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. Here's another addition to Interludes. This one takes place between WALGMO? and Dagger of the Mind where a Christimas Party is mentioned. Hope you like it. No sex scene in this one...

If Only in my Dreams


"Mr. Spock..." Jim Kirk called and as he tried to catch up with his first officer.

Spock slowed his pace, turned and waited. "Yes Captain."

Kirk waited till they were even with each other. "Where are you headed this evening?"

Evening was relative on the ship, but Spock did not mention that to his commanding officer. "I am on my way to make an appearance at the science lab Christmas Party," he said with a slight sigh.

"You, Mr. Spock..."

Spock felt the need to explain. "I began attending the festivities eleven years ago. I arrive, drink a glass of punch, eat one appetizer, and leave before someone remembers to compare me to one of Santa's elves."

Kirk nearly split a gut. For the past 11 years he had endured this little tradition even though it caused him some amount of discomfort. With a slight smirk and a nod of his head, he replied, "Shall we get you in and out of the party then?"

"You are attending as well?" Spock asked as they began walking.

"I was officially invited to sample the 'punch'. I hear it is an extra special batch this year. McCoy and Scotty are supplying it. And the food this year ... apparently, our head nurse is a good cook. Bones told me she's worked quite a while on the menu," he revealed. Behind the chatter, there was the unspoken between them. It had only been two weeks since they'd left Exo III and Christine had chosen to stay aboard. She was trying to get back to her life and a sense of normalcy. This was a sign that she was on track.

Science Lab #3 was always the one set aside for the large party. Starting as a small impromptu gathering, the lab party had grown in proportion and reputation over the years. The fact that even Spock attended was a sign of how encompassing it was. The two senior officers entered as the party was just getting underway. Someone had done a grand job with the decorating. For the last few years, a theme had been selected. This year it was party games. The buffet table was loaded with delicacies left and right. A smiling nurse was adding another plate of tidbits. "Captain, Mr. Spock."

"Miss Chapel," they chorused with a nod. Kirk's eyes swept up and down the buffet, "I've not seen this much food since ... well, I don't know."

"I do think I've gone a little overboard, but I like to cook," she excused. They looked at her in astonishment, she cooked it all. "No, not all of it," she answered. Then with a hesitant aside she said, "Keeps me busy."

"Good idea. Mr. Spock, you should make certain to choose your one selection wisely. You might regret not trying something else," Kirk reminded.

Spock agreed, "Yes. It does seem that I may expand my consumption for the evening."

With a nod, he was off to look over the selections. Jim Kirk faced Christine again. He noticed she watched the Vulcan for a moment. There was none of the love light that he had seen in other of his crewwomen's eyes, but they did have an odd gleam. He knew that Spock liked Christine. Or, he rephrased it in his head, he respected Christine. "How are you doing?"

Christine knew what he meant. "I'm fine, sir, just fine ... really."

Kirk took her word. He didn't want to pry at a party anyway. She looked fine; she cooked fine; therefore, she must be fine. "Where's Bones?"

"Preparing the wassail, I believe, he'll be here in a little while," she informed.

Christine was a little uneasy standing there, he could sense it. From what he had known of her she was not a social butterfly. In fact, she had to be cajoled to do things with other people. But, she was not an anti-social person, perhaps she was simply shy or unsure how to handle new people. He did know that Nyota Uhura considered her a close friend and Janice Rand had too before she left the ship. His helmsman Sulu was also quite fond and protective of her. McCoy had nothing but glowing reports about her work and her professionalism. And once, just one time, while the two were sipping bourbon and relaxing, McCoy admitted that he could "really" like her if things were different. Now, Spock seemed to be slightly interested in her. A flash from two weeks ago came to his mind, of a stricken but composed woman as she spoke to him regarding her staying aboard and the unusual act of Mr. Spock. He normally did not intrude on private conversations at the center seat. But, this time, he stepped in close, so close that he nearly brushed against the nurse. He also remembered the look Spock had as she passed, stepped up to the upper deck and to the lift. His eyes had followed her.

Kirk found himself with a full plate. He smiled at her as he picked up a wafer with a scoop of cheese ball on it and popped it in his mouth. "Mmmm...." His nod made her laugh as he stepped away toward one of the tables that was set up.

A very pretty woman, in science officer blue was speaking to Spock. He didn't recall her name. With his best Captainly smile, he approached.

"Mr. Spock, it seems you have an eye for beauty," he teased as an opening line.

"Captain, Dr. Helen Noel," the Vulcan introduced, immediately aware of the electricity exuding from his commander. He had seen this before. The captain had an instant charisma that Spock had been told he had as well. He simply did not use it to his advantage as frequently as Jim Kirk. Spock extricated himself from the couple, quickly wishing to go back to his perusal of the buffet table. He also wished to speak to Christine Chapel without the captain near. She was still arranging, setting full plates in place of empty ones.

"Miss Chapel."

"Mr. Spock, rather surprised to see you here," she admitted. Spock was not a party animal.

"Merely fulfilling a custom I began long ago. You are better?" he asked, showing no outward concern.

Christine's blue eyes were startled for a moment. She had not seen him since the moment on the bridge when she had to pass him to leave. She had not really thought of him either. She'd been too busy trying to think of anything else but her emotional life. Now, she thought she saw a tender side to the Vulcan, one that she had known he had but hadn't expected him to reveal to her in very many instances. She sighed, her smile a little melancholy. "Better. Not perfect but definitely better."

He nodded, chose something else for his swiftly filling plate, and walked away. An odd sensation came over her. She suddenly felt buoyant again like she had before she'd gone to Exo III, before she'd lost everything she'd had to hold onto. She felt hope. It was strange. She swallowed nervously. Her eyebrows pulled together in consternation. Why would such a simple question cause such a reaction from her? Shaking the notion out of her head, she looked at the table. It was full, and she was basically done with the task she had undertaken. She considered heading home, but it was a party and a good one at that. Picking up a cup of punch, she mingled around a moment smiling and nodding thanks to the many compliments on her dishes. She eventually ended up with Spock again beside one of the lab tables that was being used as a stand up bar. He noted she did not have food with her. "You are not eating?"

"All cooks end up sampling their dishes before they are put on the table. I'm not hungry. Does it suit you?" she asked curious. She had never cooked for a Vulcan before and had not particularly fixed anything for him.

"Everything I have eaten is excellent. It will be difficult to return to the regular ship's fare after this," he admitted with a touch of praise.

She grinned. "Maybe I can cook for you some other time. Something a little more Vulcan. But then it might be completely awful and I wouldn't know, so maybe I should stick with what I know."

Spock thought a second, contradicted, "Never be afraid to try something new. It is that challenge that keeps life interesting."

She chuckled. "All right, I'll do that. Thank you."

They didn't speak anymore. The festivities were about to begin with the arrival of McCoy and Scotty's wassail. It came in large tubs that was normally used in transporting foodstuffs. The crude containers didn't dissuade anyone from the drink. Out of politeness, Spock asked, "Would you care for wassail?"

"No, thank you. I don't drink," Christine replied. Spock stood slightly ahead of her so that she had to look past him to see the group in the center of the room. She noticed how very handsome he was. Without meaning to, she turned her attention solely to him. She began memorizing every detail of the left side of his face. She could see the indentation of some long healed scars, the tips of his ears and the way they were almost impossible to keep from touching. She did not do so, she was horrified she even thought of him in that manner. Shaking her out of her thoughts, she decided it was best to mingle more around the room. "Excuse me, I see Uhura has arrived."

Spock nodded and found himself watching her over his glass of punch. She said she was fine but there were small mannerisms that she displayed that said she wasn't. He found himself trying to figure her out as she smiled and laughed with the others who were becoming close to her. He wished he could be that close with them, any of them, all of them. He was cordial, friendly, but did not have the shared warmth that humans always seemed to instinctively have. It was times like these that he felt the most outcast among them. Larger crowds alienated him from the few people he had closer ties to.

The evening wore on, the merry making was not overly raucous but it was becoming louder with the addition of the wassail. It would be a round the clock party to allow everyone access to the goings on. Spock had been there two hours past his usual time. He had spent the time watching, talking, eating. The food was enticing. Finally, Uhura, the ever eager entertainer, hushed the room, "All right guys... We've decided to try party games for this year's theme. The first one will be a test of how well you know your Christmas carols."

A groan went through the crowd, but her winning personality shushed them. "Now, give it a chance."

Producing an old hat, she shook it. "In this hat is a bunch of pieces of paper. When I give you the hat, you have to choose one slip. Whatever song is written on the slip, you have to sing. If you can't sing it, you gotta down one glass of wassail in one try."

With a twinkle in her mischievous eye, she chose her first victim ... Spock. She always liked to get Spock in compromising situations if she could. Stepping toward him, "Mr. Spock."

The Vulcan met her impish gleam with a sigh. After a second, he reached in, removed a slip, read it, cleared his throat and downed a glass of wassail in one gulp. The group laughed. He started to throw the slip away. Uhura stopped him, "No, no, you have to put it back in. Someone else might know it. What was the song anyway?"

With as much dignity as he could muster he said, "All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth."

That sent such mirth through the room that it was difficult to get them settled down. Uhura threw in a last parting shot, "Well, we can't expect him to know all the classics."

Spock corrected, "I did indeed know the song. However, I chose the latter of the two poisons."

"Fair enough. All right, who's next..." she mused and found some other hapless crewman. He drew, decided that singing the selection was not that bad a choice, started in a rather off key rendition of "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" and got off the hook. With that the ice was broken and it was not so difficult to get people to choose slips of paper. Uhura decided to try Christine. She knew the nurse could carry a tune, but she also knew that she didn't particularly like to draw attention to herself in crowds.

Uhura said quietly, "Christine, come on, just one tune."

The tall blonde colored slightly, all of a sudden aware that every eye was on her, including the first officer's. Reaching into the hat with a shy smile, she chose a slip opened it. She had two choices, sing it or drink. She didn't drink, found that alcohol of almost any amount made her sick for days, and she didn't want to sing the song. She took so long that Uhura laughed, "Did you get the hat size?"

"No, I'll sing it. Give me a second to try to remember the words. Do I have to sing all of it?" she asked.

"As much as you know..." Uhura relented, realizing that some might only know the choruses.

With hesitation and without vibrato, she began, "I'll be home for Christmas. You can plan on me. Please have snow, and mistletoe, and presents on the tree. Christmas Eve will find me, where the love light gleams. I'll be home for Christmas...." and here she paused and added quietly with tears beginning to run down her cheeks, "if only in my dreams."

The distress in her eyes had Uhura in near tears. Out of every song in that hat, over two hundred, and she had to pick that one. If the communications officer had known she would have told her to choose something else. Everyone in the room seemed to know something was wrong even if they didn't know the particulars. No one but Uhura knew that it was the song Roger had sung to her over her message board to remind her he'd be back from Exo III before the next Christmas arrived, but he had never made it. Now another Christmas was here, and he was gone forever. Christine held her head up, she wouldn't cause a scene, would show nothing more than her tears. She would become strong and vital to this ship's crew. She would not bury her heart in a grave. In the awkward moments following her song, Christine sniffed and smiled a little. Uhura whispered back, "I'm sorry."

"It's okay, really," she answered just as quietly.

Uhura decided to continue with the hat, but she didn't have as much heart for it as she had. Christine slowly slipped back through the crowd to the buffet and began the task of replacing empty dishes with full ones. She had dried her tears but was still shaky. Spock appeared with his empty dish. He didn't say anything to her, knew it would do no good. But her better had just gotten worse and he wished to make certain she was all right. Their eyes met for a moment. He didn't have to speak to say he was sorry. She gave him a sad, melancholy smile in response, "Thank you."

With an upswept eyebrow he responded the only way he knew how. "You're welcome."

The Christmas party continued, but Spock was weary of the illogical festivities and went on duty irregardless of the fact that he had quite a bit of alcohol in his system. Christine left as well, intent on going to bed. But, as the words to the song echoed in her head, and the sick pit opened up in her stomach as well as the sting of tears coming to her eyes, she changed course. Spock had presented her with a problem days earlier to work on in her spare time, but she had not had time to start. Now would be a perfect time to begin.