Chapter One: The Infirmary

Disclaimer: I don't work here for money; I play here for fun.

If she sees him, she will say that she is here for a friend.

Or that she is getting a prescription refilled.

Neither is technically a lie. Nor exactly the truth.

Still, it would be better if she doesn't see him. Leonard McCoy isn't stupid, and if he starts asking too many questions, she isn't sure what he might figure out.

Pushing open the glass door to the Academy infirmary, Nyota looks past the receptionist's desk to the work station beyond. No McCoy—just a short red-headed woman picking up a data chip and a taller man in nurse's scrubs.

As she signs in, Nyota affects her most casual voice and says, "Is Dr. McCoy working today, by any chance?"

The receptionist eyes her oddly—what does that mean?—and then says, "Not yet, but he's somewhere in the hospital. Do you want me to page him?"

"No, thank you," Nyota says, flashing a quick smile and turning to take a seat on an orange plastic chair near the front door.

The Starfleet hospital is extensive. The odds are good that she will be in and out of the little infirmary attached to the south wing before McCoy comes on duty.

Nyota has researched and rehearsed what she will say—so she is surprised that when her name is called and the nurse in scrubs leads her to an examination room, she feels her heart thrumming in her throat.

"What can we do for you today?" the nurse says, motioning for Nyota to sit on the oversized chair in the center of the room. The nurse—a tall, lanky man with a definite five o'clock shadow—barely looks at her, keeping his gaze instead on his handheld PADD. Something about his inattention both annoys and relieves Nyota, and with a sigh she says, "I need to change my birth control."

At this the nurse does look up. His eyes widen but he has the good grace to say nothing. Looking down again, he taps something onto the screen of the PADD and says, "Well, let's get your vitals and I'll let the doctor know you're here."

As she expects, her blood pressure is slightly elevated for her, though certainly within normal parameters. Nerves. Calm down, she tells herself. You know what to say.

She doesn't have to wait long. In a few minutes she hears the doorknob turn and the doctor comes in, a handsome dark haired man who introduces himself as Steven Puri.

"Your records show you are currently taking a standard antigen shot for birth control," he says, reading from the PADD. "But you aren't satisfied with it?"

At that he looks up at her, his brown eyes warm, his demeanor quiet and not at all rushed. Take all the time you need, he seems to be saying with his posture, his body language. Nyota flashes what she hopes is a grateful look as she leans forward slightly.

"It's just that I, uh, need something else."

She waits for Dr. Puri to ask her to clarify but he seems content to wait.

"So, I've decided," Nyota continues, "that I'd like an anovulant instead."

Darting a glance at Dr. Puri, she sees him react. Surprise, certainly, but something else crosses his face.

"I don't recommend it," he says, frowning slightly.

"But," Nyota says, struggling to keep her voice even, "I think it would work better for me."

Dr. Puri looks down at his PADD for a moment and then sets it aside on the worktable, freeing his hands. He laces his fingers together and rests his arms on his thighs, leaning forward.

"We rarely use anovulants anymore," he says, tilting his head and searching her gaze. "Completely suppressing ovulation that way—well, antigens don't reconfigure your biology the way those old style anovulant contraceptives did. Antigen therapy just targets the gametes of your partner—"

"I know how they work," Nyota says, not bothering to keep the annoyance from her voice. Antigen therapy isn't rocket science. Unlike normal antigens, which stimulate antibodies to attack bacteria or viruses, contraceptive antigens make human eggs and sperm ignore each other. Human men and women getting regular shots are, in effect, sterile.

At least to each other.

As far as her body is concerned, human sperm are invisible, uninteresting, something to ignore or avoid.

But Vulcan sperm—

"Would probably be ignored as well," Spock had said two days ago when they had sat quietly in his apartment, discussing their options. His words had been matter-of-fact, but something in his tone alerted Nyota to an unspoken sadness. She had reached for his hand but he had deftly angled away—not far, but enough to signal his reluctance to share what he was feeling at that moment. She let her hands drop to her lap.

"Still," she said, "just to be safe—"

The antigen therapy could certainly be tailored to include any species, not just human. But that would mean an explanation Nyota is hesitant to offer the doctor sitting before her right now.

Dr. Puri, however, is proving difficult to get around.

"Quite frankly," he says, "we don't even have any anovulants on hand. I can't think of the last time I prescribed them. They alter your hormonal cycle and have all sorts of side effects. You would have to have it made special in the lab, but why bother? Antigens are basically foolproof."

Something in Dr. Puri's tone catches her attention, and Nyota takes a breath. How much can she say without saying too much?

"But what if my partner—"

And there. She sees dawning comprehension cross the doctor's face.

"Ah," he says softly, "we can replicate most antigens if you need something other than…human."

Although the doctor tries to sound nonchalant, Nyota picks up his slight hesitation, his surprise at her unspoken admission of an interspecies relationship—not unheard of, certainly, but still rare enough to raise eyebrows, even here at Starfleet.

She debates for a moment. If the anovulants are as problematic as the doctor says….

"Vulcan," she says suddenly, and to his credit, Dr. Puri takes his PADD from the worktable and taps the screen with his stylus as if her request isn't at all unusual.

"No problem at all," Dr. Puri says, looking up, and Nyota says, "And human."

For a heartbeat she worries that he knows Spock—or knows of him and his dual biological heritage—and will put the pieces together.

But she remembers how she herself had first learned of Spock's human mother. If not for the hover bus accident that had sent Spock to the hospital with a serious concussion and a broken wrist—and which brought his cousin Chris to San Francisco to care for him—she might not know even now.

Nor was she the only cadet not to know about Spock's background. After the accident Nyota had said something to her roommate Gaila, who had promptly sniffed indignantly and said, "That explains his unusual aroma. I knew he wasn't like the other Vulcans I've met."

So the odds are that even if the doctor does know Spock, he will not be privy to much personal information about him. Her request will call up some other explanation.

She feels herself flush—but part of her is amused to find herself hoping that Dr. Puri—this nice, attentive, open-minded doctor—will think she is, as Jim Kirk might say, playing the field.

"And human." Dr. Puri taps on the PADD some more and says, "Give me a few minutes and I'll be back with your shot."

As she watches his back as he retreats from the room, Nyota lets out a breath she didn't know she was holding. After all that planning, that worry. The doctor is right that antigen therapy is better. She just hadn't expected to be able to arrange it without giving away too much.

But she's managed it. And no one is any wiser. She permits herself a sigh of relief.

And then, in celebration of her good fortune, or as a way to congratulate herself, she hums a little tune while she waits for the doctor to return.


As he does every morning, Steven Puri rises early and calls his mother in Chandigarh. If he gets up as the sun rises, he can catch her after she has cooked and cleaned up after her evening meal and before she puts the young ones to bed.

Right now she has only two young ones living with her—the smallest number she has ever had—and Dr. Puri worries that it is by his mother's choice, that her strength and energy are starting to flag at last.

But she reassures him that she is fine, that the two boys who are living with her are brothers whose parents are temporarily off-planet on a research assignment for a Martian mining company and are not, as most of the children who have lived with her and called her mother, orphaned by some natural or unnatural disaster.

Indeed, Dr. Puri cannot remember his own parents, killed in the food riots of 2221 in Lahore. Three of his adopted brothers were also orphaned by subsequent civil unrest in the next few years until the Federation stepped in and helped organize the displaced local farmers.

His mother—the woman he calls every morning before starting his day—has no biological children of her own, but she has raised dozens. Not all of them still call her mother or are as attentive as Dr. Puri, who calls her not out of obligation or even gratitude, but because hearing his mother's voice, even briefly, feels like a form of worship.

And for a man of science who left religion long ago, this is enough.

"What did you think?" his mother says now as Dr. Puri sits on the veranda of his apartment building, watching the sun rise over the bay.

"She was nice," he says noncommittally, knowing his mother will not be satisfied. Sure enough, she protests.

"Nice? Nice? What kind of word is that? Her own practice, independent, pretty—good references. And I went to a lot of trouble—"

"Yes, you did," Dr. Puri says, laughing. "And the marriage broker went to a lot of trouble. And I do appreciate it."

"But just nice? Nothing more?"

Before answering, he considers what his mother is really asking. Not just if the woman she has arranged for him to meet—and possibly marry—a pretty young family practitioner named Priya Patel who lives in Monterey, whose father still lives in India not too far from Chandigarh—is acceptable, but whether or not he is ready to settle down, start a family, make a life, as his mother calls it, as if what he has done until now is mere rehearsal.

He isn't sure how to answer her.

Is he ready?

If Chris Pike hadn't stopped by his office at the hospital to finalize his offer last week, he might have said yes—or at least, he would entertain his mother's suggestion to meet a nice girl with more enthusiasm.

But the chance to go to space—

Would any woman be willing to stay behind while he headed off on the Federation flagship as chief medical officer? Would it be fair to ask someone to?

"She was very nice," he says, and he hears his mother sighing halfway around the world.

"I'll look some more," she says, and Dr. Puri laughs again.

"Stop trying so hard," he says, and he hears his mother sigh louder.

He steers the rest of the conversation to other concerns—a mutual friend who has just moved to California, an unusual rainy spell of weather—and then he tells her, as he always does, that he has to go but that he will call again tomorrow. Just before he closes the connection, he says thank you—not I love you, or I miss you, but something closer to what he feels when he thinks of his mother.

Something larger.

And then he stretches and runs through part of the Presidio before showering and heading to his shift at the hospital and the infirmary.

Jacqueline meets him at the service entrance to the infirmary, shaking her red curls in mock anger.

"You are now," she says, "one minute late. Your first patient is already waiting in room two."

Handing him a PADD, she turns and sashays with an exaggerated gait back down the hall—the performance for his benefit. He grins appreciatively.

Scanning the PADD as he makes his way to examination room two, he is momentarily surprised. A healthy young cadet asking about birth control—no, asking to change birth control. Antigen therapy is so easily tolerated, so widely used, that he can't imagine why anyone would choose something else.

The first thing he notices about the young woman—Cadet Uhura—sitting on the other side of the door is that she is clearly nervous. Healthy, apparently. Attractive, certainly.

And visibly anxious.

About this visit in particular? Or about medical personnel in general?

His training kicks in immediately and he slows down, introducing himself and asking about the reason for her visit.

"So, I've decided," he hears the cadet say, "that I'd like an anovulant instead."

In all the years that he has staffed the infirmary, he has never had a similar request. Most people, he suspects, don't even know about anovulants—a contraceptive once popular but rarely used now.

She's been doing her homework. But why?

"I don't recommend it," he says, frowning slightly.

"But I think it would work better for me."

Determined—he has to give her that. But…why?

He looks down at his PADD for a moment and then sets it aside on the worktable, freeing his hands. He laces his fingers together and rests his arms on his thighs, leaning forward, hoping to encourage the young woman to give her reason for her odd request.

"We rarely use anovulants anymore," he says, tilting his head and searching her gaze. "Completely suppressing ovulation that way—well, antigens don't reconfigure your biology the way those old style anovulant contraceptives did. Antigen therapy just targets the gametes of your partner—"

"I know how they work."

A serious miscalculation on his part. Now she's not only anxious, she's annoyed. He hadn't meant to sound condescending. Of course she wouldn't need a primer on how antigen therapy works—she's been doing some reading on her own.

A different tack, then.

"Quite frankly," he says, "we don't even have any anovulants on hand. I can't think of the last time I prescribed them. They alter your hormonal cycle and have all sorts of side effects. You would have to have it made special in the lab, but why bother? Antigens are basically foolproof."

He hears Cadet Uhura take a breath and looks up in time to see her glance at him. She wants to tell him something—

"But what if my partner—"

Tamping down his astonishment, Dr. Puri tries to sound less flummoxed than he feels. At some level he is ashamed of his parochial attitude. This is, after all, Starfleet, and although humans outnumber off-worlders by a substantial number, intimate contact has to occur sometimes—

"Ah," he says softly, "we can replicate most antigens if you need something other than…human."

"Vulcan," the cadet says.

Of all the possibilities she could have said, this is the most surprising he can imagine. If there are any Vulcan cadets currently enrolled at the Academy, Dr. Puri doesn't know about them. Vulcan is the most under-represented in Starfleet of all of the founding members of the Federation.

Apeing a casual response, Dr. Puri takes his PADD from the worktable and taps the screen with his stylus.

"No problem at all," he says, looking up, and then Cadet Uhura says, "And human."

Tying not to look startled, Dr. Puri marks the PADD. The cadet's sexuality is her own business. And if she does have multiple partners, planning ahead is…wise.

"And human," Dr. Puri says, sending the signal from his PADD to the lab. In a few minutes the antigen shot will be ready and the cadet can be on her way. Hazarding a close look before he stands up, Dr. Puri is struck by the change in her attitude, in her noticeable relief. The slight sweat on her palms and at her temples, the rigid posture that denoted her nervousness—all gone.

He'll have to think about that later.

The rest of the day is routine by contrast, a sprained wrist from an awkward fall during PT, two cases of incipient flu, regularly scheduled checkups from crew either rotating off a starship or getting ready to embark.

Until the last patient of the day.

"Good luck," Jacqueline says cryptically, handing him the PADD and nodding toward the same examination room where he had seen Cadet Uhura earlier. "You're going to need it."

"Why—" he says, but Jacqueline is already at the other end of the corridor.

He almost stumbles when he scans the PADD. A Vulcan?

Surely a coincidence—

The patient is a Vulcan, all right—and as self-contained and non-expressive as the others Dr. Puri has known over the years. Dark eyes, dark hair, the characteristic upswept brows and distinctive ears—and yet…something about the man—Dr. Puri glances at the PADD to get his name—something about Commander Spock is…off.

Or, not off, but different.

First of all, because he is here, in the Academy infirmary. Most Vulcans would seek a Vulcan healer for normal illnesses. Something else, then.

"I'm Steven Puri," he says, reaching his hand forward automatically.

For a second his hand hovers in the air, unacknowledged, and Dr. Puri gives himself a mental shake and smiles.

"Oh, right," he says. "Sorry about that. Force of habit."

Commander Spock says nothing but continues to watch the doctor with an intensity that makes him feel uneasy. Is he doing something else culturally insensitive? If he is, he isn't aware. Dr. Puri sits on the small wheeled stool and takes the stylus from the top of the PADD.

"So, what can I do for you today?"

For a moment the Vulcan commander continues to look at him, unblinking.

Two can play this game, Dr. Puri thinks. He grows very still and waits.

"I wish," Commander Spock says at last, "to begin antigen therapy for contraceptive purposes."

Unbidden, an image of the pretty, dark cadet who had sat here earlier—he casts about in his memory for her name—comes to the doctor.


No Vulcan cadets are enrolled on campus right now.

Dr. Puri scrolls down the biographical information on the PADD. The Commander teaches at the Academy.

Looking up, the doctor says, "Certainly."

Even as he says it, he feels disingenuous, but he has to ask.

"For protection against Vulcan gametes?"

To his amazement, the Commander blinks, apparently caught off guard by the question.

For a moment Dr. Puri is convinced that the Commander is considering leaving without answering—his shoulders tense and he blanches.

"Of course," Dr. Puri hurries on, "I see in your records that you have some human ancestry. The standard therapy we give humans should work for you, too—if all you need is protection against human gametes. If you also need protection against Vulcan cells, we can add the Vulcan antigen—"

"The standard therapy is sufficient," the Commander says quickly, and Dr. Puri taps the orders into the PADD.

"Give me a moment," he says, rising, "to get everything ready."

"What did I tell you?" Jacqueline asks later, as she is locking the front doors and tidying the waiting room. "Talk about hard to read. I couldn't get a word out of him."

Dr. Puri finishes making notes in the computer and says over his shoulder, "Oh, I don't know. I found out plenty."

His supper that night is ordinary, boring—a frozen curry heated while he watches the newsfeeds on the kitchen monitor, then eaten from the carton while he stands at the counter. Afterward as he cleans up, Dr. Puri turns off the newsfeeds. He isn't watching them anyway. His attention keeps drifting to his first and last patients of the day, considering what he knows for certain and what is mere speculation.

A cadet. A professor.


With his medical clearance, he could investigate further, check out the list of courses she has taken, match them against the ones he teaches. A simple matter to forward that information to the dean with a suggestion that some sexual impropriety might be in play. The cadet might, after all, be feeling pressured to offer favors for grades—might even be unaware that she is being coerced by the unequal power differential—

But that doesn't square with what he sensed from either of them today. If they were stressed to be at the clinic asking for birth control, it wasn't out of duty or fear but from something else, something not even like worry, but more like concern, or consideration.

And it certainly doesn't square with what he knows about Vulcans—private, yes, but honest to a fault, honorable, even. Not the kind of people known to coerce anyone into anything, let alone coerce a subordinate into sexual compromise.

A relationship then. An authentic one, one based on attraction and perhaps affection—and one they intend to keep quiet and safe.

As a Starfleet officer, he has a responsibility to report misconduct if he knows about it.

As their physician, he has a greater responsibility to their health and well-being.

And what does he know, really?

That if they have found each other, unlikely as that may seem, they are as tragic as all star crossed lovers—for a day of reckoning will find them out eventually, even if he keeps their secret.

Perhaps. Perhaps not.

Perhaps their luck will hold, and they will find comfort in each other's company, tenderly, not standing alone in a dark kitchen eating frozen curry from a paper carton, watching news that doesn't affect them at all.

He wipes his hands and pulls his comm from his pocket, scrolling through the contacts until he finds a number for Priya Patel. She had seemed nice when they had spoken last night on the phone. His mother will be happy if he gives her a second chance.

The Enterprise doesn't launch for almost two years.

A lot can happen in that time.

No reason anyone should have to spend it alone.


He's never worried much about contraception.

When Spock was a young teenager, two Vulcan specialists told his parents that while he was not sterile, his dual heritage made natural fertilization problematic. The human genetic material carried by his sperm would be rejected by a Vulcan ovum—and although the healers did not say so, when he was older he realized that a human partner would have the same trouble conceiving his child because of his Vulcan DNA.

If T'Pring's family had cause for concern, they did not express it. After all, Spock's very existence meant that Vulcan and human genetic material could be manipulated to create a viable fetus. A Vulcan-human hybrid should, theoretically at least, have just as much chance of success.

Still, in his sexual explorations with T'Pring, Spock had been inexcusably casual, leaving the effort at contraception to her.

Later, when he left Vulcan for the Academy, he had left the contraceptive choices to his human partners, telling himself, not untruthfully, that the odds of his getting anyone pregnant were almost nonexistent—and since most cadets routinely got the antigen shots, he didn't need to. Redundancy, at least in this case, wasn't necessary.

Now when he thinks about his earlier cavalier attitude, he feels not only regret but something deeper, something akin to remorse.

He refuses to treat Nyota the same way. He refuses to risk her career, her future—and if taking antigen therapy is redundant for him, so be it. Sharing the effort is the right thing to do, the only thing he will do.

Their conversation two days ago had helped him decide. As they had talked, he had remembered waking one night hearing his mother's cries, seeing her bleeding and in pain as she suffered a miscarriage.

And he remembered the hushed words he had overheard from his Aunt Cecilia and his father—words about other children lost before he himself was born.

So he sets aside his caution and leaves after his last class of the day for the infirmary, arriving almost too late to be seen.

When the red-headed receptionist asks him the nature of his visit, he stares her down.

"I will speak to the doctor," he says, channeling Sarek in one of his more imperious moods, and she blinks and asks him no more questions before leading him to the examination room.

As soon as the doctor enters, Spock notes that he is of average height, dark-skinned, straight-haired, probably from the Indian subcontinent. His name confirms his origins.

Startled when the doctor holds out his hand for a traditional human shake, Spock doesn't move for a moment. Should he say something? Lately he has drawn criticism from several quarters for pointing out the mistakes of others. Last week the head of the computer sciences department took him aside to suggest that he refrain from offering unsolicited critiques of formal presentations in professional staffings, even though the professor whose presentation he had criticized made at least two miscalculations that changed how the data was interpreted.

And the usually affable assistant dean had looked annoyed when Spock had corrected his memo with the wrong date for an upcoming conference.

So he says nothing but looks at the doctor's hand.

"Oh, right," Dr. Puri says after a moment, dropping his hand. "Sorry about that. Force of habit. So, what can I do for you today?"

Somehow the grace that the doctor shows handling his faux pas engenders a trust—and Spock says, "I wish to begin antigen therapy for contraceptive purposes."

If the doctor finds his request unusual, he says nothing but continues to read something on the medical PADD.


Feeling a wash of relief, Spock is caught off guard by the doctor's next question.

"For protection against Vulcan gametes?"

Dr. Puri's assumption is logical, naturally. How to broach the truth without actually revealing it….

Before he can reply, the doctor continues.

"Of course, I see in your records that you have some human ancestry. The standard therapy we give humans should work for you, too—if all you need is protection against human gametes. If you also need protection against Vulcan cells, we can add the Vulcan antigen—"

"The standard therapy is sufficient," Spock says, and Dr. Puri taps the orders into the PADD.

"Give me a moment," he says, rising, "to get everything ready."

When he leaves the infirmary, Spock thinks of a metaphor he has heard his mother use but never understood before: a weight off his shoulders. Navigating the infirmary successfully, getting the antigen shot, the feeling of solidarity with Nyota—a weight has been lifted, almost as if an actual physical burden has evaporated, one that had bent him over without his even being aware.

Because it is a Monday night, Nyota will still be in the lab finishing tutorials. With a lightened step Spock walks more quickly than he customarily does, taking two steps and then three up the stairs until he reaches the third floor landing in the language building. At the end of the hall is his office, dark and locked. To his right is the lab, and even without seeing into it, he can hear Nyota's footsteps and someone else, too, walking toward the door. Pulling open the door, Spock notes an unusual look on the student's face—astonishment, probably at his sudden appearance.

Nyota's expression is easier to read. Her grin and narrowed eyes radiate her pleasure at seeing him.

"That's the last one," she says, indicating the student whose footfalls echo down the hallway toward the elevator. "I can be ready to go in a jiffy."

"If by jiffy you mean the 4.35 minutes necessary to close the computers and set the alarm, then I concur."

"That," Nyota says, glancing over her shoulder at him as she turns to flip the control console off, "is precisely what I mean. Thank you for being accurate—for a change."

This is the type of repartee he shares with no one else—and he feels a wave of enjoyment in her teasing that he does not try to rationalize away.

"Because you find such pleasure in accuracy," he says as she palms off the lights and locks the lab door, "then I will point out to you that you have exactly three options for an evening meal, though if you delay in your decision by more than 7 minutes, your options will be reduced to 2."

"The cafeteria closes in 7 minutes," Nyota says immediately, and Spock nods professorially.

"That leaves the market deli," she says. He takes her elbow as she starts down the stairs and she glances up at him. Is his touch too patronizing? He pulls his hand away.

"Or, she adds, looking down at his hand and then pausing on the stairs, glancing around at the empty stairwell before letting her fingers drift to his, "we could cook up something in your apartment."

He meets her gaze and sweeps his fingers over hers.

"Indeed," he says, "we could cook up something in my apartment. But I thought you wanted to eat."

He doesn't smile and he knows she doesn't expect him to—but he lifts one brow and tilts his head slightly—something that often makes her laugh for them both.

"The market deli it is, then," she says, grinning, and before he can stop himself, he sends his disappointment through their touch.

"But we can have dessert later," Nyota says, "back in your apartment."

The market deli is actually a good choice, Spock thinks as they make their way down the crowded aisle toward the food coolers and tables set out in the back. His stock of foodstuffs at his apartment is particularly low right now—not that he would mind missing a meal, but Nyota would object, a trait she shares with his mother.

A human proclivity, perhaps?

They each select vegetarian wraps and Nyota chooses one of the Vulcan fruit juices that the owner has recently started stocking.

"Since he put them here for you, you really should buy one now and then," she says, leaning forward over the small round table where she has unwrapped her sandwich.

"I do not like kaasa juice," Spock says. This is an argument they have had before and they fall predictably into their roles.

"But he went to a lot of trouble—"

"He made a calculated risk based on an inadequate understanding of his customer base—"

"He's doing it to be nice—"

"His emotional reasons are immaterial. He is doing it to make money—"

With a flourish, Nyota upends the carton of juice and swigs it, barely concealing her distaste.

"I am so ready for dessert," she says, hopping up and leaving Spock to pick up their trash and trail behind her.

Later, as they lie together in the tangled sheets of his bed, they discover what they had not known, that both had visited the infirmary today.

"I wish you could have seen that doctor's face when I told him I needed Vulcan and human antigen therapy," Nyota says, her voice muffled in Spock's shoulder, her hair cascading across her face. "He probably thought I could give an Orion a run for the money."

For an uneasy moment Spock replays his own conversation with Dr. Puri. Nothing definitive ties the two visits together. The doctor would have to have an unusual interest to even try—or to make that sort of leap of logic.

He calms his heartbeat and pulls Nyota tighter to him.

He doesn't think about Dr. Puri for eight months. They do not meet again until Captain Pike introduces Spock as his new first officer to the rest of his senior staff—and Dr. Puri will make the same mistake he made today, holding out his hand in a gesture of friendship, his fingers extending for a few seconds in the air.

Spock, of course, will recall with perfect clarity the parallel actions. If Dr. Puri recalls Spock at all, he doesn't let on. They could be perfect strangers, so genuine is his enthusiasm when they are introduced.

Or the good doctor could be covering their professional association with a kind of pretended amnesia, sparing Spock any embarrassment about working with someone who knows his personal medical history.

And later still—582 days, 3 hours, and 12 minutes after he sat in examination room two—Spock will hear Leonard McCoy say that deck six has collapsed, killing Dr. Puri, two nurses, and a crew member who had reported to sick bay when her hand was burned during Nero's attack on the Enterprise. In that moment Spock will pause, realizing—not from logic, nor with any rational part of his brain, but with an intuition so intense that he does not doubt its accuracy—that Dr. Puri had known everything and had said nothing.

But that is almost two years away—not right now in early spring when the first wildflowers are starting to bloom along the edge of the paved paths that crisscross the Academy grounds, not now as he leans his face into Nyota's hair and breathes in her scent, shifting his shoulder and calculating how much longer they can lie here before she needs to slip away unobtrusively back to her dorm—but somewhere in the distant unimagined, unimaginable future.

A/N: For almost a year they will live dangerously, thinking they will not get caught, believing no one suspects what they are doing.

This is the story about how wrong they are.

I offer this first chapter with fear and trembling—because it plays around with points of view and jumps around in time, but also because, as StarTrekFanWriter warned me, readers will sometimes bail out of a story that has OC's. I hope you don't. I hope you enjoy it. But it is an experiment, and this first chapter especially is a test balloon to see how the structure holds up. Let me know what you think. Worth reading more? The future chapters will show how other people, other interactions, lead to the inevitable conclusion.

I've never been a big fan of musicals in general and "Oklahoma!" in particular, but the title of this story comes from "People Will Say We're in Love," a duet sung by two clueless lovers who think they are hiding their affection.

In my little corner of the Star Trek universe, this story follows "The Word You Mean" and incorporates a few scenes from subsequent stories in the timeline. My chronology is listed in my profile, but you don't have to read the different stories in order—each one should stand alone.

Thanks as always to StarTrekFanWriter for her help. If you haven't read her delightful new story "Need a Light?" it is listed in my faves.