The place is a pit, only not literally--it's not like Chapel's chosen to party in a Develian snake hole, but as nightclubs go, this one's a dive. And it's the last place her friends will think to look for her. She's known for her pickiness, for her love of things luxurious and clean and safe. Not this black-walled, mist-enveloped pseudo glade that serves booze--both synthetic and the real stuff--and lots of it.
Med school causes a lot of stress. Stress she can't work off in a more traditional environment. Stress that Roger used to take care of alleviating for her. Stress she told to take a hike until she found him.
But then she did find him, and she lost him all over again. And the stress came roaring back. She fantasized about Spock to keep it in check. Pondered the infinite diversity of Vulcan sex--of Vulcan domination.
And that was all safe and fun until she had to share consciousness with him. He blushed for a month whenever he saw her.
Safe to say Spock was into vanilla.
She preferred something darker swirled in. Not all dark, not all kink. But she needed to feel the push, needed to know she wasn't always in control. Didn't have to be in control.
Couldn't be in control if she tried.
She feels a bump, then: "You're the last person I expected to see here." She whirls, the male voice is familiar, if out of context.
"Chris." Kirk is in off-duty clothes. Kirk looks amazingly yummy with a tan and a very taut and strong body.
"Did you get a divorce?" Divorces always, in her experience, lead to major improvement sessions in the gym.
"Hello to you, too." He holds up his hand so she can see the ring he was sporting the last time she saw him is gone.
"Sorry?" She never liked Lori, so it really is a question. She never understood what he saw in the admiral for whom career meant more than just about anything.
"I'm not. Particularly." He glances at her drink. "I'll have what she's having," he tells the bartender.
"I'm a little surprised to see you here, Admiral."
She probably shouldn't be surprised he's here. Men in power crave release. Crave domination. It's too bad, really, since she's not the dominating type. She feels a rush of lust for her former C.O. and pushes it down. Two subs makes for a mess. She needs more.
He leans in, his hand on her lower back as he takes the scotch from the bartender. He is pushing a little harder than is necessary, pressing her into the bar. It almost hurts. She turns to look at him, sees he is assessing her.
"What is it you're looking for?" she asks softly, making her voice gentle and sweet.
He laughs. "Nice act." He pushes her a bit more. "What do you really look like when you submit?" In his eyes, there is something hesitant. They served together, she thinks he is remembering. They were crewmates, could be again someday.
She imagines he does not indulge this side often, and never with people he works with.
She thinks he is about to walk away, so she turns in the small space he has left her to maneuver, presses her body against his, and whispers in his ear, "Tame me and find out."
He reaches around her, pulls her close. They stand like that for a moment, pressed together, arousal evident on his part, probably on her part, too, with the way she is breathing, the way her skin is flushed.
She feels a rumble, sees his look change. He reaches into his packet, draws out the vibrating communicator and holds a finger up as he murmurs "Kirk here" to the device.
His expression changes as he listens, anger growing as the minutes tick by. Finally: "You're using Starfleet resources for this, Lori? Grow the hell up." He closes the communicator and takes Chapel's hand. "Come on."
He is furious. Being the recipient of Lori-induced rage is not on her list of things to do for the night.
She eases her hand out of his grip. She can see he is surprised at how easily she does it. "I'm not easy to tame, Jim."
He grins, but his eyes are still dangerous. "So I see. I look forward to putting that idea to the test."
For a moment she lets her body scream at her to go with him. She has a feeling he will push her farther than she's ever been pushed. She has another feeling it will go too far, and while she loves to be controlled, it better be for her sake, not because of some damn Admiral who annoyed her new dom.
Her new dom. If only...
"I have an early call, sir." She sees his expression change with her words.
"Why? You're here. That means something."
"And you're mad. And that means something, too. I go with my gut, Jim. And my gut tells me to run like hell tonight. Maybe we'll see each other again here some other night. I'll bring the ropes." She tries to smile like it's a joke, but she sees him shut down.
"Fine. I'll see you around, Lieutenant."
She feels as if he has just articulated a gap of a few light years between them by using her title, but she knows most of it is his anger at Lori, not at her. "Goodbye, sir."
He is already moving into the crowd as she turns to grab her jacket. The bartender shakes his head at her, as if doubting her decisionmaking ability. "He was hotter than hot, toots."
"Yes. Yes, he was." But her gut tells her she's doing the right thing. And when it comes to this kind of outing, her gut is the voice that wins.
Chapel stands at the medical station on the bridge, making adjustments to the sensors that assess the vitals of the two crewmembers out on spacewalk, tweaking a couple of post-V'Ger repairs the old fashioned way. In between checks, she watches Jim and Spock discuss V'Ger. Even a week later, it is still the topic on everyone's tongue.
Spock looks up and catches her staring. Jim follows Spock's gaze.
They have nearly identical looks. A veil of professionalism covering desire. It should be flattering as hell, but unfortunately Jim is out of reach with his "Not in the Nest" policy and Spock's interest is temporary, due to the meld with V'Ger. She decides to ignore them both and goes back to work.
Jim is the first to come over. "I'm glad you stayed."
She's not entirely certain how to take that. If she hadn't stayed, they could indulge some cravings every now and then. But here...what does that mean: he's glad she stayed?
"I think I'd like to get to know you better," he says, a small smile on his face, as if he knows exactly the journey she just took. "Given the...oddness of our last meeting."
"Get to know me better how?"
He smiles gently. "We don't know each other at all, do we? I'd like to change that."
"'Not in the Nest' suddenly not a factor?"
"My policy will, of course, be a factor. And I've never, by the way, designated it as 'Not in the Nest.' I believe it was your friend Janice who started the saying."
"So, you want to be friends."
"Mmm hmmm." He smiles and leans in to adjust a setting on the console. The contrast improves. He is pushing her only slightly, but she is overwhelmingly aware of how close he is. "There you go. Much better."
"Thank you, sir."
"My pleasure, Doctor." His smile is like a little boy who's successfully snuck into the Christmas presents and then rewrapped them.
"Mine, too." She works hard to not betray him. Despite the lust that is coursing through her, the idea of being his friend is something she finds herself interested in. Or maybe it is just getting time with him any way she can that spurs her.
As Jim leaves, she senses Spock approaching.
"Doctor." His voice is harsh, a mix of Gol-silence and V'Ger emotionalism.
"Spock." She finds it difficult to be formal with him, not with him being so overtly interested in her. And this despite having shared her brain--and all the nasty little secrets that lived in it.
"Are you free for dinner?"
She realizes she's not entirely sure that she is. When Jim said he wanted to get to know her better, was there an implied start time for that undertaking? She glances over at him, sees he is watching them with a smile on his face.
Does he want her to indulge Spock? Does he think she won't? Why the hell didn't she transfer when she had the chance?
"Dinner?" she asks, stalling.
"It is a meal. Humans eat it, or so my mother told me whenever I balked at Terran food. They often eat it together. Would you like to follow this custom with me?"
She blinks. Spock just out-sarcasmed anything she could say. And he did it in the annoying "just being logical" Vulcan way.
She's sees Jim's grin slip. Sees Spock's face light up with satisfaction until he lassoes his emotions and forces them back into some semblance of his pre-V'Ger coldness.
"Jesus, Mary, and Joseph," she mutters, then worries that invoking them when the problem seems headed for the carnal side of the scale is probably not the best idea.
Spock looks confused and goes back to his station after murmuring he'll be at her door an hour after shift change. Chapel nods, ignores Jim to the best of her ability, and goes back to work.
"I'm not really hungry," she says as she opens the door to Spock's chime.
"That is acceptable." He pushes past her.
"Hey, buster, wait a minute." She tries to pull him back, but he's moving too purposefully into her quarters.
"Christine, you want this. I want this. I fail to see the problem with my expediting the process."
"Never let it be said you can't strip all the romance and sexual tension out of a room, Spock."
"Perhaps I misunderstood, but I did not think you were overly interested in romance." He turns, grabs her shoulders and pushes her back against the wall. Reaching down, he finds her wrists, pulls so she has to raise her arms over her head. He holds her there with one hand, and she finally understands the concept of Vulcan strength. "I know what you want, Christine. I saw it when we shared consciousness."
"And it embarrassed the hell out of you."
"Then, yes. Now, no." He pushes her arms a little higher, forcing her to stand on tiptoe. "I am fully cognizant of the seriousness of this matter if you are not interested. I do not wish to assault you. If you want me to go, tell me, and I will leave."
She meets his eyes. There is unexpected desire in his.
"Please tell me to leave if you do not want me to take you. For I will. And I will do it in the manner you prefer."
She meets his eyes, smiles slightly, and struggles.
"Words, Christine, not actions. I must be sure I am welcome."
"The safe word is 'Leave now.'"
He does not ask about the meaning of the safe word. He does not have to--he lived it, in her mind.
"Accepted." He pushes her back harder, no distance between them as he kisses her roughly, as he tightens his grip on her wrists, as he pulls her hair, forcing her head back a little. "Struggle now."
She tries; it gets her nowhere. She is aroused, completely, utterly, dangerously. But there is no way she's going to tell him to stop. No matter what happens later, he's with her because, for now, he wants her.
"Spock," she says, testing him.
His reaction is instantaneous. He pulls her hair back, her wrists up. The position is uncomfortable. "I believe that is not the name I wish you to call me." He is breathing harder than normal. He is highly aroused.
She feels her whole body flush as she murmurs, "Master."
He picks her up, throws her on the bed, and proceeds to earn that title. She shudders under him, over him, held over his lap as he spanks her with only some small portion of his strength.
He dominates with the best of them; he has the past experience she's loved as a blueprint. And he's creative--not everything he does is a riff off a previous lover. She can tell he's enjoying himself as he ties and reties her, as he poses her and takes her in so many different ways.
He has to gag her eventually, for the sake of their privacy and those whose quarters share a wall. She wonders if he will blindfold her, but he seems to enjoy watching her expression, seems to be able to gauge where she is by her eyes.
Hours later, he unties her, draws her against him, and kisses her gently. "Did I hurt you?"
"Mmmm, yes." At his shaken look, she kisses him. "No, Spock, not really."
But he could, he could hurt her and that makes this all the more exciting.
He's restraining himself as much as he's restraining her.
"You look anything but well rested," Jim says as he sits down across from her in the mess.
She's playing with her breakfast, tired beyond belief. Spock pushed her more than she could have imagined.
And it was damned good.
"Are you all right?" His voice is the voice of experience, the voice of someone who knows what a woman looks likes when she's been given what she wants. "Did you get to the edge?"
She glances up at him, expecting to see jealousy or anger, but there is only curiosity.
Spock pushed her, but he didn't come close to the edge. No one ever has. She shakes her head, feeling like a verbal answer will betray what Spock did give her.
"Good." Jim sits back, a strange smile on his face. "I'm acquainted with the edge."
"Are you?" She leans forward. "In what way?"
"Are you asking if I swing both directions?"
"I don't. But I can tell when my partner is there."
And that's what makes him different than Spock, she thinks. Spock is doing what she wants. Jim would be doing what he wants.
"It's good, actually, that you're doing this with him." He sips his coffee, his expression thoughtful. "It's probably good for Spock, and it's definitely going to help me stay away from you." He lifts his cup to her. "Been thinking about you a lot since we met in that bar."
He grins. "But I wasn't kidding about wanting to get to know you." He takes a deep breath. "Life isn't sex all the time, not vanilla, and particularly not what we're into. Life has to be more. Real, not fantasy played out. The things that happen between the orgasms, as well as the naughtier parts."
"I agree." Roger gave her that. Intellectual stimulation most of the time. Stimulation of a darker kind on other occasions. "And for the record, I'm not opposed to vanilla."
"No?" He smiles and crosses his arms over his chest as he studies her. "Most people like us are."
"Does that mean you don't like it straight?"
"I didn't say that." He laughs as she rolls her eyes. "I like a more traditional expression of intimacy much of the time. The other...it's for special occasions. It should be a treat, not the main staple."
She agrees. Roger knew that, too. She's not sure Spock will get there. She thinks by the ease in Jim's voice that he is sure Spock won't get there.
"You're not jealous?" It is a selfish question to ask, but she asks it anyway.
"On the contrary: I'm seething." He picks up his cup, then hers. Refills it without asking. Brings it back and smiles.
"I like cream and sugar."
"Too bad." There's something dark in his eyes behind the boyishly bad smile. Something that tells her this man understands dominating in a way that others will never get.
"Why?" She thinks back to his file. His life. His history. "Most men in your position want release, not control."
He shrugs. She is straying into dangerous territory, and she wonders if he'll make her pay for it someday. But she doesn't stop trying to figure it out. This is about control. Keeping it, getting it, fighting the loss of it no matter wh--
"Oh, God. Jim, I'm sorry." She meets his eyes, sees that he understands that she arrived on Tarsus IV. Can imagine him: a boy seeing death all around, seeing people causing it who could have helped. That powerlessness shaped who he is, that helplessness made him the captain he is. But it also shaped him in other, more intimate, areas.
"I'm glad you understand. But I'd have never told you."
"I know." She grabs her cup and gets up, putting cream and sugar in her coffee before returning to him. She drops a donut in front of him as a peace offering, and he laughs.
"This is normal time, right?"
"Then I'll take my coffee the way I want, thanks."
He laughs again and tears into the donut. She finds herself smiling in a goofy way as she tries to let the coffee infuse her with energy. He gives her part of the donut, and she can see by his eyes that in other circumstances, he'd be feeding it to her.
It is exciting and comforting both.
Spock is avoiding her. After a week of great sex, and another week of good, he's definitely avoiding her.
She finds him in his lab and sees a guilty look on his face. She holds up her hands. "I come in peace. With no recriminations."
He seems to relax. "I have been neglecting you," he says as she slips onto the lab stool next to him.
"I..." He seems uncharacteristically at a loss for words.
"Has the V'Ger mojo worn off?" she asks gently.
He nods quickly, as if this is something he just wants to get over with, this truth that lets her down. That doesn't actually surprise her very much.
"If you hadn't given me what I wanted, this might not be so uncomfortable, Spock."
He meets her eyes. "I do not follow the logic."
"It can ruin things. This need, the craving and the restraints and the domination. It can make other things feel..."
"Tainted," he murmurs.
"Yes. Also, maybe, a bit bland, if you liked it and wish you hadn't."
He looks down. "I did enjoy the sex."
"I know you did. It's hard to fake the level of enthusiasm you were showing." She touches his fingers, lets hers linger until he gently eases his hand away. "But it's all we have. There's nothing to build on."
He does not answer, but his sigh is an answer of sorts.
"It can be, by its very nature, transient." A good reason why she indulges her passion with people in bars rather than shipmates. Fleeting isn't bad when you'll never have to interact with the person on a daily basis.
"I am sorry, Christine. I wish I could give you more than this."
"You've given me a lot. You were very good at this."
"That disturbs me somewhat."
She laughs, a low, possibly mean, sound. She decides not to tell Spock that while V'Ger may have been the ultimate dominator, Spock himself may be more in her category. She sure as hell isn't going to tell him that Jim might be able to fill a need she can't. Not that Jim's going to be hers any time soon, if ever, but she can live with that as long as he and Spock don't go and take each other off the market.
"Do you find this amusing?" He sounds angry, and she assumes it is an anger fueled by shame.
"Not really, Spock. I mostly find it sad." She leans in and kisses him on the cheek. "Thank you for a wonderful time."
He doesn't seem to know what to do with that.
"'You're welcome' is the traditional response." She slides off the stool and leaves as fast as she can without looking like she's fleeing.
"So," Jim says as he sidles up to her and hands her a beer, "you and Spock kaput?"
"How'd you guess?" She drains half her beer.
"Slow down, kiddo. Control, remember?"
"That's your gig. I just want to let go." She smiles but knows the expression doesn't reach her eyes.
"Do you miss him that much?" He looks surprised. "Not that Spock's not a stand-up guy, but I just didn't figure him for your taste." He waves away her look. "Not once you'd had enough of him. Not now that I know what you like."
"Meaning he's not into control?"
"He's into self-mastery. Slightly different thing. Asking him to let go of his restraint may have been a bridge too far."
"No 'may have been' about it. Was." She sighs and finishes her beer. "Should we be discussing him?"
"Probably not." He steers her away from the bar and toward the baseball field, grabbing a bottle of water from a cooler and trading it for the empty beer container. "I have right field or third base left."
"I hate baseball."
"Third base it is. I'm pitching, so I can keep an eye on you."
"Of course you're pitching. Is Spock playing catcher?"
"Spock's not into games, Chris. Or haven't you picked up on that yet?" He laughs at her and points to the pile of equipment near the dugout. "Come on, shore leave's a-wastin'."
She finds a mitt that fits and nods to Uhura, who grins and says, "Better not get in my way, Christine, when I'm coming around the bases."
Chapel laughs. "You're assuming I can even catch the ball."
"He"--Uhura gestures toward where Jim is doing some last minute pep talk with a scared-looking ensign--"wouldn't pick anyone who couldn't play. So I'm warning you now. I will run you down if you don't step out of my way."
"Okay, then. Run me down, I dare you."
Uhura laughs. "Okay, then." She picks up a bat, takes a few practice swings, then looks at Chapel. "Let's make them roast marshmallows later, 'kay?"
Chapel laughs; her friend is such a whimsical soul at times. "You got it."
The landing party has been uncomfortable. Spock stays very far away from her.
"What is his problem?" Uhura asks her.
"Same old thing, Ny." Chapel knows Uhura is interested in Spock but won't make a move as long as she thinks her friend is crazy in love with him. "It's a little insulting. I'm long over him."
"You do seem to be." Uhura's voice holds a note of longing that makes Chapel's heart pang.
"Ny, you like him. I know you do."
"That's irrelevant. I like the Captain, too, but I'd never go for him while Janice is around."
Chapel is both relieved she won't have to fight off a woman she considers far prettier than she is, and ashamed that she has no compunction about stealing "Jan's man."
"I'm giving you permission, sweetie."
"I can't. Your feelings--"
"Ny, shut up. Here's the story you need to know. After V'Ger, Spock was very open to...things. Didn't work out. Limited chemistry. Didn't hurt, just was a wakeup call. I'm over him. If you want to see him--and frankly I think you'll be much better with him than I was--then you have my blessing."
Uhura still looks unsure.
"It's up to you," Chapel says as she walks off toward where Jim is talking to one of the survey teams.
He finishes up and turns to her. "Nice place, huh?"
She nods. He looks past her and she follows his gaze. Uhura and Spock are talking. They look very...content.
"I may have been matchmaking."
He laughs. "It's a good match, actually."
"Which is why I did it. She's my friend and I do care for him. I wouldn't try to screw them up."
"That's nice of you."
She looks down. "Is it? Or am I tying up loose ends so I can concentrate on something else?"
"I'm not actually complaining if that's what you're doing. One less rival isn't a bad thing."
"I think he's your only rival."
"Then you really don't pay attention to how some of the crew watch you in the rec lounge."
"If I don't know about them, they can't be rivals." She smiles because she loves their gentle verbal sparring. He's never mean about it. But there's an edge that excites her. He wants to win and she does, too--the urge to submit does not negate the urge to compete, and she's found an awful lot of "players" who don't understand that.
"I have a favor to ask." He's suddenly all business, and she loves how he can spin on a dime. It makes the other stuff--the darker stuff--just part of their relationship, not all of it. She realizes he was very smart to want to get to know her as a friend first.
Although there are days she thinks she will die if she can't touch him. As a doctor, of course, she knows she won't expire from unsatisfied lust, so she pushes the need back and enjoys the parts of him she can have.
"What's the favor?" She knows better than to just say yes.
"New ensign. Having some problems with space sickness but doesn't want to come to sickbay for it. Afraid it will be on her record that she wasn't fit from the start."
"She told you this?"
He shakes his head. "She's the daughter of a friend of mine."
"Enough said. What's her name?"
"Well, I think it's time for Ensign Cartwright to have her first physical. I'm very good at worming issues out of our first-time assignees."
"Of that I have no doubt." He surprises her, touches her on the back and pushes gently, indicating they should walk. "Care to take a stroll?"
"You assume I'm not doing anything useful?"
He laughs. "No more than I am if this goes well. I provide little to no guidance on most of these, and you wait for injuries, yes?" He leans in slightly, bumps her gently with his arm. "I know you find other things to do; I've never seen you just sit around on a landing party. But you don't have to."
"I like to be busy."
"As do I. But right now I'd like to smell the roses. Or the local variant, anyway." He looks as if he would like to offer her his arm; she knows she'd like to take it.
"Lead on, my lord."
He glances at her, his eyes sparkling. "That's not actually the title I prefer, but it will do for now."
She laughs and follows him to a path that meanders along a river that sounds like music as it rushes over half-submerged rocks. He finds a nice place and sits near the river bank, and she sits next to him, a decent distance between them.
"I'm glad you're here, Chris. I'm glad you're on the ship." He leans back and closes his eyes.
"You are a beautiful man." His eyes are still closed but he smiles. "And I'm glad I'm here, too."
As he dozes, she listens to the river and chews on a blade of grass, letting the sun beat down on her. She'd like to cuddle in next to him, but she knows how it would look, and she also knows he trusts her to not make him look bad in front of his crew.
She wonders if that's an indication that he'll be relaxing his rules in the near future. Or if it only means that he, too, just wants to steal some time with her any way he can.
Chapel sits in the outer office of the base commander, waiting for Jim. She's had meetings all morning as has Jim, and he invited her to lunch, asked that she wait here for him. After a few minutes, he walks out with an admiral she doesn't recognize, a man who smiles warmly at her.
"So, I hear you'll be joining us for lunch?" the admiral asks.
Confused, she looks at Jim, and he indicates she should come with them. "This is Josepha's father, Chris. The friend I was telling you about. He's here on business, and I didn't want him to eat alone. You don't mind, do you?"
She nods, a bit surprised that Jim's not just telling her that he's got other plans. The admiral looks a bit surprised, too, and is studying her with unabashed interest.
"Doctor Christine Chapel meet Admiral Matthew Cartwright." Jim manages to get them all moving to one of the restaurants on the starbase, some kind of Federation fusion experiment where the portions are small and the prices are high.
"This is his favorite place, Christine. I can't convince him he's being ripped off."
She laughs. "He likes what he likes."
"Yes. Yes, he does." Cartwright eyes Jim who is ahead of them now and says quietly, "He must like you. I've known him for years, and he's never brought a friend to one of our lunches."
"Oh, no, sir. It's not like that." She is blushing and Cartwright is giving her a "sure it's not like that" look. "I think he thought that since I'm sort of Josepha's mentor now..."
"You can think on your feet, I'll give you that." Cartwright grins. "At ease, Doctor. I don't disapprove. Medical was independent last time I checked."
"Well, then, let's just leave it at that and have fun getting to know each other, okay?"
"Fine, but we're not--"
His look shuts her up.
"Could you two hurry up?" Jim is watching them both with open affection. "I knew you'd get on."
Lunch is pleasant, with Jim including her in a way that seems to straddle the line between friend and colleague. At first it feels strange to call him by his first name in front of a superior officer, but before the end of the lunch, she's calling Cartwright by his first name, too. Cartwright is funnier than she expects, and they laugh often.
"Well, Jimbo, I have to get if I want to catch my shuttle back to Earth." He takes Chapel's hand. "I know Josepha's a hell of a lot happier with you in her life. I think the same can be said for my friend here. So, you are officially on my list of favorite people, Christine." He smiles, gives Jim a grin, and leaves them alone at the table.
"He doesn't forget friends," Jim says as he watches Cartwright leave. "You ever want a change from medicine, he'll be a good guy to know."
"And that's why you included me today? To ensure my career development?" She smiles as she says it, but her words come out sharp.
"No, I actually wanted to see if you would get along with one of my best friends." His grin turns evil. "I already know how you get on with Spock."
"We're doing better now that he has Uhura letting him think he's pursuing her, instead of the other way around. We even had a three-sentence conversation the other day."
Jim sighs. "I'm sorry about that. I didn't want you with him, as I'm sure you know, but I didn't want this falling out, either."
"It's not like we were ever close, he and I. This is really just a return to our normal behavior."
He looks relieved. "I hadn't considered it that way." He leans forward. "So you two are regressing and we, I think, are progressing."
"Well, I enjoyed lunch. And you were a big part of why."
She holds up her water glass, clinks it against his when he offers it. "Well, then, here's to progress."
"So..." Uhura gulps her water in a way that seems more nervous than thirsty. She goes back to the machine she's working her lats on, and Chapel waits for whatever it was she was going to say.
They work out in silence, and finally Chapel can't stand it. "So...what?"
"So, how long has it been since you spent time with Janice?"
Chapel looks down. She hasn't spent any time with Janice. "Not much. She and I...we have less in common, I think."
"You sure you don't have more in common?" Uhura's face is bland, but she doesn't look away. "Say, a certain captain?"
"Last I checked she was never with him." It's a stupid thing to say. A kneejerk thing to say. And Uhura looks startled at it.
"Are you with him?"
"No, that's not what I meant." Although she's more with him than Jan was, but she's not about to tell Uhura that. "He and I are friends. So what?"
"No, it's fine. But she's not happy. She saw you on Starbase 16, having lunch with him and some admiral."
"I can't really help that she's upset. If he chooses to invite me to lunch, I don't see the problem." She throws down her towel, climbs off the abdominals machine.
"If you're going after him, shouldn't you talk to her?"
Like Uhura had when Christine and Spock ended. But Janice was never with Jim.
"If she's got a problem, she can talk to me."
Uhura sighs. "You've changed."
"Yeah, I probably have. Med school was hard. Being a doctor is hard. Being second medical officer is hard. So I've changed. So what?"
Uhura goes back to her workout. "So, you're not going to talk to her?"
"Wasn't planning on it." Not when she is in some kind of relationship with Jim, even if she isn't sure what it means or where it will go. But the bottom line is that Jim isn't trying to get to know Janice, and if Chapel tries to talk to her about this, that will come out.
"Are you with him, Christine?" Uhura's voice is small and she's not meeting Chapel's eyes.
"I'm his friend." It's the truth, for now. He's never kissed her, never touched her in a lover's way. Even if it's clearly what's underneath their growing closeness. Even if she fantasizes about him constantly and doesn't feel the fantasies are futile the way they were when Spock was her favorite dream man. "And you know how he feels about messing with his crew."
It's an evasion, but it shuts Uhura up.
Jim comes to sit next to her in the rec lounge. He hands her a glass of scotch. "You've been distant."
"Yep." He leans his head back and looks at her. His posture says he's at ease with her. The fact that he's sitting this way when the room is crowded says he doesn't care who knows it. "Why?"
"Just trying to dial things down."
"Why? What things?" His voice is casual, as if they are talking about the weather.
She sighs and glances over to where Jan is sitting with Sulu and some lieutenant Chapel doesn't know very well. Jan does not look happy; she meets Christine's eyes then looks away. "I'm losing friends over this. And for what?"
"Which friends? Uhura?"
"I was thinking of Jan."
"Oh." He drinks calmly from his glass. "You can't break up with me, you know. We're not going out."
"That's the problem, Jim. We're not anything."
"We're friends, aren't we?"
"Okay, we're friends. But I'm not even sure what that means." She leans in, pitches her voice low. "I want things from you that I know I can't have. Light things. Dark things. Everything." There it's said. They've been coming to this place from the beginning. "I love being your friend, don't get me wrong. I enjoy you so much. Talking, just being with you, it's all good. But I have these...feelings and I don't think this is going to work, because they're just getting stronger."
"I love dancing." He points with his glass to where some of the crew are moving slowly, cheek to cheek, groin to groin in some cases.
"Are you listening to me?"
"I am. You like me lots. You have these feelings. This isn't going where you need it to." He stands. "I agree. This isn't going where we need it to. So let's get it there." Setting down his glass, he holds out his hand to her. "Dance?"
"Here is where the dance floor is. Also, conveniently, the other dancers--it's a social thing, you see, this dancing." He takes the glass out of her hand and puts it down. "On your feet, Chris. Let's move this along." His eyes go hard for a moment as she doesn't move. "That wasn't a request."
She stands, lets him pull her along to where the others are. She feels as if every eye in the room is on them. He smiles at her as he pulls her close. He's a good dancer and all she has to do is follow along and marvel at the feel of his body next to hers, his hand running slightly up and down her back.
"Is this better?" His voice is even, full of contentment. He pulls her a little closer.
She sighs against her will. "Yes. Yes, this is better."
His mouth rests near her ear. "Just give them time to get used to it. We'll all settle into this together." His breath is hot and makes her shiver. "And then we'll take it from there."
The music changes, a slightly faster tempo. Jim whispers, "They don't care, Chris. They want me to be happy. You're well liked and don't stand to benefit much from this, so they won't mind that it's you. I've thought about this quite a lot. Especially lately."
"I'm glad." She wants to kiss him and pull him closer and rub all along him, to show him how much she likes that he's planned and thought and moved away from his rules. "And why lately?"
His smile is dangerous, dark and pure seduction. "Because there are things I want to do with you. And things I want to do to you. And I'm no longer content to have those things be 'sometime in the future' events. I want them now."
He laughs. "Well, not right now. But not at the end of this mission. Not at the end of this year. Hell, Chris, I'll be lucky to get to the end of this night."
"Do we have to? Get to the end of this night?"
He nods. "Give them a while to see us together without that coloring it. You know it will--sex has a way of dripping off a new couple." He thinks about what he just said. "I don't mean dripping off literally. Although..."
She laughs, louder than she means to, and a few couples turn to look at them. She lets them look. She's dancing with the captain. With the man. With Jim Kirk. Who will soon be her lover and will do things with her--and to her.
As they turn, she sees Janice. The look in her friend's eyes tells her there will be no forgiveness any time soon.
Chapel feels a pang, but it's a fleeting thing.
They're on a starbase again. This time lunch is with Spock and Len. This time Jim is tactile, letting his hand fall on her enough that it is clear she is with him--is his. Len doesn't seem surprised, and she wonders if Jim has talked to him about her. Spock seems less copacetic, and he keeps glancing at her in a way that makes her nervous.
"Something wrong, Spock?" Jim asks, and he smiles evenly as he waits for the answer.
Spock has never looked more uncomfortable, and Chapel imagines that he thought himself rid of her once they broke up. Now, here she is again.
Jim leans in. "I know you and Chris have a history." He puts an interesting spin on the word; it can mean just about anything. "I know things have been a bit awkward for you two in the past."
Len snorts. In the mean way that goes back to the crush. It's not a sound that says he knows she and Spock were having kinky sex like crazed minks two doors down from him.
"Let's put that history behind us, all right, gentlemen? Chris is with me now."
She's surprised at how he puts it out there and lets it drop. He looks happy, as if defying his two best friends to burst his bubble. Len smiles at her, clearly approving.
Spock clears his throat and says, "The past is the past. I believe both Christine and I can agree to that."
She nods and mumbles something about time making everything okay, but she quits before she says something too stupid.
Jim smiles at her. "So, we're official." There is a fire in his eyes, and she feels an answering heat in her belly.
And it's for him. Not just for what he's going to do to her, the vanilla and the not-so. But for the man, the very wise man who wanted to get to know her before he fucked the living daylights out of her.
She lifts her glass. "To being official." Then she turns to Len. "So what's this I hear about Medical requiring us all to recertify in a year?"
It's enough to start him on a rant, one that Spock joins in taking the opposite view. Soon they are all happily debating the stupidity of mandatory recertifications. Jim smiles at her and mouths, "Nice job," and she inclines her head slightly at the compliment.
They're talking as if she belongs there. Because now she does belong there. Part of the group, and in a way that doesn't have to make them uncomfortable.
When lunch is over, Jim pulls her to him and whispers in her ear, "Tonight."
It's not a question, a request, or an invitation. It's an order. He manages to meld them into the most ordinary moments. It's an art.
She shivers and nods, reaching for his hand to squeeze just once. "Tonight," she murmurs, as she watches him follow Spock to a meeting.
"So. You and Jim." Len is waiting for her, leaning up against a column. "Who'd have thunk it?"
"You not okay with this?" She doesn't care enough to stop seeing Jim, but she's not sure where Len is going with this.
"No, I'm more impressed with your sneakiness. And his. I did not see this coming, and I'm normally so well plugged in."
She shrugs and smiles. "Outfoxing you is just icing on the cake."
"Oh, don't get all bigheaded, young lady, or I'll take you over my knee..."
She doesn't tell him that might be right up her alley.
Jim's quarters are lit at three-quarters intensity. He tells her to stop as soon as she's through the door, sets the privacy lock, and then stands staring at her.
She is fully clothed and she has never felt so naked. She fights the urge to cross her arms over her breasts, to protect herself.
"Come here," he says softly, and she moves to him. He catches her up as soon as she's close enough, pulls her almost viciously to him. But his kiss is gentle. He is exploring, getting to know her mouth the same way he got to know her.
She is assaulted by sensation. The feel of his tongue battling hers, the way he is stroking her, his hands running up to her throat, then down to her hips, pulling her close, thrusting at her through both their clothes. He nuzzles her neck, finds a place just under her uniform and sucks hard, marking her, causing her to cry out.
Then he is pushing her down onto his bed and he runs his hands over her as if she is some kind of livestock he is assessing. He slips his hand under her uniform, touches her so intimately she rocks up to meet him. Finally, he stops his inspection and smiles at her. "You, Chris, are mine."
She is shuddering and pulls him down, not caring if he wants her to submit or not. She kisses him and hears him laugh as he kisses her back. When they finally pull apart, he murmurs, "I'm falling in love with you."
"That's good. Because I'm falling in love with you, too."
For a moment, they lie closely, not moving except to kiss lazily. She wants him in so many ways it is almost confusing. She wants to be dominated. She also wants this gentle intimacy.
He gives her the best of both worlds for their first time. Taking his time with disrobing, making it a mutual exploration, equals learning the contours of each other's bodies. The first time they make love, it is explosive and heady and neither of them lasts long before their bodies give in to the pleasure. The next time they join, it is gentle and slow. He kisses her and she kisses him. And it takes them a long time to come, and they lie back in each others' arms when it's done and nuzzle and kiss and stroke.
And then his smile changes.
"Remember that bar?"
"I'm glad you didn't come with me that day."
"I am, however, going to punish you for not coming with me."
She smiles and says, "Good," as he turns her over, pulls her to her hands and knees and takes her almost brutally. He eases her up so her back is against his chest and holds onto her throat with one hand while with the other he teases her. She comes loudly. So does he.
"Do we need a safe word?" he asks as he lies on top of her, still joined. He is heavy and warm and she feels helpless.
But she also feels safe.
He rolls off, pulls her with him, so she's on her back. He hooks his leg around hers, pulls it out until he has the access he wants and begins to touch her again.
She moans, then manages to ask, "What would be the point of a safe word?"
"You're going to have to gag me eventually. If you want your neighbors to sleep."
"I'll gag you because I want to gag you." But he looks pleased at her trust.
She turns and kisses him as he plays and strokes. He pulls her leg a bit more, and she makes wild, helpless sounds as she climaxes.
She turns to look at him, smiling because he has moved her and all he's used is his voice and his eyes, his legs and his hands. And she knows that he can use much more on her, and no doubt will.
But he doesn't need to.
This could be enough. It just won't have to be, not from the look in his eyes, the seductive half smile on his face as he pushes her down to take care of him and then strokes her hair as she does.
She feels owned. She feels treasured. She feels...as if she has come home.
And when he can't take it anymore, when he cries out her name and clutches at her, he sounds as if he's come home, too.
The mess is full as Chapel joins Jim. He hands her a sandwich he's ordered for her and she bites into it, grateful she doesn't have to wait in line--greedy to have all the time with him she can.
"I ran into Spock this morning," he says.
"No." He is laughing, and she marvels at how it lights up his face. "I think he wanted to warn me about your predilections."
"Yeah. Only, he never really could bring himself to spit it out. I had the hardest time not laughing."
"You'd think he'd just blurt it out, in his oh-so-tactful Vulcan way." At his nod, she continues, pitching her voice low, just for them. "Jim, I am concerned that you have entered into a relationship with Christine unaware that she has a deep need to be dominated."
He smiles. "I guess I know that you never betrayed my predilections to him."
"I guess you do. So what did he end up telling you?"
"Not much. I finally took pity on him and said that whatever he wanted me to know, I probably already knew after two weeks of being with you." He grabs the pickle off her plate and bites into it with gusto. "You didn't want that, did you?"
"It's all yours."
"Mmmm, that's what I like to hear." His expression changes to one that has little to do with them and love and sex. "So, I'm worried about the Calyx VII delegation. Do you think Rogers is ready for duty?"
"He's had ample time to recover from what was, at the end, a fairly insignificant accident. You're babying him, Jim. Let him do this. It'll be good for him."
"I just worry."
"And that's what makes you a good captain. But I'm not worried and I'm his doctor. Let him go wow them with his presentation. Sulu will make sure he gets down time if he needs it."
"All right, Doctor." He grins at her. "I was supposed to lead the team."
She smiles. "It's good to delegate to Sulu. He's interested in command."
"Yes, and that's exactly why I did it. I had no ulterior motive of not wanting to be away from you for a week."
She reaches out for his hand, lets her fingers lie gently on his. Their relationship is old news now. The crew doesn't care, or if a few of them do, it's not going to stop her from loving him. From enjoying how light it can be with him.
And how dark.
"Well, I'm glad you're going to be here to take advantage of. So do you think Spock was trying to warn you off me?"
"I didn't tell you about him to make you paranoid. I just thought it was funny." He looks down. "And yeah, maybe he was."
"Well, it's not going to work." She makes it sound like an ultimatum and laughs. "Let me rephrase--"
"No need to. It's not going to work. I love you. I love being with you--in all the ways that we're together. Spock will come around."
Hopefully better than the way Jan has. Chapel decides not to say that out loud.
"So what are you doing tonight, Doctor?"
"Oh, I was going to wash my hair. Maybe sweep under the bed. Organize my underwear."
"Funny. My place. Right after shift. I have toys."
He shrugs. "It's possible they were there the whole time. But you don't give it all away on the first date, my dear." There is a gleam in his eyes that tells her she will like his toys very, very much.
He's gotten her close to the edge. Before too long, she knows he'll push her all the way. And he'll be there to catch her before she hits bottom. It's so new to trust this way. To know that there's nothing he'll do to her that he won't undo later.
"I can't wait."
"Me either." He stands up. "You ready to go over the crew physicals? Len's probably already complaining about us being late."
She checks the chrono; they aren't late at all. In fact, they have about twenty more minutes.
"I thought we could go to sickbay by way of my quarters." Jim is grinning and she finds herself grinning back. "No toys, just us. And very quick."
They hurry to his quarters and don't bother undressing, undoing only what needs to be loosened to get the job done. There's nothing extra, nothing added. No toys. No games. Just them. Being very quick as they connect at the most basic level.
Quick more than works.