a cup of coffee."

He didn't wait for the answer but moved to the replicator behind his desk trying to think of something innocuous to talk about. Unfortunately it was impossible to think of anything but Spock.

His friend, his -

His what?

Lover? Did a pon farr haze constitute a love?

A part of him desperately hoped so, but as he picked up the two steaming cups and gazed down at the brown coffee and amber tea he realized that it was just a fleeting dream. As fleeting as the wisps of steam that dissipated with his movement to place them on the desk. A move he had made a million times in the past and had never had any more significance than refreshment, hospitality.

Spock could never be his. He was quite committed to Christine Chapel. Jim knew that. He steeled himself for the inevitable moment of 'friendship' and lifted his eyes to face the music.

His friend, his first officer was not sitting in his accustomed chair. He did not take his place in the scene as he always did.

He simply stood in the center of the room watching, waiting. Only the clench of his jaw seemed to belie his tension.

Jim placed the cups on the desk with a steadier hand than he thought possible. He smiled a little lopsidedly at Spock and moved to sit in his chair. Better to keep this normal. Better to keep this professional lest he break down.

It would be easier, Jim thought to himself easier on Spock, easier on them both.

But Spock spoke and his voice stopped him mid motion, "Jim."

A single word and yet it carried so much emotion, so much meaning.

Jim stopped not willing yet to believe what his heart was crying out might be true.

Without hesitation, Spock moved with a sure step to the desk, around it and to within an arm's length of Jim.

He did not reach out, he simply said his name again. This time he opened the link that joined them now and the sound of his name reverberated in his soul like a caress. "Jim."

Kirk caught his breath at the sensation and for a moment he felt as if he were being drawn down into his friend's dark velvet eyes.

He reached out even as Spock raised his arms and then their hands touched. Then all was right in the universe.

A small touch of hands, it could have been accidental in its simplicity. It could have been, but it was not. It was so much more. As if of their own volition their hands formed the two fingered traditional Vulcan kiss. Jim's heart soared at the sensation. He could see the joy in Spock's eyes, could feel it in his mind.

The words of their shared promise came unbidden to their thoughts and it echoed now in the silence, 'Never and Always'.

Spock lifted his eyes to Jim's and found that his friend was as lost he was. For a moment neither spoke, they simply stared into one another's eyes and enjoyed the moment of peace and togetherness.

Then Spock shifted slightly and lowered his hand. Jim could feel the sadness as the barrier lifted once again. He did not move away but neither did he move forward.

Spock's gaze changed to even resolve. It was time - there was much to discuss.

But the closeness -- the depth of the shared touch was too much to let go of. Jim couldn't let it stand at that. He couldn't resist one brief moment of possessiveness. He wouldn't let it go without reminding Spock of exactly what they had shared, exactly what it meant - what it could mean.

He grabbed his friend by the forearms and pulled him close with the strength and power of a man, a passionate man, a man in love.

Spock, taken aback for a moment, froze. It was only a moment, but it was all Jim needed to pull Spock into his arms and down into a breathtaking kiss. It wasn't the crushing kiss of blood fever. It was the passionate kiss of a man who didn't care what the consequences were. What was there to lose?

Spock's surprise didn't paralyze him for long. The taste of honey and salt of his friend's mouth was familiar and new all at once.

He answered his friend with a crushing embrace. Hands slid familiarly over the broad strong muscles of Jim's back, up into the soft gold of his hair.

Jim was falling lost in the sensation of his heart's desire.

Spock gasped answering Jim's soft whisper "Spock." Never had this man spoken his name with such desperate emotion.

Then as if it were too much for the Vulcan to bear, he broke the spell by falling back and out of Jim's grip to look down into his lover's eyes.

Jim watched in horror as the wall of control crumbled before his eyes. The fear, agony and passion were too much for his Vulcan friend. The sight of it broke his heart. Overwhelmed with a desire to comfort him, Jim lifted a hand and brought it to Spock's cheek. It was a small thing, this touch. But it sufficed. Jim dropped his hand again controlling himself as well.

At this moment Spock needed a friend, not another complication. And when all was said and done, he was still Jim Kirk -- friend to Spock.

Jim swallowed hard, pushing his heart down and raising his own wall of control. With a slow nod of acceptance they parted. It was a silent agreement. Time enough to sort this out later.

Jim fervently hoped it was true.

Spock moved to his accustomed chair and picked up the tepid tea.

Jim turned away with his cup. He needed a moment to gather himself. The coffee was bitter and cold, warring with the taste of Vulcan kisses on his lips.

What do you say, Jim wondered? What words can offer to send him away when I do not want him to go?

Spock spoke first, his tone as even and impassive as ever. But to Jim his voice seemed cold, "I must go to her. She is my wife."

"I know," was all Jim could say.

"I will always be your friend."

"And I will always be your friend, Spock." He resisted the urge to call him Mr. Spock, but he wanted to. In a moment of childishness he wanted nothing more than to be cold and lash out. Instead he chose the path that they both knew he would. The path of friend, "I always have been."

Spock looked down at the tea in his hand. "Never and always." He murmured and a knife shot through Jim's heart.

"That's what you promised her, Spock." Jim looked at his friend, could only see the dark top of his head. "Spock, you know that I will be here for you no matter what happens."

A grim nod answered him.

"Do you love her?"

Spock lifted his head and Jim's heart sank. The look in Spock's eyes would brook no dispute. Yes, he loved her. It dared Jim to question it. "Yes." His voice was a strangled whisper of frustration.

"Then tell her so," Jim answered. He did not ask, dared not ask what Spock felt for him. "Tell her that you still love her, ask for her forgiveness. Tell her that you've chosen and you want her."

Spock's brows knitted in confusion. "Chosen?"

Jim looked as confused as his friend. "Of course, you still love her. She's your wife. I think you should try again."

"Try again at what?"

"Try to make it work."

"Jim, I do not understand."

"Spock, she knows about what happened between us, she was there. You know that, don't you?"

"Of course. Jim, do you believe I would choose between you?"

"Well, you can't exactly have us both."

"I cannot? Why?"

"Well, it would be, awkward."

"Because you are human."

"Well, yes, and because I'm in love with you." There he had said it

But Spock was nonplused. "And I love you as well, Jim, but I do not understand." The words came so easily that Jim didn't want to believe them.

"I, well, hell, I don't know. I suppose … I guess a lot depends on Christine. Spock, I don't understand. If it's not this, then what's eating you?"

"Christine is my bondmate, Jim."

"Don't you think I know that? Why do you think this is so damn hard on me?"

"Jim, I took another in pon farr. For a Vulcan that is - it is most distasteful to have done such a thing. It is dishonorable."

"What the hell were you supposed to do?"

"Die."

"You've got to be joking! Spock, there are thousands of Vulcans in deep space. You can't tell me that they all just die rather than…"

"No, it is not the act that is so distasteful."

"Distasteful!"

"Jim, please. Let me finish. It is not the act of taking a lover in the blood fever. It is the bonding. It was not necessary…" His gaze dropped to his hands.

"Bonding?"

"It is not necessary to survive the pon farr. What I did was…"

Jim's eyes were wide with disbelief. "You didn't have to created the bond?"

Spock drew himself up stiffly readied for his friend's temper. "No." And he closed his eyes for a moment as if he needed to close out the inferno.

Jim sagged slowly into his chair, his coffee cup falling roughly to the table. "You didn't have to create a bond." It was a statement, a fact. He repeated it trying to make it reality. "Then why?"

Spock looked at his friend for a long time, trying to read him. The years of working together didn't help a bit, Jim's poker face was firmly in place and he dared not feel for Jim. It was wrong to have created the bond, worse to use it now.

Why?

Why had he done it?

He looked away now, "If you wish to sever the bond a telepath can be sought from Vulcan."

"I didn't ask if it could be broken, I asked why you did it." Jim's voice was hard now, not quite angry.

Spock stared at the tea for a long time.

Jim wondered if he would ever answer.

He raised his head to face his friend. His eyes were lined with sadness and humor now. "It seemed the logical thing to do at the time."

Jim laughed at his friend's sudden humor. And yet he felt as if he understood. Spock had said it. He loved him. And in a way it was logical. Just as much as anything else that they had ever done. "Oh god, Spock. I don't know what to say. I -- Well, I don't know if Christine'll buy it. But you know I like it."

Spock sobered quickly. "It will be most difficult." He was nodding now, lost in thought.

Jim only nodded as well. His stomach was doing somersaults for some reason. There was more. He could see it coming. He could feel it rising up.

"Jim, you must know. It is her right to accept or reject this."

Jim's mouth thinned to a grim line. "I surmised as much, my friend."

Spock looked at him searching for something that he could not pinpoint. Some sort of hope that all would be well. When nothing came he looked away.

"I must go to her," Spock whispered.

Jim tried to keep his tone even. "Yes."

Spock did not move from his chair.

Jim rose now and in a moment was before his friend. He almost leaned down and held him. Almost hugged his dark head to his chest to block out the pain of the encounter to come.

Almost.

But he did not.

Instead he reached for the cup that rested in Spock's hands and took it to the replicator to dispose of it.

When he turned Spock had already risen.

He stood in the center of Jim's quarters, hands locked behind his back.

"I'll be here if you need me," Jim said.

"I know," Spock answered and he turned to the door.

Jim didn't want to say it, didn't want to hope it, but as the doors closed on Spock the words came anyway. "Good luck, my friend. Good luck."

* * *

When the buzzer sounded at Dr. Christine Chapel's door, she had no reason to ask who was there.

She knew.

She didn't want to have this conversation. She had been dreading it for two days. The two days that her betrothed had convalesced in sickbay at the shoulder of his lover. The two days that she had paced every inch of her quarters.

She just stared at the door dumbly. Not sure if she had the strength to make a sound. She didn't know if she was ready to give the command that would welcome him in to her room.

She hadn't cried. Not yet anyway. No, not even when Leonard had sent her to her quarters. She wanted to work, or read or run away. Not cry.

She didn't want to be confined to quarters.

She didn't want to open her door.

She didn't want to have this conversation.

The door buzzed again.

This time she felt a gentle mental nudge. A small tug at her mind as if to let her know who it was. As if she might not know who would be coming to see her.

Could there be any question? Could it be someone from work? A well-meaning friend to say they understood? Or perhaps a messenger from another dimension, come to make some childlike intergalactic offer of 'do over'?

She imagined an impish face and a golden leotard with a shrill 'No fair! Do over!'

"Come in," she heard herself say it as if from far away.

The door hissed open.

It was Spock.

He stepped just far enough in to allow the door to close.

Her heart pounded in her ears.

His eyes were dark, his head bowed. He stood stiffly at the door, hands clasped behind his back.

He looked as if he could have been reporting for duty she thought. A grim duty at that. The thought pained her deeply that seeing her now was a grim duty for him.

She swallowed down the knot that was forming in her throat.

He stood silently for a long time. A dutiful officer awaiting his orders.

She stood unmoving, watching him. Finally, when she could bear no more all the anger, fear and humiliation came welling up like venom. Her voice was as dry as sand. "What have you done?"

He winced visibly.

She could feel a ripple of it through their betrothal bond.

He raised his eyes to her and spoke his voice even, cool "I have returned to you."

She shook with anger. "What is that supposed to mean? You've returned to me? Is that supposed to be some sort of joke?"

He did not look away and it only made her anger grow. "I have done only what I must to survive and returned to you."

Now tears were streaming down her cheeks, her throat was on fire with tears "What?! You did what was necessary? Was it necessary to kiss him and touch him and find so much pleasure in him?" She was trembling under the images in her mind. Her words came in halting, hissing spurts as she tried to gather the air to force them out of their dark hole in her heart, "To bring him into you -- into me? You -- you took him -- you made love to him and -- and -- melded with him. You brought him into our bond."

His eyes widened as her anger loosed the memory and he felt it rush through him like fire.

She had seen it all. She had felt it and lived it all.

"What have you done to us, Spock? What have you done?" Now she began to weep, hugging herself with grief she slumped into a chair.

Spock closed his eyes and fought the desire to leave. He had not wished this upon her. He had not wanted this, but whatever pain and suffering his primitive biological desires had created he would not walk away from her.

Her emotions flowed now like water over a dam. He wanted to comfort her, to take away her pain. But he was struggling over how he could do that without causing any further damage.

He took a step forward and she flinched.

Her anger flared through their bond, but he could not turn away.

He moved slowly to the chair where she sat crying and reached out to her. For a moment she resisted him. She wanted to punish him for her pain. She wanted to hit him or push him away. But his gentle touch was too much. She needed a friend, she needed someone to hold her and she knew when he touched her that he would hold her for as long as she wished.

As always when they touched their bond opened up and this time it was a typhoon of emotion from Christine that let loose on Spock. He sucked in a deep breath but did not back away from it and pulled her head down on his shoulder and began to stroke her hair softly, letting her cry.

He regretted her pain, but he was not sorry. He could not bring himself to feel sorry. It was unthinkable that he, a Vulcan, should be so unfaithful. It was not inconceivable that he could have taken another in his time of need.

When he had first fell victim to the primitive urges, he thought he was willing to die before disgracing himself and his family by taking another. But this time there had been no other choice. He told himself that there was no other way. He could not die. He would not die. He had too much to live for.

He had been able to convince himself that that was the only reason he would ever consider being unfaithful to his beloved T'hyla.

But when he had touched Jim's cheek with a trembling hand he had found that the bond of friendship had indeed run deeper than either had believed. It had been so easy, once he had decided to fall into his friend's endless hazel eyes.

Even now, holding Christine feeling her grief and anger at his betrayal he found himself wishing for Jim's comforting presence. He didn't understand why, he only knew that he needed it as much as he needed Christine's forgiveness.

Christine just cried and rocked, letting her feelings flow.

It had been such torture to hear them together, feel Spock's passion rise until he could not resist and then feel him as he descended upon Jim. She couldn't even think of him as the Captain, he was Jim. In her mind she had seen him, tasted his lips, felt the smooth muscles of his chest under Spock's roaming hands. She could smell the sweat and semen, could feel his tongue flick at Spock's lips.

She trembled and sobbed with emotions that she couldn't begin to control.

And Spock held her. He held her with love and stroked her hair with kindness, projecting comfort and love.

After a long time, Christine's crying began to subside and her sobs slowed to small gasping breaths. She huddled like a child against him. Her mind was pulling at his, begging for more contact. Something to comfort her wounded pride and violated trust.

"Christine." He stopped brushing her hair for a moment and lifted her chin to face him. Her eyes were lined red and her cheeks tear streaked. He brushed away a tear with his thumb and suddenly wished to kiss her. His heart had ached so much for her and now he could hardly believe how much he had hurt her. He leaned down and brushed his lips against her forehead.

She reached up and clasped his neck and began to sob anew. Somehow his kiss had caused more pain. He was alarmed. He couldn't seem to communicate to her how he felt. It was so difficult.

"No, Christine. Please, do not cry anymore." He kissed her cheek then her mouth. She kissed him back frantically as if to assure herself that he was here and real.

Then she pulled away and he felt her anger flare again as an image of Jim flashed before her eyes unbidden. She couldn't kiss him and not feel Jim's presence, could not help but remember how he felt under Spock's hands.

Spock held her tightly, unwilling to let go. She did not yet understand that he had not willed this, but he would not allow her to torture herself with it. He reached out to her, his hand found the psi points on her face and he slipped easily into her mind.

She tried to protest, tried with her exhausted will to make it difficult for him to slip into this sacred place in their minds that they had created. She wanted to punish him and block his entrance. But it was too hard. She needed him. She loved him. She wanted to feel the reassuring touch of his mind in hers.

She felt him there, much as he had stood in her doorway, shielded and apprehensive. But his mind's voice chuckled uncertainly, 'I have not taught you enough, my beloved. With more diligent training you could have truly blocked me.'

She projected her hurt at him like a stone tossed across a room, 'I don't want this.'

Spock's mind became grave and unyielding, 'You must know, Christine. You must understand.'

'No, I want to end this. I want you to choose between us then sever one of the bonds.' She lashed out, trying to hurt him.

He was very sad, did not even try to hide his pain. 'If that is your wish, my beloved, then it shall be so. But it is not so simple, T'hyla. I believe you know this.'

She suddenly sounded weak, tired. Her mind's voice dimmed 'I don't know if I can do this. I don't want to know.' She withdrew as far as she could from him. 'I don't want to understand.' Her thought came as a painfully strangled whisper.

'You must.' He drew nearer to her. 'You have the right but you must know what it is that you choose.'

In her minds eye his shape grew brighter.

She reached out to him then paused, 'You're shielding him from me. He's here. You've brought him here.' She was angry and hurt again.

'This is the place that our minds have created to give meaning to our bond. Yes, Jim is here now. He is a part of me as you are. That is what I must explain.'

'No, don't. Please, don't!' Darkness surrounded her now, darkness and vibrating anger that made her image fade. She was trying with all her might to pull away, trying to shield herself from what was coming. She didn't want to hurt any more.

Spock stopped, uncertain. It was wrong to reach so deeply into her mind as he had, but it had been wrong to take Jim into his mind as well. It would be no greater wrong to keep her here. To try to make her understand.

'I am sorry, Christine.' It was Psi2000. It was Platonius. It was every terrible moment they had shared.

And with the smallest of efforts he opened the door to the memories of his pon farr with Jim. His fevered mind had futilely attempted to shield her from the sharing and in the end he had only bungled it. All that had been communicated was the hurt, guilt, pain. He had to undo the pain. She deserved to know the truth.

Without moving or speaking the memories flowed as softly as a breeze.

She closed her mind's eye to them, fought against the sweet smell of their relief. The relief that Spock had felt from the blood fever, the relief that he had found not only a way to live, but in his friend. He had found love, again. It was a love that would not take away from what he shared with Christine.

She tasted the relief from the fear and anguish and guilt that had held him at bay.

The memories that she already had were now filling with meaning and significance. His emotions and reactions fast becoming part of her own memories even as he took in hers.

'No,' she whispered in a final futile effort. She did not want to understand. She did not want to forgive him, not yet. But it was too late. Understanding came. It filled her up and left a shadow of shame.

Her own shame at condemning him and his for not remaining faithful.

But it was only a shadow. Here in the fields of the mind shadows had no power.

He could not fault her in her grief and she would no longer condemn him for choosing to live, choosing to love.

Darkness slowly dissipated. She raised her mind's eye to him.

'I -- I understand.' And she was full of weakness and sadness. Somewhere deep inside her the flame of anger still burned, but there was no longer fuel for that fire. It would take time to heal, but where there is understanding there is a beginning to healing.

'I know. As do I.' He too was sad and did not hide his shame. They had shared too much to lie to one another now.

Finally she reached out to him.

She wanted to feel his mind twine through hers again.

She had begged for it in the throes of pon farr and found no relief. Now he was here, he was alive and she understood. She forgave him, painfully, begrudgingly but she did forgive him and now suddenly she needed him. She needed her friend.

But when she reached out to him something was very different. Something was still not right.

He was shielding.

He was still pulling away.

'Spock?' she questioned, her mind's voice weak with exhaustion.

'You are tired, beloved. Sleep now. All will be well.' He tilted his head to the side. Then slowly pulled his mind out and back and in a moment the meld was over.

She was too spent to protest.

She couldn't even open her eyes.

She was sleeping in seconds.

Spock did not ask her what she had decided. There was time enough for that in the morning.

* * *

Spock lay deep in sleep at her side when she awoke a few hours later. She crept to the bathroom with practiced silence. Once inside, she keyed the computer panel and noted the time. 0100. She stared at it for a moment and wondered if he had duty in the morning. After a moment, she decided it didn't matter and hit the comm button on the wall.

She wasn't surprised to hear his voice. She had known he would be awake.

Knew because she could hear him, pacing and talking aloud. He had slept for a short while, the sleep of the exhausted and awoke in terror.

She knew because she had heard his mind's voice.

She asked him to come, not entirely sure why.

She just knew that she had to see him. Knew that if she didn't something very wrong would happen. Knew in her gut that neither of them would sleep.

She needed to talk to him although she couldn't imagine what she would say.

It was just that they needed to talk and the sooner the better.

When she cut the channel and looked at last in the mirror, she fought a wave of unexplainable nausea. It was the sort of thing she had been feeling off and on for the last two days. Stress, anxiety, hell, she had nearly died. It was understandable. She ran her fingers through her short dark hair and blinked at the surreal feeling.

For a moment she was sure she wasn't really awake. This was a dream. A pon farr induced dream. She contemplated the chances that she was still in sickbay, in a coma. This couldn't really be happening.

She blinked again. It just didn't feel…right.

Splashed a little water on her face and brushed her hair back with damp fingers.

Her face was flushed and hot. The water was painfully cold. She checked the setting. It was the same as always.

Was this real?

She felt confused for a moment. Looked at the chronometer again. This time it said 0120. Time seemed to be jumping and stopping and stopping and jumping.

Everything seemed wrong somehow.

She looked at her face closer in the mirror and wondered at her flushed cheeks, brought a hand to her forehead suddenly in worry. Did she have a fever? Maybe she should go to sickbay, she thought. No, she couldn't do that. She was expecting someone.

Who was it?

Jim.

That's right. She had asked him to come over.

Why?

She couldn't remember. It was just that she knew he would be able to help her sleep.

God, what was going on? Was this really happening?

Yes, she sighed. This was as real as it gets.

She turned reluctantly to the door and returned to her room.

Spock was sitting up on the bed looking questioningly at her.

The door buzzer sounded.

He continued to look at her, waiting. His eyes were full of unasked questions.

For a moment she had a déjà vu sensation. She didn't want to open the door, but she knew she must. Her eyebrows furrowed for a moment then she sighed.

'This should be harder', she thought. 'This time it should be harder than the first time.'

She did not wait for the buzzer to sound a second time, but called through the intercom "Come in, Jim." She was amazed at how normal her voice sounded. How easy it was to say his name.

The doors hissed open and he stepped in. He moved in a continuous motion until he was within her sleeping quarters a respectable distance from each of them.

For a long time they just looked from one to another in awkward silence.

What do you say, Jim wondered raising his eyes to meet hers, to the woman who invites you to her room to talk about how you stole her lover?

What words could possibly make up for that kind of pain?

Then she moved towards him. For an instant he felt apprehension. Was she so angry that she would strike him?

When she came within an arm's length she stopped, her eyes riveted on his.

She raised a hand and he did not flinch.

Spock caught his breath.

She reached out and touched his cheek gently. "Welcome, Jim," was all she said.

Then she startled him by pulling him into an embrace. It was sincere and true.

She held him for a long moment and finally, clumsily he returned the warmth in kind.

Spock stared in disbelief.

She sighed and parted from him and moved wearily to the bed as if it had taken all of her strength to commit such an act of kindness. She leaned back slowly, sleep quickly pulling her down. She could do no more. "Please, Jim. Please come lie down with us."

Spock blinked and looked from Jim to Christine and back again. Jim appeared to have not heard.

"Christine, what are you saying?" Spock asked his voice the barest of whispers.

"Spock, it's the only logical solution. He can't sleep without you, can you, Jim?" It was not a final decision, not the answer either man could have hoped for. But it was something.

Jim's jaw dropped in disbelief. How could she have known?

Christine's nobility was wearing thin and her irritation seemed to be showing a bit as she continued. "Neither can I. I'm not saying this is the perfect solution, but if we can't sleep we won't be able to function in the morning. And you both understand that we will have to have clear heads in the morning."

Jim finally spoke. "I shouldn't be here. I'm sorry, I don't know why I even came."

"Jim, don't go." Spock spoke and his voice stopped his friend in his tracks.

Spock reached out to Christine and took her hand. They exchanged glances and he lifted her hand to his mouth, kissing it tenderly. "Are you certain?"

"Please stay," she asked Jim once again.

He took a tentative step forward, feeling more nervous than he had ever felt in his life. But when Christine lifted her hand to him and pulled him to the bed, he felt nothing but exhaustion and comfort. In moments the three were settled on the extra wide bunk and quickly overtaken by sleep.

* * *

At some point several hours later James Kirk awoke with a start. He opened his eyes and found himself staring into a woman's blue eyes. He did not immediately make a sound, but lay very still and stared at her.

He began to remember. He had tried for hours to sleep but couldn't. Finally pacing the floor he had gotten a call from Christine and was summoned here.

The surreal scene replayed itself. She was exhausted from crying, her eyes swollen and red. She had welcomed him. No, beckoned him to lie down, saying she knew that he couldn't sleep. Then there was warmth and darkness and sleep.

He opened his mouth to speak but she shook her head quickly and gestured with her chin to the chair at the end of the bed. Spock sat in a comfortable lotus, his eyes closed and his face serene. He recognized Spock's position of meditation.

It struck him as odd. Here he was lying in bed with Christine Chapel. A lovely woman for sure, but one he had never considered as a partner. He was staring in wonder at Spock, his new lover. A man he had never considered as a partner. Indeed he had never considered any of his command staff. It was just bad military etiquette. Although the fraternization laws had died out over a hundred years earlier, it certainly wasn't looked on favorably.

Spock did look wonderful, though. In ways that Jim had not truly realized until a few days ago.

Then he turned his eyes back to Christine.

He was impossibly uncomfortable in her presence. But she looked at him with such compassion. It wasn't caring or love that he saw, just understanding. She felt badly for him that he was stuck in this position, that they were both stuck in this position.

She was a helluva lot more understanding than he would have been. Especially now that he knew what it was to love the Vulcan.

And he did love Spock. He had always felt the love of a brother or a friend. A love that just couldn't be described in any human terms. But now that he knew what it was to feel the heat and the passion of Spock, now that he had felt his fevered mind cry out his own name, he knew he loved him. In fact he felt as if he finally knew what love really was.

He closed his eyes against the sight of her compassion. He didn't want to see it anymore. He wanted to leave.

He rose silently and because he was still fully dressed he simply pressed his finger to his lips to signal quiet and moved to the door.

But when he reached the door nothing happened.

He lifted his hand and touched it but there was no response. He turned a suspicious look to Christine where she now sat on the bed but she looked as bemused as he felt. He looked pointedly at Spock, still deep in meditation. His eyes narrowed as he gave Christine a significant look. Her eyes widened in disbelief and she shook her head slightly.

He pressed his lips together and made a decision, "Computer. Open the doors to Christine Chapel's quarters."

"Unable to comply," came the response.

Spock stirred and opened his eyes.

Kirk spoke again, "Computer, why are the doors unable to be opened?"

"A medical seal is in place."

Christine was already moving to the comm unit. Had she been Vulcan she would have crushed the call button as she slammed an angry fist into. "Dr. Chapel to Dr. McCoy!"

The comm did not respond.

Spock was at her elbow reaching forward to the panel coaxing out a diagnostic.

Instead a medical report came up and the door to her replicator hissed open revealing a medical scanner and a pre recorded message chit. Jim picked it up and slid it into the computer.

No one was surprised to see Dr. McCoy's face fill the monitor. His expression was strained, "Christine, before you and your guests start to work on jimmying the door open, read the med report. I've sent a bio scanner as well so you can check for yourself. Scotty's taken command and we're headed to Vulcan at top speed. But it's going to be at least four days. I'll monitor you as necessary, but if any of you try to leave, I'll flood the cabin with Ambinex and put you all in stasis. Of course, if we can get your symptoms under control, you'll be free to leave. But I can't treat you and I can't let you hurt anyone. I don't want to put you into stasis because ... well, I don't want to make things any worse than I already have. Read the report. Chris, I'm sorry. Jim, Spock. I -- I'm sorry but this is the way it has to be."

The screen went blank.

Jim spoke first angrily pacing away. "What the hell does that mean?! Damnit, Bones, let me out of here!" He took a juvenile swing at the door.

Spock's attention was on Jim, but Christine was reading the bio report that now occupied the monitor.

She didn't understand. She felt fine.

Jim was justifiably indignant, Spock was mildly concerned. What was McCoy talking about?

She read the report again and exhaled angrily. She turned to retrieve the bioscanner but Spock was there and was already handing it to her. His expression was grim and it was plain to see that he already knew what she would find.

"Jim, come here," she called him, activating the scanner. It warbled annoyingly in the silence. She passed it over the Captain once, read the display, cleared the display and passed it again over him. She clenched her jaw.

Spock watched as the vein on her temple raised subtlety.

"Spock." It was a command to present himself for scan, but it sounded more like an exasperated bark. He stood impassively, but even as the tricorder sought answers to the unspoken question, he was assessing his own condition.

She scanned him twice as she had scanned Jim, but this time she compared her readings to the report on the monitor before her.

Then she actually growled as she sighed. She read the report for a long time, drew in a breath as if she were going to speak, then ran the tricorder over herself.

"What?" Jim was bemused. He looked to Spock for an answer, but the Vulcan was waiting for Christine to finish. "What? What is it? What the hell is going on?" Jim had no patience for this, but Christine wouldn't be rushed.

She read the tricorder. She didn't need to do another scan. She knew what it would say.

"Spock?" Jim asked again, suddenly unsure how to address Christine he simply looked at her, "What is it, what did you find?"

She only stared at the display, the vein on her temple now pulsing angrily.

"Damnit I want an answer! What is--"

She flung the tricorder across the room at him and shouted, "It's not over! God damn it. It's not over!!"

"What's not--" Jim began dumbly but he stopped when he saw the look in Spock's eyes.

Comprehension washed over him. He staggered back and came to rest on the corner of the bed, "Oh god."

Spock only closed his eyes anguished.

Christine sprung up and paced as far from them as her tiny cabin would allow.

"Your goddamned biology has us stuck in here!" she shouted pointedly at Spock.

"I don't believe it -- I don't feel anything." Jim shook his head in disbelief.

Christine flung herself at the door of the cabin screaming, "I want out of here! Damn you, Leonard! Let me out of here! Don't make me do this!!"

Spock moved to her, but she flinched away and her action made him stop. He had violated her trust once again.

He had destroyed everything. Not by design, but that was of no consequence. He couldn't even say it hadn't been his own choice, because he had made the decision that brought them to his point.

He looked at Jim sitting helplessly in the sleeping alcove.

What could he say to him?

What could he do to take away Christine's pain?

Her emotions were flying wildly through his mind as she pounded on the door to her cabin, sobbing incoherently now.

Spock moved to her once again, gently slowly and reached out to her. This time she fell into his arms and Spock reeled at the depth of her grief. "Christine," was all he could say.

Jim looked distinctly lost.

After only a moment's hesitation Jim rose quickly and moved to the door that led to the bathroom, his intention to give the two some semblance of privacy. But before he reached the door Christine heard his movement or perhaps his thoughts through their newly formed bond.

She lifted her tear-streaked face from Spock's shoulder and yelped out, "No, don't go!" and she moved to where he had stopped, still facing the door.

She grabbed him as if he were her savior and clung to him desperately. Spock's expression of helplessness deepened to painful suffering.

"No, Jim. Don't go. Please don't go. You can't go away," she whispered into his ear. The human instinctively held her, pulling her head to his shoulder protectively.

For a moment there was only the sound of their breathing and an occasional catch in Christine's breath as the sobs subsided once again.

Then she pulled away from Jim and moved into the sleeping chamber of her room to the furthest corner from them once again. Her eyes lowered and her tone suddenly timid. "It's not you, Jim. It's not even Spock. Well, not just Spock." She drew in a shuddering breath. "The scan shows that I'm still -- I'm still--" She lifted her eyes to Spock helplessly.

He tilted his head to the side sadly and completed her sentence painfully. "--still burning with the fever."

Jim looked from Spock to Christine. "I understand that, Christine." He added her name with only a minor hesitation. He almost never called her by her first name. "That's why I--"

"No!" she choked. "You don't understand. It's me but it's us." She stared at a point on the bed, unwilling to look into his eyes. Unwilling to believe that her body was beginning to ache. She could almost smell the masculine scent of the captain. Her brow furrowed angrily at the sensation. She forced her eyes up to meet his glowing hazel eyes. "Do you understand?"

"No, I don't. Explain." When she didn't speak, he turned to Spock. "Spock?"

"The pon farr is a mating instinct, Jim," Spock answered as if it were enough.

"A mating instinct. Yes, Spock I know that." He felt his face flush red as his body was beginning to heat up with the memory of how well he knew.

"It is a mating instinct between bonded mates, Jim," Christine answered sadly. "Bonded. Like Spock and I. And now you and Spock. Why do you think the challenge is to the death, Jim? To prevent something like this. If you are bonded and you don't find the release in pon farr, you die."

"But you didn't. McCoy--"

"--slowed the inevitable, Jim," Spock ended for him.

"No!" Jim answered. "No! I won't allow it. I never wanted that. Christine! You have to believe me. I won't challenge you. I'll do whatever I have to, but I won't do that to you." He turned to Spock. "To either of you."

Christine sighed. How could he be such a brilliant captain and miss such rudimentary things, she wondered. "No, Jim. You don't understand."

Then she pulled up on the hem of her nightdress and hefted it over her head. "Come here and let me explain." She let the garment slip from her fingers and tried to calm the trembling as she effected a seductive pose.

Jim couldn't tear his eyes from the sight of her body. Tall, strong and beautifully feminine in nothing but soft pink panties.

He parted his lips slightly and locked his gaze to her deep blue eyes. He could almost feel her smooth skin. Could almost taste her sweet lips.

He heard a sound next to him and remembered where he was. He was standing in Christine Chapel's quarters, with Spock. He was just lusting for this man's mate. He turned to look at Spock, but his friend only had eyes for Christine.

He was moving dumbly towards her as if drawn to some siren song.

Jim could feel the thrumming of it in his own mind, but he fought it, unwilling to hurt the man he loved so much with such an indiscretion.

"Jim," she beckoned softly.

This time when he turned to face her, he was lost.

She moved towards them both, coming to stand between them. But she turned to face Jim.

She lifted a hand to his cheek as she had only a few hours earlier. "Yield to the logic of this," she whispered and a tear rolled down her cheek. Her eyes were filled with haunting combination of sadness and desire. She was not defeated by the biology that was quickly drowning them nor was she particularly pleased by it.

She leaned slowly in to him as Spock's hands came to rest on her shoulders. Jim watched in wonder as his friend's face transformed as it had on the shuttle. The control and composure melted away and he let himself be caught up in the sensations of the moment.

Christine was still moving towards him and as her lips brushed his own he heard a gasp from Spock. Jim's heart clenched in fear until he saw that the Vulcan's eyes were on them but there was no anger, no menace. He was enthralled with vision of them.

Jim's thoughts were quickly distracted by Christine's insistent mouth. She kissed him with tenderness but it was quickly growing more passionate. Her hands rose hesitantly to his arms, uncertain how to touch this new lover. He stiffened for a fraction of a second then melted into her, his arms rising of their own volition to pull her smooth body to him.

Spock ran his hands down Christine's arms and up once again to her short dark hair. She tilted her head back and gasped as he brushed seductively over the psi points on her temples.

In that moment Jim began to feel something too. It was a burning in the pit of his belly. It made him want to gasp, but he controlled the reflex and tried again to move away from the pair. Spock was too fast. His left hand moved briskly to the psi points on Jim's face and with the barest of efforts opened their new bond to it's fullest.

Christine gasped at the sensation of Jim in her mind. It was as if the lights in the room suddenly brightened. Heat spread through her limbs and her knees felt weak. She grabbed Jim hungrily, now unable to control the desire to kiss him. She wanted to consume him, wanted to taste the sweetness of his mouth, his neck his hands.

Spock moaned behind her as he felt Christine lean into Jim, his eyes flashed open needing to see them. He was as hungry as Christine was. His hands slid into their hair and he gripped them painfully. The pair mashed their mouths together as impossibly erotic thoughts flew through him with increasing frenzy.

Then unable to simply watch them, Spock descended on Christine. She wrenched her mouth from Jim's and met Spock's with a hungry gasp. Now he was pulling her in to him. Jim was there, too, opening his embrace to encompass Spock as well. It was intoxicating, the taste of Jim's mouth on Christine's lips. Spock's mind reeled at the sensation even as it flew between the two humans.

Jim kissed down Christine's neck and his fingers laced into her short hair, finding Spock's fingers there. His other hand ran down his friend's back and pulled him insistently forward. They were a tangle of hungry mouths and roaming hands.

Then Christine wrenched herself from them and stepped back slowly. She moved seductively to the bedchamber, watching them stare at her as she moved. It would not always be this way, she knew. But in this moment they were hers and she was all that they wanted.

Spock and Jim stood still, arms still intertwined, mesmerized by her. She moved cat like over the bed on hands and knees and then sat in the center slowly. "Okay, boys, time for bed," she whispered huskily.

They needed no more encouragement. They moved as one into the small area, Spock moved to the left, Jim to the right of the bed each man peeling off sleeping garments as they moved.

It only took a moment for them to find their way back to her. Spock kissed her lightly, then Jim as they lowered her to the bed. She gasped as they took turns kissing her mouth and then kissing her breasts. Jim's mouth was soft and sweet, like honey. Spock's was hot and fiery with a cinnamon coppery taste. When they each took a nipple in their mouths, she cried out at the double sensation.

Jim rose up and kissed her mouth again, tracing slow seductive path over her lips as she parted her lips and felt his tongue dart over hers. Spock kissed a hot slow trail down her belly and circled her navel. His hand easily found the mound of hot damp curls and the slick wetness that signaled her readiness. His fingers slid slowly over her fevered flesh and she moaned against Jim's mouth. Jim's left hand teased her taut nipples and she writhed against the pair, clutching desperately to the sheets of the bed.

Fever spread through her and with each increasingly erotic sensation, she seemed to get hotter. She needed release. Spock's fingers slipped easily over the hard nub that brought so much pleasure and she bucked against his hand, now grabbing them each by the back of their heads.

"Oh, god, I need you now!" she cried. Neither knew who she spoke to, but it did not matter. Spock lowered his head to kiss her in the very center of her being, to taste her. Jim's hand was there as well, now teasing and rubbing her clitoris. Spock's tongue darted between Jim's fingers as he tasted her sweet wetness and she writhed against him. Spock could hear her muffled cry and knew that it was Jim's mouth that covered hers.

Spock lifted his head for a moment and saw them, truly saw them together. His wife and his lover. A sight that would have been incomprehensible only a week ago now seemed so natural to him. The pair, sensing his wonder, stopped their frantic kissing and looked at him. He moved up Christine's body with practiced ease, positioning himself between her thighs. As he slipped into her, he reached out to Jim and kissed him. Jim gasped at the dual sensation of the taste of Christine on Spock's lips and the feeling that Spock sent them both of finally slipping into her cool wetness.

Christine was lost now. She threw her head back, crying out as the first orgasm shook her. It was too much to take in. All the sensations, Jim and Spock here with her, around her, in her. It was too much. And yet in the instant that the sensation crashed over her, she also knew it was not enough. The fever would not be quenched so easily.

Rocking her hips against Spock, watching the two of them kissing so fervently she wanted more. So much more.

She gasped and growled and moaned and threw back her head as another wave rose up. It was Spock. She could feel it as if it was her own body, and yet she knew it was Spock. His pace quickened as he thrust mercilessly into her then stiffened as his own climax shook him. Christine closed her eyes against the vision of Spock moaning into Jim's mouth. He shuddered and sagged against her, but the fire was not quenched.

Christine shook her head against the heady hormones that rushed through her. She clawed Spock frantically, but he was momentarily spent.

She pushed him away, rolling hungrily onto Jim. She straddled his belly and squeezed her thighs against him. Leaning forward she raked her mouth over Jim's, clutching painfully onto his shoulders. Jim's hands slid over her inflamed skin, her thighs, her waist. She rose up to allow him entrance and was frustrated to find he did not have the muscular control of her Vulcan husband. Her mouth pressed painfully against his, her tongue forcing into his mouth. With a quick movement of one hand, Christine guided his aching member into her fevered center. She sat firmly on him, arching her back and grinding into him. Her fingers gripping so hard on his shoulders, she was certain she could draw blood if she wished.

And a dark angry part of her mind did want to hurt him. Even as she let the waves of pleasure wash over her, she sensed every difference in him. His skin was damp and salty, smooth and soft like her own. His mouth was cool and wet, hands too smooth, eyes too bright, even the very veins on his shaft were wrong. He felt so good in her and around her and yet it felt so wrong. This is not the way it was supposed to be.

Angry tears streamed down her face. She felt his regret echoed in her mind, but she could not stop herself from bucking against him again and again. A sad moaning sob escaped her lips and when the men heard her whisper Jim's name, they felt the stab of guilt and pain that accompanied it. A third shuddering climactic rush hit her.

Jim's body responded to her as if possessed. He too stiffened and moaned. He clutched her hips firmly as he thrust up into her twice, three times more then collapsed back against the mattress.

Spock caught Christine as she sagged against Jim and was already pulling her to him.

Christine felt the world spinning around her, knew it was exhaustion and stress catching up with her. "Oh, Spock." She let him pull her into a protective embrace. Jim rolled slowly to his side behind her and laid a gentle hand on her trembling shoulder.

"Christine," Jim whispered gently. "It's alright. It'll be alright." He leaned in and hugged her back, resting his hand diplomatically on her arm but not touching Spock.

Spock looked deeply into her eyes. The blue was rimmed with red. Tears streamed slowly down her fiery cheeks.

The heat was already rising in her. She tried to look away from him to hide the shameful feelings that were welling up in her. The grief that had ebbed now resurfaced, her anger and betrayal grew. Anger with the biology that wracked her body, betrayal of her vows to Spock. It did not matter that he was here, it did not matter that he consented. She was fundamentally conflicted about it. Try as she might to give herself over to the physical, her heart still wept.

"Christine." Spock lifted her chin tenderly and she saw that his eyes too were brimming with unshed tears. "Beloved, do not grieve. I cannot bear to see thee suffer so." He spoke softly in Vulcan. He pressed his lips to her burning brow. She shuddered with desire at his touch.

His deep baritone echoed in her mind, "The blood fever begins, Beloved. Do not grieve. I promise you all will be well."

She tried to answer but the words caught in her throat. She could only nod unsteadily.

She remembered this sensation too well. This was the madness that had signaled her loss of consciousness in sickbay. She recognized it and it scared the hell out of her.

Jim's heart beat insistently against her back. His breath was heavy in her hair. It was impossibly erotic and she wrestled away the self-loathing.

Spock ran his fingers through her hair, coming to rest on the psi points on her temples.

The link that he had opened seemed to hum now. It throbbed with her heartbeat.

Christine lifted her left leg and pulled Spock closer, felt the stiffness of his arousal against her thigh. She arched her back pressing closer into him.

Jim's hands now ran down her arm, strengthening her pull on the Vulcan.

Spock's mouth descended on hers as a sound she had never heard escaped her lips. It was the sound of an animal in heat. She ached to feel him. He responded as any summoned mate would.

He tilted his hips slightly and slipped into her once again with an incredible sensation of falling into a deep pool on a summer day. This was his mate, his life partner, his wife. He marveled at her body and how it clung to his like his own skin, fitting every curve, matching every movement.

Jim kissed Christine's neck possessively spooning his body to hers. His now stiff member slipping easily into the space between her legs. He rubbed slowly and erotically against her skin, brushing lightly against Spock's as well. It was impossible to say where one left off and the other began. Jim ran his hand down Christine's body, cupping her breast gently, teasing a nipple. Christine arched her head back in sublime pleasure and was rewarded with Spock's mouth now on the breast that Jim held. She cried out again, certain that another climax was near. But in the beginning the plak tow held no such promise. It required much more to find even a smallest measure of relief.

Jim's hand slid lower still until he cupped the mound of curls that surrounded her very center. His fingers worked gently but insistently on the swollen nub at the cleft of her fiery flesh. Spock continued to thrust into her, now raking her throat with fervent kisses. Christine could only clutch wildly at the two men. Jim's fingers slid lower still, matching his lover's rhythm as the Vulcan slid slowly between his fingers into the woman who now consumed them both. He matched his pace to Spock's as he slid his rigid member deliberately against Christine's soft buttocks.

Unable to bear the light pressure any longer, Jim's slick fingers found their way to his own aching shaft. He gripped firmly and slid in and out of his own grip in time with Spock's thrusting.

'More.'

It was the cry of the plak tow and no one could say whose mind formed the thought.

It was a painful cry of a consuming biology. 'More, dear God, I need more.' Christine was lost in a delirium of sensation. She felt Spock and Jim in her mind begging for something to end the pain of their need. She felt her own body crying out as well and she did not know if it was from too much or from not enough.

A foreign sensation brought her attention sharply into focus. A slick wet finger was slipping slowly into a small circle of tight muscles had never been breached. A sharp burning sensation traveled up her body and, as she cried out, she did not know if it was pain or pleasure.

But as Spock's moaning mouth covered hers, she was certain it was both. In slow cadence the men slipped in and out of her. She could not think. There was only the sensation of her body and the colors of the world spinning out of control.

She couldn't breath, she was crying.

Deeper Jim's finger slipped into her and to her dismay she found her body aching for more. She began to writhe against his hand instead of Spock's body.

A long moment later his finger slipped out of her and she felt both relief and disappointment.

'More - more - more' the cry pounded out a rhythm in her head. The pressure was too much. Her vision narrowed to a tunnel.

Now she felt soft hard pressure against her tight sphincter. He was slick with desire, the wetness of their collective lovemaking easing the way.

Panic now rose up from the pit of her belly. 'No!' her mind cried out. No, she did not want this. She could not imagine how she had enjoyed it a moment ago, she did not understand how her body could betray her heart and her vows so. She did not want this.

She relaxed the muscles that had never been violated in this way and despite her protesting mind arched her back to allow him entrance.

Christine shrieked as if possessed by some sexual demon, her hand flew up and clutched Jim's head to her as she frantically tried to kiss him.

Jim's body too was wracked with sensation, he trembled with need as he bowed his body and clutched her desperately. He moved slowly, tenderly into her with slow shallow strokes, his ragged breath belying the effort to control his body. Each slow stroke slipped deeper into her until he was fully sheathed in the impossibly tight recesses of her body. The scent of her hair, the sound of her voice, the sensation of her all around him was intoxicating. He was drowning in Christine.

Spock moved frantically into her, lost now in the blood fever. His hand met Jim's and Christine's and somehow their fingers laced together as their bodies twined round one another.

Christine began to rock slowly between the two men. The sensation of being so completely full was overwhelming, her body was at its limit and her mind was lost in a sea of mating fever. Jim's voice suddenly rose with hers and she heard Spock's as well.

They were falling, rushing into white-hot fire. They reached a point beyond the pain of their bodies or even their hearts, a place where even pleasure had no meaning.

The bond that Spock had created with Christine, the one that he had newly forged with Jim broke open and flew apart and coalesced into something new.

As they each fell into the blessed blackness of the blood fever they held tightly to this new bond and to one another.

* * *

A dull pain in her throat finally roused Christine. She felt thirsty.

As she tried to open her eyes she became painfully aware of the fact that she had been unconscious for some time. Every inch of her body hurt, she was cold, thirsty and she had to pee.

Try as she might she couldn't lift herself up. The effort of opening her eyes made her tremble. She sucked in her breath painfully.

A movement on her left drew her attention. Spock rose from the bed, painfully, slowly. He turned to face her, his face exhausted but determined.

Wordlessly he helped her up to a sitting position. She swayed and almost fell onto an unconscious Jim, but Spock caught her in time.

He hefted her unsteadily into his arms and walked slowly to the door to the bathroom.

She couldn't focus on the blur of pink and black and blue in the mirror. Spock deposited her on the seat of the toilet. She felt the relief of one who has not peed in days. The telltale pain alerted the doctor in her that she likely had a bladder infection.

She swayed and wobbled and almost fell off the seat. Spock helped her to a standing position and she clutched the wall while Spock too made use of the facilities.

A stab of bitter humor shot through her that after all the years they spent together, these were the circumstances in which they had used the bathroom together for the first time.

Spock caught her before she collapsed and carried her back to the bed where Jim already sat shaking his head in disbelief.

Christine rolled limply out of Spock's arms and onto her back.

Jim's shoulders and back were marred with ugly bruises and scratches. His neck was lined with love bites. There were apparent teeth marks on his ear.

The sound of her replicator pulled her attention back to Spock. He had keyed up three glasses of a pink liquid. He brought two glasses to the bed willing his hands into steadiness.

Jim took one glass with a look of relief, but Christine could not. Spock sat gingerly on the edge of the bed and lifted her softly to help her drink. She could see the dark circles under his eyes, his mouth swollen. A small cut on his lower lip had a dark green line indicating it had bled recently. His neck too was marked with round love bites. Deep green lines crisscrossed his chest.

She sipped a bit of the juice. The cool liquid extinguished the fire in her throat.

The door buzzer sounded. A courtesy to the occupants, not a request to enter. After a moment the door slid open and blinding light streamed in from the outside hall. It was then that Christine realized the lights were at their lowest setting.

McCoy entered alone, moving to beyond the door sensors. The doors closed with a swish. For a moment no one acknowledged his presence.

Jim swallowed the contents of his glass and rose slowly. "Computer," he said with his amazingly calm command voice, "Lights to one third."

The room brightened. Spock did not release Christine, but continued to focus single mindedly on helping her drink the juice.

McCoy moved cautiously to the sleeping chamber and was intercepted by the nude captain.

Their eyes met but neither spoke. McCoy raised his tricorder and scanned Jim. The warbling sound was oddly comforting to Christine. This was real. It was over.

The doctor pulled out a hypo, snapped a couple of cartridges into it and pressed it against Kirk's neck.

Jim responded with a grateful pat on the doctor's arm and retreating hastily to the bathroom.

The doctor moved toward the bed, noting the untouched glass in the still open replicator. He took the glass to Spock and offered it to the Vulcan, but Spock would not lift his eyes from Christine.

She barely moved in his arms.

McCoy tilted his head sadly to one side and placed the glass on the bed stand near Spock. "She'll be alright, Spock. She just needs some medical attention." He raised the tricorder and scanned her. No broken bones, but plenty of bruises and minor contusions. He loaded a hypo for Christine and pressed it to her arm. The painkiller was the first to kick in, but the vitamins quickly followed. She drew in a shuddering breath of relief.

McCoy scanned Spock as well and to his profound relief the Vulcan did not protest the third hypo for him.

Jim returned to the bedchamber with a warm damp cloth for Christine's face. He patted it softly against her face, wiping her eyes and cheeks. The sensation was painfully sweet.

McCoy spoke again, "Let's get the three of you to sickbay."

Jim and Spock spoke as one, "No."

"No? What do you mean 'No'? Christine needs medical attention, so do you two."

"No, Doctor. You will not parade my wife through the corridors of this ship. She has suffered enough, you will not add humiliation to her ordeal." Spock's words were icy and uncompromising.

Jim rose from the bed and deposited the damp cloth on the counter. He tried to be more diplomatic, but he too was unyielding. "Bones, we'll be alright. You can treat her here and we will take care of her, at least until she is well enough to send us away." The last was for Christine's benefit. Jim could still feel her lingering uncertainty. His gaze came to rest on Spock's and he willed his friend to understand.

Leonard shook his head. "I don't think that's a good idea. Jim, we're coming in to Vulcan. You and Spock are hardly in any condition to help Christine, let alone decide what's going to happen. In case you've forgotten, you're the captain and First Officer of this ship. Starfleet's pretty damn curious why we've suddenly diverted to Vulcan. I don't know that you're ready to explain to anyone, hell, I'm not even sure myself."

Spock's eyes burned into Leonard's, "Attend to Christine's needs here as best you can and we will take care of all that remains." He would not budge in this.

Christine lifted a weary hand. "Spock, it's alright, it's okay." She patted his shoulder reassuringly. "Leonard, tell me what's wrong with me."

He held up the tricorder and after a couple of hard blinks, she focused on the small writing noting the injuries.

"Thanks, Len." She smiled weakly. "Spock's right, they can take care of me just fine. Just leave the meds on the table." She waved at the console table to Leonard's left.

"Chris, I don't feel good about this. I want you where I can keep an eye on you," he answered in a fatherly tone.

"Please, Len. We need some time." Her eyes welled up. "I need some time."

Spock pulled the coverlet up over her with his free hand and glared protectively at the doctor. She smiled sadly, "Besides you know how pon farr always brings out the Alpha male instincts."

McCoy looked helplessly from Christine to Jim to Spock. He sighed angrily and whipped out another pair of hypos.

As he did, Jim spoke. "Bones, how long until we reach Vulcan?"

McCoy shook his head, "I dunno, an hour or so."

Jim nodded his head in response.

McCoy placed the hypos in Jim's hand angrily ordering him. "You make sure Spock gets some fluids immediately. I'll be back with some equipment to work on his back and your arms. Christine needs some nutrients and some old fashioned sleep. You all do." He turned to the door. "I'll be back in 15 minutes, you better have eaten something by the time I get back or I'll call security and you'll all go to sickbay!" The door opened and closed with a pair of quick hisses.

The juice was quickly working it's magic. Christine's mind was clearing as her blood sugar rose. "Jim, bring me the hypo of Xythromyacin."

Jim looked uncertainly over the vials and scooped them all up.

She leaned forward and after a moment sat up on her own. Spock did not move or release her.

She smiled tenderly at him and brought a shaking hand to his cheek. "My love, you must drink that juice." Spock only stared at her. "Drink it or Leonard will pull us all out of here." He moved only as far as he needed to reach the glass and downed its contents, untasting, in three greedy gulps.

Christine took the hypos from Jim and looked them over, swaying unsteadily. Jim placed a gentle hand on her shoulder. She looked up at him and for a moment he tried to look away. She raised a hand to his cheek.

"Thank you, Jim," she said. Her words, so simple, carried so much meaning. He felt her intent through their new bond and it warmed his heart.

With Jim's help she loaded the hypo with the antibiotic. She dosed herself and Jim then switched the cartridges and Jim pressed the hypo against Spock's arm.

She needed a cup of coffee, she thought, and was pleasantly surprised to see three steaming cups appear in the replicator. Spock brought them to the bed for Jim and Christine. Black coffee for Christine, sugar for Jim, and spicy chai for Spock. The men helped her prop up against the headboard.

Spock keyed some simple music. Jim ordered some food. In moments they were sitting in a small circle on the bed nibbling with little appetite on toast and sipping from their hot cups.

McCoy returned with a large medikit. The trio did not look up from their thoughts. McCoy's exasperated mutterings and heavy sighs seemed strangely out of place, as if he disturbed the silence.

He passed the dermal regenerator over Christine's injuries first. She watched with a doctor's impassiveness as the marks melted away and the broken skin reformed. He worked over her arms, her chest and down her belly. When he came to her hips, he swallowed hard and spoke, "You'll have to lie down now, Chris."

Oddly enough, she felt embarrassed at the thought but she moved down spreading her knees to allow him access to the parts of her body that were most damaged. She couldn't watch anymore and she turned her face away only to find Jim's understanding eyes there for her. He too had been through this very treatment only a few days before. In a moment it would be his turn. He understood.

He took her hand gently and smiled. The burning and aching slowly subsided, but her face was still flushed with shame. She didn't want to look at Spock.

The doctor turned off the regenerator and scanned Christine with his tricorder.

She rose up, "Well?"

"Well, you're not fully recovered, but with some rest and some time you'll be fine." He turned to Jim. "Captain?" he gestured to the space on the bed.

"Bones, I'm fine." Jim waved his hands in mild protest.

"Don't make me call security, Jim," the doctor warned.

Christine rolled onto her side and Spock moved to help her up.

"Just where do you think you're going, young lady?" McCoy barked.

"Shower, Len. Don't make me lie here like this. I'm feeling much better and I need a shower."

McCoy did not stop her, he only harumphed and turned back to Jim.

Spock wordlessly escorted her to the bathroom, supporting her at her elbow. Once inside the shower stall, she stopped him. "No, Spock. Go back inside. Let Leonard help you too." He did not move. "Please, Spock."

"You are not recovered, Christine. You could fall."

"And you are in need of medical attention, my love." She raised a hand to her temple and tapped significantly. "Please, your body's aches and pains giving me a headache. I'll be fine, I promise."

He nodded acknowledging her wisdom. "I shall return momentarily."

"I know," she answered and closed the door to the shower.

On unsteady legs she keyed up the shower, hitting the setting that had been a compromise of hers for Spock. It was hot, but not scalding, for Spock it did not chill. She spread thick almond scented shampoo through her hair. The bubbles slid down her back. The newly repaired skin tingled not quite painfully. Her soap was mint scented and it cut through the sticky smell of three days of sex. She tried not to think too much of all that she washed away. She noted numbly that there appeared to be some blood caked on her thigh. She did not trace its course backward but scrubbed it roughly away. A stream of shampoo slid down into her eye stinging it. The water pressed hard on her face as she rinsed it away.

The door opened again, Spock returned. Through the frosted shower glass she could see that the black marks on his neck were gone. The door opened and he stepped in. She looked at him through the steam. His eyes were lined with dark circles of exhaustion, his brow furrowed in uncertainty.

She didn't know what to say.

"Where's Jim?" she asked stepping aside and allowing him to duck his head under the hot spray of water.

"The doctor is still speaking with him," Spock answered simply. He efficiently lathered the soap and spread it over his body. He did not meet her gaze. He was mentally shielding.

She reached out and touched his shoulder lightly and said, "I'm getting out now."

He nodded his acknowledgment and ducked his whole face into the water.

She dried quickly and wrapped the towel around her body then re entered her quarters.

Jim sat on the edge of the bed the sheet pulled over his lap, his head down in apparent defeat. McCoy sat with friendly concern on the bed as well. They stopped speaking when she entered the room.

She moved to the closet and pulled out a comfortable outfit of soft black trousers and a simple green shirt. Her back turned to the two men, she reached into her drawer and found underwear. She wondered briefly where the shredded remains of her pink panties now sat. On the floor at Leonard's feet? Her cheeks flushed again in embarrassment.

The two men spoke in hushed tones as she dressed.

She reached into the closet again and retrieved an outfit for Spock. He always kept at least one in her quarters. It was charcoal colored and soft. She paused. What would Jim wear? He couldn't exactly wander the halls in his pajamas. She pulled Spock's duty uniform from the closet as well.

She moved to the two men who stopped speaking once again.

With an air of authority she spoke, "To the shower, Jim."

He seemed uncertain. Spock was in there. He knew what she had felt a few days ago, but today her feelings were much more controlled. He didn't want to hurt her any more. Not while he had some control.

Leonard rose from the bed. "Well, I'd better be going. You let me know what you're going to do," he said to Jim. As he moved to leave he placed a comforting hand on Christine's shoulder, "If you need me just call."

She nodded sadly.

Jim rose from the bed too. She cocked an eyebrow and tilted her head as if challenging him to protest. "Alright, alright." He smiled uncertainly and moved to the bathroom.

Christine rooted through her drawer and found two pair of men's underwear, one Starfleet issue, the other a sweet pair of black silk boxers. Well, it was this or her satin panties, she thought wryly. She gathered up the men's clothing, screwed up some courage and entered the steamy bathroom.

Spock stood on the mat in front of the stall, Jim appeared to be lathering his hair beyond the frosted shower stall glass.

Spock stood staring blankly at his dripping reflection in the mirror.

She paused, watching him, then placed the armful of clothing on the counter and picked up a towel from the hook. She moved tentatively forward and wrapped him in the giant terry sheet.

The contact broke whatever spell he was under and he blinked a few times. He looked at her now with raw grief and it broke her heart. "What have I done?" he whispered. She drew him into her arms, his head resting on her shoulder.

She smoothed his hair tenderly and kissed his temple, holding him in a loving embrace.

He did not weep, tears did not stream down his cheeks, but she felt his sorrow nonetheless.

In the shower stall Jim paused, then hastily rinsed the last of the soap and shampoo away.

Spock lifted his head from her shoulder and looked into her eyes. "I beg forgiveness, beloved."

The door to the shower stall swung open and Jim stepped out with a mixture of confusion and concern.

Spock turned to face Jim. "I beg forgiveness, my friend."

Christine looked helplessly at Jim but did not release Spock. "No forgiveness is necessary, Love," she said. And it was true. Spock's eyes shone with wonder at her.

Jim spoke as well. "None is necessary where no offense is taken." He moved closer to his friend, raised a hand unthinking, to embrace him. He stopped mid hug as his eyes met Christine's over Spock's shoulder.

She only smiled at him and pulled the two men closer.

For a long time they held each other this way. Then with a gentle laugh from Jim and Christine they parted.

With awkward motions they each finished preparing themselves for the day. Christine keyed up a new toothbrush for Jim. Spock dressed efficiently and brushed his hair back into place. Christine finished her hair and found socks for each of them. Spock had boots in her closet, but Jim had no footwear. She pulled a pair of simple sand boots from the back of the closet. She was guessing, but they looked to be the right size. Jim slipped them on and while they were slightly narrower than he preferred they were quite acceptable. Ironic that they should wear the same size shoes.

Now fully dressed and mostly recovered, they made short work of the room. The sheets and bedclothes went into the laundry chute. The destroyed panties under the pillow disposed of. The two men set to making the bed with clean sheets and Christine keyed up more food.

They sat down in the anteroom, three plates of food before them. Christine had selected carefully shooting for favorites to tempt their appetites.

Eggs, potatoes and a thick sausage gravy for Jim, a hearty multigrain porridge with nuts and dried fruits for Spock and penne pasta with tomatoes and basil for Christine. She lifted a forkful of red stained pasta and caught Jim's questioning glance. "I'm not much of a breakfast gal," she answered with a sheepish smile.

He smiled in return and dug hungrily into his plate of gray glop.

Christine didn't watch.

Spock ate slowly, efficiently as always. He seemed to have regained a measure of his control.

They ate in companionable silence, strains of soft Celtic music now playing. It was very soothing.

The chrono on the wall indicated that enough time had passed that they should now be in orbit around Vulcan. Christine thought to ask the computer, but with a newfound certainty she knew they must have. The ship just felt different, as if it had slowed to impulse. She paused in wonder at this conviction. Knew it must be something that Jim brought to their relationship because she had not felt it with Spock alone.

She looked surreptitiously at Jim out of the corner of her eye. He was eating with abandon now.

She glanced carefully at Spock and his measured spoonfuls. She lifted her coffee to her lips and munched her pasta, musing. Jim Kirk, the epitome of the human male, his very name brought to mind the word machismo. Spock, the quiet alpha male, there was no question that he was the dominant force in this relationship. Even Jim's bravado bowed to Spock's quiet power. She speared a noodle and wondered at how it was that they worked so well together on the bridge. She concluded quickly that it was Spock's strict Vulcan control that yielded the command floor to Jim's often-foolhardy humanity. But he was always there for Jim, in all ways. Now more than ever.

What would the future hold? she wondered with a pang of fear. Jim looked up at her the instant her stomach knotted, his eyes reflecting his concern. Spock continued to eat. In that instant she realized that it would always be this way.

When it had been just Spock and Christine, her emotions had flared and for the most part she worked through them herself. Spock was not uncaring, but he did not coddle her either. He understood that balance came with control. But Jim was human like her. He felt the emotions in his gut and his very male self wanted to help her. He didn't know what to say but he still felt compelled to act.

She smiled slowly at him projecting reassurance with practiced ease.

They would have to learn to control their feelings. She could teach him a bit of the control she had learned from Spock, but it would take time.

He put his empty plate down on the table with a contented sigh.

Spock raised his eyes too, setting his empty bowl on Jim's plate and taking them to the replicator. Christine hastily shoveled the last few noodles into her mouth and followed Spock.

They moved back to the anteroom. Spock sat on the couch, Christine in a chair facing Jim across the table.

Jim spoke first. "We need to talk."

"Yes," Christine agreed.

Spock cocked his eyebrow and inclined his head inquiringly, "What is to discuss?"

The humans each blinked in disbelief.

Christine began, "What will we tell T'Lar?"

Jim continued, "What will we tell the crew?"

"The truth," Spock answered simply.

"The truth?!" they answered in union.

"What truth is that, Spock? That you accidentally got caught a couple light years from your wife when pon farr struck and you chose to mate with your Captain?" Jim answered bitterly.

"Or will we say that after a whirlwind romance the CMO, the Captain and the First Officer have decided to shack up together?" Christine added.

Spock furrowed his brow in displeasure. "While both statements would be essentially true, I hardly think it is necessary to disclose such ... detail."

Christine sighed heavily. "Well, then tell us what you had in mind."

"I propose that we beam down to the planet for the brief Kun ut Kalifee ceremony, register our change in marital status with Starfleet and return to our normal lives."

"Normal lives?" Jim asked in disbelief.

"Kun ut Kalifee?" Christine barked. "Spock, I don't think that's such a good idea."

Spock raised a hand in the air in each of their directions. It was more difficult than he expected to speak rationally to the two of them at the same time.

He turned to Jim first. "Jim our lives have changed, that much is certain. But our duty remains. We will have to settle our private affairs as they arise." He glanced at Christine significantly, "But we are members of the command crew of this ship. If we cannot remain in control of this ship because of this new relationship, then we should each consider leaving Starfleet now." He felt rather than heard their protests through their bond. He winced slightly at the sudden onslaught but did not narrow the mental contact.

He raised a hand again, stopping their verbal protests and turned to Christine reasonably, "The Kun ut Kalifee is the only marriage ceremony of my people, Christine. Due to the nature of our arrival, I am certain T'Lar will be expecting us. Have you checked your incoming messages yet? I believe you will find one from my parents as well. We must go."

"But Spock--" she began.

"There is a way." He reached out to Jim and took his hand. "I will claim Jim as my bond brother and unite our houses. As the ancestor of Surak, it is my right to bind my house to any other I choose." He took Christine's hand now as well. "Then we take you as bride to our house. You will be greatly honored to have two husbands." His eyes burned with certainty. There was no question. This was what he wished. This is what would happen.

She loved him so much, it was hard to question his judgment. She looked uncertainly to Jim.

He met her eyes with equal concern.

Spock released their hands with a mixture of disbelief and shock.

They sat in silence for a moment.

Jim and Christine continued to look uncertainly at one another.

"Is that what you want, Jim?" Christine asked.

Jim stammered, "I -- I don't know. It's all so fast."

She nodded understanding. "I know."

Jim struggled to find words. "I care for you, Christine. I truly do. But I love Spock."

"I understand. I do too. Look, Jim, I respect you, and care for you, but I'm sorry. I just don't love you," she finished sadly.

Spock was dumbfounded. How could they not feel what he felt? Why was this so difficult for them and so very natural for him?

"I understand," Jim answered sadly. "But is there any other way?"

Spock felt his frustration rising, he had decided. There were no other alternatives. What was there left to discuss?

Christine looked apprehensively in Spock's direction. "I don't know. After the two of you showed up in Sickbay…" She blushed at her instant memory of anger. "I don't see how we can deny your - attachment."

Jim nodded gravely. "And it's well known that you two have been betrothed for some time."

Christine smiled slightly at his acknowledgement. As awkward as this felt it was nice to know he understood.

She had a sudden thought. "Oh, god, the press."

Jim clapped a hand to his forehead. "You're right. We have to think of something."

Spock looked lost.

Christine explained shortly, "Spock, you and Jim are the most famous duo in history. If the story hasn't already leaked out, it will. I'd like to say everyone in Sickbay is above that sort of thing, but it only takes one."

Spock looked as if he didn't care and indeed he didn't. It was no one's business who he chose to live his life with.

Jim tapped his chin thoughtfully. "Spock, tell me more about this 'Bond Brother' relationship. What does it mean exactly?"

"It means that we are bonded, our families are joined."

Christine picked up on Jim's line of thought. "But in ancient times did it mean the same as a marriage?"

Spock's brows furrowed in frustration. "It is a uniquely Vulcan institution. It was a joining of resources. A bond brother might be landholder of a water source or an extremely prosperous animal herder."

"But it wasn't a marriage."

Spock sighed at the emphasis on the word. "In all legal terms it was what humans term a marriage."

Christine thought a moment. "It was a legal contract between families, but not an emotional commitment."

Jim lit up. "Because nothing Vulcan is motivated by emotions--"

"And everyone knows Vulcans only mate for procreative purposes," Christine added slyly.

"Spock, you've done it! That's the answer!"

"If you two become bond brothers, the rest of the world will just see it as a great honor. Like being accepted into a clan or tribe." Christine giggled suddenly "Jim Kirk, honorary Vulcan!"

"Then the Kun ut Kalifee translates into a marriage in Terran terms." He sat up suddenly and held himself in a model pose. "I'll be the 'best man'"

Christine was laughing out loud now, clutching her side. "The Best Man!!"

The Vulcan watched the exchange between the two humans in utter disbelief. A few moments ago it had not been a viable option for the two, now they not only agreed but seemed to have found great pleasure in mocking the proposal.

Spock rose indignantly, but the two humans grabbed his hands and pulled him down to the couch laughing and nestling in on each side of him.

"Oh, Spock, don't you see?" Jim smiled.

Christine wiped a tear from her eye trying to sober herself. "Oh love. It's alright. We're not making fun of you. We're laughing at them. At the rest of the universe and their stupid rules and mores." She kissed him sweetly on the cheek and spoke more sincerely, "You know I would never laugh at you."

Spock cocked an eyebrow playfully. He clearly forgave them their insensitivity. "Never?"

Jim, now smiling too, pecked Spock on the cheek as well and batted his eyelashes at the Vulcan. "She might not, but I will."

The two humans burst into hysterical laughter again. Spock looked skyward in mock exasperation.

* * *

In the end it was not as easy as they had supposed. Though the trio did manage to stay out of the limelight. Well, mostly out of the limelight.

They spent a short time on Vulcan after the ceremony. Enterprise resupplied and the crew didn't seem to care.

The media was not so easily distracted but neither were they scandalized. For many it had been a foregone conclusion that whatever relationship the men entered into it would eventually include one another as well.

Their biggest problem had been with Starfleet.

No fraternization rules to worry about, the trio had simply filed their change of status paperwork as required. On their return to Enterprise, they found that their three cabin allotment had been slashed to one. And one cabin was not big enough for three people.

After hours of subspace arguments with Admiral Nogura, he finally compromised and allowed two. It seemed fair at the time. But the logistics had proven … challenging.

"I don't get it. Why do I have to move?" she stood before the pair, hands on hips.

"We are only allowed two cabins. It seemed to make sense to take mine and Spock's since we share a bathroom."

"And where exactly do I put my things? Spock's quarters or yours?" she crossed her arms angrily.

Spock entered the room from the sleeping chamber where he had foolishly been attempting to meditate. "You will put them where you wish, Christine," he answered teasing her.

She only cut her eyes at him. "What I don't understand is why you accepted without talking to us."

"You mean talking to you."

"You're not being uprooted."

"No, but I am the Captain."

She groaned. "Oh, here we go again. Are you going to use your rank to win every argument we have?"

He smiled slyly. "I might, Commander."

Spock raised an eyebrow and nodded his head as if to warn her not to test him, but Christine was itching for a confrontation.

"You may be the captain, Captain. But I am still the CMO and that means I have rank too."

He rose from the couch threateningly and she uncrossed her arms, taking up a distinctly defensive posture. Without warning he charged at her, but she sensed his intent and dodged him easily spinning around to grasp him from behind. He wriggled partially free but she held tight to her partial Nelson grip. With a free hand he reached around and tickled her under her arm and she yelped loudly and tried to squirm out of reach. For a split second she was off balance and he flipped her easily over onto the floor and pinned her hands over her head with one hand. She squealed in gleeful dismay.

Spock shook his head and sighed, "I retract my offer. I believe it would be better for you to put your things in Jim's room." He turned to the door that led through the bathroom to his room and left the playful pair.

They continued to wrestle for quite a time, laughing and joking.

Finally Jim released her and rolled over onto the floor breathlessly. They lay there for a few moments catching their breath staring at the ceiling.

Christine turned to look at him. "That was fun."

He smiled his sunshine smile at her. "Yeah it was." And he propped himself up on an elbow. He tentatively reached forward and brushed her hair with his fingertips.

In the weeks since the fever, none had dared take the initiative towards their sexual partnership. Spock had spent much of his time in meditation, as he often did. Christine and Jim worked too much.

Today was supposed to be a duty shift for Christine, but upon receiving orders to move she had taken the day as 'on call' instead.

Jim ran his fingers through her hair, his eyes flashing intensely at her. They darted briefly at her mouth and then back again. She flicked her tongue unconsciously over her lower lip in response. He leaned in slowly until she could feel the heat of his breath on her lips, then soft and gentle the press of his lips.

It was a sweet kiss, not a fevered bruising thing from the plak tow. His lips moved gently over hers, then a little more firmly until she parted her lips in a soft sigh. His tongue slipped lightly over her lips and into her mouth. He had a delicious kiss.

Her hand found its way into his soft curly hair and she pulled him down on her. He pressed against her body and there was no fear, no anger. He leaned back and looked into her sky blue eyes. She was beautiful.

She brushed his cheek tenderly. She could not quite bring herself to say the words. It was too soon, it was still so new.

But she felt it, the beginnings of it anyway.

He smiled his most charming smile. "Actually I prefer to settle arguments this way."

She laughed and brushed his cheek affectionately. "I'll do my best to argue with you often."

He smiled and reluctantly got up, offered her a hand up from the floor.

"Well, I guess I'd better get busy," she sighed.

"Can I give you a hand?" Jim asked sincerely wanting to help.

She shook her head. "No, I really don't have much to move. Besides, Ny is coming by in about twenty minutes to help."

He grunted in disbelief.

"Well, sure, she wants to talk too. A lot has changed. Don't worry, I won't say anything you wouldn't tell Leonard."

He feigned shock. "Now I'm worried."

She batted his arm playfully. "I'd better go. Tell Spock I'll be in the mess hall around 1800 if you two want to join me for dinner."

"Will do."

She paused for a moment then without another thought leaned in and kissed him lightly, "Later, Jim."

"See you later, Christine," he answered and he watched her go out the door.

It was a beginning.



The End

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