Chapter One

Captain's Log, Stardate 1603.7: We are about to embark on yet another landing party. We expect it to be a relaxing mission with our host race, The Gerrin, who are apparently very pleased to meet us. We are ordered by the Federation to enter talks with the very gregarious race in order to make certain our presence in this region is acceptable to them, in future.

The landing party stood in the transporter room strapping on all necessary equipment. Its complement included the Captain, Mr. Spock, Mr. Sulu, Ms. Uhura, Dr. McCoy and lastly, Vinting, a security member.

"Well these people seem happy enough, Jim. Is Vinting really necessary?" said Dr. McCoy as he stowed his medical tri-corder in his bag.

Before the captain could answer, Spock was on it. "May I remind you, doctor, the new regulations state that all landing parties must include at least one member of security."

"Uhura, do you have that equipment so that you can take the readings needed?" asked the Captain.

"Yes, sir," she said. "The universal translator is ready to take a sample of another language, sir."

"Jim, do you think it's a good idea for Uhura to be hobnobbing with the other side without us?" asked McCoy.

"She's our head of communications, doctor," said Kirk, getting a little bit testy with McCoy. "We've been assured by the Gerrin that the people on their planet known as the Qimba are very much looking forward to having their language and ways explored."

"If you say so, Jim," said McCoy as he and the rest of the party placed themselves on the transporter pads.

Uhura didn't miss the look sent her way by Mr. Spock. Just when she thought his mind was solely on his work, she would only just catch him observing her from the corner of her eye. She knew he had his doubts about her going down to see the Qimba while they spent all of their time with the Gerrin. In fact, Vinting was there to guard her this time.

"Energize," said the captain.

The familiar tingle of the transporter enveloped them and for a split second there was nothingness. And then the fragments of the world below were beginning to reappear in shimmering lights. Soon enough, everyone was in one piece and could see their hosts waiting for them.

The first sensation upon rematerializing was that of a very warm breeze. It was refreshing after having been pent up on a starship for weeks. The greenery surrounding them was unparalleled. "This is beautiful," Uhura found herself whispering low enough so that almost no one could hear her.

There were trees dotted here and there and not twenty feet away there stood a stream that ran through whatever property this was. But the warm breeze was enough to seduce anyone. A party of four men came forward to meet them. "Welcome, welcome, Captain Kirk of the Enterprise," said the apparent leader. He was a short almost round man with close-cropped hair and a twenty-watt smile. He and his companions were of varying sizes and weights and were obviously not of the same family grouping.

"Prime Minister Wex," said the Captain as he shook the man's hand. "May I present my Science Officer, Mister Spock. And this is Mr. Sulu, Lieutenant Uhura, Dr. McCoy and Ensign Vinting."

"Pleased to meet you all," he said as he nodded at each in turn. "I presume that this is the brave Miss Uhura that has volunteered to spend her time with the Qimba?"

"Yes, that's our Uhura," said Captain Kirk with a grin.

Uhura stepped forward with a smile of her own. "If I could get to work as soon as possible, Prime Minister?"

"Yes, of course!" he said. "Wait here. I will bring the one who will transport you there. Who, may I ask, will be accompanying the young lady?"

"I will, Minister Wex," said Ensign Vinting.

"Yes, of course, excellent," said Wex as he walked away.

Vinting's presence suddenly made sense to Dr. McCoy. He couldn't help but to smirk at Spock. He would never outwardly show his worry, but he could put a little insurance toward it by assigning her a personal bodyguard. But Dr. McCoy, nor Vinting, would ever know what happened in order for the security guard to be assigned directly to her and not the Captain.

####

She was pacing back and forth in her quarters and was more than a little bit angry. As soon as her chimer sounded, she snapped, "Come in!"

Spock appeared and she turned to look at him. She knew she wouldn't be angry with him for long, but while the fire burned—"Why is Vinting going to be following me around when I go to collect data among the Qimba?"

"I do not understand why you find it necessary to assume it was solely my decision-"

"I asked the Captain and he said you were the one that assigned Vinting to me."

Spock found himself reveling in admiration that she was so intelligent she made certain to check her facts before accusing him of anything. "Then since this fact has been established, I stand accused of exactly what, Nyota?" he asked as he walked closer to her.

She knew this game he was playing. It was called 'evade and outmaneuver'. He would ask questions to her questions and then attempt to use his physical proximity to scramble her thoughts. But it wasn't going to work this time. "You're sending a babysitter to watch out for me, Spock!"

"I do not understand this expression," he said as he was then in her space, looking down into her very lovely infuriated face.

"You know exactly what I mean, but I'll clarify that for you," she said. "You're sending someone with me because you think I'll be in danger and I can't handle myself."

"That fact has yet to be established, Nyota," he said as he was intentionally ambiguous.

"What? That I'll be in danger or that I can't handle myself?"

"We are both aware that you are quite capable of handling yourself efficiently when on any landing party. However-"

"The danger factor has been deemed as nonexistent, so why is Vinting coming with me?" she demanded to know.

"It is ill-advised for anyone to travel alone during a landing party, lieutenant. That is a very necessary and logical rule."

"I know that. So then here's my next question. Why isn't someone else from communications coming with me?"

Spock found himself thinking perhaps it was time to tell her the entire truth. "I believe I have the qualifications necessary in many areas of the sciences, therefore I asked the Captain for permission to accompany you during your duties and I was given a negative answer."

She put her hands on her hips and just looked up into his straight face. "So you decided since you can't come along, I should have a security guard instead of another member of communications?"

He didn't see why he should deny it. "That is correct." Plus, the other two members of communications were males that did not at all look physically intimidating. He wanted a male with his Nyota that sent out a clear message.

"And the security guard is coming with me instead of another member of communications because?"

"It is ill-advised for a crew member to be alone during any aspect of a landing party."

"Now you just went and talked us back into a circle!" she accused.

"I have simply stated the facts."

She knew she was not going to get a straight answer on this one. He had tried to come with her and when told no, he had assigned her a guard. She then had a brief flash that she didn't understand. That other Spock she had met those years ago…that other one in the mirror universe, this is something he would have done. She wanted to laugh but didn't. "You're acting like him," she accused.

He found himself folding his arms. He knew exactly to whom she was comparing him. He didn't care to have himself compared to anyone, not even himself. "Did you find him…compelling?"

She knew lying was useless. He would find out someday anyway, so she found herself admitting, "In a strange way, yes, I did. Then again, I think it was the goatee. It suited you—um him."

He didn't expect the burn of jealousy in his gut, but there it was. She had found his counterpart attractive before the two of them had ever become an item.

"And anyway, that's not what we're talking about right now, we're talking about my babysitter for a safe landing party and how you seem to think you have to make sure I don't get so much as a paper cut!"

Spock admitted, "I am unapologetic about making certain of your safety at all times."

"I did manage to take care of myself before we got together, you know," she said, offhand. And that line of thought caused her to change tactics. "If we weren't together, would you have done this, Spock?"

He thought about it and then admitted, "No. I would have assigned another member of communications to your detail. However since no others were deemed necessary on this mission, I would have perhaps sent Dr. McCoy with you."

"But in this situation, you tried to go with me yourself but the captain said 'no', hence the security man."

"Precisely."

"You don't see that as biased and unfair?"

"No. Had I have prevented your going on the landing party altogether, that would have been biased and unfair."

She saw she wasn't going to get him to budge on the subject. He was not ashamed of his actions. She suspected when it came down to her and his duty, he would always do his duty first. But if there were some loophole where he could make certain of her safety at all times, he would take it. And this was one of those times.

She turned and folded her arms, her back to him. All he could see was her hair and a very appealing view of the back of her neck. Her hair was longer, but she had begun wearing it pinned up and out of the way lately. He found himself inching closer to her.

Nyota felt her anger being burned away by his warm presence, now so close to the back of her. She was finding it difficult to breathe and was grateful he couldn't see the effect he was having on her.

Spock did not deny his urge as his hands reached out and circled her waist, pulled her in close to him. "Nyota," he whispered while using that tone on her, the one that made her knees weak. "Please do not remain angry with me."

Instead of answering verbally, she found herself gasping lightly as she felt his lips gently caressing the nape of her neck. Instantly aroused, she was angry with herself for the reaction and found herself turning so as to put a stop to him trying to seduce the anger from her. The moment she turned, though, his very precise lips were on hers.

They had barely touched since the both of them had decided to take things slowly. Initially they'd both wanted to wait until they bonded, and they didn't want to do that until their families were present. But those plans were in doubt at the moment, because he found himself backing her up and pressing her against the wall, his hands holding hers up above them. Fitting his lips to hers again, he was then holding her up with his body since her legs had obviously gone weak. His tongue wasn't far behind in the assault on her senses as their kiss deepened. He could feel her arousal through their skin to skin contact and it yanked him in even further. The kiss deepened by another level and he knew they couldn't keep this up for much longer.

He forced himself to let her go and back away. How had they wound up in this predicament? He found it difficult to think straight.

She looked at him but didn't expect the look in his eyes that was there at that moment. Heavy lidded with desire, he could barely breathe as he admitted, "Nyota, I do not wish to leave you this night, but I shall."

"You're not off the hook about this security guard issue, Spock," she warned.

He swallowed back another wave of desire. "Duly noted," he all but whispered as he forced himself to walk to her door.

"And Spock-"

He paused, turned his eyes back to look at her lovely face.

"I feel the same way about leaving you every night." Her eyes had turned into their own form of flame as they held his.

He found himself forcing out the words, "Do not utter those words to me again, Nyota, unless you intend to follow it up with a sharp bite to my pectoral region and an intention for us to become entangled in one another for a very long time afterward." And his eyes said he meant it.

She didn't have time to react as he quickly left her room after that. She turned on a very cold shower and then just stood in it.