Plato's Gift

Kirk could still smell the heavy cologne the Platonians had doused him with, the cologne that no amount of scrubbing could get rid of entirely. He rubbed his forehead, felt his temples throb. His head was killing him-- a kironide aftereffect coupled with sensory overload from his encounter with 'Eau d'Tacky for Men.'

He glanced over at Uhura. She was busy at her board, keying in the warning message for the communications buoy he had set into orbit around Platonius.

She turned to look at him, her eyes mischievous enough to make him wonder what exactly she'd put in the message. "All set, sir." She turned back to the board.

She didn't seem to be demonstrating any lingering trauma--or attachment-- from the little show Parmen had forced them to put on. He should have known she'd be fine. Uhura was much tougher than she looked. And not one to misconstrue what that kiss had meant.

"Then let's get the hell out of here. Mister Sulu, ahead warp six."

"Ahead warp six. Aye, sir."

"I'll be in sickbay," he said as he pushed himself out of his chair with a little too much gusto. His head throbbed even worse. "I've got a headache the size of Parmen's ego."

Uhura smiled. "My condolences."

He nodded carefully, unwilling to set the pain in motion again. He stepped into the turbolift and rode it down to sickbay. McCoy's office was dark; in fact, the main sickbay ward was darkened so that the few patients could sleep. He saw a light on in Chapel's office, walked over softly.

She was staring at her terminal, lost in what looked to be research.

"Miss Chapel?"

She looked up startled. "Sir. I'm sorry. I didn't know you were there." She turned to face him. "What can I do for you?"

"Can you get rid of this damned cologne?"

She looked immediately sympathetic. "If I could, I wouldn't still be wearing mine. I call it 'I'm-a-Big-Slut Number Five.' Sure to be a hit on Orion."

He laughed. "I can't even smell it." It was a lie. He could smell it, just as he could smell Uhura's on the bridge. Neither smelled good. But they didn't need to know that. "All I can smell is my own and it's giving me a headache."

She stood. "That I can help you with." She led him out to a diagnostic bed, ran the scanner over him. "Part of the pain is a reaction to the kironide. I know you were desperate, but it was dangerous to inject it without testing it first."

He nodded. "Has Spock been complaining?"

She shot him a look. "I really wouldn't know, Captain."

"He hasn't stopped by? To see how you are?"

She shot him an even darker look. "No." She filled a hypospray with one compound then asked, "Are you going back to the bridge?"

"A captain's work is never done." He scratched at his arm.

"Then I can't give you the good stuff." She pulled down another bottle from the cabinet. "But this should do the trick for now. Come back when you're done with your shift if it's still hurting, and I'll give you something stronger." She laid the hypospray against his neck, the metal cool against his skin.

He closed his eyes at the sensation.

She pulled it away. "You're all set."

"Okay." He scratched at the other arm; the itch seemed to start back up as soon as he took his fingers away.

"Let me see that." She gently pulled his hand away. "Hives. Don't scratch." She scanned him. "You're having some kind of systemic reaction. I'm going to do a full work up." She fiddled with her instruments for a moment, batting away the hand he brought up to scratch. Then she reached for another hypo. "This should help the itching."

Again the hypo felt cool against his strangely sensitive skin. "I'm all right for duty?"

"As far as I can tell from this. If I find anything in my analysis, you'll be the first to know." She looked down at his arm, where more red welts stood out. "Maybe you shouldn't go back to the bridge."

He hopped down from the table. "Shift's almost over. I'll be fine."

She nodded, but didn't look convinced. "Damn Platonians." Her tone was bitter.

"Do you need to talk about it?"

"What? About being humiliated in front of a jeering crowd. Of nearly being burned." She held a hand to her cheek, her voice dropped, became distant. "I could feel the heat coming off that poker. Even from that far away. I kept thinking, 'This can't be happening.' But it was happening." She seemed to come back to the present, smiled lightly. "You kept it from happening. I owe you."

He sat down across from her. "Part of the job."

She grinned. "Of hero?"

He nodded.

"You do it well. Keep doing it." Her look darkened. "Next time do it before they bring me down for the floor show."

"I'll try."

There was an uncomfortable silence, then he said, "I know you have feelings for Spock. What happened down there couldn't have helped."

"Oh, I don't know. I found out he's not much of a kisser." The joke fell flat and she looked away.

He waited.

She shook her head in a way that let him know the discussion was over. "I need to analyze this, sir. And you have a ship to steer."

He grinned. "Actually that's Sulu's job."

She laughed. "Whatever. Go be captain, Captain."

"Aye-aye, Nurse." He grinned.

She grinned back and the expression made her look younger, softer somehow. He stood quickly and headed for the bridge. As he walked down the corridor, he felt a wave of dizziness and stopped, putting his hand out against the bulkhead to steady himself.

"Sir? Are you all right?" a crewman asked.

He straightened. "Fine. Just a tough landing party."

He smiled at the crewman, recognized him as Taveris, recently assigned to the ship. This was his first posting. "Enjoying yourself so far, Taveris?"

The crewman beamed. "Oh, yes, sir!" His enthusiasm was contagious.

Kirk grinned. "Glad to hear it." He waved Taveris on, then continued to the turbolift. The trip to the bridge was no longer than normal, yet he felt a surge of panic, as if the doors were never going to open. The walls felt as if they were closing in on him. He nearly ran out of the lift when it arrived on the bridge.

Uhura shot a startled look at him. He took a deep breath and slowly walked to his chair, sitting down gratefully. Nothing was wrong. Nothing was wrong. It was a hugely ineffective mantra. Something was very wrong. He felt a flush, his arm itched again. He could fill the tingle of sweat at his temples, and he hadn't moved from his chair. He sat quietly, trying to ignore the strange intense feeling that was shooting through him. A feeling that seemed to be centered in his groin.

He fought the need to get up and pace. He took a deep breath, and it came out nearly as a pant. He had to get off the bridge. But how much should he say to his officers?

"Chapel to Captain Kirk."

He practically leapt for the comm button on his chair. "Kirk here."

"Sir, I've found something you might want to see."

"On my way." He stood up too quickly, his head swam, and he grasped the chair.

"Sir?" Uhura was on her feet, a worried look on her face.

"I'm all right. Just a bad reaction to that kironide." He shot her his trademark grin. "I'll see you next shift. Sulu, you have the conn."

Sulu turned to look at him. "Aye, sir." He looked at Uhura, nodded toward Kirk as if telling her to help him.

She walked toward him, and Kirk caught a whiff of her perfume. It smelled good. That was not a good sign. He waved her away, hurried off the bridge.

The turbolift seemed even smaller this time. He closed his eyes and counted to ten as the lift slowed and opened and he rushed out, practically running to sickbay.

Chapel looked up at him as he stumbled in too quickly, nearly crashing into her office door. She shook her head as she steered him into her chair.

Her perfume smelled intoxicating. He leaned in and took a deeper whiff.

She pushed him away. "This is worse than I thought."

"What...the hell...is going on." He scratched at his arm.

She shot him with another hypo. "This should stop the itch." She gave him a strange smile.

He shook his head, scratched again.

"Not right this minute. Give it time to work." She pulled his hand away.

He stared down at her hands. Her skin was so soft, the fingers tapered and strong. He looked up at her. He'd never realized how blue her eyes were. Or how nice her legs were. As nice as Janice's had been. He smiled.

Chapel knelt down. "Captain Kirk, we need to get you to your quarters."

He smiled. "Why are you talking to me like I'm drunk? I'm perfectly fine." He reached out and stroked her cheek.

"Perfectly. Right." She pulled him up, grabbed her scanner and pushed him gently out the door.

He nodded and walked carefully down the corridor. "I can get home on my own, Chapel."

A pretty young ensign walked past and he turned and followed her. Chapel's grip on his arm brought him up short.

"Your quarters are this way, Casanova."

"You're out of line, Chris." He smiled. Chris. It was a nice name. He didn't call her that very often. He turned to look at her. "Spock should have checked on you."

"Yes, sir." She herded him into a lift, then back out when they hit his deck. "Just ahead, sir."

He smiled. His dizziness faded and he walked with more assurance. He felt good, really good. He palmed the door open, gestured for her to precede him. "So, are you going to tell me what is going on? I'm most certainly not myself."

"It's that damned kironide." She locked the door. "You were fools to use it, even if it did save us all."

"Don't sugarcoat it, Chris." He grinned.

"Kironide is processed by the pituitary gland."

He nodded. "I know. That's why Alexander couldn't use it. His pituitary doesn't work right. It's why he's so short."

"That's right. Lack of growth hormone." She sat down on his couch, pointed to a chair very far from her. "Sit."

He deliberately sat next to her. She really did smell great. He scooted closer.

She moved away and began to scan him, frowning at the readings. "I thought that injection would help."

"It did. My arms don't itch anymore." He looked down at them; the angry red welts were gone. "Look, no hives."

"That wasn't exactly the itch I meant." She held out the scanner. "Can you read this?"

He saw a lot of funny lines, all heading upward. "Something looks elevated. I take it that's not good." The intense feeling was coursing through him again and he found himself mesmerized by the way her uniform clung to her breasts.

"This is FSH, this one is LH. That kironide you injected caused your pituitary to overmanufacture these hormones. Do you know what they do?"

He shook his head.

"Regulate desire for one thing." She got up, moved away. "Sexual desire."

He couldn't take his eyes off her. "So your diagnosis is that I'm horny?"

"To put it mildly, yes."

He fought the feelings that were coursing through him. He could control himself. "You have a cure?"

She moved over to him, scanned him. "The levels are dropping very slowly, so it doesn't seem like a permanent condition."

He was excruciatingly aware of how close she was standing. He reached for a pillow, put it over his lap. "Good." He moved uncomfortably. "This is embarrassing as hell."

She sat down. "It could be hours."

"I'll just pretend I'm a teenager again."

She smiled tentatively. "I think the levels would fall more quickly if you were to ummm..."

He looked at her sharply. She was blushing furiously.

"That's your clinical opinion?"

She met his eyes. "I think it would help."

Now it was his turn to blush. "Okay, then. When you're gone. I'll...you know."

She inched closer. "Wouldn't it be better with someone?"

Hell, yes, he wanted to say. Instead, he just shrugged.

She looked away, then she slowly reached over and took his hand.

"Chris, no." He tried to pull away, but not with much conviction.

"You were kind to me when we found Roger. You were careful with his reputation when it was all over. I've never forgotten that."

He smiled gently. "It wasn't how I wanted that to go for you."

"No. Me neither." She slowly twined her fingers with his.

He gasped. It was like being a teenager again. The least little movement of hers, the smallest touch, and he was completely focused on that part of her body. He reached down, rubbed his other hand over her leg, which she'd pressed firmly against his.

She sucked in breath, then she licked her lips. He stared at where her tongue had been, mesmerized by the thought of it touching him.

"And you did save me from whatever Parmen had planned with that poker." She turned, met his eyes fearlessly.

"Chris. I can't give you anything beyond tonight. It should mean something."

"It will. It'll mean thanks." She gently moved the pillow off his lap; her hand took its place. "You can't tell me that you don't want me."

He closed his eyes. "No, I guess I can't."

Her grasp grew firmer. "I tend to be an empirical scientist, Jim. I like to observe reactions." She looked up at him suddenly. "I can call you Jim?"

"I think at this point it's required."

She laughed, and he was very grateful for the genuineness of her smile, for the way her eyes sparkled as she leaned in to kiss him. Her lips were incredibly soft against his. He pulled her closer, felt her tongue run along his upper lip, sending shivers down his spine straight to where she was still holding him.

"God," he moaned.

He opened his mouth to her, felt her tongue meet his. His body surged with desire and he began to open her uniform. Then he stopped. "You're still on duty?"

She shook her head. "Nurse Kimble was nice enough to relieve me."

"I should give her a medal," he said as he gently pulled away from her enough to stand. "You don't have to do this, Chris."

"I know." She stood, took his hand when he held it out. He led her into the bedroom, was suddenly in no mood to rush despite the surging hormones telling him to hurry and take her.

She began to undo his uniform and he realized her hands were shaking. "Chris?"

She smiled as if embarrassed. "It's been a while." She looked away. "Can you forget how to do it?"

He pulled her close, kissed her again, and wondered if she had any idea how she felt in his arms, how good her body felt pressed against his. "I don't think you can," he whispered as he pulled the last of her clothes off.

She eased back onto the bed, her eyes locked with his as he followed her. He kissed her lazily, holding her close, one hand tangled in her hair. Then he pushed her down, began to roam, learning the rise and fall of her body with his mouth, his hands, his tongue. She arched and groaned and he lost himself in the musky scent of her. Holding her down as she bucked beneath him, he memorized the way she moved, how warm her belly became where his hand lay over it, how red her chest was when she finally lay still.

He eased himself up. "See. You didn't forget how."

She grinned. Pushed him over onto his back. "Let's see what else I remember."

Her hand found him again, squeezing and stroking, the torture exquisite. Her mouth captured him, her hand holding him more firmly, and he moaned, his toes curling and his hands digging into the bedspread as she pleasured him. "Oh, god, Chris."

He was close, too close. "Chris, if you don't stop--"

Her hand on his lips stopped his warning, the other hand tightened around him and he gave himself over to her warm sweet mouth, to her tongue running over and around him. He was not quiet when he came.

She looked up at him and began to laugh. "I hope these walls are soundproof."

He pulled her up to him. "I think they are."

"They better be, or your neighbors will call security on me."

"I'll defend you to the death."

Her smile was so tender that he felt something in his chest tighten, something that had little to do with the hormones that were sweeping over him again.

"I hope you didn't expect to get any sleep, Chris."

She shrugged. "Just one of the sacrifices a nurse has to make when caring for a patient."

He kissed her, slowly, tasting himself on her, knowing she was tasting herself on him. The thought made him want her even more. "Please tell me you don't care for all your patients that way."

"No, you're the first."

"Good." He grinned. "You didn't forget that part either." He pushed her to her back, moved over her. "In fact, I'd give you excellent marks." He slowly pushed into her, then groaned as she gripped him, strong muscles holding him like a third hand. Tight, warm. God, it was heaven.

She was watching his face intently. "I told you, it's been a while."

"Is it bad of me to say I'm glad?"

He kissed her when she laughed.

Kirk gave himself over to the motion they were learning together, to the sensation of being captured within her. She wrapped her legs around him, clamped down again and he groaned loudly.

"Here comes security," he whispered.

Her giggle was the sweetest thing he'd ever heard. Spock had no idea what he was missing.

-------------------------------

Chapel woke slowly, her back pressed against Jim's chest. She smiled as she felt his arm tighten around her. Then she yawned noisily.

"What? A half hour nap isn't enough for you?" His voice in her ear was gently amused.

She turned, cuddling in against him. She hadn't expected being with him to be quite this comfortable. Had expected it to be hot...but not warm.

"Good morning," he said, kissing her softly.

"Good morning."

His hand was moving lower and she moaned, then she tried to pull away. "I thought the levels would be down by now. Let me get the scanner."

He held her where she was. "They are down. I'm fine. This is just for us." He kissed her again. "In the time we have left."

She didn't even try to resist him. Pulled him down to her, giving in to his relentless lips, his gentle touch. She moaned and could feel him smile as he kissed her.

"Am I getting to you?"

"As if you don't know the answer to that?" She leaned back, arched as his fingers moved faster, harder. Every inch of her ached from the unexpected pleasure of the night they'd just spent together. It was the best pain in the world. She cried out, clutching and moving and finally laying still.

He stroked her hair off her face. She rolled over, kissed him hard, a strange passion filling her, a kind of desperation. She knew that they couldn't be together, but she didn't want this to end. She crawled on top of him, settled on him with an ease that she wouldn't have believed the night before. He smiled as he watched her ride him, his hand grasping hers, holding her as she arched and controlled him. Then his smile faded, turning to a look much more intense as he thrust over and over, finally crying out and pulling her down to him as he shuddered.

She relaxed against him, kissing his chest as he stroked her hair. His arms tightened around her.

"It's going to be damned hard to see you in sickbay, Chris, and not remember this. Not want it back." His tone was more serious than it had been all night.

"I know." She burrowed her cheek against his chest. "But..." She couldn't say it, couldn't put her plans, the plans she'd told no one about, into words.

"But what?" His touch on her was gentle, sweet.

"I'm thinking about going to med school." She pushed up so she could see her face. "It's what I want to do. What I need to do."

He nodded, his look full of tender understanding. "It's what you should do then. You'll be a great doctor." He grinned. "Just look at your bedside manner. Although I'm not sure it's still bedside if you're in the bed?"

She laughed. "I don't think it is." Her smile faded.

He sighed softly. "When?"

"The interview is in a month, when I'm back on Earth for leave. There's a test if I get through the interview session. That's what I was studying for when you came in. If I pass, I'll come back to the ship until school starts a few months later." She looked down. "I guess I need to tell Len."

"Yes, you should. If you need a reference, I'll be happy to be one."

"Thanks."

She rolled off of him, was about to get up but he grabbed her, pulled her back.

"Jim, it's time to get up."

His breath in her ear made her shiver. "A few more minutes."

She settled against him, sighed as his arm came around to hold her close. "It's not fair." She immediately wished she hadn't said that. He'd misunderstand.

But he didn't. "No, it's not fair, is it?" He tipped her chin up, kissed her with a heartbreaking mixture of passion and desperation. "But life rarely is. Sometimes the best we can do is squeeze out a few perfect moments."

"I guess."

He suddenly grinned. "And if you're not on the ship, then you won't be one of my crew. That might not be a bad thing."

"No, it might not be." She kissed him, losing herself in the feeling of his skin on hers.

His comm unit sounded. "Bridge to Kirk."

Chapel started to giggle. "Busted."

Kirk glared at her, choked back a laugh of his own as he reached for the button by his bed and said, "Kirk here."

"Priority message for you, sir."

"I'll take it in here."

Chapel rolled out of bed, tugged her uniform on. "That's my cue."

He pulled a robe on, then pulled her to him for a quick kiss. "Thank you."

"My pleasure." She grinned.

"And mine."

She hurried out of his room and managed to get out of the immediate vicinity of his quarters without being seen. Allowing herself to relax, she suddenly realized that she had not checked her hair. She reached up, patting down what had to be the worst case of bed head ever. "Oh, shit," she said under her breath.

"Miss Chapel?"

She turned, trying to hide the back of her head from Spock. "Sir?"

He looked surprised at her formality. "I stopped by sickbay last night to check on you, but Nurse Kimble said you had already gone." He looked concerned. "I stopped by your quarters. Several times. You did not sleep there last night?" It was an unusually intrusive question from the Vulcan.

Chapel looked down at his forearms. They were scratched raw.

Hiding a smile, she said, "No. I didn't sleep there last night, Mister Spock." She turned to go.

"Christine?"

She turned back, shot him a questioning look. He never called her by her first name if he could help it.

"Would you like to have dinner with me tonight?"

She smiled gently. The man she'd wanted for so long had finally asked her out. Too bad for him that he'd waited until the one day when he could only come in second best. "I don't think that's wise, sir. But I appreciate the offer." She pointed at his arms. "Stop by sickbay later. I'll give you something for that."

He stared at her, his look slightly perplexed.

She took pity on him. "I'm thinking of going to med school, Spock. Would you be willing to give me a reference?"

She saw him process the implications of her statement. He nodded gravely. "You will be an excellent doctor. And I would be honored to recommend you to Starfleet Medical."

She smiled. This was one hell of a strange morning. "Great. Thanks. I'll see you around."

He nodded. She turned and fled, feeling as if his eyes were burning into her back the whole way down the corridor. She turned gratefully into the turbolift, rode it down one deck to her quarters. They seemed very quiet, very cold after the warmth of Jim's bed. She forced herself to let that thought go. She had work to do, and a friend to tell that she was leaving. McCoy shouldn't hear that from Kirk or Spock. She showered, then dressed and hurried down to sickbay.

McCoy looked up as she stood in his office doorway. "You're not on duty for a few hours."

She nodded. It should not be this hard to tell him. "I want to ask you a favor."

"Shoot." He smiled up at her.

"I want to go to med school. And I want your blessing."

"My blessing? For crying out loud, I've only been telling you to do this for the last year. It's about damn time." He sat back, a look of supreme satisfaction on his face. "When's your interview?"

"Next month."

He turned to his terminal, began calling up files, started sending them to her. "Then you have a lot of prepping to do. If they like you, they'll make you take the aptitude test. And of course, they're going to like you."

She walked over to him, leaned down and hugged him tightly. "I love you."

He patted her arms where they folded around his chest. "Ah, darlin', you know that I love you too. Now get to studying."

"Right."

She turned around, walked out of his office, a happy grin on her face. Then her grin grew. Kirk stood in her office doorway. He held up the scanner.

She walked down to him, aware that she was moving her hips in a manner far more suggestive than she normally would have done around him. "Sir."

His smile was perfectly proper yet it still sent a shiver down her spine. "You forgot this."

She held out her hand, he dropped it in her palm. He didn't touch her. She closed her fingers around the scanner.

"When did you say you'd be starting med school?" He grinned at her, then he headed down the hall to McCoy's office.

She heard McCoy say, "Just a minute, Jim. I have to grab my stuff if we're going down to the planet." He bustled past Kirk, into the main sickbay area.

Kirk turned, stared at her. His expression was unreadable; he didn't look away. She didn't look away either.

Finally, McCoy came back. "Okay, let's go."

The jovial captain was back immediately. He smiled and followed McCoy out.

As he passed her, she said, "Safe trip."

"Goodbye, Chris," he said, the smile in his eyes changing to a look full of want, a look that was quickly pushed away.

"Goodbye," she whispered, then turned back to her office to start studying. It took her a long time to stop thinking of the very recent past and concentrate on her future.

FIN