Urges by Djinn

Kirk watched the landing party mill around the ruins. They looked bored. As bored as he felt. Scotty was muttering something to himself as he walked by, studying his tricorder as if he hoped it might find something interesting. Sulu looked like he was thinking more about the upcoming fencing tournament--he stood a good chance of taking first this year--than about what he was supposed to be scanning for. The men and women from security stood around, trying to look busy even though there was nothing to guard or fight on this barren world.

"Why are we here, sir?"

Kirk turned, saw Nurse Chapel trying to suppress a yawn. Trying and failing.

"Because, Ms. Chapel, Starfleet Command told us to come here. This planet is likely to be annexed by the Duralians. Command wants to make sure we're not giving up anything strategic before we hand it over."

"Since when are ruins considered strategic?" She seemed to realize her tone wasn't the most respectful she'd ever used on him. "Sorry."

He shrugged.

"Then why am I here?"

Kirk laughed. "Bones didn't want to come?"

"I'll buy that." She sighed. "Okay, I'll go back to waiting for someone to skin their knee." She grinned at him. "Or maybe get a blister or a splinter or anything."

"You've made your point, Chris. Go back to work--err, non-work."

She nodded, pulling out her tricorder. "Might as well make myself useful so we can get off this rock." She wandered off toward the security detachment, nodding pleasantly at Spock as they passed.

"Captain, I am uncertain what Starfleet hopes to ascertain by this exercise."

"They hope to ascertain nothing, Spock. They've deemed this a dead world. But two scans are better than one, in this case. I guess they just want us to confirm what they already know."

Spock seemed to be trying not to yawn too. If this assignment even bored a Vulcan, they really were epitomizing futile.

Kirk was about to say more when he felt a chill come over him, as if someone had opened the door to a refrigerated cargo bay. He shivered. "Strange breeze."

"Captain?" Spock looked at him curiously.

"Just now, didn't you feel it? Cold air--like it had been hyper-chilled."

"I felt nothing like that, Jim."

Kirk rubbed his arms, trying to warm up.

"Perhaps you should go back to the ship?" Spock looked like he wished he'd thought of pretending to come down with a case of the chills to get out of shore duty. "I will take over here."

Kirk made a face. "I don't need to go up to the ship, Spock." Then he laughed. "I want to go up there, but I don't need to."

"As you wish." Spock motioned for Chapel to come over. "Please scan the captain to determine if there is any reason for him to feel chilled."

"There's a cold draft here, Spock. Can't you feel it?" She saw his face and smiled. "I guess not. Okay, I'll scan him." She waited for Spock to leave before asking, "Was it like you'd just walked into cold storage?"

He nodded.

"Me too. I better see if anyone else noticed it." She looked up from her tricorder. "Nothing physically wrong with you, sir. No medical reason for the chills."

"Good to know, Chris." He motioned toward the others. "Check them out. I'm going to walk around to warm up." He rubbed at his arms again, felt a shiver run down his spine. What the hell was wrong with him? Then he noticed Chapel's expression was off too. "It just happened again. And you felt it too, didn't you?"

She met his eyes, nodded. Her expression was more puzzled than concerned. "I'll go scan the others, sir."

He nodded, watching her go first to Scotty, who shook his head as she talked to him. She scanned the engineer then glanced back at Kirk, shaking her head slightly before moving on to Sulu.

Kirk watched her as she walked from crewman to crewman--had her legs always been so long? Regulation boots looked terrific on her.

"Jim?" Spock looked over at Chapel, as if to see what had his captain so fascinated. "Are you all right?"

Kirk wanted to tell him that just because Spock didn't want to look at her didn't mean he couldn't. Except that he couldn't--or shouldn't. She was a member of his crew. He did not admire the legs of members of his crew. Or at least not obviously enough for his first officer to figure out what he was doing.

He turned to Spock, smiling easily. "I'm fine, Spock. Why do you ask?" He knew his look dared Spock to make something of his sudden interest in Chapel's legs.

"A momentary concern," Spock said softly, then walked away.

Kirk smiled, feeling a bit like a teenager. He looked over at Chapel again, was surprised when she seemed to sneak a look at him too. She appeared to be embarrassed that he'd caught her looking because she blushed and looked away.

He felt the chill again, less strong this time, and rubbed at his arms absently.

"Sir," Sulu said as he closed his tricorder with a snap. "There's nothing here."

Scotty looked up and nodded. "Aye, sir. We've got more than enough data to back that assessment up. This planet is a wasteland, just as the first survey team indicated."

"All right," Kirk said, glad to be getting off the dust ball--the Duralians could have it with his blessing. "Let's get out of here."

As soon as the team took their places near him--and they did that with record speed, he noticed--he called for beam out. The Enterprise materialized around them, welcoming and warm. But not warm enough to stop him from shivering slightly again.

As the rest of the landing party began to file out, he looked over at Chapel and saw her rub her arms. "Nurse?"

Both she and Spock turned around.

"I wasn't aware you were a nurse, Mister Spock."

"I am not. But if this has to do with the chill you were feeling, then I am interested in what you have to say to Nurse Chapel."

A wave of frustration surged through Kirk. Spock needed to go away. He needed to go away now.

The chill came over him again, but this time it felt good. He saw that Chapel was staring at him, her mouth open just the slightest bit. He suddenly wondered what her lips would feel like under his own. He realized Spock was talking. "What?"

"Captain, I said that perhaps you should be checked out by Doctor McCoy--"

"--Good idea, Spock. I'll go with Nurse Chapel." He shot Spock his best "don't worry about me, I'm fine" grin.

Spock didn't look convinced, but he didn't follow them. As Kirk entered the lift behind Chapel, he said, "I don't want to go to sickbay."

She didn't look at him until the doors had closed. "I don't either, sir." She was moving toward him, and her eyes were dark, nearly all pupil.

He wondered if his were in the same state. "Hold lift," he told the computer, as he pushed her against the wall, kissing her frantically.

It had been so long since they'd touched...

Before he could analyze that thought, she moaned, rubbing up against him frantically.

He pulled her closer. Her lips felt great under his. Just like they always had--

--Just like they always had when? He'd never kissed her before. Frowning, he pulled away from her. "I'm sorry. I had no right to do that."

She was touching her lips, as if not quite believing he'd kissed her. Her eyes were blue again; the pupils had gone back to their normal size. "It's all right." Her voice was low, and she moved away from him, closer to the door, as if ready to run out of the lift.

"I won't hurt you."

Looking up at him, she seemed to shiver. "It's not you I'm afraid of, sir." She looked down. "Spock was right. McCoy needs to examine both of us."

"I'm not sure it's very flattering that you think we need to have our heads examined just for kissing." Winking at her, he tried to make the moment light, to pretend that he had not just made out with a member of his crew for no reason except that it felt so damn good.

He could still feel her lips under his, her mouth opening to let him in. He shuddered with cold...and with desire. He wanted her...wanted her badly. He'd never wanted her before. Why now?

She was staring at the floor as if salvation lay somewhere buried away under their feet.

"Am I your type, Chris?"

She shook her head. "I know I'm not yours either."

"I wasn't aware I had a type."

She looked up, met his eyes. "Brainy, beautiful, commanding. I may have one of those characteristics." She looked down again. "I'm not stupid. But the rest..."

"You're not exactly ugly either."

She met his eyes; her smile didn't quite make it. "I'm attractive. On a good day maybe I'm pretty. But beautiful? Huh-uh." She scanned him, as if desperate for something to do. "And I'm hardly commanding."

The lift doors opened, saving him from answering.

She smiled at him as he gestured for her to go first. "It's okay, sir. I don't have a lot of illusions about myself."

"Maybe you do about me."

She seemed to have nothing to say to that.

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

"Well, Jim, I can't find anything wrong." McCoy entered something into a padd, scanning him again and crosschecking against the tricorder Chapel was holding. "Nothing wrong with either of you, as far as I can tell."

They hadn't told him about what had happened in the lift. They hadn't discussed keeping it from him, but neither of them had volunteered any information on their sudden need to lock lips.

"Then I'm cleared for duty, Bones?" Kirk asked as he hopped off the table. The movement brought him close to Chapel, and she moved away quickly.

"You weren't ever off duty, my friend." McCoy hadn't noticed how fast Chapel had moved away, or that Kirk's hand had come up, reaching for her.

Chapel didn't miss it though; she fled into her office.

"Something else wrong with her?" McCoy apparently didn't miss as much as Kirk thought he had. "Did something happen--or not happen--with Spock down on the planet?"

Kirk felt an irrational surge of jealousy. Why did it have to be something to do with Spock? Couldn't she be upset over Kirk?

That was a stupid thing to think.

"No," he said, keeping his voice as casual as he could. "I'm sure she's fine."

He wanted to make sure she was. Perhaps he should invite her to his quarters later?

"Jim, maybe you should stay here. You seem a little off."

"I'm not sure I buy the medical validity of a diagnosis of 'a little off,' Bones." It was a lie. He bought it; he just didn't like it. Not when his shift was almost over, and he had very private quarters that he could invite Chris to visit him in--

He headed for the door, shooting McCoy the same grin that had failed to convince Spock. McCoy looked just as non-impressed. "I'll come back if I notice any other symptoms. I promise."

He tried not to look at Chapel as he left. He failed, and was gratified to see that she was staring at him too, a look of open longing on her face. She suddenly seemed aware of how she was looking at him. Her face flushed an interesting shade of red, and she turned away quickly.

Hurrying out of sickbay, he forced himself not to think of her as he headed for the lift that would take him to the Bridge.

Spock looked up as he walked to his chair.

"I'm fine, Spock." Kirk took the padd a young yeoman handed him.

She was new, very pretty in a bubbly "I'm twenty and you're not" way. Kirk realized he wasn't particularly drawn to her, didn't feel the need to walk her back to the turbolift and join her inside for a kissing fest.

So it was just Chapel he wanted?

Damned odd. Not that she wasn't a nice woman. She was. But he'd only ever thought about her as nice, not as someone he wanted. This sudden desire for her didn't make sense. He glanced over at Spock. Normally, he'd discuss such odd behavior with his first officer, but somehow it seemed like a betrayal of Chapel to discuss this with someone who he knew she had a crush on.

He realized his hands were clenched and forced himself to relax. So she had a crush? On his best friend. So what? She'd had it for years. It was nothing new.

Why did it suddenly bother him?

His shift wore on and on. Pushing himself out of his chair, he wandered the bridge, finally ending up beside Uhura, talking quietly with her about the incoming comms. She was an attractive woman. Why didn't he want her?

Why the hell was Chapel the only woman he could think about?

He forced himself to go to the mess hall with Spock and Bones. It took a few minutes, but he finally felt himself relaxing and enjoying the meal with this two best friends. They sat around talking long after their food was gone, until he picked up his tray and stood. "Much as I hate to bring this to an end, gentleman, I must."

Riding the lift with them, he laughed at something Spock said that he probably did not intend to be funny but was. As they turned into their respective quarters, he bid them goodnight, continuing his walk down the corridor. Palming open his door, he found the lights on about one-quarter strength.

"Computer, raise lights to--"

"--Don't."

He whirled. Chapel was sitting at his desk. Even in the low light, he could tell that she looked miserable.

A wave of cold swept over him, then a wave of a different kind. Raw, hot lust.

And something less raw, more tender. Love. He loved her.

He had always loved her.

He felt suddenly disoriented. "Get out, Chris."

She stood, her face so full of the same need he was feeling that he almost went to her. She swallowed hard and must have seen something in his face that seemed to give her resolve. She bit back her desire, and then she fled.

He held out a hand to her, wanted to call her back, but the words wouldn't come. He settled for locking the door, temporarily restricting her medical override access to his quarters. The computer tried to argue with him, but he won the debate. Chris couldn't get into his quarters again without his knowledge or permission. She couldn't get to him.

That thought left him feeling strangely bereft.

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

His dreams were strange. He walked through an ornate structure, paying no attention to the beauty that surrounded him. He'd been off world for a week. Was home early because he'd missed her so. Now he was looking for her, but she was nowhere.

He walked and walked and finally turned a corner. A wave of chill hit him. He felt love surround him, then the cold again. He started to cry, wiped his eyes and told himself to get hold of his emotions. Nothing was wrong. Why should he think something was wrong? Why should he think something terrible had happened...to her?

Then he heard her weeping from somewhere close beside him, but when he whirled to pull her to him, she wasn't there. Where was she? He felt another chill roll through him, shuddered from the intensity of the feelings that came over him, as if he'd been taken into her arms and had her love poured into him. Love and fear and some strange kind of forgiveness that he didn't understand.

"Come out," he yelled but there was no one there, although the feeling of her being near him didn't go away.

His need to find her increased in the face of this strange communion with no one. He hurried through the house, running now. She must be there. Somewhere she was waiting for him as she did every night.

He ran back into his bedroom. It was the first place he had checked, but this time he walked all the way into it and saw a man--one of the guards, probably, except that he was not wearing a uniform--lying on his back on the far side of the bed, a weapon's exit burn clear on his back. Someone had held the gun on him a long time to get the burn to go through his chest and out his back.

Someone had been very angry.

He noticed that the door to the courtyard was open. His heart sank when he saw a dark lump lying in the shadows of the courtyard outside the bedroom. "No." The sound came out broken. No. It could not be.

He ran to the pile of clothes, praying that one of the servants had dropped some old rags there by accident.

But these were not old rags. They were fine fabrics, made dark with the blood that had flowed out of the slashed throat of the woman he'd been searching for. She must have run, must have tried to get away when the guard had been killed. Must have run and not made it. Whoever had done this had caught her before she could get to the gate and raise the alarm.

Her blood was still warm. She had not been dead long. Why hadn't she screamed? He would have come running. If she'd just screamed.

"No," he cried, as he cradled her to him, uncaring of the blood that covered him now too. His heart broke as he held her. His love for her burst inside him, filling him--nearly drowning him. He knew in his heart that he would never be all right again. And that he would never stop looking for her.

Guilt flooded him.

"No." This time the word came out as a scream. A scream that woke Kirk. He sat up in bed, heart pounding in his chest. Calling for lights, he was surprised to see the room go blurry around him and reached up to brush at his eyes.

He was crying?

It was just a dream. An odd, unsettling dream. But nothing more than that.

Suddenly, his chime rang. "Come," he said.

Chapel rushed in. She looked wild, her hair mussed, her clothes akimbo as if she had pulled them on halfway and then run from her room. As she stood near his door, breathing fast, he realized she was crying too.

She moved in closer, and her pupils went black, and cold seemed to fill the room. "I think I died," she said, the words squeaking out of her past the sobs that she seemed unable to control. "I don't even know who I was, or even if it's me. But I think I died."

He felt sorrow roll over him, and guilt. Deep, abiding guilt. This was his fault. He'd brought her there, he'd been the one who'd--

--What in the hell was he talking about? She wasn't dead. She was right in front of him.

Right in front of him and slowly pulling her shirt off. "I'm so cold," she said.

He wondered why she thought taking off her clothes would help with that. Then he quit wondering about anything as she pulled off her bra, her breasts spilling out. The rest of her clothes followed, and he forgot how to breathe. He realized suddenly that he was naked too. Why had he gone to bed naked?

"I'm cold," she said again, shivering slightly.

He held the sheet up, the invitation clear as he patted the space next to him. She nearly ran to him, settling into his bed, her skin freezing against his own.

He must warm her up.

Under his hands, her body lost its chill, her lips turned soft and fiery as he kissed her. When he pushed himself into her, he found the core of her hot and strong. She pulled him closer, and he moaned loudly.

How long had it been since they'd been together?

He had a sudden vision. Her but not her. Held in his arms, blood everywhere, neck slashed viciously.

"Chris," he moaned, even as another name echoed in his mind. A name he couldn't quite make out.

She cried out, her head thrown back, her legs tightening around him as she clenched and shuddered. He kissed her as she floated down, his body still moving against her, causing her to shudder again as he rubbed against too-sensitive parts.

He wouldn't stop. Couldn't stop. She arched as he pushed her harder. Her arms tightened around him, the feeling so familiar he almost wept as he went to the same pleasurable place he'd sent her to.

"I love you," he said, and the words seemed to echo strangely in the room. He was suddenly fully aware that he was having sex with a woman he'd only ever had a casual friendship with before.

Actually, he was having great sex with her. But still, it wasn't as if there was any precedent for this closeness. She didn't even call him Jim. Probably wasn't sure what the hell to call him now.

He tried to pull away, but her legs still held him in place. "Chris?"

She seemed to snap back to full awareness, her pupils no longer threatening to swallow her eyes. Her hands on his back seemed to shake, and she unwrapped her legs quickly, pushing him off her.

He suddenly felt hurt, knew it was irrational, but couldn't get rid of the feeling. Would she prefer it if she'd been having sex with Spock? He pushed the thought aside.

She rolled to her side, hiding herself from him. But her bare back was temptation enough. He found himself reaching out to touch her, to stroke her and rub her and try to make her feel better.

She groaned as he massaged her back, finally said, "What just happened?"

"We had sex."

She laughed at that, and the sound of her laughter was a relief to him. "I know that, sir. But why?" She slowly turned over, holding the sheet in place so it covered her.

He had the sudden urge to yank the sheet down. They'd just had sex. Covering up now seemed a little stupid.

She stared at him, her expression going from confused to helpless. "Something's wrong. I want you so badly." She seemed to realize what she'd said. "Let me rephrase that a bit."

"Please do," he said, moving closer to her despite the inner voice that whispered that it might not be a good idea to press his body to hers if he wasn't intending to have sex with her again in the very near future.

She tried again. "I mean that--"

He kissed her and pulled the sheet away. He didn't know why he was so drawn to her. And suddenly, he didn't care.

She didn't seem to care either, crawling on top of him, riding him and controlling him and finally collapsing onto him. "I lost you," she said, her voice full of a sadness he knew he had never caused her.

Yet her words were true. She had lost him and he had lost her. And now they were together again.

"I love you," she whispered.

Again he was back in that courtyard, cradling her body, kissing her face. A face that looked nothing like the Chapel he knew, but that didn't stop him from tracing the contours of her face and comparing it to that hazy memory. Chapel was as familiar as air and sunshine. And she was a complete mystery to him.

She smiled lazily as he touched her, her eyes soft and sleepy, and he smiled. "You may not think you're beautiful, but you look beautiful right now."

Her smile grew, then it faded as he sighed and dropped his hand.

What the hell were they doing?

She opened her eyes. "Do you want me to go?" Her voice was very small, and she couldn't meet his eyes.

He knew he should say yes. Whatever was making them want each other, it wasn't right. But instead of answering her, he rolled them both to their sides, wrapped his arms around her, and kissed her gently until she closed her eyes and fell asleep.

He watched her for a few minutes, trying to separate the strange mournful yearning he felt for her from the true affection he had for his head nurse. It was impossible to pull the feelings apart. She was just a member of his crew, and she was also the woman he loved more than life itself.

He finally told himself to stop thinking and get some rest--they'd sort this out in the morning. He followed her into sleep, finding her warm body pressed close to his a huge comfort.

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

In his sleep, Kirk fought the pull of another dream, his conscious mind trying to maintain control. He could feel Chris lying next to him, could hear her moaning. But he also felt as if he was falling into an endless pit, and he wondered if he would die when he finally hit bottom, or if he would just know the truth.

He hit bottom and he did not die. Nor did he wake up. He lay trapped for a moment, somewhere in between, lying on his back in the beautiful house his mind insisted on identifying as his own.

The house was cold, winter had set in, causing the marble, which was never warm even in the heat of summer, to turn frigid. He felt as if he was being frozen alive.

Then he heard her voice. She was calling to him. Somewhere deep in his unconscious mind, he realized it was Chapel calling out for him. He'd probably roused her as he'd fought the pull of the dream, and her hands moved along his back as if to soothe him.

In the dream, Kirk pushed himself off the floor, walking quickly to the bedroom he shared with her. He shivered as he walked, remembering a conversation with his best friends. They did not like her. They did not want her here. She was an outsider, an offworlder. Yes, she was beautiful, but her ways were strange. Dangerous. She was causing trouble for them, and therefore for him.

They wanted him to send her away.

He could never send her away.

Kirk tried to remember her name. Not Chris. Chris was next to him. But this woman who some other part of him loved, what was her name?

"Melanya," Chapel murmured, as if tied into his dream.

He felt her push him to his back and climb on top of him. The real woman was making love to him even as he pushed the door open and saw the other woman standing naked at the window, looking out at the courtyard. She turned as he walked in. Turned and walked quickly to him. There were tears in her eyes as she stripped his clothes off, as she pushed him onto the bed and climbed on top of him. He could hear Chapel crying too, could taste her tears as he pulled her down to kiss him.

As she moved over him, he had a spark of vision. He saw himself, playing football back in Iowa, just a kid. Then he saw himself running over this desert world, enjoying a youth he'd never known. Iowa faded, the desert became more real, more vivid.

This was home--his home. Summers were hot and dry, not hot and humid. He knew this place. He ruled this place.

No, he was in command, but he did not rule. The Enterprise was his home, not some arid planet. As he struggled against the invading memories, Kirk felt a presence inside him, pushing at him...trying to take over.

"Kellor," Chapel said softly, moaning as she moved faster.

"I am here, my love," someone older seemed to answer her--from deep inside Kirk's consciousness. "I have come for you."

"No!" Kirk forced himself awake, forcing her off him, trying to get this presence out of him by will alone.

He'd pushed her too hard, and she slid off the bed, landing with a loud thump. He wanted to help her but was having too much trouble catching his breath. The room was freezing, the chill no longer just a draft, but an all-pervading cold that seemed to leech into his bones.

It threatened to freeze him.

Chapel pulled herself up and hurried to her clothes. "This isn't right. Something's very wrong."

"They're inside us," he said, but she didn't seem to understand.

He got out of bed, careful to walk far around her as he grabbed some clothes. "Go to sickbay. I'll join you there with Spock and Bones." He couldn't look at her. Was afraid he'd grab her and hold her and make love to her and forget how terrified he had just been.

He was afraid he would forget that someone--Kellor, whoever he was--had almost taken him over.

"Jim," she saw his look, seemed to realize he had not told her she could call him that. "Sir," she tried again. "If you want to put me on report, I won't fight--"

"--What I want is for you to get out of my quarters." It came out much too harsh.

Her face was very red. "I'll be in sickbay," she said quickly as the doors closed behind her.

He thought the room would warm up when she left, but if anything the temperature seemed to drop even more. He felt an overwhelming urge to go after her, to grab her up in his arms and never lose her again.

He walked into the head, splashed water on his face. Warm water, warm and completely ineffective in chasing the cold away.

He'd never lost Chapel. What the hell was going on?

"Kirk to Spock," he said, punching his intercom.

Spock answered quickly, probably up late working. "Spock here."

"Can you come with me to sickbay? I think we have a problem."

"I will meet you in the corridor." No questions asked. He needed Spock; Spock was there. It was how it worked. Probably one of the reasons Chapel had fallen in love with the Vulcan.

Chapel...his mind derailed when he thought of her. So he had to not think of her. Or of her and Spock together.

Would she ride the Vulcan the same way she had him? Controlling him, bringing him such intense pleasure. Was she doing it now? Having sex with Spock?

That was ridiculous. He'd just talked to Spock, and Chapel had just left him. They weren't together.

But they could be. How long had he been standing here? She might have gone directly to Spock's quarters. She might be on top of him now, laughing as Kirk talked to him. They could be doing it. After all, how long did it take to fu--

He shook his head, this time splashing cold water on his face. It didn't help. "Kirk to McCoy."

It took McCoy a lot longer to answer. "What is it, Jim?"

"I need you in sickbay. Meet Spock and me in the corridor."

"I'm on my way." Bones never asked why, not when it was important, not when Kirk had this tone in his voice.

Kirk wondered if Chapel loved Bones too. Another surge of jealousy rolled over him. What in the hell was wrong with him? She could be in love with whomever she wished. She could screw the entire crew if she wanted. It didn't matter to him. She didn't matter to him.

Except she did matter to him. He thought about Spock and her together, and felt pure rage erupt. He wanted to throttle Spock, wanted to shoot him and keep shooting until he didn't come up. And Chris? He wanted to lay her down on the soft grass and make love to her one last time--violent, passionate love--and then pull out his knife and slip it along her lovely throat--

The chime brought him back. He was clenching his hands on the counter so hard he could feel the edge digging into his skin. When he let go and turned his palms over, he had dark red streaks where the material had bit in.

He turned, walking to the door. Both Spock and McCoy were waiting for him. "Let's go, gentlemen," he said, trying desperately to keep his voice normal.

But his voice shook as he spoke, and he saw Spock look over at McCoy. Ignoring them, Kirk hurried to sickbay, secure that they would follow him.

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

Sickbay was deserted as they walked in, the lights all set low except for the one in Chapel's office.

"We need her," Kirk said, motioning for one of the others to go get her. He turned away from the light.

"Is there a reason you cannot get her?" Spock asked, glancing over at the lit office, then back at Kirk.

"Just go get her, Spock."

As Spock moved to do what he said, McCoy touched his arm. Shaking his head, the doctor said, "I'd like to see you do it, Jim."

Sighing, Kirk walked over to the office. Chapel wasn't working, she was just sitting, staring at a screen she hadn't even turned on. She turned to look at him, and her eyes were dry, but her face reddened under his scrutiny.

Then she seemed to realize the others were behind him, and she sat up straighter, forced the miserable look off her face. "Sir?"

"Come out." His voice was gentle, giving no hint, he hoped, that he wanted to clear her desk and push her down on it and make love to her again.

She took a hand he hadn't realized he held out for her, and they both gasped as their skin touched.

"Fascinating," Spock said.

"I think it's her," Kirk lied, not sure why he was doing it. He dropped her hand quickly. "You touch her, Spock."

Chapel's expression turned from lost to betrayed. "Sir, no."

"Touch her, dammit."

Spock's eyebrow rose, but he reached out for her. Her hand was lost in his, and Kirk had a sudden picture of parts of Spock being lost in her.

"I feel nothing out of the ordinary," Spock said, letting go of her.

The look Chapel threw Spock was full of gratitude, and it grated on Kirk's nerves like sandpaper.

"Nothing out of the ordinary? Then you are accustomed to touching her?" He smiled, sure he'd caught them in the lie.

"What is wrong with you?" Chapel asked, shivering violently as the temperature in the room plummeted.

"That's a damned good question," McCoy said, pulling Kirk away from her. "You stay with her, Spock. I'll check out Jim."

"No. Don't leave her with him. Not with him."

"Jim, calm down. Spock's not going to do anything to her. Not if he hasn't already." McCoy was trying to joke, but it wasn't funny. It had never been funny.

Kirk tried to watch them as McCoy ran the scanner over him. "But that's just it. He only pretends not to like her. He only says to send her away to pull suspicion off of himself. So I won't know how he really feels about her."

McCoy was staring at him. "I gotta tell you. You're not making a lot of sense."

The temperature in the room dropped again, and Kirk recalled the late night conversations with his friends. Get rid of Melanya, they'd told him. Send her home. "You've heard him. At our dinners. He doesn't think she's good for the planet."

"Okay, I'm relieving you of duty until I've found out what's going on."

Chapel suddenly pushed past Spock. She wore a look Kirk had never seen on her face, but the other, deeper part of him remembered it from innumerable fights. Hard. She could be so damned hard. "Your lack of trust will be what destroys us, Kellor. Not me."

McCoy sighed. "I'm relieving both of you. Just in case I didn't make that clear."

It didn't seem to make any impression on Chapel. She started to walk toward him, but Spock caught her by the arm. "No," he said, as he kept her from Kirk.

Kirk stared at where Spock's fingers were leaving marks in Chapel's arm as she struggled. "Let go of her. Don't touch her."

Spock did not let go of her. His voice was perfectly even as he asked, "Or you will do what?" He took hold of Chapel's other shoulder with his free hand, pulled her back toward him.

Kirk saw her relax, and something snapped inside him. He was back in his house, walking down the corridor, eager to see her after a week away. He'd come back early to surprise her.

"I'm home," he said, just as he had when he opened the door to their room.

She looked up at him, her face suffused with the flush of many climaxes. His friend was underneath her, his eyes closed, his smile huge as he took his best friend's woman. A woman who did not belong to him.

It was that moment all over again. Only this time he wouldn't stand in shock staring while they separated and frantically pulled on their clothes. This time he wouldn't listen as his friend tried to explain, wouldn't care that his woman just stared at him with her hard, hard glare.

"Damn you," Kirk yelled, launching himself at both of them. He reached for a weapon he hadn't worn for more than five thousand years.

Spock pushed Chapel out of the way, caught Kirk as he tried to put his hands around Spock's throat.

"I'll kill you," Kirk said, but Spock was already moving his hand to the neck pinch spot.

"One touch and you know what will happen," Spock said, his voice unruffled. As if it was everyday that Kirk attacked him.

Kirk felt the cold subside inside him. "God, Spock. What...?"

Chapel was watching him with an odd look. "You wouldn't keep me. You were too afraid to keep me." She looked regal somehow. Regal and haughty and harder than he'd ever seen her.

"And he wasn't?" The cold was rising in him, the tone of her voice inducing it, bringing the rage back. The guilt too. He wasn't sure which was making him talk to her so angrily. "Is that why you had sex with him? Because he wouldn't give you up? I had my duty. I had responsibilities."

"And you think I didn't? I gave up everything to come with you. For what? This constant mistrust? To be sent back home in shame because your people don't approve? Give them time. When I bear your child, they'll have no choice. If you weren't such a coward, you'd know that." She stalked to him, avoiding Spock's hand as he tried to stop her. "I love you but even that isn't enough to make you fight for me."

She was right. He had hurried home to her, but he was also considering sending her away. He loved her more than anything, and he was letting others push him into doing something he didn't want to do. He hated her for being right. "You love anyone who can make you happy in bed."

Her hand was out to slap him, but he caught it and pulled her to him.

Her voice was small again, tentative. "You make me happy. Don't force me to find someone else."

He kissed her, not caring that his friends were watching. Or maybe enjoying that Spock was watching. Kirk pulled her closer. She was his. Let Spock see that.

"Well, I guess it's an improvement on all the fighting." Bones was scanning them; Kirk pushed him away when the buzz of the instrument near his ear distracted him from Chris's tongue teasing his lips. "Something's got them, Spock. But I'll be damned if I can find any physical evidence of it."

"Perhaps a mental approach would be more effective." Spock forced them apart, easily fending off Kirk's blows as anger filled him again at his friend's interference.

"We're busy," Kirk said through gritted teeth.

"Yes. I can see that."

Chapel flew at Spock, trying to pull him off of Kirk.

"Doctor, if you do not mind."

"What?" Oh, right." He held a hypospray against Chapel's neck.

A moment later, she sagged, suddenly calm. Looking at McCoy, she said, "Please make her stop. Before she comes back. I don't know how long I can hold her off. The drug...give him the drug."

"The sedative would appear to inhibit whatever is attempting to control them," Spock said.

McCoy nodded, held the hypo to Kirk's neck and let the sedative flow. It felt cool on his skin, then anything but cool as the chill seemed to fall back in reaction. Kirk felt the presence fade too, not gone but no longer in charge.

"Help us, Bones."

"Spock's going to try a mind meld. Quit fighting him, Jim."

Kirk looked up at Spock, gave him a sheepish smile. "Sorry, old friend."

"You are not yourself," Spock said softly, as he initiated the meld.

Kirk had the strange sensation of being buffeted by two forces on either side of his consciousness. Spock's warm and familiar presence pushed against him, and he moved aside willingly, giving him access to the cold force that waited on the other side.

"Leave," Spock ordered.

"No," the presence said.

"Who are you?"

"My name is Kellor. I am ruler of this place."

"Not this place. This is not your place."

"Where is my place?"

"Your place is a world long dead."

There was silence then, and Kirk had the feeling Kellor was digesting that.

"Where is she?" the presence finally asked.

"She has also invaded another. You must both leave."

Kellor ignored him, and Kirk could feel Spock trying to get closer to the presence. But he was no longer talking to Spock; he turned his attentions to Kirk.

"He wants her," Kellor said, and utter coldness accompanied his words.

"No," Spock said, trying to reach them both.

"He will keep her from us."

Kirk remembered how she felt next to him, beneath him, above him. He wanted her. "Chris," he murmured, holding out his hand.

He heard a scuffle, then felt her hand on his.

"Doctor, do not let them touch," Spock somehow said, his mind deep in the meld but as aware as Kirk was of what was going on around them.

But McCoy didn't answer. Melanya had always been a good fighter.

Then she touched Spock, her hand resting on his back, and Spock groaned. "No. I did not do this."

The images of her and his friend making love rolled over Kirk, and he raised his hands, tightened them around Spock's neck, squeezing hard. Spock's consciousness faded a bit as he struggled, one hand trying to push Kirk's hands off as his other desperately tried to maintain the meld. His will lessened as he was overcome with memories he had nothing to do with.

He'd had nothing to do with this.

Spock had had nothing to do with this.

Kirk forced his hands to open, pulled them away from Spock, then pushed the Vulcan away from him, breaking the meld with a mind-numbing crack. He could feel Chris beside him. She'd had nothing to do with this either. She was just the vessel Melanya had chosen to pop into.

"You killed me," she said softly.

"No. He killed her." He touched her cheek. "Come here." He pulled her to him, his lips finding hers. Gentle this time. Kirk to Chapel, no ghosts allowed.

Her lips felt just as good when they were just hers.

"We are not you," he said to the presence. "Get out."

He felt only resistance. And calm, deadly cold anger.

"Chris," he whispered as he stopped kissing her, pulling her into a tight hug. Her, not this Melanya who'd cheated on her lover for whatever reason. Not a woman who Kellor had killed in some kind of fit, pulling his too-sharp knife across her throat and watching her bleed to death on the darkened lawn, before dropping the knife and wandering away to collapse in the hallway and awaken without the memory.

"Someone killed her," Kellor said from deep within him. "He did it." He meant Spock.

"No. You killed her. You know you did. You sent me the memories."

"I would not have. I loved her." But there was no certainty left.

"You killed her," Chris said, somehow knowing his thoughts. She burrowed into Kirk's neck, her arms gripping him tightly. "You did. But this man wouldn't. He couldn't."

Kirk smiled. "It's why you picked us."

"Why you picked him." Chapel pulled away. "It's over."

It was the wrong thing to say, it was what Melanya had said to Kellor after she'd told him that he'd driven her to his friend. It's over. Over. Over.

He'd make it over.

"It's not over," Kellor whispered to him.

Kirk pulled out a knife he hadn't realized he'd stuck into his pocket, a folded knife that he snapped open, the sharp blade gleaming in the sickbay lights.

"You love him," Kirk said, looking from her to Spock. It was true, but it wasn't wrong, wasn't anything he should be upset over. She wasn't his; she could love whomever she chose.

He tried to drop the knife, could feel Kellor fighting him--and winning. Kirk moved the knife closer to Chris's neck.

"I used to think I loved him," Chapel said, holding her hands out, not even trying to stop him or push the blade away. "I know you can't do it."

He moved closer to her. Spock stepped in close too.

"No," she said, pushing him out of the way. "Let him finish this." She smiled at him. "I don't even know what to call you."

That stopped him. Him, not Kellor. He'd made love to her, and she didn't know what to call him.

"Chris."

"If you're going to kill me," she said, pulling his hand up, the knife nearly touching her white, white throat, "shouldn't I be able to call you Jim?"

His hand shook.

"Jim," she whispered. It sounded so good to hear her say that.

"Yes," he drew out the word, turned it into a hiss. He wanted her. Not as Kellor to Melanya. He, Kirk, wanted to make love to this woman who held his blade to her throat. He suspected that making love to her would be better than making love to a ghost had been.

He realized she was shaking, and tears welled up in her eyes. "Jim. Choose." Her voice shook.

He dropped the knife. "Get out. It's over," he told Kellor.

The presence fought him. "No. Kill her. She is cheating."

"No, your woman cheated. Melanya cheated and you killed her and that is the truth you've been seeking."

"I lost her." Kellor's uncertainty was back.

"You killed her."

"Melanya. I loved you."

Kirk could feel Chapel's hands on his cheek.

"I know," she said, her voice suddenly deeper and filled with sorrow. "Come, my love. It's time to leave."

A presence brushed Kirk's mind, soft and determined, not unlike Chapel in that regard. He felt Kellor resist for a moment, and cold overwhelmed him. Then the cold was gone and he felt alone in his own mind.

As soon as Kellor was gone, the sedative kicked in full force. He slid to the floor, was aware of Chapel collapsing next to him.

"Chris." He held out his hand, trying to tell her it was nice to hear her call him Jim, but she was already unconscious.

He followed her into lovely, warm oblivion. An oblivion with no voices in his head but his own.

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

"You're cleared for duty," McCoy said, as he snapped his tricorder shut.

Kirk looked around sickbay. They'd put Chris as far from him as it was physically possible and still have her in the ward.

McCoy followed his gaze. "She's fine too."

Kirk nodded, he started to get up, wanted to walk over to her, but McCoy touched his arm. "What purpose is it going to serve, Jim?"

He stopped.

"She's had a hard time of it with Roger and Spock. Does she need you messing her up too? Besides, she knows as well as I do how you feel about getting involved with your crew."

Kirk thought of her with Spock, was gratified to feel no roiling jealousy. He sighed. "I just want to talk to her."

"Talk to her later. When whatever happened between you two isn't so raw. When it's not so immediate."

He nodded, getting up slowly. He forced himself to turn his back on her, to walk out of sickbay and not look at her.

He'd made love to her. He didn't have to leave her. He could have her. She worked in medical, the most autonomous section on his ship. It wasn't the same as it would have been with Rand or with Uhura. He barely saw Chapel during a normal week.

He could have her, dammit.

He kept walking. All the way to his quarters for a shower, then up to the Bridge to reclaim his life.

He threw himself into his work, and fortunately his work cooperated, providing ample opportunities for distraction in the form of adventure and also lovely, willing ladies who did not work for him in any capacity.

He had to ignore that he felt guilty when he passed her in the corridor, saw her blush slightly and murmur, "Good evening, Captain."

"Nurse Chapel," he murmured back, just as pleasantly.

She didn't meet his eyes. Not then, and not when they were in orbit around a shore leave planet, when he ran into her on the ship instead of down on the surface that everyone else was enjoying. Everyone else but him and the others who'd volunteered to man the ship. He'd thought she was going down. It was why he'd stayed away.

"Not going down to the surface, Chris?"

She shook her head, walked away quickly.

He hurried to catch up to her. "I'm sorry."

"There's nothing to be sorry for. It's like it was with Sargon. We were just being used." She finally met his eyes, and he saw pain in hers. "I know you didn't feel those things for me."

"Just like you didn't feel anything for me?"

"Right," she said, turning away quickly.

He grabbed her, pulled her back so he could see her face. She was crying. "Chris, I'm sorry."

She jerked her arm away from him. "You already said that, Captain."

Her tone shouldn't have bothered him, shouldn't have made him feel guilty, but it did. But it didn't bother him as much as the request that showed up from her in his internal comms queue a few hours later.

A request for transfer.

He felt as if he'd been sucker punched.

He walked down to her quarters, nodding pleasantly to the few people still on board. He rang her chime, and when she didn't answer, he rang it again and again. He would not use his override access. She needed to let him in.

Finally, the door opened and she stood in front of him. Her eyes were red, and she looked less than thrilled to see him.

"Request denied," he said.

She closed her eyes. As if she was holding back some great pain.

"Why, Chris?"

"I'm going to medical school. I gave up so much when I came on board." Melanya's words to Kellor, only Kirk knew it hadn't been him who Chapel had given up so much for. It had been Korby and Spock.

"We need to talk," he said quietly.

Nodding, she let him in, her door closing quietly behind him.

"I'm sorry, Chris, I--"

"--I know you're sorry. You've said that too many times for me not to get it, sir." She sounded tougher. Maybe, for her, the experience of being linked with the ghost of Melanya had been beneficial. She looked pretty damned commanding standing there glaring at him. Or she did until she had to blink back tears.

"I'm sor--" He shut up, pulled her to him. He just wanted to hold her, just wanted to comfort her.

Comfort was usually not delivered by a kiss, by his arms going around her and pulling her fiercely to him, or by her mouth opening under his the way he remembered it doing before. Somehow, without Kellor inside him, touching her was better. More vivid, not all mixed up with memories of Melanya. "Just you," he murmured.

She was clutching him, holding him as if he was likely to run. "Just me," she said, finally letting go of him and trying to push him away.

He resisted. "Do you want me to go? Or do you think I want to go?"

"Does it matter?"

He nodded.

"I think you want to go. I think you feel guilty over what happened and that's why you're here."

He grinned despite the look on her face. "You think that was a kiss fueled by guilt?"

She started to smile and rubbed at her eyes. "Well..."

"It wasn't." He eased her up onto her desk, moved in and pulled her closer. "Kiss me."

"Sir, no."

"Jim. We've made love, Chris. Call me Jim."

"We haven't made love. They made love using our bodies. There's a difference, one I'm well aware of."

"Fine, I'll kiss you." He did, and she didn't resist. But she didn't help him much this time either. When he pulled away, she was crying again.

She looked up at him, stroking his hair, her touch light and sweet. "I felt what it was like to have someone who I couldn't be sure would keep me. I felt that through Melanya. And I went through it with Roger. Do you know that I actually felt more sure of him when he was missing than the whole time I was with him?" She shook her head. "And you? Duty and obligation. No romantic involvement with your own crew. Those are your rules." She smiled, but it did not reach her eyes. "How long could this last?"

"I don't know." He noticed that she had not let go of him. He slowly pressed against her more firmly, heard her moan. "You do want me? You, not Melanya?"

She nodded but didn't look at him.

"When do you want to leave?"

"As soon as a replacement is named. I don't want to leave Len in a lurch."

"What about me?"

Her expression turned hard. "You can find your own replacement. You've been holding auditions if rumors are to be believed."

It annoyed him that someone, or many someones, were talking about what he did when he was off the ship. "It wasn't that way."

"Oh, it was just meaningless sex, then? That makes me feel so much better, Captain."

"You aren't going to call me Jim, are you?"

"No, sir. I'm not."

They stared at each other, bodies close, but somehow a million miles away. He felt as if she was going to pull away from him, and she'd be gone forever before they even got a chance to find out what they might have together.

"I get to Earth from time to time, you know." He watched her face as she said it.

She smiled. Just barely, but it was a smile.

"Unless you plan to be studying twenty-four/seven, I could stop by."

She looked up at him. Her smile had faded but there was something in her eyes. Something lighter. Maybe hope? Maybe just the willingness to give him a chance? He didn't care as long as it wasn't the look of her walking away from him forever.

He pressed on. "I know I don't know you."

"I don't know you either."

"I want to, Chris. I want to get to know you." He leaned in, burying his nose in her hair, then in her neck. "I want to learn the smell of you. The taste of you." He licked behind her ear, then kissed his way around to her lips.

She kissed him back this time.

He pulled away. "Unless it's Spock you really want? Then I'll leave you alone. I won't get in the way of that."

She shook her head, looking away as if embarrassed. "There's nothing to get in the way of. It was a nice fantasy, but it doesn't age very well."

"Then why not give us a chance?"

She shook her head.

"Why not?"

"All the other woman." At his look, she held up a hand. "Oh, they don't matter now, not when we're not together. But in the future, they'll hurt even more. I know what it's like; Roger always had someone on the side." She laughed; it was a bitter, bitter sound. "I could relate to Kellor too. I sympathized with his pain. If I'd actually found Roger with someone, I might have killed them too."

"Maybe that's why Melanya picked you?" He smiled at her.

"If that's true, then why would you want to risk being around me?" She pushed him away from her hard, and slipped off the desk. "Go away, Jim."

He smiled. She'd finally used his name. As she tried to pass him, he pulled her back, kissing her as soon as he had her held securely in his arms. She struggled for half a second, then her arms wrapped around him, and she was kissing him desperately. He felt a chill and laughed to himself as he realized it wasn't due to any ghostly presence but because she was tearing his clothes off him. He returned the favor, falling onto her bed with her, their bodies joining as if they really did have five-thousand-year old memories to guide them.

It was even better now that they were alone in their heads.

At least it was better until they finally lay still and she started to cry again.

"Don't," he said, cuddling her against him. "Don't, Chris."

Her lips found his, her kisses soft and somehow sad. He found himself overwhelmed by the need to take care of her. Something about her touched some part of him deep inside, called to things he'd thought he'd given up on a long time ago.

Maybe that's why Melanya picked her? Maybe the ghost had been able to tell that he would never be able to hurt Chris?

"I can be faithful, you know." His voice was stern, but his lips on her ear made her laugh.

"I'm not asking you to be. I'm not asking you for anything."

"You're done with that?"

She nodded firmly. "No more romance."

"You have a future. Plans and goals and somewhere you need to be." He kissed her again. "Chris, I can relate to that. And respect you for it."

She pulled him to her. "Just make love to me. I don't want to think or talk. I just want to be close to you for a little while."

He did as she wanted, might have overachieved in how many times he sent her over the edge. When they finally lay still, she was very quiet.

"Your request is approved." He traced simple figures on her arm, felt her nestle closer to him. He knew she was crying again.

"Thank you."

"You're welcome." He didn't stop touching her arm, his fingers settling lightly on her skin, making her shiver. "It will probably take Starfleet Medical a few weeks to find a replacement. And you'll have to stay at least another week to train him or her."

"That's true," she said, as she kissed his chest.

"We could get to know one another before you leave?" He tried to not make it an order. It had to be her choice.

She smiled, as if she knew how hard it was for him to not just order her back to his bed. "Yes, Jim, we could."

"Would you like that?" He kissed her cheek, then nuzzled her ear.

"Mmmm."

"I'll take that as a yes."

She pushed him away gently. "I'm not sure this is a good idea though. You have at least two more years before the mission is over. Why get close just to have it ripped away?"

"Yes, that would be stupid." He eased her to her back, saw her smile as he pushed into her again. He leaned down, whispered in her ear, "I'm due back on Earth in four months for some mandatory training and a few strategic planning meetings. For two weeks, if that sounds good to you?"

"You don't have to--"

He put his hand over her mouth. "If that sounds good to you?" He looked at her sternly.

He could feel her mouth turning up under his palm. Then she nodded.

"Good. I'm glad we got that settled." He let go of her mouth, put it to much better use.

It was quite a while later that they lay quietly again.

"How did you know I wouldn't let Kellor kill you?" he asked. "As we said, we don't know each other very well."

She turned so she could see his eyes. "I just knew." She touched his temple, brushing back his hair. "I didn't just stay on this ship because of Roger and then because of Spock. I stayed because serving under you has been one of the best experiences of my life. I've learned a lot from you, you know. You're a wonderful captain."

Of all the things she could have said, this one probably touched him the most.

"I think that's why Melanya picked me. Because she knew I'd trust you with my life." Her face became more serious, in fact she looked a little scared. "And with my heart."

"Really?"

She nodded. "But I'm stupid that way."

He laughed. "I'm so glad." He held her, content to just feel her next to him. Those lovely women he'd been with lately had never been this warm. The sex had been fun, but there had been no real connection afterwards. Not like this.

Kellor and Melanya had chosen well.

"Did Melanya know he killed her?" he asked, suddenly curious.

She nodded. "But she didn't tell me, not at first. I think she wanted me to get close to you and not be afraid of you until it was absolutely necessary." She kissed his neck, nuzzling her way around and down his chest.

He shivered at her touch.

"I love that ghost." He smiled as she continued her explorations downward. "You're trying to resurrect the dead, you realize?"

She looked up at him. Her grin was terribly wicked. "You think so?"

"I'm good but not that good." He was about to pull her up so he could kiss her some more, when he felt life coming back to places he thought for sure were finished for the time being. "Maybe I am that good."

Her laughter was warm and sweet and filled the cabin. Filled him too. Chasing out any lingering remnants of Kellor and his guilt and rage.

Trusting her, Kirk surrendered to the pleasure she was giving him. Having the ghost of Kellor inside him had been scary and dangerous. But he couldn't regret that it had happened if having her in bed with him now was the result. He wondered what having her in his life in other ways would be like. He had a feeling he was going to like it.

Possession--everyone should be so lucky.

FIN

33