Disclaimer: Star Trek is the property of Paramount/Viacom. This story is the property is Mistress V and is copyright 2006 by Mistress V. Rated NC17.

 

CROSSING THE GALAXY (A Bridge)

Mistress V

 

Monday, late afternoon The Nebula Queen

 

Christine hit the remote and settled back against her husband's shoulder. She took a sip of champagne as they watched the Federation News come on. It was a commercial break. "I guess a lot of things have been happening while we were asleep. I wonder what's going on over at Stark's place?"

"Indeed, with the time difference, it would be just past midnight tomorrow there. I should imagine things are just starting to heat up, to use an apt phrase. No doubt the news shall fill us in." He, too, had a drink of the fizzy liquid, then gave his wife a brief kiss. "This is a quite exceptional vintage. It was most kind of T'Joan and Skott to provide the bottles for our honeymoon."

"Between them, your mother and T'Jen, we won't go hungry for a month. Good thing it'll keep in the stasis containers. Those stuffed grape leaves were really delicious. I think I'm beginning to develop a fondness for Vulcan food, my dear." She winked over the top of her glass at her husband.

The announcer came back on and both of them settled back to watch the news of the day.

"The Federation Trade Committee today announced that the proposed tax rate increase of 3.278 percent has been tabled so that discussions on its merit may be heard..."

Christine stifled a yawn, still a little tired, but woke up at the next story.

"Things at the Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards are finally back to normal, according to a spokesman. If you recall, yesterday was quite a day for the head of H.R., Commander Jane W. Catherine, when a group of 10 engineers walked into her office and stripped naked as a protest against job cuts. The Commander has returned to duties as usual, after a brief visit to sickbay." A photo of the engineers was flashed onscreen, and all of them were, well, quite handsome.

"They had to take her to sickbay," Christine theorized as she studied the Commander's image. She looked to be early middle aged, but had quite striking features. "Too much excitement for her. I mean, when does something like that happen on Mars?"

"Are you saying that you regularly view naked males in your line of work, my wife?" Spock asked. His hand began to tickle her ribs ever so slightly.

"I'm afraid I do, Commander," she replied. "I am a physician, not a human resources specialist."

They both turned back to the screen. "And on Vulcan, things are quite busy. Snowboard gold medalist Stark officially opened his winter sports facility this morning in Shi-Kahr. The champion himself gave a demonstration of his sport, after which the citizens of the capital queued patiently for hours with visitors from across the galaxy in anticipation of trying their skills. Over on the ice rink, it was much the same, as champion ice dancers Selek and T'Lea put on an exhibition with the rest of the Vulcan skating team, then opened the rink up to anyone who wished to experience the ice. From all accounts, a most enjoyable day was had by all."

Images of (Vulcan style) happy, excited youngsters, and not a few of their parents, flashed by on the screen. "Look, there's Worf and Mogh!" Christine pointed excitedly. The Klingons were shown racing down the halfpipe with a small group of more experienced boarders. They were clearly enjoying themselves. Then an image of Stark, walking with a group of children flashed by. Loki, Mogh and his new friend, Silok, were in the midst of the throng.

"Tomorrow, Stark plans to take a group of youngsters and their parents on an all day excursion to Kwil-nor, on the Voroth Sea, for a day of sports on both water and sand," the announcer continued. "Ice sailing bronze medalist T'Lara will give an onland exhibition of her sport at the sandflats just outside the town. Stark has further announced his plans to develop a landboard, for use on worlds which have no snow. His first ever winter sports camp will be held in Shi-Kahr later this year and the champion says he has already awarded some scholarships to worthy applicants."

A picture of dancing, celebrating youngsters, Vulcan and non-Vulcan alike, was flashed next. Stark and a blond haired Terran were singing the Bon Jovi song that he had premiered at the wedding celebration just a few days earlier.

"But for now it's time to party at the facility, as Stark and his best friend, silver medal snowboarder Sean Pomodoro, entertain the masses. Looks like it will be a long and cosmic evening over at the sports palace."

"In other news on Vulcan, the new Minister of Culture and Sport, the T'sai T'Ser, announced today that the Royal Ballet of London would be visiting Shi-Kahr this winter for the first time for a week long tour. There has been a keen interest in the dance discipline among the youth of the planet these past few years and Minister T'Ser states that the company's performances are already being anticipated."

Christine and Spock were then stunned to see their engagement picture onscreen. "And finally, Ambassador Sarek and the Lady Amanda announced the recent marriage of their son, Commander Spock of the U.S.S. Enterprise, to Dr. Christine Chapel, ACMO of the Enterprise. They were married in Shi-Kahr this week and are now headed to Terra for an extended honeymoon. Both the Ambassador and his wife say they are pleased for the couple."

"It appears we are also newsworthy, my wife," Spock said in an amused tone as he pulled her closer. She sighed in agreement. "My parents had indicated they would announce our bonding, but I had no idea the wires would pick it up.

"We're in good company, my dearest, seeing as Vulcan now has officially has its very first sex symbol," Christine said with a laugh.

"I presume you mean Stark?"

She looked with a perfectly raised eyebrow. "He's young, he's handsome, he's smart, he's a trailblazer in his field, he's made his name known off Vulcan, he's proficient at what he does, and every woman on Vulcan, if not the galaxy, wants to know him better."

"Indeed? Apart from the part of beating back masses of female admirers, I thought you might have been describing myself." Spock mimicked her raised eyebrow. He got up and walked over to the mirror, regarding his image. "Yes," he concluded, his hand resting on his chin thoughtfully, "I believe I would have made a fine sex symbol in my younger days. In fact, I still cut quite a figure, do you not agree, my wife?" He turned back to face his spouse, who was wondering to herself how much he'd had to drink.

//One glass, Doctor.//

Then another thought flashed across her mind, her own memory. Spock had not been fortunate like Stark with the female populace of his home planet. In fact ... she closed her eyes, hating herself for even starting the conversation.

"Christine." Her eyes opened at the sound of his voice in her ear. He pulled her close and held her tightly. "Please do not trouble yourself, my beloved. That is over and done and it no longer worries me, nor should it worry you. And logically, think about it. Had that event not transpired at it had, you and I would surely not be sitting here together today. He kissed her protectively. "And I enjoyed the sex symbol analogy."

He released his wife and then stood up. A moment later, he had discarded his loose tunic and was before her in just his jeans. His fingers moved slowly to the top button and undid the disc. Then he simply remained standing there, knowing she enjoyed seeing him this way.

"I have learned from you, my wife, how erotic it can be to view someone half clothed ... with an anticipation to removing the rest," he said after a moment. There was a deliciously noticeable bulge in his jeans.

Christine had a vision of herself at the springs, standing at the edge of the water clad only in her cotton tunic and briefs, which were astonishingly sexy nonetheless. Then she had another vision, but it was quite different. An adolescent Spock, furtively scrolling through ... Playboy Intergalactic?

"I may have been raised Vulcan, Doctor, but even Vulcans are curious about ... certain things." His mouth had curved up into the smile he saved just for her. He held out his hand. "Come, beloved. Let me show you just how sexy this Vulcan can be."

A moment later, he was carrying his wife into their sleeping chambers. There were still many parsecs of the galaxy left to cross before they arrived at Terra.

 

* * *

 

Tuesday The Nebula Queen

 

"How do you do that?" Christine gasped against her husband's shoulder. They were engaged in one of their favored sexual positions, where she was sitting astride his lap with her legs wrapped around his waist. Yoga and Kolinahr disciplines had paid off handsomely for both of them, as flexibility and limberness helped enhance the posture.

Spock merely gave her a languid smile as his hands traversed the outer length of her legs from hip to ankle.

Twitch.

"OMIGOD!" Not only did he have staying power, he had unbelievable muscle control where it counted. And speaking of counting, two was definitely better than one when it came to sensation.

''I really must thank you for introducing me to yoga, Christine," he finally replied, in that smoke and brandy voice she had come to know so well ... a voice that meant he was enjoying the sensual nature of their relationship. Something they engaged in as often as possible. "And as for my ability to do this..."

Twitch.

"It ... is something I have discovered which gives both of us great pleasure. But I do not think I read about this technique anywhere." Then he proceeded to kiss her until she saw stars, and not the ones outside their window, either.

Christine lost herself in another approaching orgasm. G-Spot? Hell, they'd been through the entire alphabet, both Vulcan and English, at least twice over. She gave over to the approaching comet and fell against his chest, feeling his own pleasurable release through their bond. They disentangled themselves eventually and lay back on the bed, catching their breath.

"I suppose we should have dinner in the dining room this evening, right?" she asked after awhile.

Spock, who had been contemplating more courses of a different type of meal, looked over at her. He thought for a moment. "Yes, I believe you are correct. A starcruiser's clientele tends to be, shall we say, of a certain caliber, so it would only be logical for us to put in an appearance. We never know who else might be on board."

"Agreed, then," she replied, throwing her leg across his hips, still feeling the remnants of pleasure rippling through them. "But later."

"Indeed," he said, as his half-erect member started showing signs of life once more.

His ability to regenerate never ceased to amaze them both, and Spock was certain this had more to do with his human side. Vulcans had almost insatiable needs during pon farr, that was true, but they were far from his time. He finally attributed this to his greater than average human testosterone level, which his physician had confirmed, plus a highly charged sexual drive that had only recently awoken. What was the term Jim used? Making up for lost time. By Spock's calculations, they'd now reached his 25th year, and there were still quite a few erotic seasons to go through before his sexual age matched his physical one, a prospect he and his wife were looking forward to experiencing.

"Perhaps you should practice your riding ability, Doctor," he suggested as he pulled her astride him. In one easy movement he was inside her, ready to once again begin the ancient rite. His eyes had that look which suggested much more pleasure was in store for the both of them. "Does this stallion please you?" He took her hand and placed it with his against her abdomen, a movement she had taught him, which almost took his breath away. Some day, he would give her their child and this was the place it would grow.

But not today, nor tomorrow, nor anytime soon. When the time was right, yes. But this time belonged just to them.

"Yes, Spock, this stallion pleases me. I intend to ride it as hard as it will allow me to." Her eyes were likewise dark with desire. "Take me," she whispered, as she raised her hips up and came back down with a sensual motion. "Take me, husband."

"Oh my woman, how you make me burn..." he groaned, just before he lost coherent thought altogether.

* * *

 

Shi Kahr Land Transport Center

 

Early morning sun was just breaking over the runway as the staff of the transport made a final check of the passengers. Over 100 children, parents, guests and media were making the trip to Kwil'nor, and the excitement (even for the Vulcans on board) was so great it could have been converted to electrical energy. The Diplomatic Conference Center and Guest House was at their disposal for the day, thanks to Ambassador Sarek's assistance. Total journey time would take just over an hour and the weather was forecast to be quite perfect. The Science Institute physicians finished up the last of the anti-travel sickness/dehydration/sunburn injections, the captain announced they had been cleared for takeoff, and the journey began.

"I can't thank you enough for the swimming costume," K'a'tya said to Kala. "It is most unusual. If I did not know better, I would say the design had been inspired by our own culture. Is this so?"

Kala smiled, pleased the subtle nod to her father's world had been noticed. "I've done these active suits -- that's what I call them, because the design is good for sports or just casual wear, beach or otherwise. Anyway, I took some of the color schemes that were in the holobooks my father had read with me over the years, and some of the old designs and symbols from our history, and let my imagination do the rest. Eventually, I'd like to explore other cultural designs too, Vulcan's next, perhaps. I've been getting inspired during our visit."

"It is quite fetching. Worf definitely approved. I, how do you say, modeled it for him? I can guarantee that it will cause quite a stir on the homeworld. You may well get orders from women there, Kala, you know that." K'a'tya gave her a wink.

"Just don't cause a scandal wearing it on Qo'noS," Kala replied as she fished out her handheld PADD.

"Water is a precious commodity, and swimming is something only that the Defense Corps teaches the troops for survival on watery worlds. So not many will see this, but those females who do shall surely want one of their own. And males, too, so that their mates may wear them."

Kala handed over her PADD. "What do you think of this? I designed it to wear when I get back to New York, my parents have promised me a welcome home celebration."

K'a'tya's eyes registered surprise. "It is quite similar to a traditional Klingon gown, but is quite breathtaking in its simplicity. The color is pleasing, and the style is very unusual. It is almost an Oath taking dress, yet is more for a less ceremonial occasion. More streamlined and modern?" She handed the PADD back. "I like it very much, Kala. When you wear this, you must send us a photo. I trust your father will be able to facilitate communication from New York, seeing as we do not yet have a consulate on Terra?" They would be heading back to Qo'noS the next day.

"He's assured me already there should be no problem. In fact, most passing spacers will probably be bringing news of me to your world, once I get there, that is. My father is quite proud of my accomplishments, it seems." She punched up some more images. "This is how I am thinking of re-designing the staff uniforms for the Klub Klin. I'd love your opinion."

 

* * *

 

A few rows up, Ensign Pauulu was also showing images on his PADD. He and Dillon had volunteered to help escort the group. It would be a good Federation presence, along with the Vulcan Security Services, though it was largely in name only.

"And you say your ancestors crossed the oceans in these vessels?" Mogh asked as he, Loki and Silok regarded the picture of the elaborately carved dugout canoe. "How long did such a journey take, without warp speed?"

"Weeks, months, even," Pauulu replied as he showed another photo. "That's me and my brothers. We made the traditional journey from the island of Moorea, where we live, to the capital, Papette, for our national day festivities, along with many others, in a parade of these. The carved figures on the boats are our ancient gods and goddesses, who protect us on the crossing."

"What are you wearing?" Silok asked, fascinated by the colors he was seeing.

"That's a traditional Tahitian pareo, a kind of cloth sarong. Mine is tied in the manner of the pearl divers that are part of our culture. My brothers have tied theirs differently. And the leaves and flowers are our native plants, which we wear in garlands for special festivals."

"Do you not dance with fire sticks?" Loki asked, remembering something from his studies.

"We sure do," Pauulu replied with a grin. "I can show you how we throw them, but you have to promise me as men that you won't go trying any pyrotechnics, OK? It's way too dangerous."

"Agreed," Mogh spoke for the three. "Now could you tell us about board surfing, please?"

"I learned to surf when I was about your age..."

 

* * *

 

Nyota Uhura had joined her friends.

"And I heard on subspace that she needed to be sedated!" She was referring to the outrageous happenings on Mars the other day.

"Why? Surely she has seen an unclothed male before?" K'a'tya was curious. "It would not cause her to need medication?"

"From what I hear, it was quite a shock, of the pleasant variety," Nyota said wickedly. "The media will never tell the whole story, but I'll find out what I can. Some Ferengi space chatter columnist already speculated that her superior interrupted an orgy, not a protest, and that the Commander was being adequately serviced on her desk."

Kala and K'a'tya stared back at her, scandalized.

Nyota shrugged. "We'll find out eventually. And really, I couldn't care less about what happens on Mars. It's boring there from what I remember of my visits, so frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if it was true. For now, I'm looking forward to a day at the beach and to try those sand baths I've heard so much about. We leave orbit tomorrow, back to the mundanity of space." She sighed. "I've almost forgotten what it's like to be planetside for a week."

 

* * *

 

Worf, Seron (Silok's father) and Dillon were busily discussing alternate energy.

"Wind power is some of the most strong that is known, but is so unpredictable in its ferocity," Seron admitted. "Here on Vulcan we get sandstorms in the winter, true, but the equipment is often damaged from the sheer velocity of the gales."

"Same goes for my part of Texas," Dillon agreed, "the hurricanes can be so devastating it seems almost pointless to build power stations, they just get blown down."

"Yes, solar power seems to be the best way," Worf said. "I found the informational lecture about the use of solar energy to make indoor snow to be quite interesting yesterday. I shall take this data back to my lab and see what can be done about modifying it for the production of water. Today, though, I am more curious about this sand sailing I have heard about so much form my son. Perhaps this would be a sport we could also engage in on Qo'noS."

"I've been sand sailing out at White Sands in New Mexico." Dillon gave a satisfied grin. "It's cosmic, as everyone's saying. I'm looking forward to trying it here today as well."

"I did much sand sailing in my youth," Seron offered. "I shall be pleased to teach you both the fundamentals."

* * *

 

University of Kansas Agricultural Station, Rural Kansas

 

Dr. Leila Kalomi-Sandoval sat at her desk, unable to read the report she had just finished writing. Her mind was years in the past, on Omicron Ceti III, with the man she loved and still loved to this day.

"Spock." It was a whisper so soft that no one would have heard it, even had she not been alone in her office.

She had seen the announcement in the Federation Journal some weeks ago, and there was that brief message on the news yesterday. Her heart had nearly cleaved in two as she saw he had married a Terran, and she was that nurse from his ship, the one who had given all the colonists checkups when they had come on board. Somehow now she was a physician? And married to her Spock?

He had told her when they parted for the last time that even had he been able to love, their destinies were in different directions, that they were not meant to be together. She'd found out much later that his Vulcan wife had divorced him, quite messily, apparently. But by that time, she had accepted Eilas's proposal of marriage, though rather resignedly. They worked well together, and they were raising their son, but it was a marriage of camaraderie and professional partnership, rather than passion.

Leila absently wondered how it might have been with Spock, if only she had not married Elias so soon, if only she'd been there when Enterprise completed its first five year mission. Surely she could have convinced Spock they now had a chance together. Part of her dared to wonder how it might have been intimately, for they had never progressed that far, not on Earth nor later, but it was obviously too late now.

If only...

A tear found its way down her cheek. She brushed it away and returned to her report. Jarod would be home from school soon and it would not do to see his mother crying.

 

* * *

 

Go'An City, Vulcan

 

T'Pring waited for T'Mara to finish changing after her first ballet lesson. True to her promise, she had taken her daughter to the local dance studio for an audition the day after they had returned from Shi-Kahr. The ballet mistress, who had studied on Terra during her parent's assignment there, had taken T'Mara through the first steps then announced she would be fine to join the first beginner's class, which was meeting that very afternoon.

No mention had been made of their family, their houses, or anything to do with the past, and T'Pring was grateful. She and Stonn did not want the terrible mistakes of their own youth to tarnish their daughter's childhood. Unfortunately, some members of their town had long, inquisitive memories, which they had passed on to their children, something that was quite atypical of the Vulcan way. Grudges were almost unheard of, though there were other ways to deal with those who transgressed established rules.

"T'sai T'Pring, there thee are." The voice of T'sai T'Pas brought her out of her reverie. She regarded the ballet mistress, who was a middle aged woman of fine physical form, the very image of the ballerina she trained her students to emulate. In addition to being proficient in offworld disciplines, she was teaching the old dances to an enthusiastic younger generation. "Would thee not join me in my office? Thy daughter may accompany thee."

T'Pring's heart almost sank. Now it would come. The discreet way of saying their family's presence was not welcome in polite society, even her, so far from Shi-Kahr. How would she explain this to her daughter, who came home from school some days and locked herself in her room, refusing to speak to anyone until morning? T'Pring knew the child was practicing her meditation discipline, but the sadness she saw in her daughter's eyes was still very apparent, even if she did not act upon the emotion.

She and T'Mara sat down across the desk from T'Pas, who gave them both a pleasant glance. "As thee knows, I have studied the practice of ballet offworld for many years, while my parents were attached to our embassy in London."

T'Pring nodded, noticing her daughter's interest pique. T'Mara was already aware of the cities which were near to Paris.

T'Pas continued. "I have seen many talented young dancers, both here and on Terra, but on occasion, one seems to shine a bit more brightly than the rest. And ofttimes, the young woman herself has no idea of her ability, she simply enjoys to dance." T'Pas now indicated T'Mara. "Thy daughter is such a talent, T'Pring. I can see her gift, it shines from her even at this age. She is what we called a 'turner' when I studied. She can pirouette at will and not suffer the affliction of dizziness which plagues some of our people who have chosen to dance."

T'Pring forced herself to listen through her shock. Surely the teacher would now say, "But I am sorry..."

She did not. "I would be honored to begin thy daughter's tutelage, T'sai. This winter, the Royal Ballet Company shall visit Shi-Kahr, and I am hoping that thy daughter will be prepared by then to attend one of their audition workshops, for a preliminary assessment of where her career path lies. The Dame Martin knows me from my days in London, so I shall arrange this. I cannot promise anything except a chance, but it would appear thy daughter is more than willing to take this, if thee and thy husband are amenable to the idea? It may mean thy daughter will go very far in the galaxy, but until the winter, we can only speculate." She paused to let her words sink in. "So what say thee to this notion, then?"

"It ... would be up to T'Mara, I believe, T'sai," T'Pring finally said. "She has said she wishes to study art in Paris when she grows older, so perhaps ballet would not fit into her plans."

"But can I not study art and ballet both? I would much prefer to dance. I could do my art as a hobby, could I not, Mother?" T'Mara's eyes were bright with anticipation. "Please, may I study dance? I wish to be a cygnet some day." They had ended up buying a vid of "Swan Lake" and an accompanying holobook; T'Mara was now quite well versed in the ballet's story and knew the cygnet's dance music by heart.

"Yes, T'Mara, we shall discuss this with thy father. Now I would speak to the T'sai in private for a moment."

"I plan to discuss this with my husband, but I believe he shall be as open to the idea as I am," T'Pring told the woman. "I shall speak to thee on the morrow, T'sai T'Pas. And I thank thee for thy honesty and they wish for my daughter to use her talent. Not many here in Go'An would do this for our family." T'Mara had already disappeared into the studio so she could study the large framed holopics on the wall of various ballets, so T'Pring spoke freely.

T'Pas gave her a knowing look. "My family was ostracized for a time because my parents chose to raise me offworld. Remember, this was in the days before our people traveled as freely as they do now. But my father insisted that his posting not interfere with my childhood, and I fully learned the ways of our people, with a bit of ... Terran influence thrown in. Vulcan ballerinas were unheard of in those times. I came very close to joining the Royal Ballet during our stay in London. But I instead chose to return home, and to bond with the mate that my family selected, who now runs the solar energy facility here in the desert. And I teach the young the simple pleasure of movement and dance. Times are different now, and chances exist where there were none before. I do not judge thee or thy past, T'Pring. Do not worry of this. Thy daughter shall make new memories for thy family, trust me."

T'Pring could not resist asking. "And has T'sai T'Kris' daughter T'Cass not studied with thee, T'sai?"

T'Pas almost sniffed. "She attempted to, but simply could not follow direction. She did not have even the most basic abilities to study dance of any kind. I suggested to her mother that perhaps her leisure pursuits lay ... elsewhere." An even more knowing look passed between the women.

"Come, T'Mara, let us return home and speak to thy father of this important news," T'Pring said as she held out her hand. She glanced out the window of the studio at the setting sun and felt truly at peace for the first time in many years.

T'Pas watched them leave, knowing that while T'Mara might be a part of the cygnet's dance, she would eventually be cast higher than that, but how much higher she did not yet know.

 

* * *

 

The skies above Vulcan, Evening

 

The transport returning to Shi-Kahr was quiet. A few adults were conversing in hushed, relaxed tones, but for the most part, nearly the entire group was dozing.

It had been a sunburned, sunsplashed, watery and sandy day of enjoyment for all that attended. Stark had given a positive interview to the media about the prospect of sandboarding, noting that from the deserts of Mojave City on Terra to the red earth of Fuega to Vulcan's inner deserts to the sands of Qo'noS, youngsters were emulating his snowy actions with great success, and he planned to encourage this. His friend Sean, a native of Mojave City, had announced his help with the venture. T'Lara had supervised endless sandsailing rides to enthusiastic adults and children alike. Many adults had sought to re-live their adolescent pursuit of the sport, with varying degrees of success. The ocean had been a new experience for many; all had enjoyed the seaside BBQ at the conference center, then board and windsurfing lessons had been offered. Even Stark admitted boardsurfing was new to him, but he had certainly seemed to enjoy the activity, despite falling off more times than staying on. An impromptu oceanography lesson had transpired when the parent of a Vulcan youngster, who happened to be a geologist, spoke about the sea of Voroth and how it had once perhaps covered more of the planet than it now did. As the sun set, the tired but happily sated group had boarded the transport for the short ride back to Shi-Kahr.

Tomorrow would be a day of farewells for many, and of new ventures for others, but for now, it was a time for quiet dreams of whispering seashores and drifting dunes.

Stark and T'Lara looked at the planes' sleeping passengers and knew it had been a very fine day indeed.

 

* * *

 

The Nebula Queen, Evening

 

"Well, the food was excellent and the company even better," Christine remarked as she lay propped against her husband's shoulder, studying the monitor before her.

What starcruisers lacked in amenities such as spas, casinos, live entertainment, recreational facilities, sumptuously over furnished cabins and general frivolity, they more than made up for with top notch service, privacy, speedy journeys and excellent communications. Its top drawer clientele demanded decent subspace wireless and they got it.

"I agree with you, my wife, it was a most pleasant endmeal." Spock returned to his hologuide to the American Southwest and continued reading about Monument Valley.

Dinner had been a quiet, somewhat formal affair, and they'd had a drink in the lounge afterwards. Some members of the Rigellian Trade Delegation had known Spock's father, so they had exchanged pleasantries for awhile. The rest of the passengers were either entertainment figures, sporting participants, high level persona from various fields, or the simply wealthy.

"I do thank you, Christine, for this wonderful journey. But are you certain it was wise to spend your credits this way?" True to what T'Ser had said, Spock worried about her welfare, though he did so as unobtrusively as possible.

"Spock, I've said it so many times. My mother invested the Discretionary Fund very well. There is more than enough to provide for us several times over. I have no intention of squandering it all, no, but I do want to spend a little now and then. And if I spend it on my husband, is that so bad?" She gave him the lopsided smile he had come to love.

"No, my beloved. I am indeed grateful for your generosity." He put an arm comfortably around her as they continued to read.

"Looks like we're on schedule," she mused as she scrolled through the reservation confirmations. "So we'll get in to Scottsdale in the late afternoon tomorrow and then start heading north the next day. Late August is an unusual time in the desert. It's very hot, but the monsoons come through in the afternoon with thunderstorms. And the further north we go, the cooler at night it gets at elevation. I'm glad we packed for all kinds of weather."

"I am just reading about Monument Valley. Fascinating geology, and quite similar to Vulcan in many ways. Is it true that it was under water three different times?" Spock asked as he indicated a picture of the famous Mitten Buttes, whose striking images were still used by advertising agencies across the galaxy.

"Yes, it sure was." Christine sighed as she recalled the sight. "I went up there right before I re-joined the Enterprise. Hadn't been back since I was 8, but my cousin decided to get married in Sedona, which we're seeing as well, so I took a long daytrip up to the Valley when I was there. The drive is like a living geology lesson. You'll certainly enjoy it, and now that the Dine' people have limited the highway's use to non-combustion vehicles only, the journey will be pretty quick by flitter. Are you up for the drive?"

"Indeed I am, my wife," he replied as he gave her a kiss. "As you can recall, I am quite adept at piloting a flitter under many types of circumstances."

She recalled their amazing journeys across his family's lands. This trip would hopefully be just as spectacular, though more mundane in its path. No looping climbs here. "I went on an all day horseback trip into the back country," she reminisced. "The guide knew I could ride so he took me to places most tourists never see, plus the usual sights. It was one of the best days I ever spent, even if I had to race back for the pre-wedding dinner." She gave him a smile. "We're staying just outside the park near Valley of the Gods at a little inn I know about. Should be perfect -- just us and the desert."

Spock pushed the monitor aside and pulled her against him more closely. His hands stroked her face. "Would you like to go riding again? Perhaps I shall accompany you, the trip sounds quite interesting. It might be best to see the Valley from horseback as you say."

"You don't have to offer to go riding, my love," she replied. "I know you don't like to ride, and this trip is for both of us. Don't feel obligated to do what I prefer just because you think you have to..."

"Hush," he admonished, placing his finger across her lips. "I enjoy horseback riding and would be pleased to accompany you."

"What? You said, if I recall correctly, that you would rather spend the afternoon with a horta, Commander. Remember? When Jim and I took Len riding that time?" She threw him a suspicious look. "No, I won't have you throwing it back in my face later when you can't walk. We'll go on a jeep buggy trip through the valley."

"Christine," he said softly, "I was referring to spending the afternoon with your superior, not on horseback. Surely by now you must realize that he and I parry when the other thrusts? My mother saw to it that I learned to ride a horse at an early age during our visits to Terra. I enjoy the pastime, though I do not get much practice in space. I am certain I am adequately physically conditioned for such an activity, and if not, I have my personal physician accompanying me." He gave her a very deep, searching gaze filled with his love for her. "I am not changing anything of my character for you, my wife. My character was already assimilated into its new self when I met you again. Are we not Vah'Ren, as we learned? Is it not logical that our interests would be similar? Not identical, but similar?" He kissed her forehead. "If it is possible for us to ride during our visit to the Valley, I would be pleased if we could."

She touched his lips with her fingertips. "I love you, Spock" she said. "And I still can't always understand why you love me back, but thank you." Her kiss told the rest.

"Love is an illogical emotion, as I have often stated in the past, but in our case, I care little about that concept. I simply love you, Christine, my wife." His eyes now held a mirthful twinkle. "And since we are planning a horseback excursion, perhaps we should engage in some ... practice?"

"Maybe I should sell my story to that Ferengi gossip columnist... 'My hot nights with Vulcan's original sex symbol' ... owww!"

Her husband's hand came playfully in contact with her posterior as he pulled her to her feet and into a kiss.

FIN