Disclaimer:  The usual fine print: Paramount owns 'em, lock, stock and smoking phaser barrel.  I am just playing a game of "what if" and no infringement intended.  Copyright 2006 Mistress V.  Permission to archive at Trek Tales, all others need only ask.  Rated R.

 

Girl's Night In

Mistress V

 

Tuesday

"Spock, I have to get up, and so do you!"  Christine tried, and failed, to wriggle out of his embrace.  "It's 05:45 and I'm due in sickbay in less than an hour, and I'm starved, so I intend to eat breakfast before I go on duty."

"Hmmm," Spock replied as he caressed her hips.  "And how long does it take to consume a nutrition bar?  We could further conserve time by showering together, which is logical."

She stared down at his face as the emotions played across it, something she never tired of seeing.  Then she trailed a finger lightly over something hard, enjoying the shiver it sent through his body.  "After all the fun we had in the Science Officer's personal lab last night and you're still looking for more?  I knew Vulcans had stamina, but as a physician..."

"Yes, Doctor?"

"I guess I'll have to remedy the malady being presented to me."

* * *

 

"What time shall I meet you this evening?" she asked as they waited for the turbolift.

"The transmission is set for 19:00, which gives ample time for you to finish your duty shift first.  My parents shall both be on the call."  He gave her a quick kiss as the lift stopped.

The door opened to reveal Kala, dressed in her spa smock and carrying a gym bag.  "Good morning," she said brightly.  Spock nodded in her direction as the door closed again.

"Where are you off to so early?" Christine asked.

Kala sighed.  "Sickbay!  A couple of morons overdid the martial arts in class last night and are in need of deep tissue massage.  Dr. M'Benga called.  Apparently, nothing cures the problem better than good old fashioned hands-on therapy."  She regarded her friend.  "Isn't this like practicing medicine without a license?"

"I'll vouch for you, Kala," Christine replied, "and besides, I'll be the attending physician.  I could use a massage too, come to think of it..."

"Overdid it too, Doc?"  A smile played across the woman's face, subtle like a Vulcan smile, but Christine caught its meaning.

"Yep, too many late nights in the lab."  She ignored the hand that had slid down to make contact with her rear end.  "Speaking of late nights, we still on for Friday?"

Kala let a full smile grace her features.  "You bet!  I just got the holologue of fabrics, too.  And an underground vid!"

Spock looked at both of the women, who were all but ignoring him.  The conversation twisted and turned as fast at the lift's journey, touching on lemon drops, Jameses, color schemes, Nyotas and highlights.  Not much of it made sense, but he had long ceased trying to understand such things.

The lift stopped again and they exited, chatting away, leaving Spock with a faintly puzzled expression on his face.  Christine waved to him as she left but did not even break the conversation, let alone turn around.

At that moment, Kirk appeared and joined the Vulcan.  "Bridge," he said.  "What's up, Spock?  You look a littlee -- confused this morning?" he asked as he watched the departing females through the closing doors.

Spock shook his head.  "I am still having some problems comprehending Terran female terms of speech, I fear."

Kirk gave his friend a light punch on the shoulder, something only he was allowed to do when the situation merited it.  "Ah, yes.  Girl talk.  Get used to it, my friend.  It'll only get worse."

"I intend to, Jim," Spock replied.

* * *

 

"And did you have a massage, then?" Spock asked as they settled in front of the computer later that evening.

"No, a couple of hangovers from Riley's weekly poker party descended on us almost as soon as I got there, and by the time we sobered them up and got security to deal with the aftermath, Kala was back at the spa."

"Security?" Spock asked as he engaged the computer.

Christine grimaced.  "A little altercation about suspected cheating, what else?  Good thing they were off duty today, or they might have ended up in the brig.  As it was, Scotty himself turned up and gave the boys a little fatherly lecture instead.  I'm sure he went off to chew Riley's ass afterwards, though."

"Mr. Scott is quite adept at diffusing such situations, it would appear."  Spock turned to her with a half-smile.  "And I do believe I saw Lt. Riley limping past me at some point this afternoon."

The monitor opened to a view of Sarek and Amanda.  They were seated in their living room, looking as elegant as always.  Christine vaguely wondered how the transmission looked to Spock's parents, as both she and their son were sitting at his personal quarters desk, which was piled high with reports, dressed clearly in off-duty clothing -- something she never could have imagined just a few months ago.

"Good evening, my son.  Christine," Sarek said.  Amanda echoed his sentiments with a smile.

"My parents, Christine and I are grateful that you could be available to assist us.  I trust all is well on Vulcan?"

"Yes, my son," Sarek replied.  "But you are lucky that your bonding ceremony has been planned already.  The following week, young Stark's new winter sports facility shall open in Shi-Kahr, and it would appear that half the galaxy plans to be in attendance."

Spock and Christine glanced at each other.  The half-Vulcan Olympic snowboard champion, who currently resided on Terra, in Lake Tahoe, had quickly announced plans to bring winter sports to the youth of Vulcan.  The grounds were that physical activity was a logical way to safely channel the energy of young people.  Surprisingly, the Vulcan government had agreed to this notion (Spock vaguely wondered if his father had not had some influence on this), and work had progressed quickly after that.  The facility, a remodeled arts complex, was rumored to be state of the art.  Stark had also formed his own corporation, with a view to expanding both ventures and venues.

"Will Stark be at the opening?" Spock asked, curious.

Amanda nodded.  "He is due to arrive on Vulcan in a few weeks, but when and where are closely-guarded state secrets.  He is currently in the Arabian States on Terra, where he's consulting with the architects of the indoor skiing facilities there."  She turned her attention to the upcoming festivities in her own home.  "Christine, what can I assist you with?"

"Lady Amanda," Christine began.

"It is Amanda, my child," Amanda replied with a smile.

"Amanda...  I need to ask about the logistics of where the ceremony will be taking place so my dressmaker can better design my gown."

"Of course," the older woman said.  "You will not be walking far, so a train would be quite appropriate for your attendant.  The weather shall be hot, even at sunset, with some breeze possible, for it will be our summer.  The ceremony will take perhaps an hour at most, since it is not a full traditional bonding.  Your guests will be standing in the garden, it will be shaded.  How many will you be inviting?

Spock answered.  "No more than ten for the actual ceremony and reception."

"And Christine, what else do require?"

"I need to know about flowers, because it is a Terran tradition to carry them, and my maid will also have some.  These should match my dress.  What types of flowers are in season, and what colors are they?"

Sarek spoke.  "The House of Tu'vok, an esteemed horticultural clan, can provide any color of Vulcan orchids you require.  It will not be a problem."

Christine paused to look at the PADD she had in front of her.  "Then blue-lilac would be the color I need.  I can send you a holo of the fabric once I have chosen it later this week, to match?"

Amanda nodded.  "That's fine.  The bonding planner can arrange this."

"Bonding planner?" Spock interjected.  He had heard the term before, but his father had pled ignorance to the definition.  He noticed his father's expression change as well, to one of resigned acceptance.  Clearly, this had been the topic of many previous conversations between his parents.

"Yes, her name is T'Jen.  She is the niece of the Lady T'ser, the former Vulcan Cultural attache to Terra.  Apparently, she began this venture as a favor to a relative who was bonding offworld and did so well, she started an entire business.  I shall arrange a meeting for you so she can discuss final arrangements.  When do you arrive on Vulcan?"

Spock whispered briefly into Christine's ear, then she addressed the couple.  "Sunday evening, the week before the ceremony on Friday."  Was it her imagination or did Sarek have that quasi-amused expression on his face she had seen before?

"Perfect.  That gives plenty of time to plan the other activities.  Is there anything else you need assistance with?"

"Yes," Christine sighed.  "We are having our shipboard Federation wedding ceremony that morning, at 10:00, with a brief wedding breakfast afterwards for the participants.  You and the Ambassador are invited, of course, if you can make it.  But we would like to have a reception for those shipmates who would like to attend, down on the planet somewhere.  Do you have any suggestions?  Remember," she said with a wince, "they are not Vulcans ... they'll want to dance, perhaps drink, have fun.  It's a tradition on Terra -- and since Spock and I leave for our honeymoon direct from Vulcan the following Sunday, there's no other time we can do this.  But we don't want Vulcan to get the wrong impression of things, you understand."

"I'm sure we can arrange something at the Diplomatic Compound.  What say you, my husband?" Amanda asked Sarek.

He thought a moment.  "Leave this with me, I should have an answer for you within a solar day or two at most.  And of course we shall attend your shipboard ceremony!  I have every faith the ... bonding planner ... can take care of any last-minute details in our absence."

"Father, I too need a small favor, if you can possibly arrange it," Spock said.

"My son?" Sarek replied.

"I would like to invite a special colleague to the ceremony."

"By all means, let us discuss this."

* * *

 

"That was simpler than I thought," Christine sighed.  Spock continued to massage the knots out of her shoulders.  "MMMM, I like that."

"I have every confidence in my parents.  So what are you doing on Friday with your friends?" Spock asked as his fingers traversed her spine carefully.

"Girl's night, wedding plans, you know."

Spock clearly did not know, but chose not to say anything.  He smiled to himself.  "I guess I shall be forced to seek the company of Jim for a game of chess that evening," he sighed in mock self-pity.

"I'm sure he'll be glad to see you," Christine retorted playfully.  "Seeing as you're always 'otherwise engaged' these days."

"Are you relaxed now, beloved?"  He wrapped his arms around her and kissed her earlobe.

"I think so..." she sighed again.  His hands moved lower.

"As your friend says, T'hyla, hands-on therapy is most beneficial in releasing tension."

"Mmmm, and I'm afraid I still have some ... residual tension..."

* * *

 

Wednesday

 

Sarek sat at his desk in his office, waiting for the transmission to begin.  He mused on the state of things.  Only a few short years ago, such happenings would be unknown on Vulcan, but it was now clear that times were changing.  For better, for worse, it was too soon to be able to make a logical judgment.  But no matter what, the diplomacy game was the same as it had always been.

A familiar older figure appeared on screen.  Sarek addressed his Klingon counterpart.  "Kl'o'rox, my old friend, greetings."

"Sarek, you slime devil, how are you?"  From the joviality of their salutations, it would seem hard to believe their respective consular missions were only miles apart in Shi-Kahr.  Official duties, of course, kept even the friendliest of diplomatic rivals from seeing each other often.  They had known each other, through times of animosity as well as peace, for many, many years.  Their first meeting had been on the planet Cait, years ago, but even Kl'o'rox knew never to mention this in Amanda's presence, and after the recent Iggys broadcast, Sarek was extremely glad for his colleague's diplomacy.

"I am well, you old buzzard."  Sarek had learned this term from Amanda, and it seemed to fit the persona perfectly.  "I have a proposition for you."

The Klingon raised his eyebrows in surprise.  "This is news, my friend.  Do tell me more.  Oh, and by the way, word has reached me that your son is to be wed soon.  May I offer you my congratulations.  Perhaps over a Saurian brandy at some point?"

Sarek returned the gaze.  "K'adlo, my friend.  Your proposal is a fine idea.  Now, to business..."

* * *

 

"Vulcan Heat," the Terran receptionist said perkily.  "How may I assist you?"

"This is Ambassador Sarek of Vulcan," Sarek replied.

* * *

 

Thursday

 

The interstellar post had been busy that day.

Christine looked up from a transmission she had received from Amanda.  To her horror, a long list of events had been planned for them as a couple, as well as separate ones for her, it seemed.  "We should have eloped," she muttered to herself.  Suddenly, every fear of not being good enough for Spock of Vulcan started to surface.

"T'hyla?" Spock asked as he joined her.  He had just come off duty.  They read the missive together.

"A reception at the Terran Embassy Sunday evening?  What for?" Christine asked.  She had hoped that the week before the bonding ceremony would be a quiet one where she might be able to engage in one of her passions, hiking in the early morning, in the desert surrounding Shi Kahr.

"The Ambassador himself suggested this," Spock replied.  He had earlier been speaking with his father on another matter.  "It will be quite small, just us, my parents, and the Captain and Dr. McCoy."

"But the Enterprise won't be in orbit yet!" Christine pointed out.

Spock stroked the back of her neck.  "My father will send a diplomatic shuttle for us on Sunday as planned, and the Captain and the Doctor will be able to accompany us to Vulcan for the event.  They will be back on the ship later that night.  The distances are not that vast, and it is only because the Enterprise is slated to stop en route to Vulcan that we need to proceed this way."

"Now I guess I need to pack my dress uniform," she grumbled good-naturedly.

"You look quite fetching in it," Spock replied, remembering the first time he -- and his father -- had seen her splendidly attired in its finery.  "And you will be wearing it on Friday aboard the Enterprise as well."

Christine returned to the list.  "Marriage license, both Terran and Vulcan, well, there goes the day.  Bureaucracy.  Medical checkup?"

Spock shrugged.  "It is required for all couples who wish to bond.  Vulcan or non-Vulcan.  So you can quit feeling discriminated against, beloved."  His eyes held a glint of his own peculiar brand of humor.  She slapped at him.

"Meeting with bonding planner, oh Lord.  And what's a 'Ne'ahu-po'pra'veeh'nya'?  And why is it just me that will attend?"  Christine vaguely wondered if it was some kind of trial to prove her worthiness as Spock's intended.

"It is a traditional ceremony of welcome for a new female member to our clan.  Other females from the prominent clans will be in attendance.  No males are allowed.  The closest thing I can compare it to is the Terran concept of a bridal shower?  Though there are more formalities, but it is rumored to be an enjoyable event.  My mother shall accompany you.  It will be held at our clan estate."

"Doesn't -- your grandmother live there?"  Christine's stomach was beginning to knot up.  Maybe she really would have to fight for him.

"Yes, T'hyla, T'Pau resides at the estate, as is befitting the head of our clan.  Why does this trouble you?"  He pulled her against him, sensing her distress.

"If I recall, Terrans did not make a good impression on her last time ... and if all clans are supposed to be there ... I'm a little scared.  Besides, it is she who will bond us!  What if I don't measure up?  Or--"

"Hush, my Vah’ren."  He placed his hands on the familiar points of her face and she assented to the link.  *No one shall harm you, beloved.  And no one questions that the koon-ut-so'lik you have agreed to, you are my betrothed.  My grandmother is merely there to welcome you into our clan, it is not some sort of test ... and please do not worry.  *She* is not here.  They are far from Shi-Kahr in another place, and there is nothing that can be done.  We are to be bonded, and no one can cause that not to happen.*

She looked up at him and allowed the relief to flow through their link.  Spock dropped his hands and held her once more, kissing away the last vestiges of her fears.

"But what shall I wear?" she finally asked.

Spock raised his eyebrow.  Apparently, the phrase was not unknown amongst females on Vulcan.  "My mother shall see you are properly attired if need be, beloved.  But remember, many offworld races now reside in Shi-Kahr.  Just take clothing that would be suitable to the warm climate and a large capital city -- like San Francisco, only warmer.  I am certain you will look fine."

"Can we possibly get to the desert for some hiking?  I really want to see more than the city if I can."  The prospect of being on view for all of Shi-Kahr for a week was suffocating.

"Certainly, you may pack your boots, as shall I," he agreed with a smile.

"Thursday night I plan to return to the ship, you know," she stated.  "It's an old Terran custom that the groom does not see the bride before the ceremony."

Spock gave a long-suffering sigh.  "As I have been told by my mother," he replied.  Then he smiled again.  "She intends to take you to the Deltan spa that day in the diplomatic compound, for a final 'beauty session' as she says.  Although I feel you are quite beautiful enough, just as my mother is.  Then I thought, perhaps, we might entertain some friends for dinner at my parents' home, before you return to the Enterprise?"

"You mean your father--?"

"He has.  Perhaps your friend Kala would like to beam down for the day?  After all, the Enterprise arrives at Vulcan at 03:00 that morning."

Christine finished reading the message.  She had to read the last paragraphs several times.  "I don't believe it!" she finally whispered as she turned to face him.

"Believe it, T'hyla.  As you shall learn, it transpired to be quite an equitably logical solution to the question of where to hold our celebration."  His hand reached for hers.

"Please, thank your parents for me, Spock, especially your father.  They did not have to do this for us, and I am ... touched."

"It is done already, my Vah'ren," he said.  " And it was no trouble, trust me.  Now regarding this Friday, shall I expect you at all for dinner?"

"No."

"You're not going to tell me what you're planning to do, are you?"  Spock realized the speakers could have been reversed.  This question was usually directed at him.

"Nope."

* * *

 

On Q'ono's, Worf let himself into the house, tired from a long day of meetings.  His proposals for raising hydroponic crops at border outposts had been skeptically received by the Science Committee, who felt that the question of finding adequate water needed to be addressed first.  Worf knew that other cultures had the capability of manufacturing water.  If only he could figure out how to learn more about this.

"K'a'tya," he said to his mate, who was in the process of feeding their newborn daughter as well as starting to make the evening meal.  "It is good to be home."

"I am pleased to see you, Worf," she replied.  "There are some holomails for you, I believe."

"It never ends."  Worf sat down at the computer.  "Where is Mogh?"

His wife smiled.  "Where else?  Since you and he built that sand hill out there," she pointed out the window, "he and his friends have done little else after studies than to sandboard.  Perhaps we are seeing a future Klingon champion in the making?"

"If only we had snow, my mate."  He viewed the first message with some surprise.  "I don't believe it!"

She moved to stand next to him as she rocked their daughter, reading the message as well.  "Why would you be called to Vulcan, of all places?  And why would we accompany you?"

"It is something to do with the opening of the winter sports facility.  Our ambassador on Vulcan feels that I could study how snow has been manufactured on a planet with no known winters, with a view to using this technology for my hydroponic proposals."

"Is this the facility that the Vulcan Stark has built?"

"Indeed.  Perhaps..."  Worf turned his attention to the next message.  He smiled as he read it.  "Of course.  The facility opens just a few days after the joining ceremony on Vulcan of Spock and his betrothed.  We have been invited to attend both the ceremony on Vulcan as well as their Federation ceremony onboard the starship.  Spock's father, Ambassador Sarek, must have arranged this.  We shall stay at the Diplomatic Guest Hotel in Shi-Kahr."

"Our daughter is much too young to travel such a distance, you know, Worf."

Worf turned to regard his mate, surprised.

"So our mothers shall have to fight over who will care for her during our absence.  Shall we tell Mogh the reason we are going?"

"Best not to tell everything," Worf replied as he slid an arm around her waist.  They watched their daughter slumber.  "Or else the youth would not sleep for the next 6 weeks!  Even I am surprised at the connections Spock has.  This will be a very interesting trip, my mate."

"But what shall I wear?" K'a'tya said.

* * *

 

On Vulcan, Amanda and Sarek were enjoying an after-dinner brandy.  "It would appear that things are progressing very well, my wife," he observed.  "This shall be quite a change from the last time, do you not think?"

Amanda did not like to remember the previous attempt at a marriage for their son.  She was very happy that he and Christine had finally realized they were so obviously meant for each other.  From her son's relaxed countenance lately, it seemed that he was happy too -- the Vulcan version, of course, for his father's sake.  But she suspected that in private, there was a great deal more emotion being expressed on his part.  She made a mental note to herself about the couple's sleeping arrangements prior to the wedding ceremonies.

"It shall be nice to see Captain Kirk and Dr. McCoy again," she agreed.  "But a Federation wedding ceremony -- on a starship?"

Sarek looked at his wife with concern.  "This troubles you, my wife?"

Amanda sighed.  "What shall I wear?  I cannot be seen in the same gown twice in one day!"

* * *

 

On board the Enterprise, Kala took a deep breath and began speaking to the computer.

"Hi Mama, hi Daddy.  I hope you're both fine.  I -- I've made my decision.  I'm coming home."  She tried to keep the smile from her face as she continued.  "I'll let you know the details as soon as I can, but for now, I am busy with the wedding plans of one of my friends here on the ship.  Love you both, send a holo soon!"

* * *

 

"Father?" Mogh asked later that evening, as he perused the computer.

"Yes, Mogh?"

"I have been reading about Oath ceremonies in other cultures.  This Spock, he will not have a Kal' Hyah, will he?"

"No, my son, neither Vulcan nor Terran cultures have that ceremony, though I have heard of a Terran custom called a 'bachelor party'.  I do not think Spock shall have that event, either.  I know that we shall dine with Spock, his betrothed and Spock's parents the night before their joining."

"I, too, have read of this Terran warrior custom.  But I have also read that the Terran joining ceremony requires the giving of a gift to the couple.  And so do diplomatic visits, which our trip surely is?"

Worf regarded his son with pride.  The youth was naturally curious and sought to educate himself on all things with great gusto.  "Yes, my son.  Have you an idea for such a gift?"

"Yes, my father.  But we shall need to plan now, so tomorrow, may we visit the greenhouse?"

"Of course, Mogh.  I think I know what you are planning to give.  It would be most appropriate."

Mogh returned to the computer.  "I hope I shall have time to visit the hydroponic bays on the Enterprise too, Father, that you spoke of?  And I now must read of the plants that grow on Vulcan, for I hope to study some of their vegetables on my visit."

Worf was thoughtful as he started to read to his report.  If only the galaxy would remain a safe place for his son and his son's son.  There was no guarantee of that, of course, but for now, an easy sense of well-being washed over him.

* * *

 

"Do you think they'll let us bring our own music?" Christine asked suddenly.

Spock, who had been happily dozing behind her, after a silken union, did not open his eyes as he replied.  "It would seem logical.  The guests will want to dance, will they not?"  He finally cracked one eye.  03:00.

"We'll have to select some good songs, then.  Somehow, I don't think there's much dance music on Vulcan..."

Now fully awake, Spock decided to put his state to good use.  He turned her in his arms and gave her a kiss.  "And we, as a newly married couple, will need to dance to the first number, I know.  We can choose the music later.  For now, I propose we engage in dance practice of a slightly different sort."

Christine had no argument with that particular suggestion.

* * *

 

Friday, 06:00

 

"We're flagrantly wasting Federation water," Christine murmured into Spock's ear.

"Mmm-hmm," he replied non-commitally as he finished scrubbing her from top to bottom for the third time, plus two shampoos.  "You really should report this grave indiscretion to the Science Officer, for he is in charge of water maintenance levels."

She gave his abs a suggestive caress and looked him in the eye.  "I just did."

"I'll file your complaint away for future reference, Doctor.  Right now," he replied as he pushed her up against the tile wall and wrapped her legs around his hips, "I must attend to other matters."

Christine gave in to the pleasure of the moment, secretly praying that Jim would not suddenly decide for an early morning shower right about now.

*He won't.*

*How do you know that?*

*I have -- my ways.*

* * *

 

"I look like a prune," she remarked as she finished donning her uniform.  "I must have spent too long in the shower."

"I cannot imagine what would cause you to do that," he replied as he slid his arms around her waist and nipped at her neckline.  "I shall miss you this evening, T'hyla."

She turned to face him, one hand automatically tracing his eyebrow.  "I'll miss you too, but I'm not going far.  It's just better if I crash out in my cabin.  Who knows how late we'll be up?  I don't want to come creeping back in here at all hours and disturb you.  You need your sleep, you know."

"You never disturb me, T'hyla.  Your intrusions are always most welcomed.  But I agree with your logic.  Enjoy the company of your friends without worrying about awakening me.  I shall see you when you return."  He kissed her lightly.

"So what are you up to tonight?" she asked as she gave her hair a final once-over.

"Your supervisor and Jim have persuaded me to dine with them, then I shall join Jim in a game of chess.  After that, I have to debug the holodeck hockey program."

"Sounds like a full evening for you too.  C'mon, let's head for the lift before we're late for Alpha shift.  That pain in the ass First Officer hates latecomers."

"Perhaps I can convince him to make the odd exception in certain cases," he replied as she moved to disengage the door lock.  "Christine?"

She turned.  "Yes?"

He pulled her back for one last embrace.  "I love you."

"I love you too, Spock," she said as she gave the tip of his ear the gentlest of tweaks, enjoying the smile that lit his face.

* * *

 

Noon

 

"What time are we meeting up?" Nyota asked into the com unit.

"When do you want us there?" Christine replied.  "I was thinking 18:00?"

"That's fine.  I'm making some hummus and pita, and some egg rolls with plum sauce, and Kala's bringing something from Celeba Colony, I can't pronounce it but she swears it's amazing.  What's on the bar tab, bartender?"

"Root beer floats and maybe a lemon drop slush?  But I'll bring alka-tox, and inject us all first thing.  We don't want to get completely plastered and give folks the wrong impression, do we?"  She thought of Spock, naturally.

Spock, who had, naturally, been eavesdropping, felt his mouth almost lose the battle not to twitch into a half smile.  After seeing the aftermath of one too many of Lt. Riley's infamous themed drinking celebrations, anything these three could get up to seemed tame by comparison.  Still...

He was interrupted from his musings by the person he had just been thinking of.

"Spock here, what is it Mr. Riley?"

"Yes sir.  I was wondering if you had looked at the hockey program yet?"

"Affirmative.  The referee program indeed has a bug and I shall endeavor to have it rectified by face-off.  You should not have any problem with the logistics of goals, pucks or shots, that part of the program is unaffected.  What time does your match begin?"

"06:00, but we'll be warming up from about 05:00.  Is that OK?"

"Fine, Mr. Riley.  I shall be in touch.  Spock out."

Riley wondered how Spock knew about hockey terms.  Tex Dillon, his star wing, had mentioned that the First Officer played hockey for the Academy, but Riley found that rather difficult to believe.  Hockey was a brutal, emotional sport.  A Vulcan?  He shook his head and got back to his duties.

* * *

 

14:00

 

"Good afternoon, Miss Kala!  What brings you to experimental horticulture?"  Recently-promoted Ensign Pauulu flashed his most charming smile.  "Some flowers for your spa, perhaps?"

Kala returned the smile.  "Not today, Mr. Pauulu, though flowers are always a nice addition, I think.  I need a favor.  Do you have any sweet corn?"

Pauulu nodded.  "Yes, plenty.  How much you need?"

"Just a few ears.  Some onions?  Maybe a sweet one?"  She knew she was pressing her luck, but she wanted to make her special dish.

"Yep, those too, lots.  What you making?"  He looked at her curiously.

"Arame with sweet corn.  On Celeba Colony we call it S'duf'a'mxt'a."

"Celeba Colony was founded by Japanese?" Pauulu asked, surprised.

"No, why do you ask?"

"That's a Japanese dish, one of my mom's favorites.  I grew up in Tahiti, we had plenty Japanese living there, so I know a lot of the cuisine."  His gaze intensified.  "You have arame?"

She nodded.  "Uh-huh, dried.  I got it at our last shore leave, special order.  Kind of hard to get Terran seaweed way out here, but it sure makes the dish.  I first tried the dish at Kyoko's Kafe on Celeba.  She was Japanese -- married to an Andorian, don't even ask how that love match happened -- and her family sent her regular supplies of everything."

"Well I'll be," Pauulu said.  "The things I learn every day.  You want to come pick out your veggies?  And maybe I could try to re-hydrate a bit of your arame?  Then we could see if it might grow hydroponically.  Always have a fresh supply then."

"Sure, that's fine.  To the fields, Mr. Pauulu."

Pauulu grinned at the joke and Kala finally realized that the crew of the Enterprise had truly accepted her for who she was.  The thought pleased her very much and only fueled her desire to pursue her dreams.

* * *

 

18:00

 

"Ladies, welcome to my humble abode," Nyota Uhura gave a bow as she admitted her guests.  "Good heavens," she said as she took in everything they carried.  "What on Antares did you bring?"

Christine held up a holovid collection.  "Our entertainment.  Bond, James Bond.  All 57 films, and some category special vids.  And some liquid refreshment, of course."

Kala handed Nyota her casserole dish.  "A specialty of Celeba, by way of Japan," she offered.

Nyota lifted the lid.  An enticing fragrance filled the air.  "Wow, Kala, this smells delicious.  You're a multi-talented woman, that's for sure."

"And a special vid for after we finish the legitimate Bond."  She smiled slyly.

"What do you mean, legitimate Bond?" Christine asked a she set down the drink containers.

Kala produced the vid.  "Let it not be said James Bond does not have a following on Qo'noS."

The three women studied the vid's cover.  There was, of course, a handsome Bond-like Klingon figure.  He brandished a Klingon-style disruptor, and scantily clad females were clearly in evidence -- Orion, Andorian, Terran, Deltan, Klingon.  A generically-exotic spaceport served as a background.  But the title was what held their attention.  "K'ocK: The Adventures of Agent 25.0 (centimeters)."

It took Christine a few moments to catch her breath.  "Is this -- a porn vid?" she finally asked.

Kala grinned.  "One of Qo'noS's finest.  Never made it to Terra did it?"

"Not that I know of," Christine replied, thinking of "Vulcan Love Master."

"Never mind that, are you saying all Klingon males are -- hung?" Nyota squeaked.

"I wouldn't know," Kala sighed a little sadly.  "Klingon men don't view me as a suitable mate.  I've confined my field investigation to -- other fields.  It's an interesting film, though, I can say!"

"Well, that will be dessert, along with our lemon drop slushes.  Which reminds me," Christine said as she opened her medi-kit.  "Arms, ladies.  Time for your alka-tox.  Of course, I have no intention of getting you drunk, you have to walk home."

"But I live here!" Nyota replied in mock indignation.

"Best to be safe," Kala said resignedly.  "Who needs a hangover, anyway?  They're nasty."

* * *

 

18:15

 

Spock entered his empty quarters.  A strange feeling of sadness, an emotion he no longer fought against when the situation merited it, seemed to wash over him.  Usually Christine was back from her duty shift by now and there would be evidence of her presence Her voice would remind him how good it was to be back with her after a day's work.

He realized she was only two decks below him but the distance seemed so much more vast than that.  He had not ever had close friends as a boy, so the idea of spending time doing pleasurable things together with a friend was quite alien to him.  He wondered if his mother had many female friends on Vulcan.  His father had close business associates and would often spend time in their company, but that was logical, given his position.  Did his parents have friends they saw as a couple?  Was the concept of true friendship a violation of Surak's philosophy?  Spock realized he knew little about such things.  He wished he and his father could speak openly about the issues that troubled him.  Perhaps when he visited Vulcan he would see if the situation could arise.  After all, his father was much more amenable to such discussions now.

As he changed into off-duty gear in preparation for his dinner, he noticed one of Christine's sweatshirts draped across the back of the couch.  He had come to accept such things as a part of their relationship and even enjoyed the -- what was the term? lived-in look? -- that it gave his previously sterile quarters.  This one read "Monument Valley, Utah: Older Than Dirt and Still Going Strong."  He picked it up and held it to his face, inhaling the sweet floral perfume she wore every day.  For now, it would do.

* * *

 

18:30

 

"OK, let's watch the vid with the dresses first, so I can pick out the fabric," Kala said as she helped herself to more food.  "Then we can get to the more pressing matters.  Ny, this is great.  It can't be from the replicator?"

Nyota shook her head.  "I bought the eggrolls on my last shore leave, and reconstituted them.  Same with the hummus.  I don't care what Cookie says, the replicators are getting more and more tasteless by the day."

"You can say that again!" Christine sighed.  "But I hear we're due for an overhaul en route to Vulcan, at Starbase 12, so maybe things will improve.  Kala, will that be enough time to get the fabric ordered and to the base by then?  And can you make the dresses in such a short time?"

"Of course," Kala replied, spooning up more hummus.  "I already did a holomodel of the pattern based on both of your measurements.  I just need the fabric, the rest is easy.

"Okay, then, girls, it's showtime," Nyota said as she hit the play button.

James Bond, in his Sean Connery incarnation, filled the screen.

"Why is it you Chinese girls always taste different?" he asked in that sensual brogue of his.

"Oh, James..."  Three voices, not on the film, sighed in unison.

After the teaser concluded, the credits began.  Nancy Sinatra's voice came over them.

"You only live twice, or so it seems...One life for yourself, and one for your dreams..."

* * *

 

19:00

 

"So, Spock, you've been dumped, eh?" Leonard McCoy asked as he continued his meal.  "The ladies decided on a girl's night, huh?  Well, that's to be expected.  Though I kind of wonder what the fairer sex gets up to in our absence.  Don't you, Jim?"

Kirk smiled.  "Bones, I would not even want to speculate on what those three are up to."

"Why ever not, Jim?  What transpires at such a social event?" Spock asked, surprising both his companions.  He was curious.  They were taken aback.  Fortunately, Kirk saw the question for what it was and sought the proper, if colorful, answer.

"Well, Spock," he began, "they probably sit around eating concoctions that females love to eat but seldom do -- the same concoctions they then swear make them look 'fat' in their best outfits.  You know, pizza, ice cream, chocolate, chips and dips.  Then they'll watch some silly weepy holovid where boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets second chance at said girl, boy and girl live happily ever after ... am I boring you?"

Spock regarded his friend.  "You are not, Jim, please continue."

"Yeah, Jim, please continue.  You sure you've never been married?" McCoy asked disbelievingly.

Kirk gave his CMO a withering look.  "The star of the vid is usually some guy od'd on testosterone and looks.  Which, especially if they've been having any alcohol, leads them into a discussion of why the man on screen is better, or worse, than their current partner.  It can get pretty raunchy, depending on the amount of hooch they've consumed, and let me tell you, some ladies are no lightweights when it comes to booze.  I'm sure Chris could drink the three of us under the table.  During this time, they might be painting their nails or giving each other facials or something like that as well.  Part of 'female bonding'.  Then after the vid is over, someone decides an ice cream sundae is the perfect nightcap, but not before someone else puts on a disc of catchy pop music and they dance around for a few minutes, supposedly to work off the food they've already eaten.  Then they eat dessert and say good night and promise to do this again real soon.  That about sums it up."

"Not your typical Vulcan female evening, eh Spock?" Mc Coy asked.

Now it was Spock's turn to give McCoy a long-suffering look.  "Indeed not, Doctor, though I have not spent much time with Vulcan females other than my mother, who is Terran, but I am certain such activities would be deemed quite illogical."

Spock then turned to Kirk.  "Truly, Jim, a most fascinating play-by-play, as you Terrans say.  But I too must ask how you know this much detail about something you have never witnessed?"

Kirk smiled.  "I've seen my share of of vids, Spock.  Date vids are full of scenes like this.  Haven't you been party to that yet"

Spock thought a moment.  "I must admit, no.  Christine and I tend to watch...specialized films."

"Wait a minute, you mean porn?" Mc Coy asked.

Spock doubled the venom in his glance.  "Certainly not, Doctor.  Christine and I enjoy what is commonly called 'Bad Cinema' of the classic variety.  Titles such as 'Plan Nine from Outer Space.'  Though I must admit we also prefer the odd James Bond vid as well as old Terran Film Noir."

"Whatever you say, Spock," the CMO replied with a resigned smile.  He just knew that beneath that cool Vulcan exterior there had to be more, especially after he'd finally finished deciphering that old text Zapata had sent him.

* * *

 

19:30 Vulcan

 

Amanda looked up from her hand of bridge.  "So, T'Cher, who do you suggest I engage to make my second gown?  My current dressmaker is booked solid with the opening of Stark's facility."

Her friend thought a moment as she sipped the last of her Cosmopolitan.  "I have heard that there is a new Terran dressmaker attached to the diplomatic compound.  She's from the state of Hollywood, I believe.  Her name escapes me, however.  By the way, Amanda, these drinks are perfect, as always.  It makes these card parties so much more ... interesting."

"I believe her name is 'Stitch', or similar," said T'Jacq.  I can check with my daughter, as she mentioned her only the other day.  Of course, she may be booked too with all the festivities being planned.  Half the unbonded female population of Shi-Kahr must be planning to announce their availability to young Stark.  Could you imagine such an event transpiring when we were maids?  Our clan matriarchs would have sent us straight to Gol had we even mentioned wishing to attend such a scandalous festivity."

The Vulcan equivalent of feminine giggles spread around the table, joined by Amanda's louder laugh.

"My niece has already decided she is the logical bondmate for Stark, along with several thousand other females across the galaxy, no doubt.  So is your son's betrothed looking forward to her visit to Vulcan?" asked T'Deb as she poured another round of Cosmopolitans for the table.

"I'm afraid she may think Vulcan is rather ... boring," Amanda conceded after a moment.

"Why would she think such an illogical thought?  The welcoming ceremony surely will dispel that idea!" T'Cher replied with just a touch of indigence.

Amanda sighed.  "I fear that Spock is the only role model she has had for a Vulcan, and he is hardly in a position to tell her what Vulcan females are like.  If you recall, his only recent example was not the most pleasant of creatures."  Her friends all nodded in sympathy.  T'Pring was not anyone's favorite topic of conversation.  "I think the mere thought of the concept of explaining Vulcan females to her sends him straight to a meditation session.  After all, he has been so long absent from our world since then, he has had no real experience of how things are changing here.  I am hoping this visit dispels both of their somewhat outmoded perceptions of Vulcan."

"From what you say, Amanda, she is an open-minded and capable Terran physician.  Surely she can form her own opinion of us," T'Jacq said.

"Let us drink a toast, then, ladies," T'Deb offered.  "To the impending nuptials and the betrothed couple."

Four glasses clinked in unison.

* * *

 

20:30

 

"Now I see exactly what the dress needs to be like.  Yes, I can do a similar, but different, version for you, Nyota.  Now," Kala opened the holocatalog, "we need to choose fabric and color.  What's your preference, Chris?"

Christine studied the samples.  "I'm certainly not wearing white.  Not because I've been living with him for months, it just makes me look like a potato.  In the film it was that lovely pale blue.  Could we do a pale blue-lilac?  Kind of a sugar blue-periwinkle?  And a deeper iris for Ny?"

Kala scrolled through the offerings until she saw one that caught her eye.  "How about this?"

"Pure Denevian silk.  Yes, that's great fabric, all right..."  Christine realized both of her friends were regarding her with amused expressions.  "Spock got me something made of it.  It's beautiful material and it never wrinkles."

"Uh-huh," Nyota said after a minute.  "How long does it stay on?"

"NY!" Christine was turning scarlet.

"Ladies, play nice.  It's not just used for lingerie, though that's what the sheer version is know for.  Look, here's a dupion variety that matches the sheer counterpart.  This should be perfect.  What do you think?"

Christine and Nyota looked at the color samples.  "Yes, the pale for me and the deeper for Ny.  Oh, and don't forget the headscarf."

Kala made notes in her PADD.  "I've placed the order -- so we're set.  What about shoes?"

"I figure our stop at the Starbase should turn something up," Christine said as she hit the remote.  She glanced through the vid set.  "What do we want first, James 1-57, theme songs, exotic locales, villains, ladies, love scenes, fabulous explosions, Q's delights, diplomacy or action adventure?"

"James 1-57 to start ... then songs," Kala said.  "I think we need a real drink.  Root beer floats are great, but James demands more than that."

"Bartender?" Nyota smiled impishly.

Christine moved to the counter.  "Three lemon drop slushes coming up!"

* * *

 

21:00

 

"Your move, Jim," Spock said.

Kirk studied the board.  "So, Spock, is everything progressing planned for the big day?"

Spock nodded.  "All plans have been made.  Tonight Christine is making final selections for her gown and that of her attendant's.  For some reason, I was not invited to participate in the choosing.  Is this normal?"

"Yes, Spock, my friend, there's that old custom that it's bad luck for the groom to see the bride in her wedding dress before the ceremony.  If you ask me, it's just an excuse so the first sight of her can take your breath away.  You'll get a double whammy, I guess."

"A double whammy?" Spock was confused.

"Well, is she wearing two dresses, one for each ceremony?  Most women wouldn't be seen dead in the same outfit twice in one day, let alone for their wedding."  Kirk moved his bishop.

Spock relaxed somewhat.  "No, as it transpires, Christine and I will both wear our dress uniforms for the onboard Federation ceremony.  The idea, as Christine put it, is that we are both starship officers so it is logical we marry as such."

"As your equal, you mean?" Kirk asked.

"Yes, Jim.  My wife and my fellow officer.  My equal."  Spock looked quietly pleased with his statement.

Kirk though how much his friend had changed in the years since his last disastrous attempt at marriage.  The difference was lightyears apart, and he was glad that love had finally found his (now a little less) stoic Vulcan friend.

* * *

 

22:00

 

"I still think Sean Connery was the best Bond," Kala said as she sipped at her drink.  "He set the standard that everyone's tried to copy.  No one's really come close."

"What about Timothy Dalton?  He was a trained Shakespearean actor, I think," Christine replied.  "I liked his films."

"But his era was kind of weird.  AIDS, Glasnost, the 80's.  He was a Bond in Transition." Nyota watched the action on screen.  "Whoever decided an Andorian Bond would work needs their heads examined."

"I know just who could examine it!" Christine howled.  "Dr. Please Tell ME!" Uhura joined in the guffaws.

"Am I missing something?" Kala asked, perplexed.

"It's a long story, Kala," Christine finally said.  "Maybe after a few more Bonds ... or a few more drinks..."

"Ooooh, there's the new Deltan Bond, what's his name?" Uhura sighed rapturously.

"Ilya Solo.  What kind of goofy name is that?" Kala asked of no one in particular.  "I think the Vulcan Q is a great idea.  They really play off each other perfectly."

"He's not Vulcan, or so Spock says," Christine snorted.  "He claims no Vulcan would act in a film like that because it would involve the portrayal of emotion, and that Vulcans as a rule don't like film all that much."

"Ahhh, what does he know, Mr. Bad Film Critic?" Uhura asked indignantly.  "I monitor subspace gossip all the time.  And I can tell you there was plenty of Vulcan interest in the Iggy broadcast, and not just because their documentary was nominated.  By the way," she lowered her voice as she looked around, "did you hear?"

"What?" Kala and Christine whispered back.

"Stark got dumped at the Iggy after party.  Ahh-Mor was last seen with Romo the Romeo, and poor old Stark had to practically jump in that Vulcan director's lap to get away from the fey Mr.Telal.  Poor kid.  Maybe that's why he decided to go back to Vulcan."

"Sure that's why," Christine snickered.  "To get away from all his adoring fans.  Surely Vulcan women would not be so open in their admiration.  Maybe he needs a break."  She rolled her eyes.

Uhura laughed.  "Yeah, right, Chris.  From what I picked up the other day, the unbonded female population of Vulcan is practically queuing up to show just how much they don't express emotions over him.  It's going to be a very interesting week there, I think."

"What do you mean, week?" Kala asked.  "I thought we were only there for a couple of days."

"Well, you can't say I told you, but..."

"Yes?" Kala and Christine asked, knowing Nyota loved playing the Drama Monarch.

"The orders just came in.  Enterprise will stay through the opening of the facility, ostensibly for added security.  There are going to be a whole lot of folks on Vulcan so the Federation wants its presence to be seen there.  You know, that old game."

"I remember a story about something that a Klingon warrior told a Federation commander once," Kala giggled.  "He said, 'I hear six of your Federation starships have entered orbit around Babel to influence the election there.'  The commander looked right back at him and replied, 'Only six?  Must be a municipal election.' "

Nyota and Christine started screaming with laughter again.  "What did the warrior do?"

Kala joined in the laughter.  "Legend has it they both got stinking drunk."

"That's not such a bad idea.  Ladies, anyone want another?  And what vid next?  How about locales?"

* * *

 

23:00

 

Spock looked up from his viewscreen, where he had been systematically attempting to debug the holodeck hockey referee program.  Despite his best efforts, nothing seemed to be working.  It looked as though the entire facility would have to be shut down once again to re-program, just as it had for the snowboard debacle.  He would speak to Mr. Scott about it tomorrow, he decided.  It would be illogical to spoil the hockey club's twice monthly game because of a coding glitch.  A temporary solution could be found.

He walked over to his closet and searched through the box of things his mother had sent over from Vulcan recently.  Just as found what he was looking for, a wave of intense amusement washed over him.  He knew better than to push into their link fully, but he could not resist taking a quick read of things.

She was laughing, along with her friends.  Some kind of joke about a Klingon Officer and a Federation Officer.  It seemed to be quite funny.  Perhaps he could find out what it was somehow.  He returned to his search.

* * *

 

00:30

 

Kala comfortably lay on her back across the cushions on the floor, contemplating the upside down view of Thailand on the vidscreen.  " 'Man with the Golden Gun' certainly had an exotic locale," she said.  Then she flipped over and reached for some cookies.  "But 'Live and Let Die" was kind of strange -- was it Bond meets Shaft or something?"

"Who knows?" Nyota sighed.  "Since they rebuilt New Orleans, it's never been quite the same.  I liked the scenery in 'The World is Not Enough' and the plot, wow, that was pretty well thought out.  I hated that bitch, though.  Pierce Brosnan was sexy but I guess they didn't like him.  I wonder why?"

"Give me 'Thunderball' in Bermuda any day.  Or 'Dr. No' in Jamaica."  Christine cast her vote.

"Purist," Nyota giggled.

"Once Bond moved into space, it kind of lost the intrigue and started going too high tech," Christine replied.  "I like those old locales best and a good old fashioned shoot em up bang bang plot."

"Speaking of locales," Kala said, sipping some more slush, "where are you and Spock going on your honeymoon?"

"Yeah, maybe Risa?" Nyota smirked.

"Been there done that and no, not with Spock.  With my mother of all people.  I do not think it would be Spock's thing, somehow."

"So, you going to stay on Vulcan then?  You could go to the opening then," Nyota urged her friend.  "It might be fun.  Doesn't Spock like to snowboard a little?  You do, too?"

"I -- don't think we'll get to see the facility opening," Christine said slowly.  "Our transport leaves Vulcan Sunday night.  We stay with Spock's parents, in the guest house, till then.  It's off to Terra for us, three weeks of bliss before we have to catch the transport back from Starfleet."

"A ha, so you're going to San Francisco!" Kala crowed.  "Where else?"

"It's a 'from the mountains to the deserts to the sea' kind of honeymoon, actually," Christine explained.  "Spock would like to see the Southwest, you know, the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley and Bryce and Zion, and I love to hike so that's a given.  And then we're heading to the coast of California, to drive up from Santa Barbara to San Francisco.  It's something I promised him a long time ago and I intend to keep it.  We'll stop in Pismo and up at Big Sur, and of course see the Monterey Seaquarium.  From there, it's San Fran for a couple of days and back out to space.  Of course Spock has made sure we have dinner with a couple of bigshots while we're in town.  So I have to pack my dress uniform.  Oh well."

"I'm tired just listening, Chris," Nyota said.  "This is your honeymoon, you know!"

Christine laughed.  "I'm marrying a Vulcan, remember?"

"Half Vulcan!" Kala reminded her.  "You said he wasn't all logic, didn't you?"

"Well, the human half will enjoy it just as much, I can assure you both."

"But you won't get to meet Stark," Nyota said with a sad little frown.  "I'm sure Spock's father could have arranged it."

"I'm sure we'll cross paths at some point, Ny.  I think Spock would agree, we'd rather head off on our honeymoon before the entire galaxy that's obviously planning to descend on Vulcan heads home too."

Christine looked at their empty glasses.  "I think another drink is in order.  I'm deliberately making them on the not so strong side, because I don't want to listen to you two jabbering at me in the morning about how awful you feel when I have a hangover too."

"It is morning," Kala looked at the chronometer.

"So it is!  I think it's time we got to know Mr. K'ocK, what do you think?" Christine poured three lemon drop slushes and distributed them.

"I'd like to propose a toast first," Kala said.  "To the two of you.  You've made me feel so great these past few weeks, I don't know what to say.  Thanks for being my friends."

"It's our pleasure," Nyota said.

"I'll say.  What would we do without you, Kala?" Christine added.  They clinked glasses and had a sip.

Kala looked at her hands a moment then back at her friends.  "I -- I have some news, too.  I--I've decided to go back to Terra,"

"What?" Nyota was incredulous.  "Why?  You're doing so well here!"

"That's precisely why.  My mom has taken a consulting job in New York and she and my father have offered to help me get started with my own business.  I've been thinking about it for months, but with all the great stuff that's been happening recently at the spa and in my personal life, I finally decided it's time Kala takes Manhattan by storm!"

"Who's going to run the spa?" Nyota wailed.  "We need you, Kala!"

"My staff is very well trained, and I interviewed Lt. Cho as a possible replacement.  Turns out her mom runs a spa in Seoul so she knows the business and she'd like to apply for a transfer, if the Captain will allow it.  I guess she'd have to come in under -- medicine?"

"Let me see what I can find out," Christine answered.  "So what kind of business will you open?"  She was still shocked at the news, but happy for her friend.

"A day spa at first.  Then maybe, I don't know, branch out into catering or designing, or even event planning.  I like working around people and seeing good things happen from my efforts."  She raised her glass again.  "Chris, I don't mean to rain on your parade, this is your evening, but I don't know when I'll be leaving the ship."

"Nonsense, Kala.  This is your night too.  Let's drink a toast to your success!"  Their glasses clinked again.

Kala wiped a human tear from her cheekbone.  "Thanks," she said simply.  "I'll never forget my time here, or my friends."

"No tears tonight," Nyota quickly interrupted with an impish grin.  "Time to see what the great Agent K'ocK has to show for himself."

They settled back to watch the vid happily.

* * *

 

01:30

 

Spock was dreaming, something he rarely did unless he'd overindulged in his favorite treat of cheese enchiladas.  The dream was very disturbing to him.

She faced him, dark eyes steely, voice chilled.  "How dare thee shame me by returning here to take a mate?  A human mate?"

Spock swallowed.  "T'Pring, thee should not be here.  It is my bonding day and thee has no business that would require thy presence.  Please let the dust of the desert blow across the past.  It happened long ago."

She spat at the ground before him.  "Thy family saw to it my clan was ostracized from Vulcan society.  We have suffered the humiliation long enough.  Has thee not heard, Stonn divorced me some time ago?  I am now unbonded.  And I shall challenge thy -- betrothed," she spat again, "for thee and I shall prevail.  It would be logical for me to claim thee.  Thy status would be beneficial to me, and thee would have a Vulcan mate, not some Terran who knows nothing of the time."

"Spock?"  He turned to see Christine, in her bridal finery, staring at the two of them, tears running down her face.  "Why is she here?"

"Terran woman, it is thee who should be wondering why thee are here when there is no place for thee in Spock's life."

"NO!" Spock sat up, his heart hammering in his chest.  He looked at the bed beside him, but it was empty.  Christine was not back yet.

Groaning, he forced himself up and moved over to his meditation stone.  The dream's intensity was burned into his brain, a memory he thought he had purged at Gol.  Perhaps he had not.  And although he did not wish to admit this, the memories of that time still caused him discomfort.  He was actually afraid, he realized, that some disaster would befall him again this time, and the thought of that frightened him.  A meditation might give him some answers.

* * *

 

02:30

 

"Whew!" Christine sighed.  "I never knew Klingon males had a romantic side!"

"Trust me, they don't," Kala said drily.  "He was just trying to get the women to give him the plans to the new space station."

"What, all twenty-seven of them?" Nyota regarded Kala skeptically.

"Okay, maybe he took a fancy to that Orion woman, but hey, it's just a vid, right?"  She grinned.  "Chris, maybe you and Spock would like to see it in his quarters sometime?"

Christine tried her best to look incredulous.  "Spock?  Watch a porn vid?  How much have you had to drink?"

"Not enough, I don't even have a buzz on," Kala said ruefully.  "But I guess I'll thank you in the morning."

"It is morning, remember?" Nyota reminded her.  "What do we do now?"

"Sleep might be good," Kala began.

"Naah, none of us has to be up too early.  Let's go down to the holodeck," Christine suggested.

"What for?" Kala asked suspiciously.  Nyota was smiling, so something must be up.

"To go ice skating of course!  It'll be deserted!" Christine laughed.

"But I don't know how!" Kala replied.

"You can't take Manhattan, the Bronx and Staten Island without skating at Rockefeller Plaza, my dear," Nyota said as she threw Kala a sweatshirt.  "I think it's a great idea, Chris.  Let's go!"

* * *

 

03:00

 

Christine finished lacing up Kala's skates.  "But I have weak ankles," she started to say.

"Everyone says that, Kala.  I'm not buying it.  C'mon, you'll have a great time.  Nyota didn't know how to skate either and she loves it now.  Just put your arms around our shoulders and glide along."

They stepped onto the ice, which Christine had programmed to look like Rockefeller Plaza's outdoor rink.  "Computer, cue 'New York, New York!' Christine commanded.

Kala looked terrified, then after a moment or two, she started laughing.  It was fun!

* * *

 

04:00

 

Spock returned to bed and tried to drift off to sleep.  He had come to the conclusion that when they reached Vulcan, he would need to go the place of his ancestors himself and purge the last remnants of memory.  This was important because he planned to bring Christine there at some point to show it, and the surrounding desert lands, to her.  A clear mind would be important.

He presumed she was asleep in her cabin.  He had no idea how wrong he was.

* * *

 

04:30

 

The music continued.  "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun." "Salisbury Hill." "Mambo Number Nine." "Comin' To Your City." "Boondocks." "Tarzan Boy." "Bette Davis Eyes." "Two Pina Coladas." "Independence Day." "A New York State of Mind."

And still they skated.  Kala had found her feet right away and was racing across the ice, falling occasionally but getting right back up again.  She had never had so much fun in her life.  New York was going to be blast.  She imagined herself skating along in front of Rockefeller Plaza as the snow fell around her.  Then she realized she'd never seen real snow, either.  Another thing on her to-do list.

* * *

 

05:00

 

The security lock on the holodeck door opened.  A half-dozen hockey players entered, then stopped, mesmerized at the sight of the three females gliding along, singing to the music.

"Gold-FINGER..."

After the song finished, Lt. Dillon (known as Tex) skated over to them.  "Good morning, ladies, I hate to interrupt your fun, but we have a match scheduled for 06:00 and we need to warm up."

"Of course," Christine said graciously.  "We're about done here, right girls?"  Her companions nodded, too tired to say anything, but grinning from ear to ear.

"Thank you, Doctor Chapel," he replied.  "Commander.  Good morning to you, Miss Kala, how are you today?"

"F-fine?" Kala stammered.  Why had he singled her out?

They sat down and watched the hockey club go through its warmup routines.  Testosterone oozed across the ice almost visibly.

"Someone's interested in you," Nyota whispered to Kala.  "What do you think, Chris?"

"Maybe.  I may have misjudged Tex, you know.  He's an okay guy.  Spock thinks very highly of his engineering abilities, and when the two of them start talking about Johnny Cash, even I can't believe what I see ... or hear.  He's a very nice Texas boy."

Kala unlaced her skates and stood up, then promptly fell over.

"Kala, what is it?" Christine asked as she knelt next to her friend.  Nyota took Kala's hand.  "Are you hurt, honey?"

"I -- I can't feel my feet!" Kala gasped.

They looked at her feet which seemed a bit swollen.  Christine grabbed a foot and started massaging it.  "Can you feel this?" she asked.

"Pins and needles," Kala replied with a grimace.

"Let's get you up and to sickbay.  Don't worry, it's just hysterical edema.  You'll be fine, a hypospray will take care of it right away."

"Hysterical what?" Kala asked fearfully.

"Your feet are swollen, silly goose.  You're just not used to this, is all."  Christine smiled as she and Nyota got their friend's arms across their shoulders.

"Ladies, what's wrong?  May I assist?"

"Oh hi Lt. Dillon, as a matter of fact you could, can you get the door for us?" Christine asked.  "We have to get Kala to sickbay.  She's fine, but she can't walk too well right now."

"I can do better than that, Doctor, you and the Commander need to get there ahead of us." Before any of them could say a word, he plucked the astonished Kala from their grasp and hoisted her up in his arms.  "Let's go, shall we?"

Christine and Nyota hurried ahead, a look of dumbstruck amazement on their faces.  As they walked to the turoblift, they could hear bits of conversation.

"Do they have ice rinks in Texas?  I thought there were just prairies?" Kala asked.

"Miss Kala, I'm from down Corpus Christi way, a purty little coast town called Rockport and yes, we have ice rinks down there too.  Electric and runnin' water and indoor plumbin', and I hear tell we might be a-gettin' them motor cars some day soon."  Tex was playing the role of the cowboy hero all too well and loving it.

Kala laughed helplessly against his shoulder.  What a night!

* * *

 

05:30

 

Dr. M'Benga beheld the sight before him.  Dr. Chapel and Commander Uhura had just raced into sickbay and Christine was busy preparing a hypospray.  She only stopped her actions long enough to take the ice skates hanging from her shoulder and put them on the floor.  She and Uhura were barefoot.

Then the door opened again and Lt. Dillon, in full hockey uniform, pads, helmet and skates, strode in carrying Kala, the spa coordinator, in his arms like some fairy tale prince might claim his princess.  He moved swiftly (and gracefully, in those monster skates, M'Benga noted, wondering what McCoy would say about the marks they left on the sickbay floor) across the ward and deposited the clearly astonished young woman on the diagnostic bed.  Then, after a brief conversation, he headed back towards the door.

"Doctor," he said cordially as he passed M'Benga.

"Lieutenant," M'Benga replied.

He wandered over to the diagnosis taking place.  His eyes met Christine's.  "I presume there's a logical explanation?  Leonard will never believe it otherwise," he said with a smile.

The four of them dissolved into laughter.

* * *

 

05:55

 

"Where the hell have you been, Tex?" Riley berated his star wing.  "The match is about to start!"

"Sorry, Kev, I had to aid a lady in distress," Dillon replied with a flourish.

"She likes flowers," Pauulu offered.

"I don't understand, Mr. Spock said he'd be in touch to let me know about the ref program and he hasn't.  How can we play without a ref?"

The holodeck door opened to reveal a familiar figure.

"Whew, he must have just fixed it," Riley breathed.

"I don't think so," Dillon replied.  "Look!"

The Vulcan, who wore a black and white striped sweatshirt, skated over to center ice.  A whistle hung around his neck and he held a real puck in his gloved hands.

"Good morning, gentlemen," he said placidly.

"Uh, Mr. Spock, what's up?" Riley asked.

"I believe it is the opposite of down, Mr. Riley?  It transpires I could not correct the referee program glitch without shutting the entire deck down.  Since your match was already scheduled, I decided it would be logical for an alternate referee to be found.  And so I am here to perform the duty."

"That's an Academy puck," Pauulu said reverently.

Spock cocked an eyebrow.  "Indeed, Mr. Pauulu, it is.  I said I had played as a wing for two years while a student there.  What I neglected to add is that the next two years I was one of the referees.  As you know, Vulcan referees are highly sought after in the InterGalactic Hockey Union.  This puck is from the championship match we won in my second year.  But we are wasting valuable match time with idle chitchat."

He paused.  "Captains, form your lines."

A moment later the puck dropped and the whistle blew.  "PLAY!"

* * *

 

08:00

 

The sickbay doors opened and M'Benga once again beheld a spectacle.  This one, however, he was prepared for.

"Mr. Spock, how did it go?" he asked.

"Very well.  I am grateful for the use of the gloves.  I gave my pair to the Klingon scientist Worf when he was on the Enterprise as a farewell present."  He took the borrowed cold weather gloves off and handed them to the physician.  "I trust Dr. McCoy is not in the immediate vicinity?  I am rather fatigued and am not up to a session of banter quite yet."

M'Benga smiled.  "No, but you just missed Christine, though."

"What?  Is she injured?  Is she ill?"  The worried look on Spock's face only confirmed to M'Benga the depth of feeling the Vulcan had for his co-worker.

"No, Mr. Spock.  Her friend Kala overdid the ice skating a bit and needed a hypospray for some swollen ankles."

"Ice skating?" Spock was incredulous.

"Yes, apparently the three of them were on the holodeck for a couple of hours early this morning, had the time of their lives, Kala tells me.  She'll be fine.  I think Christine was headed straight to bed -- or so she said."

* * *

 

08:30

 

Spock returned to his quarters and was slightly dismayed to find Christine not there.  She must be asleep in her quarters.  A hot shower was what he needed to thaw out, he decided.  Then he would go see how she had survived the evening.

* * *

 

09:00

 

He checked his holomails as he put on his sweats.  A message from his mother, and one from Worf.  He could answer the one from his Mother later, but communication to Qo'noS was more time-delayed and necessitated a quick response.  He opened the message and read its contents.  He laughed, started to look around to see that no one had heard, then realized he was in his own quarters.  He laughed again.

* * *

 

09:15

 

"Kala?"

Kala looked up from her desk, where she had been instructing the staff on the day's activities before she went back to her cabin for a long rest.  She was stunned to see who stood before her.

"Mr. Spock?  What may I assist you with?"  Part of her feared a Vulcan chewing-out for keeping his fiancee out all night.

He handed her a PADD.  "I have a small favor to ask.  Worf, his wife and son will be attending our wedding ceremonies.  He is quite concerned as his wife is worried about the proper, shall we say, attire for such events?  I was wondering if you could contact her on Christine's and my behalf and discuss this important matter with her?  I am certain she would be most grateful.  As would Worf."  The corner of his mouth fought a battle to stay down.

"Of course, Mr. Spock, I would be happy to."

"Very good, Kala.  I ... trust you didn't get up to too much mischief last night?"  His eyes allowed a small twinkle to pass across them.

"No sir, we didn't..."  Kala's heart began to stop hammering.  He knew!  And he wasn't angry!

"Very good.  Have a ... restful day, will you?"

As Spock left the spa, he saw a familiar figure enter, carrying a bouquet of tropical flowers he recognized as having come from experimental horticulture.

"Lieutenant," he said.

"Commander," Dillon replied.

* * *

 

09:30

 

Spock let himself into Chirstine's quarters.  She was asleep in her bed, hair damp from the shower, wearing only a t-shirt that read "FloraBama: Rebirth of a Legend ... Again!"  He smiled as he recalled her vast collection of such attire, only a few of whose sayings he could comprehend.

He sat down on the bed.  "T'hyla?" he asked softly.  She did not even stir.

She was obviously deeply asleep so he did not press the matter further.  He swiftly divested himself of everything but his briefs and climbed in beside her.  She moved against him in her sleep, something she had said he did as well.  He wrapped his arms around her and closed his eyes, knowing he was safe in her love from any more nightmares.  Sleep claimed him in seconds.

* * *

 

15:30

 

Christine woke and for a moment she had no idea where she was.  She took in her surroundings.  This was her cabin, what was so different about it?

"You are awake," a voice said.

She turned and looked at him.  "What time is it?" she asked.

"15.30," he replied.  "It appears we have both been asleep for 6.0 hours.

"But why are you in my bed?"  Her hands started playing with the hair on his chest, a feeling he found to be quite delightful.

"Because I desire to be here?  Why are you asking such illogically redundant questions, when you must know the answer?  If you must be told, I found that I was fatigued and also that I missed you, so it seemed logical that I seek out a rest scenario which took in both factors.  And here I am."

"But you never sleep all day.  What's gotten into you?"

He smiled.  "There is a first time for everything, beloved.  As for what has gotten into me, I think the correct term is, I am feeling a bit amorous and hope you might be so inclined as well?"  His eyebrow quirked up as usual.

"I think that is a distinct possibility," she purred as she happily melted into his embrace.

FIN