DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Cherpring and is copyright (c) 1995 by Cherpring. Rated NC17. Originally printed in Beyond the Farthest Star #8.



Don't Think Twice

Cherpring



Three crewmen from the starship Enterprise stood momentarily silent, mesmerized by the beauty around them. From somewhere in the distance came the cries of a flock of migrating birds, seeming to herald their welcome, and a warm breeze stirred through their clothing and hair, bringing with it the inviting smell of lush flora. It had been a long time between planetfalls. No matter that it wasn't Terra; it was close enough.

"Sure you won't join us, Chris?"

Chapel shook her head with an exasperated smile. They had been through this a dozen times already. "Thanks, but no thanks. You and Sam go ahead with your plans. I don't need taking in under your wing, Uhura. You may be generous enough to have forgotten three's a crowd, but I haven't."

Uhura eyed her friend critically, still not convinced. Chris was such a loner sometimes and it worried her.

"Really, Uhura!" Chapel sighed impatiently. "I happen to know you and Sam have been looking forward to this leave for a long time and I'm not going to tag along and spoil it for you. Besides, I'm sure I can find something to occupy my time. I'm a big girl, remember?"

After a moment's hesitation, Uhura gave in. "All right." She gave Sam's well-muscled arm a light squeeze, experiencing happiness, but in truth, she was relieved. Three was a crowd. "Have it your way, Chris. But if you want us..."

"I won't," Chapel interrupted, directing her gaze to the ground to hide her intense relief. Uhura could be very perceptive. "I'll see you in a few days. Now get out of here, will you?" She flashed them a quick smile as she looked up. "I don't want it said I stood in Cupid's way."

Uhura returned the smile and tugged on Sam's arm. "Come on, Sam. You heard the lady." As they turned to leave, Uhura glanced back over her shoulder. If only Chris would set aside her feelings for Spock long enough to enjoy the company of another man now and then...

"Think she will be all right?" Sam asked Uhura once they were out of earshot. She caught her lover's hand and brought it to her lips, kissing it lightly. "Yes, I'm sure she'll be fine. Just like she said." She cut her eyes at him and gave him a small, devilish grin. "And now that's taken care of, what do you say we start enjoying our leave?"

* * *

Chapel waited until the couple disappeared from view, then turned and walked quickly for the perimeter of trees surrounding the designated beamdown point. It took only a moment to locate the path she was looking for and after one last, hurried glance over her shoulder to make sure there was no one about to see, she started into the forest. Chapel walked for almost a kilometer through softly rustling woodland before coming to a large tamarque tree with a triangle carved shallowly in its russet-orange bark. She stared at the mark for a moment, then took a deep breath and stepped for the well-traveled path.

As she walked, she paused now and then to search for a familiar landmark, but nothing touched her memory. It was just a forest in the heavy bloom of late spring with a wide variety of trees, occasional wildflowers and here and there, a smattering of rocky hillocks and large boulders. After several more meters, she stopped completely to take her bearings and sigh her annoyance out loud. She had an undeniably lousy sense of direction. Her first weeks aboard the Enterprise had been punctuated with many embarrassing moments when she would find herself other than where she was supposed to be. Looking back on it now, it seemed silly that she could have ever gotten lost. But in her defense, the Enterprise was a big ship.

She came out of her memories with a jolt as something to the left caught her eye. Focusing in on the object, she felt herself begin to relax. So, she hadn't been lost after all. She felt excitement and anticipation race through her system as she walked over to a large outcrop of starkly white boulders and began searching around the base. Within moments, she found the opening she was looking for, obscured by a thick, prickly bush and sweeping the branches aside, she ducked into a natural tunnel of foliage and rock.

Chapel emerged from the brief passage into a world of soft greens and solitude. Forest sounds from the outside were muffled here and sunlight filtered through tightly woven tree branches overhead with a mute radiance. Directly in front of her, delicately petaled wildflowers crowded their violet heads together in a perfect semi-circle around a pond of water so clear, she could see the tiny silver fish and luminous waterbugs scurrying along the shallows in their daily pursuit of survival. And beyond that... Her breath caught in her throat. On the far side of the pond stood a tall, lanky Vulcan, his hands clasped loosely behind his back, as was his custom. He had been standing completely still, but turned at her soft footfall even as she parted her lips to call his name.

"Spock?"

"I was beginning to suspect you had been delayed on the ship." He released his hands and walked toward her.

Chapel shook her head. "No, I had to convince Uhura and Sam that I didn't need babysitting. It wasn't easy, but I think I managed to avoid arousing their suspicions. Uhura is very quick to pick up on things."

"Indeed," Spock agreed dryly. No doubt she had 'other' things on her mind," he added with a trace of a smile.

"No doubt," Chapel nodded, looking away a little shyly. For a long moment neither spoke or moved until the tension became almost awkward. Finally, Spock held out his hand to her. "Come."

Chapel reached to take it, then hesitated.

"Christine," Spock admonished lightly, "We are together for this time. That is all that need concern us now. All that lies beyond these boundaries... the people, the responsibilities... have ceased to exist for us in this time. Do not concern yourself. I give you my word no one need ever know... if that is still your wish."

Chapel looked up at him, studying his face. Over the years, she had come to know many of his expressions, no matter how subtle. This one read patience and understanding. "God, if anyone ever found out..." She shuddered. "It is still my wish."

He nodded and once again held his hand out to her. A little embarrassed, she took it and knew immediately at the warmth of his touch that this is where she wanted to be... desperately need to be. A ghost of a smile played at the corners of Spock's mouth as he curled his fingers around hers to bring them to his lips. "If we are to be 'immoral'," he said in a voice uniquely sensual, "Then, by all means, let us be so properly."

Heart pounding, Chapel slipped her arms around his waist and leaned in against his chest. "You can afford to joke. And don't tell me Vulcans don't jest," she added swiftly, sensing he was about to protest. "I know better. It's just that... sometimes I wonder if what we're doing is right. Yet at the same time, I wonder how long it will be before we're together again. Does that make sense to you?" She fell silent as Spock stroked her temple.

"Totally illogical. You worry too much," he rumbled against her ear. "Do not."

Chapel pulled back to stare up into his warm, dark eyes, trying to fathom the expression there. "Before another moment can slip by us."

Spock returned her gaze, his features softening. Bringing his arms more tightly about her, he leaned down to kiss her, his hand bracing the nape of her neck. A moment later, her hair fell from its prim bun to fall halfway down her back.

To Chapel he tasted at once familiar and strange. She became aware of one of his strong, graceful hands gliding across the tops of her shoulders to the hidden clasp of her uniform. The seam fell away easily, and although she knew what to expect, she was still startled by the hot touch of his hand against her cool, moist skin. Spock broke the kiss, leaving them both breathing a little unevenly.

"Second thoughts?" The rough edge of his voice told her what he wanted the answer to be.

"None."

Taking Chapel by the hand, Spock led her to a bed of long sweet-smelling grasses beside the little pond. They undressed quickly and quietly, unabashedly watching one another as part of the erotic foreplay, then lay down beside their discarded uniforms. Propping his weight on one elbow, Spock pulled Chapel beneath him, covering the length of her body with his own. As he pressed against her, Chapel took his face between her palms and smiled up at him. "I love you, Spock," she whispered. The dreaded response did not come, as she knew it wouldn't. Not in this place.

Instead, he kissed her lightly on the forehead and said, simply, "I am pleased." Then he kissed her again, deeply, as one hand caressed her breast, then slid lingeringly down her body to part her thighs. She acquiesced eagerly, allowing his touch to explore without restraint until she thought she could bear it no longer. When he finally entered her, she moaned her pleasure out loud and abandoned herself to the rhythmic thrusting of his lovemaking.

Later, she snuggled down close to his warmth, totally relaxed and fighting the desire to sleep. "Spock, don't let me fall asleep," she said drowsily. "We have so little time."

As she struggled to stifle a yawn, Spock adjusted his position to hold her closer and gently smoothed back a stray wisp of hair from her forehead. "There is time enough," he assured her quietly. "I will be here when you awaken."

Eyes closed, Chapel sighed. "Will you make love to me then?"

"Yes."

* * *

Like their other times together, it was a joyous three days for Chapel. They made love often... sometimes lazily and tenderly, but more often with a passionate urgency as the fear of time slipping away would seize her. They swam nude and unashamed in the crystal waters of the pond and she laughed at Spock's chattering teeth and flushed green skin. It gave her an excuse to warm him. At mealtimes, they added sweet, ripe fruit to their rations from the trees that walled in their fortress from reality, then they would curl up together for a nap and consequent love-making.

Too soon, the morning of the fourth day arrived and Chapel was awakened by a persistent, high-frequency beeping. Disoriented, it took her a moment to realize from what and where the noise was coming. She groped beneath the pile of clothing beside hers and Spock's makeshift bed, then flipped open the grid of her communicator as her hand re-emerged.

"Chapel here."

"Christine? This is Kathy Ames. You asked me to contact you before you were due back on duty. Remember?"

Chapel brushed her hand over her eyes and sighed. Where had the time gone? "Yes, thank you, Kathy. How much longer do I have?"

"You're due to report at 0800 hours, just under three hours ship's time."

"All right. I'll be there. And thanks again, Kathy. Chapel out."

Chapel snapped the communicator shut and tossed it irreverently on top of her uniform. She glanced down at the man lying beside her and found Spock watching her face expectantly.

"You will be returning to the ship soon." It was a statement, not a question.

"Yes."

He nodded, accepting the news with his usual calm. He reached up and pulled her back down beside him. "But not for two hours and forty-seven more minutes." Almost absently, he began caressing her. When he spoke again, his voice was subdued, yet stern. "Do not waste your time on regrets, Christine. It is illogical."

Chapel looked at him sharply. Had there been a trace of bitterness there? She closed her eyes and sighed. No, that was impossible... totally, completely impossible. "Yes, you're right. There's always time for regrets... later."

Their lovemaking this last time was infinitely tender, yet more intense than even the first time. It was as if he sensed in her the pain of the coming departure and shared with her the dread of all the lonely nights to come.

Abruptly, the time to linger came to an end. Chapel dressed quickly and smoothed her hair back into the bun at the nape of her neck. When she turned to face Spock, he, too, was once again dressed in science blue. But, of course, he wouldn't be going back with her. Chapel moved forward and placed a hand against his cheek. "Even though I'll see you often, I'll still miss you." She smiled, trying to hide the slight tremor in her voice.

Spock, her Spock, smiled and caught her hand in his own. "There will be other times like this, Christine. If you wish."

She nodded, tears spilling over her onto her cheeks. "I ... do," she breathed. Suddenly, she cleared her throat and straightened up, wiping away the tears with the back of her hand. "I have to go now or there will be hell to pay."

"I know."

Awkwardly, she leaned forward and kissed him, then swiftly pulled away. "Next time?"

"I will be here," he promised.

Chapel nodded, then without looking back, turned and ducked into the passage.

* * *

Spock walked into sickbay feeling relaxed and magnanimous enough to take on even the crotchety McCoy in a game of chess, especially since the Captain was still planetside, enjoying leave. But McCoy was nowhere to be found. In fact, sickbay was curiously deserted. There should be at least one medtech or nurse around. With raised brow, Spock turned to leave just as Christine Chapel hurried through the doors, deeply engrossed in a report she carried. Spock sidestepped smoothly, barely in time to avoid a collision.

"Oh!" Chapel looked up, startled, then blushed a dark pink. "Ex... excuse me, Mr. Spock. I wasn't expecting anyone to be here."

"Quite all right, Ms. Chapel," Spock nodded politely. "Do you know the whereabouts of Dr. McCoy?"

Chapel moved past him to the desk, depositing the report. "I'm afraid not, Mr. Spock, but I know he's onboard somewhere. If you'd like, I can try to trace him down for you." She spoke without raising her eyes to look at him.

"That will not be necessary. It was nothing of importance." Spock turned to leave, then hesitated, glancing back at Chapel as she went about her work with more intensity than usual. She appeared vitally healthy with fresh color to her cheeks and lips; the normal lines around her mouth and eyes were almost unnoticeable. She looked up suddenly, catching him watching her. There was an odd, almost fearful look in her eyes and she smiled tentatively.

"Was there something else, sir? A message, perhaps?"

"No..." Spock paused, then cleared his throat. "I was just noticing that you... appear to have benefitted from your stay on the Shore Leave planet."

Chapel stared blankly at him a moment, then blushing again, averted her eyes and shrugged. "I did indeed, sir. It is a most enjoyable place." She walked past him toward one of the units, then paused in the doorway and looked back. "You know, sir," she said very seriously, "You should try it sometime."

Without waiting for a response, she ducked quickly into the other room.

Spock stared a few moments after her, then slowly, ever so subtly, a smile curled the corner of his lips. "But I have, Christine. I have."

THE END