DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of T'Kuht and is copyright (c) 2001 by T'Kuht.



A FINE ROMANCE

T'Kuht



Commander Spock considered hitting the Captain. It would guarantee him a week's worth of solitary confinement or to the brig. That was if the captain went by Starfleet regulations. But, knowing this captain as he did, he suspected it would only land him in sickbay with a certain CMO and a berating. Spock sighed and looked at the paper again. In crisp cream linen engraved stationary, it read:

"Commander Spock,

"You are hereby requested to speak at the spring graduation ceremonies and as per regulation 43-678 you are required to take part in the following graduation mixer and dance. Formal attire and an escort are required.

"Admiral Jon Warton"

He had thought the words might have changed between the first reading and the fifth, but they hadn't. He had no difficulty in attending the graduation ceremony, speaking in front of the new cadets to be matriculated, even attending the mixer and showing up at the dance. However, the last requirement... The escort, where would he get an escort. There was no one aboard ship or off that he would ask to do this, no one even remotely in mind. He checked his chronometer and set the paper aside. He would be required on the bridge in twelve point three minutes. Perhaps there he could ask someone.

* * *

James Kirk stretched in the chair. He would be glad to be relieved and the soft swoosh of the turbo-lift told him that he was about to get his wish. Spock appeared at his elbow. "Spock, it's about time."

Spock of Vulcan frowned slightly and checked the port chronometer. No, it was correct, he was early, "I do not understand. I was to arrive earlier than my assigned time?"

"No, just wanting to get out of the bored seat for awhile,"Kirk grinned. When the ship was cruising and heading into port or a base, he got antsy. He hated just sitting in a chair and felt like someone getting paid to do nothing. "I will be at dinner and then in my cabin." Spock nodded slightly and assumed his duties in the center seat Spock could hear the steps walking away from him, pause and wait for the turbo to deposit someone else before whisking him away. Lt. Uhura smiled and relieved her subordinate.

Spock mulled his problem at hand freely after the standard checks and finally came to a solution. Three hours into the watch, he approached the communications officer. "Miss Uhura,"he said softly leaning slightly to make it known it was a private conversation.

"Yes Mr. Spock." She turned, giving him the full radiant smile for her favorite Vulcan.

"I assume you are aware of the communiques sent by Starfleet Command last evening." When she nodded, he continued. "I..." and here he stopped. He had never in his life asked anyone on a date and he had no clue as to how to proceed.

After the uncharacteristic pause she prompted, "I?"

"Yes, I am required to attend the graduation and the following festivities. I am also required to take an escort. I considered you," he stated flatly.

*Well, well,* thought Uhura, *I'll have to make a note of the date and time.* But her smile turned to a slight shake of the head, "I'm sorry Mr. Spock, I have already accepted an invitation to the dance."

The Vulcan's face did not change but his eyes did. Now he was back to square one. He decided to ask, even beg for help if necessary. "Miss Uhura, have you any suggestions on how to help with this situation?"

"Well, I do have one, but I don't know how you'll take it," she began.

"I am willing to consider anything."

"Remember you said that. Christine," she answered. His head shook and a little loudly he said, "NO!"

The bridge crew rustled to see what was going on. When it was nothing of interest, they returned to their duties.

Uhura pointed out, "You said you'd be willing to consider anything. Christine was really looking forward to going to the dance. She was going with Lt. Commander DeSalle, but he is unable to attend."

Ah, a way out. "How?"

"His mother died. He's on bereavement leave as soon as we dock. Mr. Spock, look, if you explain to her the way you have explained to me... You don't have to spend the evening wining and dining her, you know. The invitation just says you need an escort to basically get in the door, not hang on your arm all evening."

Spock considered. Yes, that was true, and if Christine had planned to attend anyway... "I shall consider your alternative."

Uhura smiled, "You do that." *Well, Chris, I've done my part...*

* * *

Another three hours later, Spock relinquished the center seat to Sulu and mentally tried to prepare himself as he went ahead with his decision. In the confines of the turbo-lift, he asked, "Computer, where is Nurse Chapel?"

"She is in her quarters on deck 7."

"Deck 7, please."

Sickbay and the quarters for most of the medical personnel were located on deck 7 and he easily found the nurse's quarters. Standing at her door, he buzzed once and waited ... and waited ... and waited. Surely she was not asleep, it was actually morning and her own shift began in less than an hour.

Finally, just as he was about to leave, the door opened. Spock regarded the sight. A woman in a blue bathrobe with fuzzy pink slippers, pink plastic tubes in her hair and green goo on her face stood before him. The blue eyes were the same though. With an exasperated sigh, she was glad the green mud mask hid the hot red cheeks. "Mr. Spock?"

"May I come in?" he asked quietly.

"Well, yes, but I have to get ready for my shift so if you'll let me clean this off..." she answered and allowed him in the door.

The tall nurse hurried into the bathroom while Spock stood just outside the door sensors. He could hear the water running and in less than two minutes she was back, the face still red but scrubbed clean and the hair still in curlers. Heading over to the wardrobe, she began to remove the tubes, "Yes, Mr. Spock?"

He began, "Miss Uhura informs me that you would be willing."

One hand still untangling a curler, she blinked and regarded him, "Willing for what?"

"I am required to take a partner to the graduation mixer and dance. I was told you were going to go but now cannot."

"Yes, Paul's mother died and he can't attend. Let me get this right. You want to ask me to the dance?"

"Yes. I need an escort to get in the door."

"I see. Well, in that case, yes," she answered without a flutter in her voice or her actions.

Spock was a bit taken aback. She had made her feelings known, then apologized, but her subsequent reactions to him made him decide she had those feelings anyway. But there was no reactions from her that this was in any way out of the ordinary. He had thought she would be practically trembling from the excitement of the whole idea. Instead she took it in as if he'd asked her to take readings on a plant. When there was no other words from the nurse, he studied her as she finished removing the tubes. He had never seen a woman do her hair before, not even his mother.

"Is there something else Mr. Spock?"she asked completely innocent.

"No, I shall contact you later about more precise arrangements," he turned to leave. Her voice brought him to a standstill.

"Mr. Spock, my dress is lilac."

Spock rose the eyebrow she couldn't see. "Indeed," and went out the door. It had gone better than expected and he wondered for a brief moment why the color of her gown was supposed to be an issue to him. Probably just some feminine form of communication. He thought nothing else of it.

Christine made certain he had been gone three minutes before letting out a small yell into a pillow just in case he was still outside in the hall somewhere, "YESSS!!!"

* * *

The Enterprise docked at Fleet Headquarters and allowed the crew to disembark for a week's leave and R&R. The ship could go through needed repairs and remodeling before shipping out again. The graduation ceremony was on Saturday afternoon and the mixer/dance would be in the evening. It was the first time the cadets got to mix with members of the starships they would be serving with or able to just mill about with their professors. The atmosphere was one of respect but there was almost gleeful anticipation for the future.

Commander Spock had given his speech, presented an award, and met with several former professors afterward. He would return to the Enterprise to change into the formal attire. Apparently a further communique had stated that dress uniforms were not considered formal and a list of what was acceptable followed. Humans, he allowed a small part of his brain to sigh. He had arranged to meet Miss Chapel at the entrance to the Starfleet reception hall at 0500. There would be the formal dinner reception followed by the dance. Dressing for the event, he had chosen the most simple of the suggested clothes. The elegantly cut tuxedo enhanced the military cut of his "jib" as McCoy coined it and the dark black made him appear even more the handsome specimen that Uhura had referred his direction. Tugging on the shirt cuffs to peek them out from the black jacket, he turned his attention to the tie. A set of instructions in the box told him how to proceed, but after four attempts to get it right, he had gotten it wrong. Thinking perhaps if he had someone else to help, he sought assistance.

Leonard McCoy hated dressing up, but this was a special occasion. He would have the lovely Uhura on his arm, he'd get a chance to see Christine in the new dress she'd raved about, and he'd get to dance a jig. A buzzer broke his attention to the part in his hair. He was having trouble with the new haircut. He knew he should've waited a few days before getting it newly clipped.

"Come."

Spock appeared with the black piece of material and shoved it at him, "Can you fix this?"

"Well, my, my, you do look nice. What, you can't tie a bow, Spock? Really," McCoy said with just a little teasing. He was in a fairly good humor and this only added to it.

"No," he stated flatly and again shoved it at him.

"Here, it is a little hard."

McCoy had the tie done and inspected his work, "Very nice. You are going to make a nice pair."

Spock shook his head, "I assure you we are not a pair. This is simply for getting into the dance. I'm sure Miss Chapel appreciates the offer to attend. I was told she was looking forward to it."

"Mmm-hmm, bought a brand new dress. She says it's beautiful. I can just imagine. That uniform does not do much for her, you know," McCoy pushed lightly.

Spock shrugged, "It is the standard dress, Doctor. She has to wear it."

"Well, I'm ready to go if you want to go with me." He grabbed the box off the desk.

Spock accompanied the physician to the transporter room, said nothing as Ensign Giacomo gave them both the once over and barely kept from whistling. It was late spring and the beauty of the parks around the reception hall was in full flower. They walked across the concourse to the large structure and stood waiting.

"The girls will be late. Women are always late," McCoy explained. But they didn't have long to wait. The women rounded a corner from the flower gardens and, as they approached, Spock asked about the box. "Why do you have a box, Doctor?"

McCoy tried not to take his eyes off the ladies as they approached, "Huh? Oh, flowers... Where are yours?"

"I am required to carry a box of flowers?" he asked, trying to sort all this out.

"No, you ding... You buy corsages or wristbands for the ladies to wear. You didn't get any?" McCoy asked in astonishment. Spock shook his head. "Well, it's too late now. Just don't mention it and maybe it won't be a big deal. Christine will probably just figure you didn't know."

Spock nodded at this suggestion and got the first good look at his date for the evening. Tall and glowing with all the beauty of classic Rome, she was a contrast to the Bantu communications officer who also looked better than he had ever seen. Both women wore velvet capes over the dresses or they could be the dresses for all Spock knew.

McCoy's whistle was soft. "Zowee."

Both women had spent a great deal of time on their appearance and it was well spent. They were breathtaking and Spock even registered the moment. Christine bowed her head slightly, "Mr. Spock."

"Miss Chapel, you look becoming," he managed. That was almost an admission of ardent admiration.

The group moved toward the door and entered, stopping long enough to deposit the robes at the hat check before going in. Once the robes were off, the women's dresses stopped at least four people on the spot. Uhura's rich camel and claret gown hugged the well proportioned torso and fell in cascades of chiffon to her feet, a simple gold and pearl necklace the only jewelry around her neck.

Christine had chosen lilac organdy. She had had the gown created especially for the occasion and used a dress from a movie as the guide and had tried to duplicate Grace Kelly as well as she could. Tiny spaghetti straps did not really hold the bodice up, but a scarf of material tailed from her left shoulder down to touch the hem of the skirt that fell in long cascades to her feet. A necklace of amethysts and pearls adorned her bare neck and it did not go unnoticed that her shoulders and back were perfect. Her hair swept back in a simple style, much simpler than she normally wore, it was held in place with a plain gold clasp. She had made certain to add extra peroxide to the coloring she put on her hair and had spent several days in a tanning mode in the pool on deck 3 just for this occasion. Even if it hadn't been Spock who was taking her, she had already decided that was how she was going to appear.

Spock's first impression of the state of his date was typical, stone faced, but behind that face was a raised eyebrow and a soft whistle. He had never seen Christine out of uniform other than the casual clothes she wore around the gyms and rec areas. Giving her his arm, Spock led her to the entry door where they would present their invitations and be announced.

"Commander Spock and Lt. Christine Chapel," intoned the vocoder.

Eyes, at least those from the Enterprise, turned to appreciate their first officer and head nurse. An audible gasp was barely heard but he could not tell if it was a feminine or masculine gasp. He just noticed the look on Captain Kirk's face as well as Scotty's approving glance from the buffet table. Spock approached them. "Gentlemen, ladies."

Jim Kirk grinned almost foolishly, "Christine you are ... gorgeous, and I don't mean that as an understatement. Spock, I envy you the prettiest girl at the dance."

Spock nodded slightly, but really thought it nothing but surface flattery. "Oh, and Spock, you look mighty nice too."

"Uh-huh," breathed the lieutenant that was the captain's date. Christine fairly glowed. She could feel the appreciative looks and was pleased. She'd waited a long time to unveil this gown and to show Spock how well she could contain her emotions.

"Dr. Leonard McCoy and Lt. Nyota Uhura."

Again gasps, this time Christine turned to watch them descend the stairs, "Doesn't she look divine?"

Spock agreed. Uhura was a dear friend to him and he had never thought anything but good things about her. Allowing the couple to enter the circle of friends the doctor declared, "Spock, looks like you and I have the prettiest dates. Well, besides the Captain and Scotty here."

The southern charm was on high speed and Spock noticed the flowers that McCoy had brought for Uhura fastened on her waist. Looking at the other ladies, he noted that they all wore flowers or a flower of some sort. Knitting the brows together for a moment, he pondered the problem.

Dinner got underway and the group was separated to create fewer cliques and allow the cadets to speak to the seasoned crews. Spock and Christine were placed together with members of the admiralty and the cadets who had received the awards Spock had presented earlier. Admiral Vincent seemed to take a fancy to Christine even though his wife sat directly opposite and couldn't help but notice. "Miss Chapel, I am sure that I can persuade my wife to allow me to dance with you this evening. May I steal her away from you, Commander Spock?"

"Miss Chapel is allowed to dance with whomever she chooses," he answered factually. She was there to get him into the reception, she had done so and now their bargain was over.

Christine smiled, "Of course, Admiral, if it is all right with you, Mrs. Vincent?"

The older redhead smiled, "Please, he steps on my feet most of the evening. It'll be a nice change for me."

Dinner went smoothly. Spock found the conversation pleasant and non-intrusive and was actually enjoying himself. Normally he did not relish these affairs. Perhaps it was just the general mood of the room.

The dishes and tables cleared from the floor, the dance began and the usual favorites in the orchestra's repertoire opened the evening. The Enterprise crew gathered at a table near the corner by the balcony and decided to use that as their base of operations. Spock made his apologies and excused himself to the conversation he was having with representatives of the Vulcan delegation. He had no worries about Christine's dance card. She was already whisked onto the floor by Admiral Vincent before he was twenty paces away. He watched the dance floor every once in a while out of curiosity. Yes, it was true. Christine was the only one there with no flowers. He had failed to provide her with something expected by social customs. Beginning to formulate an excuse or apology, he waited till the music ended and there was a small intermission to return to home base. Faces flushed with excitement and exertion, they all greeted him. "Spock, sit down," McCoy said. He'd had a couple drinks and was in a very good mood.

Christine and Uhura as well as Kirk and Scotty's dates excused themselves to powder their noses and left the men alone. When they were out of earshot, McCoy teased Spock a little, "So, when are you going to dance with Christine?"

Spock looked puzzled. "I do not plan to."

Kirk and Scotty exchanged rather dismal expressions. Spock was aware of this, "Why?"

"Well, you don't just bring a lady to a dance, especially not one as fine as my Head Nurse and then dump her. You have to dance at least once ... for politeness," Kirk explained. Spock looked distressed. "Come on, it's not like you have to spend all evening with her. Just one. It won't kill you."

The girls reappeared and the conversation turned to something else. Spock waited for the music to begin again and as the group headed out to dance more, he found himself alone with Christine. He turned to look into the bright blue, glistening eyes. She was happy. Even if he wasn't dancing or paying attention to her, she was having a good time. Her dance card had been full every turn and now she was able to rest for a moment. "Miss Chapel, I have been remiss," he began but changed the topic. "Would you care to dance?"

Startled, she merely nodded and followed him to the dance floor. Neither she nor Spock noted that they were the center of attention to at least a third of the dancers. Taking her lightly, he kept her at arms length, the proper position for a waltz even though it was technically a two step. She paid no mind. It was nice no matter what it was. She had just picked out the strains of the song and placed it with words. "At Last," was playing and, remembering the words, she hummed it softly in her mind. She decided it was time to compliment him on the very well fitting tuxedo. "Mr. Spock, I find that I too have been remiss. You look ... well ... quite handsome."

"I appreciate the compliment," he replied. The lack of flowers still nagged him, though, and finally, halfway through the song, he dropped his hold. "I am sorry, this is not acceptable." Without another word, he turned and walked out of the hall, leaving a rather shocked and stricken Christine, although she said nothing, created no scene. She merely walked back to the table as if he had excused himself properly and would return later.

"Remind me to kill that Vulcan science officer of yours," McCoy said angrily at Kirk as the couples moved closer together to ask what happened.

"Well, Spock is just that ... a Vulcan. You know how it is. Christine's not exactly been secretive."

Uhura retorted, "But to just leave her in the middle of the dance floor. It would have been different if he hadn't been the one who escorted her here." The nurse's distress was not evident so they thought maybe he had an excuse, and she could clear everything up. As they reached the table however, Uhura could tell her friend was in a state of well controlled disappointment. Before she could ask what was wrong however, McCoy demanded an explanation. "Well, he'd better have a damned good excuse, like he was about to die or had to go to the bathroom or something."

Christine's eyes brimmed with tears. "You could say that. All he said was, it was quite unacceptable and left. All I said was that he looked very handsome in his tuxedo."

McCoy fumed, "I'll kill him."

Kirk's commanding tone eased the tension, "Bones, that's enough. I'm sure Spock didn't mean it that way." He couldn't help but feel a bit of anger towards Spock himself. It was a cold, callous thing for the Vulcan to do, no matter what the circumstances. He made a mental note to tell him the proper way to treat a lady when they returned from leave.

Christine couldn't hide anymore tears. She allowed a few to splash down her cheeks. Once, just a few minutes ago she was the most beautiful woman at the dance, now distraught. Scotty heard another song start up, "Lassie, would ye, gi' me your arm for a dance."

Christine didn't want to. She wanted to just go home. She was miserable. But, Scotty hadn't danced with her yet and she had promised. Nodding, she rose and made their way to the dance floor. Scotty, the invariable jolly uncle figure in her life, held her closer to him than Spock and kept a tight hold on her hand as the strains of "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" played in the background. Knowing the words all too well, Christine buried her face in Scotty's shoulder and sobbed a moment.

"Ach, lassie, dinna cry. You're the most beautiful woman here. Spock just doesn't know or understand."

Christine pulled away from him, glad that the lights had been turned mercifully low. "I don't think he ever will, Scotty. Thank you for the dance. Tell everyone I've gone home when the song ends, please. I have a headache." She didn't lie. The sudden shift from ecstatics to despair had left her disoriented and tired.

Scotty frowned. "All right. But I'm sure you could get something for the headache."

"I think the best place for me is curled up in bed with a journal and a cup of warm milk," she answered. The song ended and she hugged him lightly as she began to leave.

He didn't want to let her go, she was so unhappy. "It's okay Scotty, I'm just going to go to bed."

He released her. She was after all a big girl and entitled to her own decisions. The lights were still dim and she fled the dance floor ignoring Admiral Vincent's approach for another dance and retrieved her robe. Chimes were sounding midnight as she ran down the steps and she felt as if she were Cinderella come true. But this time she had no glass slippers to leave behind. Within moments the transporter whisked her away and she was home.

* * *

Spock stood in the outer hall, away from the dance at the comm unit. He had tried every florist in the area and finally found one that would deliver a nosegay of roses. He had informed them to deliver them at this door and waited. He could not believe he had been so stupid. He should have read the entire passage on etiquette instead of stopping after what to do to begin. He was certain it was there, but he had been called to the computer lab and he had not finished the item. Finally, after 45.8 minutes a ground car pulled up and a bedraggled man, in his late 40s hurried up. "Are you Sims, the florist?"

"Yes, your nosegay, sir. That will be 200 credits." Spock quickly paid the annoyed man as well as gave him a generous tip, although with the price of the nosegay having elevated 400%, he didn't know why he did so. Still, the man smiled, "Thank you, sir."

Spock considered the point as he left. Opening the box he was pleased with the purchase anyway. It was a spray of cream roses with small purple ribbons and baby's breath. It was quite a bit different than the other ladies but they were flowers and he was desperate. Closing the box, he returned to the dance. The lights were turned up but he could not see Christine either at the table or dancing. Perhaps she was on the terrace or in the bathroom. He made his way to home base. McCoy spotted him halfway through the dance floor, "Of all the gall."

"Give him a chance, maybe Spock has an explanation," Kirk tried knowing McCoy was just sloshed enough to really let Spock have it.

Spock stopped, "Where is Miss Chapel?"

That was it. McCoy fairly lunged at him, "Spock, I swear to God I'm gonna strangle you. Then I'm gonna resuscitate you so I can do it again. Why did you tell her she was unacceptable? You don't tell a woman that..."

Scotty interrupted, "You upset the lass a great deal. She went home about thirty minutes ago."

Spock took a deep breath and pinched his lips tighter. He knew an explanation was needed to keep his comrades from hating him. Even Uhura, the one person who never became stern with him looked icy. "I found that I had been derelict in my duties as her escort." Offering the evidence of the box, "I did not know I was to get her flowers. I was arranging for them while I was gone."

The group deflated. He must have been right. There was a box, Christine hadn't had flowers but no one had really thought about it, and Spock was never insincere.

"Spock that may be true, but why did you tell her she was unacceptable?"

"I did not. I said 'This is unacceptable'."

"But you didn't explain what this was. She automatically assumed that 'this' was you two dancing together. What else was she to use for reference?" Uhura explained gently. She felt rather sorry for him. He didn't know, but then he didn't know anything about human customs. Someone probably should have given him the crash course.

"I shall rectify the situation at once." And without further word he turned and walked quickly out of the hall with the box of flowers.

"Jim, just for once I'd like to be a little bug on the wall. I hope Christine let's him have it," McCoy chuckled. He was still angry at Spock, but not like before.

* * *

Spock materialized in the Enterprise transporter room, surprising the night duty technician and his female companion in the middle of a rendezvous, if their guilty expressions meant anything. He had no time for lectures or giving reprimands. They too were shocked to see the first officer in the tuxedo. Before they could get over the shock, he was out the door and up to deck 7.

* * *

Christine didn't care that the soap stung her eyes, the tears washed the soap away and she didn't dare look in the mirror. "Fool, fool, idiot, fool..." she muttered to herself. As soon as she had gotten to her quarters, she had stripped the dress and shoes off and thrown them at the corner, knocking a china cupid off that had been a present from her niece and shattered it to pieces. She immediately regretted the act, but it was the straw that broke the camels back. Symbolically, it would be a cupid to shatter. "Even you can't fix this heart," she said in the direction of the broken knick knack. Dressed in the outfit she usually wore to bed, an old t-shirt and a pair of shorts, she knelt down to pick the pieces up. Maybe with glue...

She cried harder. She didn't know which hurt worse, the stinging insult from Spock, the humiliation at her own mind's twisting, or the destruction of a present from a 7 year old. Her face was cleaned of the makeup, the hair brushed out with vehemence, and the jewelry back in the case. She was at least calm enough not to damage that. It had been a family heirloom and it really would have hurt to have lost it. Sitting on the floor, she was gathering as many pieces as she could when the door chimed.

"Damn,"she answered. Nyota or Leonard no doubt and that made her feel even worse. She wasn't a two-year-old who needed monitoring by Mummy and Daddy. Still, she didn't want them here any longer than they had to be and answered, "Come."

Spock stood at the door half expecting hurled objects the way she appeared. Closing her eyes, she was counting to ten when he said her name, "Miss Chapel?"

Opening the blue eyes now tinged red from so many tears, she said, "What?"

In all the time he had known her he had never heard that tone. He hesitated stepping inside. There was no danger of being heard by passers-by. There was no one else on Deck 7.

"I came to offer an apology. I did not know..."

"Yeah, well, thanks for the apology. I'll be certain to log that in my diary for the evening," she answered with barely controlled fury. He was only making her madder and more depressed.

"Please, allow me to complete my statement," he requested. She didn't.

"Oh, sure go ahead. At least finish something this evening."

Spock paused. This was definitely not working well. With nothing else left to try he presented the box to her, "I brought you this."

Christine was still sitting on the floor and every muscle in her body felt like screaming. She'd worked up such a fury that her whole body ached. Tired, exhausted, and numb she asked, "What is it?"

Spock handed her the box, careful that he not stray too far from the path of the door. He felt as if he were presenting meat to a hungry lioness and hoping she'd allow him to leave the cage intact. Christine just stared at the box, not even wanting to open it. Tears were coursing down the hot flushed cheeks and she was beginning to get so stuffed up she couldn't breathe through her nose.

"Are you going to open it?" he asked hopefully, preparing to duck.

Laughing bitterly, she flipped up the lid and shook her head, "Wha...why?'

Spock regarded her, "I had neglected to acquire flowers for you. I did not know that I was supposed to until we were already at the dance. This proved troublesome to me and unfortunately I picked the wrong moment to decide to do something about it."

Christine picked the bouquet out of the box. It had been arranged probably for a wedding and for some reason hadn't been used. She was suddenly so tired she could hardly see straight. Not looking him in the eyes but staring at the tops of his shoes, she said quietly, "They're beautiful. Thank you."

Spock thought of leaving but the sight of her so dismal and alone on the ship kept him from going. "Miss... Christine, may I have this dance?"

The startled nurse looked up tears still flowing. She thought she had heard incorrectly until he held out his hand to her. "But there's no music," she offered.

Spock nodded. "Computer, dance music selections, collection 4."

Suddenly the room was filled with the music of George Gershwin. Christine accepted his help getting up and noted somewhere in the back of her mind that he held her closer than he had on the dance floor.

The tune was familiar to her. She loved Gershwin as well as Irving Berlin and Cole Porter and the words joined in.... "The way you wear your hat, the way you sip your tea... The memory of all that... Oh no they can't take that away from me. ... The way your smile just beams, the way you sing off key... The way you haunt my dreams, oh no they can't take that away from me. ... We may never, never meet again on the bumpy road to love. Still I'll always, always keep the memory of ... the way..."

Christine allowed the words to drift away and for a time heard no music. Just held onto Spock, still clad handsomely in the tuxedo and she in her night clothes. They were a sight. The music faded and another song began, and Christine started to move, assuming that it was her token dance.

Spock didn't let go. She looked at him, thought she saw something of a glimmer there. Spock was a fluid dancer, even if he was not used to the movements, and she continued dancing with him. No words were spoken, her tears were gone as well as her anger.

After the fourth selection, she realized that Spock had drawn her almost up to a close embrace. She searched his face for some answer, some reason. None arrived to her. Her cabin was not a large place and so they basically went around and around in a circle. She kept her eyes focused on the flowers sitting on the edge of her desk. Flowers... He'd gone for flowers ... but why...

Finally she asked, "Why didn't you tell me you were getting flowers or at least give me some other explanation?"

Spock pulled away from her but kept the rhythmic circling of the floor, "I do not know. I suppose because Doctor McCoy told me not to."

"McCoy ... he didn't know why either," she answered as if to accuse Spock of an untruth.

"No, before we went in. I asked the doctor why the box. When he explained he told me to forget it, that you probably would not care and not to mention it to you."

"Oh," she was silent for a time. "No, flowers were not a priority with me. I just wish you could have said at least something. Then we'd still be at the dance and not rotating in my room."

Spock noted the lightened humor and took it as a good sign. He considered a moment. She was no longer dressed to go back to the dance and he really didn't want to go back down. However, there was a large dance floor set up in the aft recreational decks. He found this dancing rather soothing. Almost meditative. "If you wish, we could continue in the ballroom."

Christine stared at him. The evening was a strange one indeed. She loved to dance. This was a better chance than she could have hoped for. Still... "Mr. Spock that is a sweet offer but you don't have to dance with me."

"I see no reason that my taste be brought into this. I simply find that it is not as unpleasant as I had always thought to engage in dancing."

Okay, she was going to just faint right here and wake up to find it was a big screwy dream and they weren't even orbiting Earth or she wasn't even on the Enterprise. She found her voice. "I suppose ... but I'm not really dressed for it."

Spock stepped away from her. The dress was heaped unceremoniously in the corner. "Your gown is there. Does it take long to change?"

She laughed, "No, I guess I can just slip it on and not worry about anything else. Let me change, and I'll be ready in a few minutes."

Grabbing the gown, she dismissed the idea of hose and makeup, splashing her face with cold water, she ran a brush through the hair and pulled it back in the same gold clasp as earlier. She was no runway model, but she was presentable.

Spock remained standing in her quarters. He had really no idea why he asked her to dance further. His obligation to her was through. Still, it was only 0100, and he simply was not ready to retire for the evening. He allowed his eyes to wander around her cabin for a moment. He had not visited it beyond stepping inside the door on two occasions.

The vision that arrived outside the bathroom door was not as breathtaking as earlier but still quite becoming. Somehow she had been able to regain the composure she had lost. Not forgetting the bouquet, she held it at waist level and stepped ahead of him as they headed aft.

* * *

The ballroom was odd. Only a single center light illuminated the emptiness of the great room. The music was soft and lazy. Christine kept hearing the words of another Gershwin song in her head... "Don't wake me if I'm asleep, let me dream that it's true..."

Christine had been a ballroom dancer in her younger days and had competed in junior championships until she started pre-med. Then her life became too hectic. Still she loved to dance whether it be with a ballroom dancer or just a slow dance like this one. Spock noted she was very light on her feet. He had always thought she was a bit clumsy. Her height didn't help in that assumption. Now he re-evaluated the situation.

"Where did you learn to dance, Mr. Spock?"

"Vulcan children incorporate dancing into their childhood as exercises in co-ordination, but not in this form. My mother taught me when I was quite small," he said softly.

"Well, you do quite well."

The music changed to a more rapid pace and he stopped swaying, "I am afraid she only taught me to waltz."

Christine smiled at him and in the low light she looked as beautiful as she had earlier in the evening. Somewhere that registered with his mind. "Would you like to learn to do another step?"

Spock pondered a moment. There would be no harm and it was excellent exercise. "I would not be against the idea."

Christine beamed. "Computer... change selection to Swing number 8."

The computer complied and a lively tune, one he was certain he could not dance to, came up. "Really it's not that hard," Christine said. "Give me your hand. No, not there. Put the left hand around the waist and don't stick your right arm out so far," she instructed and they ended up almost side by side. "Just let me lead."

Spock did so and she started to more or less bounce with the music. "Spock, you have to loosen up a little."

"Loosen up?"

"You know, don't be so stiff. Allow your muscles to just dangle, I mean don't go all soft, but not so tense."

Finally after a few moments he at least relaxed somewhat. Christine tried to get him to follow her steps but found that with the billows of fabric that if she couldn't see her feet then neither could he. "Maybe this won't work with this outfit. We'll try something closer to what you already know."

Music changed and they assumed the familiar positions. "I'll teach you the box step instead. You've basically already done it anyway."

"What were you attempting to get me to do?"

"The Lindy hop, but well, that's not so easy," she explained. At his questioning gaze she provided the information, "It was named after the famed transatlantic pilot Charles Lindbergh. It's the base in a lot of the faster numbers."

"You have a command of dance," he reasoned. The music in the background wasn't heard, but they kept time anyway.

"I used to have a regular partner and competed in junior amateur competitions. I love to dance. I just haven't really done any since medical school."

Spock weighed her words, "Why not, if you loved it so?"

"Well, medical school takes up most of the time, and well, Roger didn't dance." She was glad for the darkened room. She still didn't like speaking of Roger.

Spock said nothing else for a time and they just made their way around the room. It was almost surreal for him. He would never in his life have dreamt the night would end the way it had. He found she was not as flighty or uncontrolled as he had thought. As a touch telepath he could sense her basic feelings but did not seek out her thoughts. The first moments of dancing in her cabin was unsettling with her anger and fury at him, but now, she was calm and happy. He did not feel this over-exuberance of love that he had in the past. Perhaps she had learned to control her feelings better. It certainly wasn't that she didn't love him. Her reaction to the evening's events were evidence of that.

Hours flew by. It had been 0100 when they arrived in the ballroom and at 0800 they were still there. The computer had nearly run out of selections, but they didn't mind and, if it had been planetside, the dawn would have brought them out of the strange reverie they were in. The night lights kept them held in a strange other world. They spoke in short amounts of time, was quiet most of it, but remained dancing the entire time.

* * *

Leonard McCoy woke with a big hangover. He'd wanted to check on Chris when they'd gotten back. He figured he'd find a bloody mess all over the wall because they had had no word of Spock after he had left either. Now, it was 1000 and he wondered where she was. Her cabin was empty. Spock's cabin was empty and it didn't look as if they had been slept in. "Computer, where is Nurse Chapel?"

"Ballroom, aft recreation decks."

"Where is Commander Spock?" he asked as Jim Kirk and Uhura rounded a corner. They were to meet for brunch and had come to fetch the others.

"Ballroom, aft recreation decks."

Two human eyebrows hit the hairline. "Well, I'll be damned."

Nyota smiled, "Still hung over, honey?"

"Must be, come on."

Leading the way, he wordlessly started to the ballroom. He didn't bother explaining why.

The lights were still low but kept a spotlight on a certain radius of floor. There the three found Spock and Christine still dancing, still in each other's arms, and still talking.

McCoy could have fallen over. Kirk was trying to assimilate it all, and Uhura just shook her head and grinned. They hadn't even heard them approach. The moment was so picturesque, but it had to end sometime. "Mr. Spock, Miss Chapel."

The two nearly jumped. Christine flushed crimson, Spock's look nonplused. They had done nothing wrong, had enjoyed the evening, and he saw no reason to pretend as such.

"Have you been here all night?"

Christine nodded, "What time is it?"

Spock supplied the answer, "1023 hours. We have been here since 0115. In case you wished to know."

Christine smiled with a shy grace. There would never had been a moment in her life that she thought she could have actually danced the night away, especially with Spock. "My, no wonder I'm tired. I'm starved too," she tried to change the topic so that McCoy and his prying eyes would stop staring.

"Well, that's where we are going, but you're gonna look awfully odd in those outfits," Jim Kirk pointed out.

Spock nodded, "Miss Chapel, if you will excuse us, we will change and meet you there."

Christine started to protest in this 'we' bit but was still so inebriated with the evening that she just nodded and turned to follow him down the hall. They were in the turbo-lift waiting to be dropped off when Spock turned to her, "I regret upsetting you."

"Well, that's okay, and if you hadn't, we'd not been able to dance all night. Personally I rather enjoyed it more than I would have with the others anyway," she answered shyly and remained staring at her bouquet. She was trying to figure out how to keep it preserved for the rest of her life when the lift stopped at deck 7. "Thank you for the lovely evening, Spock."

"No, thank you ... Ginger," he said, a slight twinkle in his eye and, as the doors slipped shut on her shocked face, he could hear her, "You too, Fred."

FIN

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