"Christine!" his voice echoed loudly across the near empty mess.

"Carter?" She swung around as two strong young arms suddenly wrapped about her.

"You look great, actually you look HOT!" He held her out from his body to admire the new Doctor. His eyes openly roved appreciatively across her form.

"Umm .. thanks, but a bit more respect please" a sparkle of a smile glinting in her eyes

"I'd heard well done, how's Doctor McCoy managing being told what to do?"

"Surprisingly well, though I'm more his second in charge than actually in charge – but its pretty close"

She held her hand on his arm "do you have time for coffee?"

"Sure, anytime"

They turned back towards the simulators, Carter's hand resting easily around Christine's waist. To one end of the mess hall the couple were watched.

"They're just friends", Kirk commented on his companions distraction.

"I am aware of the relationship between Doctor Chapel and Ensign Carter"

"And it irritates you?"

"It is not my place to comment on the actions of the Doctor, she will choose to be seen with, and in whatever manner to be seen in with, whomever she chooses"

"Hmmm….sounds like you're irritated" Kirk sipped his drink, playfulness filtering into his voice "So you're ….jealous?"

"Captain why do you persist in insisting that I am experiencing an emotional response in relation to Doctor Chapel or her return"

Kirk outwardly groaned, Spock's insistence that Christine's resumption of duties aboard that ship had not impacted upon him was beginning to wear thin. At this stage McCoy had managed to maintain his silence, a feat Kirk had thought beyond him, however he was sure it was only a matter of time before the good doctor articulated, in his own special manner, the thoughts that were forming in everyone's mind.

"Well I have to admit that Chris has been doing a great job, she was good before, but she has just taken to being in control like a duck to water", Spock turned raising an eyebrow to his Captain, though did not comment. "I think she deserves a bit of spoiling, I think dinner tonight with me" he paused scratching his chin "the mess is so noisy though, maybe my quarters, I've still got that bottle of wine from Earth, the real stuff not the synthetic, have been thinking of a reason to open it"

Spock's head snapped around, in response to the Captain's suggestion.

"I believe Doctor Chapel will not be available for dinner"

"Really Spock, and why would that be?"

"She is having dinner with me"

"Oh, I see – and you have asked her?"

Spock chose not to answer, it was not in the nature of Vulcan's to lie. It was at times the best course of action to rather omit the truth though silence.

Kirk laughed, gently slapping his First Officer on the shoulder.

Carter and Christine had finished their coffee, excusing herself from the table, she moved towards the door on her return to sickbay. She was surprised to find her exit blocked by the shadow of a tall dark and somewhat agitated Vulcan.

"Spock?"

"Doctor Chapel, as First Officer one of my responsibilities is to ensure senior staffs needs are catered for"

"I can assure you my needs are being catered to, First Officer Spock"

Spock briefly glanced over her shoulder to the young officer still sitting at the table. Christine followed his eyes, immediately rolling hers.

"Oh for goodness sake!" Christine walked past Spock towards the corridor.

"Doctor Chapel, I believe it important for us to talk"

"Fine Spock talk"

"Perhaps it would be more appropriate in your quarters"

"Excuse me, my quarters? – you lost the right to even consider my quarters when you didn't contact me …. Arrgh, I promised myself I wouldn't bring that up. If you want to talk to me Spock you can do it whilst we walk"

"I had been concerned that my lack of contact may have caused some level of consternation on your part"

"It did, but now it doesn't"

"The lack of communication was not due to any fault or action on your behalf"

"I am aware of that. I am also aware that lack of communication indicates a lack of interest, I have come to peace with that"

"A particular action does not necessarily have a single cause"

Christine shook her head, temporarily lost for words.

"I believe it would benefit our current working relationship if we were able to discuss this matter at length, preferably in private"

Christine abruptly stopped. The plan was to turn with a sense of indignation, hands on hips, superior tone. The plan was cut short by a high-pitched scream from Sick Bay.

00oo00

An officer, barely of legal age, was drunk, very drunk, staggering about the bio-beds. He had reached for and missed one of the nurses on duty, falling forward. Christine immediately intervened, gently yet firmly placing the young man back upon the bed, checking his vitals as she did so.

Spock instinctively moved to stand near her, she could feel the heat from his body.

"Lieutenant you will need to stay in bed, you are not well"

"Sure I am nursey, I'm fiiiiiinnnee"

The officer rolled from the bed, stumbling into Christine. Spock moved to buffer his fall into her. To his surprise Christine had maneuvered herself to grab the officer, turn him and place him firmly yet with care back onto the bed.

"Maybe not so fine" the officer moaned, before vomiting onto the floor.

"Oh for goodness sake…Nurse! Come and attend to this"

She turned her head slightly to Spock "the benefits of position" she smiled briefly at him, forgetting for a moment her earlier frustration.

A young red headed nurse entered the room to help the officer back into bed.

Christine grabbed a towel to wipe her hands.

"I took some time to take lessons in how to manage…difficult situations, I thought they might come in handy. I didn't expect to use those skills in sickbay"

"Doctor I believe we had not finished our previous conversation, perhaps dinner would be an appropriate time"

She wiped some residue from her hair, "Dinner? – I do have to eat, yes dinner would be fine, but I think I need to clean up first"

"Of course Doctor, do you require assistance"

"I was thinking of having a shower Spock, are you offering to assist me with that?" a hint of sarcasm escaped into her voice.

"With…No Doctor Chapel I …" realizing the innuendo Spock went to leave "Though as First Officer, as previously stated, I am available to provide direct support to all senior staff"

00oo00

"Spock"

The voice was sharp through the comlink to her quarters.

"Damn why is he here?" Christine stood in her towel, water trickling down her leg as she leant to open the door.

"Christine I…oh."

"Were you invited Spock? I mean I could have met you in the Mess" she was angry for about three seconds then acquiesced – got to pick my battles, she internally grumbled "its fine, just give me a minute to throw some clothes on"

She turned away from him, her towel hanging low across her back revealing down towards her hips. Dark wet hair trailed along her bare shoulders, framing her back and highlighting the slight muscular outlines of her toned body. He could see a small emblem at the lower part of her back, yet could not make out the design – peering intently he realized that it had not been known to him that Christine had a tattoo.

"Perhaps I should return later"

"What no, I'm nearly ready" grabbing clothes from her bed she moved to the bathroom, throwing the towel from the door as she entered.

All the Vulcan discipline in the world could not contain a wash of memories flowing into his mind, the warmth of her body against his, the softness of her skin, the slight moisture of her lips when they had kissed.

Spock began pacing, this had not been his intention, and such thoughts benefitted no one. Whilst considering his actions he was interrupted by a request.

"Spock sorry, the zip is caught, can you help", she had emerged from the bathroom, in simple attire. Black pants curved complimentarily into her legs, a deep blue blouse floated about her top.

She turned her back to him, again exposing the line of her spine; it took a moment for him to realize that she wore no bra. His hand shook slightly at his side.

"Surely Doctor you can manage this yourself, why else would you have purchased such a garment"

"Such a garment? Spock it's stuck, please it will take two seconds"

He stepped towards her, able now to more clearly see the small pattern on her lower back. Taking the zip he proceeded to gently pull it upwards. Whilst standing she felt a flush of warmth and desire as she noticed the tentative touch of fingertips across the small inked part of her body.

"I got the tattoo on my return to Earth"

"I had not noticed a tattoo," Spock lied blatantly.

"Of course you didn't, and Vulcan's never lie"

She turned and looked up at him. His eyes pierced through the invisible lines she had created to shield herself from his affect. Her breath caught in her throat, her hand drifted upwards to his chest to rest. Her palm flat, feeling the heat rising from his body.

They stood, caught in a moment.

"Spock" she paused trying to articulate her thoughts "I can't go back to where we were, you understand that?"

He lifted the palm of his hand, fractions from her face, then faltered.

"I understand that the situation has altered, as I too am altered"

Her brow furrowed with confusion, however she refused to speak. She would allow him to explain.

"You witnessed a dark part of me Christine, perhaps the most vile part of who I am. I was ashamed, yet you were not afraid. I had not expected that, it was not logical that you would wish to remain in a relationship with me after witnessing such an act"

"You do not know my mind Spock, you can't make my decisions"

"I thought I would protect you" he paused momentarily changing tact "have you been able to sleep?"

The question surprised her, instantly she was returned to their last night together, tortured by images beyond her control, he had held her until sleep had finally found her.

"Yes I can sleep, can you?" she didn't expect a response

His simple "No" surprised her

Realization spread across her, into each vein and muscle that had cursed the Vulcan before her only months before. He was terrified, in his own contained way this response on Infernum had affected him more deeply than any transgressions of the past. He had realized that she would open the gateways to the human part of him so long concealed.

"Damn you", she whispered, lifting her face upwards to his – there was no questions, no query or concern as his lips moved to meet hers, pressed with a passion derived from desperation to connect. So warm, their tongues caressed the other with a grateful eagerness that had both consumed within moments.

His hands were warm against her back as he moved to hold her closer.

"Christine" he murmured "I do not have the right….."

"Spock if you don't rip this shirt from my body in the next two seconds I'm walking out of here, and this really is your last chance"

No verbal response was provided; fabric ripped, her answer provided.

Lifting her they found the bed, she was lain, torso stripped for his eager gaze. He held her then pinned her beneath him, holding her against the sheets.

"It is all of you that I love, and need", she stated, pressing her knee upward to move within his thighs. "Not just a part, give me all of you with no fear, or confusion or leave me now"

Her naked honesty in both flesh and soul moved him. Taking one hand he traced from her stomach up towards her breasts, cupping his hand around her to feel the mass of femininity she offered, he slowly ran the tip of his tongue across her nipple causing sensations to crash across them both. Further still his fingers reached her face, then separated to meld.

"All of me" he echoed "take it now, if you are truly willing"

00oo00

Two hours elapsed, no words had passed from either's lips. Limbs were tangled in a mass of skin and sweat. Christine's head rested in the crook of Spock's arm, she absently caressed the hair upon his chest.

'What would you have done, if Infernum had not happened, would you have come for me at graduation?" the question had been circling at the back of her mind.

"Christine that requires speculation"

"You are a scientist, that is what scientists do"

Spock reached down to caress her hair, pulling her gently towards him.

"Given circumstances prior to the planet's events I would speculate that I would have come to you from whatever part of the universe to fulfill the contract on which we had agreed"

"oohh good answer", she grinned rolling onto his chest

"I was unaware that there was the possibility of a 'good' or 'bad' answer"

"Trust me Spock, there can be very wrong answers"

"The Captain had mentioned something along those lines"

She sat up on her elbows with a certain curiosity "You spoke to the Captain, about …us?"

"He spoke to me, but regardless a conversation was had. I did not take a great deal of his advice of board, however given recent events I may need to revisit his recommendations"

"With Jim's history I would suggest not" this comment inspired a move as she leaned over to her bedside table, parading as she did so her buttocks before Spock's face. It seemed beyond him to resist, as he playfully fondled her flesh.

"Ha, that tickles", she giggled, rolling back her head now upon his chest "your IDIC, I told Jim I wouldn't give it back unless you asked for it"

"You spoke to him as well!"

"Appears we are both at fault, how human of us"

Spock scowled, but remained silent

"Its yours, I should return it", she placed it back into his hand, which remained open.

"It is yours, it was when I gave it to you, and it remains so"

"But.."

"I see that you are not going to cease on this topic…."

"Well I think we need to….." Christine fell silent, apart from groans of pure delight escaping her lips as Spock had moved his position. She could only see the slightly ruffled top of his head as he silenced her in the most perfect way.

00oo00

The battle had been short, unexpected and brutal. Travelling under a cloaking device the Klingon warship had moved quickly to attack and then retreat. It made no sense, and though Kirk needed to consider the motivations his first priority was to the crew.

No reported fatalities, Chapel had relayed, though high casualty numbers. Kirk was impressed with her professionalism in the face of chaos. She and McCoy made a formidable team triaging crew, co coordinating the sick bay.

Reports had come through in relation to instability in the shuttle bay area, Spock volunteered to attend and assess. Medical staff had been required, Chapel had volunteered.

"Christine?"

"Spock a medics required" she knew he was about to protest, this was not the time. "What happened?"

"Four crew are trapped, the area is unstable. I suggest you return.."

"Spock don't!"

She moved past him to attend to the injured, Spock stepped forward to speak to the officer standing near fused entry doors. Through the glass crew could be seen, as could the smoldering wires and sparks threatening to trigger greater devastation.

"Can the doors be opened Lieutenant?", he briskly asked

"We're trying sir, its pretty volatile in there", as if to underline is comment a small explosion was heard from the bay.

"Keep working, we must try to get the crew out, Doctor Chapel?"

Christine had moved closer to the doors to peer through, "I need to get in there Spock, I can see from here that they need urgent medical attention"

"I am aware, however the doors are sealed"

"Mr. Spock", they both turned "I think we can open it" Christine quickly stepped forward, just as he grabbed her sharply pulling her back from entering the room.

"Spock people are injured!"

"Christine No!"

"Let go" – she tugged at him to release her, the room exploded behind them. His arms wrapped around her, holding her head to his chest as he turned to shield her body with his.

"Oh God", she moved again to enter the room, Spock continued to hold her, tightly. "Security – Shuttle bay immediately ! Christine you cannot, I will not allow you to place yourself at risk"

"Spock it is not your choice, my duty is … my duty is" tears filled her eyes, "I have to help them"

Spock held her out from his body, his eyes locked onto hers.

"When it is safe you may enter. I will not risk the ships Doctor", he paused briefly "I will not risk you". His hands held her firmly by the shoulders. It was clear that she wasn't going near the bay until it had been secured.

"Spock…." Her response cut short, as her hand lifted from his chest, a slight tinge of green painting the tips of her fingers "you're hurt"

In the confusion Spock had noticed but not acknowledged the debris that had hit his back when shielding Christine. It was evident now that his skin had been pierced as a slow seeping pattern emerged across his uniform.

"Sit" she directed him, removing his shirt without requesting permission, her mind solely on locating the injury. His back had been cut in several places, the wounds not deep, but bleeding. "Why didn't you say something…."

Her hands moved methodically over his body, attending to each cut across his skin. As she moved to bandage a smaller laceration on his side, she felt her hand stopped by his own. To briefly hold her, in the insanity of the moment provided a single second of peace. She pretended not to notice, yet leant her body imperceptibly closer to his.

"Damn Klingons and their mindless warmongering!", McCoy muttered, quickly overstepping wires and equipment to get to the injured. "Keep working on Spock" McCoy yelled as he entered the smoking room.

00oo00

"You're sure you're right?" Kirk was tired, it was days after the attack, the ship had settled, however he had not slept the whole time.

"I tell you, they are together, thanks to me" McCoy's feet swung up towards the desk, landing abruptly on incomplete files. Pressed back into his chair, a sense of overwhelming smugness emanated from him, barely contained within the room.

"So was the farm house a fake?"

"No real, great investment – but probably not for a few years yet"

"The ambiguous sense of pending agedness"

"I'm sure Jimbo I will feel the age at some stage, just not today"

"You staged the WHOLE thing!, just to get Chapel back on board!" Kirk was unsure as to whether to kill or congratulate his CMO.

"Not just me, there was some assistance from ground forces, who knew Vulcans could be romantics"

"The Professor?"

"The Professor"

"You realize you have probably breached 1000 protocols, and what if it hadn't of worked?

"Chris would have gone back to Earth, Spock would have had an uncomfortable six months. It was a win win. Besides it was never not going to work"

Kirk was lost for words, walking to other side of the room whilst attempting to formulate an appropriate reprimand.

"I am, if nothing else, a good old fashioned country doctor. I knows a broken heart Jim, and how to fix it"

"You do realize that if either one finds out, I am not standing in their way when they go to throttle you"

"They will be too busy with each other to worry about me. Jim its fine, clear sailing with a very happy Vulcan and Doctor"

"I should throttle you myself"

"Well you could do that, or you could hear about a little plan I devised for a certain over dedicated Starfleet Capt..oof" his words cut short by a medic kit thrown to his head.

00oo00

"Do you think he knows that we know?"

Spock's hand drifted down Christine's naked stomach, fingertips barely touching her warm, glistening skin.

"It is unlikely that the Doctor would acknowledge the case, even if he were aware of its truth" Spock continued to gaze at Christine's navel, leaning down to kiss the precious skin so welcoming to his wishes.

"We, I should be furious, if it hadn't been for the Professor's comment we might never had realized"

Spock lifted himself slightly from the bed to roll gently onto her body, his weight welcomed. She positioned herself without thought to accommodate his need.

"Indeed"

"Really Leonard manipulated us"

"Indeed" Spock was now kissing her neck, the slow circular motions of his tongue traced a line towards her ear.

"Furious" she groaned "I should go and confront him now"

"I shall not stop you Christine", he murmured into her ear, lowering his hand to massage her thigh.

"Really furious", her back arched slightly "…hmmm it's a long way to sick bay isn't it"

"It would require some effort to reach the destination"

"I suppose I can be furious tomorrow"

"It would seem logical"

She looked directly into his eyes "logical to postpone an emotional response?, logical to have an emotional response?"

"Logical to .." he pressed down upon her consuming her mouth with his, his heat penetrating her.

"I concur…it is logical to…." She responded eagerly to his touch.

THE END