DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Marnigle and is copyright (c) 2001 by Manigle. This story is Rated NC-17 for sexual situations.

What It Takes

By Marnigle

Captains Log

"We are currently on our way to Ceres with orders to assist their medical community with a particularly nasty strain of influenza. Although influenza is not normally fatal, this variety has spread to nearly fifty percent of the population. Ten percent of those affected have died in the last three months. The planet's medical community is understandably overwhelmed. Although Ceres is a space faring civilization, they are not part of the United Federation of Planets. Star Fleet hopes our assistance will encourage their leaders to at least consider membership."

"Captain, we are approaching Ceres. Now approximately 100,000 kilometers away," reported Sulu.

"Slow to impulse and take us into standard orbit, Mr. Sulu," instructed the Captain.

Then turning his attention to the science station, Kirk said, "Mr. Spock, have Dr. McCoy and Mr. Scott meet us in briefing room 1 in five minutes."

"Yes, Captain," answered the stoic first officer.

* * *

"Well Bones, it's show time. Are your people ready?" asked the Captain.

"We're ready, Jim. I've had the science lab working overtime to formulate enough of the inoculation agent necessary to get us started. Once we're down on the plant, we can get assistance from their scientists to formulate the rest. We've also come up with several methods to combat this particular strain. These methods should alleviate the symptoms in those already affected," replied the doctor.

"Spock, you and any other science personnel you feel are appropriate will assist the doctor and his medical team. I'm going down as well. The Federation wants us to make a good impression here, which means that I get to play diplomat. Scotty, while Spock and I are down on the planet, you're in charge. Bones, Spock and myself will beam down first and get the formalities out of the way. Report to transporter room one in 30 minutes. Dismissed."

* * *

As Kirk entered the transporter room he asked, "Scotty, you have the coordinates?"

"Aye, Sir. They're waitin fer ya now, Captain," replied Scotty.

As Kirk, Spock and McCoy move onto the transporter pad, Kirk replied, "All right then, Mr. Scott, energize."

As they materialized, they were greeted by a light green sky and a lush garden surrounding them. Finally, they noticed a rather regal man approaching. He smiled and said, "Captain Kirk, welcome to Ceres. I am First Citizen Kaylan."

Kirk replied, "The Federation gladly offers any assistance your planet requires First Citizen Kaylan." Turning he motioned to Spock and McCoy. "This is my first officer, Commander Spock." Spock replied with a nod of his head. "And this is Dr. McCoy. He will be leading this mission." McCoy smiled and also nodded his head towards Kaylan.

Kaylan motioned the three men to follow him as he began speaking again. "The Citizen Coalition is most pleased that Star Fleet has agreed to assist us. With so much of our population affected, this has become a planetary catastrophe. Our industrial, scientific and educational infrastructures are all decimated. Our medical community has done what it can but they didn't find an appropriate inoculation agent in time. As a result, the doctors started showing symptoms as well. No one realized the severity of the problem until it was too late."

They came out of the gardens and onto a path leading to a large utilitarian looking building. Kaylan guided them to the entrance and into the cool confines of the building. All along the hallway they were now walking through, there were some rather interesting sculptures and paintings. Kirk thought that he would like the chance to slow down and really look at the interesting artwork. Finally, they entered a large office with similar artwork displayed throughout.

Kaylan motioned towards a large map hanging on the wall right next to what was obviously his desk. Pointing to several areas on the map he said, "These are the hardest hit areas. They will need the most immediate medical attention. I understand that you have formulated an inoculation agent. In my opinion, the inoculation should be administered in these areas as well. Then to the less devastated regions."

Kirk nodded his head in agreement and looked at McCoy. "Well, Doctor, what do you think?"

McCoy also nodded his head saying, "I agree. First Citizen, when may we begin?"

"Please call me Kaylan. You may begin as soon as you are ready. I have several citizens ready to assist you." Looking at Kirk, McCoy stated, "Captain, I think we should begin as soon as we can beam my medical team down." Then looking at Spock said, "Mr. Spock, I think it would be best if your team is responsible for formulating and administering the inoculation agent."

"Agreed," replied Spock.

At this point Kaylan added, "I will have several citizens ready to assist you at the beam down site. Captain, we also have set aside quarters for you and your people at our guest lodging. It is across the street from here and has several large meeting areas. I suggest you make it your center of operations for now."

"Bones, Spock, I want you two to get back to the beam down site and start beaming down your personnel and supplies," instructed Kirk. He turned to Kaylan and said, "Kaylan, please show me the way to our guest lodging and I can get things ready there."

Kaylan nodded his head and then pushed a button on his desk. "Ari, our friends are ready to proceed. See to it that the assigned citizens are sent to the beam down site now."

"Yes, First Citizen," came an airy female voice.

* * *

At the beep of his communicator Kirk flipped open the device and said, "Kirk here."

"Captain, we just received a distress call from the U.S.S. Catalyst. There was an explosion that flooded the ship with radiation. Those that survived the explosion are in need of immediate medical attention," reported Uhura.

"Contact Dr. McCoy and Mr. Spock and have them meet me at the beam down site. Kirk out."

As Kirk walked towards the beam down site, he hated to admit that he was glad to be leaving. Playing ambassador was a bore. He had tried to talk to First Citizen Kaylan about joining the Federation but was met with little response. Instead, he had been invited to various First Council functions. He smiled and acted charming but felt he was no closer to eliciting the interest of Ceres' leaders in joining the Federation. They had been here for 4 days and had made some progress combating the influenza but it was slow going. There were a lot more sick people than there were Star Fleet personnel to help. His people were already totally exhausted, now they were facing another medical emergency.

As he neared his destination, he heard two familiar voices.

"I do not know why the Captain wanted us to meet him here," stated Spock. "It is illogical to speculate. He should be here shortly and will tell us himself."

"I was just wondering, Mr. Spock. It is my right as a human to give voice to any and all points of curiosity that I wish to ... illogical or not," proclaimed McCoy.

Kirk knew that Spock and McCoy had been getting on each other's nerves for the last couple of days. The non-stop pace was starting to intensify their sometimes tempestuous relationship. He also knew that Spock would dismiss such an observation as illogical and McCoy would blame it on Spock's indefatigable logic. He fought to hide the grin that wasn't appropriate right now.

Instead he said, "Gentlemen, we need to return to the ship. I will explain once we are on board." He flipped his communicator open and said, "Enterprise, three to beam up."

Once on board Mr. Kyle said, "Captain, Lt. Uhura has a message for you from Star Fleet Command."

"Thanks, Mr. Kyle," said Kirk as he walked over to the comm unit and punched the button. "Lt. Uhura, Kirk here. You have a message for me?"

"Yes, Sir. Its marked priority urgent."

"Send it to briefing room one and have Mr. Scott meet us there. Kirk, out."

Kirk walked briskly into briefing room one and hit the comm unit. He was greeted with the face of Admiral Nogura. "Admiral, what can I do for you?" asked Kirk.

"Captain Kirk, we just received word about the Catalyst explosion. I know that you want to assist but you need to stay on Ceres. Send Mr. Spock and any medical personnel you can spare to handle the Catalyst situation. Our sources within the Ceres government have given us positive reports about you and your crew. We don't want to jeopardize any goodwill by sending you off planet before the mission there is complete. The Catalyst is a small ship with a 125 crew compliment. In addition, the Phoenix is en route to the Catalyst's position to assist."

Kirk was visibly perturbed by this order but simply said, "Yes, Sir."

"Very well then, good luck with both your missions. Nogura out."

Kirk also hit the comm button and the screen went blank. "Dammit to Hell," mumbled Kirk. He turned and looked at Spock, McCoy and Scotty. He hadn't even heard Scotty come in. He immediately noticed that their expressions barely hid the obvious mirth that their eyes betrayed. He quickly relayed the events concerning the Catalyst. He ordered Spock and McCoy to call up any personnel that needed to leave with the ship. As he turned to leave he proclaimed, "I guess I have to return to diplomatic hell."

* * *

Kirk walked into the lobby of the guest lodging feeling tired. He knew it wasn't because he was physically exhausted. He was bored. He had attended another official function tonight that was entirely too formal. At least when Spock and McCoy were around he had someone to help take his mind off his duty. Since their departure 2 days ago, he was now marooned here with the medical and science personnel.

He decided that he needed a stiff drink and headed over to the bar. It was loud and cramped so he had to shout his order to be heard. With drink in hand, he walked out the back door to the outdoor sitting area. As with most buildings he had seen so far, this one had a lush garden surrounding it. It was a smaller version of the one at the beam down site. He didn't want to sit so he walked around the gardens, periodically looking up at the stars.

As he looked forward on the path he noticed her. She was sitting in a metal lounger with a large drink in her hand. He couldn't help but smile. She looked so relaxed he wondered if he should disturb her. Under his breath he said, "What the hell." He strode over to her and said, "Dr. Chapel. Is this a private party or can anyone join in?"

Her expression showed that he had caught her off guard but she quickly recovered and stated, "You are more than welcome, Captain. Pull up a chair." She then graced him with a friendly smile.

He smiled back and asked her to hold his drink while he dragged another lounger over. As he plopped down into the lounger he asked, "Rough day?"

"Rough week is more like it. I'm not even sure what day it is anymore. Fortunately, some of the healers are beginning to recover. That's the only reason I'm here relaxing. I'm sure you could tell from the crowd in the bar, everyone needed a break."

"I've looked over your reports every day. You've all done a great job. I know you guys have impressed the hell out of the Ceres First Council. They might actually consider joining the Federation now. First Citizen Kaylan, in particular, speaks very highly of you," he said with a twinkle in his eye. Kaylan in fact had been asking quite a few questions about the good Doctor, including her marital status.

She let out an exasperated sigh and rolled her eyes. Then said, "I'm sure he is a really nice man but he's always in the way. He visits the central hospital every day. He keeps asking me to go with him to some kind of political function. I have actually ordered the rest of my staff to interrupt me with problems whenever they see him talking to me. I hate that I have to resort to such tactics but he doesn't seem to get the hint."

Kirk laughed out loud at her explanation, almost spilling his drink. Teasing he said, "Come on, Chris, you should really accept his invitation. It may just be the incentive the First Citizen needs to persuade the First Council to join the Federation. After all, I have to attend those political functions and misery loves company," he said the last part as he was gesturing with his glass then he took a theatrical sip.

She chuckled and said, "I think I will take a page out of Len's book and say, 'I'm a Doctor not a Diplomat!'" At that she raised her glass and took a theatrical sip.

They were quiet for a while and then Chapel said, "At least it is beautiful here. I can't get over these gardens. The gardens surrounding every place I've been so far have been quite elaborate and beautiful. I could sit here and look at the stars forever ... it's so peaceful."

With a look of utter disdain he agreed, "Yes, it's peaceful alright. So damn peaceful I'm about to go out of my mind."

She smiled back and said, "What's the matter, Captain, no galaxies to save?"

"I don't even have my regular distractions, like chess or those friendly bickering matches," he sulked.

She was truly amused by his pout. She rarely spoke with him in this kind of setting and found that she was actually enjoying his company. James T. Kirk was definitely charming and attractive. Any woman with eyes and ears would come to that conclusion. She was also aware of his womanizing reputation. It was the main reason she was not interested in him romantically. However, friendship was an altogether different matter. She had run into him many times in sickbay but she couldn't remember any conversations that didn't directly involve work. It would be interesting to be his friend.

Finally she replied, "I can't do anything about the bickering matches but if you are looking for a chess partner then look no further." She opened her arms in another theatrical gesture and smiled.

"You play chess?" he questioned. At her smiling nod he stated with a grin, "That's terrific. I'll try and find a board tomorrow and if your evening is free we can really let our hair down."

She raised her glass and said, "Here's to letting our hair down."

"Here, here," he proclaimed as his glass met hers.

They were quiet again and he thought about his companion. She had changed since their first tour together. She seemed more ... confident. He mulled over the thought that he hadn't really known her then. He liked her dark hair, which made her blue eyes even more stunning. She was certainly intelligent and surprisingly witty. As Kirk stole a sideways glance at her he reached the attribute he found most enticing ... her legs. They seemed to go on forever. Not that he could see them now with the new uniforms. He ended his thoughts right there. As a member of his crew, she was off limits. Not to mention her feelings for Spock. He wondered if she still felt the same way about Spock. The few times he had seen her interact with him, she was the model of professionalism. Then again hadn't she always been professional around him. In any case, he couldn't let this be anything but friendship. He wasn't going to give Star Fleet any reason to take him out of the Captain's chair again.

* * *

"Checkmate, Captain," beamed Chapel.

Kirk scowled in absolute consternation. She had beaten him two out of the three games they had played and he wasn't a happy camper. "How did you do that?"

She smiled and said, "Well, Captain, I used to play chess quite a bit. My father taught me when I was five. He always said I was a natural. Oh, and did I mention that I made it to my college chess finals all four years?"

He was rather stunned. "No, you never mentioned it. I'm sure I would have remembered that."

She was starting to laugh out loud at his look of dismay when he said, "So are there any other hidden talents you forgot to mention?"

She simply smiled and said, "Way too many to list Captain. I'm tired so I think we should call it an evening." She rose to leave.

Kirk replied, "Wait a minute ... will you give me a rematch tomorrow night?"

"If you like," she stated with a glimmer in her eye.

After she left he felt perturbed. He hated to lose ... even in a friendly game of chess. Now he knew how Spock felt about all his illogical moves. Chris had kept him guessing at every move. He would definitely have to concentrate harder tomorrow night.

* * *

Kirk pondered his last week in diplomatic hell. Things had gone well enough with the Ceres government. First Citizen Kaylan informed him this morning that the First Council would consider the Federation's offer of membership at its next session. To Kirk's amusement, Kaylan continued to ask questions about Dr. Chapel. Which Kirk never failed to mention to her. He smiled now as he walked to the beam down site with Mr. Spock in tow. He had thoroughly enjoyed the time he had spent with her. Her wit kept him entertained and he had even begun to figure out her chess moves. There was even hope that eventually he might even give her a run for her money. They had talked at great length about their lives. To his delight, she did indeed have many hidden talents. He had gotten her to reveal that she had gotten through college on a tennis scholarship. Apparently, it was a passion of hers passed down by her mother. She was a middle child with one older brother and a younger sister. Her childhood had been happy and "sheltered" was the word she had used. He had talked about his brother and his own rowdy childhood.

He decided that he definitely liked Chris Chapel. At that last thought, he said, "Enterprise, Kirk here. Two to beam up."

As the transporter beam locked onto them, Spock pondered his Captain's good mood.

* * *

As Chris strolled into the dining area, she immediately saw Kirk, Spock and McCoy at a table against the far wall. She smiled in their direction and then looked around for Uhura. Once she spotted her she made her way to the food line. She was glad to be back on board. As nice as Ceres was, it wasn't home. They had beamed back aboard last night and this was her first real day back aboard.

As she seated herself across from her friend, Uhura smiled and said, "Welcome back, Chris."

Chapel smiled and replied, "Thanks. Its good to be back."

They quickly caught up on all that had happened to the other while apart. Chapel spoke of her newfound friendship with the Captain, while Uhura talked about the tragedy of the Catalyst's dead and injured.

Just as they were finishing, the Captain, Spock and McCoy, finished with their lunch, headed out of the dining area past them. At the entryway to the dining area Uhura noticed the Captain say something to his companions and come back into the dining area.

When he reached their table, he smiled and said, "Ladies. You are enjoying your lunch I hope?"

Both Uhura and Chapel smiled in agreement.

"Dr. Chapel, I have a little surprise for you. Are you free this evening?" asked Kirk.

She smiled in delight and said, "A surprise? I am free and I can hardly wait."

"Alright, let's say 30 minutes after shift change, I meet you in your quarters."

"I'll be there," she replied.

As he strode away, Uhura stated, "Wow, you weren't kidding about that newfound friendship. Chris, are you sure you know what you're doing? He's the Captain and anything more than friendship is against the rules."

Chapel just laughed at her concern and said, "Come on, Ny. I am not interested in him in that way. Yes, he is attractive and charming but he is not my type."

At this Uhura gave a little snort and replied, "Well, you had better make sure he knows that. He looked pretty excited about this surprise."

"He's just being nice. In a strange way, I think he knows that I'm safe. That's why he is pursuing this friendship," she explained.

"I hope you are right," replied Uhura.

* * *

As Chapel moved towards the tennis ball she easily hit it over the net. It landed on the opposite side of the court at the farthest point away from her competitor. She had made him run all over the court in this first match. She didn't feel bad ... well, not too bad. She wondered now if he regretted his 'surprise' or his statement to 'give him her all.' He had claimed to need the exercise. She had to admit Kirk was a fierce competitor but an even better sport. He ran faithfully towards every inbound ball in an attempt to return the ball. He failed more often than he succeeded and was sweating profusely. She was most surprised by the fact that she was enjoying playing again. Even though she wasn't really exerting herself, it was likely that some of her less used muscles would ache tomorrow.

As Kirk once again attempted to return her latest shot, the ball fell short and hit the net. At this Chapel said, "That's it, Captain. I win."

He walked slowly over to her, his breathing rather heavy. He gave a weary smile and said, "You are ... entirely ... too ... pleased ... with ... yourself, ... Doctor!" He stammered in between breaths. After a moment of recovery he said, "And please call me Jim. After that match, you've earned it." As they reached the sidelines he wiped his face with a towel.

"Thanks, Jim. You're breathing pretty hard. Do I need to escort you to sick bay?" asked Chapel.

"Oh, very funny, Chris," he replied as he drank in big gulps from his water bottle. He spilled quite a bit of the liquid on his shirt. Since it was soaked anyway he began to take it off. She eyed him with an amused look that stopped him and he asked, "What?"

She crinkled her nose and she said, "Pardon me for saying so, but you stink. And I'm not talking about your tennis game." At this he quickly removed his shirt and started toward her. She looked at him with wide eyes and began to back away. She finally said, "You wouldn't!"

He smiled wickedly and said, "Wouldn't I? After all, you did your share to make me stink. I think you should share it with me."

Then he bolted at her in an effort to catch her. She moved just out of his reach. She managed to evade him for some time squealing in triumph every time he failed. However, it was getting harder to breath since she was beginning to laugh hysterically at him. Finally, he lunged at her and they tumbled in a heap to the floor.

Chapel was laughing and struggling to get free. Finally, he straddled her and wiped his sweaty shirt up and down her arms and torso. After he had properly shared his stink with her, he rolled off and they both laughed until they were crying. It was at this point that they heard someone clearing their throat. They both looked in the direction of the noise and there stood Spock. He had his hands clasped behind his back and one eyebrow raised in his usual stoic fashion.

Chapel was mortified. She wondered just how long he had been there. For some reason she was blushing in embarrassment that he had caught her and Jim Kirk tumbling around on the floor. She scrambled to her feet and smiling slightly towards Kirk, she said, "Thanks for the game, Captain. I find that I am now in need of a shower." To Spock she nodded her head in acknowledgment and left.

Kirk was still lying on the floor watching her leave. He had gotten one hell of a workout. He looked at his First Officer and said, "Mr. Spock, I have been given a lesson in humility once again by Dr. Chapel."

"Indeed. Your appearance suggests you engaged in a considerable amount of strenuous physical exertion," replied Spock.

Kirk smiled and raised his hand up to Spock who helped him off the floor. "I assume you are here for a reason?"

"Yes, sir. You wanted to know when we were finished mapping this sector. We finished 33.37 minutes ago," explained Spock.

"In that case, I need a shower before we get our next orders from Star Fleet," mused Kirk. "Indeed. A wise course of action, Captain," answered Spock eyes twinkling with humor.

It was times like these that he knew that his first officer did indeed have a sense of humor.

* * *

As Christine walked back to her cabin she marveled at the fact that he could still make her feel like a hopeless schoolgirl. He had "caught" her and the Captain horsing around ... why should that embarrass her? At medical school and then at Star Fleet Medical she had only thought of him occasionally. Those instances were few and far between usually in the form of some Star Fleet news or some tale related to her by Uhura or McCoy.

Who was she trying to kid? She sighed and then wondered, more than once since meeting him, if she would ever be free of these feelings for him. To her never-ending chagrin, so far the answer was still no. Fortunately, most of the crew was blissfully unaware of her embarrassing feelings for him. However, the spectacle of the PSI 2000 virus made her painfully aware of the fact that nothing ever stays a secret on a starship for long.

She thought back to when she first noticed her attraction towards him. It was the first time she saw him in the rec room playing chess with Captain Kirk. She knew who he was immediately because there were no other Vulcans on board. He looked so dark and exotic. She really didn't think much more about him until she overheard two male medics talking. They were discussing Spock in some rather unflattering terms. She couldn't recall all of the conversation but most of it revolved around their opinion that he was a cold-hearted computer. Later she found out that he was half-human and this only piqued her curiosity more.

There was something in his demeanor that told her that he was not a cold-hearted computer. Although he would deny it, such opinions hurt him. She had witnessed his friendship with both Kirk and McCoy develop. She noticed his loyalty to those friendships. She admired his honesty and integrity. She also suspected that he was capable of kindness and gentleness. It was these last two qualities that most frequently played a part in her previous fantasies about him. With another sigh, she was determined not to indulge in those fantasies anymore. She had long ago given up hope that he would ever be interested in her.

* * *

As Spock moved down the hall he had to fight the disturbed feeling he was now experiencing. He had just come from the dining room. Both the Captain and McCoy were busy so he planned to dine alone. He had brought a pad with him to read but instead was distracted by a conversation he had overheard two tables away. He rarely eavesdropped, preferring to "tune" out the incessant rattle of human speech his hearing always picked up. However, this conversation caught his attention right away. He had his back to them so their identity was unknown. They discussed the "friendship" between the Captain and Dr. Chapel. They seemed to think the evidence pointed to something more than friendship.

The overheard conversation coupled with the behavior he had witnessed on the makeshift tennis court gave him pause. Jim Kirk liked women. But as far as he knew, he had never been involved with a member of his crew. It was against Star Fleet regulations for good reason. It was also a court-martial-able offense. The fact that the crew was now speculating on the nature of their relationship was not good. He considered asking Jim, but quickly dismissed that idea. He did not wish to intrude upon his friend's privacy. He decided to meditate on what action, if any, to take.

* * *

By the next evening, the rumors were all over the ship. They had even reached Dr. McCoy's ears. McCoy didn't know whether to laugh or cry. On one hand, if Chris was involved with Jim then she must be over that green blooded, pointy-eared fool. On the other hand, Jim Kirk was not exactly the settle down and start a family type. He decided to go directly to the source. He filled a flask he kept in his desk with brandy and grabbed two cups. He was sure he would need a drink during this conversation.

As he walked down the hall towards the Captains quarters, he chided himself for even getting involved. After all, Chris was a grown woman. He just didn't want to see her get hurt. She was so special. She deserved to be happy. He decided that looking out for her was more important than ruffling Jim's feathers. With that last thought, he hit the door chime to Kirk's quarters.

"Come in," Kirk said.

As McCoy entered, Kirk didn't even lift his head from his desk. He was obviously hard a work. McCoy just stood there bouncing a bit on his feet in anticipation of their talk. Finally, Kirk looked up.

With a genuine smile Kirk said, "Bones, what brings you here? Did I forget a meeting?"

McCoy momentarily forgot why he was there and smiled back. And just as quickly he remembered. He frowned slightly and handed Kirk a cup and the flask. He said, "Jim, we need to talk. You may need this, I know I do."

Kirk's smile faded and he poured himself some of the brandy then handed the flask back to McCoy. As McCoy took the seat across from his desk Kirk asked, "Well, are you going to tell me what this is about?"

"Not until I've poured some of this for myself," he responded. He opened the flask and poured a generous portion into his cup. Then he said, "Jim, there are rumors going around about you and Chris."

At this Kirk frowned and said, "What?"

"You heard me. Apparently, some people have noticed the time you two spent together on Ceres. That and some kind of 'surprise' you had for her has tongues wagging."

Kirk stood leaving his drink untouched. He looked down and started to pace.

"Well?" asked McCoy.

"Well what?" replied Kirk.

With a sigh McCoy asked again, "Well, is it true?"

At this Kirk stopped his pacing and looked at his friend. He took the couple of steps to his desk and downed the brandy. He slumped into his chair and said in a defeated tone, "No. But if even you think there is a possibility, I can see why others think so."

McCoy let out the breath he had been holding. He said, "I'm sorry, Jim. I thought you should know about the rumors." After a slight pause he added, "And you know that I care about Chris. I needed to know the truth."

Kirk just nodded his head.

McCoy suddenly began to feel better about everything. "Look on the bright side, Jim. We know the truth. If you guys just cool it for a while, the rumors will quiet down."

Kirk looked up and said, "You may be right, but I don't like it. We aren't doing anything wrong. You two do stuff together and nobody says anything about it. Even if I wanted more than friendship, she still cares about Spock."

At this McCoy looked surprised. "You want more than friendship, don't you?"

Kirk looked away. "I have begun to realize why you think she's so great. I know that this can't be anything but friendship. Whether it's because of her feelings for Spock or my own career considerations ... it can't be anything more. Certainly under other circumstances, I would be interested in her ... romantically."

McCoy grinned devilishly and added, "Welcome to the club." He poured them each some more brandy and raised his cup to toast. "Here's to Chris Chapel, a damn fine woman."

Kirk touched his cup to McCoy's and added, "Here, here."

* * *

Christine hurried back to her quarters. Her shift had been routine but for some reason people eyeing her. She even asked a few 'What?' but they just shrugged and went about their duties. She even looked in the mirror to make sure she didn't have anything on her face.

As she walked into her quarters, she noticed that she had messages. The first was from Uhura. She wanted to know when she got in because there was something she wanted to discuss with her. How odd, thought Chapel. The next message was from the Captain. He wanted to move their chess game to his quarters. That was also odd. She replied to Uhura's message by letting her know she was finished with her shift and currently in her quarters. Then she let Kirk know that his quarters were fine.

She clicked off her terminal and decided she needed a quick sonic shower. When she came back out in her robe, Uhura was standing near her desk with an odd look on her face. Chapel smiled and stated, "That was quick. So what's going on? You look like you just lost your best friend."

Uhura sat in the chair near the desk and said, "So you haven't heard the rumors?"

"What rumors?"

"About you and the Captain."

"What about me and the Captain?"

Uhura sighed. "That you two have a thing going."

Chapel frowned then said, "That's ridiculous! We are just friends. I swear, Ny."

Uhura nodded her head and said, "I know. But that doesn't stop speculation by others that don't know you as well."

Chapel slumped into the other chair and moaned, "Whyyy does this kind of stuff have to happen to me? First it was Spock ... and now people are gossiping about the Captain and me. At least now I know why everyone has been staring at me all day."

Uhura simply replied, "I'm sorry."

"You know, this is just as bad for the Captain. If someone in Fleet wants to be difficult, it could cause him a lot of trouble."

"That is so typical of you, Chris. People are talking about you and all you can think about is Jim Kirk's career."

"Well, what do I do about this? I'm going to play chess with him tonight. Mmm ... that's why he wanted to move the game to his quarters."

"Chris, if you want the rumors to stop then you should probably stop spending time with him off duty."

"You're probably right ... but that stinks! I really enjoy his company. I never told you what his surprise was, did I?" When Uhura nodded no, Chapel went on, "He went to the trouble of converting one of the small gym areas into a tennis court. I only mentioned to him once on Ceres that I used to play tennis in college. He went to all that trouble then was even a good enough sport to play me. So now, because people can't mind their own business, I'm supposed to stop seeing him?" She stood up and started pacing. Her fists were balled up and she was angry.

Uhura knew that look and wished she could help her. Unfortunately, this was the kind of think that had a life of its own. "Chris, what can I do?"

At this Chapel stopped pacing and looked at her. The anger momentarily gone, she gave a weary smiled to her friend and said, "Thanks for having the courage to tell me. If you hear people talking about us, set them straight. I don't know if it will do any good, but it's something. Most of all thanks for letting me rant. You are a great friend." She opened her arms and walked forward. Uhura quickly stood up and embraced her.

"Oh, Ny, I have to get ready. I'm playing chess with the Captain in 30 minutes. Will you wait and walk with me?"

"Of course," Uhura exclaimed.

* * *

Spock had meditated for some time about his current dilemma. He had discovered, illogical as it may be, that he was disturbed by more than the possibility of his good friend ruining his career. Although he did not expect Dr. Chapel to be 'in love' with him anymore, the idea that she was 'in love' with Jim Kirk troubled him. He mulled over the idea that he didn't want her to get hurt ... which was the inevitable outcome of any romantic relationship with the Captain. But was that really the inevitable outcome? What if he decided to give it all up for her? What if Jim was able to sacrifice for her what he had not been willing to sacrifice for her?

He remembered how uncomfortable her feelings made him on their first tour together. He could never quite understand why she would be attracted to him. He had never given her any indication that he was interested in her that way. It didn't seem to matter. She was always professional, but also caring in that way that only human females can be. His mother had been the same way ... always trying to give him comfort. So illogical.

He had not seen or spoken to her since their first tour ended. At his return to the Enterprise, he had been surprised to find out that she was now an M.D. At first she seemed as he had remembered her, smiling and outgoing. However, in recent months her demeanor had changed. She had kept her distance from him but was still professional with just a hint of her former caring. He found that time had made him less uncomfortable around her. His experience with V'ger gave him a different perspective on some aspects of his life. He now realized that one of those aspects was his relationship with Christine Chapel.

There was something else, just on the edge of his consciousness. He probed his mind for that fragment. It related to the entire problem. She was, by human standards, an attractive woman. He did not disagree, but Vulcans did not choose mates by such shallow standards. He had never allowed himself to think of her in those terms. As a potential mate. Logically, they were not an unfavorable match. She was a scientist as was he. She was intelligent, loyal, honorable and kind. All admirable qualities. In addition, she was attractive. He had not missed the heads that always turned when she entered the dining area.

So that was it. If he were inclined to choose a mate, she would be a logical choice. Had she seen the logic all along? Finally, he had reached a decision. He had to talk to Jim and find out if there was any truth to the rumors.

* * *

Christine moved her rook and captured Kirk's queen. She smiled but he pounded his fist in mock anger, which caused his glass of tea to spill over into her lap. She leaped up as quickly as she could but the damage was done. It had spilled on her top and shorts.

Kirk, looking quite contrite said, "Chris, I'm so sorry." He moved into his bedroom area to retrieve a towel. "Here's a towel."

She could tell he felt bad so she said, "Don't worry Jim, I'm sure it is washable." She patted herself down with the towel a little bit but it was still quite wet.

"Why don't you borrow a shirt and pair of shorts from me until you go? By then your stuff should be dry. I wouldn't want you to leave now and rob me of a miraculous comeback," he quipped.

She smiled at the last part. There was no way he would be able to salvage the game for himself. "Alright, I wouldn't want to miss it either."

He moved over to his dresser and pulled out a pair of shorts and a flannel shirt. "Here you go."

She took the clothes and moved towards the bathroom. "Thanks, Captain. And don't touch that board."

In his most innocent voice he said, "Me ... Cheat? Never!"

Just as she closed the bathroom door, the door chime rang. Kirk called out, "Come in."

Spock walked in and took in the scene. Clearly, the owner of the white pieces was winning easily. He waited just inside the door till Kirk acknowledged him.

"Spock. I'm glad you're here. I need help. Take a look at the board. Have any suggestions?" asked Kirk.

"Are you the black or white player?" inquired Spock.


"Then I suggest that you concede defeat," he replied dryly.

Kirk didn't like that suggestion at all. So he continued to study the board. At that moment Christine came out of the bathroom.

Before looking up she laid the clothes on Kirk's bed and said, "You didn't touch the board did you?" As she looked up she caught sight of Spock standing in front of the table with his hands behind his back looking at her.

"Spock, tell her I didn't touch the board."

She moved back into the living area and tried to regain her composure. She swore to herself that she would not be embarrassed around him. That was easier said than done while she was wearing Jim's clothes. She forced herself to smile at him.

Spock was surprised by her appearance. She was obviously wearing the Captain's shirt. In addition, he had not suspected that she would be the white player. He did not allow any of his surprise to show but merely stated, "The Captain has not moved any of the pieces while I have been present. However, he did request my advice."

Kirk looked up at his stiff first officer and said, "Spock, is there some reason you are here?"

"Yes, Captain. You wanted these reports as soon as they were complete." He took several pads out from behind his back and set them on the table in front of Kirk.

"Thank you, Mr. Spock. If I'm not brain dead after this chess game, I'll look at it before I go to bed."

With that he nodded, tuned and left the Captain's quarters.

Spock's next destination was the science lab. There were several projects which he needed to work on. As he walked, he was distracted again by the scene he had just encountered. She was wearing his clothes and they were playing chess in his quarters. He could not remember ever playing chess with the Captain in his quarters. They always played in the rec room. The most surprising fact was that she was beating the Captain easily in chess. He knew Jim Kirk. He would not let her win intentionally. He was very competitive as humans go.

He came back to his first observation. She was wearing his clothes. Something about that fact disturbed him more than the others. Such familiar behavior led him to one logical conclusion. The rumors were true.

* * *

As Christine walked into sickbay she headed straight for the replicator. "Coffee, hot, cream and sugar." She took the hot substance and sipped carefully. When she turned around she noticed several people looking in her direction. She smiled and said, "Good morning."

"Good morning, Dr. Chapel. Late night?" the nurse at the check in desk asked with feigned innocence.

Chapel just glared and said, "I know that all of you have heard rumors. I want to say for the record they aren't true. And before any of you go around spreading something like that, just think about what that kind of false accusation can mean to a career." She turned angrily and marched into her office.

She slumped into the chair behind her desk and thought, This day is not starting out well at all. Jim had made her play 3 more games with him, which had kept her up entirely too late. You're too old now to stay up till all hours ... how depressing. She rubbed her eyes and took another tentative sip of her coffee. After a few minutes of quiet, she was ready to get to work. She was halfway through reviewing the night shift's reports when a medical emergency was sounded.

She jumped up to the comm unit and said, "Chapel here, what's the problem?"

"It's Mr. Spock. I found him on the floor of the science lab. It looks like some kind of explosion," answered some unknown crewman.

"I'm on my way," replied Chapel as she bolted out of her office. While running through sick bay she hollered, "Sims and Graff, bring the anti grav stretcher to the science lab now!" Her heart pounding she ran to the science lab, she stopped only long enough to take in the scene. Spock was lying on his back on the floor. His face was and hands were burned and his uniform was scorched. She ran the medical scanner over his body and noticed that his lungs were also burned. He had a contusion on his head, which was probably a result of his fall to the floor. She administered a hypo of pain medicine as the crewman came in with the anti grav stretcher. "Move him onto the stretcher and take him to sickbay." She walked over to the comm. unit and called, "Dr. McCoy."

"McCoy here. What's up, Chris?"

"Come to sickbay now. It's Spock." She punched the comm unit and ran back to sickbay.

When she arrived in sickbay the two crewman had just lifted Spock onto the biobed. Of all his injuries, his lungs were the most critical. She began treatment when Dr. McCoy walked in. He immediately walked up to the other side of the biobed and asked, "What happened?"

"Accident in the science lab. His lungs are singed along with his face, hands and chest. He has a minor contusion on his head. Probably sustained that as he fell," she reported. They worked for over an hour. McCoy took over treating his lungs as Chapel used the dermal regenerator on Spock's skin. Finally, she fixed the cut and swelled bruise on his head.

Only then did they relax. McCoy was the first to notice the Captain standing near the door. He looked worried. "Don't worry, Jim, he'll be okay. That damn Vulcan is stronger then ten of you or me," assured McCoy.

"And besides, it looks worse than it is. He'll be fine in a couple of days," added Chapel.

Kirk smiled and asked, "Can I talk to him?"

"He needs his rest. I'll let you know when he wakes up," stated McCoy. He then took Kirk by the shoulder, turned him around and moved him out of the room. "You need some rest yourself, so get out of here."

Kirk left only after Chapel, who was standing behind McCoy, gave him a smile and nod.

* * *

"Doctor, he is waking up," reported the nurse on duty.

"Thanks, Linda." Chapel smiled at the nurse then took up Spock's chart. She made several notations and then said to Spock, "Hello, Commander. How do you feel?"

Spock raised an eyebrow in contemplation then stated, "Quite well, Dr. Chapel. How long have I been here?"

"Since this morning. Eight hours. You gave everyone quite a scare," answered Chapel. She lifted her medical scanner and took several readings. She made more notations on his chart. "The Captain wanted to talk to you as soon as you woke up. Do you feel up for visitors?"

"I feel fine. You may call the Captain."

She walked over to the com unit and said, "Captain Kirk."

"Kirk here. Is he awake yet?"

"Yes, sir." With a grin she added, "And he assures me that he is up for visitors."

"On my way. Kirk out."

Chapel turned towards her patient and asked, "Is there anything I can get you, Mr. Spock?"

"Perhaps some water, I am thirsty."

"Of course." She went to the replicator and ordered a large pitcher of cool water and a cup. She walked over to his biobed and poured the water into the cup and handed it to him.

"Thank you, Doctor."

At that moment Kirk walked into the room. He stood on the opposite side of the bed as Chapel. She greeted Kirk with a smiled and then said to Spock, "I'll be in my office if you need me." She turned and walked out.

Spock noticed that Kirk watched her leave. His smile spoke volumes about his fondness for her. Then he looked down at Spock. "I'm glad to see that you're going to be all right."

Spock nodded. "I apologize for the accident, Jim. It was a careless error on my part."

Kirk frowned and said, "What happened, Spock? It's not like you to make mistakes like this."

Spock looked straight ahead, not able to meet his friend's eyes. "Sir, even I am capable of an error."

Kirk was really worried now. Spock was hiding something. "If you are trying to cover for someone, Spock, I won't have it. What really happened?"

"It was an error on my part. No one else was involved," stated Spock.

"Everyone is allowed to make mistakes, Spock, but this isn't like you. I want the truth. You were lucky this time, but next time things might not turn out so well. Now out with it, Mister. Or do I have to make it an order?" stated Kirk emphatically.

Spock knew it was useless. Kirk would badger him relentlessly until he was satisfied with his answer. So he gave into logic and decided to tell his friend and Captain the truth. "Captain, I was ... distracted. My hand hit the two vials and they hit the floor causing the flash that burned me. As I fell to the floor I hit my head on the lab table. That is what happened."

Kirk looked thoughtful for a moment then asked, "What could have possibly distracted you?"

At that question, Spock became decidedly more uncomfortable. Only someone that knew Spock well would have even noticed it.

"Well?" pressed Kirk.

"I was distracted by the fact that the rumors about you and Dr. Chapel are correct," stated Spock evenly.

Kirk snorted and said, "Why on earth would that bother you?"

Spock finally looked at Kirk and said, "You know what can happen if Star Fleet finds out."

"There's more to it than that. I can tell. Out with it."

When Spock didn't answer Kirk said, "You finally see her. That's it, isn't it?"

Spock's expression didn't change.

Kirk added, "You have to talk to her about this."

"I can not discuss this with, Dr. Chapel," stated Spock.

At that moment Chapel moved next to his bed and said, "Can't tell Dr. Chapel what?" She looked from Spock to Kirk. When neither seemed ready to respond she said, "Spock, if this has something to do with your medical situation ... and you don't feel you are able to talk to me ... I will be happy to get Dr. McCoy." She looked at him with complete honesty and openness. Then she added with a smile, "Don't worry, it doesn't hurt my feelings. I just want you to recover. I'll go get him now. And Captain, his readings are a bit high. I think it would be best to let him rest now." She turned and walked out.

"Now she believes that I have no faith in her medical abilities," said Spock.

"Like I said, you will have to discuss this with her. I can't have you going around blowing up the ship," said Kirk with a slight grin on his face.

"Captain, I believe you are enjoying this," remarked Spock.

"Who me? Not at all, Mr. Spock." His smile widened and he added, "She is distracting, isn't she?" With that final parting shot he turned to leave. Before he made it out the door, McCoy came in.

"Chris said you wanted to see me, Spock. What's the problem?" asked McCoy.

"There is no problem, Doctor. When may I go back on duty?" asked Spock.

"Not for a couple of days. If you are good tonight, I will let you return to your quarters tomorrow morning."

Spock nodded his head in acceptance. Many years of experience taught him that it would do no good to protest.

"Of course, I will check on you periodically, to make sure you are in your quarters resting. Is that understood?"

"Yes, Doctor. However, I would like to request that Dr. Chapel attend to me."

McCoy raised an eyebrow at that and said, "Whatever you want, Spock. It doesn't matter to me as long as you follow my instructions." As he walked back to his office he grinned and thought, first Jim, now Spock. Wonder if that girl picked up a love potion on Ceres? He chuckled a bit at his own joke and went back to work.

* * *

Chapel stood outside Spock's cabin wondering why McCoy had insisted she look in on Spock. It was obvious to her that Spock was uncomfortable around her. She sighed and hit the door chime.

"Come in."

She walked in and said, "Mr. Spock, I'm here to check on you. How are you feeling?"

He had been sitting at the desk. He rose and stood beside the desk with his hands behind his back. Finally he said, "I am feeling quite well."

"Well, I hope you don't mind, but I have to see for myself." She pulled out her medical scanner and confirmed that he was almost 100%. "Will you take off your shirt? I need to make sure your burns and lacerations are healing properly." She turned and put her medical scanner back in her med kit. She made sure to have on her most professional face. When she turned around he was in the process of removing his black undershirt. She stepped closer to him and examined his chest. Once satisfied with the progress she moved on to his hands. They were also healing properly. Then she looked at his face. With the trained eye of a physician she determined that all was as it should be.

She looked into his dark eyes and said, "Looks like your assessment is right. You may put your shirt back on."

He quickly pulled on the black undershirt and then the blue uniform shirt. He didn't intend to have this conversation half dressed. It would be difficult enough.

She was closing her med kit when she said, "I will leave this hypo with you. If you experience any minor pain, you may use it. If you have any discomfort or more than minor pain, call Dr. McCoy or me." She waited to make sure he understood.

He nodded and took the hypo. Then said, "Dr. Chapel, there is another matter which I must discuss with you."

She was surprised but said nothing only nodding agreement. What was this about?

He hesitated. Whatever it was, he was clearly uncomfortable. Finally he said, "My accident in the science lab was a result of carelessness on my part. I was distracted ... as a result I knocked over two vials that caused a flash."

"I'm not sure what this has to do with me, Mr. Spock. Even you are allowed to make mistakes."

"I was distracted by the conclusion that ... the rumors were true," he explained.

Her face went slack and she asked, "Why would that distract you?"

At that question he looked away from her eyes to a point above her shoulder. "I was concerned for my friend's career," he stated.

In a small voice she said, "Oh. I see." She turned her back to him to get her med kit, which still rested on the desk. She just wanted to leave. But his next words stopped her.

"But there is another reason that I was distracted." He paused for a moment as if trying to find the words. "I would not wish to see you hurt."

She turned now and looked at him. Softly, she said, "You don't have to worry about that, Mr. Spock. The Captain and I are just friends. And that's all we will ever be. He's ... not my type."

His face seemed to relax at that statement. Neither could look away but neither moved either. Finally, he raised his hand and caressed her cheek with two fingers. Then he whispered, "Christine."

She closed her eyes. She couldn't believe that he was touching her this way. Her whole body was flush with adrenalin. When she opened her eyes, he was very close to her. Her head was swimming and her heart was pounding. She whispered, "Spock." He moved his thumb to her lips to quiet her. He slowly moved his hand down her neck, along her shoulder, down her arm and finally, he lightly caressed her hand.

As he did this, he sensed her excitement and ... trepidation. He pulled his hand back to his side and said, "It has been some time since your ... declaration. Am I still your ... 'type?'" he questioned.

His reserved demeanor never changed and Chapel was doing her best to project as much reserve as she could muster. At this last question her reserve faded somewhat. Her face softened and she said, "Yes, you are still my type."

"Then you would be interested in ... friendship?" he asked.

She tried to hide her disappointment and said honestly, "I have always hoped that we could be friends."

He nodded then said, "And perhaps more?"

Very softly she said, "Yes."

During the whole conversation their eyes never left each other. She wanted to touch him ... to kiss him. But she couldn't. She had to let him set the pace.

"Dr. Chapel," blared the comm unit.

She started at the sound while he merely raised an eyebrow. She smiled and walked over to the com unit. "Chapel here."

"Chris ... where are you? Is your Spock all right? Do I need to come down there?"

"He's fine. I'm on my way back now," she answered.

"Good. Ensign Derson is here again and you're the only one that can ever help her."

"I'll be there in a minute. Chapel out." She hit the com unit and turned. "I have to go."

He nodded, "Per doctor's orders I can not leave my quarters. Would you have dinner here with me tonight?"

She smiled and asked, "What time?"

"Whatever is convenient for you. I will be here."

"My shift is over at 1700. I'll come by sometime shortly after that."

He nodded in agreement.

She walked back towards him and picked up her med kit. She smiled at him then turned and left. She wondered as she walked back to sickbay if she could keep the mask of reserve in place. She was sure the McCoy suspected something already. If she came in grinning from ear to ear, he would know something happened. Strangely, she just wanted this to be her secret for a while.

* * *

Kirk strolled into sick bay looking for McCoy. His friend, who seemed a bit out of sorts, had summoned him to sickbay. When he didn't see him immediately, he headed for his office. McCoy was fluttering about his office trying to find something when Kirk entered. He smiled and said, "Paperwork getting to you, Bones?"

McCoy gave him a disgusted look and said, "I'm glad you're here. I need a drink." He pulled out the flask he and Kirk had used earlier and placed it on the desk. After finding two cups he poured some for himself. Since his shift was over, Kirk decided to partake. Whatever was bothering his friend was probably good for a chuckle and a swig of spirits.

"Alright, Bones. This is the second conversation this week that we have started with alcohol. What's eating you?" asked Kirk with a cheerful grin on his face.

"Yesterday Spock asked me to send Chris to monitor him instead of me. I thought that was strange but didn't mind as long as he did what he was told. Well, after she got back she seemed different. Sort of ... distracted. She took care of all her paperwork and then asked me if I needed help with any of mine. Now I can't find a damn thing!"

Kirk continued to grin at McCoy's animated story. "So ask her to help you find what you're looking for."

"That's just it. As soon as her shift was over she bolted. She never acts like that. Usually, I have to make her leave. Something's going on," he said with a far off look on his face.

Kirk mused that he looked like he was trying to unravel the mysteries of the universe. "Whatever it is, I'm sure she will talk to you about it eventually."

McCoy looked at Kirk with an upturned eyebrow and said, "You know what's going on! Come on, Jim. As Spock's physician and Chris's friend, I should know if something is wrong. It's not the pon farr again?" he asked now with a touch of concern in his voice.

Kirk was unsure just how much he should tell him. After all, he didn't really know anything. Spock was distracted by Christine. That didn't mean anything would come of it. Before he could respond, McCoy stated, "If he hurts her, I'll kill him myself."

In a hushed voice he said, "Bones!" After a pause he calmly stated, "I don't think there is anything to worry about. Spock told me that he had been distracted by rumors of my relationship with Chris. I told him he should talk to her about it. That's all."

McCoy leaned back in his chair, drink in hand and said, "In a pig's eye. There's more to this."

They were both quite for a while. Each taking sips from their glasses when McCoy said, "That's it. That's what it takes!" He looked as if he had just won a prize.

Kirk looked up at him with a puzzled expression and asked, "What?"

"After all these years, what would induce Spock to pursue Christine?"

Kirk shook his head. "His best friend's alleged relationship. I know that if I heard the rumors, then he surely has. Those sensitive ears certainly overheard enough to know what was being said. Just think, seeing you two together and then hearing the rumors. It's enough to give an uptight Vulcan heartburn or ... distract him," McCoy explained lightly.

Kirk took the last sip of his drink and said, "Bones, you should write romance holonovels. You'd make a fortune."

McCoy just smiled, convinced that he had figured out the mystery.

* * *

Christine looked at herself in the mirror and took a deep breath. She was nervous. She had decided to change out of her uniform. She picked out a casual pullover v-neck shirt and comfortable black pants. She figured if she wore a dress that would be too dressy. If they became more than friends, she would have plenty of time to dress up. As far as she was concerned, this was about becoming friends ... at least for now.

She was still nervous. With another deep breath she picked up her med kit and headed out of her quarters. As she walked along the hall she grinned at her own behavior. She hadn't been able to fight her nervous energy this afternoon. McCoy seemed particularly nonplused by her whirlwind of activity. While trying to straighten out his desk he snapped, "Dammit, Chris, take a break already!" He was immediately contrite but Christine didn't even care. He could be as crusty as he wanted to be. No one could spoil the cloud she was on.

Finally, she stood in front of his quarters. She was still nervous, but unlike the other times she had visited his quarters, this time she had been invited. She hit the door chime. Instead of the usual 'come in' the door opened and right inside the door stood Spock. She smiled and he said, "Dr. Chapel, please come in."

"Thank you, Spock." She walked in and then held up her med kit and asked, "Shall we take care of business first?"

He nodded and began to take off his shirt. She turned around and set the med kit on his desk. Taking out the scanner she turned to him. Now shirtless she ran the scanner over him. "Have you experienced any pain?"

"It is minimal."

She nodded and read her scanner. Then she put it back in the med kit. Next she visually examined his hands, chest and face. Once satisfied she said, "You're healing as expected," she stated then smiled. "You may put your shirt back on."

As he dressed she turned and put her med kit together and closed it. Then asked, "You're going back on duty tomorrow ... right?"

"Yes. I am most ready to resume my duties."

"I bet. I imagine it's hard for you to stay cooped up in here for so long."

He raised an eyebrow and stated, "Indeed."

"So what have you been doing to keep yourself busy?"

"I have spent most of my time reading ships' reports and various technical journals."

She crossed her arms and said with mock disdain, "Spock, reading ships' reports is work. I don't think that is what Dr. McCoy had in mind when he let you recuperate in your quarters."

He merely pulled his hands behind his back and replied, "I will not inform him if you won't."

She caught the smallest hint of a smile on his face. This was a side she hadn't seen on him. Obvious humor. She chuckled and said, "That depends on how well you feed me tonight."

He walked towards the replicator and said, "I picked a Vulcan dish, which was one of my Mother's favorites. Do you like spicy food?"

"The hotter the better," she responded with a smile.

He lifted an eyebrow at that response and turned and worked the replicator controls. "I have also selected a Vulcan beverage. Would that be agreeable to try it or would you prefer something Terran?"

"I like trying new things. This should be very interesting."

He placed the food down on the small table and then the drinks. It smelled delicious. For the first time Christine realized that she was quite hungry. The entree was a variety of Vulcan vegetables mixed in some kind of sauce. There was another bowl filled with something that was a cross between rice and cous cous. She watched Spock spoon a portion of the grainy stuff on his dish and then some of the vegetables on top of that. She followed his lead and did the same thing. Then he took a pitcher of red liquid and poured it first into her glass and then into his own glass. He began to eat so she did the same. The whole thing reminded her of Chinese food. It was spicy, but nothing she couldn't handle. The drink was fruity but not like any fruit she had ever had before. It seemed to sooth the spice of the dish.

After they were both finished she said, "That was terrific, Spock. What's this called?"

"I doubt you would be able to pronounce the Vulcan name. My mother often referred to it as a vegetable stir fry."

"And the drink?" she asked as she held up what was left in her glass.

"It is from the Tr'a'lak plant. They are similar in consistency and shape to an Aloe Vera plant but the pulp is red and sweet."

"Interesting. Thank you for sharing it with me."

He nodded and started to get up to remove the plates. She stood and said, "You cooked, the least I can do is clean up." She gathered up several plates and headed for the recycler. She managed the clear away the rest of the plates and cups with her next trip.

When she walked back over to the table, she didn't sit down but asked, "So Spock, what's for dessert?" She had meant it as innocent conversation, but as soon as she said it the double meaning made her blush. She certainly didn't want him to think she was propositioning him.

He stood up and moved next to her and said, "Vulcans usually don't indulge in dessert. However, since you are Terran and it is a common custom, perhaps you would like to pick the dessert."

His tone had left no doubt that he understood why she was blushing. She knew exactly what she wanted for dessert ... him. But she wasn't about to say that. He was leaving the dessert decision up to her ... but was it really dessert he was leaving up to her or something else. She swallowed and said, "Have you ever had chocolate covered strawberries?"

He raised an eyebrow in thought and said, "No. But I like trying new things."

She realized immediately that he had repeated her line from earlier. She smiled and turned to the replicator.

With a bowl of strawberries and another bowl of warm chocolate she made her way back to the table. As she sat back down in her seat, Spock moved his chair so that she was just to the right of him. Just as she had watched him earlier, he now watched her as she took one ripe strawberry and dipped it into the chocolate sauce. After allowing all the excess chocolate to drip off, she put about half of it in her mouth and bit it in two. She looked him in the eye as she licked her lips of the excess chocolate. He raised an eyebrow and did not look away for several moments.

Finally, he copied her actions. As Chapel watched, he bit the strawberry and licked his lips. She smiled at him hoping her carnal thoughts weren't too obvious. This experience was quickly becoming tantalizingly torturous.

He tilted his head a bit and said, "An interesting blend of tastes. Quite unique."

She reached for another strawberry and asked, "Does that mean you like it?"

"Indeed. This is a most pleasant experience."

As she finished her next bite, she noticed that he had dripped some of the chocolate on his chin. She didn't want it to spill onto his uniform so she said, "Oh, Spock, you're making a mess." She quickly swiped his chin with her thumb and brought the excess chocolate to her mouth. As she sucked her thumb, she realized what an intimate gesture she had just performed and blushed again.

He simply raised an eyebrow and asked, "Is there anymore?"

She shook her head, "I think I got it all." She looked down at the plate of strawberries that were left. Why does he always make me feel like I am 13 again? This is pathetic.

"You are embarrassed?" he asked as he studied her.

She looked up at him. "Yes. I shouldn't have touched you. I'm sorry." She looked down at the table again. Suddenly, she didn't want anymore dessert. She just wanted to stop making a fool of herself.

"An apology is not necessary. I appreciate your assistance." When she did not look up he placed his hand on her cheek and turned her face to look at him. He could sense her surprise and ... shame. He knew he was the cause of the shame. He wondered if he could get her to understand that the shame should be his. He noticed that she looked as if she might start crying. He had to do something. "Christine, I am the one that should apologize."

Her eyes widened slightly. "What on Earth do you have to apologize for?"

"My past behavior toward you was ... illogical."

"What are you saying exactly?" she asked.

He took his hand from her face and looked down towards the table. "In the last couple of days I have spent a considerable amount of time meditating on our situation. I have come to the conclusion that your attraction to me was logical. Although I am not human, we do have quite a few things in common." He again looked up at her. She no longer looked like she would cry. She was curious ... another trait they shared.

"Spock, I'm glad that you ... have come to that conclusion, but I'm not sure it helps me."

He nodded, "I wish to relieve your ... anxiety. I wish to explore the possibility of a more ... intimate relationship. As I said, we are a logical match."

She was stunned. Of all the things he could have said this went beyond her wildest dreams. She simply looked at him in shock, unable to say anything.

He raised an eyebrow at her reaction, then stood. He held out his left hand, inviting her to stand up as well.

She took his hand and stood in front of him. She released his hand but he didn't let go. Instead he pulled her close to him and used the first two fingers on his right hand to caress her jaw. Then he pulled his slender fingers away from her face and held them up.

Christine recognized the gesture immediately. She had first witnessed his parents touch fingers years ago. At the time she thought it very sensual action. She raised her hand and positioned her first two fingers just as he had done. He slowly moved the tips of his first two fingers over her two fingers and hand. She closed her eyes and surrendered to the intense sensation of his touch. She was becoming so aroused and he was just touching her hand! At that thought, she opened her eyes to find him staring at her intensely. Her head was swimming. As good as this felt she wanted to kiss him. She looked away from his eyes and locked onto his lips. Spock leaned forward and gently touched his lips to hers. He pulled away slightly, his breath warm on her face. God, please, don't stop, she thought. He stopped touching her hand and placed his hand on her cheek. He leaned in again and this time the kiss was less chaste. Then Christine realized that he must be able to sense what she wanted. She snaked her hand behind his head and opened her mouth slightly to deepen the kiss. He did the same. She moved one of her hands around to his back and pulled him closer so that their bodies were pressed together. To her surprise she could feel his erection against her stomach. Immediately she thought, That's for me ... he is aroused by me ... this might actually happen. He pulled back slightly and looked at her.

In a rather husky voice he said, "If you would rather wait, we can stop now." He sensed her disappointment and added, "Or you can stay here with me tonight and 'this' will happen."

She smiled at him and whispered, "I don't want to stop. I've waited so long already."

He nodded slightly and said softly, "It would be difficult for me to stop as well."

He leaned his head down and captured her lips once again. He was having difficulty controlling his reactions to her intense arousal. As always he wondered how humans managed with such turbulent emotions constantly swirling within them. He could not comprehend that she had felt this for him all these years. Her desire was so intense. He had not intended for this evening to turn into this. However, now he found that his own desire was building. He couldn't ever remember being effected in this way. If she had wanted to stop, he would have been ... distressed. Mainly by the fact that he was painfully erect.

Christine wanted to touch him. She moved her hand up underneath his uniform and rubbed up and down his back. She stepped back slightly and murmured, "Take off your shirt."

He complied quickly and she smiled. She moved her hand over short dark curls of his chest and said, "You are so beautiful."

He raised an eyebrow and replied, "I believe the correct word is handsome."

She smiled wider then pulled his head closer and whispered, "beautiful," as she began kissing him again. In between kisses she said, "If you ... could ... only see ... yourself ... through ... my eyes." After a few minutes passed, she stepped back and smiled. She could tell by his expression that he didn't know what she would do next. He reached out to pull her back but she stopped him and said, "Just watch." He watched her as she toed off her shoes. Then she pulled her shirt over her head. She paused for a moment, smiling slightly, just looking at him look at her. Then she put her thumbs in the waistband of her pants and pulled them down. She stood in front of him in a white lacy bra and panties.

She moved forward and took his hand and led him to the bed. She motioned for him to sit down and he did. She kneeled down and took his foot and pulled off first one boot and then the other. Then she pulled his socks off. She slowly touched his bare leg under the cuff of his pants. Next she slowly moved her hands over his still clothed thighs. She looked up at him and asked, "Spock, are you sure about this?" A part of her still couldn't believe this was happening.

His eyes sparkled and he replied, "Christine, even Vulcan's reach a point of no return. I have long since reached that point. Certainly, you can have no doubt about my intentions ... my desires."

She moved forward on her knees and kissed him. She started moving her hand up and down his thighs again. She slowly moved her hands to the front of his pants. She unbuttoned and then unzipped them. She stopped kissing him and looked at him for a moment. She stood up and reached out for him to do the same. When he did she began kissing him again while she slowly slipped his pants off. His only clothing now consisted of black cotton boxers. She felt his long slender fingers moving up and down her back. She realized that he hadn't really touched her yet. Images of how she wanted to be touched flowed through her mind.

Spock pulled back slightly and moved one hand towards her stomach. He gently caressed her bare midsection before slowly moving to cup one breast. Still kissing, Christine moaned as he rubbed his thumb over her lace-covered nipple. At her reaction, Spock stopped kissing her and looked at his thumb rubbing her nipple. He raised his eyebrow and whispered, "Fascinating."

Christine smiled stifling a giggle. She moved her hand down to his boxers and began stroking his erection. His eyebrow went higher and she uttered, "Quite fascinating." She leaned forward and kissed him lightly on the neck and shoulder. Slowly, she moved her lips over the dark curls on his chest. At first roaming slowly, taking in the smell and taste of him, she finally move over to one of his nipples. She swirled her tongue over his male nipple then sucked gently once it had puckered enough to latch onto. After a few minutes, Spock let out a soft moan. She smiled and moved over to the over nipple and repeated her actions. After another soft moan she couldn't help but think 'I haven't even gotten to the best part yet.'

She again moved to the center of his chest and slowly moved downward. As she reached the waistband of his boxers she slipped her fingers under his last remaining garment and slipped them off quickly. For the first time she saw him in all his masculine glory. She tried not to stare but he didn't seem to be embarrassed. He was larger than average and thick.

She lightly kissed his hip and was making her way toward his beautiful erection when Spock stated quietly, "I assure you there is no need for oral stimulation."

She stopped and looked up at him. With a small smile she said, "I can see that, but I'm doing it more for pleasure than out of necessity." He responded with a raised eyebrow. She took his silence as consent so she again began kissing him lightly around his hip.

To her surprise he added, "It would not be logical." His voice sounded strained and once again she stopped kissing him and looked up at him. Eyeing him curiously she wondered at his reaction. No man she had ever known would ever turn down a blowjob. So she asked, "Spock, have you ever been stimulated ... orally?"

Again he raised his eyebrow and said, "No."

"It may not be logical but I assure you it is a very pleasant experience. But, if you are uncomfortable with this I will stop." She hoped he would not make her stop. Knowing he had never experienced this before gave her a strange thrill. Again in a strained voice he said, "You ... may proceed."

She smiled at him and wasted no time. She swirled her tongue around the engorged head of his cock. Then she trailed her tongue down towards the base of his erection. God, he smells good, she thought. His musky odor urged her on. As she made her way back to the swollen head she swirled her tongue once more before taking him into her mouth. She moved up and down him slowly making sure she applied pressure with her tongue. After several minutes she heard him let out a heavy breathe of pleasure. She wanted him to know it was okay to finish so she projected thoughts of his climax and her subsequent actions. She looked up at him to see his reaction.

His head, which had been tilted back, came forward. He looked directly at her and said in a hoarse voice, "Christine, are you sure?"

She closed her eyes and thought, 'Yes.' She gently stroked his testicles and began to move more rapidly up and down his shaft. Her last thought before his climax was that she wanted to taste him. And taste him she did. She quickly swallowed his semen and continued to slowly move up and down his cock. Sensing he was finished, she released him from her mouth and made her way back up his body. She planted kisses in the same places she had on her trip downward. She noticed that his nipples were hard and taut so she decided not to torment him. Well, not too much. She flicked her tongue over each nipple quickly and moved up to his neck. She gently held him and kissed his neck and jaw.

Quietly he said, "You were correct ... that was most pleasant."

She smiled and moved her lips to his mouth. She kissed him tenderly and thoroughly. Then she said softly against his lips, "I'm glad you enjoyed it." She looked into his eyes to emphasize her sincerity. She then laced her hands around his neck and said, "Will you help me out of the rest of my clothes?"

He moved his hands, which had been resting on her lower back, towards the clasp on her bra. He was not very familiar with bra construction and was a bit at a loss as to how to undo it. She smiled at his dilemma and he raised an eyebrow and said, "You find this ... amusing?"

Her smile widened and she said, "You've never done this before either ... have you?"

He simply said, "No."

She closed her eyes and pictured in her mind's eye how to unhook her bra. She also pictured him kissing her neck.

He did not delay in either case. Before she knew it he was gently kissing her neck. She leaned her neck back and groaned at the sensations he was producing. She felt his fingertips moving unrestrained across her back. Obviously, he had managed to unclasp her bra. She ran her fingers through the hair at the back of his neck and pressed him as close as possible against her body. In a state of utter arousal she uttered, "Spock, do you have any idea what you do to me?"

Without raising his lips too far from her neck he whispered, "I have some idea. You are incredibly passionate." He moved his lips along her jaw and then to her mouth. She kissed him eagerly, willing him to become erect soon. She wasn't sure she could take much more of this foreplay.

At that thought, Spock whispered, "I am ready to proceed whenever you are."

She looked at him a bit unnerved by his uncanny ability to sense everything. "Am I really that easy to read?"

"I believe you are projecting. I must admit, your thoughts and emotions have been quite helpful in my desire to please you."

"Well in that case ... let's proceed." She pulled back from him and pulled off her bra. And asked him, "Would you like to take off my panties?" She fingered the edges seductively waiting for his answer. She noticed that he was indeed ready to proceed. His eyes sparkled and he said, "I would be honored."

Christine let out a little giggle at his grandiose response. He gently pulled down her white lace panties and took in her neatly trimmed thatch of hair. He stood and she allowed him to look at her. She was beautiful.

Christine was somewhat embarrassed by his scrutiny and couldn't help wonder what he thought. She had kept herself in good shape and with any other male there wouldn't have been any doubt. But this was Spock.

She had enough of the self-doubt and reached over and took his hand and led him to his bed. She turned around as she reached the foot of the bed and quietly said, "Make love to me, Spock."

She leaned into him as he caressed her cheek. Spock briefly wondered what she expected of him. Although he was not totally inexperienced with the act of sexual intercourse, this occasion seemed different. Unfortunately, he had not been quite himself during his previous sexual experiences. He quickly decided to follow her lead. To this point, her emotional responses had been easy to read. Then another thought flitted through his mind. He could request a mind meld. No, it's too soon, he thought. Her kiss was more passionate than previously. He sensed her increased ... anticipation and ... urgency.

She broke the kiss and slid onto the bed pulling him forward. He lay partly on top of her, his lips very close to hers. She resumed kissing him. He saw numerous images of what she wanted him to do to her. He moved his lips to her jaw and down to her neck. He sensed her pleasure at this activity and increased pressure from just below her ear all the way down to her shoulder. Along with her increased pleasure she would make soft moans. Then he moved down to her breasts. He utilized his tongue in the same fashion she had employed on him earlier. As he used his mouth on one nipple, he caressed the other with his thumb. Now she was saying, "Yes" and moaning. He used his mouth on her other breast to illicit the same response. Just as she had orally stimulated him earlier, he would do the same. He slowly moved down her torso planting gentle kisses along the way. He noticed that her respiration and heartbeat had increased and she was perspiring slightly. 'Curious,' he thought to himself. Christine wondered if he had ever gone down on a woman before. Just in case she made sure she projected what she liked. 'God, I am so turned on,' she thought.

Again Spock was dismayed by his lack of experience. This is what she wanted ... that was clear from the images he was receiving. He concentrated on those images and began by gently running his finger over her clitoris and down between her moist folds. This action elicited another soft moan. He had never actually seen a woman's sex like this before and was, of course, fascinated. He lowered his tongue and flicked it lightly over her clitoris. As he continued to stimulate her most sensitive part with his tongue, he started to gently circle the rim of her vagina with the pad of his finger.

"Ohhhh ... Yes," she uttered softly. Christine knew she was close ... he was touching her in exactly the right places with exactly the right pressure. And then she was there. Her body began to convulse in orgasm and she let out a guttural, "Uhhhhhhh." Finally she pushed him away form her now sensitive sex and pulled him up towards her. He went easily into her arms and she whispered into his ear, "That was incredible. Thank you."

He whispered into her ear, "You are most welcome."

She began to kiss his cheek and run her fingertips over the point of his ears. She could feel his erection against her leg and began to move him closer. He went along willingly with her maneuvering. Finally, he slid into her ... slowly ... gently. When he was completely within her she moaned and whispered, "Oh, you feel so good."

Spock could no longer be still. He began moving as his body's instincts told him to. He moved slowly and with determined strokes in and out of her. He could clearly sense her appreciation of his methods. As a Vulcan, the ability to control the need to reach sexual release was elementary. However, her increasing arousal sent bolts of electricity though him that he could not ignore. As her urgency increased, so did the force of his strokes. This simply made his task of controlling his release more difficult. Then he sensed something else. Her mind was screaming for additional stimulation. He moved his weight over to one arm and with the other began to stroke her clitoris. The muscles of her vaginal wall began to contract and he could sense her impending physical explosion. He moved faster and she moaned, "Yes!" Her body began to convulse just as it had earlier. Except this time Spock was experiencing it from inside. It was just too much emotional and physical stimulation for him to resist any longer. Just as her climax was ending, his began with one final hard thrust. He exploded deep within her. He let out a deep breath and collapsed on top of her.

"My God, that was the most incredible sexual experience I have ever had," she whispered as she clutched his warm body. He was heavy on top of her but she didn't even care. I've died and gone to Heaven, she thought.

Spock, realizing that he was probably hurting her, moved off of her and lay on his back beside her. He was still breathing a bit rapidly when he said, "I now know why humans are so preoccupied with sex."

She rolled over onto her side and smiled at him. She laid her head down in the crux of his arm and draped her arm around his mid section. All of a sudden she felt very sleepy so she just agreed with him by uttering, "Um huh."

Spock pulled her closer and quickly realized that she was asleep. Although he was a bit fatigued after their activities, he was not ready for slumber quite yet. Instead, he contemplated her. She loved him unconditionally. It was an easy emotion to detect. He was surprised at how easy all of it had been. This basic connection was there from the moment he first touched her. How could he have ignored it for so long? The answer was simple as most were. Until he mistakenly thought that she was involved with Jim, he had not wanted to see the connection. He pondered if he would have had the same reaction if he had thought her involved with someone other than Jim. He would have to meditate on the matter. In any case, tonight had been full of pleasures before unknown to him. He looked at her draped over him. Her skin was creamy and soft to the touch. He moved his fingers up to her hair, which was silky. He vowed to make up to her all the time, which his illogical behavior had denied them. He watched, listened and touched her for a while longer before he too succumbed to sleep.

The End ... At least for now