DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Mandi Schultz and Cheryl Rice and is copyright (c) 1980 by Mandi Schultz and Cheryl Rice. Rated PG13. Originally published in Alpha Continuum #4, 1980

A "Diamonds and Rust" Story

Year of the Cat

Mandi Schultz and Cheryl Rice

"On a morning from a Bogart movie

In a country where they turn back time...

She comes out of the sun in a silk dress

Moving like a watercolor in the rain.

Don't bother asking for explanations

She'll just tell you that she came in the

Year of the Cat."

(Song lyrics by Al Stewart and Peter Wood (c) by Janus Records 1976

His back was to her as she stepped onto the bridge through the opened doors of the turbolift, forgetting the man who stood beside her as the hum of activity suddenly surrounding her overwhelmed her senses. Here at last, she thought. She knew the man in the conrmand chair must be Kirk. Surely with the Enterprise on yellow alert, that is where he would be.

The introductions were hasty at best and except for a sudden widening of his eyes she might have thought she had made no impression at all. Her job precluded the necessity of that, but her vanity protested.

James T. Kirk, man-about-the-galaxy... "Tomcat", Paul Caidan had called him. How odd, she mused, inconspicuously studying the face that was now turned in speech to the saturnine Vulcan standing beside him. She noted the Captain could use a shave, do to lose some weight, and frankly, to her tastes, was not all that interesting as far as his appearance was concerned. Though he was seated she was sure he would be noticeably shorter than she. Still, something caught her inner attention, tugged a bit, and forced her to consider him. His eyes ... hazel with a twinkle, a spark...

The ship's surgeon was taking her arm and preparing to lead her away. Just as she stepped back, Kirk smiled at her. He has the most beautiful smile I have ever seen in a human male, she suddenly found herself thinking. Now, that is foolish, he is your commanding officer, nothing more, and one who is not likely to become overly fond of you.

But that smile...

He looked up, annoyed at being interrupted, to acknowledge the introduction and make some kind of perfunctory comment to the new crewman ... and immediately forgot what he was going to say. Towering next to him, blond hair plaited like a halo around her head, the new Security Chief smiled politely. Lt. Chantal Caberfae. Yes, he vaguely remembered receiving notice of her transfer to the Enterprise but crew members, especially in Security, arrived and departed so hastily at times that he tried to think about it as little as possible. He noted, for future reference, that the tailored look of her apparel somehow did not match the nearly exotic face, and his eyes strayed to the six-fingered hand that casually brushed a loose strand of hair behind an ear. He felt reluctant to meet her gaze ... and that embarrassed him. Spock, on his other side, seemed to be awaiting a chance to speak ... saved again.

He heard only part of whatever Spock was saying, being suddenly aware of a subtle perfume ... it must be hers. Raising a hand to stop the Vulcan momentarily, he turned to Chantal again, only to see her stepping away with McCoy. She looked in his direction suddenly, as if she had felt his eyes. Reflexively, he smiled. She seemed surprised, off guard for an instant, then returned the gesture with a smile of her own. Even her eyes, gleaming green as tourmaline, seemed to do so.

* * *

Chantal was running towards him, the sunlight playing on her hair that seemed to follow her on the wind like a platinum cloud. In the breeze her long dress clung to the shape of her body ... outlining the small, pert breasts, fitting against the gently swelling hips, across the flat plane of belly, like an iridescent skin along her muscular thighs.

She stopped a short distance from him and held her arms to the sky as if in worship. Kirk, lying in the lush vermillion grass beneath the outstreched boughs of what must have been a tree, watched her, an ache in his heart as well as his groin as she spun in a circle under the crisp yellow sky in a childlike dance of delight.

Then she joined him, stretching herself out next to him and humming a strangely compelling tune. He propped himself up on one arm to look at her. Her eyes were closed against the light though the dark lashes trembled ever so slightly. Her glorious silver-gold hair was fanned out behind her head ... molten glow against the dark vegetation. The soft material of her dress, myriad pastels, covered her like so much mist, rising and falling gently across her breasts as she breathed. His own breath felt labored.

With his free hand he reached for the fastenings of the bodice, silently cursing the inconveniences of fashion's dictates. The cloth fell away from her body to expose the golden skin beneath ... always cool to touch. Yet that touch was inviting, full of promise.

He pressed a kiss to the base of her throat and felt her sigh ... her eyes still closed. His hand replaced his lips, trailing gently down the front of her body between her breasts. He reveled in the touch, the feel of the cool skin beneath his palm.

She shifted, turning her body to face his ... pressing close. The six-fingered left hand slid down his thigh and back again, then to the front of his trousers. He felt himself quicken to her caress. The rest of her garment slipped away as she unclothed him. Flesh against cool flesh, they kissed...

The sound of the chronometer pierced his sleep like a banshee's wail. Kirk, bathed in sweat, woke with a heart-wrenching start ... cursing the darkness and the emptiness.

"She doesn't give you time for questions

as she links up your arm in hers

And you follow till your sense of which direction

Completely disappears.

There's a hidden door she leads you to

These days, she says, I feel my life

Just like a river running through

the Year of the Cat."

She loves me, she loves me not, she loves me, I love her not.

I don't you know. Not in the least. I haven't the time for love. I haven't... The least I can do is be positive when I'm talking to myself. I have obligations, commitments. Over four hundred people depend, rely on me. Sometimes it feels like all of creation.

I can't help but wonder if tempests surround her wherever she goes. God knows we've had our share since she came aboard. Why is she always in the middle of everything? Why do I resent her for it? Why does Spock blame her for everything? Not that he comes right out and says so, but I can hear it in his choice of words when he talks about her. He doesn't like her. Well, there has to be something wrong with her if Spock doesn't approve. He's the most rational person I know. Most of the time.

No beach to walk on, no time to hold her hand and simply talk to her about things that don't matter or about things that might. I have to be here. I have to beware. I can't let anything distract me any more. I'm losing myself to so many things. I'm losing time. I'm losing ... me. I never thought I'd ever be thinking about something more than this ... all my life this was the goal, the achievement. Was it another Jim Kirk who wanted all these things that this Jim Kirk wishes now would just go away for awhile? I'm so tired ... tired of being everything to everybody. Tired of being completely responsible. Tired of all those eyes turned to me so confident that I can handle anything that might hurt us all. Was it another me who had thought I could?

Trying not to think about her is thinking about her, dammit. She's a woman, like any other. The only way to get her out of my system is to have her.

"Sweet lady, sweet lady, with hair of white-gold,

You make a man fevered, you make a man bold..."

Who wrote that? Second-hand words ... for a second-hand life. There must be something more than this if I'm thinking about it so much. But what does it matter... I'll only think about it.

Her eyes... Where have I seen... I remember now, the time on Esablia Three when they let me see the Hyfa Vane. It was hard to believe that three planets had gone to war over its ownership, even though it did look like an emerald the size of an ostrich egg. But who am I to tell people what to want? They practically worshipped that thing. I never was too sure if it was so holy because of its size or the glow it had. I'd heard about it, but seeing it for myself ... that unearthly. No, that's not the word I want. Ethereal, that's it. Deeper than emerald but still perfectly clear. Like her eyes.

When I can manage to look directly into them... That's something that seems to be happening less frequently all the time. Just being in the same room with her makes me twitchy. Like those Vane-green eyes were watching me constantly for errors so that she could so superiorly point them out to me. Or even worse, if they aren't watching me at all.

I used to have radar for women like her. Something gave me warning and I could veer off before I foundered. Now I'm being sucked into a whirlpool even before the alarm is sounding. But what am I trying to save?

I feel like a complete idiot. Like I'm sixteen again. Like I'm older than the stars. I feel like the last time I went diving and came up too fast, blood pounding in my ears.

I have to resolve all this. Wish there were someone I could talk it over with. Bones ... maybe? Spock? Easy, Jim ... Get serious. Think of it this way ... She's a woman, just like any other one. The way to get over her is to have her and put her aside. There's nothing special about her, not really.

There's nothing special about me, either. What makes me think she'd want me?

* * *

He's a man ... he's a human man ... He's the man in the hero suit. Tom cat. Tomcat ... Captain ... Jim.

There's no future to thinking like this. He can never know the truth, he can never know he does not know the truth. A relationship built on lies is like a sand-palace against the tide ... no foundations, no hope.

But I have not felt such deep feelings before ... so many emotions. Many times the major one has been pity. I would not trade places with him far ... for the Hyfa Vane itself. The toll his obligations take on him. I swear I can see him age. Selfless devotion demands extreme sacrifice. I wonder how often he realizes that one day they will take this tribute to technology away from him and he will be a lonely old man with nothing to show for all his devotion and sacrifice but command braid and some medals. Assuming he lives to see old age at all.

I have not added to his peaceful existence. "Kirk makes things happen," Caidan told me. So does Caberfae, that is my job. Perhaps it is fortunate that our "partnership" is to be of short duration. the galaxy will be the better for it. Still ... what grand cataclysms we could create, what debacles.

His eyes sometime show all the sorrow of the world. I have never in my life seen sadder eyes on any being ... even when he smiles. It is there below the surface. Such a complex combination of traits and inclinations. Tomcat ... with a sentimental streak a parent would be embarrassed by. A starship captain with a position of utmost responsibility and authority. A gamesman who takes the kind of chances no sane man should. A daredevil who is yet the most cautious gambler. A wise man with a wildly boyish nature. A young man growing old and burning out before his time. Few things are sadder than an idealist faced with reality. And to have only a Vulcan for a true friend ... worse than sad. Oh, be honest with yourself, woman, or have you forgotten how over the years? Would you feel this way about the Vulcan if he had not made it clear his "feelings" about you? Somehow he senses how out of place you are. I am, true. But where do I belong? How fair is it to think of him as being jealous when in reality...

But I have my job, follow orders like a soldier. He is one too and I have known many soldiers. But he is different somehow. (Tomcat!)

It is bad to daydream ... must not fall into the habit. Distractions can be deadly. Still there are times when I must catch myself thinking of the fields of flame-grass on Vesta, fired by the brilliant sky, rich violet waves lapping against the coastline ... so beautiful, so lonely ... Jim ....Tomcat.

Captain, Captain James T. Kirk of the Starship Enterprise. My commanding officer, at least for the time being. Nothing more. I am agent Alpha 2. Alphas have an estimated capacity for peak function of nine years. I too am growing old and burning out before my time.

Why do I shudder inside when I see him? Why am I grateful for a friendly word, a casual smile? Why do I find myself making cutting remarks when all I want to do is help? Why does it pain me to add one more lie to those I have already told him? Why do I care that the Enterprise is the harshest mistress? No, I will not admit it, not even to myself. He is only a man and there have been so many.

Perhaps these feelings are from being around humans too much. Spock is right. They are most illogically emotional and sentimental. Love ... sex, mating I mean, is for enjoyment. Pleasure not pain. But he is so very alone and so am I.

What was that bit of poetry Christine recited that time? "Promises to keep and miles to go before we sleep." Miles to go... Must all of them be traveled alone?

"She looks at you so cooly

And her eyes shine like the moon in the sea

She comes in incense and patchouli

So you take her to find what's waiting inside

the Year of the Cat."

Chantal stood on the other side of the room, next to his bed. He felt embarrassed by the fact that he had a strong desire to simply stand where he was and fill his eyes with her. It seemed strange that the misery he had experienced for so long, all that night, all those long months, had lifted so quickly and completely.

The silence was touched with the tinkling of small bells as she began to remove the blue and silver dancing costume she wore. She had danced for him the betrothal ceremony of her people. He felt his breath catch as he watched her, noting with some amusement that his infatuation had not created a mental picture of her nudity that would pale with reality. Her body almost glowed in the half-light of the cabin, as though her skin were lightly covered with gold. Slender arms moved gracefully as she disrobed, revealing small, firm breasts, almost boyish hips, trimly muscular legs. An athletic form, but soft somehow. Unlike most women he had known, she was totally devoid of body hair. Holding the sole remaining veil to her with one hand, she extended the other to him. Kirk darkened the room.

Her eyes adjusted more quickly than normal to the almost non-existant light level. The trembling that she had experienced during their conversation was gradually replaced by an incredible calm. Under the circumstances it perplexed her somewhat. There was a time, she thought, when this would have been impossible to even contemplate. Now only the lack of it was such. She wondered what had crossed his mind while he silently watched her undress. Men have thought me beautiful, she recalled, but if that is true, then beauty is one of the saddest things in the universe. I want only one to think me so. Was he pleased or disappointed when he saw me?

As Kirk stepped closer, the dim light touched lightly on his bared torso. His arms looked strong, evenly muscled, and she was sure that he had lost the weight she had thought unneccesary when she first met him. His chest was broad and pleasingly smooth, unlike the males of her race who were hirsute. As he walked toward her, the veil she was holding drifted to the floor. With a gesture gallant, deferential, and bold, he swept her up in his arms then placed her on the bed, settling himself beside her.

Their eyes met first. Chantal extended a slightly hesistant hand and touched his face lightly. His hand stroked her hair as it surrounded her shoulders in a shimmering cape. He kissed her lightly at first, watching her eyes close. Their lips met again and parted as he felt her body relax in his encircling arms. He wondered at the coolness her body possessed and why it felt so comforting to him. His hands reveled in the satin-touch of her flesh as they moved freely to fondle her, his urgency tempered by the sheer pleasure of wanting to prolong this moment ... to savor all its nuances. Her nipples hardened under his fingertips, then his lips while his hands moved on. She returned his tactile endearments with an ardour that delighted him ... not shy, not hesitant. It was as though she knew instinctively what would most please him. He felt her fingers trace intricate patterns on his back as he slid lower, leaving a trail of kisses as he moved. She pressed closer as his tongue met her, acknowledging her womanhood's taste and texture ... rather like buttered bread, he thought. She gasped, then sighed, somehow moving even closer against him.

Unable to resist, he raised his head to look at her face ... eyes closed, lips parted, her breathing quickened. He thought that perhaps there really was no power, no ability, that was more basically important than this, to please one's beloved. Her eyes opened and she smiled at him, opening her arms wide. As he moved closer to her, she wrapped her arms around his waist and he felt her soft, moist lips engulf him. Tremors pulsed through his body and he forced himself to regiment his thoughts in order to balance the sudden surges welling within. As his mental barriers eroded, he put his hands to her shoulders and gently pushed her away. She smiled, triumphant, and as they embraced he eased her back against the bed. Chantal extended a hand to guide him, raising herself up as they joined, her legs around his waist. Their bodies moved in harmony, slowly, evenly ... then faster. Suddenly he heard her cry out, one sharp sudden sound, and felt her muscles clenching and contracting around him. His thrusts increased spasmodically then as she clung to him.

Kirk balanced his weight on his arms, drinking in the look on her face. Her six-fingered hand reached out and tugged at his arm, urging him to relax and so he settled his weight against her carefully.

"You will not hurt me," she insisted finally. "The other position cannot be very comfortable." Her eyes were still closed as she spoke. Then her hands came up around him and cuddled his head against her bosom.


"Ssssshhhhh..." Her fingers gently stroked his cheek.

He thought again that he was right. There was no power greater than this.

"When the morning comes and you're still with her

And the bus and the tourists are gone,

And you've thrown away your choice and lost your ticket

So you have to stay on.

But the drumbeat strains of the night remain

In the rhythm of the newborn day

You know some time you're bound to leave her

But for now you remain in

the Year of the Cat."