She came into his room despite his not answering the doorchime, telling herself that it was all right – as a medical professional it was her duty to check on him, in case he was not answering because of some drastic incapacitation. The heat in there hit her like opening an oven door. He usually kept his quarters at a happy medium between ship temperature and Vulcan normal, but he had obviously dialled it all the way up to achieve some level of comfort in his desperate condition. She rounded the screen into the dim, red-draped confines of his sleeping area and saw him there, curled on the bed, motionless in sleep. He was still wearing his uniform and boots, lying on top of the covers as if he had lain down with no intention of staying for long. The sight of him sent thrills through her – it always did. She had to remind herself that he was ill, and she should be focussing on making him well, not on the perfect curves of his buttocks, the sleekness of his hair, the graceful lines of his arms and hands.
She moved round to the other side of his bed. His body seemed almost relaxed, but she could see by the small grimaces on his face that even in sleep his mind was still tormenting him. She reached out, struck by the sudden urge to smooth his hair, to soothe him back into a deeper sleep – but she couldn't quite make herself touch him, fearful of him waking, furious and uncontrolled as she had seen him before. She clenched her fist, and turned to go.
Spock drifted back into a dim awareness of his quarters, muddled by a dream that had seemed as vivid as reality a moment ago, but now was starting to lose any of the sense it had contained. *She* had been in it, speaking to him, but his ears had been ringing with the overwhelming sickness of pon farr, and he had not been able to hear a word she was saying. He was watching her lips move, desperately trying to read what she was saying, but T'Pring was behind him – a seven year old, proud, intense T'Pring, touching him with icy fingers, drawing him away.
He came back into wakefulness swiftly, the gnawing aches and shivers of pon farr claiming him again, and his hyper-alert senses picked up on the scent of her, a terrible, animal part of him giving him awareness of the presence of *woman* before he even knew that it was *her*. His skin tingled with a need to be surrounded by her. But he couldn't… He made a tremendous effort, tightening his muscles, snapping down his control over his biological urges, and sitting up swiftly to see her there, just across the room from him. He had no idea what she was doing here in his room. It was enough that she was there, and he didn't have the mental resources to question the fortuity of her presence.
'Miss Chapel,' he said. Thankfully his voice was steady – almost normal – even though the confession he was about to make was not. 'I had – a most startling dream. You were trying to tell me something, but I couldn't hear you.'
He stood up, and suddenly his rigid control let him down, and he stumbled as if the floor had moved under his feet. She stepped forward as if to help him, but he held his hand out to stop her. If she touched him now, he didn't think he could resist her. But – should he even resist her? Every fibre of his biological being was urging him to give in and take her. And he could see it in her, too, without any prompting from hormones or biological cycles. All she wanted to do was take hold of him and give him comfort. It was so *stupid* that he was stopping himself. So contrary to logic, to common sense, to everything. So stupid to die for the sake of resisting something both of them wanted.
'It would be illogical for us to protest against our natures, don't you think?' he said softly. He had to restrain the urgency he felt, to keep it from his voice.
'I – don't understand,' she faltered. She was crying. It seemed that everything about her was calculated to entice him at the moment. They needed each other. It was so obvious. But he didn't know what to say, how to make her understand what he needed, how to explain to her that the urgings of biology were relaxing his inhibitions, but not entirely creating his desires.
'Your face is wet,' he said, reaching out to wipe a tear from her cheek. Just that swift touch gave him a second's access to the turmoil in her head. She too was afraid of taking advantage, afraid of giving in to something she had held inside herself for so long, afraid of rejection, afraid of acceptance.
'I came to tell you that we are bound for Vulcan,' she said. 'We'll be there in just a few days.'
Spock nodded, moving his fingers over the dampness of her tear on his hand. 'Vulcan,' he said. The word seemed like a curse to him right now. There was Vulcan, arid, hot, unfeeling, just like T'Pring. And then there on his hand was the cool dampness of Christine's tears, with the same chemical content as Earth's oceans. He couldn't imagine T'Pring ever crying, ever needing his comfort. She needed him for nothing. The deepest irony was that such emotional, biological urges were drawing him back to a place and a person that were completely unmoved by such things. And now Christine was turning away from him. He didn't know what to say…
'Miss Chapel,' he said.
She stopped, but she didn't turn. He could see her distress in the set of her shoulders. 'My name is Christine.'
'Yes, I know, Christine,' he said. There was only one thing he could think of to make her return, to stay with him for long enough to broach what he desired. 'Would you make me some of that plomeek soup?' he asked hesitantly.
The smile lit up her face like sunshine despite, or perhaps because, of her tears. 'Oh, I would be very glad to do that, Mr. Spock!' she said earnestly.
She left the room with his words of earlier tumbling through her head. *It is undignified for a woman to play servant to a man who is not hers…* Kirk had told her that, word for word, as he had tried to calm her bewilderment at his anger. But he had specifically requested that she serve him…
No. No, he was just hungry. He was ill, and he hadn't eaten for days, and it was logical to accept an offer of food in his condition. She couldn't let herself think like that. She had been fooled by her emotions too many times before.
When she re-entered the room he was sitting behind his desk, trying to look composed, struggling to hold himself still. But his hands were betraying him again. He was twisting them in his lap, pulling and squeezing at his fingers, and they began shaking every time he tried to relax them. He barely reacted to her presence, and then jumped as if startled when she put the bowl down on his desk.
'Your soup,' she said softly.
'Yes,' he said confusedly. He looked as if he could barely focus. He glanced up briefly, seeming to come back to himself enough to say, 'Sit.'
He reached out and picked up the spoon, but his hand was shaking too much and it clattered against the side of the bowl. Christine sat down silently opposite him, resisting the urge to offer help. He put the spoon down and picked the bowl up with both hands, holding it so tightly she expected the ceramic to shatter. He brought it to his lips and drank, draining the bowl almost without realising it. He put it down shakily, and touched his napkin to his lips, then looked up to see that she was watching his every movement.
'Better?' she asked him with a smile.
He nodded silently. 'To an extent.'
'You said before that it wasn't dignified for a woman to serve food to a man when she wasn't his,' she reminded him softly.
'That is true. Did the captain repeat – '
'He explained what you'd said to him – just that, nothing else. I was upset.'
'Ah…' Spock said slowly. 'Yes, I am sorry. I was not in control…'
'I know… Then – have I shown myself to be undignified?' she asked carefully. It was as close as she could come to asking him directly what he meant by inviting her back here.
'I – would not ask you to do anything without dignity, Christine,' Spock said slowly, his eyes focussed on the desk again. 'But – '
'But – ' she prompted him.
'I need to speak plainly,' he said. 'I – need to speak to you about things and feelings that I would never normally voice. I – c-cannot cloak this in overtures and flattery. I cannot be so insincere.'
'I would never expect you to,' she said softly.
'I *need* – intercourse,' he said with great reluctance. 'This condition will kill me. I need intercourse with a female,' he continued. 'But – I *desire* intercourse – with you. Your willingness – is an assumption on my part.'
She remained silent, unsure of what to say that would not make her sound like a crazed schoolgirl living out her fantasy. This situation was too serious for that.
'Do you understand what I am saying, Christine?' he asked her.
'Yes, I think so,' she nodded. 'I – would normally wait a little longer in a relationship before getting to that – but – it isn't logical to let you die for the sake of my modesty.'
'You must understand,' he said with difficulty, 'that I am not operating within usual parameters.' Each word sounded considered, worked out before he allowed his mouth to form the sounds.
'Yes, I know,' she nodded soberly. She didn't have a full medical understanding of his condition, but it was obvious what it was that was bothering him.
'I am – struggling – to control my – needs,' he continued, his eyes fixed on the desk before him. Then finally he looked up, with a look in his dark eyes that pierced her to the soul. 'I – do not choose you simply because you are woman, Christine,' he said hoarsely. 'I do not choose you simply out of necessity.'
'But – you do need me,' she finished for him softly. 'I understand what you need to do. You can't get to Vulcan in time. It's impossible.'
'It – will not be enough – to mate with one unbonded to me,' he continued. 'Mere release of fluid is certainly not enough. I – have learnt it provides a very fleeting relief. But to mate with you – will undoubtedly alleviate the symptoms – long enough for me to reach my planet.'
'And you have – something arranged there,' she said.
He nodded tightly, not looking at her face. She imagined him returning to Vulcan to some kind of logically arranged sexual encounter – an anonymous woman who would step forward merely to satisfy his crazed biological urge. She couldn't bear the depths of indignity that would hold for him.
'There are – many things that I desire – that my species, my discipline, forbid me to have,' he continued. 'My – life is bound by rules that I cannot break. But – I *want* to break them,' he said earnestly, meeting her eyes again.
'Mr Spock,' she said softly. She wanted to reach out to his hand, but she was afraid of what touch might do to him in his current condition. 'It's all right – I understand. You're afraid I'll think you're taking advantage of my feelings for you – but you're saying that you share the same feelings.'
He nodded tightly, a world of pain in his eyes.
'But afterwards, when you're recovered, you'll be bound by logic again, and you won't be able to acknowledge those feelings.'
'It – will be far more difficult,' he said with tight control.
'But we're not in the afterwards. We're in the now. We can leave those problems for later, can't we?'
He nodded, the relief of her understanding seeming to wash through him, relaxing every muscle just a little.
'I am – controlling myself with great difficulty,' he told her. 'I am afraid that when I – relinquish that control – that I may – I may hurt you, unintentionally.'
'It's all right,' she said softly, reaching out finally to touch his hand. His fingers spasmed, seeming to burn under hers. 'I'm friends with the ship's doctor, you know,' she said with a smile. 'I have a good health plan.'
A noise escaped Spock that was almost a laugh. 'I – would be interested in hearing you explain to McCoy how you sustained your injuries.'
'Don't worry,' she told him softly. 'Let go. I'm ready to do whatever you want to do.'
Spock breathed in deeply, a tremor running through his body. He clenched his hands, then looked up again, fire burning in his eyes. 'Remove your clothes,' he said, a new timbre to his voice.
She moved her hands to obey him, tingling excitement surging through her at the primal tone of command in his voice. He stood, watching her from the other side of the desk even as he stripped his own clothes from his body, ripping fastenings in the fumbling to remove them. She gasped in breath as she saw him, his entire body sheened with sweat, his muscles taut like a racehorse waiting to run. If she had had any doubts, she lost them at that moment.
'Bed,' Spock commanded, his voice shaking. 'Do not make me take you on the floor.'
She knew the anger in his voice was anger at his own lack of control. Before she had time to move he had come to her, as swiftly as if he had passed through the desk instead of round it, and had picked her up in his arms and thrust her onto the bed. His skin seemed to burn on hers with fevered heat.
Then he stood for a few moments, staring down at her naked body, breathing deep, slow breaths in an attempt at control. He was already erect, his penis visibly pulsing with the force of blood in it, seeming to radiate heat even from where she lay. It seemed an amazing thing to her eyes, marbled with the green of his blood and straining with hardness, calling out for relief. She wanted to touch it, to put her mouth on it, to cool it with her tongue and surround it with her body. She was the one who finally broke, whispering, 'Please, come…' Even without any of the drawn out stimulation of foreplay she was moist and ready, throbbing with need. The force of his desire was infectious.
And then suddenly he was upon her, his fevered body covering hers, the girth of his erection pushing into her. A groan of need beginning to be satiated was forced from his lips as he pushed home and he began to thrust, slamming himself against her in his desperate need to achieve satisfaction, unconscious of anything but that one place that he needed. And then he convulsed with climax, crying out inarticulate sounds of gratification as he stilled inside her body.
A terrible, insecure part of her expected him to pull away from her at that moment and order her to put her clothes back on and leave. No matter how good it had felt for her, it was as if she hadn't been there for him. But he didn't leave. The urgency seemed to have gone, but he was still governed by desire – a more emotional and less biological desire. He pressed his lips down over hers, opening her mouth with his seeking tongue, tasting her, moving his mouth over her lips and cheeks and neck as if he was trying to consume as much of her as possible. His hands seemed to be everywhere, exploring her breasts, her flanks, the sleek lines of her neck and shoulders. His fingers brushed over her temples, and she was suddenly overwhelmed with an instant of insight into the turmoil in his mind – a hot, whirling confusion of need and desire and – needle-sharp regret for the feelings he could not normally acknowledge.
And then suddenly he had moved from between her legs and pressed his mouth to her there like a starving man, sucking her into him, pushing his tongue insistently through gullies and into the dark warmth of her vagina, heedless of the seed he had already left there. He pulsed over the centre of her, and she gasped, writhing with a pleasure that was too sharp to bear. He moved his mouth upwards, his teeth grazing over her flat stomach, his tongue tasting her skin, seeking upwards until it found her breasts. He sucked one of her nipples into his mouth, moulding it to a stiff point, his hand massaging her other breast, then moving down between her legs, then back up again, trying to take in as much of her as possible.
She reached out to touch his penis, finding it engorged again, almost as hard as before. She pumped her hand on it, and he moaned aloud, shuddering with the desires that were running through him. And then he was on her again, taking her again, but this time with enough consciousness in his mind to allow him to kiss her lips and neck as he thrust, plunging his tongue into her mouth even as he plunged his hardness into her below. And then he spasmed with orgasm again, moaning with unrestrained relief, and she cried out aloud, her pillowing muscles clenching at his flesh inside her.
He took her six more times before the fevered need in him began to wane, and she lay exhausted in the ruin of his bedclothes, sweat both his and hers trickling down her sides and breasts and thighs. He lay over her, heaving breath into his lungs, his cheek against hers, his hair slicked across his forehead with sweat and his hands limp on the blanket beneath them.
Finally, he murmured, 'You have saved me, Christine.'
She knew he meant that literally. She wished she knew if he meant it metaphorically as well. She lay still, breathing shallow breaths, suddenly terribly aware of the reality of her situation. Here she was, pinned under the fevered, naked body of a man she had spent years loving distantly, but had never once touched in consenting passion. Yes, she had seen him naked before, seen him vulnerable – but always with the glass wall of the nurse-patient relationship between them. Otherwise he had always been distant, so terribly controlled, so pristine and perfect and in command. Now all of that was undone. She could feel his length along hers, the sweat-dampened hair on his legs and chest itching her skin, his collarbones pressing against hers. She could feel the beginnings of stubble on his usually immaculately shaven cheek. She could feel all those real, animal things of him, and she still loved him – but all she could feel from his unguarded mind was a burning confusion of emotion, and she couldn't pick love out from that at all.
She moved her hand on his back, then stretched herself a little under his weight, but there was no reaction from him. He was exhausted almost to the point of falling asleep, but she could still feel the tension of his sickness vibrating through his muscles. Physicality seemed to be rushing back to her. She had been here for hours. She was aching with tiredness, and *hungry*, and – suddenly uncertain.
'What now?' she asked, so faintly she almost could not hear it herself.
He stirred himself, rolling slowly onto his side, his wet skin peeling away from hers. She was suddenly chilled as the air hit her. He exhaled – a long sound filled with a sense of regret.
'I don't wish for a *now*,' he said in a voice low with something close to anger. 'No past, no present – no future. Just let me be.'
'You want me to go,' she said, trying to keep hurt from her voice. She had known the parameters of this encounter before she began it.
'*No*,' he said irritably. 'No, I don't want you to go. Just be silent, as a woman sh- ' He bit his lips over his words, trembling, making an obvious effort to control his emotions. 'I – don't wish to talk,' he said slowly. 'I don't wish to acknowledge reality – just yet.'
'It will come, Spock,' she said pragmatically. Perhaps she shouldn't have spoken, but she was used to having to stay aware of the realities of situations.
'*Not* now,' he said, his voice shaking and his eyes closed. She turned her head to study him more closely, staring at the dark edges of his eyelids where his black eyelashes entered the skin. He was fighting to keep his face relaxed, even now. She rolled onto her side to face him, putting her hand lightly on her arm. He flinched like one suffering the sensitivity brought by a fever.
'I'm sorry,' she said softly.
He breathed in a long, deep breath, and then held it, sitting up in one swift movement. Then he exhaled, opening his eyes and forcing himself to fix his dark gaze on hers. He still looked troubled, distracted by a thousand different irritations – but there was a deeper level of sanity in his eyes than there had been before.
'You have brought me respite,' he said in an earnest voice. 'And yet – I find myself in the ironic position that your treatment makes me ever more unwilling to undergo that for which you have saved me.'
'What have I saved you for, Spock?' she asked curiously. 'What is there waiting for you on Vulcan? Do they have Healers who can help you?'
Spock's face twitched momentarily. 'Of a kind,' he said darkly. 'Rest assured, there is one waiting who has the power to relieve me of my symptoms. But – I would rather have *you* treat me to full health.'
'But I *can't*,' she said softly. 'You told me that yourself. That was true, wasn't it?'
He saw the longing in her eyes, begging him to say, *no, it wasn't true, it was the sickness confusing me, causing me to lie*. But it was not in him to lie to her, and he shook his head slowly. 'You have offered me a palliative, but you cannot treat me. As a Vulcan, I may have certain controls over my body, but – I cannot change this any more than I can change the chemical composition of my blood, or the pigmentation of my skin. I am – truly trapped by my own biology.'
He slumped a little, rubbing his hands over his face tiredly. Just that short minute of control he had forced upon himself had exhausted him. He looked about himself almost in bewilderment, his eyes falling on the jumble of clothes and coverings about the bed. He saw her uniform dress and picked it up, moving it almost wistfully through his fingers. Then control came back to him again, and he looked up, mustering as much dignity as a naked and unwell Vulcan could.
'I have taken up too much of your time, Miss Chapel,' he said carefully, holding the dress out to her but looking very much as if he did not want her to take it.
She half-smiled. After everything Spock had just done with her she didn't think she *could* feel self-conscious about her nakedness in front of him. He obviously felt more self-conscious of it than she did.
'I don't know about Vulcan etiquette, Mr Spock,' she said, 'but it's not polite in human circles to throw a lady out once you've got what you wanted.'
He straightened, one eyebrow raising in an indignance that almost looked normal for him – but it was almost immediately replaced with a more unusual look of deep shame. 'I did not intend offence,' he said. 'I didn't believe you would wish to stay. I have – disgraced myself before you. Lost control…'
She locked eyes with his, finally allowing some real anger to reach the surface. 'Mr Spock, I have seen you unconscious, naked, battered, broken. I've treated you when you were delirious, completely out of control. Have you forgotten Deneva? When you practically threw me across the room because you couldn't control the pain you were in?'
Spock looked down at that, new shame on his face.
'I have seen you blind and scared. I've seen you out of your head on alien spores and alien viruses. I've seen you mad as hell, miserable, ecstatic, despite of all you say about discipline and logic. And I've never minded, one bit, except for hating to see you in pain. How could you possibly disgrace yourself before me?'
He looked up again. 'Do you understand how terribly this time undoes the male of my species?'
'*Yes*,' she said intently. 'But I also understand that you were afraid you would lose control so far that you would hurt me – but you didn't, did you?' She held out her arms to him. 'Do you see any bruises here? Scratches even?'
Spock sighed, shaking his head. He looked for a moment as if he was about to take hold of her hands, but then he clenched his in his lap instead, seeming to undergo a moment of confusion. He looked down at the floor, picked up his trousers – and then dropped them again when he realised that the zipper was pulled almost clean out of the seams.
'Give me some credit, Mr Spock,' she said more softly. '*Allow* me the privilege of seeing this side of you. I'm a nurse, and I'm a biochemist too – I know better than anyone that sometimes you can't escape biology.' She touched a hand to his cheek, looking deeply into his eyes and not flinching from the look of contrite emotion there. 'You're tired, Mr Spock. You're exhausted. Let yourself sleep.'
Spock pressed his lips together, and nodded.
'Perhaps, when I wake – ' he began.
'You're exhausted. There's a high chance that when you wake, we'll be at Vulcan,' she reminded him softly.
His face blanked momentarily as if he was trying to suppress an inappropriate reaction. Then he nodded.
'Then perhaps, when I return…'