Disclaimer: Star Trek is the property of Paramount/Viacom. This story is the property of and is copyright (c) 2006 by Mistress V. Rated PG13

 

HOMEPORT

Mistress V

 

"Is that the last of it?" Christine Chapel asked her husband. She carefully took her wedding dress out of the closet and gave it a shake. She'd be wearing it for Kala and Greg's civil ceremony, as matron of honor.

"So it appears." Spock snapped the last storage unit shut and activated the locking mechanism. Their quarters looked bare without the usual collection of knicknacks, travel mementos and framed photos, but regulations were regulations. During servicing, all personal items had to be secured lest any damage happen. They'd been packing up for the past two nights.

"Such a pain in our glutes," his wife sighed as she continued with her work. "Even if I understand the principle."

"Your glutes are never a pain," Spock replied as he embraced her from behind. "They are quite a welcome sight, actually."

"If you help me finish up here, you can have a better view." The caresses increased and a pair of hot Vulcan lips began nibbling on her neck. "Commander, behave yourself. We dock at Earth Station McKinley in less than twelve hours!"

"And your point is?" Spock asked, though he dutifully wrapped up getting his gear into a duffel bag. Bags, actually. One for Florida's warm climate, the other for New York. The winter things would go on ahead of them. For the next three nights, they'd be living on board though their days would be spent at Starfleet Headquarters.

"That's done, thank heavens." Christine picked up a plastic knife from her desk. "I've booked a holosuite so we can run through the ceremony, do you have your swords?"

Spock drew two lightweight models of traditional bath'leths from the closet, then picked up a disc from his own desk. "A holochip arrived today, from Stark. It might be a good time to view it." He grabbed a hooded Vulcan Heat winter jacket and threw it to his wife, then got out his own.

"What's this for?" she asked.

"It is apparently a very accurate representation of where the camp is being held." The second sports camp was taking place at the Daragan's huge facility near Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Stark and T'Lara would be joining them in New York afterward.

"I see. And the towel?" Spock had also taken out a large beach towel.

"It is best to...be prepared," he replied mysteriously.

* * *

"Computer. Set program, Spock Worf one."

A moment later the holodeck was transformed into a shadowy, traditionally decorated great hall typical of many Klingon great homes. Bok'tai incense hung heavily in the air. Torchlight flickered. A crowd of guests was waiting for the ceremony to begin.

Spock moved to stand near the front of the room, where he would perform his duties as Greg's Tawi'Yan, or swordbearer, which Worf had described as somewhat akin to a best man.

"Computer. Run program." Christine commanded. She stepped behind a wall for a moment and took a breath, listening to the drums beat our a slow warning cadence. Then she put an authoritative look on her face and marched in to the hall, the crowd parting as she did so.

Ste stopped and drew her weapon, which would be the traditional d'k'thag at the actual wedding, then began the ancient challenge in the Klingonese she'd practiced over the weeks. Her eyes raked the crowd, searching.

"Let those who would question the bride's honor speak to my blade," she stated crisply. It was a largely traditional move, stemming from the legends surrounding the first married Klingon couple, Kahless and Lukara. Both Kala and K'a'tya assured her that no one dared challenge a cha'DIch'aa nowadays, but still encouraged her to put plenty of fire into the role.

Satisfied that no one had issue, Christine withdrew to await her entry with the bride. Up at the front of the hall, a stately older woman came forward. The Mistress of the House of Worf, Worf's own grandmother, was to perform this ceremony. It was quite common for a tuq's Mistress to oversee oath taking celebrations The matriarch's eyes were kind, a smile playing on her wise features.

"At the dawn of our time," she began.

* * *

"Worf did a great job on this program," Christine observed after the ceremony ended and they were once again in the empty holodeck. It had been a full Klin oath taking, with Worf and his wife K'a'tya playing the familiar role of bride and groom.

"He informed me that Mogh and Loki were of great assistance as well. Everyone was quite eager to take part. Kala's tuq is apparently a very esteemed one." Spock helped his wife into her jacket. "A pity they cannot attend the wedding."

"Yes, but Mogh and Loki will be competing in the first snowboard event ever held in their empire instead. What a wonderful thing." One of the Klingon Empire's icier worlds was hosting the tournament. The government was obviously looking to expand its team beyond hockey for the Lake Tahoe SportsFest. Stark had been consulting on the construction a new indoor facility, a smaller version of the one in Shikhar, in the homeworld's capital city.

"To think had I not asked Mogh's father to join me that day in this very holodeck," Spock began thoughtfully, "I would never have realized how comely a cha'DIch'aa you make, my beloved." He raised an eyebrow. "Though I must admit, your current attire is hardly traditional."

Christine laughed as she zipped up her parka. She was wearing a sweatshirt she'd picked up during their honeymoon. Jet black, with fluorescent green lettering that spelled out one of their favorite holodeck simulations. CSI Las Vegas.

"K'a'tya says there's a Klingonese version of the show being planned. Apparently, the reruns are very popular on the homeworld." She looked back at her husband. Both of them now were ready for Arctic adventure.

"Computer, run program Stark one," Spock said.

* * *

In an instant, the holodeck transformed itself into a winter wonderland. The towering Alps framed a traditional village, which was dominated by a large sport facility. The sky was crystal blue and the sunlight sparkled on the snow. It was...brisk.

"Hey Spock and Chris," Stark said. "Welcome to our camp. Sorry you can't be here, but we'll give you the grand tour." He indicated his friend Sean, who stood with his wife Jennifer next to T'Lara and Sierra. "Bet you didn't know Sean was a computer geek, huh? He wrote this whole program. So if there're any problems, you can complain to him, not me." At this, the champion's best pal unceremoniously dumped a snowball on Stark's head. Sierra, who had obviously continued with her training, lay down and placed her paws over her eyes, then sighed heavily.

Stark led the couple through the camp's many amenities. Familiar people stopped to say hello, including Federation President Jarod and his wife, Sarek and Amanda, the Daragans, and Kanou, who trained here year round. Stark pointed out many of the participants, who now were a hundred in number and came from even more worlds than before. The champion would be competing at a halfpipe here after the camp ended, then he was headed for New York and the Central Park Invitational, as well as his friends' wedding celebration.

"Spock, I want you to see a couple of great new talents. They're twins. And believe me, they can get the puck across the goal like no one else I've seen. Look for them in about 15 years or so, I can guarantee it." Stark paused to give an ear piercing whistle. "Guys! Come show your stuff!"

Two players skated across the rink, passing the puck with lightning quick speed. They braked in a flurry of ice shavings on either side of the champion, who put his arms around both.

"Meet BoCla and RobArk," Stark said by way of introduction. "From the Gorn homeworld."

Two Gorn youths, both very tall for their age as befitted their race, grinned toothily at the camera. "Greetingssssssss" they chorused.

* * *

"Tek wasn't just blowing hot air, then," Christine remarked after they'd left the chill of a German winter for the holodeck once more. "Hockey is a big thing on their world, he said they had their eye on the gold medal one day. Maybe those two will be the foundation for that."

"Blowing hot air? Doctor, Tek is a Gorn. He is cold blooded, remember?" Spock slapped his wife's posterior playfully. He loved to tease his wife, though he also loved feigning seriousness during the process. Their time alone together was something both of them cherished greatly.

Before Christine could make a barbed reply, he put his arm around her. "Computer. Run program Chapel Majoricia one." A perfect replica of the beach house where they'd spent the last days of their honeymoon, complete with its sand and ocean beyond, filled the holodeck.

"I thought after being so chilled, a tropical swim might be welcome," he said with a deadpan expression on his face.

So that was why he insisted on the towel, Christine realized. "I haven't brought my bathing suit," she said glibly. "Oh dear."

"Neither have I. Let us...improvise."

* * *

"So, are you ready?" Christine asked Nyota the next morning while they had an early cup of coffee. The ship was docking in two hours and everyone was ready to explode from the anticipation.

"As ready as I'll ever be, though I'm afraid that little stooge Bydebok will ask me to open hailing frequencies in Yridian or something."

"Relax, Ny. It's been months since that last inspection. Maybe Mendez has other fish to fry, eh?" She swigged her raktajino, which Cookie recently programmed into the replicator thanks to the provisions Thul had given her. "And how about your aria?"

"Oh, that. I'm nervous, what if they don't like it?" Nyota was singing a song that Kala and her father planned to dance to at the wedding reception.

"Nervous? How about me? I'm the one who has to ask the entire Klingon hockey team if they question Kala's honor!" Christine shook her head. "They're huge!"

"They're cute, too, honey. Julia was going on at the spa yesterday how she planned to...flirt." The spa's new coordinator, Lt. Cho, definitely had Klingons on the brain.

Christine glanced at the chronometer. "We'd best get to our posts. At least this time it's not dress uniforms, I can't stand those."

"Is that why you get out of them so fast every time there's a function?" Nyota was being wicked. She knew her friend slavered every time her husband appeared in his dress attire.

"I said that I hate mine," Christine corrected.

"I bet Spock has something to say about that perception, hon."

They laughed and got into the turbolift.

* * *

"Earth Station McKinley, this is the Enterprise. Request permission to dock." Nyota's voice was clear and strong. She glanced over at Kirk, who was standing next to her console.

"Affirmative, Enterprise, this is Earth Station McKinley," Lt. Cdr. Greg Dillon replied. "Permission granted. And...welcome home."

* * *

"So I guess we'll be seeing you in about ten days," recently promoted Lt. Cdr.Greg Dillon said as he cleared the case of Meridor for transport to Kala's parent's home.

"Oh, I'll be checking in with Kala along the way," Christine told him, then dropped her voice. "I mean, it's not like this is our honeymoon, you know. Just a roadtrip."

Greg handed her a container. "Let's just say we'll hear from you when we hear from you," he replied. "And here's some things for you to wear that'll help you lose that communicator."

Christine wondered what Kala had been saying to her fiancee. Well, she and Spock were now married 16 months but had been a couple long before that. Their relationship was not precisely a secret among the crew, though they always tried to be the image of decorum among their shipmates. Of course the night before nearly proved otherwise. They'd been leaving the holodeck after a particularly energetic re-creation of an underwater romp they had during their honeymoon and ran smack into the hockey club, headed for a final match before shore leave. The team members were all attending Greg's Kal'Hyah the night before the wedding and Spock, who would also be there, expertly steered the conversation to that topic. The memory of the wetly erotic activities made her body respond despite her internal admonition not to.

But she couldn't speculate or daydream now. There was just enough time for a quick visit with Greg, who was on a five day on/five day off shift at the orbiting spacedock. Admiral Mendez was due on board within the hour and inspection would take the rest of the day. She and Greg said a final goodbye, then Christine hurried off to sickbay.

To wait.

* * *

It had been a tediously long day. Christine finished toweling dry and put on her favorite old flannel pj's, the ones with the cats and martinis on them. Spock was still de-briefing with the captain.

Inspection had taken ten long hours, from 10:00 until 20:00. Admiral Mendez hadn't just brought that little jack***ed Zakdorn clerk of his, no, there were specialists for almost every department. Seems the Enterprise was getting a major refit, not just the usual overhaul, with the most up to date equipment available. The visit to engineering alone took three hours as the Fleet team explained the wonderful new modifications that would be done to the ship's warp drive. It wasn't until almost 19:00 that Mendez and his large entourage finally got to sickbay.

The inspection itself went very well, no demerits. There would be updated biobeds and monitors installed, supplies of the newest drugs Starfleet Medical could produce, and improved field equipment. She and the rest of the staff, who had spent the day going over and over the reports they would give to Starfleet, felt like kids at Christmas. Mendez was still obviously smarting over the incident last year but was cordial enough. Maybe someone told him to behave.

Spock and Kirk were still saying goodbye to Santa Mendez just now, and the initial report looked very promising. No one would have to undergo mandatory re-training, or worse, at least not based on the inspection. Which brought up another issue. Christine ordered a peanut butter sandwich from the replicator and sat down on the sofa to review her medical report one last time.

Ship inspection was just the tip of the iceberg. The enlisted crew had it simple. They had physicals, debriefed, and went off at the end of the next day. About 25% would be transferring elsewhere, either to other ships or to ground assignments, if not mustering out. The officers, on the other hand, had much more to do. The first day would be taken up with physicals and peer reviews of lengthy, carefully written reports. The second and final day was worse. Psychological evaluations, knowledge testing and, finally, a meeting with a Starfleet Personnel representative. Officers had been forcibly removed from duty if that particular interview didn't go well. Or they chose that time to say they would be transferring, voluntarily or not, and the crew wouldn't find out until they all re joined the ship in a few weeks. There was no use trying to deny this stuff happened, they'd all heard the stories.

Christine finished her sandwich and drew her knees up to rest her cheek on them. Spock left the ship after the first mission precisely that way and had never told anyone goodbye, he simply hadn't shown up when the second mission put to space. Of course that had changed, but she couldn't help remembering today's date. A year ago things had begun to happen on the Vulcan ship. The memories were faded and the terror was now just a few paragraphs in a report, but Christine knew the doctors and shrinks would be questioning the both of them closely. She'd get the mandatory caution about pregnancy in deep space, so would Spock. Thankfully, she wasn't a line officer so there'd be no issues about duty and rank, but Christine knew the next days wouldn't be all that great, despite the wonderful accomplishments both of their departments had made in the past 2-1/2 years. But that was part of their marriage, as they both knew. The person, their rank, their duties, their life.

It was 22:00. Too early for bed, they weren't due at Starfleet until 09:00 and both of them were early risers. Christine rinsed off her plate and decided to get ready for sleep anyway, then curl up again on the sofa with Sport InterGalactic to see the latest news on Stark's camp.

* * *

Spock finally got back to his quarters at 23:00. He let himself in quietly and reflected a moment. His department fared the inspection well, and the staff was quite pleased at the prospect of new fixtures and equipment. But his position as the ship's First Officer meant he had to accompany the Admiral's entourage the entire day, along with the Captain. And the day had been very long indeed.

He noticed Christine asleep on the sofa. It appeared she'd been reading there  and then dozed off. He moved over to their sleeping alcove and turned back the bedclothes, then went back and picked her up in a single, easy movement. She did not respond, even when he pulled the blankets up and made her comfortable. Spock realized he was about as exhausted and swiftly set about with his shower and meditation, then crawled tiredly into their bed and draped himself around his wife.

* * *

Christine became aware of a comfortable warmth against her body. For a moment, she had no idea where she was, which happened when she woke from a deep sleep. The last thing she remembered was reading on the sofa.

The warmth stirred and drew her more closely against it. She could sense protection and affection coursing across their link, reminding her that her husband loved her very much.

"Spock?"

"Mmmm?"

She yawned. "What time is it?"

"Just past 01:00."

"Oh, that's good. I'm so tired. All this waiting wore me out." She turned in his embrace and put her head against his shoulder, then dozed off once more. Her husband kissed her forehead and joined her in an easy, restful slumber.

* * *

"SPOCK!" Christine shook her husband's arm. It was 05:00.

"Wha?" he mumbled, but did not stop what he was doing.

"Are you deaf or what? STOP IT!"

"Stop what?" He was awake now.

Christine threw on the light, sat up and pointed to his side of bed. Once again, he had managed to steal all of the bedcovers. No matter what she tried, she still ended up cold, even when she wore flannel pajamas.

He flushed. "Sorry," he began. He lifted the blanket up and drew it over the both of them. "I was chilled."

"Maybe if you wore clothes to bed you'd be warmer." She checked. He was stark naked, as usual.

"Perhaps." Both of them were now fully awake. Spock stroked his wife's flannel covered body. "Yes, perhaps I should wear clothing to bed more often. But then there would be another step in the process."

"What process is that?" Christine was well aware of where this discussion was headed. Proof of it was in her hand, so to speak. Never mind they'd been romping all over the holodeck just the night before.

"The process of divesting you from your own nightwear." His hand began lazily undoing the buttons on her pajama top. She didn't stop him.

"Now why would you want to do that, Commander? To borrow them? Pink flannel hardly becomes you." She delighted in the reaction she got from tickling his hipbones...and lower.

"Doctor, you are impossible sometimes." He started on the drawstring of her pajama bottoms.

"And the rest of the time?"

"It would not be polite to vocalize my thoughts. They are...naughty, as you always remind me." Now she was as naked as he was.

"How about showing me, then?" Her hand got more demanding.

"A most logical idea. But I must silence further speculation on your part. It is much too distracting." With that he pulled her on top of him. "I believe kissing you would be an excellent way of accomplishing this."

"We're on duty in a few hours, you know." She wriggled away from his kiss, feeling frisky.

"And your point is?" That meant it was pointless to argue.

Oh well, at least they'd be in a good mood once they got to headquarters. Lord knows they could use it.

* * *

The next day passed in an ion storm of activity. Christine and Spock drew opposite schedules of each other so when one was getting a physical exam, the other was giving reports. Spock's activities on New Kavalla were of interest to Starfleet's agricultural division, in particular the viticultural section, and he was commended on his team's fine work. Both of them received praise for their duty at Stark's sports camp the year before, with a very special note of gratitude from Her Serene Highness Elaan, the Dowager Empress of Troyius, on behalf of her son the Dauphin. Late in the afternoon, they stole away to the Hope memorial and Christine left a wreath of holly, ivy and evergreen at her father's plaque.

Night had already fallen by the time the couple was headed back on board, and a storm front was rapidly moving into the Bay. Christine's old friend Te'lloa and his wife had joined them for a relaxing dinner in nearby Pacific Heights and they'd caught up on news, accomplishments and good old fashioned gossip. After that, they beamed back to the Enterprise which was bereft of most of its enlisted and junior officer crew, though the McKinley maintenance staff was already beginning work on the outside of the ship as the station orbited Earth.

It was just after midnight when Christine got up from their bed and wandered over to the sofa and sat down. She couldn't sleep, her mind was working overtime. Nothing untoward had occurred that day, but still she was digesting all that had happened. Both of them received perfect health certifications, though their respective examining physicians cautioned them, as expected, about pregnancy in deep space. Christine was pleased to learn she was on track to becoming pregnant when they decided to start a family. Spock flushed as he confided to her that his doctor confirmed what his Vulcan physician had stated months before, that he was potent and capable of fathering any number of children just about any time they wished. And both of them had been given hints they might well be up for promotion when the next cycle came around.

But despite the positive news, Christine still mulled a few thoughts. A promotion for Spock would mean a captaincy, and with that, a ship of his own to command. Would it happen before this mission concluded? Might they have to say goodbye to their shipmates sooner than expected? Of course, this was always a factor in the Starfleet equation, but so fast? If not, where would the second half of their mission take them? To potentially hostile sectors of the quadrant? This half had been relatively quiet and she secretly wished the next would be as peaceful. But there were never any guarantees.

"Th'yla?" The sofa depressed as Spock's weight joined hers. He drew her protectively into his arms. "Is something troubling you?"

"No." Her voice was soft as she savored his nearness. "I just can't sleep."

"Nor can I. And since we are both awake, I suggest we take a walk Will you join me?"

"A walk? At this hour?" To where, she didn't add. But she sensed that his mind was filled as well.

And so they wandered down to the observation deck, whose window was uncovered and facing the planet below as the docking station continued its slow orbit.

"It's daylight in Australia, look." Christine pointed out the large subcontinent. "But the sun's setting."

"The first time the Enterprise docked for a midmission re-fit, I sat here each of the nights I was on board." Spock's voice sounded far away in thought. "I could not sleep then either. Change always makes the mind work, even though I was taught that speculation was quite illogical."

The world turned on its axis, heedless of thought, as it had for millennia.

"Did you speculate back then?"

Spock sighed and gave his wife's ponytail an affectionate tug. "Yes. I thought about my parents, so far away. About my future in Starfleet. And my personal future as well."

"Oh." Of course he would have, Christine told herself. And besides, she'd met Stonn and T'Pring, and their wonderfully amazing daughter T'Mara. That chapter of his past was finished. "I came here too, you know, but not at the end of the mission." Somehow, the setting just seemed to loosen her tongue.

"I never saw you, and I used to frequent this facility quite regularly. I found it calming." Spock's eyes were questioning. "When did you come?"

"After Exo III, when I was deciding to stay or not. And then when the second mission started." She hesitated a moment. This would be difficult.

"The second mission?" He drew her more closely against him and traced the bridge of her nose. "Why?"

"I was....deciding to leave. To step down and let Len assume the reins. I just didn't want the responsibility. Or that's what I was telling myself back then." Her cheeks were flaming so hot Christine was certain she was glowing like the firefalls at Fuega.

"I see. Did I have anything to do with this decision?" His voice was a gentle caress, full of concern.

"You had everything to do with it at the time, you know that already." It was true, with their link, not much was a secret any longer.

"And I apologize. Again." Spock gave her a soft kiss, full of understanding. "But you came back."

"Uh huh, like a boomerang." She let herself relax. She had come back, after all, and look what happened.

"And I presume I...might have had something to do with this decision as well?" His eyebrow raised just a fraction and she felt relaxed amusement begin to course across their bond. A very nice sensation.

"Stop fishing, you know the answer." She laughed and cuddled closer to him. "You just want to hear it again, don't you?"

"Hear what, did you say something?" He started tickling her ribcage ever so gently.

"What do you suppose will happen today?" It was already today. In fact, they were passing over the International Date Line again, so it was probably tomorrow.

"Endless interviews, overcurious psychiatrists, pointlessly illogical examinations, mountains of paperwork...shall I go on?"

"I get the picture."

"You brought a camera?" Spock knew teasing his wife at the right time would lighten the mood, and it was working splendidly.

"Spock, where did you get that ridiculous sense of humor?"

He got up and pulled her after him. "From a Ferengi trader. It had hardly been used. He only charged me twenty five of your old Terran cents, so it was a logical bargain."

"Bargain? He overcharged y---eeeek!" Christine yelped as Vulcan hand made contact with Terran rear end. It was time to go back to bed. Maybe not to sleep just yet, but bed was defintely the right place.

Whatever was due to happen would happen, she realized. Right now, she was determined to enjoy the moment. And so, from the looks of things, was her husband.

* * *

Shore leave began early. One night early to be precise. The McKinley maintenance folks were starting the baryon sweep at 06:00 the next morning so all remaining personnel were to be unceremoniously dumped off the ship as of the afternoon before and needed to spend that night planetside. When they left for the final day of debriefing, that was it until it was time to report back in two weeks. No one complained, extra time in San Francisco was always welcome.

"We'll get your baggage sent on ahead as required, Commander," the station transport chief assured Spock. "Half to New York, the other half to your accommodation in the city. I hope you and Dr. Chapel have a pleasant break."

Spock walked over to the nearby coffee kiosk and ordered two Vulcan mochas. Christine was over at the communications station with her friend Nyota Uhura, finalizing arrangements for an all female outing during their New York stay. He'd already made reservations for this evening at a very nice establishment and imagined the surprise on his wife's face when he took her there. Especially when she saw their accommodation. He allowed himself a feeling of un-Vulcan smugness. Being the son of the Federation Ambassador certainly had its perks. Despite the illogic of it all, he delighted in giving his wife fine things, having seen his father behave in a similar fashion many years ago. Of course, his wife was not without a few pennies to rub together either, so she'd insist on returning the favor. That was fine.

The mochas arrived. Whipped cream and chocolate shavings were artfully piled atop both drinks. Spock gave a surreptitious glance around and, satisfied he was unobserved, delicately swirled the tip of his tongue into the white cloud floating on his beverage, with a definite agenda in mind. Tonight he planned to leisurely enjoy his favorite snack, uninterrupted and unafraid that a crewmember might overhear. He often wondered if their erotic activities might be heard down in engineering or up on the bridge. But right now, he lapped at the sweet cream and let his imagination run just a little wild.

Christine drew her breath in sharply. "Oooh!" she gasped to herself. She almost looked down, certain Spock was kneeling there in front of her. Doing something very nice and very naughty to a region that was threatening to spontaneously combust.

"Chris?" Nyota looked up at her friend. "What's wrong?"

"Just a twinge," she replied with a shake of her head. "Old age and all, you know." She turned her attention back to the vidscreen. "So, Amanda, you'll make the reservations for 'Cats' and Kala will take care of our visit to her spa and dinner after the show. We'll see you in just about a week. Have fun in Vegas!"

The women said their farewells. Christine glanced over at her husband. He held two mochas aloft, indicating she should join him. She casually strolled over, accepted the proffered drink and took a long satisfying sip. Her free hand reached over and wiped a smudge of whipped cream off her husband's nose, then she put the creamy finger into her mouth. Never once looking at him.

*Naughty.*

*Very naughty.*

*How naughty?*

*I shall...attempt to show you later.*

* * *

The psychological evaluation was predictably tedious. Christine wondered why, after almost 500 years of psychoanalysis, shrinks still used inkblots and asked the usual questions about one's childhood. Her evaluator, a female Betazoid, was sympathetic and understanding about the happenings of a year ago and assured her that the event would in no way hinder her advancement within Starfleet. Fine, thought Christine. Then why the hell bother with the interview at all?

She checked the chronometer. 11:00. Time for another boring meeting, this time with a Fleet personnel representative, then it was off to meet with the medical division about the next half of the mission. She buzzed the door and a voice told her to come right in.

"Dr. Chapel, welcome. I'm so glad you could join us." Admiral Tom Jackson indicated a spare chair.

Next to her husband.

* * *

"I suppose you were expecting some PADD pushing clerk," the admiral said as he poured out some tea for them all. "Well, we're kind of stretched to the limit right now, so you'll have to do with me."

Christine gave Spock a sidelong glance, but it was clear he was as puzzled as she was.

"I'm here to give you both a kind of...proposition to mull over, something Starfleet has tapped you both for as the most qualified candidates, on your supervisor's personal recommendations." He paused. "It's just an idea, mind you, and there's no obligation. You game?"

The couple nodded as one unit.

The Admiral warmed to his topic. "Starfleet is growing, along with the Federation. Beyond the expectations set even twenty years ago. Sixteen potential members have applied for Federation membership in this year, and over thirty new starbases are being built right now, all across the quadrant. We are about to hit eighty members of the UFP, with triple digits on our starbases. This was unheard of a few years back. There have even been some royal inquiries, thanks to the Enterprise. It's an exciting time for us all, but there are some potential areas of concern."

Spock's eyebrow raised.

"These new worlds will want to send cadets to the Academy, maybe with a view of manning their section of the quadrant with some of their own people. Much as the Andorians and Tellarites have done these past years." He nodded at Spock. "And Vulcan, of course. But they'll come from many diverse cultures, many of whom have never seen Terrans before first contact and preliminary negotiations were made. Someone has to make sure they can assimilate. Of course, we don't expect this influx for three years or so." Federation membership was a protracted application process. "And as we're realizing, it takes more than starships to run Starfleet. Each new base will have to be manned with qualified staff, be it an orbiting facility like McKinley, or a deep space station past where K-7 is now."

Admiral Jackson turned to Christine now. "And Starfleet medical personnel, both from existing Federation worlds as well as new ones, will have to learn a great deal of new information. After all, these citizens will be needing care as any other Federation persons may. Some of the physiology is...unique, to say the least. We need to learn about this and then teach it accordingly. The right person can be a godsend in that department."

"We need your help, the both of you. The second half of your mission will include visiting several new provisional Federation member worlds. First contact and membership approval are already taken care of. But the system will need to be assessed for cultural and physiological needs, as well as the construction or adaptation of space stations with a view of making them full Federation starbases. It won't be a milk run by any means, and it's a fairly safe section of the quadrant, but your work's cut out for you. So, what do you think so far?"

"It sounds very interesting," Christine replied even before Spock could say anything.

"Indeed. Go on," the Vulcan added.

Admiral Jackson got up for a moment, his hands folded behind him. He gazed across the Academy campus at the misty grey clouds which threatened a winter storm. "After the mission concludes, there's more. Both of you, along with Jim Kirk and a few others, would be doing short term runs, assessing the issues I've just outlined. You'd be attached to the Academy otherwise and eventually, there are teaching posts that you could assume. We're looking to create the post of Dean of Intercultural Relations once the new Academy expansion is done in a few years. Kind of splitting planetside and starbase training from the fleet ship training. And that person would be in charge of the annual graduation cruise, plus whatever short range missions cadets might need to undergo. The medical division needs someone to oversee the new curriculum, one that assimilates all the new species in an efficient and understanding way. The medical center is due to open a new wing in about eighteen months, and after that, the sky'd be the limit for a qualified medical officer." He finally stopped, a little fearful he'd frightened the couple off. "Are you...interested?"

"We are." Spock spoke for his wife, knowing her answer already across their bond. "What must we do for now?"

"Nothing, just continue with the mission as planned. Starfleet will be in regular contact, you'll be filing reports and making assessments. Once you're in the last six months or so, things will be more concrete and you'll be able to ease into the new roles. It means being at a desk sometimes, yes. But it also means you'll be helping the UFP and Starfleet expand in a...logical fashion. I'll have some more details ready when you come back from liberty. So I'd just say, enjoy your holiday and realize there's more important stuff yet to happen and you're in on the ground floor." He gave a glance to the chronometer. "Now you'd best be off, time to get briefed on the latest updates the Enterprise is having done to her." He extended a hand and they all shook.

"And by the way, I'll be seeing you at the hockey matches in New York. Kl'o'rox and I are old friends. Spock, your father introduced us years ago. And both of you have done more for Klingon-Federation relations than the entire diplomatic division managed in a decade. Good. I hear you survived Tek's wormholes on Rigel II recently." He smiled. "Being chosen as Tawi'Yan and cha'DIch'aa is a great honor, and I'm certain you will do well. Good luck to you both."

"What's this connection that your father and Kl'o'rox have?" Christine asked as they made their way through the maze of corridors. She was still stunned at what they'd heard. It was almost tailor made for her. But what would Spock think?

"I have not a clue. My father has promised to enlighten me when we reach New York." Spock extended his fingers for the traditional embrace, but his thoughts were deeper for his wife. "Shall we meet at Inspiration Point in two hours? To discuss of what we have just been told, and then perhaps a leisurely walk towards the city?"

"Sure. Are we set for tonight?" She frowned as she scanned the grey sky with its fat, plump overburdened clouds. A good thing she'd grabbed the umbrella, regulation raingear was useless here.

"Affirmative, our lodging has been procured and we need only beam over to Earth Station Key West tomorrow."

A sensation of intense affection and desire washed across their bond. *Consider yourself kissed, Commander.*

*And you, Doctor.*

* * *

The shoreline of San Francisco Bay had attracted lovers of the ocean, water activities, and each other for centuries. Inclement weather did not deter hardy souls from enjoying the waves and the spectacular view. Spock and Christine were no exception. They sat on a hand hewn log bench in a sheltered alcove, watching kayakers and windsurfers dart across the churning grey water. It was breezy but still dry with foggy clouds shrouding the Golden Gate Bridge.

"This proposition, it meets with your approval?" he asked, drawing her closer lest she get chilled.

"Absolutely. I'm a medical center doctor first, remember. But what about you? Isn't your wanderlust going to suffer from a desk job?" She tried for a light tone, but in her heart, she pondered the idea.

"Had this notion been put forth even five years ago, I might have concurred." Long warm fingers teased the tendrils at the nape of her neck. "But now, I find the prospect of shorter term assignments quite agreeable. I do not wish to remain in space forever, you know." His eyes searched hers. "Will our children not need a mother and a father who are there for them?"

"Spock, we don't need to make a decision yet. And please, don't think you have to give up space for me. I'd love to do what Admiral Jackson proposed. But I'll be honest. The reason I ran away to space isn't valid any longer. Maybe...it's time for me to stop running."

"I feel much the same." His voice was soft, full of concern and love. "I applied to Starfleet because I was unsure of where I belonged. It was...safe for me to be among the stars, to have adventures, not to ponder the future too much. And I still have a desire to explore, to study the science of the galaxy. Only now I have come to realize that my place is with you as well. Being the husband you married, the father to the children I hope we shall raise. I...welcome the opportunity for a new venture. Will you share it with me?"

A happy shiver coursed along her spine. "I will, Spock. Let's do as Admiral Jackson says, complete the mission, and see what happens next. It's...only logical, right?"

"Most logical." He moved his lips closer to hers and covered them with a kiss filled with promise.

Plop.

The couple simultaneously jerked their heads up towards the sky. Rain was beginning to fall. With it, the afternoon's light would soon fade.

"We should go," Christine said, reaching for her umbrella. They were already drenched. The rain was heavy and not warm in the least.

"We should." Spock made no move to get up. He kissed his wife again, more purposefully this time. "Walk with me, my love. In this Terran winter rain. As we walked in rain elsewhere, share this experience with me."

The doctor in her wanted to smack him one and say they'd both get pneumonia, but instead, the lover in her merely replied, "Sure." And left the umbrella at her side.

* * *

There was still about an hour or so left of daylight. Ghirardelli Square was deserted on the outside, with most sensible life forms seeking the shelter of its many eateries, drinkeries and stores. The pavement was wet and smelled of rain, evergreen and faraway breezes. Christmas lights twinkled and reflected in the puddles.

The cable car roundabout at the end of the Hyde-Beach line was the same as it had been for centuries. The car's driver readied the vehicle for its journey back to Powell and Market. Only a few people were on board. The evening rush, such as it was this time of year, wouldn't happen for another hour or so. He walked to the open end of the car and addressed the couple who were standing on the pavement below. An umbrella sheltered them both, but they were soaking wet, as though they'd swum over from Alcatraz. Their arms were around each other, their gaze on the foggy, rainy bay beyond.

"Uh, folks? Time to get going." He gave them a cursory smile and scanned their passes as they climbed the steps onto the car.

The car lurched into life and began climbing the hill past the Buena Vista Cafe, which was packed with patrons. The driver, his curiosity piqued, glanced back at the two who had joined the car so late. They were standing on the outside deck watching the view, like a couple of lovesick fools. The man, who looked to be, what was that race, Vulcan? was holding his companion neatly against him, so close you couldn't get a ticket between them.

Starfleet. He rolled his eyes. His son was a chief petty officer on board a freighter and was forever telling stories of his adventures in space. Well that was fine, but as far as he was concerned, the action really happened here, just a short stroll away from the Academy. In his twenty five years of driving the cars, he'd seen it all. Why just two weeks ago, some crazy dame---an admiral, by the looks of it---had come on board drunker than a lord. The group she was with was celebrating something or other, there was always an excuse to party, whether they were enlisted or officers. She started doing a poledance right there in the middle of the car and if her companions hadn't stepped in, she'd have stripped, he was sure of it. Compared to her, this couple was as tame as the tabby cats his wife had.

He rang the bell and sang out the stop.

"California Street! Nob Hill! Fairmont! Mark Hopkins!"

* * *

Like an aging, cultured dowager, the Mark Hopkins Hotel still gracefully held court high atop San Francisco's Nob Hill. Over the centuries its owners made certain the original design remained intact. The hotel had welcomed the elite from across the quadrant, military men and women during wars, rock stars, celebrities and ordinary citizens who wanted to spoil themselves just a little.

The elevator door opened and Spock took his wife's arm to led her down the corridor. They were on the floor just beneath the famed Top of the Mark, which consisted of high end suites, each with its balcony view of the city far below. Christine gave a glance over her shoulder at the rather large puddle of rainwater that indicated where they'd been standing. Neither the other guests nor the elevator operator had given it the slightest bit of notice. Rain loving couples were obviously a commonplace sight.

Squish. Squash. Squoosh. Their saturated footwear was making loud noises. Christine drew a hand across her forehead, wiping at the moisture seeping down from her precipitation soaked hair. She watched Spock fish the key card out of his jacket pocket. What had possessed them to walk from the Academy all the way to the cable car stop in a rainstorm? And not just walk, but without an umbrella. The incoming tide had played tag with them as well, so they sported a nice combination of sand, salt and seawater on their boots. Oh, and the journey was slowed considerably by the fact her husband took every opportunity when it was safe to test his theory that rainy day kisses were the best tasting of all. On that point she had to agree.

"Wow." Her eyes grew wide as she took in the opulence of the suite before her. It looked to be of the presidential variety. "Spock, how did you manage to score this?"

"I cashed in my frequent flyer miles?" He took his wife into his arms and relished the fact they were alone together, with hours of the night still ahead.

"Sure you did. However you did it, I'm impressed. But you shouldn't be spending your credits like this." She traced a damp upswept eyebrow. "It's illogical, right?"

"As you Terrans say, one cannot take their credits with them. So a treat now and then is not entirely illogical. Besides, the hotel was fully booked, this was the only room available."

"Uh huh. And I'm the Queen of the Antarean Mardi Gras Ball." She gave her husband's hand a tug. He loved spoiling her, she loved being spoiled. Why complain? "Let's get out of these and into the shower. Then let me buy you dinner, I know a great Chinese restaurant just down the hill. I'm starved. My treat, I insist."

A pair of hands held her fast, journeying idly here and there. "And dessert?" His voice sounded like fine brandy, smooth and delicious.

"That's...your call."

* * *

Christine gave a final shake to her hair and made sure the silvery necklace Spock gave her the previous Christmas was resting below the cowled neck of her cobalt blue knit dress. The garment's color deepened her eyes to a sapphire hue. A wave of delight washed across her. Tonight was on course to be wonderful. Time to join the reason it would be, she thought with a smile.

"Since when have you begun getting dressed in the bathroom?" Spock was lounging just outside the door, his arms loosely crossed.

"Mmmm. Let's just say it's a...special circumstance." She could feel his eyes rake her from her boots to her hair.

"Indeed? And what is this circumstance?" He reached for her once more.

"No you don't." She disengaged his hands. "No touchee feelee, mister. You're going to have to spend the entire meal wondering what kind of underwear I have on." Her eyes met his own, boldly, suggestively. "Or if I'm wearing any at all."

Christine paused to extend a leg from the unbuttoned side slit of her dress. Spock's heart nearly stopped, while something else a bit south of there started up. His wife was wearing sheer glimmering hold up stockings. The champagne colored lace top contrasted fetchingly with her still suntanned thigh.

"Uhhhhhhhh." His breath fled in a long growling whoosh. "Woman, what are you doing?"

"Let's call it payback." She kept just out of reach but allowed a hand to slide beneath his top, investigating his navel. "For that little message you sent this morning. Shame on you! I was talking to your mother!" Her fingers wandered through the line of fur leading away from his waist. Something was straining there, seeking to join her.

She tut tutted, her eyes mirthful. "And for sticking your posterior in my general direction during inspection. Really, commander, there was no need for such an...overly enthusiastic move. Even if the rump roast did look delectable." She shimmied the dress' slit higher, allowing him to glimpse the crease where thigh met pelvis. Just enough not to let him see what was underneath.

"Chris----tine....." His voice was barely comprehensible. His tongue touched his upper lip, leaving no doubt as to what he planned to have for dessert later.

It was time to stop playacting. She stepped forward and found the zipper of his trousers. "I can wait, my love," she whispered into a flushing pointed ear. "You can't." She slid down his body, dropping to her knees. "Don't wait, my love. Let yourself go. For me."

Spock complied above and beyond the call of duty.

* * *

Kirk settled back into the overstuffed leathery armchair. Thank goodness the Mark still had its old fashioned bar and cigar lounge. Even nowadays, a good stogie just fit the bill. He ordered an Aldebaran whiskey, neat, and awaited his friends. He, Bones and Tom Jackson were staying at the Fairmont across the way. The Mark was fully booked and even Tom's strings couldn't pull them a nice suite. But the bar was open to everyone.

Tomorrow they were headed to the Sports Camp for diplomatic formalities. This included a meeting with Eleen, whose son Leonard James was in attendance and a fledgling hockey star by the sounds of things. After a few days in the Alps, they'd go off to Tom's beach house near Pensacola. A nice unspoiled little town called Port St. Joe, where the Gulf Coast fishing was exceptional at this time of year. Christmas week would be spent out at Joanna's house on Tybee Island near Savannah. Kirk took a sip of his drink. Life was looking mighty good.

A couple passed by the large picture window, headed down California Street towards Chinatown. They were oblivious to the rain, huddling under a big oversized umbrella. Kirk realized it was his First Officer and ACMO. How did he always manage to see them...off duty? He wondered how they took Tom's proposition. The brass had said he was up for an Admiralcy, in charge of new and emerging Federation matters, so he'd need a good captain and medical officer out there in the field with him. A grimace passed over his face. There'd be desk duty too, always was. But Tom seemed to balance the two quite adequately and he was pretty sure the pair he'd just seen would be raising a family in a few years. Time to get with the program. Besides, there'd be more opportunity  for...holiday pursuits. His mind drifted towards Risa, where he'd be going the following summer, just after the Enterprise visited Vulcan for a few days when Stark's bonding ceremony would happen. Risa. Elaan. He took another sip.

Nice.

* * *

"Have you re-entered Earth's atmosphere?" Spock's voice was a lazy drawl. He traced the line of where his wife's skin joined the soft curls on her lower abdomen, his cheek resting on her silken inner leg. Dessert had been quite satisfying.

Christine exhaled, her voice still tremulous. "Just about."

"I am...pleased." He pulled himself up to join her on the pillow. "You appeared to...enjoy my efforts."

"I always do." She kissed him. "And your...abilities have just continued to improve. I lose count, every time."

"You taught me well."

"And you have always been an....enthusiastic, thorough student. Eager to learn, eager to practice." She gasped as his fingers slid through her still slick folds, idly exploring the depths there.

"Is your arousal really due to my proximity?" His voice was playful, knowing she would parry to his thrust.

"If you mean you make me hot, yes." Something nudged her belly, determined to make its presence known. She turned her attention there. "Why commander, what a big lok you have."

Spock pulled his wife astride him and entered her in one sensual movement. His eyes were blazing once more with desire.

"The better to **** you with, my love."

* * *  

The yeoman in charge of uniform service peered down the hall after the couple. They were obviously headed somewhere warm by the looks of their outfits. And they must be married to each other. He'd noticed the rings when they dropped off their uniforms for cleaning during their liberty.

He started folding the clothes to be placed into bags. Sand was spilling from the garments. His gaze was drawn to the trousers. Sand, salt stains, some seaweed too. What the heck were they up to these days for midmission briefing? Some crazy new kind of Kobayashi Maru simulation where the ship crashed into the bay? It must have been a tough one, the woman's back still looked to be hurting, given the way her husband was supporting it.

FIN