PARADISE REVISITED
By JM Lane

"I'll see you later, Spock," James Kirk said as he joined Leonard McCoy on the transporter platform. "Take care of my lady."

"You may be certain of that, Captain," the Vulcan said as he saluted his two closest friends. "Enjoy yourselves, gentlemen," he remarked pleasantly as he energized the transporter. After the other two men shimmered out of existence, Spock headed for the doors of the transporter room to resume his duties. As he reached them, the console intercom beeped. He turned back to answer it.

"Spock, may I see you for a moment?" Dr. Christine Chapel asked.

"For a moment, yes -- but no longer. The Captain just beamed out, so I must return to the Bridge as soon as possible."

"I understand. I'll see you in Recreation Room Six in five minutes."

Exactly five minutes later, Spock entered the aforementioned Rec Room, making his way to where the female physician sat at a table for two on the other side of the large room. She was sipping iced tea; a large glass of Vulcan tulac was sitting at his place. It was a tangy fruit drink made from the juices of several citrus fruits, predominantly orange and grapefruit. He joined her, taking a long swallow
of his drink after crossing the customary fingers with her in the Vulcan embrace.

"What did you want to see me about?" he inquired after setting the drink down.

Christine gave him a tender smile, wishing she could say, "I just wanted to spend some time with you," since their duties kept them apart most of the day. Only late at night could they steal any time alone, usually in her quarters -- but the last time they had been together was in his. It was unbelievably exciting just to be alone with him, much less make love in his bed. Most of her fantasies had been acted out in her bed or shower... but now that they had actually made love in his quarters, she intended to steer them there as often as possible.

Chris shook her head fiercely. She had to stop thinking this way; she was getting excited just looking at him. The doctor forced herself to speak normally, even as difficult as it was to do so while looking into Spock's beautiful velvet eyes.

"Dr. McCoy asked me to ask you if you would deliver the newest batch of 'Doomsday Bug' vaccine to the Federation hospital on Starbase 27. It's far too delicate to go through the transporter beam; otherwise he would have had it beamed over by now."

"Then who will take command of the ship? All the regular Bridge crew have beamed over for shore leave."

"Even Uhura?"

Spock raised a surprised but approving eyebrow. "A most logical suggestion.
In that case, I will inform her that she is to be in command until I return. And in the absence of the regular command crew, you are ranking officer and shall therefore be acting second-in-command."

Christine was dumfounded. "Me? But I've never--"

"Do not be concerned. I have every confidence that you will do well."

"I'm glad somebody does," she replied as they crossed fingers again and rose from the table. Together they went to Sickbay, where Spock picked up the vaccine after notifying Uhura that she had the con, and ordered a shuttlecraft prepared for the trip to the starbase, 20,000 kilometers from the orbiting Enterprise. Chris walked with Spock to the door of the shuttlecraft bay where the shuttlecraft Copernicus was waiting. "I wish I could go with you," she said, making sure no one could hear or see them as she put a hand to his cheek.

"I know," he replied quietly, kissing her hand. "But this should not take long. I will probably return to the ship tomorrow morning -- or tonight, if possible."

"I hope so. I miss you when we're only apart for a few hours, much less an entire day. Please take care of yourself; I don't want anything to happen to you... especially not after nearly losing you during the 'Doomsday Bug' incident. Even now I shudder to think about it."

"Do not worry. I will be all right."

Christine sighed and reluctantly lowered her hand, then surprised Spock by throwing herself into his arms. "Please kiss me. That is the only thing that will sustain me until you return."

The Vulcan raised a surprised eyebrow, but otherwise made no protest. The lovers reluctantly parted after sharing a tender kiss, then crossing fingers one last time. After Spock departed, Chris stepped into the nearest turbolift and headed for the Bridge.

Uhura looked up in surprise when the female doctor entered the Bridge, smiling as her friend made her way over to the Communications station. "Chris, you look like you just lost your last friend."

"Worse. Spock had to go to Starbase 27 to deliver the newest batch of 'Doomsday Bug' vaccine. He'll probably be gone overnight."

"Why did he have to go instead of you or Dr. McCoy -- especially since he was to beam over for leave anyway?"

"Leonard said the doctors on the starbase wanted to examine Spock and see what effects, if any, that the new vaccine has had on his hybrid physiology. Because of that, Spock has to have injections every six months instead of every year like the rest of us. Leonard usually does the examination himself since he was one of the doctors to isolate the virus before the Romulans developed the original vaccine adaptable to all races on Federation planets -- or at least those in high-risk categories like Humans, Vulcans, and Tellarites. But he's been too busy these last few weeks to do it, as has Dr. M'Benga -- and I don't know enough about it to do it myself; otherwise I'd have done it long ago and sent the results over with the vaccine."

"And since Spock is both Human and Vulcan, the effect the vaccine might have on him could be totally different than on someone who was totally Human or totally Vulcan."

"Precisely why they want to examine him."

Uhura sighed. "Chris, has anyone ever told you that you can sometimes be as long-winded as Spock?"

Christine laughed. "I'm not quite sure how to take that, but Spock would probably consider it a compliment." Her eyes clouded at the mention of his name and she sighed deeply.

Uhura's brown eyes softened with sympathy. "Too bad you couldn't have gone with him. After all, you two have spent practically every off-duty moment together since he asked you to marry him and bonded with you. That's why I'm surprised you let him out of your sight for even a moment, much less overnight."

"I'm not worried about him straying, if that's what you mean," the other woman remarked as she leaned against the console. "If there's any man on board ship who can be trusted to be faithful, it's Spock."

"How can you be so sure? He's still half-Human. At the very least, that would make him appreciate a pretty woman, even if his Vulcan half would probably prevent his acting on it."

"For heaven's sake, Ny, what a nasty mind you've developed lately. I trust Spock because he's never given me reason not to. Which reminds me... would
you believe that he told me that I was to be your second-in-command? Me, of
all people. I've never had the con in my life -- not in all the years I've been in Starfleet!"

"I've only had it a few times myself, but I'll give you pointers -- provided you ever need to take command between now and when Spock returns."

"Thanks. I'll need all the help I can get. Now I'd better get back down to Sickbay. With Leonard and M'Benga gone, I'm senior medical officer. See you later."

"Right. It's been pretty quiet, so we shouldn't have any problems -- but if I need you, I'll call you. And don't worry. I'm sure you'll do fine."

"That's pretty much what Spock said, so I can't let him -- or you -- down." The turbolift doors opened automatically at Chris' approach; she stepped inside and was gone after bidding Uhura goodbye. "G Deck," she said, shaking her head in wonder at Ny's suggestion.

How could she even mention such a preposterous thing as Spock being unfaithful to her -- or even considering it? Even if he was half-Human, he was still far more trustworthy than any other man aboard ship... but even if he hadn't been, Christine was certain she gave him enough loving to satisfy him. His Human half, anyway.

She wasn't sure if his Vulcan half was ever satisfied, considering the times he had made love to her until she was exhausted, but always managed to leave her wanting more. Despite her vehement protests, Spock had eventually convinced
her that she couldn't be at her best without sufficient rest and sleep. In addition,
he could control himself if necessary. She had looked skeptically at him, but made no further protest, just settled down to spend the night snuggled close to him.

They had made love regularly since becoming bonded two months before, rarely missing a night even when she had her monthly period. This would mark
the first night he had spent away from her since their bonding -- and who knew,
he might meet his old girlfriend Leila on the starbase.

No, Christine told herself firmly. Spock isn't going to be unfaithful. I'd know it if he was! With that certainty in mind, she stepped off the turbolift at G Deck and headed back to Sickbay.

In the meantime, Spock had arrived at the starbase and was heading for the medical complex there. An hour later, he departed after an uneventful delivery and medical examination, pleased at the prospect of returning to the ship and spending another passionate night in Christine's arms. He even allowed himself a smile at the thought of the woman who loved him -- and whom he now loved. That was when it happened...

He wasn't watching where he was going as he left the medical complex and headed for the shuttlecraft bay, managing to collide with a woman going in the opposite direction. He was all set to apologize for his carelessness when he caught the smell of her perfume. All at once memories of another time and place rushed back, memories of a star-crossed love he had shared with a lovely girl on an equally lovely planet. Omicron Ceti Three... Leila, his golden girl...

A flaxen head lifted up to face him as he realized he had said her name out loud. Leila Kalomi looked up at him, her eyes widening in surprise and pleasure upon recognizing him. Eyes as blue as the sky over Omicron Three -- and he recalled how her sweet musical voice and lovely smile had captivated him... not to mention her warm embrace and tender kisses. Even now, he remembered the feel of her lips parting beneath his own, how she had felt in his arms when they had made passionate, beautiful love on Omicron Three.

"Spock?" His face and ears flushed green at the thought; he shook his head violently to banish it. Fortunately Christine's equally beautiful face, blue eyes, and loving smile replaced the earlier vision. Christine, his betrothed... He had had no idea he could be so illogical and unVulcan, but he loved her. Loved her as tenderly and passionately as she loved him; as his parents loved each other. Leila's voice, her touch, brought him back to reality.

"Spock, how can it be you? I never expected to ever see you again." For some reason he didn't trust his voice, allowing himself to be led to the nearest chairs and seated. "Spock, are you all right?" Her hand was soft and warm on his cheek, her blue eyes dark with concern.

"Yes. I am -- quite -- all right," he managed to say, trying not to lose himself in their bottomless depths. He had to get away from her while he still could... but somehow couldn't bring himself to move even an inch. For a long time, he had been certain it was the spores' influence which had made him act as he did with her, but now had to admit that he had had deep feelings for Leila long before Omicron Three. Feelings he had never allowed himself to express to her until then. He now realized that he had loved her almost from the first day they had known each other on Earth so many years ago... and now all those feelings came rushing back, threatening to overwhelm him, no matter how he tried to suppress them.

Christine, my own -- help me! he thought desperately. Help me to remain faithful to you and our vows of love! It was illogical to expect an instant answer, even with their strong bond, but he instinctively reached out for her with his mind... and was sure he had touched her mind, but it had seemed closed to him -- as it rarely was since their bonding.

Had she erected shields unconsciously, or was her mind occupied with her work? Whatever the case, he was on his own -- and his hard-won defenses
were rapidly crumbling. He had had no idea just how much he relied on Christine's tender strength, the depth of her love, until now. If only he could have gotten some of it through their mental contact in order to see him through this...

"Spock, what are you doing here? I saw a few of your friends, but never expected to see you, because I remember how you once said that your meditation did more for you than Humans' so-called 'vacation'."

"I had to bring a highly perishable vaccine to the starbase via shuttlecraft. It was too delicate to go through the transporter beam."

Leila smiled. "I should have guessed that you'd have a logical reason for being here. You always do."

"I must get back to the ship," he said, trying to rise. "Captain Kirk left me in command."

Leila's hands gently held him down. "But surely you designated someone to
be acting commander while you're away... well, didn't you?" she persisted at
his silence.

"There is only one officer of command rank on board at the moment -- Miss Uhura of Communications. I placed her in command until I return. However, she has not had much experience handling the con, and should an emergency arise, it
is logical that I be there to deal with it. She might not --"

Leila put a finger on his lips to stop him. "She's doing just fine, I'm sure. Otherwise she would have called for you. Am I right?"

Spock nodded reluctantly. She was right -- and it was unnerving. "Yes. Miss Uhura is a most competent officer. However, I --"

"Are not needed there at the moment," Leila finished. "Even you would take the time to talk with an old friend, I would think." She stood up and pulled at his arm, indicating that she also wished him to stand. "Let's go to my quarters. I have some of your favorite drink -- which, incidentally, also happens to be mine. It's chilling in my fridge. You do still like tulac don't you?"

He nodded, again finding himself allowing her to lead him to the nearest turbolift. Moments later, she was leading him down the corridor to her quarters in the starbase's Sciences complex.

After leaving Omicron Ceti Three, Leila had stayed on at the starbase as an assistant to its resident botanist, one Dr. Richard Bentley, a Human male who nonetheless bore a striking resemblance to Spock. Tall, dark-haired, slender,
and well-proportioned, with velvety brown eyes. She had subsequently become romantically involved with him on an on-again, off-again basis... a relationship begun in a vain effort to forget Spock.

She had broken off with Bentley many times, but always returned to him because he helped her maintain her sanity as she struggled unsuccessfully to relegate her feelings for the Vulcan to her past. And now, just when she thought she'd finally managed to get over him, here he was again... just as achingly desirable and infuriatingly logical as ever. Oh God, what was she going to do? What could she do now that he was here with her once again?

Fortunately they didn't run into anyone they knew, though Spock was far too honorable to keep a clandestine meeting with another woman a secret from Christine, even if nothing happened. He knew he would tell her about it upon his return to the ship -- but at this point was unaware that his trip back would be postponed...

Spock really didn't take notice of the decor of Leila's quarters, though another woman would have found it lovely, charming, and as totally feminine as Leila herself. She sat him down on her couch, disappearing into her tiny kitchen for the drinks. Five minutes later, she returned with the drinks and a bowl of pasta salad on a tray.

"I thought you might be hungry," she said.

"Thank you. I am," he found himself confessing, taking the bowl she handed him and gratefully digging in. He hadn't realized he was so hungry until he saw the food.

Christine usually fixed him his favorite dishes, but he hadn't eaten since the last time they were together in her quarters. She was as good a cook as his mother, seeming to know endless ways of preparing delicious vegetable, fruit, or noodle dishes. However, if this pasta salad was any indication, Leila would give them both heavy competition. (Unfortunately Spock was unaware of the old saying, "The way to a man's heart is through his stomach." Had he been familiar with it, he might have thought twice before accepting her offer of food.)

"Most appetizing."

"Thank you." Her cheeks pinkened attractively. "I'm a vegetarian," she explained at his surprised look. "I have been since the sojourn on Omicron Three." Spock's hand shook at the reference in spite of his efforts to control it. Leila's sharp eyes noted it, and she apologized.

"I'm sorry, Spock. I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable, even though it has been many years since we shared beautiful love together. I've missed you so -- and never have I stopped loving you." She moved closer to him on the couch, leaning over to warmly kiss his left ear.

"Leila--" An involuntary shiver ran down his spine at the touch of her lips.

"I did it again, didn't I? A slip of the tongue. Forgive me." She sat back on her heels next to him.

"Leila, I should never have come here." His tone was apologetic.

"Why not?"

"Because I am -- betrothed."

"Oh. I'm sorry. I didn't know." Her voice was quiet, sad.

"No apology is necessary. However, I must be loyal to my future wife, so I must leave before matters progress any further between us." He moved to get up and leave, actually managing to reach the relative safety of the door. "It was good to see you again... and thank you for the tulacand pasta salad."

"Spock--" He turned around... and that proved his undoing, in more ways than one. Leila came up to him, stood on tiptoes and kissed his ear again, stroking his dark hair where it curled around the elegantly shaped appendage. "Please stay. I need you so."

"I cannot."

"Why not? She need never know that anything more had ever happened between us."

"She would know," he insisted. "Leila, we are bonded. Mind-linked. If any-thing happens to me, she instantly senses it -- just as I would sense it if anything happened to her."

"But there is such a thing as mental shields," Leila reminded him.

"True -- but I could not be as dishonest as that." He sighed deeply. "I am a Vulcan. I could no sooner be dishonest with my bondmate than I could exist without breathing."

"But you're also half-Human. Why do you feel so duty-bound to tell her?"

"Because we are betrothed."

"But not married yet."

"Correct. Be that as it may, I must leave. I cannot do this to Christine."

Leila turned pale at the mention of the other woman's name. "Christine," she repeated. "Isn't she the one aboard your ship, the one who's supposed to be in love with you?"

"Correct."

"But you don't love her."

"Yes, I do... now."

"When did this happen?" Leila demanded.

"Three months ago. It was then that I realized I... loved her. Two months ago, I... proposed to her and bonded with her. So you see, even if I wanted to stay here with you, I could not."

But Leila sensed that Spock really did want to stay with her, though he would have sooner died than admit it. "Well, it's the fortunes of war. At least you can't say I didn't try -- but won't you at least give me a hug and kiss for old times' sake?"

Spock was sure he could control himself, so he saw no harm in doing so -- but he was wrong. The next thing he remembered doing was carrying Leila into her bedroom and closing the door...

It was well past 1100 when Spock woke up, still in Leila's arms, in her bed holding her close to him. Her tousled blond head was cradled on his chest; he ruffled her hair with one hand while brushing the top of her head with his lips.

"No... no..." she protested sleepily when he tried to get up.

"I must. Christine is expecting me back within the hour."

"But there is still time for me to tell you what happened to me after you left." Leila was suddenly wide awake.

"Explain."

"I was -- pregnant, Spock. Your child. Your friend Dr. McCoy said I had conceived before leaving Omicron Three -- and you were the only one who had touched me in over a year."

For a long time, he couldn't say a word. "But you have no child," he finally said.

"I miscarried. I can't tell you how I cried when that happened. I wanted your child so much." She sounded like she was on the verge of tears right now. "They -- Dr. McCoy and your Christine -- they told me it had been a boy. A son, Spock. Your son." Leila was openly sobbing at this point, burying her face in his chest.

He lifted her chin and kissed her tears away. "Leila, I deeply regret that you had to endure such pain because of me."

"I'm not asking for apologies, Spock. Not for what happened on Omicron Three, and not for the wonderful night we've spent together. The only thing I regret is that I cannot become pregnant again. I had a -- hysterectomy six months ago."

"Was it because--"

"No. It was some other female problem. I take regular hormone injections now." She reluctantly moved out of his arms and got up. "I've got to get to work. I'm due there in less than half an hour, and my boss gets very upset if I'm not there on time." Spock dressed while Leila was in the bathroom, waiting in the living room for her and standing up when she came in, every inch the proudly logical Vulcan as they stepped to the door of her quarters. "Since you're going to tell Christine anyway, tell her this for me -- that I truly envy her and hope she knows how lucky she is."

Leila stopped him before he voiced an apology. "No, don't apologize. You wanted it as much as I did -- and you can't deny that. Just chalk it up to exper- ience... and the fact that even Vulcans can be illogical on occasion." He brushed her tears away with a gentle hand. "At least I will always have my memories of you. Memories of Omicron Three and the beautiful night we spent together. No one can ever take them away from me. You'd better go now, Spock, if you expect to get back to your ship by noon. All I ask is that you hold and kiss me one last time -- in remembrance of what used to be."

It was only logical to grant her last request, so he did so. The kiss was tender, his embrace warm and loving. "I will always remember."

"As will I," he replied as the pair stepped out the door together.

They lingered at the door after he escorted her to the laboratory. "I've got to get in there, just as you've got to get back to the Enterprise -- and Christine." She put a hand to his cheek; he brought it to his lips. "Goodbye, Spock."

"Farewell, Leila."

"I will love you until the day I die."

"I shall never forget you."

Leila then forced herself to go in and not look back, just as Spock forced himself to turn around and head for the shuttlecraft bay -- then on impulse he
called the ship and asked to be beamed aboard instead. He told the starbase's chief engineer to contact Jim, the Doctor, and other crewmembers when they returned from shore leave and tell them that they could bring the shuttlecraft back
if they so desired. Scotty was surprised, but made no comment at his superior's unusual request, simply welcomed him back in the usual way.

Spock immediately headed to Sickbay after making sure Christine was alone there. They greeted one another with the finger-crossing gesture. "Christine, I must speak privately with you. There is something I must tell you."

"You did get the vaccine there all right, didn't you?"

"Of course. That is not what I mean."

"Specify, then." He explained what had happened with Leila. All Chris said in reply was, "Why?"

"As you would say, to get her 'out of my system,' as it were."

Christine's eyes filled with tears, though she tried to smile -- even laugh -- but it came out a strangled croak. "Now isn't that a fine kettle of fish! I never sensed a thing, never once suspected."

"Perhaps your mind was otherwise engaged," Spock suggested as he put a tender hand on her wet cheek, knowing he could never admit the truth -- that he had raised mental shields during his interlude with Leila in order to spare Christine unnecessary distress.

"It must have been. That's the only explanation that makes sense." She again tried to laugh, but tears came instead. He drew her into his arms, holding her tenderly with one arm while his free hand held her head close and stroked her hair. "You know, Nyota suggested this very possibility. I told her she was crazy to even think it, much less suggest it -- but it looks as though she was right after all."

"Christine, I assure you it was not premeditated. I had no idea that Leila had stayed on at the starbase... and give you my word that it will never happen again."

She looked up at him with tear-filled eyes. "How can you be so sure? If it could happen once--"

"I am a Vulcan. I cannot lie, nor do I break my word. Especially not to you -- but if you find you cannot marry me as a result of my actions, I will understand. It will be painful to sever our bond, in more ways than one... and I will be deeply saddened -- but I will understand."

Chris looked up again and smiled, brushing her tears away. "Oh no, you don't! You're not slipping off my hook that easily. I'm going to marry you, Mister -- your one-night stand notwithstanding! Besides, no one need ever know but you and I... that is, unless you intend to tell the Captain later on."

"I prefer that it be kept between us for the moment. So may I presume from what you say that our wedding is still 'on'?"

"You better believe it!" And that, as they say, was that.

Well, in due time, the couple were married and none of their friends ever knew of Spock's 'indiscretion' on Starbase 27. No one would ever know -- unless he or Christine chose to tell them. After all, his logical image had to be upheld…