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. This story is Rated PG-13.

I Started a Joke


The Enterprise orbited Garrin III. It was a class-M, almost better than Earth planet, and the crew was enjoying what few days they were going to get while they picked up a few supplies. Jim Kirk was sitting with Leonard McCoy in mess hall #3 talking about the crew's unusually tense condition.

"I think it's just so close to going home for the final time," McCoy determined. The crew's antsy feet hadn't been overlooked by any of them. It was almost like they had a crew of jittery teenagers on board.

"Well, I know one thing ... oh, hello, Spock," McCoy interrupted himself. Commander Spock had entered with his datapadd and taken his requested tray of lunch to their table.

"Sit down Spock, what have you got there?"

The Vulcan set the datapad in front of the captain. "It is the crew performance report. There is an unusually high occurrence of potentially volatile outbursts."

"You mean they are as nervous as a cat in a room of rocking chairs," McCoy translated.

The Vulcan regarded the doctor with barely concealed annoyance. He too was feeling this unusually strong sense of ... something. He wasn't sure what it was. He couldn't pinpoint it, perhaps meditation.

"You were saying you knew something," Kirk reminded.

McCoy thought a second, "Oh, yeah. Christine's about to drive me nuts. She has rearranged sickbay so many times I can't find my lizard that hangs on the wall. She keeps trying to pack everything."

"Wanting to make sure that everything is taken care of before we get back for good, I suppose," Jim mused. He too had started going through the long list of things he'd put off completing, some for years, so there wouldn't be any loose ends.

"Well, I wish she'd just relax. I think that's what's eating most of the crew. They just need to sit and relax and have a nice time. Spock could teach her a few things, I bet," McCoy grinned and then an insidious little thought popped into his head. "Hey, you know... Adams came back talking about this little spot above the capital city. People go there to relax, and just you know, relax..."

Jim Kirk wondered what little spot Adams had referred to. As far as he knew the only place that overlooked the capital city was an area known as 'inspiration point', and it was definitely not for relaxation. Well, not that kind anyway. Spock appeared intrigued. It sounded like the spot he might actually enjoy. This feeling that he could not dismiss or explain was threatening to drive him to distraction. Meditation in his cabin was not helping. Perhaps a night in the open air with nature might help. "Doctor, could you give me more information about this particular area?"

He took the bait. McCoy tried to sound serious. "Well, it's apparently this little park area. You go up there, sit in your car or out on a blanket and drink in the atmosphere. It's supposed to provide inspiration and well being." He sounded like someone trying to sell a health product or entry to heaven. Kirk had to swallow carefully, or he'd choke on his coffee. "It's kind of a mystical/magical type spot. You thinking of trying it?"

"It would seem an interesting are to visit. Considering I am being forced to go down, it would be a logical place to visit," he decided. It sounded peaceful and calming.

"Tell you what. I'll give you those coordinates on one condition..." At the doctor's wagging finger, Spock rose an eyebrow. "...take Christine with you. She is about to climb the walls. You could show her a few Vulcan techniques. I'm certain she would appreciate the experience, and you can consider it doing a fellow crewmember a world of good."

Spock sighed. The addition of Christine Chapel was a bit bothersome. Still, if all he had to do was teach her techniques in relaxation, it would not be so bad. He nodded and two amazed humans watched as the Vulcan first officer unwittingly signed on to take a certain head nurse on a date to 'inspiration point.'

* * *

Christine Chapel was whirling in sickbay like a windmill in a storm. She had to get everything shipshape and Bristol fashion as her grandfather had said. It was like she was readying the place for a new owner soon and didn't want them to find dust bunnies behind the desks. It didn't matter that the ship still had 6 months left to cruise and could get blown to kingdom come tomorrow when they left Garrin III. Picking up a stack of data tapes that McCoy always took out and then just left sitting out, she sighed with great annoyance as she plopped them back into their slots. She was an efficient nurse, almost too efficient. She couldn't handle it when the wrong cassette was in the wrong case. To McCoy it was all the same. She didn't hear Spock arrive in the room till he nearly scared the pants off her. "Miss Chapel?"

Letting out a little yelp, she twirled on him. "Mr. Spock, may I help you?"

He immediately understood what the doctor had been talking about. She was as wound up as a steel spring. "Perhaps it is I who can help you."

"Huh?" she asked. She was in no mood for games. Brushing the now brown locks away from her flushed face, the blue eyes stood out even more than when she was blonde. He wondered for the fifteenth time why she had changed her hair color. He might ask sometime if it was appropriate.

"Dr. McCoy believes that you would be willing to go with me when I beam down to Garrin III."

"Hold it, whoa, you want me to go with you to Garrin III?" she asked, immediately wary. The mention of her superior's name didn't aid in her attitude.

"He feels that it would do you 'wonders' if you were to relax. He has suggested a spot that Ensign Adams spoke to him about while on the planet. It is supposed to be conducive to relaxation. He also suggested I show you some of the Vulcan techniques I use," Spock said, completely innocent.

Christine was counting backward in her head, 4, 3, 2, 1... "Okay, let me get this straight. Leonard said I would like to go with you to a spot that Adams suggested? And you are to show me some Vulcan techniques in order to relax?"

Spock nodded at her adequate appraisal of his proposal. She tried to get her mind out of the single gear it was stuck in at the moment. "Sure, why not? I mean, what have I got to lose?" she smiled. In fact, she had everything to gain. Thanks Leonard, she thought with a note of glee.

"I am to beam down at 1930, can you be prepared by then?" he asked, completely innocent of the situation that was about to blow up in his hands.

* * *

Christine had spent an hour trying to figure out what she'd wear on a historic first date with a Vulcan. She couldn't believe that she'd waited all of four years to get him to notice her and now less than six months from docking for the final time, he was finally getting around to it. She chose a simple outfit, a summer sweater that fit her curves like a glove and a pair of corduroy walking shorts. She didn't want to look like a floozy, and it did get a little chilly on Garrin III after dark. When Adams had come aboard, going on and on about this spot that all the locals frequent, she'd been reminded of the times she and Roger had spent necking on the heights above her hometown. It too had been the hot spot for the teenage crowd, and there were even a few of the older generation there who had been able to get away until after their kids were grown. She'd always enjoyed her evenings.

Spock waited in the transporter room. He wore his duty uniform. He saw no reason to change into non-regulation clothes simply because he was off duty. Christine entered in the late summer outfit and carried a bag containing a quilt and a couple of inflatable pillows and bug spray. She didn't care what world they were on, there were always bugs, and she attracted them like ants to sugar. Spock regarded her attire a little quizzically but dismissed it and stepped up to the transporter pad. The transporter technician swore to God he'd wait until they were gone five minutes before he'd let everyone on the ship know where they were going...

* * *

Garrin III was beautiful by dusk. Twilight was setting in and the gloaming hour that played havoc with driver's vision made the world seem a different place entirely. Spock led Christine up to the highest point in this area. He was a little mystified as to why it would be considered so restful. It looked like a massive parking lot, and a littered one at that. Still, there was a patch of grass that sloped downward at a slight angle and would precipitate the meditative techniques he would be employing. He pointed to a particular spot. "Here."

She shrugged, "Okay." Setting the bag down, she pulled out the quilt and spread it out to create a nice clean area to sit. Spock nodded. She had thought ahead. He sat down after a moment. It was an intricately designed quilt and old. The stitches were starting to go. Something about the well worn appearance made it even more valuable. He watched as she began rubbing a fragrant anti-bug lotion on her bare arms and legs. "What are you doing?"

"Bugs just love me. I guess it's my body chemistry. I really don't relish a case of chiggers when we get back," she replied. It was so odd. What would she talk about with him? Soon the gloaming gave way to twilight, and she could hear the sound of skimmers pulling into various slots above them. The way the ground sloped, they could not see the skimmers or they them, and she preferred it that way. Spock sat, knees up to his chest and watched as the light faded from view. He did not look about or acknowledge there was anyone else there. Christine sat and waited. After about half an hour, she could hear the faint notes of a popular tune and started humming the rest of the strains of "Moonlight Serenade." It was a quiet area and peaceful. Spock said only one thing. "Please do not hum. It interferes with my concentration."

"Sorry," she answered quietly. He said nothing else. He simply lay back on the blanket and stared at the growing mass of stars. It was indeed restful. Allowing his eyes to close, he went into a deep meditative trance.

Christine sat, completely ill at ease. She didn't know what Vulcans considered date etiquette, but to lie down and meditate definitely didn't fit into her idea of the scenario. The stars twinkled above and she could see why it was considered the perfect rendezvous spot. The lights from the city did not glow up here and it allowed the full spectrum of the night sky to be seen by the naked eye. Christine sat and watched the moon rise, hit its apex, and fall. Everytime she thought of something to say or ask, she would turn, and he'd be so still she decided that he'd fallen asleep. Getting tired of sitting, she pulled out the little travel pillow she'd brought and lay down beside Spock. Soon she was sound asleep. It was a restful area indeed.

* * *

Christine woke with a bright glow of daylight in her eyes. Spock sat rather stiffly looking at her. He seemed displeased. "Good morning, Miss Chapel."

She cleared her throat. "Good morning, Mr. Spock."

She felt a little sheepish. By the way he was acting she thought she'd tried to molest him in her sleep. Her clothes were rumpled, she was disheveled, and she was hungry. It was time to go back to the ship. Spock was perfectly groomed and showed no sign of their evening at inspiration point. It was a restful area, but why it was considered by Adams as a little slice of paradise he couldn't fathom. Instead of taking note of Spock's meditative techniques, Christine appeared to have fallen asleep. When he brought himself out of his trance, she was lying against him with an arm draped across his chest and a leg seductively curled around his. He had removed them carefully and composed himself before rousing her. They had to go aboard. Helping her rise to her feet, he waited for her to fold the quilt up and back into the bag. Opening his communicator, he signaled the Enterprise. Before they left he asked. "Did you learn anything?"

Her answer was an odd look and, "Huh?"

His response was cut off as they dematerialized.

* * *

On board ship, the Enterprise was calming down at least a little. People were still jittery, but they were more relaxed about it. Christine had gotten several odd looks as she walked to sickbay that afternoon. The transporter technician that had beamed them down the night before had been there when they arrived and noted her rather slept in condition. It took exactly 24.6 minutes for the four corners of the ship to know her state.

"Afternoon, Chris, did you have a nice time at 'inspiration point'?" McCoy chuckled as she walked in. The look he got was definitely not going to get her nominated for the Florence Nightingale commendation. She just glowered at him, "Leonard David McCoy, whoever gave you the bright idea to tell Spock that I would like to see his ... 'technique' should be shot!"

"Well, if I do say so myself, it was my idea. What? Didn't he ... uh ... you know..?"

"Didn't he ... uh ... you know ... what? He meditated! The only thing he said to me the whole time was that my humming interfered in his concentration. I slept all evening!" she was practically fuming. This was one little joke that a contrite expression wasn't going to get Dr. McCoy off the hook so easily.

Ensign Jacob Adams came in. "Hey, Christine, great pics of you and Spock on the BBS! Congratulations!"

A stunned look swept over both of the chief medical staff's faces. Rushing to her station, they pulled the area of the BBS that Adams had told them to and there they were. Someone had taken pictures of the two of them lying on her quilt in a rather provocative pose. Christine had an arm and a leg across Spock and he appeared to be enjoying it. At least, he wasn't frowning. Christine turned on both men. "All right, which one of you arranged that little lie?!"

McCoy was shaking his head violently. "It wasn't me, honest. I just had Spock ask you down, that's all."

Adams was trying to back out before he was pounced on. "I don't know. I just found them on the BBS that's all."

"I'll find out, all right," she decided and stomped out. She didn't care that she was on duty or that everyone on the ship would be talking about her wherever she went. Heading to Nyota Uhura's cabin, she practically beat the door chime off the wall waiting for her to respond. The bleary eyed Bantu was about to ask who the hell it was until she saw the look on Christine's face and determined it was just best to let her in.

"You've got to help me. Someone has spread a scandalous picture of Spock and me all over. I wanna find out who it is and how many years I'll get for killing them."

"Okay, okay, calm down. Show me what you're talking about."

* * *

For the next hour, Uhura traced feedback and loops and finally got to the source. It was a group of junior crew that Christine didn't even know except as names on a card. They'd done it as a joke. She was sick of jokes at her expense. She explained about the scene.

Uhura was intrigued. "Spock and you went to 'inspiration point'?"

"Good God, why can't you people get it through your heads. He was told it was a restful area and that I needed rest and should take note of his techniques, his meditative techniques. I fell asleep and now these ... trash pictures are all over. Spock will think I put McCoy up to it just to get him in an embarrassing situation. I could kill him," she decided and started to get very, very angry. Her face turned three shades of pink to deep magenta so fast that Uhura thought she would explode.

"Look, let me get dressed..."

"Oh, God, I'm on duty," the nurse realized and just shook her head in despair. "I'll see you later."

"Later..." Uhura's voice trailed off as her friend in blue went streaking back down the hallway.

* * *

For three days, Christine barricaded herself in either the labs or her room. She couldn't eat in the mess hall, she all the eyes of the crew intent on her every expression. It couldn't have been worse if she'd been nude in the photos. She didn't dare face McCoy. She was so mad at him she was afraid she'd hit him. He just let her keep her distance. He had really, really screwed up this time. What had started out as a cute joke to play on Spock ended up hurting a person he would never have hurt if his soul would have depended on it.

Spock, however, had no such compunctions about keeping his distance. He had become aware of the pictures everyone was chattering about and once again found himself the butt of one of the good doctor's pranks. He did wait at least 36 hours before he confronted him with the facts. "Dr. McCoy," Spock began as he entered sickbay.

McCoy was sitting at his desk but his chair was facing the wall. He could hear him utter, "Oh, no..." Turning he looked at Spock square in the eyes, but had a guilty little frown tugging at his lips. "Mr. Spock, how are you today?"

Spock noted the completely polite tone that the doctor normally did not address him with unless he knew he was in really hot water. The Vulcan seized his opportunity. "I am physically in perfect health. However, the relaxation that I had sought on Garrin III has in essence been tossed out the window. I take it you are aware of the untruths that are circulating through the ship."

McCoy gulped and nodded. The crew had them doing everything from the horizontal mambo to making their bodies one big edible banana split. Christine hadn't spoken to McCoy, not even on direct order for two days now. He didn't blame her. He didn't blame Spock either for that matter. Spock continued, "I assure you that the matter has come to my full attention. I am surprised that you are still alive actually."

"Now you wouldn't have me drawn and quartered for a joke would you?" he laughed half-heartedly.

"I am not referring to myself. However, Miss Chapel's reputation aboard this ship is in severe jeopardy. I assumed that she would have been the one to kill you," he answered a little gleefully. In the back of his mind he wondered where she was.

"She won't talk to me. She's in Lab #4 and doesn't come out for meals or anything. She just sits there. Probably working on some really vile poison to give me," he answered dejectedly. He had pleaded, cajoled, teased, begged, ordered, and just plain asked her to come out or let him in. She hadn't budged.

Spock considered the heap of a human before him. McCoy had not meant harm and was feeling the repercussions of his act. Even Jim Kirk had shied away from him for a couple days. He hadn't been too pleased with the trick McCoy had come up with in the first place. Perhaps Spock could get Christine to respond. McCoy asked hopefully, "Spock, go see if she'll talk to you, please. She won't even talk to Uhura."

Spock thought a moment and deemed it the logical thing to do. After all, he was just as injured by the photos and gossip as she had been. "She's in Lab #4?"

"Yes, and could you try to get her to eat something? She's not touched food for three days..." he added as Spock headed down to Lab #4. That last suggestion made him alter course for a few moments.

* * *

Spock stood at the door to Lab #4 with a covered tray of food. She had done so for him once. It was time he repaid her kindness. He paged the lab and spoke into the comm panel. "Miss Chapel, please allow me to enter. It is Mr. Spock."

For 2.5 minutes there was no response. Finally as he was about to call again, the door slid open. He entered. She was sitting grimly on one of the lab stools. Her eyes were red with days' worth of tears and fatigue. Spock set the tray in front of her. "I have brought you lunch."

She barely looked at it. "I don't want it."

"You have not eaten..." He tried sounding strangely like she did two years earlier.

"I said," she interrupted a little louder. Her tone was harsh and pained, "I don't want ANY!"

Spock left the tray on the table. He would not antagonize her. He was there to try to calm her down. "Dr. McCoy is concerned about your well being."

"Yeah, that's a pip. Well, tell him I'm fine and dandy. Just fine and dandy," she answered, fairly gritting her teeth. She was so tired and the anger used up the rest of her energy. She'd spent three days trying to figure out what the hell she was doing with her life and had just now come to the decision she had needed to make years earlier.

"You are apparently not just fine and dandy," Spock countered softly. Her expression changed a little.

"No, I guess I'm not. But I will be. You see, I've used this time of solitude to do a little serious thinking about my life and what I've made of it. Do you know what I've discovered?" she asked challengingly.

Spock shook his head. "No, I have not."

She breathed deeply and faced him unflinching. "I've been a fool all these years. You were right when you kept telling me to buzz off. I am going to be 33 in February and for at least 15 years now I've been living my life for a man or the idea of a man. Well, from now on, I live for one thing, my career. I don't give a damn about having a husband or a family or a life companion. I have to stand on my own two feet instead of looking for someone to lean on all the time. So you see, Leonard has actually done me a favor."

Her sheer anger nearly knocked him back from the place he stood. She was hurt like a wounded animal and was dangerous in this state. "I've been in here all this time trying to get my files and work together to submit to Starfleet Medical and pray to God they'll take me as a doctoral candidate. So, you see, I've not just been brooding in here, Mr. Spock."

She indicated a rather immense stack of data tapes that over the years she'd logged as research work. He had known that she logged more hours in the research labs than any other scientist aboard ship. She logged even more hours than Spock but just barely. She also worked longer hours than most of the crew and was on call 24 hours, 7 days a week. She rarely took extended shore leave and had been late only twice in five years of service. Both times she'd been stuck in the turbo-lift and it had stopped between decks. Her record was spotless. This latest fiasco with the pictures was the only blight on an otherwise sterling personal record. It would not be actually logged on anything official, but still, it affected the way she worked with the crew.

He offered her the only thing he had to give her. "If you need a reference or a sponsor, I would be proud to do so."

She softened visibly. She was once again that lovely head nurse that turned many heads on board ship but had only eyes for one man. Now those eyes were for no one. He felt almost grief stricken. He felt as if he lost a great gift that had only been his. He felt sorrow. He did not allow it to show.

"Thank you, I may have to take you up on the offer. In fact, if you could do me a favor. I can't work on board anymore. I just can't. I've got to get off the ship as soon as I can. If I leave within the week, I can be home and settled before the Spring semester. It would be a relief to you as well. You wouldn't be plagued with me anymore," she nearly sobbed. She was so tired and angry. She was also hungry.

Spock hesitated to grant her request. She was making this in a purely emotional state of mind. He did not wish her to regret the decision later. He thought of the tray of food. "I will do so on one condition."

"What?" she asked her voice barely able to squeak out the word.

"Eat every morsel of food on this tray," he said. He had purposely requested her favorites so he knew she couldn't refuse on dislike of the selections.

With a sigh of resignation, she uncovered the tray. Chicken, mashed potatoes, gravy, and corn. Looking up at him, she smiled a little. "You looked in my files?"

"It is only right. You have read mine many times," he teased a little. His voice was soft and tender. His eyes held nothing but admiration for her. He would do the one thing he could for this woman.

"Well, no more, mister, you're on your own from here on," she answered and shoved a fork of mashed potatoes in her mouth. She was hungry but the first taste of food stuck in her throat until she thought she was gonna choke. She forced it down, she had to eat it all. It might come back up before the night was over, but she'd get it all down.

* * *

Commander Spock finished his transfer request data file. As he perched one finger over the enter button, he hesitated. Christine Chapel's face loomed on the screen. As soon as he punched the button, it was done. She would be gone. Trying to come up with some other way to get her to stay, to change her mind, he could not. This was what she wanted and had made herself physically ill over the night before to get. It wasn't as if she were being fired or given a reprimand. She would be gone in six months anyway. They would all be gone in six months. It was just that she was leaving under duress. She was right, he should be pleased to see her go. She was going to medical school to become a surgeon and xenobiologist. She would do well. Her past work had indicated that. She would do them proud. He would miss her. That was not logical. Logic dictated that she further her career and advance her life to its fullest measure. Just press the button, he told himself. The finger stuck in mid-air. But, what can you offer her ... nothing. He was not suited for marriage, he had known that all along. He could not give her what she had wanted from him. Now he had the opportunity to. With a sigh, he let his finger drop and the transfer was underway.

* * *

They weren't that far from Starfleet so the message had taken a short time to return. She was to be dropped off at the first starbase they came to and then would be transferred back to begin classes immediately. She was a catch in the medical field. It was such a shock to everyone on board that they hadn't time to give her a proper send off. She only got a card and a few kind words from the crew before she could pack up. Most stopped by personally and offered their congratulations or where they could be contacted when the mission was over. Uhura had been so hurt by her sudden leaving that it took all she could do to say goodbye. Christine didn't speak to McCoy at all. She had her stuff cleaned out and packed while he was off duty. She was set to beam down at 1100. It was 1045. Her things were already stashed away in the anti-grav cart and ready to go.

* * *

"Leonard McCoy, if you don't go see her, you'll hate this moment for the rest of your life," Jim Kirk was saying as McCoy sat depressed in his chair. He'd been in that slumped brooding position ever since he'd heard about her transfer. He was proud of her for getting accepted, but not the way she was leaving. He'd still have her as his nurse and close friend for another six months if he'd kept his big mouth shut. He knew Jim was right. He just didn't want Christine to get mad at him anymore.

"I know, I know, I'll get down there, honest," he muttered.

"Well, when? She leaved in fifteen minutes," Kirk reminded.

Slapping his desktop, he pushed himself out of the chair. He'd have to do it.

* * *

Christine didn't look back as she walked out of her cabin for the final time. Taking the cart in hand, she made certain to keep hold of the little charm that Scotty had given her just moments ago. He was a man of few words, such a gentleman. She never knew that he was sweet on her. He just couldn't tell people his feelings. He had given her a Celtic charm and a peck on the cheek and had blushed deeply when he had done that. She smiled warmly. "Scotty, I treasure you. You are such a dear man."

Now she held it close to her as she started to go. A voice stopped her. "Chris."

Leonard McCoy had been father, comrade, boss, friend. She couldn't stay mad at him forever. Turning, she didn't smile. "Leonard..."

The gentleman in him broke and he rushed to her,"Chris, I'm sorry. I know it's nothing, but please ... I'm sorry."

She allowed a grin to cross her face and brushed the tears away that were streaming down his face. "I know. You've done me a favor really. Just think, in a couple years I'm gonna be a doctor and you won't be able to order me around like you have for five years."

"Yeah, I just wish ... sickbay is gonna be so lonesome without you. You're the only one who knows where anything is."

She laughed. "That's why you're gonna miss me, you can't find anything."

He nodded. Yeah, that was it. He was gonna miss her smile, her frown, her laugh, her perfume, her essence, her soul. He had known her longer than his ex-wife. In ways he felt married to her they had shared so much. Now, she was tearing his heart out. "Don't go."

She cried, "I have to. You know I have to. Look, I'll write to you. I'll probably be asking for your help when you get done with your tour. Promise you'll come to my graduation?"

"First row, center seat, biggest mouth in the whole damned hall," he promised.

"That's the truth. Look, I gotta go, I'm gonna be late," she said and with tears streaming down both their faces, they parted. Before she got too far he called, "Hey, what did you do with my lizard?"

She replied laughing, "You'll have to look for him, I can't remember..."

* * *

Luckily, the walk to transporter room #2 was deserted. She could compose herself before leaving. Just as she thought she would be home free, a certain Vulcan stood waiting at the door. She smiled. She hadn't really expected to see him, but it was nice that he came. "Miss Chapel."

"Mr. Spock."

"May I help you with your things?"

Christine nodded, might as well. "Thank you. It's amazing how much junk you accumulate after all these years."

Spock took the cart and followed her to the transporter room. Lt. Burkett was on duty again. He'd seen these two a lot lately. They stopped before she went to the platform. Spock began, "I wished to tell you how much your work has meant these past five years. You are an invaluable asset."

She blushed slightly. "Thank you. I was just doing my duty."

"You are gifted. Your talents are in need. Please do not discount returning to the ship when your degree is complete."

She thought that odd. "Okay, I'll think about it. Let's just get the degree first. I'll have enough with that on my mind. But, again, thank you."

She noted the time and turned to go. Starting up the steps, his hand brushed hers. She was rather startled. She stopped and turned back to him. He took her hand. After all, this began with a bunch of gossip. At least this way the rumors would be partially true. Stepping up to stand even with her, he smiled at her. Gently, he took her in a deep embrace and kissed her tenderly, passionately. He meant it. The technician behind the controls stood rooted to the spot. They parted. Her eyes were confused, moist, a smile around her lips. He spoke, "One does not thank logic. It was ... my pleasure."

Christine nodded and with grim determination in her eyes, she stepped onto the disk with her things about her. One last look before she left. "Energize."

Spock watched her go and turned to look directly at the tech. "You should have taken a picture. It would have lasted longer." He left.

The account of Spock's farewell to the former head nurse circulated through the ship within half an hour. Rumors and gossip flew in every direction, and for six months Spock did not deny any of the innuendo or answer any of the questions regarding his relationship with Christine Chapel.