First, Do No Harm by Djinn

The darkness is complete as your whispered urgings fill the small room. The night air from the open window wafts over you as you touch her, making her moan. Her body moves under yours, and you sigh in pleasure. She reaches for you, pulling your face down to kiss her, and you pretend that it is you that she really wants. You make believe that she smiles when you whisper that you love her. Shore leave is for pretending and you are good at it. Until she moans his name and you try not to wince. She never calls out your name.

You know it's not you that she wants. Yet she comes back over and over. She uses you and you let her. You invite the touches that she knows excite you. You welcome the kisses, the clutching arms, the legs wrapped around you. You even pretend she loves you. You ignore how she turns away when you tell her how much you care. You know she doesn't like to hear that. Truth is not welcome in the bed you share. She seeks oblivion not clarity. For a night she is yours and then she will be gone. And you will make your way back to the ship alone and tired. Where she will be waiting. Cool and professional again. When you see her, you will want to shake her, you will want to make her admit that what you shared has touched her in some way. But you won't and she won't and life will go on.

No one knows you do this. No one guesses she comes to you. And you don't tell anyone because you can't bear for it to end. You want her more than you thought possible. You suspect you want her because you can't have her. You have abandoned self-respect and pride. And you aren't exactly sure why.

As she groans in completion, gives you a breathless kiss, you try to remember a time when you did not want her. Perhaps when you first reported to the ship? She was already serving aboard, calmly assessing you as you greeted your new staff. She had worked for other doctors. Who were you? How were you any different than them? You were just another in the endless parade through sickbay. Despite the smile she wore, you did not miss that her eyes held little welcome. And maybe it was then that you began the battle to win her over? You were used to a certain amount of success with women, but she didn't seem charmed by the Southern gentleman routine that had captivated so many others. Your soft accent and the sparkle in your blue eyes seemed to do nothing for her. She was a challenge.

You pull her to you again; capture her lips with yours. Her body is strong, firm. She is bigger than you, stands slightly taller than you do. You love the feel of her, the warmth of her as her solid body overwhelms your slender frame. She is nothing like the delicate women you've been drawn to in the past. You are not even sure that you find her pretty. Not that it matters. You want her more than anything.

And she wants someone else. And he doesn't want her. A vicious cycle that at first you thought only to exploit. You would taste this woman who did not want you. You would have her. And you did. She came to you one shore leave. Came to you for comfort. You'd won her over that far, at least. You were like some favorite uncle, always there for advice, a warm hand, or a sympathetic ear. So she came to you and poured out her heart. She loved another; he wanted nothing to do with her. Your arms were strong and she fell into them willingly. Support turned to sex. Neither of you talked about it when it was over. But the next shore leave she was back and you had her again. And again. And again. You do not want to think of how long this has gone on. How many times you have played out this game when you are not even sure that you like her.

She exhales and her warm breath on your neck makes you shiver. Her hand unexpectedly finds yours, squeezes it. You wonder if she is pretending it is him. You hate him sometimes and suspect she is the reason you bait him so unmercifully. Because he could have her. Because she would give him everything. Because she loves him.

You wonder if she would love you if you had pointed ears. You consider how easy it would be to change yours, just a simple operation. It is not the first time you have considered it. You hate wanting her this much. In fact, you hate her much of the time. Sickbay has become a bloodless war zone. After shore leave, she will push you away, and you will make clear the distance between your positions. You have perfected the snide put down, the dismissive remark. And she can insult you in ways too subtle for rebuke. She can rip out your soul with a glance, and you can shred her pride with a handful of words. Everyone in sickbay assumes you dislike each other. Everyone may be right.

"I'm sorry," she suddenly whispers into the darkness.

"What for?" you ask. Your heart beats faster and you have to hold back hope. She has never apologized before.

"For this," she says. Her voice is husky, deep, and you react to it as always. "For everything..." she trails off weakly.

Your hand steals out, almost of its own accord, to touch her breast, then move down her body. "I like this," you murmur, as your lips follow the path your hand has taken.

"I don't love you," she says, her voice impassive enough to impress a Vulcan.

"You think I don't know that?" you reply, and there is an edge to your voice, a hint of sickbay creeping into shore leave.

"I just thought..." She trails off as you touch her even lower. You know what she likes. You know how to move her...physically, at least. Her emotions remain a mystery.

As she shudders beneath you, you wonder what she was thinking, why she chose to speak. Your shore leaves are silent. Words belong to sickbay. Words belong to those who don't like each other, who rip and tear as they pick at one another in each cordial verbal assault. You have learned to smile as you wound. So has she. In the darkness, you cannot see if she is smiling.

In the darkness, you cannot tell if she closes her eyes. But the darkness does not shield you from hearing her call out for him. And you hate him again. But he is your friend. How can you hate him? Easier then to hate her. Simpler to blame her for calling out his name when she comes. Even though you have never told her she does it. You don't think she even knows she is doing it. She would not be that mean. Not here. In sickbay, cruelty is expected, but on shore leave you are unexpectedly gentle with each other. So you have never told her that she hurts you every time you bring her pleasure.

"I'm leaving." Her words hang in the blackness of the room.

You ignore her. She has threatened this before. She never goes.

"Did you hear me? I'm leaving."

You laugh. The sound is foreign to this setting. Sex with her is serious, grim and frantic. Loving her is dark. Nothing to laugh about.

She sighs. Then she rolls away from you and turns the lamp on. You blink, eyes closing in the sudden onslaught of light.

Once you get used to the brightness, you stare at her body, lying naked on top of the covers, skin still slightly flushed. Except for the first time, you have not been allowed to see this. She comes to you when night falls, touches you in the darkness, and is gone before dawn breaks. Like some kind of vampire sucking the life out of you.

"Turn it off," you mutter, your tone harsh.

"I'm leaving," she says again, and this time you can see her eyes as she speaks. She means it.

She is leaving?

"Why?" you manage to croak.

"I've been accepted at Starfleet Medical. I'm going back to finish my degree."

You cannot look away from her. Her eyes are filled with some strange sadness. Medical school? You realize that she would have needed references, that she didn't ask you to be one of them.

"I'm sorry." She looks away.

You sit up; your nakedness makes you awkward and you consider getting dressed, then dismiss the notion. Let her see the body she's being using, you think, as you stare hungrily at hers. You ignore her apology and ask, "When?"


"When, damn it!" Anger and bitterness fill your voice. She will be gone soon. She will leave you soon.

"I transfer at Starbase Four."

Tomorrow. She will be gone tomorrow. You are stunned.

She gets out of bed, begins to dress, and you watch her. As she sits to pull on her boots, you reach out. Your touch on her shoulder is soft, your voice even softer, as you say, "It's not morning, yet."

She turns to look at you. There is infinite tenderness in her eyes as she whispers, "It was morning a long time ago, Len."

You close your eyes, then open them so you can watch her get up. Just before she reaches the door, you ask, "Did you ever wish that you could love me?"

She stops. "Yes."

You wait for more but there is nothing else.

"I love you," you say, knowing it makes no difference but needing to say it anyway.

The words fall to the ground somewhere between the two of you. You can practically hear them hit the wooden floor, shatter from the impact of a love too brittle and heavy for her to want to take it with her.

She looks down at where you imagine the words fell. Then she looks up, and you see that she is crying. "Goodbye, Len."

You wait until she is gone before you whisper, "Good luck, Christine."