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


Better Late Than Never

Mistress V


Spock changed back into his sweats after his shower. He'd just finished playing five sets of badminton with Lt. Mohiuddin, the ship's champion in that discipline, and was pleased to see that his own game was improving steadily. It was an enjoyable sport and one which tested the player's reflexes and attention quite strenuously.


He started down the corridor towards the turbolift, all too aware of the date. It was early November and the Enterprise was headed back to Earth for mid-mission overhaul come December. Their route would take them through the Rigel system and then on to Earth Station McKinley and Starfleet Headquarters. The date stubbornly nudged him once more. Today, strictly speaking, he and Christine had been married precisely fifteen solar months and had yet to properly celebrate their first year anniversary. Well, at least the way he thought it should be celebrated.


Here it was, Saturday evening, and he was by himself. Christine was on the planet below at the colony of New Iberia, an agricultural settlement that specialized in growing fruits. It was a routine medical mission and she'd already been gone the entire previous day and much of that evening, and would not be back until much later. Tomorrow the medical team would be doing the last of the colonist's checkups, then it was off to Rigel. There would be no time for celebrating tonight as the entire away team was having a working dinner with the colony's medical staff.


The lift discharged him and he headed off to his private office in the science division. He'd earlier arranged to speak with his mother via live subspace feed (she'd said not to worry about the cost) and did not want to be late for that. But the date and the lack of a proper observance kept nagging at him, despite the fact he and Christine had celebrated, albeit in an abbreviated fashion, just three months prior. Oh, what a mess that had been, though.


* * *


A final debate on the proposed Federation Trade Tax increase, first put forth the previous winter, had been called for the neutral planet Parliament. Due to the planet's proximity to the center of the quadrant, four starships had picked up groups of delegates from corresponding starbases and delivered them to the conference. After the legalities were finished, the dignitaries were free to make their own plans. With both Risa and Pacifica nearby, it was logical to presume many would take advantage of those resorts. Not the starship crews, though.


The voyage was nothing like the Babel disaster, thank goodness. No Orion mercenaries, attempted assassinations or, as one delegate put it back then, 'such cape and sword goings on'. But the atmosphere was decidedly less formal, less stilted, more real world. For these were Ministers of Trade and Finance--the bean counters of the Federation--and the talk was all about things financial. There was already plenty of opposition to the increase, and Kirk knew this first hand from a visit to a starbase the previous year. An angry Ferengi delegation had waylaid him for two hours, expressing their displeasure at such a possible lowering of their profit margin.


Unfortunately, the scheduled rendezvous with the delegates came bright and early on their first wedding anniversary. Kirk had initially given Spock the morning off, saying he'd handle the formalities. They'd been sitting down to early breakfast of fresh tangerine juice and home baked blueberry muffins (courtesy of Cookie). The table was decorated with branches of creamy white plumeria blossoms, one of Christine's favorites, that Spock and Ensign Pauulu had grown specially in experimental horticulture. It was a perfect moment. Then the comm unit beeped.


"Spock here," the Vulcan said with a frown.


"Uh, Spock, look, uh, sorry to bother you, but, er, I just got word I have a subspace call on this conference, so could you, you know, oversee things?" Kirk sounded downright sheepish.


Spock gave his wife a raised eyebrow. "Affirmative. On my way. Spock out."


"I wonder what that was all about?" Christine asked as she prepared for a busy day of alien related health complaints. Something sounded way wrong with their friend.


"I shall tell you later, my beloved," Spock replied as he gave her a possessive kiss, full of delightful promise. "After the reception this evening, before I finish what I had planned for this morning." He brushed a stray lock of hair off her forehead. "Happy anniversary, Christine. Know that I love you very much."


* * *


Christine was having a cup of much needed coffee in her office later that morning. Sure enough, as soon as the delegates had arrived, the parade to see the medical staff began. Most of the ailments were travel related, plus a few hangovers (the starbase had several fine drinking establishments). A tap sounded at the door and McCoy came in.


"One of the new arrivals insists she be seen by you, doctor," he said with a nod. "On you husband's personal recommendation."


A moment later a youngish woman with short dark bobbed hair and bright blue eyes entered and extended her hand. "Dr. Chapel? I am Assistant Minister Vanna, of the Planet Ardana."


* * *


"I get these allergies every year during our summer," the young woman complained good naturedly. "And space travel only exacerbates things." She sniffed loudly. "It's most difficult to concentrate on discussions when one cannot breathe."


"This should fix you up in no time," Christine said as she depressed the hypospray. She looked the minister over discretely. Yes, it was still the same strong charactered young woman she remembered from the visit almost ten years ago. Vanna had accompanied Kirk with the shipment of Zenite and the women had met briefly in the transporter room. Then there was that other Ardanian woman...but they'd never actually met.


After the near disastrous planet visit, the Federation Bureau of Industrialization had indeed stepped in, despite Plasus' threats. From there forward, the planet had undergone much needed social reform and was now one of the more active participants in Federation affairs. This was largely due, Christine suspected, to Vanna's influence and the fact that Stratos City was now open to all Ardanians...as was the planet below. But even she was impressed with the new minister's meteoric rise.


"Were you and Commander Spock married when your ship visited Ardana?" Vanna asked, looking over at some framed photos which adorned Christine's desk. She indicated one in particular. "Is that not Terra there? Your Golden Gate Bridge?"


"That was taken on our honeymoon last year. And you're quite correct, it's the Golden Gate, all right. You know it?"


"Our director, Manna Phista, spoke fondly of her visit to California for the InterGalactic Film Awards. Have you seen her film, 'Bridge Beyond Our World'?"


"Yes, we both have. A very impressive first debut," Christine replied. "But tell me, Vanna, how have such reforms occurred in so short a time? From what I heard, Plasus was set against any change whatsoever."


"Oh, Plasus." Vanna swallowed a giggle. "He was, how do you say it, one of your old dinosaurs? The last of his breed. There was a reorganization within the council soon after the Federation contacted our planet. A new high adviser was elected and change followed naturally. Of course, there is still much to be done. But we would welcome your ship and you should there be a future visit. As you can see in the film, ours is a beautiful world to experience."


"That might be nice. So, forgive my curiosity, what became of Plasus? Surely he wouldn't accept such radical reform so easily?" Christine was dying to know what became of the bimbo.


"He is Assistant Minister of Art and Culture, something he does very well. Apart from that, he has little to say. His reign was the end of an era."


"And what about...Droxine?"


Vanna laughed out loud, for real this time. "That az-darth? Not a brain in her pretty head, unfortunately, but as an artist, she had some talent. She has relocated to the Parallax Colony with her lover, the last I heard. He was a miner."


Christine didn't precisely know what the word meant but its meaning was unmistakable. Bimbo was a universal term. She warmed to the minister. "The PARALLAX Colony?" A colony of free thinkers and free spirits, one of the most popular holosuite programs, along with Risa and the halfpipe.


"Plasus very nearly had heart failure. But he has accepted her decision. I keep saying I might visit there someday, when my duties allow, just to see if it is as I hear." Vanna paused for a moment, then changed the subject. "And Captain Kirk? Has he...also married? I did so want to meet him when I arrived, but he was unavoidably called away."


So that was it. Unavoidably called away? Kirk's past womanizing was beginning to catch up with him. Who next, Shanna the ex-drill thrall? The Kelvan whatshername, tentacles and all? Christine allowed herself a sly, private grin. She'd take care of this very nicely.


"Why no, Vanna. Captain Kirk is still very much single and I'm sure he'd be delighted to see you. I'll make sure to re-introduce you this evening at the reception. In the meantime, you might check out the Parallax Colony program on the holodeck. It should give you an idea of what goes on there." The image of Droxine in a mudbath, well her own vision of the woman, was priceless.


* * *


The official reception was pleasant enough. Christine spent time chatting with the Bolian minister and his new bride, both of whom were eager for news of his favorite cousin, Ajax. The Vulcan delegation latched onto Spock like a magnet and all but monopolized him in a discussion about how Stark's vastly increasing financial empire was benefiting Vulcan and the quadrant both. And Vanna was properly re-introduced to Captain Kirk, who obviously had made some sort of promise to the woman years ago. It was very clear she was planning to collect on it now.


Spock pulled his wife aside a bit later. "Meet me in cargo bay three in twenty minutes. Dress appropriately," he instructed her, then made a hasty exit, ostensibly to ensure the communications system was able to handle all the diplomatic messages being foisted upon it.


Cargo bay three? Well, the ship was swarming with visitors so their usual trysting spots were probably packed to the gills, and somehow, being away from their quarters just seemed that more naughty. Of course it was just a prelude to more erotic activities later in their marriage bed, but the thought was very pleasing. Sexual anticipation sang along their bond.


* * *


"If this blanket could only talk," Christine laughed as she took a sip of her champagne. "How many times have you had your way with me on it? And in how many different locations?"


Spock knew she did not want an answer, so he merely nodded his assent. "This is not the way I had envisioned spending our first anniversary, however," he admitted.


"Spock, I married the man and the uniform he wears, and all the responsibilities that come with it. You of all people would know that." She snuggled into his embrace. "Just being with you here, alone, is enough. There'll be other times for us to celebrate. Why not next month on the same date--hey!" She stopped abruptly as she felt a splash of champagne hit her inner thigh. "Watch it, you Vulcan oaf!"


"Oops." Her husband neatly wiped the drops up with his fingers, then licked the fizzy liquid off of them. "You know when you wear that skirt it drives me mad. Mad to know...what might be underneath?" His hand returned to her thigh and began a seductively slow journey upward, beneath the short flounce of denim she wore.


"I'll never tell," she said with a happy shiver.


"Then I must investigate of my own accord." A kiss broke his train of thought momentarily, playful and promising. "It would appear you are wearing a pair of those scandalously sheer imitations of underpants." His hand grew bolder.


"Uh huh, the same ones you gave me for an anniversary gift." She was being just as playful, though heat was pulsing rapidly at the contact. Sometimes, release just sneaked up on them both and bloomed of its own accord, outrageous in its intensity at times. That was what made such rendezvous such fun. She maneuvered her thigh over her husband's lap to give him better access in his exploration. "If you don't stop, Commander, you know what will happen."


"Indeed I do, Doctor, a...preview of what I plan to do to you once we return to our quarters." He lost himself in kissing his wife once more.


"Kirk to Spock. Come in, Spock."


A very unVulcan word filled Christine's head, a pre-reform oath she knew very well. Spock's shoulder visibly sagged as he reached over and hit the comm unit. He watched his wife mime a motion and remembered to clear his throat. When aroused, his voice had a definite timbre which was unmistakable.


"Spock here."


"Uh, Spock, Kirk here. I thought we were meeting right now?" There were gaggles of conversation in the background, including a familiar feminine laugh. Kirk was probably still at the reception and about to be pounced upon.


"Meeting? What meeting might that be, Captain?" Spock inhaled sharply as two hands found the button to his jeans and swiftly undid it.


"Uh, you know, about the schedule for tomorrow? I really need to go over with it you immediately, there've been some, ah, changes."


"I was not aware it needed to be discussed at this time." The first officer hoped his superior would not hear the sound of his zipper being drawn down tooth by tooth. "Unfortunately, I must attend to...a rather pressing matter right now. I shall join you shortly. Spock out." He hit the comm unit switch a little more forcefully than necessary.


"Shortly." Christine straddled him purposefully.


"Perhaps not so shortly."


* * *


"I guess I should go rescue the captain," Spock sighed contentedly some time later.


"Mmm. Poor Jim, maybe you should just leave him there to suffer." She gave an eartip a gentle tweak. "Just kidding. I know, he's your captain and your friend. Come on, Commander, let's make ourselves presentable again. You never know who'll be in the corridors."


"M'Benga to Chapel."


Christine was almost speechless as she hit the comm unit. Was it some kind of plot? "Go ahead, Doctor."


"Oh, Dr. Chapel, I'm sorry to bother you, but the wife of the Bolian minister is here with a gastric complaint and insists only you see her."


"On my way." She turned to give her husband a final kiss. "Duty calls."


"As I knew it would the first time I kissed you, my love. We shall simply have to...improvise at a later date. Perhaps next month as you suggested." He raised an eyebrow. "Though I am hardly through with you this night, by any means."


* * *


Unfortunately, the fact that the Bolian minister's wife was found to be in the early stages of pregnancy put an end to that night's celebration. Christine was in sickbay most of the night, running tests on the happy mother to be and ministering to the woman's somewhat shell-shocked husband. And the rest of the mission was spent keeping Kirk away from the persistent Vanna, which ultimately failed miserably. Well, not really so miserably.


September wasn't much better, the computer system overloaded a few days before, thanks to the strain of the diplomatic mission. The Enterprise put a hurried call into the nearest starbase and Spock spent the next forty eight hours, which included his anniversary (plus one), working with the base analysts so the system could be restored. Everyone was mindful of the upcoming inspection. The last thing needed was viruses in the hard drive. And then there was October. He had an unfortunate encounter with a mud puddle that day. There was celebration, of course, but once again, the special dinner he wanted to have with his wife had flown out of the proverbial window. She never once complained, but he felt he'd somehow let her down, that she might feel he viewed anniversaries as a bit illogical. This made him all the more determined to make it up to her in Florida.


But tonight...she was down on the planet and he was stuck here. By the time the away team would return to the vessel, it would nearly be time to beam back down once more, and an ACMO could no show up at such a mission fatigued.


Spock sighed and wondered what he should do. Perhaps his mother might have a suggestion. After all, she, too, was married.


* * *


Spock made himself comfortable in front of his office viewscreen. He drew a hand across his sweatshirt to smooth it into place, wondering for a moment if he should not have changed into a uniform despite being off duty. A few years back, he would have done so without question. Now, however, his parents were as used to seeing him in non-uniform (and often, non-Vulcan) attire as he was used to a rebuilt, comfortable relationship with his father. Progress.


The monitor hummed into life and he punched in the appropriate access codes. A few moments later, the screen opened up on a familiar figure in an even more familiar setting.


"Good evening, is it Spock?" Amanda asked. It was early afternoon on Vulcan and she was wearing her gardening smock. A few smudges of dirt were visible. Suddenly, Spock no longer worried about his PFT sweats.


"Yes, Mother, good afternoon. I trust all is well? Where is Father today?" Spock returned the easy greeting.


"He's down at Skrav's," his mother replied. "The two of them are installing some new cabinets in T'Glad's kitchen, so I expect he'll be gone most of the afternoon. You know how it is when those two get together."


Spock knew very well, and part of him wished he could be there to assist. He enjoyed DIY projects in logical company. Christine always teased him that he took things apart just to put them back together once more.


"Your father and I enjoyed the shipment of honey you sent from New Kavalla," Amanda continued. "It sweetens our tea and our oatmeal just right. Of course, I have to keep your father from eating the entire container at once." Sarek could not tolerate sweet things quite as well as his son. "And the holo of you and Christine in your costumes was quite amusing. Your father insists Christine made a very fetching mad scientist. But how did she get her hair to stick out that way?"


The ship's Halloween party had been the usual tipsy free for all; he and Christine served as bartenders. She'd gone as an evil scientist modeled after an old Terran Bugs Bunny cartoon, and he'd been a silent, somber vampire. With custom made incisors and a single trail of artificial blood--red--dripping from the corner of his mouth. His wife, naturally, sported two matching puncture wounds on her neck.


"With difficulty, and even more difficulty removing the lacquer afterward. I admit, she did look the part." Only Spock had known that beneath the tattered, stained white lab coat costume, she wore not another stitch of clothing. It was their secret. He took a breath. Enough of that.


"We've made the final arrangements for our trip to Terra." Amanda changed the subject, speaking ahead to December. "We'll spend nearly a month there in total. First of all, we'll be visiting Federation President Jarod and his wife in Paris at their official residence for a few days. You know, business and pleasure." Her eyes shifted ever so slightly. "And then it's off to Germany with them to welcome the participants to Stark's sports camp, and to watch Stark compete in the Four Hills Invitational at Garmisch-Partenkirchen."


The second sports camp was being held at Liudmilla and Valeri Daragan's vast training facility in Bavaria. A plethora of volunteer applicants, many from starship crews, had all but clamored to be selected to assist with the campers. The participants now numbered a hundred in total, from even more worlds than before. It was looked on as another feather in the Federation's cap, with the view that sport brought children from all worlds together in friendship and competition. This time, though, the camp was moved up a week so that it ended before the Terran holidays began, due in part to Stark's participation in the Central Park Halfpipe at New York on New Year's Eve. The champion was beginning to train in earnest for the next SportsFest, which would be held at Lake Tahoe, his hometown.


"We look forward to seeing them in New York," Spock replied. Stark and T'Lara would also be attending Greg and Kala's wedding that week, which promised to be quite a social event. "And we appreciate the arrangements you have made for us at the guest flat. Are you certain you and Father would not prefer to stay there yourselves? Christine and I can easily secure other accommodation if need be."


Amanda gave a soft laugh, something she shared with her son on a regular basis these days. "And miss staying at the Pierre? With all the other ambassadors and dignitaries in town for the Manhattan TransGalactic Hockey Invitational? Lady Kl'o'rox is so excited it defies description, and I'm looking forward to showing her the city."


The Klingon hockey team, as current InterGalactic SportsFest hockey gold medalists, would be at the competition in force. The Klin Ambassador and his wife were attending to oversee cultural relations, it being the first official visit of any Klingons to Terra. The team was also expected at the wedding, something Spock wondered about. The players were asking for a traditional, four night Kal'Hyah for Greg but Coach Kluth stated that one night was plenty for champion athletes in training. As Greg's Tawi'Yan, or swordbearer, Spock was expected to oversee the groom's traditional pre-nuptial preparations, and he was grateful for the coach's pronouncement.


"When shall you arrive in New York, then?" Spock asked.


"Just after Christmas. We're taking a...few days with Ambassador and Lady Kl'o'rox to show them some of the western Terran States, it being their first trip and all." Amanda's smile grew just a fraction wider. "You might say you and Christine were the inspiration."


"Indeed? And where might you be going, then?" His mother had piqued his curiosity, as she intended to.


"Las Vegas..." She watched as her son's eyebrow raised. "And its surrounding environs, of course. All those holos you showed us from your honeymoon gave your father the idea."


Spock was very glad all of their honeymoon had not been captured for posterity on holo. That would make for an extremely fascinating show, one he and his wife loved to recreate whenever possible. He quickly shooed away thoughts of lazy outdoor lovemaking sessions and concentrated on what his mother was saying, for she had changed the subject again.


"Oh, and Minister S'Fiscul said how much he enjoyed meeting you both during the trip to Parliament."


"As did we. Please be sure to thank him for delivering the champagne you and Father sent us for our first anniversary." The Finance Minister had personally handed over the gift.


"I do hope you were able to drink it in celebration? What with all the festivities and dignitaries on the ship, I wondered a bit." Amanda's voice held a trace of concern.


Spock relaxed his shoulders. It was time for a frank discussion with his mother. "We did partake on the day, but it was not quite the celebration I had envisioned." A quickie on the cargo deck was not at all what he'd planned, delightful as it had turned out. "In fact, that was what I wished to speak to you about. Christine and I have been...unable to commemorate our anniversary in a proper manner, despite our best efforts." He swiftly outlined the series of attempts, and failures, to carve out time together, minus the X rated details.


"But it sounds as though you were together on your anniversary. What's the problem, Spock? Did Christine say something?" Amanda could not imagine her daughter in law being critical of her son, she was totally besotted with him.


"No, Mother. But I was under the impression that Terran wedding anniversaries were to be celebrated with a fine dinner in an intimate setting. We have been unable to enjoy that experience."


"Where did you hear that? Spock, it's not always as it is in those old films you and Christine watch." Amanda shook her head in sympathy. "Sometimes, you can't have a grand celebration, but that's not what matters. What does matter is that you two spend the time together. There will be plenty of time for splendid dinners and wonderful trips, but right now, you two are serving in Starfleet." She paused and looked at her son's reaction. He seemed to be relaxing just a tad. "And you know that the duties came with the marriage. I'm sure Christine would be happy with a sandwich and a soda on the shuttlebay, so long as you were there sharing it with her."


Spock's eartips flushed as he recalled a not too dissimilar scenario, though it had not quite been a sandwich and a soda, nor had it taken place on the shuttlebay.


"Your father and I were apart more than we were together during our first year of marriage. He was forever being summoned hither and yon. Remember, in those days, things were hopping. He was gone weeks at a time in some cases, and all I could do was wait. Even subspace messages took days to arrive. I knew it would be like that when I married an ambassador, and I'm certain Christine realized the same would happen when she married you. As I'm sure you knew when you decided to marry her."


"But did you and Father ever celebrate your first anniversary?" Spock wondered what his father had done. Had he dismissed such a thing as illogical back then?


"Of course," his mother replied softly. "It took almost six months, but we finally managed to get away together." To Risa, she thought to herself, though there was no need for any pon-farr, Horga'hns or jamaharon, they'd never left the guest residence. Amanda guessed much the same had occurred for her son and his wife on Majoricia.


"I am planning to take Christine to Florida for the week prior to New York. A leisurely journey, with much time to explore the scenic beauty there together. But I still feel we have not had an anniversary." Spock sighed.


"Spock." Amanda's voice was chiding but gentle. "Have you asked Christine what she thinks? Maybe she doesn't share your opinion on that. There will be years ahead for what you feel an anniversary should be. For now, be spontaneous and enjoy the time you have together. You're both young and adventurous. Surely you've managed to celebrate despite all the unexpected happenings? Just enjoy that. Trust me, years from now, you'll look back on that with a great deal of affection."


Spock realized his mother was making sense. He and Christine celebrated their anniversary every day, in unique and diverse ways. And logically, that was what mattered the most. He knew from their link that she was more than happy with their relationship. As was he.


His thoughts were interrupted by the sight of his father joining the last of the transmission. Spock unconsciously straightened his shoulders and sat up, though he noticed his father was in work attire, and not of the diplomatic variety.


"Good evening, son," Sarek said pleasantly as he sat down next to Amanda. "Or should I say, 'Kai-qapla, Tawi'Yan!'?"


"I was not aware you spoke the Klingon language so well," Spock replied, curious as to where his father had learned the phrase.


"It is a long story, my son. One best told in person. I shall...explain it to you when we meet in New York. Over a chech'tluth, perhaps?" Sarek's eyebrow raised.


Now Spock's curiosity was warping into overdrive, but the subtle glance his parents exchanged made him bite his words back. No, now was not the time. Instead, he and his parents wrapped up the transmission with a final run through of their travel schedules.


* * *


After signing off from his parents, Spock decided to check up on some reports and then meditate early. It was still only about 20:00. On a Saturday night. It was illogical to feel somewhat sorry for himself, but he did, and he accepted that. His relationship with Christine was all about learning from each other. And right now, he missed her presence. Perhaps a game of chess with Jim, then, to take his mind off things. Yes, after meditation he'd seek out his friend.


Some time later, Spock headed off to his quarters to change for his chess match. As the doors whooshed open, he was very surprised to see his wife standing just inside. She was bent over the computer monitor, oblivious to his presence. He stealthily crept up behind her and pounced.


"You are early," he finally managed to say after he'd recovered from the breath being kissed out of him.


"The governor let us go. Spock, it's spring down there, almost early summer!" Christine's eyes were dancing with emotion. "It's balmy and breezy. The twin moons are out and it's almost as light as day. All fruit trees are in bloom and the scents are just unbelievably nice." She slid her arms back around her husband's neck. "Come down there with me and see."


Spock could not think very clearly or very logically. "Now?" was all he asked as his hands idly transversed familiar rear territory.


His wife nodded. "The governor offered me a guest cottage and I accepted. Kind of an...anniversary present? I already checked with Jim, he's fine with it, says you're not really needed here tonight anyway. Then tomorrow, you could do some science surveys if you like?"


The prospect of spending time alone with her, off ship no less, was too tempting. "I'll just change," he said. Be spontaneous, his mother's voice reminded him. This was spontaneous.


"And I'll get some things as well," Christine replied, looking forward to orange blossom scented kisses shared under the planet's lavender colored moons.


Spock was ready to hit the door exit button when his wife's voice whispered across the room. He turned.


"Aren't you forgetting this, Commander?" she asked seductively.


In her hands, she held a lightweight tartan blanket. The one they used for...outdoor activities.


* * *


"So, Spock, I bet you're glad to be out of here, aren't you?" Leonard McCoy asked as the shuttle cleared Rigel V.


"For once, Doctor, I agree with your prognosis. I am relieved to be leaving the planet." The Vulcan did not give an inch to his sparring partner although their friendship had been developing quite well over the past year or so.


"Play nice, you two," Christine Chapel said without looking up from the report she was writing. "I packed a can o' whoop a**, just in case."


McCoy and Spock traded a glance. There would be no misbehaving on this particular journey which, thankfully, was short. Spock busied himself with checking their flight path and opened a hail to the Enterprise, docked at the large facility orbiting Rigel II.


It was the ship's final assignment before heading back to its home system for mid-mission overhaul. They were currently in the Rigel sector, and Spock was an object of much interest. The CMO of the medical center at Rigel V's capital was extremely curious in seeing how Spock was functioning all these years after receiving the experimental blood producing drug, initially developed on the planet. After Sarek's emergency surgery and the excellent results produced, it was now commonly used across the quadrant. Spock was the first non Rigellian 'test patient' so he'd been poked, prodded, stuck, x-rayed, interviewed, photographed and otherwise preserved for posterity by, it seemed, every medical student and physician on the planet. All in all, a long, tiring day. The only thing tempering it was the fact his wife, as his current personal physician, had also been invited to attend along with her superior, who had authorized the use of the drug and done the preliminary study of its effects on a Vulcan.


The Rigellian system was almost a contradiction in terms, and this never ceased to amaze Spock. It had been a member since the early days of the Federation, but the inhabited planets in its sector ranged from one extreme to the other. There was everything from high culture and scientific achievement down to the frontier justice of the ancient West's outposts. Rigel VII, scene of heated battles during his early visit with Captain Pike's crew, was still at odds with itself, while its near neighbor Rigel II was commonly called the original Vegas planet. The Enterprise, naturally, was docked there while it underwent a last diagnostic before heading home. A final checkup, lest the odious team of Mendez and Bydebok find a scratch on a bulkhead during inspection. The crew was looking forward to two full days of leave, their first in almost three months.


Tomorrow would be Terran Thanksgiving. The nice thing about being parked at spacedock meant that virtually everyone could have shore leave if need be, yet all would easily contactable. Most of the crew planned to take advantage of the Las Vegas like atmosphere of bars, cabarets and other dens of iniquity, but there were plenty of other diversions. The planet's proximity to its sun was similar to that of Terra, so a wide range of climate allowed people to snowboard, sail, explore a vast and interesting desert, or hike through temperate rainforests. The major spaceport city was located in an area akin to that of the southwestern U.S., though it also had an ocean and many lakes.


Spock, who had been to the planet three times, was planning to take his wife out to see some quite spectacular natural phenomenon at a nearby desert lake, then have a quiet dinner at a small local restaurant he knew about. And, it being Rigel II, probably a visit to one of the less notorious bars, just because. In fact, he was contemplating their staying overnight. It no longer mattered to him that they'd never managed to have a properly formal celebration of their first wedding anniversary. After spending the night (but not sleeping much) with his wife on the colony of New Iberia, he realized they were celebrating their love for each other all day, every day. His mother was right. There would be ample time for the traditional kind of anniversary doings in the years to come, but for now, both of them were content simply to be with each other and experience many wonderful adventures together.


* * *


"So, where are you taking me?" Christine asked as she reached for her chocolate protein shake, expertly swatting away a hand seeking the same beverage. "Make your own," she admonished.


"To bed," her husband replied as his hand found something else to occupy itself. "You know seeing you in those garments has an effect on me."


"These?" Christine wriggled in his embrace until she was facing him. She knew exactly what he meant, the soft knit camisole and briefs she wore were the same ones she had on that crazy, wet, sensual day at the springs on Vulcan. Which was precisely the reason she decided on wearing them. "I thought we were going hiking, Commander." She slid a hand beneath the waistband of his boxers, exploring familiar territory.


"It is only 06:30, the sun has not even fully risen on the planet below. On the other hand, something else here has risen quite nicely, so I propose we...investigate this phenomenon."


Christine, ever the research scientist, could not disagree with that.


* * *


Lt. Kyle was chafing at the bit. Here, his first real chance in ages to see who was leaving with whom, and how they were dressed, had been scuttled. At spacedock, you just walked off the ship to the large transport facility nearby. The local Starfleet crew manning things didn't give a rat's rear end about any of it, they saw the same scenario nearly every day.


Well, he and the guys were going powerboating down at the main spaceport city's large lake. Supposedly there were plenty of bikini babes around who'd just love being given rides by starship crewmembers on the large boat Riley had rented. Then it was off to the Barros Inn, reputed to be the wildest bar in the entire quadrant. Sounded like a good day and night, even if he couldn't see any local scandal. Maybe at the Inn...always a chance, he reasoned. He hoisted his duffel bag and went off to find Riley, Sulu and Chekov.


* * *


"Hey, where are you two off to?" Jim Kirk asked the couple waiting to transport to the planet's surface.


"Jim! Len! Goodness, we should be asking where you two are off to?!" Christine replied as she surveyed the two figures standing there. Both were dressed in cold weather gear.


"I'm taking Bones here skiing. It's been years since he's gone, and there's a nice little resort there with a great cabaret." Kirk gave the CMO a friendly punch on the arm. "Right, Bones?"


McCoy only nodded. Everyone knew about the two scantily clad beauties he'd summoned up at the shore leave planet. He swiftly changed the subject, noting the way Kirk surreptitiously eyed his ACMO, who was clad in skintight black climbing tights. Spock noticed it too. He tried for levity. "What about you? Spock, you going to take Chris to the science institute, or the local computer club?"


"Neither, gentlemen, we are proceeding to the mineral falls at Lake Pa'kal for a day's excursion." He glanced at the transporter officer, who was motioning them onto the pad. "If you'll excuse us, we must be off. Have a pleasant shore leave." And with those words he escorted his wife up the steps, his hand resting on the small of her back as it always did in such situations. Just a tad too low, in McCoy's opinion, to do much in the way of supporting.


"That's a new term for it, a day's excursion," Kirk remarked as they readied themselves for their own trip.


"Let me introduce you to some excursions, Jim," his friend offered knowingly.


* * *


The spaceport city was bustling with people. Besides the Enterprise, six or seven other vehicles were in port: freighters, transports, research vessels. Rigel II had long been viewed as the most open of the planets so far as allowing crews the right to visit. Taking a page from the Ferengi, the locals decided profit was profit and declared the port an open city of sorts. So long as no formal declaration of hostilities was in force, on any given day you might find Nausciaans, Terrans, Andorians, Corvallens, Gorn, Klingons, Ferengi, Betazeds, even the odd Romulan off a cargo spacer. The scene was always just this side of wild as a consequence.


But not everyone was there to get drunk, laid or worse. The planet itself had wonderful things to see and the old part of the city was exceptionally charming. After they'd stowed their gear at the transport center, Spock led his wife over to a rental agency and swiftly picked up a local craft called a skimmer, which was a combination of a motorcycle and a flitter. It seated two people but flew above the ground rather than traverse a road. And then they were off on another adventure.


* * *


The mineral falls at Lake Pa'kal resembled a frozen waterfall, except it was a chalk like substance and not ice that composed the phenomenon. Years of evaporation had led to the unique forms being carved out of the water. Nearby, large monolithic shapes dotted the shoreline, looking like a ghostly line of sentinels watching the vast numbers of tourists who visited the area.


The day itself could not have been more prefect. Spock took Christine hiking up the well maintained trails into the falls and they marveled at the sights. Then they went for a swim in the lake, whose mineral content was reputed to promote longevity. Spock raised an eyebrow at that but did not mind the sight of his wife in a tight lycra bathing suit one bit. After lunch, they took a long, relaxing stroll along the lakeshore, just enjoying each other's company. The amount of people in the area meant they needed to be on their best behavior, but sexual anticipation was passing back and forth across their bond. Both of them knew the evening would bring further sensual delight.


* * *


"Now where?" Christine asked as they left the small restaurant where they'd had a wonderful, intimate meal. They'd both changed out of their hiking gear for an evening on the town, and she was wearing an outfit she'd bought in Moab, on their honeymoon. Her husband's eyes had been devouring her since she appeared in it.


"There is a bar I know of, one that was off limits when I first visited here, but some of us drank there nevertheless. I believe you should find it...interesting." Spock obediently held out his arm for an antitox injection. Neither of them liked hangovers.


"Not the Barros Inn? 'You're no one till you're thrown out of the Barros?" Christine rolled her eyes as she injected herself. "Been there, done that."


"No, not there, though we might look in later to see what is transpiring." They wandered through the twisting, turning mazelike streets of the old quarter. The further they went, the quieter it got, until they were both standing in front of a small stone structure with swinging wooden doors and a colorful hand painted sign.


"That's Klingonese!" Christine sounded out the word. "The Cha'DIch."


Before her husband could comment, the doors were flung open and a towering Gorn stomped through them. In each of his massive arms, he held a squirming male. He tossed his charges into the street and dusted off his hands. "AN' SSSSSSSSTAY OUT!" he shouted after their departing forms. "This is a ressssssspectable drinking esssssstablishment. You wanna recruit, go to Barrossssss!" Then he turned to a smaller male next to him whose features were darkened in the shadows. "You all right, bosssssss?" he asked, concerned.


The second male moved towards the door, his hand on his head in an attempt to stanch a steady flow of chocolate colored blood. "Just a little dizzy, Tek. Give me a minute." He noticed the couple standing across the lane. "Hey folks, come on in. Don't let those two Naberrite idiots scare you away, it's quiet inside." He pushed a stray lock of wavy blonde hair off his brow and tried once more to stop the bleeding from a cut on his forehead.


Christine stepped forward, her husband at her side. "I'm a physician, let me have a look at that," she offered.


"Naah, I'll be fine." The man's features grimaced, however. "Besides, I'm such a mixed bag of genes you'd never know what to do."


"I think I can figure it out," Christine replied with a smile, giving her would be patient the once over. Her suspicions were correct. "Can we go inside?"


The man was Klingon. Blonde hair and all.


* * *


The bar's owner was right. Although the clientele inside ranged from Altairians to Zaldans, everyone was, for the most part, drinking amiably. The odd card game was going on, and vocal discussions could be heard (in many languages) but it was clear the Cha'DIch was a few refreshing steps removed from most of the bars on Rigel II. And overseeing it all with a watchful but not unfriendly eye was the imposing bartender, Tek.


"Hold still," Christine instructed her patient as she ran the healing beam over his face. "Just a few minutes more. You're lucky you didn't fracture your entire cheekbone and jaw. What happened, anyway?"


"Aaaah, it was those Nyberrites," Thul replied with a scowl. "They are not only without honor, they are without shame. Tek has to get rid of some at least twice a week. That Alliance is forever trying to recruit new blood into its fleet, but you do not really know what ship they speak for." His scowl deepened. "I do not wish any trouble here from angry ship captains whose crew abandon them. This is a place to drink with comrades, not do battle."


"Well, that bar stool hit its mark," Christine observed as she finished up the treatment. "Good thing Tek was there, I guess." She glanced over at the Gorn, who was serving drinks while simultaneously having a heated debate with her husband and an Andorian spacer. "What do you suppose they're talking about, anyway?" Her eyes widened as she watched Spock mimic what looked like a two handed backhand. The Gorn did the same, in the opposite direction. Then they all started gesturing with their hands, but her husband's face was its usual Vulcan self. Well, to most people. To her, he was positively animated, and that endeared him to her all the more.


Tek? Yes, I owe him my life a couple of times, as he does me." Thul followed the physician's gaze and gave a loud laugh. "If I know Tek, they are discussing hockey. The Gorn insist they shall win the gold medal one of these years. I tell him he is dreaming."


Since the encounter at Cestus III, the territory delineations between the Gorn Empire and the Federation were now firmly established, after long debates by both parties at the planet Parliament. While the Empire had no desire to join the Federation at present, Cestus III had been re colonized. The Gorn themselves were seen now and then in Federation space, just as other non-Federation races were. Relations were neutrally cordial. Christine recalled the two wild Gorn bartenders at Tel's Sports Bar. And the discussion topic did not surprise her. A curious outcome of the peace negotiations had been the introduction of hockey to the Gorn, whose ship crews had observed their Starfleet counterparts playing the game on the frozen lakes of Parliament during its winter. Although as a reptilian species they generally eschewed colder climates, the sport had fascinated them and eventually took hold on their homeworld, slowly but surely, as it had on the Klingon homeworld decades before. The first Gorn team had debuted at Polaris, and were expected back for the Lake Tahoe Games. It was clear there was still much to be learned, but Christine had to hand it to them, at least they were trying.


"Tek came in looking for employment about five years ago," Thul remarked. "I said, 'Make me your best drink and we'll see.' He did. And after I got up from the floor, I hired him. He...helps keep the peace around here too."


"I'll bet." Christine gave him one last scan. "I think you're fine, Thul. Though your Rigellian blood was a surprise, that's why you were bleeding so freely. The race has that tendency." She raised a curious eyebrow. He was half Rigellian at least, and that would likely explain his blonde hair and grey eyes, which were not normal for one of his race. His features, though, were absolutely true to those of the Klin.


"I thank you, Doctor," the Klingon replied graciously. "And any friend of Koth is a friend of this establishment. Be certain to give my regards to that old dung fly. He is long overdue for a visit to Rigel."


The threads of Klin society were tightly interwoven, just as Kala had said so many times. Not only did the bar owner know Kala's family, he was well acquainted with all of the other Klingons they knew and was curious about the rumor of a comely young Klin maid who skated like a warrior yet was graceful as an aria.


"I'll do more than that, Thul," Christine laughed as she packed up her medikit. "But please tell me, how did you end up here of all places?"


"You mean, where did I obtain my blonde tresses?" The man's face split into a grin as he poured them both a shot of Aldebaran whiskey, neat. "Well, my father was the youngest of six brothers. All of them were warriors. When it came time for his Age of Ascension, he announced he did not want to join the KDC. Instead, he would seek his future in the galaxy's far reaches."


"That took gall." Klin generally expected all sons to become warriors, to uphold the family honor.


"His father said as much, but still gave his permission, he admired his courage. So my father signed on as an engineer's mate on a freighter that was held together with hope and not much else. For seven years he was journeying on the old scow. But eventually, he grew tired of having to put the ship together again every time it achieved warp speed. One day, they limped into the spaceport here, and my father decided to leave the crew. By then, he was an experienced engineer and could fix just about anything. So he found employment at one of the repair stations."


This was a common tale across the galaxy, Christine realized, thinking of Kala's father and Dr.Oxana Black's grandparents. "And?" She was dying to know what happened next. Spock and his new found friends were busily dissecting the gold medal match from the Polaris Games, he wasn't even paying attention.


"He and another engineer were shrewd with their savings and decided to open an establishment where all could drink freely together. Much as the capital city on the homeworld is neutral for all warriors. And this is the result. It was named the Cha'DIch because my father and his partner stood by each other in their efforts, just as his son and I do today. It prospered from the first and still does, for those who would seek a different atmosphere." He indicated a shapely, seductively dressed waitress who was laughing with a table full of Orions and Caitians, all of whom had forgotten their game of Tongo. "It is the same as most bars here, just...quieter. And that can be good. Ah, but you wonder about me. One day, my father and his partner were exploring the marketplace down at the waterfront. A local young beauty walked past him and dropped her shopping."


Christine guffawed, though in a ladylike manner. "Like her hanky!" She quickly explained the ancient Terran custom to the amused Klingon.


"Yes, like that. Her father forbade such a union. She was a musician, and he had plans for her future. She would have none of it. They were married soon afterward and, when I was old enough to take over the management of the establishment, I did so. And some day my son shall stand as I do, I hope. Unless the problems that plague the Barros Inn spread, which I hope does not happen." He looked over at his bartender. "Tek! What was the name of that maggot who tried to set fire to the Barros last week?"


The Gorn paused from his hockey debate. "Daxssssssssss. Curzon Daxssssss."


"Trill. Trill fool." This came from a large Nausicaan, who had stepped to the bar and ordered. "I was there. I saw."


At this, both groups drew closer to the tall speaker with great interest. "He smoked the hu-man stick. See-gur, you say. My friend did not like this and said so. This Trill spilled my friend's drink and put his stick on it. There was fire." He gave a derisive laugh. "And he poured more drink and made more fire. My friend was angry." He downed a shot before he continued. "We made him sorry." And with that, he went back to his table.


"I only wonder what his friend was drinking," Christine shook her head in amazement as she looked after the massive figure. "And what happened to this Dax character?"


"He was thrown out, but will probably be back the next time he is on Rigel," Thul said matter of factly. "Business is business. But enough of that, this evening calls for a toast. Tek, your specialty, for all of us."


"Yessssss, bosssssss," Tek replied as he picked up a bottle of turquoise colored liquor. He noticed Christine's curious gaze. "Have you ever had a worm hole?" he asked, knowing she tended bar as well.


"We have not," Spock said. "But we hope you shall remedy this?"


They watched as the Gorn poured shots of the bluish liquid, which he called meridor. It was a specialty of his homeworld, he said proudly. Then he added a smaller amount of Yridian brandy, which swirled and floated in the glass and made the finished beverage look quite a bit like its namesake, a wormhole.


Christine was very glad she'd given Spock and herself a double dose of antitox. A wormhole made a chech'tluth look like Kool-Aid.


* * *


"I remember the first time you wore this dress." Spock pulled his wife astride his lap and they looked out at the darkened harbor. It was still night for another hour or so, but the first fishing boats were beginning to put to sea. They were seated on a deserted dock, where they'd ended up after the wormhole's effects had worn off. Spock had his legs stretched out in front of them and leaned comfortably back against some cargo crates.


"So do I." Christine tweaked an eartip in the dark. "We almost didn't get to dinner, if I recall." She'd bought the black knit dress at the crafts market in Moab and Spock was very appreciative of its cut and line.


"A good thing we have already dined then," he replied. A moment later there was silence, broken only by the sound of intense lip to lip contact.


"And we sat on that bench by the river afterward." She slid her hands down his back, enjoying the texture of cotton shirt covering Vulcan muscles. "You wanted me, but there were all those tourists walking around."


"As I still want you, my wife." His hand dropped to the inside of her thigh. "What are you wearing beneath this outrageously provocative garment?" he whispered.


"See for yourself, Commander." She continued her oral exploration of his nearest ear, knowing full well what the consequences would be. At this point, neither of them cared. There was so little time like this in the course of their duties. There'd be no red alert here, nor an early alpha shift, a shipwide virus or a malfunctioning computer system. And they still had another day and night to enjoy.


He slid his hand up his wife's leg slowly, making a leisurely exploration of the wisp of lace masquerading as her underpants. It was minuscule, almost nonexistent, not requiring removal, just careful maneuvering. He prided himself on his maneuvering abilities.


"Spock." Her breath caught.


"Shall I cease what I am doing?"


"Don't you dare."


His fingers slid beneath the lace and further determined if more sensual activity might occur. To his delight, he discovered it could. He freed his erection from its confines of tight denim and positioned his wife in the right place, then thrust into the warmth waiting for him. Her reaction was instantaneous, and a thrill raced through his body as he realized, once more, that he was the cause of her arousal.


"So are you sorry you kissed me that day?" she asked naughtily against his mouth.


"Indeed I am. Sorry I did not do so much sooner." He thrust again. "Let me show you just how sorry, my love."


"I hope you're very sorry..."


* * *


The warmth of morning sunshine woke Christine. She sleepily turned towards the unaccustomed light of day and willed her eyes to open. After months of the ship's artificial version of the hours, real sunlight was a treat, something she experienced far less often than she'd like.


Her internal clock was still on ship's time. Despite finally getting to sleep around 05:00, it was now only 09:15 and further slumber had fled. She turned to Spock, who was lying comatose next to her on the comfortable bed. Even a light touch on his cheekbone didn't produce a response. Good, she thought. He worked himself far too hard and this extra rest would benefit him.


She threw on her sweats and got up, stretching and yawning as she did so. The sun had already risen over the green Rigellian sea, an odd sight for one accustomed to the Pacific Ocean's sunsets. The harbor below was full of activity, both commercial and pleasure, and the waterfront market was well underway.




The replicator obliged and Christine took the strong brew, which she'd only recently tried and immediately loved. She wandered over to the balcony doors, pausing to look in the well-appointed bathroom. They were staying at a local inn built into the side of a hill above the harbor.




The name of their accommodation translated into "The Rock House" and it was an apt description, an upscale, tasteful Rigellian version of the Madonna Inn. Eight rooms had been hollowed out of the local sandstone, fronted with traditional balconies and windows. Each bathroom had a cascading waterfall shower that emptied into a rock pool, every bit as nice as the places they'd stayed at in Sedona or Majoricia. And surprisingly, the room was not at all cold, its internal climate was perfectly controlled. Such digs probably did not come cheap, but Spock insisted this was his treat. He seemed to genuinely enjoy spending money on his wife, and there was no way she was complaining, though she returned the favor on a regular basis. The Federation Discretionary Benevolent Fund was still seeing to her and her mother's needs very well indeed.


The morning air was balmy and warm, carrying rich, herby scents of the local vegetation. Christine plonked down rather ungraciously on a cushioned bench and surveyed the vista. Just up from the seaport, she could make out the river delta which led to the interior desert lake they'd be heading to later. Spock had been there before and said it was quite an enjoyable daytrip. They were taking a speedboat. Christine wondered how her husband's nautical navigational skills were. In a few weeks they'd be in Florida, where there'd be plenty of opportunities for water activity. Recently, both of them had begun practicing windsurfing and kayaking with gusto on the ship's holodeck, and they definitely planned to snorkel as well.


She sensed he was awake but just sat quietly, knowing he'd find her. And she was determined to let him relax. No snide remarks like, "Are you hungry?", or "Where are you taking me?" which inevitably led to more carnal knowledge. Sure, she was game, but there'd be time enough for sexual frolics later, so she told herself to behave. An arm twined sensually down her neck and around her shoulder. A moment later, a large, comfortable body drew close.


* * *


Christine propped herself up on an elbow and looked down at the pleased smirk on her husband's handsome features. She sighed in mock exasperation. "When I asked you how your head was, I meant the one on your shoulders, you Vulcan sex machine!" So much for behaving.


Spock allowed himself a laugh. "My head is fine now, Doctor, although when you inquired earlier, I was suffering from a curious lack of bloodflow in that particular area."


"I'm not surprised. I sometimes wonder how you can function in that state. You should be passing out!" Contrary to his regular denials, Christine now knew Vulcans, at least her particularly variety, suffered from a wide variety of ailments that were routinely attributed to 'mere' humans. This included what appeared to be an astonishing amount of blood that was diverted at...times.


"Which is precisely why I made certain we were comfortably situated. In case either one of us was prone to losing consciousness." He gave the cushions that they were resting on a satisfying thump. Above them, the morning sun continued its journey, heedless of the sated, unclothed lovers resting in its rays.


"Losing consciousness? What's that supposed to mean?" But she knew. Being with Spock was unlike anything she'd even remotely experienced with...what was his name?


"Should I conduct a field study?" His smile was wicked with promise.


"How about another balcony study?"


"And then a field study. Or should we say a lake study? Or a canyon study, perhaps?"


"Shut UP already and kiss me, you Vulcan fool."


"Vulcans are not fools."




* * *


Christine finished putting on her bathing suit in the cramped head of their rented power boat. Yesterday she'd worn a plain old lap suit, but not today. She had to hand it to Kala, the woman sure knew exactly how to design for each of her clients. As soon as she'd told Kala they were headed to Florida, her friend had gone to work on a suitable swimwear item. It had arrived at the Rigel spaceport just before the Enterprise did. This would be a preview.


The color was a shimmering lilac periwinkle, not dissimilar to the shade of her wedding dress, and the fabric was neither sheer nor bulky. An allover swirling pattern of silvery galaxies and nebulae was interspersed with a design that looked somewhat like a Starfleet insignia, but more like a hint of one. Kala called the piece "Star Dreams" and the suit's line reflected her dressmaking expertise. It revealed nothing, yet showed everything, with high cut thighs that emphasized Christine's long legs, and a zipped front that she'd left just unfastened enough to give a hint of cleavage. She paused to tie a virtually matching hued Tahitian pareo, a wedding gift from Ensign Pauulu, around her hips, then popped her Vulcan Heat sunglasses on and made her way up the narrow gangway.


Spock had already maneuvered the shiny blue boat from the dock and was heading it towards the nearby river mouth at a decent clip. A breeze caught his otherwise perfectly cut hair and ruffled it just a bit. As any good sailor, he was logically attired in sporting gear, namely shorts and a sweatshirt (one of Stark's more recent Vulcan Heat models).


He looked delicious, Christine decided. She wandered over to where he was piloting the vehicle and leaned back against the railing, enjoying the view. Views.


If a Vulcan's eyes could pop out on stalks, Spock would have been a textbook case. His mouth actually dropped open a ways. She slid a hand under his jaw and pushed up.


"You'll catch flies like that," she admonished playfully. "Haven't you ever seen a married woman in a bathing suit before, Commander? You saw me in alot less just a few hours ago, remember."


It was hard to tell what was more green, his eartips or the ocean's sparkling waves.


* * *


Some time later, Spock turned into the river's mouth and headed upstream. The inhabited areas soon gave way to wilderness, as red and golden sandstone canyon walls began to appear on either side of the waterway. A little further, a good sized lake came into view, surrounded by sheer slickrock banks. There were other sports enthusiasts here as well, and the water was crisscrossed with windsurfers, jetskiers and kitesailers. The sun, at its zenith, was basking the entire area in a shimmering warmth.


They tied up at a local marina and had a leisurely lunch on the dock, watching the activities as they ate. Christine pointed subtly to a large red powerboat moored nearby. It was filled with people, mostly female, and sensual jazz oozed from its speakers.


"Isn't that Kevin Riley and his cronies?" she asked quietly.


Spock followed her line of vision. "I believe it is," he said after awhile. "And some rather interesting companions, by the looks of it."


"Could you define...interesting?" Christine let a touch of humorous venom color her words.


"Look, over there, a Tarkalean hawk!" Spock was desperate to change the subject, knowing his wife's jealous streak more than matched his own illogical one.


"We're on Rigel, Commander. Nice try. And it's a Rigellian day owl, actually." But she was smiling back at him.


* * *


"Amazing! It's just like the cliffs near Moab." Christine leaned back against Spock's shoulder as he pointed out native petroglyphs and ancient dwelling remains which dotted the side canyon's rocky outcrops. He'd turned the boat up a remote tributary and they soon left the lake behind.


"Very much so, which is why I enjoyed visiting that region," he replied, tightening his free arm around his wife's waist.


"And you say you hiked into this slot canyon?" He'd mentioned coming here as a cadet, years ago.


"Affirmative, I followed the top of the canyon all the way to this point. And then I climbed down and explored the ancient ruins. It was a long but very worthwhile day, although I must admit, I was in my youthful prime then."


She smacked him. "Stop fishing." Vulcan vanity was not an oxymoron.


"How can I be fishing when I packed no such gear?" He started nibbling on her warm shoulder.


"You're impossible, you do know that? But I guess you like these adventure tours then?" Christine thought back to the outward bound journey that masqueraded as their honeymoon at times.


"They are enjoyable, yes, which is why I was so pleased with the trip we took to Terra," he replied, reading her thoughts. "And why I look forward to our next journey. I have always enjoyed traveling and seeing new things. My father and I took many such trips on Vulcan when I was a boy. Now that I may share these excursions with you, my beloved, gives me a great deal of pleasure."


"Honest?" She slid her arms around his neck, already knowing the answer.


"Honest." He extricated himself from her embrace and cut the engine, then shrugged out of his sweatshirt and jumped into the water to secure the boat with a line. The sun glinted off his wet muscles.


A prefect two days' leave, Christine thought to herself as she closed her eyes and sighed happily. In the past months, there had been very little time like this. Planet visits just weren't the same, no matter how much you tried, and the holodeck was nice but it wasn't real. Tonight they'd have an early evening, though she somehow doubted they'd get much sleep. Callback for senior staff was noon the following day, then they were bound for Earth Station McKinley and Starfleet.


She felt Spock embraced her from behind, wet and cool from the lake. He'd somehow managed to lose his shorts during his brief swim, because she could tell he was delightfully naked. Her hands reached back and grabbed a handful each of firm Vulcan glutes.


"Off with that bathing suit, woman," he growled in her ear. "The water awaits us."


* * *




"Yes, my love?"


"Let's run away together?" It was a contented mumble against his shoulder. They were dozing and suntanning on the boat's deck, oblivious to such ridiculous notions as clothes.


"Very well. Where would you like to go?" He traced the line where derriere met upper thigh, noting her posterior had gotten a light suntan along with the rest of her.


"I don't know, somewhere nice, so long as you're with me," she decided after a minute. Her hand slid across his abs and found a hipbone to tickle.


"I can take you somewhere very nice right now." A kiss. "Shall we?"


Christine gave a tug to the chain around his neck which held the key. He never took it off. "Yes, let's."


* * *


The next day, Kirk rounded a corner and observed his First Officer and ACMO headed back to their quarters. The senior staff was returning from shore leave and in an hour or so, he and Spock would do a walk through to see how maintenance had gone. Judging from past such stops, there would be a busy few days ahead, undoing all the bugs that invariably happened on routine checkups.


He looked at the pair. Both of them were in casual attire, relaxed in their stride. Chris had noticeably lighter streaks in her hair from the sun. They were holding hands, as any other couple might do. A moment later they stopped in front of their door. Kirk drew back into an entryway, not wanting to accidentally intrude on a private moment.


But his curiosity got the best of him, so he poked his head out and watched as the normally stoic Vulcan gave the woman he loved a kiss. It was no big holovid love scene thing, but certainly no unemotional peck, either.


Just a couple very much in love with each other, he decided. As crazy as it seemed, their somewhat unconventional relationship worked.


And that was good.