An Accident of Diplomacy
CRASH! The vase of Dorelian orchids went flying past Christine's head.
*Dammit!* she thought frantically, *when I said I wanted him to be more
emotional, this is not quite what I had in mind.*
Ducking to avoid a poorly thrown wineglass, Christine scooted behind one of
the pillars in the living area she was sharing with Spock. She peeked
around the corner, only to find herself in danger from a bunch of roasted
"Spock, for god's sake. Calm down! And stop throwing things."
Her request was met with heavy breathing but mercifully no more
projectiles. She moved cautiously out from her hiding place. Spock was
sitting on the floor, knees drawn up to his chin, arms wrapped around them.
He was rocking back and forth, muttering.
*This is not good.* Christine thought desperately back over the past few
days on the planet trying to pinpoint the cause for this outburst. It had
been nothing more than a routine diplomatic stop for the Enterprise. She
had not even planned to be part of the landing party. She remembered McCoy
finagling his way out of the trip..
"Christine, m'dear, tell your old friend Leonard that you'd love to take
his place on this courtesy call to yet another "we just got warp capability
and we want to be your friend" planet. Please?"
She looked at him puzzled. "You usually love these things. You always
bitch and moan about going, but you invariably come back relaxed and
smiling. So why don't you want to go?"
"I just think it would be good if you had the chance, that's all."
Christine racked her brain for an explanation as to why McCoy would prefer
to stay on the ship. She started to chuckle as she visualized about 5 foot
4 inches of red-haired reason. "You finally got a date with Carol Sauers
didn't you? For tonight, you sly devil!"
McCoy spread his hands in innocent defeat. "You got me, Chris. She said
yes, after weeks of resisting my not inconsiderable charms I might add.
And it just so happens that our schedules work best tonight. Please say
you'll go. Jim needs a medical representative on the delegation, but it
doesn't have to be me. It'll be a nice break for you."
"I don't know, Leonard. I don't really enjoy these things."
McCoy nodded in defeat, but continued to wheedle as he said, "Ok. If you
don't want to. I don't suppose it will sway you in the least to say that
Mr. Spock is leading the mission? Three days on a planet, with him?"
"With him and about 10 other people, you relentless jerk!" A smile
softened her words. "All right, I'll go. But for you and Carol. Not
because Spock is going. He won't even know I'm there. Or at least he'll
never show he knows I'm there. Just once I'd like to see him express some
"Wouldn't we all, darlin'." McCoy steered her toward the door. "You have
some packing to do, I believe?"
She mock scowled at him. "Yeah. And don't think you don't owe me,
He stood beaming at her as the doors closed behind her. *Well,* she
thought, *at least one of us should get lucky once in a while!*
Squaring her shoulders she made her way to her quarters. She wasted little
time in packing her dress uniform, some off-duty apparel, and the few
toiletries she would need. She assessed her satchel, *This is a dull
assortment of clothing.* Mentally shrugging she closed up the bag and made
her way to the transporter room.
As the door opened she saw that most of the landing party had already
assembled but the First Officer had not arrived yet. She smiled at several
other members of the team then turned as the door opened. Kirk and Spock
walked in. Kirk looked puzzled at seeing Christine there.
"I was expecting Dr. McCoy to be on this mission, Miss Chapel. I trust he
"No sir. He was kind enough to give me this opportunity. Unless you
object?" She knew he wouldn't and his hasty assurances ended the matter.
The landing party split into two groups for beam down. Christine found
herself in the first one, standing next to Spock.
"Mr. Spock," she deliberately caught his gaze.
"Nurse," he acknowledged, then turned away.
*Like I don't even exist,* she inwardly fumed, even as she kept her
expression even. *What would it take to break through that wall of Vulcan
As the Captain wished them a safe trip and gave the command to transport
them to the planet surface, Christine snuck another look at Spock. *What
would it take?* she wondered again.
"What the hell is this?"
Christine's turned her gaze from Spock to see a human female striding
angrily toward their landing party. Glancing at Spock she saw momentary
confusion in his expression. The woman walked up to Christine, barely
sparing a look at the others in the party.
"What the hell were you thinking? Bringing all these men? And why are you
in your uniform. I told you to wear pants or robes. Didn't you even read
Christine knew her mouth was open but she was unsure how to respond to the
woman. Spock saved her the trouble.
"I am in charge of this delegation, ma'am. I assume you are Ambassador
Mara Wilcox? I am Commander Spock, first officer of the USS Enterprise."
"*You* are in charge? Oh this is great. Just great. I can't believe
this! They didn't even read my reports did they? And none of you have a
clue what I'm going on about, right? Stupid, bureaucratic, stuffed shirts
wouldn't know a cultural specificity report from a stick up their ass. God
I am so sick of this."
*Wow,* Christine thought, impressed with the woman's ability to rant. She
could see Spock readying a response. Knowing from experience the effect
his words of reason could have, she decided to act before he could say
anything. He gave her a startled look as she took the Ambassador's arm and
moved her away from the landing party. She stopped once she was out of
range of everyone's hearing but Spock's.
"Mara? I can call you Mara, right? I'm Christine Chapel. I'm second in
command on this mission," from out of the corner of her eye she saw Spock
react to this exaggeration. "You're absolutely right. Those idiots at
Command didn't give us the full poop. But we can work this. Just tell us
what we need to do."
The ambassador sighed heavily. "Christine, I sent four volumes worth of
material on the Dorelian social structure. I have spent two years
observing this planet's culture, researching their customs. I sent it all
in. I can't believe they didn't even read it."
*This is going nowhere, fast,* Christine realized. She motioned Spock
over. His look when he came up to stand next to her was uncertain. *Well,
at least I surprised him. Surprise is an emotion, right?*
"Mara," Christine brought the Ambassador's attention back to the matter at
hand. "Tell us what we need to do to make this work?"
"First off, this is a matriarchal culture. You are no longer second in
command, Christine, you're in charge. Commander, I'm demoting you. And
secondly, all these other men, they just won't do. I want them sent back
up to the ship."
"Ambassador," Spock protested. "They are all professionals, they will
conduct themselves in a seemly way I assure you."
"No." Wilcox said firmly. "I'll have my hands full bringing you and
Christine up to speed. They must go."
"I don't think."
She interrupted his argument. "Either they go, or I go. It's that
Christine watched as the two appeared to have an old fashioned stare-down.
Then Spock reached for his communicator.
"This is Commander Spock, Ensign Ward. Do not send down the second part of
the team. And beam up all members of the first team except for Miss Chapel
"You have your orders, ensign."
"Aye aye, sir." The familiar hum of the transporter sounded as the rest of
the landing party disappeared.
Christine could have sworn she heard sarcasm in Spock's voice as he said,
"Is there anything else required before we proceed, Ambassador?"
She shot him an irritated look. "Yes, her uniform is completely wrong."
"What precisely is *wrong* with it?" Spock sounded annoyed now.
"Four frigging volumes of information," Wilcox muttered. "There is nothing
really wrong with the uniform itself. It is the fact that it shows so much
of her body and yours shows so little of yours, which makes it appear that
you have more power. That will never do. The two of you need to be
similarly attired. It will show you are equals. So either she changes
into pants, or you both wear robes, or *you* could try wearing that short
skirt, Commander Spock?"
Christine laughed out loud before she could stop herself. A half glare
from Spock only set her off more. "I think you'd look lovely in high
heels, Mr. Spock."
"Somehow, I doubt that, Nurse." He spoke into his communicator. "Prepare
to beam up Miss Chapel."
She looked at him uncertainly, *Is he sending me to the woodshed?* she
"Go and procure a standard male officer's uniform, Miss Chapel. Make sure
to put Commander's insignia on it. And please hurry."
The Ambassador interjected, "You better get used to calling her Christine,
Spock. The Dorelians aren't big on titles. And while you're at it, call
"As you wish." Spock was stiff as he turned to Christine. "*Christine,*
you are ready?"
She nodded and he gave the order. Once back on board she rushed off the
transporter pad and made her way to ship's stores. The confused yeoman
helped her find a uniform that would fit her and outfit it to be a
duplicate of Spock's. As she made her way to the changing room, the young
man said, "I don't understand, ma'am."
"I'm sorry, yeoman, I don't have time to explain."
She rushed back to the transporter room and ordered the bewildered Ensign
Ward to send her back to the planet. Ambassador Wilcox nodded approval
when she saw her. She motioned them toward the buildings in the distance.
As they set off, she began to brief them, "Christine, you're going to have
to really be in charge for this to work. Don't look at Spock for approval,
or you'll give the whole thing away. There won't be any major decisions
required. You are purely representational so you only have to get through
three days of feasting and ceremonies. Just watch how the Dorelians treat
each other. Take your cue from them. And Spock, loosen up a bit." At his
sound of protest, she continued, "I know you're a Vulcan, but just try,
Christine looked at Spock in sympathy. He visibly sighed. "I shall try,
"That's good, Spock, it almost sounded natural." Christine tried to
encourage him. She got a severe look for her trouble.
The ambassador ignored them as she continued, "Oh and just one more thing.
The Dorelians are very strict about interactions between women and men. To
allow you to attend all the ceremonies, Spock, you and Christine will have
to pretend to be married."
Wilcox kept walking, oblivious to Spock and Christine who had both stopped
dead in their tracks.
"Married?" Christine gulped.
"*How* married?" Spock asked.
The ambassador looked at him incredulously, "Well for god's sake, Spock, I
don't mean you have to make a baby while the two of you are down here.
You'll just have to share a room, which tend to be enormous here, so you
probably won't even have to lay eyes on each other if you don't want to.
Just make sure that the morning and evening maids don't see any evidence
that you two aren't sleeping together. The Dorelians place a premium on
intimacy, they won't trust you two if they think you sleep apart."
Both Spock and Christine still looked somewhat shell-shocked. Wilcox urged
them impatiently, "Come on. You two are Starfleet professionals. You are
trained to deal with difficult situations. Well this is one, so deal with
it. Now let's go!"
The ambassador set off. Christine looked at Spock. "Say something?" she
asked somewhat desperately.
He took a deep breath. "We will get through this, Christine. We will do
fine. And, it could be worse."
"Yeah," Christine offered helpfully, "I could be McCoy."
She could have sworn that Spock's eyes glimmered for a moment with humor
before a stern look took over his features. "Yes, that would be worse.
Now, I suggest we catch up with the Ambassador."
They both jogged up to Wilcox. "All set then?" she asked quietly.
"As set as we're gonna be," Christine muttered as the gates of the Dorelian
capital approached. A group of people stepped out from the doorway of the
nearest building. A woman of indeterminate age and regal bearing began to
"Mara, you bring us the federation delegation? We are honored. But we are
surprised to see only two people?"
The ambassador struck a tone halfway between conciliatory and imperious.
"May I present, Christine Chapel of Earth, commander of this delegation and
noted healer and her spouse, Spock of Vulcan, skilled science officer and
second in command to his wife. Christine, Spock, may I present Herlama,
head of the Dorelian ruling council. Herlama, the delegation is small in
number because between them Christine and Spock have the talents of scores
of lesser Federation officers. I have faith that you will find them more
than sufficient as representatives of the Federation."
Herlama stepped closer to Christine, who forced herself to present a
relaxed and confident demeanor. Her eyes met Herlama's and she
concentrated on not looking away from the other woman's powerful gaze.
*I'm in charge, I'm in charge, I'm in charge,* she repeated as if it were a
mantra. Finally, satisfied, Herlama put her hand on Christine's shoulder.
"It is a pleasure to welcome you and your spouse to our planet. I would be
pleased to show you to your rooms where you can rest for a bit before the
official ceremony of welcoming begins."
Christine nodded her assent and they followed Herlama and the group through
several levels of the building until they finally were led into a huge
room, luxuriously furnished and filled with food and drinks.
Herlama after a cursory check to make sure the arrangements met with her
approval turned back to Christine and the ambassador. "Christine, Mara, I
will see you at the ceremony." Completely ignoring Spock she left the
room, her retinue following after her.
*Now it's as if *he* doesn't exist,* Christine thought gleefully. Then
felt guilty for the sentiment.
Mara seemed to read her mind. "It's natural for them to ignore the
husbands. While they serve varied roles in the home, in public men are
largely decorative and are rarely acknowledged when there are no other
spouses present." She turned to Spock, "It's their way."
"I find it somewhat difficult to accept being irrelevant," Spock admitted.
*You'll get used to it,* Christine thought somewhat bitterly. *I did.*
Mara nodded. "I'll leave you then. You have roughly three hours to rest
up. Don't try to find your way around the building at first. It's a total
maze. Ring this bell about five minutes before you are ready to leave. A
maid will come up to escort you to the festival site. I'll be waiting
there for you."
She considered them, "It would help if you two could try to look at each
other every now and then. Christine you have the power here, you should
make an effort to touch him to show that you are including him in your
activities. And try to look.I don't know. more like you two like each
Both Christine and Spock looked uncomfortable with her suggestion. "Look,
I know this is tough. But just watch Herlama and her spouse, Mantim. She
is quite fond of him and will be a good person to mimic. And while you're
at it, check out the outfits people are wearing here. There will be time
to go shopping tomorrow before the second ceremony. I think it might be
more comfortable for the Dorelians and for you if you were dressed in their
fashions." She saw the skepticism in both sets of eyes, "Just observe
tonight, ok? Maybe you'll feel perfectly comfortable in the clothes you
have on. But maybe, just maybe, I'm right. Observe, yes?"
They both nodded obediently as she left the room. Christine marveled at
the woman's ability to make Spock mind. *I wonder if she gives lessons?*
Christine started to explore the room they had been assigned. Mara had not
been kidding. They could have slept at least twenty people in the space
given to the two of them. The luxury was unexpected and Christine found
herself looking forward to relaxing in the room. She glanced over at
Spock, who was still standing where Mara had left them.
"Spock, we've got three hours to kill before the ceremony. You might want
to rest or something?"
"I am fine, Nurse. You do not need to give me orders in private."
"I wasn't aware I had given you *any* orders yet, Spock? And call me
Christine. You heard what Mara said?"
"Indeed." Spock seemed to gather his thoughts, then moved to join her. "I
apologize Christine. I am finding this situation more difficult than I
originally anticipated. I am not completely sure why."
"From what I understand of Vulcan culture.the role of women, I mean.this
must be asking you to act completely counter to what you know?"
He looked at her puzzled, "I do not see the logic in your statement. T'Pau
is the leader of our house. I am quite accustomed to deferring to the
directions of a woman."
"Yes, but if I understand correctly, T'Pring should have become your
property? You gave her to Stonn, right? As property. And I have observed
Sarek and Amanda, she defers to him. So I think you take that for granted.
That in most situations you will be the one in charge."
"This is a very personal subject, Christine. I prefer not to discuss it
She shrugged, "Fine. I was just trying to say that I understand if this is
hard for you."
She moved toward the sleeping area of the room. A huge mattress was
covered with soft blankets and more pillows than Christine had ever seen in
one place. She sat down on the bed and yelped as she felt it move
underneath her. Spock moved quickly to help her but stopped short when she
started to laugh.
"You've got to try this, Spock! Sit down!"
He moved gingerly to the edge of the bed nearest him. His finger pushed
down on the mattress. His eyebrow raised as the mattress rolled at his
"Sit down, Spock. It is the strangest sensation."
He turned and lowered himself onto the bed. "Fascinating."
Christine started to bounce up and down. She saw him react as his side of
the bed started to move. "It's water, Spock. A *water* bed." She threw
herself backward, laughing as the waves began again. She looked up and was
shocked to see someone on the ceiling. *Oh my god.*
He was still sitting on the edge of the bed. Bouncing slightly to test the
"Why would you put a mirror on the ceiling? I mean hypothetically?"
He turned to look at her. Then followed her glance to the ceiling. "I
imagine it is covered somewhere in the Ambassador's four volumes. I admit,
I am at a loss to explain it."
"It's somewhat disconcerting, actually. I mean staring at your self like
this. Watching everything that goes on in bed.oh."
Spock had gone back to bouncing lightly. "You have arrived at a
Christine sat up and slid off the bed. "You don't want to know, Spock."
She ignored his raised eyebrow and moved to the other side of the room.
There was a simple bathroom off to the side, but the bulk of the space was
dominated by a sunken bath. A fountain in the middle kept the water fresh
and provided a soothing sound. Ledges submerged at different heights
rimmed the edge of the pool. *Somehow I doubt this is strictly for
She heard Spock's footsteps as he approached. "We will have no difficulty
staying clean," he noted. "It would appear that the Dorelians do not
require much privacy."
"Spock, I have a feeling there is usually more than one person in this
He appeared to give it some thought. Suddenly he looked back at the mirror
over the bed. She thought his complexion darkened slightly. "I see."
"Mara said the Dorelians were into intimacy. I guess this is just evidence
of that." His look was forbidding. Eager to change the subject, she
turned to the table laden with food. "So who's hungry, huh?"
With a last glance at the bath, Spock joined her at the table. It was
spread with delicacies. The smell of the food made Christine's mouth
water. She hadn't realized she was hungry. She pulled out her medical
tricorder and gave the food a quick scan. She took a plate for herself and
handed one to Spock. "We may as well eat something. Who knows if this
ceremony includes food."
She began to load up her plate. She was halfway down the table when she
realized Spock was staring at her with alarm. "What?"
"You have not eaten in a while?"
She snorted in derision. "Of course I have. I like to eat, Spock. Get
used to it."
Wisely he decided not to pursue the topic and began to help himself to the
vegetarian offerings on the table. He protested as she poured herself a
glass of the local wine. "I do not think it is wise to drink an
intoxicant, Christine. We could have a long night ahead of us."
"I scanned it, Spock. It is only slightly intoxicating. Besides I need to
relax. Maybe you should think about having some too?"
"I think I will meditate after I finish this meal. That will help me far
more than that wine."
"As you wish, Spock." She took her food over to one of the many couches
scattered around the room. He sat across from her and they ate in silence.
Christine found the food incredibly good, and pondered the wisdom of going
back for seconds. Looking at Spock's spartan selection of food, she
decided to forego another trip to the table. She settled back against the
pillows and studied Spock for a minute.
*This is too strange,* she thought as she let her eyes close. "Wake me
when it's time to go, Spock?"
She heard his assent as she drifted off.
Christine heard a voice calling her name. She groaned and turned to the
pillows, snuggling deeper into the couch.
"Christine, it is time to get ready."
"Just a few more minutes, Mom," she mumbled.
"Miss Chapel. I must insist you wake up."
She opened her eyes to see Spock leaning over her, a severely displeased
look on his face. "Five more minutes?" she pleaded.
"Now." His tone brooked no argument.
Muttering, Christine got off of the couch, grabbed her toiletries kit from
her carryall, and went into the bathroom. Staring into the mirror she did
a quick assessment. Her hair hadn't become too mussed, she touched the
back of her head and confirmed that she had avoided bed hair. *Good job,
Chapel. But the face.argghh.* In about five minutes she had repaired the
makeup that sleep had smeared and was ready to go.
Spock was standing near the door. "I took the liberty of ringing for the
"Good thinking." The doorbell rang and she moved to follow Spock out as
they let the young Dorelian lead them to the festivities. Christine found
herself grateful for the young man's assistance, she and Spock would never
have found their way out of the building in time. He left them at the
entrance to the grounds, bowing slightly as they thanked him.
"Right on time. Excellent." Mara walked up to them. Christine felt her
mouth drop open as she took in the other woman's appearance. The
ambassador was wearing an extremely short skirt, flat leather sandals, and
a top that left considerably more uncovered than covered. Judging from her
tan, and the lack of any lines, Christine surmised that she normally wore
much less. Wilcox caught her inspection and grinned. "I told you that you
were gonna want some new clothes before this was over."
Spock was maintaining an air of disinterest. "Ambassador Wilcox." she
moved to correct him and he continued before she could say anything, "Mara.
I fail to see why it is appropriate for you to wear such abbreviated
attire when you made Christine change out of a uniform that was the same
length and was considerably more modest."
Mara sighed, "I never said these people were prudes, Spock. If you thought
that was what I meant, then you weren't listening. I just said you two
needed to be dressed alike, or at least needed to be showing the same
amount of skin. The fashions here tend to be quite scanty. Your current
dress will be considered extremely dowdy and may be construed as a gesture
of mistrust that you will not "bare" your skin with your hosts."
Spock continued undaunted. "Herlama was wearing robes earlier, as was her
retinue. There was little that could be seen of them this morning. Are we
to believe these same people will be dressed as you are now?"
"This planet has frequent afternoon dust storms during this time of year.
They wear the hooded robes so they can keep the dust off. Underneath, I
assure you they were much less prudishly dressed. Anyway, it will soon be
a moot point. Here comes Herlama now."
Christine and Spock turned to meet their hostess. She felt Spock stiffen
in surprise and barely managed to restrain an exclamation herself. Both
Herlama and her mate, Mantim, wore short kilts of some very sheer white
fabric. They had the same sandals on that Mara favored, only theirs laced
up nearly to their hips. Similar lacing served as what could only jokingly
be called covering on their torsos. Herlama's long hair partially covered
her breasts, in much the same way that the kilts only partially concealed
what she and Mantim were not wearing underneath.
*Eyes up,* she thought desperately.
Herlama leaned forward to embrace her. "Christine I thought perhaps you
would have changed out of those rather comprehensive uniforms. But perhaps
you are not comfortable sharing your man with us just yet. We will make
allowances, as you are still strangers here. I am sure that you can learn
to be as comfortable as Mara here is with our dress code."
*Or lack thereof.* Christine nodded gamely at Herlama. "Mara offered to
take us shopping tomorrow. We look forward to trying some Dorelian
"We do?" she could hear the shock in Spock's voice even as he tried to
maintain his dignity.
"We do," she said firmly. *God help us both.*
"Wonderful," Herlama clapped her hands together with pleasure. "And let me
introduce my spouse, Mantim. He is the father of my four children and a
wonderful husband. I would be lost without him." Herlama touched him on
Mara looked meaningfully at Christine then at Spock.
*He's going to kill me when this is over,* she thought as she reached out
and stroked Spock's arm. "Mantim this is Spock, my beloved mate. I am
sure the two of you will have much to talk about."
Spock did not pull away from her hand as he nodded to the other man and
said coolly, "A pleasure." But she could feel his annoyance.
*He may kill me *before* this is over,* she realized as Herlama led them to
a tent set up in front of a cleared area. Three large chairs were laid out
for them. Mantim directed Spock to some cushions set up behind the chairs.
Christine nearly giggled at the look on Spock's face as he was led to the
back of the tent.
"I trust your room is comfortable?" Herlama asked politely.
Christine rushed to assure her that it was very much to her liking.
Mara leaned forward conspiratorially. "The room you have is really quite
restrained, shall we say. Herlama didn't want to overwhelm you."
*Our room is restrained? Good god.* Christine let her thoughts go for a
moment then decided that was too dangerous. She peeked around her chair to
check on Spock. He was sitting with Mantim and another Dorelian male.
"Yours?" she asked Mara, who nodded happily.
Christine studied the three of them. *Could Spock look any more bored?*
The Dorelians were in an animated discussion but were talking too quietly
for her to hear the topic. Whatever it was, it wasn't anything that
interested a Vulcan apparently. She wanted to invite him up with them but
could see from Mara's expression that it would not be a good idea. *Oh
well, this won't kill him,* she thought unhappily.
Mara called to the newcomer. "Kiloma, why don't you pour some Casca wine
for Spock. I think he would enjoy it."
"I am quite fine, Mara."
"Nonsense," she gave him a stern look. "You *really* should drink some.
It is very relaxing."
*He's looking really stiff,* Christine realized as she watched him. *Maybe
some wine would be good.* She tried to make her tone gentle as she
ordered, "Humor Mara's young man, Spock. Drink the wine."
He looked at her in surprise. She saw rebellion in his eyes as she tried
to send him a message in hers. *Don't fight me on this, Spock. We can
hash this out later, just don't fight me.*
Gratefully she saw him concede. He looked at Kiloma, "I would be pleased
to try some Casca wine."
As Mara turned back to Herlama, who had been largely ignoring what was
going on with the men, the ambassador whispered, "Well done, Christine.
Just keep this up and we'll be fine."
Christine glanced at Spock before turning around. His expression was
neutral but his eyes burned into hers. *This is not going to be pretty,*
she thought uneasily.
Three hours and fifteen dancing and singing acts later, Christine was
beginning to wonder if she should just kill herself and save Spock the
trouble. She reached for her glass of Casca wine and drank deeply. *This
is the best stuff. It is almost worth sitting through this torture.
She glanced back at Spock. He was sitting quietly listening to the duo
singing Dorelian folk songs. He seemed much more mellow than earlier. She
found herself grinning stupidly at him. *He's so handsome. I can't wait
to see him in one of these outfits.* Her grin got wider as she tried to
stifle a laugh. He caught her gaze and she realized his mellowness was
more contrived than real.
*Uh-oh,* she thought, draining her glass. *Someone's in trouble.*
She looked over at Mara. The ambassador had Kiloma leaned up against the
front of her chair and she was absentmindedly running her fingers through
his hair as she listened to the music. Herlama had allowed Mantim to sit
next to her chair and rest his head on her legs. Their hands were
intertwined. Christine looked back at Spock and almost motioned him to
come sit in front of her until she looked in his eyes again. *Don't push
your luck, Chapel.*
When the duo finished, Herlama turned to her and said, "I think that is
enough for tonight? You have enjoyed yourself yes?"
Christine mustered enthusiasm as she lied, "It was most interesting. I
really enjoyed myself."
Herlama beamed at her. "Tomorrow should be even more interesting. First
thing in the morning we will have a tour of the city. Then you and your
mate can shop for clothing. I'll expect you back to join Mara and myself
for lunch. Then your time is free," at this point she smirked somewhat,
"to spend together until the dancing begins tomorrow evening."
"Dancing?" Christine asked, trying to hide her dismay. *One more folk
dance and I'll scream.*
Mara interjected, "A dance. You know the kind where everyone dances. You
do like to dance, right?" She included Spock in her warning glance.
"I love to dance, and so does Spock."
Christine wouldn't have thought it was possible for Spock's expression to
get any darker, but it did. *Ok then, if you can't be nice, there will be
no dancing for you, mister. So there.*
Rising out of her chair, Christine found herself swaying. She put her hand
out to steady herself only to find that Spock had moved up behind her and
had a firm grasp on her shoulder. Very firm. Too firm. *Hey, that
He leaned into her and she thought for a moment that he was going to nuzzle
her ear. Instead he growled, "Say goodnight, Christine."
Christine felt him turn her toward Herlama. "Well, we're going to go now,
Herlama. Spock and I. To our room." She laughed conspiratorially and
leaned toward the other woman. "I really like the waterbed, but I think I
might get seasick."
"Excuse me?" Herlama asked puzzled.
Mara laughed out loud. "Casca wine, dear. Remember how long it took me to
get used to it?"
Herlama smiled. "It does pack quite a punch." She looked at Spock for a
moment. "Make sure she gets plenty of water before she falls asleep.
Dehydration leads to a nasty morning."
He nodded firmly. "I will make sure she gets exactly what she needs."
Herlama smiled approval and led the rest of the group off.
"Spock, why is the ground spinning?" She felt his hand tighten and he
pulled her toward their building. "Ooooh, slow down, Spock."
The maid from earlier emerged and showed them to their room. Spock thanked
him and closed the door firmly. Christine took the opportunity to move
away and pour herself a big glass of water. She drank it down and then
nearly fell as the room started to spin. Spock's hands on her arms kept
He led her to the bed and dropped her unceremoniously onto the mattress.
The waterbed bounced roughly. "Ohh god, make it stop." She struggled to a
He thrust another glass of water in her face. "Drink this."
She took a big gulp as he sat down next to her. "Don't want a hangover.
That would be," she leaned into Spock, "very bad."
He glared at her.
"You're really mad at me, aren't you?" She poked him in the chest. "Spock
doesn't like being ignored. No sirree. He likes to have everything his
"Drink your water, then we will talk."
She drank some more. "We don't talk, Spock. We never talk. Talk is
baaaadd. Cuz then you might have to hear me say "I love you," and that
makes you so nervous."
"Christine please, you are intoxicated."
"Yes I am. And if you would let me finish, I'd say that maybe you wouldn't
hear me say that. Cuz maybe I don't love you anymore, mister! Didya think
of that, huh? Maybe I'm sick and tired of always hanging around waiting
for you to notice me. Well not anymore, fella. This is a new Christine
Chapel you're looking at."
"Yes, a drunk one."
"That wasn't very nice, Spock." She lifted the glass, noticed it was
empty. "Could I have some more water?"
She watched him walk over to the table to refill the glass. It was
suddenly too much effort to sit up so she curled up on the mattress.
Letting her eyes close she felt blackness descend. She barely heard Spock
calling her name before she passed out.
Spock stood over her and watched her for some time. Then he moved her away
from the edge of the bed, took off her boots, and covered her up with a
blanket. Sighing slightly he grabbed another blanket off the bed and made
himself comfortable on one of the couches. It was some time before he
The sound of a communicator woke Christine. The previous night came
rushing back to her. She opened her eyes cautiously, expecting the light
to be far too bright but it seemed fine. Gingerly she lifted her head off
the pillow and waited for the throbbing hangover headache to set in. She
was pleasantly surprised to find herself feeling normal. No nausea, no
headache, no fuzzy tongue. *McCoy would kill for this stuff. I've got to
bring him back a case.*
"You're sure you don't want another team to come down, Spock?" The captain
"No, Captain. Additional personnel would undoubtedly complicate matters.
Miss Chapel is doing fine as team lead."
Spock glanced at her as she made her way to the table that had been laid
out for their breakfast. *The maid has already been here. I didn't even
hear him.* She wasn't sure where Spock had slept, there was no sign that
he had stayed on one of the couches. She glanced back at the bed. She was
normally a restless sleeper and last night had been no different. The
covers were all over the place. It looked like they had been very busy.
"Well then I'll leave you to your day. We are doing some overdue
diagnostics while we wait for you. I was hoping to approve shore leave,
but from what you've said, this isn't the kind of planet that the crew
*Well the women would,* Christine laughed as she helped herself to a hearty
"A wise decision, Captain. Spock out." He turned to study her as she made
her way to the couch opposite his and began to eat hungrily. "You appear
to be fully recovered if your appetite is any indication?"
"I told you, I like to eat. And yes, I feel fine. I guess as long as you
drink lots of water, Casca leaves very little in the way of morning after
"Physical traces in this case. I remember quite well your behavior last
night, as I am sure you do?"
She shifted uncomfortably, "You heard Mara. The Casca wine just takes some
getting used to. I'll pace myself better tonight."
"Perhaps you should abstain tonight?"
She remembered how liberally Herlama and Mara had imbibed. "I'll try,
Spock. But it might not be possible. I think drinking is a national
"Among other things," Spock observed wryly.
She looked at him in shock. His only reaction was to raise an eyebrow.
Neither of them said anything more as she finished her breakfast. As she
ate she noticed a smell in the room that had not been there before. It was
a sweet odor, strong but not unpleasant. She saw vases of small white and
yellow flowers scattered around the room. "Did those come with breakfast?"
Spock nodded. "They are Dorelian orchids. A gift from Herlama. The smell
is quite strong."
"Does it bother you?"
"No, but I am intensely aware of it. An unusual sensation."
"I can smell them. And it's nice. But I can't say they are overwhelming.
I haven't seen them displayed with any of the other flowers that we've been
around. Perhaps they are rare?"
"Perhaps. I'm sure Ambassador Wilcox can tell us. And it will shortly be
time to join her for the tour, I assume I am to be included?"
"That was my understanding, Spock. I guess we wear the same thing until we
get a chance to get something else."
"Yes. About that. You are not seriously considering dressing in the
fashions of this planet are you?"
"Not just me, Spock. Both of us. Our uniforms are simply not suitable.
I'm sure we can find something that won't be too bad."
"I am not convinced of that."
She sighed as she rose to take a quick shower. "We have to try, Spock. I
don't think Herlama will accept us wearing these tonight. Especially for
As she reached the bathroom she heard him say, "I do not dance, Christine."
She poked her head out, "Naturally, Spock. To be honest I can't see you on
the dance floor."
As she closed the door she could have sworn she heard him mutter, "I didn't
say that I couldn't dance."
*I'm losing it. I've got to go easy on the Casca tonight.*
The tour was interesting at first. But after the fifth building, Christine
found herself wishing it would end sooner rather than later.
"It does get rather repetitive," the Ambassador whispered.
Nodding, Christine glanced at Spock. He too seemed to be distracted.
*Probably worried I'm going to make him wear a loincloth.*
"Mara, we got some flowers from Herlama this morning. Orchids I think?"
"Really? She must like you. They are extremely dear. The smell is
considered a mild aphrodisiac by the Dorelians, although I've never noticed
them being that. Did you find them arousing?"
Christine shook her head. "I mean they smell heavenly. Sort of like the
tuberoses my grandma used to grow in her greenhouse. But they don't *do*
anything for me."
Mara laughed as she looked over at Spock. "Well it's certain they aren't
turning him on. How did you sleep?"
Christine groaned. "Fine if you consider passing out like a light sleeping
well? I took Herlama's advice and had a bunch of water and felt fine.
Hard to imagine being that inebriated and not paying for it the next day."
"You actually didn't seem that affected."
Christine gave a bitter laugh, "Oh my dear, you should have been in our
room last night. I said some really stupid things before I hit the wall."
Mara smiled gently, "To Spock, I take it? You have feelings for him?"
"I used to," Christine said resolutely.
"Uh-huh." Mara studied her. "Take my advice, Christine. Tonight at the
dance, hook up with one of the local boys. They are wonderfully sweet.
Just the thing to take your mind off things that.well.aren't so sweet."
Christine smiled at her. "Maybe I will."
Mercifully the tour ended at the next building. Mara led Spock and
Christine off to the merchant area. Entering a small building she
explained, "This is my favorite designer. Her stuff is so original."
Spock interjected, "We are trying to blend in, Ambassador, not win a
"You, Spock, are a stick in the mud. Live a little. Here, what about
Christine looked aghast at the matching outfits Mara was holding up. She
glanced at Spock who was getting a steely look in his eyes.
"Those are not clothing, they are handkerchiefs. We require something that
provides more coverage."
"This is the latest thing, Spock. Christine would look fabulous in it."
Spock took the items from her and put them back on the rack. "No doubt she
would. However the universe will have to live without seeing her in it."
Christine spotted some items on the far wall that appeared to have more
substance. *Perfect,* she thought, as she held up the soft fabrics. They
were matching his and hers as so many of the outfits seemed to be. She
handed the ensemble to Spock, who looked approvingly at her choice. "This
might do, Spock. Let's try it on."
The shopkeeper had come over to greet Mara and offered to show them to the
dressing room. *She said room,* Christine thought, *Singular.*
She managed not to react as the shopkeeper opened the door to the fitting
room and motioned them both in. Momentary confusion showed in Spock's
expression. Christine pushed him into the room, "I know you want to look
at all the other things, but we really don't have time, dear. In we go."
The door shut behind them. Christine looked around the small space. There
were mirrors on every side. *Great, just great!*
"How do you suggest we change?" Spock asked reasonably. "In this case it
will do no good to face the other way."
"Elementary, Spock. I'll go first." She scowled as he looked confused.
"Close your damn eyes and we won't have a problem."
He did as she said and she quickly stripped off the uniform and pulled the
dark red fabric over her head and let it fall around her. It was very
simple but the effect was incredible. The fabric managed to hang elegantly
while at the same time clinging to curves she had not even known she had.
"Wow," she couldn't help but exclaim.
Spock opened his eyes and inspected her. His eyes held hers for a long
moment before she allowed her eyelids to close.
"Your turn," She prompted and heard the sounds of him getting out of his
uniform and then the same shiver of the soft fabric being pulled on.
"This is acceptable."
She opened her eyes and admired the sight of him. The soft fabric hung
just as nicely when cut into loose trousers and a tight shirt. *Wow
They stood awkwardly for a moment then she said, "Well that was easy."
He nodded, holding the fabric up, "This is the color of my House on Vulcan.
We call it Sun's Blood. My mother called it Claret."
"It is beautiful." A knock on the door surprised them both.
Christine cracked the door open and a hand thrust another set of outfits,
this time in a subdued print, and some sandals at them.
"You'll need something for tomorrow's events," Mara's voice came from
outside the door, "This is what everyone will be wearing. . And try the
sandals. Your boots would look ridiculous."
Christine looked at Spock, "It's just a robe, we can try it on over
"Logical," he agreed as they both slipped the garments on. They fit well
and the colors flattered them both.. The sandals also proved comfortable.
"Fine. We're done then." Christine found herself unaccountably relieved
to have this over with. They both pulled off the robes and sandals and she
waited for Spock to close his eyes so she could finish getting undressed.
His eyes met hers steadily and for a moment she was uncertain what he was
"Spock," she said somewhat unsteadily, "Close your eyes."
He looked at her for several more seconds and then shut his eyes.
*What the hell was that?* Christine wasted no time shedding the outfit and
putting her uniform back on.
"Ok, you can open them." She closed her eyes quickly and listened for the
sound of him changing. There was only the sound of her heart beating
unnaturally loud in her ears. She nearly jumped when something touched
her. She felt his fingers arranging her hair, mussed from her quick
change, back into order. *This isn't happening,* she repeated to herself
as she kept her eyes tightly shut. She felt his fingers leave and then
heard the sounds of him changing.
"I am ready." His voice was even. She almost believed that she had
imagined his soft touch. *It's got to be the Casca. It must have some
She grabbed their items and shouldered him aside to get out of the suddenly
too small space. "These are perfect," she announced to Mara and the
Mara came up with a bottle and handed it to Christine. "Smell this. It's
a scent made from the orchids. For the room or for your skin. It's what
makes this shop always smell so good. You should buy it, Christine. A
souvenir of the planet."
"I think the outfits will be enough." Christine put it back on the
"I will buy it for her," both women turned with astonishment to look at
Spock as he handed the bottle to the shopkeeper.
"What's with him?" Mara mouthed to Christine.
Looking mystified, Christine mouthed back, "I don't know."
Spock for his part stood impassively waiting for their purchases to be
wrapped. The shopkeeper handed them over and the three of them walked back
to the building that Spock and Christine were staying in. Mara led them to
their room, saw Spock settled, and got ready to take Christine off to lunch
Christine looked at Spock. "You'll be alright?"
He looked at her evenly, "Of course. Enjoy your lunch."
*Like nothing happened. It's got to be the wine. I'm going to do a full
analysis when I get back.*
Lunch was a relaxed affair. Herlama had invited a few other women to eat
with them. The conversation was congenial and Christine enjoyed herself to
the point that she didn't notice the hours roll by. She was pleasantly
full by the end of the lunch, having found the food delicious, especially a
vegetable dish that had been roasted in a savory oil until soft.
"You like the kaspaki?" Mara helped herself to more. "It's my favorite
thing about eating at Herlama's. Nobody else fixes it the way she does.
She's noticed that you like it. A dish of it will probably show up in your
room before you know it."
"I'll look forward to it." Christine became more serious, "Mara, I have a
question about Casca. Have you ever found yourself hallucinating after you
drank too much of it?"
"Hallucinating?" The other woman was puzzled.
"Thinking you saw or felt something that really wasn't there, or really
didn't happen?" Mara shook her head. "Maybe it only happened when you
first started drinking the wine. Try to think back."
Mara shook her head again, "That's one of the great things about Casca,
Christine. As long as you drink lots of water there are no side effects,
no hangovers, no nasty mornings. And the longer you drink it the less
wallop it packs. I hardly ever get drunk on it now, and you've seen how
much I drink."
Christine looked troubled.
"Why do you ask about it?"
She sighed. "Just some things that have been going on that didn't seem
real to me. I assumed it was an aftereffect of the wine. But maybe not."
Christine noticed the rest of the guests were preparing to leave. *I'm
still going to analyze the wine as soon as I get back.*
After they thanked Herlama for the meal and promised to see her in a short
while at the dance, Mara walked Christine back to the room. "I can't wait
to see the two of you in those clothes! Herlama will be so pleased. Till
later, Christine." She gave her hand a squeeze then was gone.
As Christine opened the door the smell of orchids hit her full force.
"What the hell?" The number of vases had tripled. "Where did they all
Spock's voice sounded from the far corner. "I took the liberty of asking
the maid to bring some more if they were available. This is all he could
Christine looked around the room, but could not locate Spock. "You really
like the smell, don't you?"
Christine followed his voice. *He's in the bath?*
He looked up at her from where he sat on one of the lower ledges. The
water completely covered him. It was all that did. "Oh god, I'm sorry,
Spock. I didn't realize." She turned around to walk away.
"Why are you sorry, Christine?"
"I didn't realize that you were in there. Like you are. In that state of
dress. Which is to say not dressed. At all."
"Ah. I am naked."
"Yes, thanks Spock. That's what I was trying not to say."
She could hear a slight splashing. His voice suddenly sounded closer.
"Christine? You can turn around now."
He had moved to the near side of the bath and was leaning up against the
wall. He had successfully hidden the front of his body from her. The back
however, was another story. "Why don't you come in for a while?"
"In there? With you?"
"With you naked? That wouldn't bother you?"
He seemed to ponder this. "I assume you would be naked too. I have not
seen you in that state. I must confess to some curiosity. So no, it would
not bother me."
*This isn't happening.* She turned away from the bath, stomped to the food
table, grabbed some Casca and furiously began analyzing it.
"Christine, what are you doing?"
"I'm working, Spock."
"Hmm. I believe that bathing would be a better use of your time."
He began to paddle around the pool. She did her best to ignore him as the
tricorder read out data. *Nothing here. The wine is perfectly harmless.*
She looked over at Spock who was at the moment more out of the water than
in. *This is really happening then. Unless I've gone crazy. Maybe this
is all a dream and we never really came here.* She poured herself a glass
of the wine, grabbed her new outfit, and headed for the bathroom.
"Christine, come and swim with me."
"I don't think so, Spock. I'm going to shower and change. I suggest you
get ready as well. We need to leave in an hour."
"You do not wish to share my bath?" He actually sounded sad to her.
"Spock, believe me, it's nothing personal." She fled into the bathroom.
She stood for a moment in front of the mirror, then turned around and
locked the door. *What is going on here.? And did I just turn down an
offer to take a bath with Spock? I really have gone crazy.*
Drinking deeply from the Casca, Christine stripped off her uniform and
stepped into the shower, hoping that the warm steam would clear her head.
Christine finished her makeup and hair and studied her reflection in the
bathroom mirror. *Nice, even if I do say so myself.* She reached for the
dress, luxuriating in the whisper of the silky fabric as she pulled it over
her head. Her full length reflection from the mirror on the door showed
her looking sleek and feminine. *I love this dress.*
Not sure if Spock had ever left the pool, she opened the door and peeked
out. He was standing by the food table, fully clothed in the new outfit.
*He looks great.* As he turned toward her she realized he also looked
"Spock? What's wrong?"
"Nothing." His voice was clipped. He indicated a plate of Kaspaki.
"Herlama's servant brought this by."
"That was nice. Did you try it? It's wonderful."
"I am not hungry."
She walked toward him but stopped midway when she realized he was staring
at her. His look was incredibly intense. "Spock?"
"You are beautiful. The dress is perfect on you." He moved to the table,
picked up the bottle of orchid fragrance. "I want you to wear this."
"Spock, I can't. I'm sorry, I know you like the flowers. I just really
don't feel like it tonight."
"You will not wear it? But I bought it for you. For you to wear."
She looked down, "I'm sorry. I don't want to wear it. If you must know
I'm utterly sick of the smell of those orchids."
CRASH! A vase of Dorelian orchids went flying past Christine's head.
*Dammit!* she thought frantically, *when I said I wanted him to be more
emotional, this is not quite what I had in mind.*
Ducking to avoid a poorly thrown wineglass, Christine scooted behind one of
the pillars in the room. She peeked around the corner, only to find
herself in danger from a bunch of roasted kaspaki tubers.
"Spock, for god's sake. Calm down! And stop throwing things."
Her request was met with heavy breathing but mercifully no more
projectiles. She moved cautiously out from her hiding place. Spock was
sitting on the floor, knees drawn up to his chin, arms wrapped around them.
He was rocking back and forth, muttering.
*This is not good.* Christine thought desperately back over the past few
days on the planet trying to pinpoint the cause for this outburst.
She moved to Spock's side. "Spock? Please talk to me."
His voice was so low she could barely make out the words. "You reject me."
He looked up at her. "You won't share my bath, you won't wear the perfume,
you tell me that you don't love me anymore. I feel such emotion. Such
Christine thought furiously. This could not be the Pon Farr, they had just
been through that last year. And she didn't think it was alien possession.
*I am such an idiot!* She glanced at the orchids. *Mara said
aphrodisiac. Must be his Vulcan physiology.*
"Spock, listen to me. You are not yourself. I think you are being
affected by these orchids. We need to get you out of this room."
Christine knew that what Spock really needed was to be sedated and observed
aboard the Enterprise. But she also knew he would never forgive her for
humiliating him in that manner. *I guess this is my problem.*
"Spock?" She grabbed his shoulders, shook him hard enough to make him look
at her. Before she could speak he reached out for her, rested his palm on
"So beautiful.and I've lost you." He began to caress her hair and neck.
"Spock you can't lose me. I'm right here. Ok?"
"Mmmmm," he murmured as he pulled her close into a slow kiss.
"No!" she pushed away from him. *What are you doing?* part of her
screamed. *I'm sorry,* the other part replied. "Spock, no. Kissing is
bad. Very bad. We need to get up now. We need to get outside. Fresh air
is good. It's our friend. Let's go outside, ok?"
Spock pouted, "You don't love me here, you won't love me there." But he
let her pull him to his feet. He tried to catch her up in his arms but she
"Let's go outside, huh? Let's go dance."
"You will dance with me??" When she nodded he smiled smugly. "I will hold
you close and make you love me. That is a secret weapon of men, you know."
He actually leered at her. "I shall use the dance floor. And my secret
weapon. That's what Jim says."
She rang for the maid then turned back to him. "The Captain says the dance
floor is a secret weapon?"
"No," he stalked up to her and pulled her close to him. Leaned her back
into a tango dip, then pulled her back up. "The floor is the arena, the
body is the weapon." He pulled her even closer. "Can you not feel it?"
*Where is that damn maid?* Christine thought desperately as she noticed
that Spock was indeed well armed. *Why can't I just be a bad person? I
could have so much fun with him this way.* She pushed him away as a knock
on the door sounded.
Opening the door she shoved Spock into the hallway and turned to the maid.
"My mate is having an allergic reaction to your wonderful orchids. I do
not wish to offend anyone, because I know how precious they are, but I need
every single one of them removed from this room and the entire place aired
out. If you can't get rid of the smell totally, then we need to be moved
to a new room. I am sorry to put you out like this, but he is going to get
very sick if they aren't removed."
"Of course, ma'am. But there's no use in trying to air out the place. The
smell is pervasive. I believe a new room would be the easiest answer. I
will move your things while you are at the dance. It's a shame, he seemed
to really like the orchids." The young man turned to enter the room to
begin collecting their things.
"Oh and get rid of that perfume while you're at it," she hissed.
"Yes, ma'am." He nodded.
Spock was staring at her mournfully. "I heard that, Christine. You hate
"I don't hate it, Spock. It's just bad for you. You remember the spores
on Omicron Ceti III? The orchids are like that." Christine led Spock down
the stairs to the dance.
"I remember that planet. And Leila," he sighed "Leila loved me. Do you
remember Leila, Christine? She was so nice."
*The bitch deliberately exposes you to the spores, and you call her nice?*
But Christine just nodded agreeably.
"I didn't love her like you, Christine. Those plants made me do things I
wouldn't have done otherwise. But I really, really love you." He pulled
her into his arms again, tried to kiss her.
*Sure you do.* Christine tried to get away from him but he was too strong.
"Spock, let me go."
His lips met hers and for just a moment she gave in. *I don't care if I
burn in hell for this,* she thought as she kissed him back passionately.
His arms relaxed as he felt her response. He pulled away to look at her,
his finger tracing her cheek.
"I do love you," she whispered as she spun away from him, out of his reach,
"I always have and I always will. Now let's go dance before the orchids
wear off completely."
She held out her hand and he quickly grasped it. His hand was warm and the
unaccustomed feeling of this simple contact made her shiver. *I may be
good, but I'm not a saint.*
They walked slowly to the clearing where Herlama had told Christine the
dance would be held. While part of her mind worked on determining how long
the orchids' effect would last, another part reveled in just touching
Spock. His grip was firm and at times he would swing their arms in a
whimsical way that she would never have suspected he was capable of.
*You're just full of surprises, Spock. What a shame that none of them are
"You are quiet tonight, Christine."
"I am preoccupied with the orchids, Spock." She gave his hand a little
squeeze, felt him return the action.
"Why worry about them now? You have taken steps to negate their effect.
Can you not try to concentrate on me for tonight?"
*This is so unfair,* she thought as he swung their arms again and pulled
her faster toward the music that was becoming louder. *But at least the
fresh air seems to be doing him good.*
"Hey, wait up!" Christine and Spock turned to see Ambassador Wilcox and
Kiloma rushing to join them. The ambassador and her chosen looked gorgeous
in matching, and very skimpy, outfits.
Christine heard some of the normal Vulcan dignity in Spock's voice as he
greeted the pair. The effect was somewhat negated by the fact that he was
still holding tightly to her hand and had pulled her in closely next to
The ambassador's eyes widened as she watched the two of them. "Are you
feeling all right, Spock?"
"Fine, Ambassador, why do you ask?"
In answer she glanced down at their clasped hands. "I don't know Spock.you
just seem a bit more tactile tonight than usual?"
His answer was calm. "Oh that. It is simple. I am in love with
Wilcox's jaw dropped open. "You are?"
Christine rushed to explain, "And he also is having a major reaction to
those orchids. You remember how we weren't affected?" She laughed
bitterly at Mara's look of understanding, "Yeah. Vulcans aren't so lucky,
it would seem."
Spock pulled Christine toward the dance area. "I am functioning perfectly.
I do not know why you are so worried about this, Christine." He stopped
at a refreshment table and handed her a glass of Casca. "Drink some. We
*know* it will make you relax."
Christine desperately wanted to drain about three glasses, but refused his
offer. "I think one of us should have a clear head tonight, Spock."
"There is nothing wrong with my head, Christine." He pulled her toward the
dance floor. "We must dance now. You will excuse us Mara? Kiloma?"
The other couple nodded, the ambassador mouthing "Good luck," to Christine
before turning to get some Casca.
With Spock pulling her to the dance floor, Christine barely had a chance to
register Herlama and Mantim standing near the edge of the group of dancers.
She tried to get him to stop to say hello but he was intent on making it
into the mass of swaying couples. Herlama took in their outfits and smiled
her approval as Christine disappeared after Spock into the dance.
"I thought you didn't dance, Spock?" Christine couldn't help teasing him.
"What's your rush?"
He cocked an eyebrow at her, "You said you wanted to get here before the
orchids wore off. Since you have not fully calculated the duration of
their effect, I thought haste would be prudent."
*Well, at least he's starting to sound like his old self.* She gasped as
he pulled her very tightly against his body. The thin fabric of their
clothes was little barrier to the feeling of his body against hers. *Well,
not quite like his old self.*
"I am fully capable of dancing, Christine. I just prefer to not engage in
the practice because physical contact is required."
"That being a bad thing."
He nodded, "Yes. Until now. I find that physical contact with you is
something to be desired." He moved her around the dance floor with some
skill. Then began to twirl her forcefully, and repeatedly. "Is my
technique having an effect on you?"
*Yeah,* she thought as dizziness began to take her, *I'm going to throw
Mercifully he stopped and pulled her back into his arms. His voice was
low, "I'm sorry. I can sense your distress. That was perhaps not a move I
*Good call.* She allowed her head to rest on his chest as the dizziness
abated. She could feel the heat radiating off of him, smell the spiciness
of his skin. *I could stay like this forever.*
*Yes, it would be pleasant.*
She pulled away in reaction to the sound of his mind-voice in hers.
"Spock! What the hell do you think you're doing?"
He looked at her in some confusion. "I wish to be close to you. As close
as I can be. I have two options open to me and you have indicated that
physical intimacy is unacceptable to you at this time. And we are in
public. I thought it more seemly to seek mental intimacy. You did not
like the sensation?"
*I liked it too much.* She allowed her body to relax. "Just don't do that
again without asking, ok?"
He nodded. "As you wish." He pulled her back into his arms. "I am at
somewhat of a loss, Christine?"
"What do you mean?"
She could feel him sigh. "I have spent most of the time that I have known
you avoiding you and the way you felt about me. It was the simplest thing
"Yes, I imagine it was." She could hear the bitterness in her voice.
"But now I find that when I want you more than anything, you are impossible
to catch. It is not what I would have expected."
*Not what I would have expected either, Sherlock!* Christine wanted to
throttle him but knew that she shouldn't blame him for the things the
orchids made him say or do. No matter how much they hurt. "Life is funny
that way, Spock. Nothing ever goes as planned."
He thought about this for a while. Then he turned his concentration back
to her. "Next time I will just have to plan better."
He swayed gently with her. She could feel his hand at the small of her
back, the other was tangled in her hair. He seemed to be respecting her
request for no more kisses. But his touches were making her shiver in a
not unpleasant way. *It's going to be a very long night. So unfair.*
The night was indeed long. Dancing gave way to dinner and conversation
with Herlama. "Your dress is gorgeous! I knew you would look beautiful in
our fashions. And it is obvious your very handsome mate approves as well."
She favored them both with a fond smile. "It is nice to see two people so
in love. Reminds me of how Mantim and I were when we were younger." She
squeezed her husband's hand and he smiled back at her.
*You couldn't get more wrong,* Christine thought sadly.
As if sensing her thoughts, Spock began to gently caress her neck.
Herlama continued, "If you know love as we have and for as long, you will
be lucky. Now shall we return to dancing?"
They all rose and made their way back to the floor. Spock pulled her to
him but not as close as before. He reached down and tilted her chin so
their eyes would meet. "You are sad now. Very sad. Have I done something
She found herself blinking back sudden tears. "No, Spock. You haven't
done anything wrong." He pulled her in close again. She relaxed against
him. "This just isn't real. And that's sad to me. Because it feels so
right. And I've wanted it for so long."
"I could show you that my feelings are real. If you would let me touch
She shook her head. "I don't doubt that you believe that you feel these
things. Or that you maybe really do feel them right now. I'm not sure how
far the orchids' effects go. The only thing I do know is that either
tonight, or tomorrow, or the next day, or the day after that you'll come to
your senses and this will all end and everything will be like it was."
"It doesn't have to be."
She didn't answer him. Just hugged him a little closer and tried not to
"I am serious, Christine. It does not have to be. We could bond.
Tonight. Then, no matter what happened, we would be together. Really
together. Forever. We would not be alone anymore."
She stiffened in his arms, stopped dancing altogether. "You can't be
She pushed him away angrily. "This has gone far enough," she hissed.
Grabbing his hand she dragged him off the dance floor. And ran right into
the ambassador and Kiloma.
"Christine, what's wrong?"
"Spock isn't feeling well. He needs to go back to our room. Our new room
not the old one. Can Kiloma see that he gets there?" She felt anger war
with sorrow. *I have to stay here. I don't have the strength to be around
him like this.*
"Christine. Do not send me away. We should discuss my proposal. It has
"Go to bed, Spock. You're sick. You need rest."
He tried to argue. She didn't give him a chance. "Commander Spock. Your
judgment is impaired. I am taking medical command of this mission. You
*will* return to our room, and you *will* rest. We will not discuss your
proposal again tonight, is that clear?"
His face became stony. He stubbornly stared at her and did not move.
"That was an order, Spock. Go to our room. Stay there. I will see you
when I get back."
He stared at her for a few minutes then turned on his heel and started back
angrily toward their building. Kiloma ran to catch up with him.
Mara moved close to Christine. "Are you ok?"
Christine turned back to her. She fought back tears but still managed to
give a credible imitation of a Vulcan. "I am fine."
Mara touched her arm, "You're sure?"
She nodded and headed for the table of Casca wine. Grabbing a glass she
downed it in one gulp. *How can it hurt this bad?*
She reached for another glass but Mara stopped her. "That's not the
She glared at the ambassador. "Oh I think it is the answer, Mara. I just
did the most noble thing I've ever done. And I will probably hate myself
for it for the rest of my life. I think this is exactly what I need."
Mara shrugged and let go of her hand. "Fine, but don't blame me for what
"Nothing will happen, Mara. I've seen to that." *Nothing will happen ever
The Casca was not the solution. Despite her best intentions, Christine
could not bring herself to get drunk. *Just don't trust myself not to go
to him.* She sat for hours watching the dancers and sipping at the wine,
occasionally talking to Herlama or Mara but mostly just trying to forget
that Spock was waiting for her in their room.
The dancing didn't break up till the early morning hours and she almost
asked Mara if she could stay with her as they approached the split in the
trails that would take them their separate ways. *No, you can do this.*
She found the maid, and he led her to their new room. It was dark and
quiet when she opened the door. Only a few candles lit the way through the
unfamiliar surroundings. Spock was sitting on a couch, meditating. He
looked up at her as she came in. His expression was even as he noted the
"I'm going to bed," she announced and hurried into the bathroom.
When she emerged, Spock was still sitting on the couch. "We should talk
about this, Christine."
She did not turn to look at him as she made her way to the bed. "We are
not going to talk about this, Spock."
"But I wish to discuss this."
"No!" she fairly screamed at him. He recoiled at her reaction. "You want
to discuss this. Fine. Discuss it with me when you aren't stoned out of
your mind on chemicals. Discuss it with me when we are back on the
Enterprise and you are feeling normal. Discuss it with me then, Spock.
For now, I don't want to hear another word about it. I just want to
"As you wish, Nurse."
Wincing at the title she pulled the covers down and climbed into bed.
*This is how it will be from now on. This is how it will always be.* She
lay in bed and tried not to cry. Sleep abandoned her and she tossed and
turned all night. She was intensely aware of Spock, who had not left his
place on the couch and did not appear to be even trying to sleep.
When full morning finally came, Christine got out of bed and fled to the
bathroom. Changing into a set of the casual clothes that she had brought
she went for a long walk. It was hours before she returned to the room.
The maid had delivered breakfast so she fixed a small plate and ate it in
silence, barely looking at Spock who was standing by the window.
When he turned around his face was the normal Vulcan mask she was used to.
*So, he is gone, this Spock that loved me.* She finished her meal, went
into the shower and changed into the robe they had bought for today's
event. Spock used the shower when she finished and also emerged in his
robe. He did not say anything to her as they left the room and made their
way to a large meeting room.
The ambassador met them at the door. "Well, this is the last of it.
You'll be out of here in just a few hours." She took in Spock's blank
expression and Christine's exhausted look. "I imagine it can't be too soon
for either of you?" Christine closed her eyes and sighed, Spock did not
react to her statement. "Well, let's go in then."
The final ceremony was thankfully very brief. Christine fought to keep her
eyes open. Several times she became lost in thought. Spock was seated
behind her but she did not turn to look at him as she had the first night.
When it was over, he made his way to her side and they bid Herlama and
"Will you ever make it back to our planet? We would be pleased to see you
and your mate again." Herlama asked politely.
"It is doubtful, Herlama. But thank you. I will never forget the days I
have spent on your world." *That at least is not a lie.*
Mara gave Christine a quick hug. "It'll be all right, Christine. You'll
see." She nodded at Spock, who opened his communicator.
"Enterprise, two to beam up."
Christine smiled goodbye at Mara before the transporter beam took her away.
When the transporter room solidified around her she was surprised to see
Kirk and McCoy waiting for them.
Kirk walked forward, taking in the matching robes they had not had time to
change out of. "Welcome back. I was told by Ambassador Wilcox that the
mission was a success and we're free to go."
Spock nodded. "I will have a complete report for you." He started to move
toward the door and Christine followed a little behind him.
McCoy smirked as he shot back. "Very complete I hope. I'd like to know
the story behind those outfits."
Christine turned around, gave him a hard look.
He tried to play innocent, "What? I'm interested in cultural things like
clothing.and other rituals." Again he smirked.
"Oh go to hell." Ignoring the shock on both his and Kirk's face, Christine
turned around and made her way to her quarters.
Kirk looked at Spock. "Do you have anything to add to that, Spock? Or
should I wait for the report?"
Spock appeared to give the matter some thought. "No sir, I believe Miss
Chapel summed it up quite adequately."
With that he turned on his heel and exited the room, leaving behind a
stunned captain and chief medical officer.
As soon as Christine was out of sight of the transporter room she hurried
back to her room. Stopping only to set the lock on her door, she fell into
bed and slept for eight straight hours. When she got up her console light
was flashing. There was a message from Spock.
"Miss Chapel. I presume you are getting some much-needed rest? I have
drafted a report but would like your input as you were the true lead on
most of the mission. Please annotate the draft I have attached and send it
back to me at your earliest convenience."
Christine opened the report, thinking to herself sarcastically, *This ought
to be fun reading.* To her surprise, Spock was fulsome in his praise of
her handling of the mission. He gave her high marks on judgment,
initiative, flexibility, adaptability, creativity, and integrity. She
raised an eyebrow at the last one but decided not to contest it. Let the
readers try to figure out what that meant. She added her information to
the report and sent it back to Spock.
For the next few weeks she went out of her way to avoid him. He did not
frequent sick bay so her work hours were uncomplicated by sightings of him.
But during her free time she was constantly trying to not meet up with him
in the mess hall, in the rec lounge, or in the corridors. Twice she went
in to eat and left when she saw him sitting there. And several times she
saw him coming down the corridor and fled back the other way to keep from
running into him. She knew it was stupid, but for now she really could not
face seeing him.
McCoy had at first treated her gingerly but she had told him she had been
hung over and he had accepted that explanation. She filled him in on the
mission as much as she could. Leaving out the more interesting bits of
course. And he filled her in on how his courtship of Carol Sauers had
fizzled after what had seemed a promising start. Their relationship
quickly returned to normal.
She was just about to end her shift one night when she saw Spock enter the
sick bay. He ignored Dr. M'Benga and headed straight for her. "Mr.
Spock," she greeted him cautiously.
"Miss Chapel," he replied. His face gave nothing away.
*What the hell does he want?* Mentally shrugging, she went back to
finishing the report in front of her.
A cough made her look up. "Did you want something, Spock?"
He nodded slightly. "I need to speak to you."
"Well M'Benga's here, wouldn't you rather speak to him?"
He seemed to shift a bit uncomfortably. "This is not a medical issue. It
is you I wish to speak to. In private. I was hoping you could come to my
quarters tonight. If you do not already have plans?"
*Yeah, right. My social calendar is just full to the brim.* She studied
him. He seemed quite serious. The Spock she had always known. "Can't you
just tell me now? M'Benga can't hear us from his office."
"I believe it might take some time. I shall expect you in thirty minutes.
Feel free to change to off duty clothing if you wish. I shall." Without
waiting for her assent, he turned and left sick bay.
*It would serve him right if I didn't show up.* She closed the report and
said goodnight to M'Benga. Once back in her quarters she took a quick
shower and changed into pants and a loose top. Her hand brushed the red
dress she had worn to the dance. *I don't know why I'm keeping this. I
really should get rid of it.*
She made her way to Spock's cabin. Ringing the chime she heard him tell her
to enter. The lights were dimmed and the temperature was up, as she knew
he preferred. He had put some food and wine out on the small table near
his couch. Mimicking him, she raised her eyebrow, "Wine, Spock?"
"It is not Casca. But I hope it will do."
"If I remember correctly, Spock, you didn't like what wine *did* to me."
She sat where he indicated and accepted a glass from him.
"That would depend on which day you are referring to. I remember urging
you to have some of the wine on one of the days."
She looked at him in surprise. She had thought he would want to avoid any
mention of their experience down on the planet.
He noticed her reaction. "Do you think that just because I am somewhat
embarrassed by my own behavior, I would pretend as if the whole thing had
"Yes. That's precisely what I thought you would do."
He poured himself a glass of wine. "You do not know me very well."
She chose to say nothing, just drank from her glass.
He turned on the couch so he was facing her. "I asked you here because I
wish to discuss what happened."
She nodded uncertainly.
"First. I wish to tell you how I admire your behavior throughout the
"Casca incident notwithstanding?" Christine found herself smiling at him.
His expression lightened, " Casca notwithstanding. And I also wanted to
say that I admire you for your integrity, for the way you did not take
advantage of the situation."
She kept her expression carefully neutral. "Of course, Spock. What else
would I have done?"
He shifted uncomfortably, "Yes. Indeed." He appeared to be lost in
thought for a moment, then he met her eyes with a very intense gaze. "Do
you not love me anymore?"
She felt herself rooted in place. *Careful how you answer this.* She took
a sip of wine before answering. "I don't understand your question."
"It is a simple query. I fail to see how its meaning could be lost on you.
You stated during the Casca incident that you did *not* love me. You
stated that you *did* when you were trying to get me away from the orchids.
Neither time were you exactly in a normal frame of mind. So I want to
know, do you love me?"
"Why does it matter?" She knew the words came out more bitterly than she
intended but she could not help it.
He searched for the correct answer. Finally he said, "You turned down the
opportunity to bond with me. I wish to know if it was because you were not
interested, in which case turning it down was an easy and inconsequential
decision to you. Or if you still are interested, in which case you turned
down that which you want most in this life. That is why I want to know.
Now please answer my question."
Christine sat for a long time looking into her wineglass. He did not hurry
her. A thousand answers ran through her mind. A thousand things to say to
him. Finally she chose simplicity.and honesty. "Yes, I still love you."
He leaned back in his chair. Did not say anything for some time. "It was
difficult, then, what I put you through?"
*See nothing changes.* She drank some more wine. "Yes, Spock. It was
He nodded. "I remember everything that happened. I remember you telling
me that I would feel differently once the orchids wore off. You were
correct. I do feel differently."
She put down her glass and walked quickly to the door. "Well that's great,
Spock. I'm so glad we had this little talk." She wanted to say more but
she felt the tears coming. *I will not break down in front of you, you
"You did not let me finish. I feel differently because I am no longer.how
did you put it.stoned out of my mind on chemicals."
"Good for you, Spock, glad you're back in control."
Before she could take another step he was in front of her. "You would run
"Oh go to hell, Spock!" She tried to go around him. "Just go to hell!"
"It is getting crowded there. I prefer to stay here. With you." He
pulled her into his arms.
"Damn you! I hate you!"
She was struggling wildly, and her emotion made her strong. If Spock had
not been Vulcan, she would have broken away. As it was he had a hard time
holding her. Finally she gave up, slumped in his arms and repeated
brokenly, "I hate you. I hate you. I hate you."
His hands held her tightly as he whispered, "That is too bad, Christine.
Because I believe I love you."
She got very quiet and stiff in his arms as he continued, "I don't know
when I started to feel for you. But I have always had a great fondness for
you. It was impossible though for me to indulge those feelings. I was
promised to T'Pring. I had to honor that commitment. And you deserved
better than what little I could give you. So I avoided you. And even
after I was free I still was unsure. I admired you, but you were human. I
was not sure that I wanted to be involved with a human."
She spoke so low he barely heard her, "But that's changed?"
He pulled away from her, made sure she was looking at him. "Down on the
planet. I had the chance to really see you. I found many more things to
admire about you. And I could finally tell you. That night of the Casca,"
he half smiled at her, "I stood over you as you slept. And later, I spent
many hours considering, thinking. But before I could do anything the
orchids arrived. I stopped thinking and started feeling. I acted out of
character, but I did not lie to you."
She waited as he paused. His fingers found her face, traced her features.
She closed her eyes and shivered at his light touch. "You could have had
me, Christine. I would have been yours forever. But you turned that down.
"It would have been wrong. It would have been cheating. And I would never
have known if you really loved me."
"Let me show you." He leaned in but stopped when his lips were just shy of
hers. "Is kissing still bad?"
She laughed. "No, it's our friend."
"One can never have too many friends," he teased as his lips found hers in
a gentle kiss. His arms pulled her close as his kiss became more
insistent. His fingers found her face but he did not force the meld. "You
said to ask first? Let me show you how I feel? Let me know how you feel?"
She kissed him again and whispered through the kiss, "Yes." She felt the
same shock of presence as when they had been dancing. Then he opened up
his mind to hers. She felt everything that had happened, on the planet,
and before that on the ship. Saw how he had tried to spare her.
Experienced his regard, his fondness, his lust. She sensed his questions
for her. Sent him all the things he needed to know. Sent him her love.
Felt his own come back to her.
*Do we wait?* she heard him ask.
*What would be the point?* she replied.
*Logical,* he commended as he scooped her up and carried her into the
The next morning, after much loving and very little sleep, Spock and
Christine ran into McCoy as they came out of Spock's room.
McCoy stopped in astonishment. "Well this is a surprise. Anything you two
kids want to tell me?"
Spock looked at Christine and she nodded, grinning evilly.
"Yes, Doctor," Spock said evenly. "Go to hell."