The cave glows with flickering light, twenty-three firepots, in alcoves on the wall, set back so robes, sheets, hair won't catch fire in the heat of passion. The room lacks a bed, the floor covered instead with cushions—mattress-sized pads, all of Vulcan silk. Blues and reds and golds, primary colors abounding in a place Chapel thinks of as universally beige and gray. Constant logic strikes her that way, dismal and dim and dull. But the fabrics speak of passion, of sex and blood and the strong, sensual sting of the sun.
Earlier, heart beating hard and fast, sweat pooling in her palms, Chapel counted the firepots while Spock meditated, calling on whatever logic he could still find. She would have counted the cushions but for his hands, suddenly crawling over her, finding garment fasteners and the clips that held up her hair. His touch was not gentle, but he didn't hurt her.
She is afraid. She is also aroused. He appeared at her door weeks after she thought he would, his post V'ger emotionalism not enough to make him seek her out for intimacy that was not dictated by his own internal clock. She'd wanted to be desired for herself, not because hormones told him to find a woman, any woman, and spill his seed. But it was not to happen that way.
He appeared at her door only once she'd stopped hoping. Desperate, damaged even—his logic unraveling, his emotions spilling forth. His embarrassment spoke volumes. "It is the Pon Farr," he said as if naming a rash, a humiliating disease. "Brought on by V'ger, perhaps," he said. "The meld. After Gol, purging emotion." He looked down and held his hand out. "You once had feelings for me."
She did not correct him, tell him once equaled still, feelings equaled love. She nodded and listened as he talked of shuttles and short trips to Vulcan and Kirk being all right with it, no need to commandeer the ship. She'd never heard Spock babble, but words flowed out like soup, like vomit, like blood in a hemorrhaging patient.
One day to get to Vulcan, and on the shuttle, he'd held in his need, but several times, when she'd tried to reach out to him, he'd glared, his eyes hooded and angry as if it was her fault he wanted her—or wanted sex. She was incidental, handy, the pathetic sexual constant in his life, never used but always there.
Never used till now.
She lets Spock push her onto a red and gold cushion, chevron patterns surrounding them. The Vulcan silk feels good, a luxury to put such costly fabric in this place, but she imagines over time any other fabric would rub and chafe and feel like sandpaper, coarser and coarser grade as the sex continues. She turns her head, studies the grain of the silk because it is easier to look at than Spock's empty, burning eyes.
He is naked, and as his doctor and earlier a nurse, she has seen him naked. But never like this, erect and reaching for her, his eyes burning with a lust she is not fool enough to think is for her specifically. Any willing woman would do.
"I love you." It is Will's voice she hears, Will's hands on her body, Will's smile as he tells her she'll be his CMO. Her future was supposed to be with him, not here, not on Vulcan, not for a moment being held by this man she loved before Will and loves still.
Ilia was Will's Spock. At least one of them will have a happy ending.
She told Spock, while he was babbling on about plotting courses to Vulcan and how tradition must be honored, that she'd been with Will, before Ilia came back, before her captain for a moment joined with V'ger and found his destiny. She told Spock she was thinking of transferring off, even if it wasn't precisely true. But to see what he might say, if finally, with his blood starting to burn and his need so apparent, he would give her something—anything—to hang onto. Even "I need you" would have sufficed.
Instead he asked her not to transfer off before they resolved this. She assumes she will be free to go once they are done. Perhaps he already has the transfer pending in a file on one of his padds. He can hit "Submit" and she will be launched into space, an irritant, easily treated by modern bureaucracy. Thank you for your service. Good luck on your next assignment.
"Do not transfer until we have resolved this." His response echoes in emptiness.
We. This. Such misleading words. There is no we, there is only this, and she fears this will be nothing like what she wants. There will be no candles, even if fire surrounds them. No soft music, no romantic dinner, no chocolates or a dozen exotic roses from some special place. There will be no soft kisses, the way Will kissed her, or discussions about science after making love, the way she and Roger did.
She will transfer when this is over, once her heart has been fully broken. She will transfer when her dreams are dead, her love lying beaten and shattered in the remnants of whatever this will prove to be. She will not cry and she will not berate him. She will, hopefully, be able to walk out of here on her own power, pull some measure of dignity around her, and find her way home unharmed. But it may not work this way, for Spock has not told her much. Except that she should not leave until they resolve this.
And she suddenly hates him for that. He kisses down her body—not her mouth though, why not her mouth? He lets his fingers play with her breasts, gently then harder, squeezing, slapping even, but not to hurt, more to...own.
He owns her and will never want her once this over. Well, until the next burning comes. Another this to resolve.
He is pushing into her, hard and hot, and she slaps his face, the blow sending a pins-and-needles shockwave through her palm. Astonishment like lightning on his face, and she thinks he growls, ever so slightly, like her cat used to do when she was a child, pushing and petting until the animal wanted no more. Spock lies pressing against her opening, and she tries to draw back, as much as she can as his body weighs her down, as his hands hold her shoulders, pushing her almost painfully into the cushion.
"You are mine." His voice is as close to a growl as she thinks he could come. There is not one iota of affection in his expression, and from his eyes, fury blares.
"I'm not ready. You've done nothing for me." She reaches down, past the shaft she has dreamt about having inside her, and grabs his balls, playing not gently the way she has thought about but pulling, almost to the point where she will cause him pain. "I will hurt you if you don't work harder for me. You owe me that much."
For a moment, rage seems to fill him, and he tenses on top of her. Rage she has only seen once, when soup flew out of his quarters, when he berated her on what was seemly and what was not.
Is this seemly? Starting what appears to be a marathon sexual session without properly preparing your partner? Because it does not feel seemly to her; she is giving him everything she has, including her hopes and dreams, and although she knows he will shatter them, she will not have him destroy her body this soon in the process.
He presses harder and she begins to squeeze, nails in play, not just fingers. "I mean it, Spock."
His expression changes, the fury, the fierceness fade in the face of her attack on his body, some semblance of the rational him appearing, a look she can't read on his face, and he murmurs, "I...I am unsure that I can."
She doesn't care if he means he doesn't know how or doesn't have time before the Pon Farr takes him over completely. She pushes him down, her hands on his shoulders, only stopping when his mouth hovers where he was pressing before. "Do it." She has no idea if Vulcans go down on their partners, and it is irrelevant to her at this moment. She will be satisfied, at least once, before this starts and perhaps turns into something dark and rough and the kind of thing you never, ever talk about once it's done.
He does not argue, says something that sounds agreeable, but the words are semi swallowed as he dips in, his tongue and lips and then fingers finding places that need touching, loving—no, not that, she mustn't think in terms of love. Better to focus on the sucking and kissing and licking.
Her release is complete, and she arches into his mouth, calling his name, hating that she does that, wishing she could hurt Spock with someone else's name on her lips as she comes. Will's or Roger's. Maybe Jim or Len or Hikaru. But it is untrue that she thinks of anyone but him, and while she would like to hurt him, she has never been a liar if she can help it. She's left out plenty of truths, but overt lies are not her preference.
Then again, lying naked under a man who feels nothing for her, for whom she is only a warm body, a willing spirit, a weak sense of self-preservation, may well cause preferences to change, modes of operations to morph into something crueler, something stronger than the love she still feels for him.
The love that she thinks may be the end of her, at least for a while.
But she will transfer off. It will get easier. They will see each other in Command's harshly lit hallways and nod quickly, eager to end the interaction, neither looking at the other longer than is polite.
She will forget him.
"Now, may I?" His voice, so ferocious, a dichotomy as he asks permission.
"Yes, now you may."
And he is inside her, and it feels as she imagined it might. Too many fantasies have been given over to this man, too much time spent wanting, waiting, wondering how to make herself more attractive, more his woman. She gave up when she left the ship for med school. Abandoned the blonde and embraced brunette, the color of night, the color of coffee and chocolate and stout and every other thing Spock would never put into his body.
But now, he is putting himself eagerly into her body, thrusting more lightly than she expects—although he is not being gentle, just not as brutal as she feared. She turns her head, looks at the cushion beyond the one they lie on. Blue and gold, in a pattern of broken stripes.
"Look at me."
She slowly turns back, and he kisses her, his lips hard on hers, forcing her mouth open, tongue finding hers, and he grabs her wrists and pulls her arms over her head. She feels: owned. She feels like she is his, and it is arousing and what she has wanted, and she tries to get away but his grip is like shackles, hot cuffs made of ever-tightening fingers.
She comes, and she thinks she hears him murmur, "Yessssssss," the "s" turning into the hiss of a snake—are there snakes on Vulcan? Venomous ones, even? Do they need snakes when they have this, the burning, the thing that makes her foolishly think he feels more than he does, that he wants her not just any woman. That will hurt like venom when she wakes up and finds he does not.
"You are mine," he says, over and over, as his thrusts grow harder, as he lets go of her arms and pulls her legs around his waist. As he comes.
They are both breathing hard, his weight not such a burden when the cushion gives just enough, the silk along the length of her cool and sleek. He is still hard inside her, but he lies still, only his hands moving, as he slides them along her face, seeming to get to know the angle of her nose, her cheekbones, how full her lips are, and then, after he kisses her hard, he runs his finger over them again and smiles—a small smile, but still a smile—at how they are puffier from his touch.
She closes her eyes and rides out his caresses, trying not to read into them, trying not to make tender equal loving. It is impossible, though, as he continues his exploration on her neck, leaving marks, no doubt, from where he is sucking, purplish bruises that will say she was his once but no more. Then he pulls out of her and moves down, to her breasts, back and forth, and he begins to speak, talking to her—or them, she is not sure which—noting relative size before his lips and after, before he sucks and then once he's done.
And then he is kissing her belly, down and down and—she arches her back, shocked that he has gone back to this, now, when she does not need to be made ready. He is even better the second time and she calls out loudly, then bites back the noise as she falls down and down and down.
He is in her again, taking his own pleasure, murmuring, "You may make as much noise as you wish," and then taking his own advice. His voice doesn't echo, the cushions over the floor sucking up the sound, but he is loud in their fire-lit cave.
"Do not transfer off," he says into a silence broken only by the harshness of their breathing.
She turns her head, gaze fixed on a scarlet cushion.
He eases her head back; she has to look at him. "Do not transfer off."
She closes her eyes, wishing he would be quiet. This—whatever he says during the burning—is nothing to pin hopes on, nothing to hold close and try to get warm by. He may say anything, even that he loves her, and it will mean nothing. It will mean less than nothing, because unlike a throwaway endearment during sex with someone who she does not love, this will cut her to her depths.
"Will you not answer, Christine?"
She opens her eyes, wants him to see that she is wise to this: she is not going to be fooled. "Tell me that when we're back on the ship. When your hormones and neurotransmitters aren't elevated. When you are yourself again."
"Very well." He frowns, and there is such a wealth of emotion in the expression that she wants to believe he is hurt by her answer, by her lack of faith—by her rationalism. Irony: they are naked and she is the logical one.
She wakes, the whirring of her regenerator making her raise herself on her elbows to see Spock working, easing her pain, the signs of overuse, as if her intimate bits are some circuit board. But what he is doing is making her feel better, so she lies back down and lets him work.
"How long?" The words are cracked, dusty lizards trying to escape the parched pit that is her mouth.
"Thirty-six hours," he says, handing her a glass of water, and she drinks while he works on her, moving up, until he gets to her neck.
She can imagine what the marks look like. Small, mouth-shaped bullets of bruises around her throat. She has not had a hickey since she was a teenager. "Do you want me to fix those?" His look is so strange, she does not think he will do it.
"I marked you. On purpose." He sets the regenerator down, trails his fingers around her neck, jumping from bruise to bruise. "They serve no other function. This was deliberate." He meets her eyes. "I...enjoy seeing them on your neck."
"Give me the scanner."
He reaches behind him, hands her the scanner she brought, that he has no doubt been using to discover what needs fixing on her. She scans him and then does it again. Nearly all his levels are at Vulcan normal.
What he just said, about enjoyment, about marks on her body left by him, he meant.
He lies down next to her, snakes his arm around her waist, under her breasts, and leans in, his lips finding one of the spots on her neck. He sucks gently and she hisses in pain.
"Do not transfer off," he says.
"I said not till we were on the ship."
"You also said not until my readings were at Vulcan normal. I did not only check you, Christine. I also checked myself." He kisses his way to the next hickey, sucks again and she cries out, but she is becoming aroused, and she can feel he is too, as he grows against her leg. "Do not transfer off the ship. You had feelings for me before you became involved with Commander Decker."
"Yes, I did." Is this all there will be. That he owns her? That he wants her because she is his? What of how he feels for her? Where is the tenderness? Where are any of the things she wants—needs from him?
He reaches down, playing gently, then more forcefully, knowing what she likes now, how to get her there quickly or very, very slowly. This time, he goes for slow, and she is writhing beneath his hand, and his lips—he is kissing her?
He pulls his fingers away just as she is about to go over, resisting her attempts to move against him, to bring herself all the way. And he does not stop kissing her. Finally, he touches her again, lets her go, his mouth moving off her, and she thinks it is so she can cry out, loudly. Does he want to hear her helpless for him? Crying out so brokenly, a slave to his fingers?
She turns to look at him; he wears a lazy smile. Not a human smile, but still it is one.
"Do not transfer off, Christine. Let us...explore this further."
This. She does not think he will ever name it. If she needs to hear him say love, she may be forever disappointed. But he is looking at her as if her answer is all important to him. When she reaches out to touch his cheek, his eyes close as if nothing could make him happier than to have her hand on his skin.
When she says, "Okay," he seems to exhale—in relief? In satisfaction? Both, perhaps.
"The ship will not be here for another day. Jim left a message that they will be delayed." The look in his eyes can only be called mischievous. "I can think of many things to do, unless you wish to sleep more?"
"Those things involve me—my body?" Not her heart. She must get used to that.
But if that is the case, why is she so moved when he says, "Precisely," and pulls her to him for a deep kiss, positioning her so he can move into her, holding her leg as if she might want to escape. Is it love if he won't ever tell her he loves her? Is it love if she feels something from him, something that says he does not want her to go, to ever be separate from him? If his eyes are gentle as they are now, while he thrusts and kisses and groans?
Is love so crucial a thing to hear him speak of, if all his actions support it?
"I love you." It is out, this thing he will never say, this thing she has to say. This thing that may grow and fester as it becomes not a declaration but a gap between them. What she will admit to, what he never will.
"You do not know me, Christine. And I do not know you. Not in ways other than this sharing of bodies." His voice is gentle, gentle as tears that she will not cry.
"I know." She closes her eyes, not wanting to look at him after saying the words: the words he does not want to hear.
He kisses her until she finally opens her eyes. Laying a hand on either side of her face, he pulls away, so they can see each other fully. "Tell me again when that is no longer true. When we understand each other. When we know if we are compatible in ways other than physical. You may be surprised by my response."
She waits to feel the hurt of rejection, but the logical part of her, the part of her that is a scientist, says he is right. That he is wise. That the only possible answer to that is: "Okay."
And then to wait and see what happens.
He seems to relax and rests his head on her shoulder as she strokes his hair. He sighs and it is a beautiful sound, the whisper of a stream, the wings of a seagull at the ocean. His voice is sleepy as he says, "I will endeavor not to hurt you."
Perhaps that is all one can ask.