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) 2002 by T'Kuht. Rated PG13.
Leaves scurried past her as the breeze tore them gently from the surrounding trees. She loved this month perhaps better than any other in the year. It always contained the last gasp of summer and the first surprised air of winter's chill. The lane stretched miles ahead of her. She knew where the lane went but not the side roads that popped out occasionally. She'd always sped past them. Today would be different. Today she would venture off the staid course. Today would be different.
The datapadd cursor blinked expectantly waiting for her to finish the sentence. With the momentary artistic spell broken, Chapel answered, "Yes Mr. Spock."
"May I join you? There are no other seats available," Spock pointed out.
The nurse glanced around. All the tables were occupied. When she'd arrived they'd been empty. Shifting in her seat, she replied, "Certainly, please do."
The first officer noted the nurse's rather distracted look but said nothing. He tried not to inquire about the nurse for fear that it would be considered "attentive". Still, he did not wish to appear rude, "Are you enjoying the lull in sickbay?"
"Mmm, oh I suppose. It usually just means that there's a crisis around the corner," she answered blankly. Her mouth was like cotton and her tea glass was empty. Excusing herself to refill the glass, she went to the dispenser but just as she turned to go back, the klaxon sounded sending everyone to duty stations. The datapadd cursor kept blinking as the lone occupant of the room.
* * *
Days later it seemed, Christine Chapel got to return to her cabin. With an exhausted growl she stripped the boots and the duty uniform off. Debating on showering before going to bed or waiting till morning, she chose the latter. Without bothering to pull on nightclothes, she crawled into bed and pulled the coverlet up over her.
"Come in," she muttered moments later but did not open her eyes.
After a few seconds, a cleared throat and a shuffling sound got her attention before she drifted back to sleep. Rolling over and raising her arms to stretch, she forgot that she was nude and the coverlet slipped off her bare waist to pool on the floor. Spock stood in the soft beam of light that illuminated a path to the bathroom. "Yes?" she asked not questioning why he was there.
"I came to return your datapadd. You left it yesterday in the mess," he stated trying to ignore the fact that she was nude. It was difficult.
Christine swung her legs over the bed and realized that she had nothing on. With a smooth movement, she bent forward and picked the coverlet up. She was glad the bed area was pitch black. Gathering it around her like a toga, she slung the leftover section of the coverlet over her shoulder and stepped into the light, "Thank you."
"I regret waking you. However, you are on duty in 38.4 minutes, and I assumed."
"Duty?" she interrupted confused. She had just gotten there. Checking the chronometer she realized that she'd been asleep nearly six hours. "Again, thank you. I'm certain I would have overslept."
Spock took his cue, "Then good morning."
* * *
There was no excuse, Spock thought. What I have done is wrong. The Vulcan was so busy chiding himself, he did not see Leonard McCoy rounding the corner and heading straight for him.
"Spock, good morning, join me for breakfast?" the chief medical officer said, incredibly chipper for having just come off duty.
He nodded, followed McCoy into the mess hall. After they'd retrieved their trays and selections, they found a small booth in the back of the room. McCoy was wound for sound that day. He prattled on about Star Fleet's lack of consideration over something and paid no attention to the fact that Spock was not listening to half of what he was saying. Finally when he looked to the Vulcan for confirmation and Spock did not answer but kept a keen gaze on a spot on the table, McCoy frowned, "You're not listening."
"You haven't heard a word I've said have you?" the physician goaded.
"No, I have not. Forgive me, Doctor, I am distracted this morning."
"Anything I can help you with?" McCoy said not really expecting the answer to be yes.
Spock pondered a second. McCoy was not normally the person he confided in, but he had no one else at the time. "It is a matter of privacy."
"Oh, well, forget it then. I know you don't like to reveal super secret Vulcan things, and I'm not in the mood to drag it out of you."
"No," he disagreed. "The matter is not my privacy, but someone else's. I did something that is dishonorable on both Earth and Vulcan."
Bones McCoy grinned as he chewed the toast he'd ordered. He waited for Spock to say it was nothing, but by the look on his face, he was completely serious. "Don't tell me you've been spying on people?"
"No. I read a private document without permission," Spock revealed quietly.
"Reading mail now, are we? Star Fleet sure has their officers doing odd things for defense."
"Doctor, it is not a joking matter. I should not have brought the topic up," Spock decided and started to leave. McCoy's hand darted out to grab the tray. "Wait, I'm sorry. You're obviously troubled by what you've done. Can you give me specifics or would that be revealing too much?"
"Yesterday, just moments before the red alert, I shared a table with Miss Chapel. She was busy working on a datapadd. She left it behind when the alert went off. It was given to me by mistake when the duty attendant thought it was mine. I had also been carrying a datapadd and without thought I began to download the information that had been put on it onto my computer. It is here that I realized that I had been given the wrong padd. However, it does not excuse my actions."
McCoy snorted, "Spock, just because you read enough to realize it wasn't yours is no reason to beat yourself up for getting the wrong datapadd. How were you to know? They all look alike."
"That is the problem. I did not stop with just finding out whose it was. When I realized that I stopped reading immediately, but the text was captivating and I continued to read after I knew it was not my padd," he explained. He truly had a look of a condemned man. McCoy felt a little sorry for him.
"Oh, well, what was she doing? Working on one of her papers for the Medical Journals? I'm sure she'd like to have some input. She always asks me what I think."
"These were not documents associated with work. They were ... journal entries. Personal journal entries," he tried to emphasize precisely what it was he read without actually saying it.
It took eight seconds for the realization to dawn, "Holy COW! You read her personal diary?"
"Doctor, if you could keep your voice down."
"Sorry. Have you given the datapadd back yet?"
"Yes, I did not tell her I read the entries, however. Now I am in doubt as to whether I should or not."
"Are these 'entries' anything that would effect your working relationship with her?" McCoy asked curiously. He wondered just what it was she was writing that had the Vulcan so uptight.
"I do not believe so," Spock replied after consideration.
"But it makes you uncomfortable that you know something about her that she does not know that you know. And now you are wondering if you should let her know that you know," Bones said sounding like an old vaudeville routine.
"That is correct."
"Well, on the one hand she doesn't know so it won't really matter. However, if it will make you uncomfortable, it would be best to tell the truth. You also have to realize that she might get pretty mad at you. Chris is a rather private person. But, on the other hand, you with that sincere honest face would be the only person she'd let get away with reading her diary."
That only made it worse of a decision for Spock. If it had been any other crewman, he could have forgotten the incident easily or just explained it easily. But, because it was Chapel and because she had some affection for him, he could not simply say, "Lieutenant, I have read your personal journal and the things I read will not go further than this." He also did not wish to be forgiven simply because she had this affection for him.
"Spock?" McCoy asked. The Vulcan had become introverted.
"I believe that no matter the consequences, I should tell her my faux pas. In that way, it will be the truth that she is angry with," he decided.
"Good, now unless you plan on telling me word for word what she wrote, you'll excuse me if I go to bed," Leonard said but before he left the table he turned amused blue eyes to the Vulcan and smiled, "I wouldn't fret about it too much. Just talk to her the way you have me, and I think she'll be forgiving."
Spock waited till McCoy left the room and disposed of his tray. He would wait till Chapel came off duty before speaking to her. He saw no need to upset her work schedule. He'd send a message telling her to report to his cabin at the end of the shift. By that time he should have some completely logical explanation for his actions.
* * *
A notice flashed across Chapel's computer monitor. For some reason Spock wanted to have a meeting with her in his cabin. Since he conducted much of the ship's business from his cabin office, she thought nothing of it.
With an exasperated sigh, she nodded to the oncoming duty nurse and headed out for the night. Trying to get her neck to pop, she rubbed and kneaded, but it wasn't any good. She really needed a good massage, but she'd have to wait till after Spock got done with her.
Spock's cabin was a two-minute walk from sickbay if she used the aft turbo lift. She'd done it enough to know the amount of steps she'd need to get there. Without the trepidation that she usually felt when she stood in front of his door, she pushed the door buzzer. The door opened immediately. Spock sat behind his desk, "Come in, Nurse."
Christine stepped forward with a tired smile and let the doors whoosh shut behind her before saying anything. "You wished to see me, Mr. Spock?"
"Yes," he said clearing his throat. "Please sit down."
She took the oddly carved chair that sat beside the desk. It was comfortable even though it looked like it would be torture to sit in. She settled for a moment. An uneasy silence fell between them. She finally prompted him, "Yes?"
"It is that ... I wished to speak to you about the datapadd."
"Oh, you returned that this morning, sir," she replied with a smile.
"Yes, I do recall that. However, I believe that I owe you an apology."
The blonde was confused. "I'm sorry, could you be more specific? I don't seem to be able to figure out what you're saying."
Spock sighed, chewed on a lower lip, straightened to a more military pose and began, "When I received the datapadd, the duty officer in the mess assumed it was the one that I had taken with me. I discovered that it was yours."
"I read what you were writing," he added.
She thought a second, what she was writing. Oh the passage about the lane. "Did you like it?"
That was a question he was completely unprepared for. "Apparently you did not understand what I was saying. I read what was on the datapadd."
"Yes, I know what you said. What did you read? If you can recall," she asked.
If she hadn't known better, she would have sworn he was turning an unusual shade of green. If she'd had a tricorder, she'd have discovered his heart rate go up a notch or two. As if the words were burned into his mind he began, "She allowed his hand to trail down her torso until he met the soft flesh of her buttocks. When he gripped her hard she couldn't help but lick her lips and utter a small laugh."
As Spock recited the text, Christine's eyes grew three times their usual size. When he stopped hoping that was enough to make her understand she squeaked, "Oh my God. You read my datapadd. Was that all you read?"
Again he cleared his throat, "No. I realize that this is a breach of your privacy and if you wish to file a complaint I will do so without hesitation. I do not expect leniency for such an indiscretion."
"You read more of it," she said completely stupefied. Why would he read such material?
"I read the entire text of the datapadd," he admitted and waited for the torrent of expletives. They didn't come. Instead the eyes that had been as big as dinner plates earlier narrowed. "Wait a minute. You are telling me that you figured out that the datapadd was mine, not yours and yet you kept on reading what was on it? That's an invasion of privacy."
Spock nodded, "Precisely. I will have the report on the captain's desk within the hour."
"Well, wait, I don't want to get you into official trouble. I don't want the captain to know what was in the datapadd then it would have to be logged as such. Wouldn't it?" she reasoned. He nodded. With a sigh, the nurse tried to think of a compromise. "Look, I'm not really mad at you. You were given the datapadd by accident, but I can't figure out why you wished to continue reading such obvious drivel."
Spock's head bobbed a second as if in agreement, "Yes, I was given the datapadd by accident and I do not know why I continued reading either. I will refute your statement that it was drivel. It was well written and highly descriptive, extremely descriptive. Rarely have I read passages that so clearly presented the picture in the fashion that you did. You have a talent for writing, Miss Chapel."
The compliment nearly knocked her for a loop. First she was being told Spock had read her pornographic fiction and then he was telling her that he not only liked it but that it was good. That alone called for some type of alcoholic beverage. "I don't suppose you have anything to drink do you?" she asked.
Spock had been around humans enough to know that she did not mean water. Opening a hidden drawer, he pulled out an oddly shaped flask that was half empty. It was a Vulcan wine that he indulged in privately. It was fruity and relaxing without being too heady. Humans would have referred to it as a dessert wine. Pouring both of them a glass, he handed her hers. She sipped it carefully before taking a bigger swallow. "This is delicious. What is it?"
"Pulem kava. It is a wine made of very sweet fruit. It is generally used to aid in relaxation before meditation," he supplied.
"Hmm, tastes like sangria. It's a fruit punch wine. I'll have to remember it the next time we get anywhere near a Vulcan supply depot. It is for public consumption?" she asked. So many things that she'd wished to try from Vulcan had been against their cultural taboos.
"Yes, it is a public goods," he confirmed. The wine was not helping him relax however. The question of what to do with his knowledge was still up in the air.
"Good. Now, back to the problem at hand. You think my writing is good?"
"I believe I said that. I do not pass along idle compliments. I do mean what I say."
"I'm not saying I don't appreciate the feedback, but I just have a difficult time with you reading what I wrote. You've said it was well written, all right that's great, but Spock, it's porno."
"I would consider it erotica, not the more vulgar 'porno' as you call it. There were no harsh words or attempts at sadism. You wrote of a tender, spontaneous coupling," he explained completely straight faced as if he were the editor of a publishing company.
Christine downed the rest of the wine and held the glass out. She was definitely going to need another one. Spock poured another full glass. "Thanks. You've read this stuff before?"
"I have read a great manner of literary genres. My mother encouraged reading fiction when I was a child. My father approved of this but preferred my material be more realistic. When I joined Star Fleet I was exposed to any number of pieces that I would never have had access to on Vulcan."
"Oh, I can imagine. Some of the stuff they have floating around San Francisco would make your hair stand on end," Chapel said remembering some of the more wild and far out stories she'd read while there.
"So from that perspective I do believe I am qualified to evaluate your work. It is worth considering attempting a professional piece," he stated flatly and poured more wine for her. She was going to drink the bottle dry if he kept going. "May I ask you a question?"
"Sure," she coughed.
"Why do you feel it necessary to write such fiction?"
"Why? Because I can, because I'm good at it, because I use it for therapy, all of the above," she tried.
She sighed, considered asking for more wine, but noticed that it had a kick after a while. Setting the glass down, she smoothed her skirt and tried to explain. "It's just that, since Roger... The feelings are still there. I'm not involved with anyone, but I still have urges."
Spock nodded, "Ah. You still have sexual desires. That is only logical. You are human after all. However, most humans simply fulfill their desires with someone, not write them down."
"Well, I'm not like most humans. It's hard to explain what happens when someone so close to you like Roger was to me dies. I was by no means an innocent when we met. I had had plenty of partners, but he was the first man who loved me or wanted me enough to want to marry me. I fell so deeply in love with him that I didn't even consider any other man until... well, I still don't really. The writing helps curb the cravings and the urges that a fickle body goes through. I know he's dead and I know that I am free to go find someone else, but I just don't seem to be able to do that in reality so I do that in my fiction. Does that make sense?" Her blue eyes tried to impress the sincerity of her words.
"But you declared your affection for me."
"I know, but well, you're safe," she admitted quietly.
Puzzle pieces fit into place. She'd not really gone after him because he was so irresistible. She had chosen him partly because he was unattainable. "You do not have an attachment to me?" he asked to be certain.
"Well, I wouldn't say that," she smiled softly. Her cheeks reddened from the revelation. "If anything, I love you on a different level than I ever loved Roger. Yes, you are unreachable and for a while that's what I need to heal. But on the other hand, you demand respect as well as loyalty. You have the utmost from me on both accounts. You've earned it. If it appears that my 'affection' for you is the reason that I remain so steadfastly beside you, it isn't. I'll follow you not because you say to, because I love you, or because you are my superior officer, but because you deserve it. Does that make sense?"
It did. Spock found that he felt the same way about Jim Kirk. He had a bond with the captain that did not break easily. It had been earned and fought for and given willingly. Spock thought of something that had presented itself that morning, "May I ask another question?"
She laughed a relaxed kava induced laugh, "Sure, what is it?"
"Why did you alter your hair color?"
"What makes you say I did?" she asked with a smile.
"This morning ... you were unclothed. You are not blonde ... everywhere," he stated as tactfully as possible.
Again her eyes widened like dinner plates. "You saw?"
"Vulcan eyesight is better than humans at perceiving details in the dark. We can also differentiate colors in dim light where humans usually only see shades of grey."
"Didn't mean to give you a free show. You did sort of wake me up. Well, to answer your question, Spock, you only live once I suppose. I thought being blonde would be a change of pace, more exciting."
"And has it been?"
"No, blondes do not have more fun, as it were. I suppose now that my secret is out, I should just put my hair back to its normal color. Now you're going to ask why I had the rose tattooed on my right hip, right?"
"I did not see a tattoo. Your right hip was not visible at the time."
"Oh, well, as I see it neither of us are really injured. You read something that you found enjoyable. I got my work back and a great compliment. I really don't think there's anything else to be said about it, do you?"
Spock mentally sighed from relief. "If that is how you wish to view the incident, that is how it will remain."
She stood up to leave. Looked at the now empty bottle of Pulem. "I drank all of it, I'm sorry. I'll buy you a new bottle when we get to the first base that sells it."
"It is not of importance," he excused.
"Well, I'll do it anyway. For my admiring public," she chuckled. The events would certainly be one to put down in her journal. Feeling all warm and relaxed she smiled, "Now all I need is a shower, and I'll go straight to sleep. That stuff is wonderful."
"It does have its medicinal uses. Would it be too presumptive to ask if I could be privy to reading anything new that you write?" he asked before she got to the door.
She turned, a sly look in her blue eyes. Almost catlike she regarded him standing there. "You'd like to be my proofreader?"
"If that is what you wish to call it."
"Deal. I'll warn you, though, I don't necessarily write daily, just when the notion hits."
"That is acceptable. Good night, Miss Chapel."
"Good night, Mr. Spock," she replied and started for her cabin almost too high on cloud nine to go to sleep. He liked her work. He had read her fiction and appreciated it. There had to be hope for her somewhere in the universe. After all, if she could write pornographic -- no, erotic, she corrected herself -- literature that a Vulcan could enjoy then she was talented indeed.