Plato's Goodbye by Djinn

Her goodbye party was in full swing. Actually it was long past full swing and was definitely into the running on empty stage. Chapel felt arms grab her, was swung into yet another crewman's embrace. She was suddenly much too aware of soggy lips and an overly aggressive tongue. She pushed hard, finally worked her way free.

She didn't recognize the lieutenant who was holding her.

"I will miss you so much," he said, trying to pull her back to him.

A hand came down on his arm. "I think Miss Chapel's gotten the message, Ensign."

"It's lieutenant, Captain."

Kirk's grin was a bit dangerous. "Yes. If you stop now, it is."

Her admirer nodded quickly. "Right, sir. I'll be going now."

She smiled at Kirk once the lieutenant was gone. He laughed and gave her his trademark shrug and grin. His hand stole out, touched hers.

"And how much have you had to drink?" she asked.

"I'm perfectly sober." He laughed again.

"Right. That's why you felt compelled to defend my honor." She moved a little closer.

"Somebody had to. And it is my ship." He smiled. "And fortunately you won't be on it much longer." He frowned. "That came out wrong."

She nodded. "Major deductions for the dismount, Jim." She shook her head. "So I take it you're looking forward to not being my C.O.?"

The look he gave her was scorching.

She smiled. "And when is your next leave?" She moved a little closer.

"Two months, three weeks, four days." His smile grew. "And five hours give or take."

She laughed. "Not eager or anything."

"Not at all." He took her arm, moved her toward the viewport. "So much has happened since Platonius."

She nodded. Her life was finally on track, she was really going away to med school. And it was an added treat to have him interested in her, to know that he cared. She'd wondered, after their night together--their one night together. He'd kept his distance...from her. From what McCoy had said, Jim had fallen hard for that android woman during the Rigellian Fever outbreak. And then Lester had taken his body. Chapel had felt like an idiot that she'd just bought Lester's story, that she hadn't even tried to find out if the woman who'd been held prisoner in sickbay remembered that night. It would have been so simple.

Of course, he hadn't thought to ask for her help either. He'd been so sure only Spock could rescue him.

He seemed to be reading her mind. "If I'm ever in someone else's body again, I promise to turn to you for help."

She smiled. "Ditto."

"Whose body do you plan to be in?"

"Very funny."

He laughed. "I'm going to miss you."

"Yes, because we've spent so much time together since that night." She winced. Her words had come out much harsher than she'd intended.

"You know why."

She sighed. "I do. I'm sorry." She looked out at the stars. "I'll miss this. No more starstream."

"Nope." He touched the viewport, ran his finger down, as if tracing a pattern of stars. "I can't imagine giving this up."

"I can't imagine you on the ground." She laughed softly. "Well, maybe for a few days...or longer."

He smiled. "At your place?"

She nodded. Turning, she saw that the party had moved away from them, as if giving them some privacy. She laughed softly. "They think this is the talk."

"The talk?"

"The one you give everyone who goes away. About what an honor it's been serving with them and how they are the heart of what makes this ship great."

He laughed. "Am I that predictable?"

She nodded. "It's a legend, the talk is. Just like you." She smiled. "It's a good thing. People want the talk."

"I'll take your word for it. I'm assuming I don't have to give it to you since you seem to know it word for word."

She nodded.

"And for the record, I do tailor it to the person."

She smiled contritely. She'd hit a bit of a nerve. "I know you do." She looked down. "I'm sorry."

"What for?"

"For being sharp and edgy." She made a face. "I'm just feeling strange. Excited but a little adrift. And I wish..."

"I know. I do too." He touched her arm gently.

"Later. On Earth. Wanting it this bad now will just build character, right?"

He nodded. "Although I'm fine with the amount of character you have already."

She laughed out loud, then wondered how many heads turned at the sound.

He grinned. "And don't worry, you'll do great at med school."

She nodded.

He glanced over his shoulder. "You have friends who want to say goodbye. As long as I monopolize you, they won't."

She nodded. "I'll see you in two months..."

"Three weeks, four days. And five hours."

"Give or take." She smiled.

He pulled her to him, it probably looked like nothing more than an impromptu hug for a longtime member of his crew. "I can't wait."

"Me either," she whispered.

She felt his lips come down half on her hair, half on her ear, then he let her go and turned away. He worked his way around the room, talking to everyone. But she had the feeling he was keeping watch for more sloppy goodbye kisses.

There weren't any, but there were lots of hugs, and kisses on the cheek. Even Spock touched her hand briefly, and she smiled at him. She was glad to be finally free of the crush, knew he was probably even gladder, despite the fact that he'd sought her out after the Platonians. Too bad she'd been otherwise engaged.

Uhura and Sulu helped carry her goodbye gifts to her quarters. They stayed for a while, reminiscing with her while she packed the mementos safely away. Finally, they got up.

"Don't say goodbye. I don't want to hear it." Uhura pulled her close. "I don't know what I'm going to do without you."

"Me either, Ny."

Sulu gave her a quick hug. "Good luck, Chris."

She nodded, touched his cheek for a moment. He was so solid, so goodhearted.

The room seemed very quiet as she puttered around in it. Soon there was nothing left but the things she needed for the night. She could pack them in the morning.

She took a deep breath. She was really doing this. She was leaving.

She felt panic come over her. Good lord, what was she doing?

She forced the panic away. This was what she wanted. She moved toward the bed, was about to call for lights out when her chime buzzed.

Wrapping her robe around her, moved to the door.

It was Kirk. She moved back without a thought and he ducked in, not hiding...exactly.

"What's wrong?" she asked.

He walked past her, into the room. "I didn't like that last goodbye. Something was missing."

She moved toward him. "It was?"

He nodded.

She stopped, just out of reach. "So, you intend to remedy that?"

He closed the gap between them. "I do."

She could feel a huge grin starting.

"I take it you don't object?" he asked.

"Not at all."

His grin was pretty damn huge too. He pulled her to him, kissed her the way she remembered from their night--so long ago that night had been. Ages. Decades. Eons.

He pulled away. Sighed as he touched her hair. "I will miss you. I know I've avoided you. It was just...too difficult. If it had just been sex..."

She felt a tug somewhere near her stomach. It hadn't just been sex for her either. She hadn't been able to get that night out of her mind. Even after Lester, when they'd finally talked again, when he'd finally let her in a little, she'd thought that she might be making too much out of this.

He seemed to be waiting for her to say something. She saw disappointment fill his eyes, realized he wasn't sure about her, about what she was feeling.

It touched her and was the last thing she expected. "It wasn't for me either."

The disappointment faded. "No?" He smiled as he began to untie her robe.

"Not at all." She kissed him again. "We connected. I don't normally feel that comfortable with someone."

He pushed the robe off her shoulders. Her nightgown followed it to the floor. "I know."

She looked down at the pooled fabric, then back up at him. "I seem to be naked."

He laughed. "Yes, you do. How did that happen?"

"Beats me. This really cute guy came in to say goodbye and the next thing you know..."

"Happens a lot to you, does it?"

"Only when I leave. Only when it's you." She rubbed up against him. "Why am I naked, by the way?"

"Well, if you have to ask..." He pretended to walk away, laughed as she caught him and pulled him back. "When I said I couldn't wait, I meant it."

She smiled. "When I said I couldn't either, I meant it too." She made short work of his uniform.

"Better?" he asked with a smile.

"Much."

"Well, we're both naked. What now?" He was pushing her back to the bed, even as he teased her.

"I'm not sure. Did you want to play chess?"

He shook his head.

"Watch a vid?"

His mouth was roaming all over her body.

She moaned. "No, I'm guessing vids are out."

He looked up at her. "Sometimes they're fun."

She laughed as she pulled him up to her, lost herself in kissing him. God, it really was this good. She hadn't made it better in her imagination.

He pulled away, stared down at her, his look thoughtful, and a little bit sad. "I will miss you. And I have thought about this." He ran his hand down her side, causing her to shiver as he hit a ticklish place. "More than you'll ever know."

She lay still, just let herself look at him. She hadn't done that. She hadn't gone out of her way to avoid running into him as he'd seemed to do with her, but she also hadn't let herself really look at him since that night. It had been too hard for her too. "I can imagine. I know how much I've thought about it."

He smiled gently, traced her cheekbone, then down her neck, staring at her until she had to look away. No one had ever watched her the way he was. She could tell he wasn't just looking, he was seeing. All of her. More of her than she normally showed anyone.

She captured his hand. "We're naked and I'm leaving in the morning. You sure you want to waste time staring at me?" She smiled gently.

"No time with you is a waste."

"Oh. That's so nice." She pulled him down, kissed him fiercely. She let herself go, let herself relax, trusting that he wouldn't hurt her now just like he hadn't hurt her then. Then she realized that was the wrong way to think about it. With him, she should think about what he would do, not what he wouldn't.

With him, she had a future. It was an odd feeling.

She almost started to panic. Then she remembered that he'd still be on the ship. They could ease into this. She didn't have to make the adjustment to actually being happy all at once.

She giggled at how stupid that thought was.

He pulled away, gave her a funny look. "You all right?"

"I'm happy." She thought he'd have no idea what a revelation that was.

But his eyes were full of understanding. "I know. Feels strange, doesn't it?" He moved over her, into her, smiled as she arched up under him. As he moved, he whispered, "I'm happy too, Chris."

She dug her fingers into his back, let him know just how much she'd missed him. How lonely her nights had been since the one they'd spent together. She didn't know if his had been as lonely, didn't care anymore. Despite his reputation, she had a feeling once Jim Kirk decided he was happy with someone, he wouldn't stray.

He rolled them, let her ride him, smiled as he watched her. He held her with one hand, touched her in places that made her crazy with the other. As she called out, she heard him whisper, "Chris."

Once she could breathe again, she moved against him. His eyes closed and his jaw clenched as he surrendered to her. Then he was calling out, and she watched him as he came down. She whispered his name, kissed his cheek.

He pulled her down to cuddle against him. His lips were lazy and sweet on her face as she lay pressed along his side.

His arms felt so good around her. So damned good. She wanted him, wanted this.

Was she making too much of it? Was it more than sex but less than a commitment?

"What are you thinking about?" he asked softly.

She shook her head. "Nothing."

"Yes, you are. You're frowning."

She nestled deeper into his arms, didn't look up as she said softly, "I'm making an assumption. It may be a foolish one."

He waited. Then he laughed softly. "Do I have to guess what it is?"

"No. I'm working up my nerve to tell you."

"Ah." He kissed her, moved her slightly so it was less of a stretch for them to kiss. His lips were soft, gentle. Loving. "Just how much nerve do you need to work up?"

"A lot." She smiled. "Okay. I'm ready." She took a deep breath. "What is this?"

"Define this."

"You and me." She held up her hand. "This is coming out all wrong. Look, just tell me straight. We're good together and it's not just sex but you don't mean me to think that it's exclusive, right? Because you're on the ship and I'll be on Earth, and...well...you're human and--"

He kissed her. When he finally pulled away, he laughed. "You're an idiot."

"Okay. Not the response I expected, but you're certainly entitled to your opinion."

He laughed again. Kissed her harder. "Is not exclusive what you want? Or just what you think I want?"

"The second one."

"Oh." He sighed.

They lay in silence for a long moment.

Then he said, "I'm not in love with you."

She laughed, and the sound of her laugh was too bitter. She tried for a smile. It shook. "I know."

"Let me finish." He touched her lips, smiled sadly as they trembled under his finger.

She tried to make them stop. Couldn't.

He kissed her again. This time the kiss was so tender she almost cried. "I'm not in love with you...yet." He kissed her again, didn't stop until they were both out of breath.

She smiled.

"I like the idea of exclusive," he said softly. "I don't want to share."

"It's not just you sharing me that's involved in that exclusive thing, you know."

He pulled her leg up over his hip, moved closer, until they were one again. As she made happy sounds, he said softly, "I know that."

"So, we're..." She couldn't think of the right way to define them.

"A couple. We're a couple." He moved faster, his hands far too many places--and making her moan. "Now, have we got that straightened out?"

She nodded.

"Good," he said, abandoning talk and focusing all his energy on her until her world exploded and he followed her into pleasure.

They lay still, and he brushed her hair back from her face. "I wanted to deck that lieutenant tonight if it helps reinforce the couple concept?"

"It does actually." She smiled, moved her leg so she could cuddle in again. "You showed great restraint."

"I thought so." He kissed her forehead. "Are you tired?"

She nodded. "Are you going to let me sleep?"

"I can."

"Do you want to?"

He laughed. "No."

She smiled, the smile turned into a yawn.

"Go to sleep. I'll wake you up if I can't stand it."

She shook her head. "I don't want to waste this chance to connect."

"We can connect other ways." He kissed her gently. "Go to sleep."

She kissed him back, wondered if she would ever get tired of the feeling of his lips on hers. Then she settled back into his arms and fell asleep.

Until he woke her up.

Over and over and over again.

FIN