Nothing's Perfect

By Djinn

Christine was working in the quarters she shared with Spock and Jim when she heard the door open and hiss shut again.

"Wife," Spock said, crossing the floor, his boots clicking quickly.

"I'm working on a paper."

"This will not take long."

She laughed as he pulled her up, managed to save her work and set the padd down as he began to pull her clothing off. "I thought you were playing chess with Jim?"

"I was. He was called away. I decided to use the time wisely. He will no doubt hail me when he is done." He had her up against the wall of their quarters, hiked her up, and she wrapped her legs around him as they kissed, as he got her ready, until he lifted her again and eased her onto him.

She moaned, felt him move a hand behind her head to keep her from slamming into the wall as he began to move more vigorously. She came loudly; he did, too. But not so loudly, she didn't hear the hiss of their door opening again.

"What the hell, Spock?" Jim did not sound happy.

Spock eased his head off her neck and met her eyes. She mouthed, "Busted," but didn't think he got what she was saying.

She smiled at Jim over Spock's shoulder, held her hand out to him. "Come here."

"Don't do that, Christine," Jim said, and he sounded truly annoyed. "I leave for five minutes, Spock, and you can't just wait? You have to run down here and grab a quickie?"

Spock's eyebrow rose. "Is a quickie wrong in some way, Jim?"

"Put me down," she whispered, but Spock seemed to be set on stubborn mode. He turned, so he was talking to Jim over her shoulder and she had a great view of the wall—and Jim had a bang-up view of her ass. She tried to ease off Spock, but his grip was like iron. "Damn it."

Jim walked over. "Why didn't you just say you wanted to be with her instead of playing chess?"

"I did want to play chess. But then, when it appeared chess was on hiatus until your return, I wanted to be with her."

"I wasn't gone that long."

"Long enough for us to do this."

"Which you could join in if you wanted," Christine said, still trying to work her way out of Spock's arms of steel. "Partner of your choice."

"Put her down." Jim glared at Spock until he finally let go of her. "And that's not the goddamned point." He turned and walked to the door.

"If you wait, I will come with you, Jim." Spock was putting his robes back in order. "I'm sure our chessboard is undisturbed."

"Suddenly, I'm not in the mood." He looked at her. "Tell him what he can do with our goddamned chessboard." The door closed behind him.

Spock stood staring at it. "I...this..." He turned to her. "I do not understand."

"Bad day?"

"It did not appear so earlier. Perhaps you should go talk to him?"

"I'm not the one who abandoned him mid chess game."

"But you are the one who is far more capable of processing emotionally laden conversations without making him angrier."

She had to give him that. She shook her head. "You had to have a quickie?"

"When did a quickie become problematic? I do not understand." Spock took the escape route of beleaguered husbands everywhere and grabbed a padd and went into the bathroom.

She rolled her eyes, put her clothes back on, and went to find Jim.

##

After some searching, she found him in one of the auxiliary conference rooms, one with a nice view of the stars. He'd told her once it was a favorite place of his to go and think, since no one seemed to use it much.

"Not in the mood, Christine." He didn't even turn to look when she walked in.

"How did you know it wasn't Spock?"

"He'd never come face me when I'm this mad at him. He'd send you to mollify me, wear me down, cajole me with your sweet ways."

She sat down on the other side of the table from him. "Didn't realize my sweet ways were a problem for you."

"They're not."

"Oh. So it's him using them against you that bugs you?"

"Bingo." He turned and stared at her. "Which of us do you love most?"

She knew her eyes went wide.

"Which of us do you think he loves the most?" Jim turned back to the stars, his chair swiveling back and forth a bit as if he just couldn't hold still.

"Well, you big baby, I actually think he loves you the most."

The chair stopped. "You do?"

"Yes. But you don't see me throwing a hissy fit." She got up. "Why don't you come back to our quarters when you've grown up?"

He was up and to the door before she could get there. "Computer, lock, door."

"Jim."

He was clearly mad at what she'd just said, but he touched her gently, drawing her pants off and then his own, kissing her, making sure she was ready, before he pushed her against the wall and thrust into her.

"Jim, really? This is not a good—"

His kisses shut her up. Deep burning kisses, and his fingers moving across her, causing her to cry out. He didn't let up, was clearly trying to make her come again when she pulled his fingers away and deprived of that option, he let go, took his own pleasure.

They sank to the floor and lay panting.

"What the hell was that, Jim? Anything Spock can do, you can do better?"

"I believe it's called a quickie."

She felt like he'd slapped her and tried to roll away, the rough carpeting stinging as she did it.

"Christine."

She was crying and she hated that she was crying. He reached for her, and she tried to knock his hand away, but he yanked her back to him.

"Honey, no, I'm sorry." His kisses were sweet, and he held her and said, "I'm sorry. I shouldn't take it out on you."

"Take what out? What did we do wrong?" She nestled against him, let him kiss her. "What is it? Are you tired of me? Is that it? Do you just want him?" She tried to get up, but he held her close.

"I married both of you."

"But you're mad at me."

"No, I'm mad at him."

"But you're mad at him because he wanted me."

He laughed very softly. "Yes, that's true." He wrapped his arms even more tightly around her. "I'm sorry. I don't know what's wrong with me. I love you, Christine. I didn't hurt you, did I?"

She shook her head. "Just don't use me against him."

He sighed. "That wasn't what I was doing."

She nodded, even if she thought they both knew he'd been doing exactly that.

##

Bedtime was tense. They were all extra careful around each other. No one crowding anyone in the bathroom. No one playfully throwing pillows at anyone else as they got the bed ready.

Christine went to her desk and worked on her paper—or pretended to work on it. It was easier than dealing with her two men. Neither of whom seemed to want to talk to each other about what was wrong. Finally she turned around. "I can't stand this."

Jim looked over from his table. Spock popped his head out from the bathroom.

"What the hell is wrong?" She saved her work and put her padd away in the drawer, just in case whatever the hell was wrong led to violence or lusty makeup sex on the desk. "You go to play chess and everything's fine. Now everything's not. What the hell happened in between?" She glared at Jim before he could answer. "Other than Spock wanting a damned quickie. Which has never been a problem before."

"I didn't know where he was."

"And what? You're a little boy lost in a big store?"

Jim crossed his arms over his chest. "I just felt..." He sighed.

Spock moved closer, seemed to think Jim might shy away if he touched him but finally reached out and rubbed his neck the way he liked it. "You felt what?"

"Like you were cheating on me. With our wife. And I know how stupid that sounds. But I came back and it was as if you couldn't wait to get away, to her." He looked down. "When she came to find me, I fucked her the same way you did, Spock."

"I had a feeling you would, Jim. Why do you think I sent her when I did instead of waiting until you had a chance to let reason prevail?"

"Are you kidding me?" Christine walked over to them, considered slapping one or both of them. "Am I just a pawn to you two?"

She walked over to their main terminal, started looking to see which of the guest quarters were unassigned.

"What are you doing?" Jim's had moved close, his voice was low in her ear, his hands on her arms. "Are you moving out?" There was some amusement in his voice, but something else, too—something bleaker.

"For the night possibly."

"You're not a pawn, Christine." Spock was behind her now, too. "I'm sorry if I used you as one."

"Everything's been so good. I don't understand." She turned, felt them both pull her close, where she used to feel safe.

Why didn't she feel safe?

She turned back to the computer. "I really need to get out of here tonight. You two work this out."

"You're part of this. You can't just go." Jim turned the terminal off.

"This room is too damn small. One room for three people. What the hell were we thinking?" She flipped the terminal back on.

Jim looked at Spock. "Could you neck pinch her maybe?"

Spock clearly was not sure if Jim was kidding or not. Then again she wasn't sure if he was kidding or not. She wondered if even Jim knew if he was kidding.

He gave the laugh she hated. The fake "ha ha ha" that he generally only used on aliens.

A very tense silence followed, a silence broken when Spock softly said, "It is possible that I did want her to myself."

Jim turned on him. "Then why the hell didn't you just say so? We have private time all the time. You didn't have to just sneak off." He seemed to see something in Spock's face. "Did that make it more fun, or something? Spock, talk to me."

Spock looked away. Then he said softly, "I believe I will work tonight in the lab."

He grabbed one of his padds and left them alone.

She stared at Jim. "I didn't know. He just showed up and—"

"I know you didn't."

"What's going on with us?"

"I don't know." He reached past her, turned on the terminal. "Do you want to stay with me or do you want to stay neutral?" He had a guest room lit up, ready to reserve.

"Oh, Jim. I don't know. What's the right thing to do?"

He shrugged. And she saw something she didn't like. More betrayal. Like he wouldn't be sure where she was if she wasn't in bed with him. Like she might be with Spock.

She moved his finger off the screen. "This is my bed. I sleep here. You sleep here. And when Spock is ready to come out of the lab, he sleeps here. Nobody's neutral, Jim. No matter how safe that idea might seem."

He looked enormously relieved. They went to bed. They didn't make love. And Spock didn't come back that night.

##

When she woke, Spock was sitting at the table, working. She realized Jim was already awake, was watching Spock as he worked, an unreadable expression on his face.

"Spock," he finally said.

Spock looked over.

"Come to bed for a while. There's time."

She looked at the chrono. Saw there was time, just enough for them to reconnect. She thought Spock hesitated for a moment, but then he stood and walked over. Both she and Jim pulled him into the bed, into their arms, shedding his robe as they did it.

For the first time since they'd come together on Thule, it was awkward between them. But only for a few moments. Then Spock murmured, "I am sorry," so softly she thought she might have imagined it.

Jim kissed him, then pulled her closer. "Meld with us. It's okay. This was just a bump. All couples"—he made a face and smiled—"married groups have them."

Spock sighed, a strangely sad sound. "I need to explain. I did not go to the lab to work on an experiment. I went to the lab to run tests. On myself." He looked at Jim, then at her. "Do you understand?"

Christine closed her eyes. She'd wondered what would happen when the Pon Farr came. It was a mating rut, not just a sexual one. And Jim could not produce children. Not that she could either, being up to date on all her contraceptives. But Spock's primitive urges wouldn't know that. They'd only know that when it came time to insert tab a into a seemingly fertile slot b, she'd fit the bill—and Jim wouldn't.

"Jesus," Jim murmured. "That's why."

"So it would seem."

"And why I'm reacting so badly to you being with her?"

"We are bonded. You would feel some of what I'm feeling."

"Why I am not feeling it?" Christine asked.

"You were ready to move out, hon. I think you're feeling it." Jim lay back and put his hand over his eyes. "Do I need to get you two off the ship?"

Spock did not appear to have a quick answer for them. He finally said, "There is no precedent for this. I do not know that I would not share her with you when the burning comes. As long as I have access to her, I might want you as well."

"But you might not. Might view me as a rival?"

"It is possible. But you are my mate, so I am not sure. Our situation is unique, as I said."

"But I'm not your mate, am I? Not in the procreation sense?" Jim seemed very far away. Then he rolled out of the bed, went to the terminal. "We're not far from Starbase Five. I can let you off there, pick you up in a week."

"What if we need you? What if we die without you?" Christine got up and walked over to him. "We don't know you aren't essential to this. Maybe I'm primary for a while since I happen to have a uterus, but I wouldn't assume you're not needed. I wasn't kidding about what I said in the conference room. About who matters the most."

Jim met her eyes. "No?"

She saw Spock's look of confusion but ignored it. "I've always thought so. But I'm okay with that. And that's why you need to keep us on the ship. The guest quarters for us or you, whatever makes the most sense."

"This is a mess."

"But one we knew we would face eventually," Spock said. "It is good we have time to plan for it. Unlike last time."

Christine saw Jim's face. She remembered when they'd brought him up from Vulcan the first time, seemingly dead. She thought he was remembering that, too. She took a deep breath. There would be no damn fighting. She was Spock's, and Jim was Spock's. And Spock was theirs.

That had seemed so simple before.

##

After their shift, Spock surprised them with dinner laid out in their quarters. A sexy, feed-to-your-partners kind of dinner.

Jim smiled when he saw it, said gently, "Apology?"

Spock nodded, and then said, "I also think it is important in this time leading up to the burning that we share Christine intensely. And that you and I are also as active together sexually as we can be. The worst path we could take would be to withdraw emotionally or physically from each other—I believe that would make me view you as an interloper during the Pon Farr, and I'm not sure the bond would protect you. But if we continue as we are, if we increase our sexual activity..."

"This is just your way of getting more bed time," Christine said with a smile, pulling him to her with a kiss, murmuring "Thank you," in his ear so softly only he could hear.

He squeezed her arm, a silent "You're welcome." But she knew he did this for all of them.

"Once the burning starts, I will want Christine exclusively at first, I presume. The urge is to procreate. Your presence, so long as you do not interfere, should not bother me. Once I have planted my seed sufficiently, I believe my less primal self will begin to have a say in the matter and I will want you, too, Jim."

"But you're not sure?"

"I am not."

"And you might kill me if I'm in there?"

"I might try. I suggest you keep a phaser set on stun with you, keyed to your and Christine's bioreadings only."

"Roger that," Christine said softly.

"You will need your med kit, as well, Christine. I do not know how rough I will be with you. As my first Pon Farr was interrupted by combat and I did not complete the act..."

She nodded. "What is the norm on Vulcan? Surely you saw your mother after she and your father...?"

He frowned. "There were times they were back quickly. There were other times they were not. I do not know if that was because they lingered wherever they went to experience the Pon Farr for their own reasons or because she needed medical treatment."

Christine tried not to swallow too visibly; she didn't want Spock to see how scared his words made her. "We still need a place."

"I think guest quarters," Jim said. "No one is likely to bother us there and we can clear them of anything dangerous."

Spock nodded.

"I'll brief McCoy. If I'm needed with you, Scotty will have the conn. If you don't need me, Bones may have to monitor me, make sure I'm not affected."

Christine looked down. "Len will need to monitor me, as well, if you're not in there with us." If he wasn't in the room to protect her was what she wanted to say.

"Yes," Jim said, as he met her eyes. "He will. I don't want you getting hurt."

Spock took a deep breath. "I will endeavor not to hurt her."

"But you don't know. You've never done this." Christine touched his hand. "It's not that I don't trust you. But this won't be the real you, will it?"

"It will not." He looked down. "The real me would not have killed Jim."

They all were very quiet. Finally, Jim gave a game smile and rubbed his hands together. "I'm starved. Who else is hungry? We've got some sex to get to, my loves. And unless I miss my guess, Spock, you got this food especially to eat in bed."

"I did," Spock said, his eyes soft. "I love you both. I did not wish this to play out this way. If I could rid myself of the Pon Farr—never saddle you with it—I would."

Jim pulled him close, kissed him slowly. "It's our burden because it's your burden. We'll get through this." He reached back for her. "All three of us."

##

Christine caught Len watching her several times through their shift, finally went into his office and sat down. "Jim told you?"

"He told me." He leaned in, his look as concerned as she'd ever seen it. "I'm worried."

"You were down there. When Spock and Jim fought?"

"I was. I've been thinking a lot about how to keep you safe."

"He won't hurt me."

"This Spock is certainly different than the one who I saw try to kill his best friend. He's older. He's bonded to you and to Jim. He's in love, not just going through a biological urge. I hope you're right, that he won't hurt you—and he won't hurt Jim. But, Christine, this biological urge may fool you. And this arrangement Spock set up, bonding with you both..." He shook his head.

"It may backfire. I know. I've considered that." She looked down. Jim in their thoughts could be a mitigating factor, a calm force amid the fire.

Or it could be accelerant on the flames. A rival in Spock's head. Or worse—what if they both decided they wanted her...needed her that way?

"I have transdermal biosensors I'm going to inject you all with. I want to know what's going on with you physiologically, emotionally, as well as logistically."

She knew she was blushing. "You're thinking what I'm thinking?"

"Two on one won't be fun if it's not something you can say no to. Not something you can slow down." He took a deep breath. "The sensors come with other things. They'll allow me to render one or all of you unconscious. Tailored specifically to each of you. With a few extra levels—especially for Spock—to allow for any added resistance to the sedation the Pon Farr might give."

"Thank you."

"Yours will have some energy boosters in there, too. It was that or pain meds. Only so much I can fit in the things."

"Energy boosters make sense. I can't believe you're fitting all that in a biosensor."

"You're my best friends. I'm going to keep you safe. And then I'm going to patent the damn thing and make millions." He leaned back and rubbed his eyes. "Although I might grab some shuteye at some point. I've been working on this every second I have."

She got up, walked around the desk, and hugged him. "Thank you."

"I love you, sweetheart. I'm not going to let them hurt you. Or them hurt each other. I saved Jim from Spock once, I'll do it again for all of you."

"I believe you." She turned but he caught her hand and she looked back.

"I can help you physically. But Christine, what I saw...it took me a while to get it out of my head. I know it took Jim a while, too—and he had more to deal with than just having been an observer. There may be some...ferocity in this you aren't expecting. You may need to talk to someone when this is over."

"I will. I'll talk to my husbands."

"Oh, honey. That's exactly what I don't mean." He smiled softly. "Go on now. I have about two more hours' work before I'll be ready to inject you all with these sensors."

"Do you need help?"

"No. You run on." He sounded very much like a worried father as he got up and shooed her out of his office and headed for the lab.

She watched him go, tried to imagine what he had seen on Vulcan. She'd seen Spock on Thule. He'd never wavered. Even when she and Jim had been cranky.

Then she remembered him throwing the soup at her, how he'd yelled. The anger in his eyes. The lust later. And that had been before he'd been completely lost to the Pon Farr.

She closed her eyes and prayed to whatever god protected pioneering lovers to keep them all safe.

##

She was on the observation deck, staring out at the star stream when Jim found her. She knew it was him by the sound of his step, by the soft scent of his soap, by the way he murmured, "Christine," and by the way he slid his arms around her and the firm feel of his chest on her back.

She put her arms over his, held on tightly—for dear life, it felt like.

"I love you. I'll protect you. Whether I'm in there or not, I'll protect you."

She nodded. "Spock is really worried, isn't he?" She turned so she could see his face. "He's not talking about it, and that's when he's really worried."

"I know. I've noticed that, too." He sighed and pulled her close. "I don't mind saying I'm a little nervous."

"Do you mind saying you're a little scared?"

"Awfully unmanly of me. Hero of the galaxy and all that admitting he's scared of a little sex." But he buried his head in her shoulder. "I don't want you to be scared, so I won't say I am. Nervous is okay. Ready for anything is better. This is Spock. He loves us, Christine. He wants us both—wanted us both enough to love us, to marry us, to bond with us against all reason and odds. Why should this be any different?"

"I know." She rubbed his back and wondered who was comforting whom. Then she looked up and saw Spock standing at the doorway.

He looked more concerned than anything else.

She held out her hand and he came immediately. "Computer, lock the damn door," she said.

"Please restate command."

"Goddamn refits." Jim took a deep breath. "Computer, lock door."

"Affirmative."

Jim smiled at them both. "I miss the old ship."

"Technically, this is the old ship," Spock said with a slight lifting of his lips. He put his arms around them, pulling them close. "It will soon be time. It is best if we start before I am too far gone in the blood fever."

"You saw us here together. Were you angry?" Christine asked.

"No. Worried."

"Good sign," Jim said softly.

"I think so, yes." Spock pulled them closer. "I want you both to promise me something. If there is a moment where I put either of you in mortal jeopardy, you must do whatever it takes to stop me."

"Len's biosensor will take care of incapacitating you."

"Doctor McCoy has done his best, but his best may not be enough if I am in full fever. You must promise me." He looked at Jim. "You will protect her from me?"

"Spock. Phasers work on stun. I won't kill you if there are other options."

"I agree with that position. But if there are no other options..."

"There are always other options."

She smiled. "Spock, we'll do whatever it takes to keep all of us safe—all of us, that includes you." She hated how hard this was, how dark and painful. "God, is the Pon Farr always this damn dire?"

"No, it is not. But we chose to be three, not two. We have made it..."

"Problematic," Jim said softly.

"Indeed."

Jim took a breath. "I need to tell you something. I asked Bones to fit the room up with audiovisual capability—just for him and only if he needs it to enhance the biosensors, to give him the whole picture. He's not going to be observing us the entire time." He met Spock's eyes. "We've studied tactics. We both know nothing trumps eyes on target."

Spock's mouth ticked up. "That explains the look he had on his face when I asked him to do the same thing. For the same reason."

Jim grinned, then they looked at her.

She held her hands up. "I came late to this opera, remember? No tactics classes for me, so I didn't ask him to set up the Pon Farr Porn Channel. That's what I have you two for." She smiled at them, letting them know she was fine with their precautions. "Thank you. I love that you both care enough to think ahead."

She pulled them in for a kiss, not a passionate one—God knew they were in for plenty of that—just a tender one, a loving one. For her husbands, the men she loved more than anyone.

Spock led them to one of the sofas, where they sat together, cuddled up quietly, holding hands, occasionally kissing, but mostly lost in their own thoughts until it was time to go.

##

The guest quarters were set to the highest level of soundproofing. They had the refit to thank for that, had learned during the first five-year mission that there was no way of predicting the decibel level or tones that might come out of any particular alien's quarters—whether it be singing, snoring, or sex.

Any actual furniture was out of the room—Christine knew Jim wanted anything that he or Spock might use as a weapon to be removed. Cushy mats, deep enough they would still be comfortable after hours of sex, lined the floor.

"Who did you say was going to be in the room?" she asked.

"Traveling gymnastics team." Jim grinned. "Truthfully, the quartermaster didn't ask. I think he would rather just not know when it comes to our special arrangement." He walked over to the chiller. "Plenty of water." He looked at her. "You'll need to stay hydrated." Then a glance at Spock. "Let her. The biosensor can't do that."

"I will try."

"Do more than try. She's our wife. To honor and protect, remember."

"Jim, don't antagonize him."

"Christine, it's all right. He's probably feeling what I am. Possessive."

"Protective," Jim said, his voice harsh.

"Semantics, Jim."

Jim moved toward her.

Spock held out his hand. "I would not, if I were you."

"No?" He frowned. "Is it starting, then?"

"It is. And I am, at the moment, all right with your presence here. I accept you as part of this. If you were to appear to be taking her from me in any way, however..."

"Okay."

"It is safer with you in here, Jim. And I want you in here."

They shared a bittersweet smile.

"I don't mind watching." Jim smiled at her. "You two are pretty when you make love."

She smiled at him, knowing what he was doing. Using words like that on purpose. Pretty, making love. Nice words, not hard words like rut or fire. Trying to keep their Spock with them, keep the primal Spock pushed back.

She was unsure what to do, looked at Spock and saw need for her in his eyes. She slowly peeled off her uniform. Both he and Jim watched her as if it was the first time she had ever done it.

Jim backed up until he was against the wall and he patted his leg, checking for the phaser, she realized. She hoped to hell Len wasn't watching this.

Then she felt something deep in the part of her she thought of as belonging to their bond. It was a burning feeling and she moaned.

And Spock moaned.

And Jim moaned softly, too.

"Come to me," Spock said.

She walked to him, dropped to the mat and began to pull off his uniform, but he stopped her. Instead he lay her out in front of him, kissing up and down her body, stopping at her belly, going more slowly down and down and then—

She arched under his attack but right as she was ready to come, he eased off. She moaned in frustration.

"Undress me." He was breathing hard, his eyes dilated, fixed on her.

She nearly ripped off his uniform, murmuring, "Finish it, finish it," as she did.

As soon as he was naked, he pushed her back down, resumed his attention and had her nearly there and then—stopped.

"Spock, God. Please." She met his eyes. Saw passion, but also love. Realized he was doing this for a reason. Not just to torment her.

He was breathing hard as he stroked her legs, letting her settle down. She could hear Jim in the corner, breathing hard, too, part of this even from his distance.

"Please?" she asked softly.

"All right." He went down again, this time moving slowly, lips and tongue and then fingers, building her up so gradually she thought she might scream.

When she finally came, she nearly passed out.

Spock was in her before she was fully back, moving with a purpose that was more intense than normal. But it didn't hurt. She was slick, and she realized that was what he had given her with his torture. He'd made her as ready as he could, as relaxed as possible and she lay back and rode his passion out, kissing him when he wanted that. Murmuring, "I love you," to try to ground him.

When he came, he smiled, said, "Wife," as he rolled off. Then his eyes narrowed and he looked over at Jim.

Jim didn't move. His eyes were dilated; he was clearly aroused. But he didn't move.

Spock nodded and turned back to her, and she breathed raggedly in relief. He kissed and nipped and sucked and his fingers found her again, bringing her back to where she'd been, but she wasn't ready yet to come again.

He smiled—a fierce, possessive smile—and melded with her, and she felt his fire fill her. He touched her again, then again, and she began to squirm under his touch, her body suddenly ready.

And then he was on top of her again, his body against hers and the feeling of him pulling her legs up around his waist made her come again. He let himself go and cried out as if he was winning a war not just having sex.

Jim moaned but stayed where he was.

Spock didn't seem to notice the sound he'd made. Just rolled so she was astride him, let her rest there. "Are you all right?" he asked, his voice a harsh rasp.

"So far so good." She leaned in to kiss him, and he kissed her back more tenderly than she expected.

"Is Jim all right?"

"I think so. You can't ask him yourself?"

"I do not think it wise. For him or for me."

"He's feeling it. What we're doing." She touched his cheek. "He may get very tired of watching."

"By the end he may not have to just watch." Spock closed his eyes. "I need you to move now. Give me pleasure."

She did what he asked. Whatever he asked. Over and over and over.

##

She could barely move when Spock finally let her go. She felt a cool sensation in her right arm, realized Len had let another burst of energy restorers out.

She crawled out from under Spock's arm and stumbled to the chiller, trying to get more water.

Jim moved in front of her. "Christine."

"I'm all right. I just need water."

He reached for her.

"Jim, I'm all right."

He was holding her, too tightly. She met his eyes, realized his were filled with the same lust she'd seen in Spock's for the last—God, how long had they been at this?

"Jim, I need water. I need a break. I'm sore. Please?"

Suddenly, Spock was behind her. "He needs you."

"I've got an idea. You and him. How's that?" She tried to squirm away, but they were holding her, too tightly.

"No, Christine. He needs you."

"No, please, I need water. Please—" She was cut short by the feeling of Spock letting go of her and slumping against her back. Jim crumpled onto her lap.

Len's voice sounded softly. "I can give you twenty minutes, Christine. Then Jim's going to need you." A drawer popped out in the bathroom. "There's a healing unit in there. Use it."

"Thank you."

"Do you need me down there?"

"I think that would be bad. They would probably smell you on me."

"Yes, they probably would." He sighed over the speaker. "Is there anything else you need?"

"I don't suppose you have any Itazapam loaded up in my biosensor?" She knew he didn't. Energy restorers only, and they weren't going to do anything for how overwhelmed she was starting to feel. In fact, they were making it worse.

"No, but there's some in the drawer if you're feeling anxious—and I don't blame you if you are. Also some painkiller if the healing unit doesn't do the trick."

"Is Jim okay?"

"He's burning up, Christine. I'm pushing it by giving you twenty minutes, but you need a rest. I don't know how he's just sat there. He's essentially going through this with you."

"The man's willpower has willpower." She got up and found the healing unit, worked as fast as she could, sighing as she did. "Anything you aren't telling me?"

"No, Spock is fine. You'd be coming down off this, I imagine, if Jim weren't in the mix."

"Will they wake up on their own?"

"I'll wake them up."

She shot herself first with the Itazapam, felt the soft haze fill her and decided it was a little too soft. She loaded up more, was about to inject it when Len said, "Careful with that."

"You're not the one in danger of getting fucked to death."

"Yes, but that will affect your response to him. You don't know what that will do to him or how he treats you—or how Spock feels about the whole thing."

She sighed and put the hypo back in the drawer. "Damn logic. Never let it be said you aren't full of it." She went back to work with the healing unit, then put it in the drawer and shut it.

"No pain meds?"

"I'm fine for now. I may ask for a healing coma when this is over, though." She opened a water container, downed it quickly. "I'm so thirsty."

"Drink one of those gels, too."

"You're like a mother hen, Len. Do you still have video on? I'm naked here."

"Nothing I haven't seen before. I'll turn it off when I'm sure knocking them out hasn't ruined the vibe."

"Ever the romantic." She sighed and sucked down the gel. It tasted like medicine despite the attempt to disguise it as orange. But she knew it was good for her, full of nutrients and electrolytes.

She walked out the kinks for a little bit—her body ached from being on the floor for so long. "Where are you, anyway?"

"My office."

"How long have you been there?"

"Nine hours."

"Holy crap. I'm sorry, Len."

"Hey, as you said, I'm not the one in danger of being fucked to death." There was a weird silence. "You're not...in danger of that. I won't let that happen."

"I know. It's just a handy turn of phrase in a situation like this. Joke or weep, you know?" She took a deep breath, then went and lay back down between her two husbands. "God, it's ripe in here. Shower first, then healing coma."

"You got it, hon'. Wake them up?"

"Do it."

Spock woke first, and she watched him carefully, keeping her eyes soft and sensuous, as if she'd gone nowhere, done nothing in the time he'd been out. He frowned slightly, then nodded. "You are refreshed?"

"More or less."

He pulled her up, kissed her in a way that was tender compared to how he had been going at her. "Wife. He needs you."

"I know. I'll take care of him. You need to help." She pointed to the mats near where Jim had been sitting for so long, where they'd laid out some of their favorite things. "Use that before you help."

He nodded.

"I mean it."

"Yes, Christine." He kissed her again, and she took it as a good sign that it was the first time he'd called her by name.

"I should probably use some of that." She started to move, felt hands on her waist, yanking her back.

"Give her to me," Jim said, his voice almost brutal, like nothing she'd ever heard. "She's mine."

"Easy, Jim," both she and Spock said, and she was suddenly very glad Spock was there as Jim pinned her down and Spock forced him off her.

"No. Not like that, Jim. She is not ready for you. Go slowly. She is our wife, not a thing."

Christine decided not to point out that Spock had spent the last nine hours treating her more like a thing than a wife.

"You did it." Jim knocked Spock back. "You had her. Any way you wanted her."

She was suddenly forgotten as Jim launched himself at Spock. She couldn't decide if she was relieved or annoyed. Spock was going for the neck pinch when she realized Jim still had the phaser.

They'd really thought him having a phaser was a good idea?

He dropped Spock like a rock then turned to her. He let go of the phaser, and it bounced to the mats. She thought Len might knock him out again, then realized he couldn't. He had to let this go or Jim would die. But she saw Jim stumble a little and realized Len must have shot some sedative in, enough to take some of the edge off.

"Jim, sweetheart. I'm here." She tried her best voice with him, the one she knew he loved. The endearment he loved best.

He caught her up, had her on the floor so fast her back screamed in protest, was kissing her, touching her the way she liked, but not long enough—how could she have become so distracted healing and hydrating that she hadn't thought to get herself ready again?

And Jim wasn't in the same state Spock had been in; he couldn't think of her first.

She pushed him off her. "Jim, no, give me a minute." It was the voice of the doctor who made him get his physicals whether he liked it or not, the wife who didn't care if he didn't want to take the damn trash out when it was his turn.

He was right back on her.

She kicked him back this time, scrambled for the lube—if she could just get to the bathroom, lock herself in long enough to get some in. Then it would be fine.

He grabbed her ankle, jerked her back, his hand on her shoulder but she fought him off, trying to push him away without making him madder, slipping aside again, but he yanked her back and as he did, his elbow crashed into her cheekbone.

She cried out, couldn't see as her eye started to water, tried to tell if she was bleeding but he had hold of her arms. "Jim, stop."

He threw her back on the mat roughly, and she could feel her face throbbing, knew her eye was swelling shut. "Jim, please."

"Want you," was all he said. And he kissed her, his hands running over her face, making her cry out as he touched down on her hurt cheek, as he bit her lip in his rush to kiss her.

She felt a blast of coolness in her arm, knew Len was doing something with the biosensor to help her. She felt woozy—he'd let the sedatives go. As much as he probably dared.

It still hurt like hell when Jim took her.

Jim would never hurt her. She tried to tell herself it wasn't him hurting her now. This wasn't really him, this man that kept kissing her even though she was sure she was bleeding, even though she cried out every time he touched her face, even though she was clearly in pain every time he moved in and out of her.

This wasn't Jim she was looking at. Even if it was his voice saying he wanted her and she was his, as he pounded at her again and again and again, until Spock finally woke up, crawled over to where they had left the lube, made himself ready and yanked Jim off her. He got between them, making Jim take him instead, until the fire finally died and Jim crawled off him, lay panting on the mats, finally coming back to himself as Spock forced himself up, walking slowly to the drawer and got the healing unit.

Jim moved over to her. "Christine." He touched her cheek.

She tried not to flinch. She failed.

She saw something in his eyes. Desire, still, but also...shame. And guilt.

Spock moved around him. She could see he was having trouble not pushing Jim away from her as he worked on her. It was ironic, really, if she let herself think that way. Jim had promised to keep her safe from Spock.

None of them had worried who would keep her safe from him.

##

She woke in sickbay, in a darkened private room. Len was hovering over her, adjusting something on the medical tricorder. "Welcome back," he said softly. "One healing coma as requested. You've been out for two days."

She looked around the room. They were alone.

"If you are looking for either of your husbands, they are not allowed in here right now."

"Says you?"

"Says me." He continued to work. "See, I didn't think they needed to be sitting around here when they could be talking about it and maybe working things out. I also don't think that, now that you're awake, Jim needs to see you clinging to Spock."

"You think I'd do that?"

"Hell, yes. I'd do it if I were you. After what happened, anyone would. And if you do it, if Jim thinks you're afraid of him, he'll pull away. It'll destroy him and it'll destroy your marriage." He put the tricorder on the bed and pulled up a stool. "I don't always understand your marriage, but I don't want to see it end."

"I'm not sure it can end. We're all bonded."

"As I understand it, there are ways to end it, if you had to. But they're extreme." He shrugged at her look. "I may have grilled M'Benga."

"Jim already knows I'm afraid of him. I flinched when he touched me."

"I know. I saw."

"You saw all of it, didn't you?"

He nodded. "I did what I could. I tried to help you."

"I know. It did help a little."

"Not enough. You were pretty torn up."

"Don't tell Jim that."

"I didn't have to, Christine. He knows. The state he was in, though, when he did it...he just didn't care."

"So much for willpower." She shook her head. "We need a Plan B for next time. Jim waiting that long for his turn is clearly not a workable option."

He smiled. "I'll tell them you said that. It just might make their day."

She frowned, not following his logic.

"They're both convinced you're going to request a transfer and never come back."

"They're both idiots."

"I don't disagree. Nevertheless, they're not getting in here until I say they can."

"Fine." She sniffed, wrinkled her nose. Sickbay decon only did so much. "Can I shower?"

"Use the staff shower. Do not go back to your quarters."

"Yes, Captain McCoy."

He grinned. "I'll go tell them you're awake. And in good spirits all things considered. Anything else I should say?"

"Tell them I love them."

"I think I'll save that for you to tell them. I'll just mention the Plan B notion."

She smiled. "Fine." Once he was gone, she dug out some clean patient pajamas and went to the shower room, losing herself in the feeling of being clean.

When she was done, she stared at herself in the mirror, waiting for the steam to clear. As it did, she saw her body emerge in the glass, no marks showing anywhere, and she knew she was healed on the inside, too. Nothing to show that she'd been hurt.

That she'd been used. That it had been worse than she'd expected.

And that the husband that hurt her had not been the one she'd thought.

She remembered how upset Janice had been when the imposter Kirk had tried to rape her. Jim had told her it had not been an imposter, that he'd been split in half, strong and weak. That the one who'd gone after Janice had been his strong half. His cruel half.

That hadn't been the Jim she'd been with, but she wondered if he thought it was.

She'd been with a human under Vulcan compulsion. A human who'd had to fight the compulsion for too long. They'd planned but they'd planned wrong.

Which all sounded fine until she closed her eyes and saw him over her, face screwed up, holding her down, lips hard on hers. Not stopping, never stopping.

But for Spock...

Len was right. Now was not the time for her husbands to be in sickbay. She turned away from the mirror, dried off, and put on the clean pajamas. When she came out, Len was in his office and he waved her in.

"Bet it feels good to be clean."

She nodded.

"Lotsa time to think in a shower."

She nodded again.

"Hold your hand up."

She did. It was trembling violently.

He passed her the hypo she'd loaded during the pon farr. "Now you can have this."

She pressed it into her arm, felt the haziness fill her. "I'm terrified of Jim."

"I know. He's terrified of you, too. Of what he did to you."

"What am I going to do? I can't stay in here forever."

He held his hand out for the hypo, reached into his desk, loaded it up again, and handed it back to her. "Sleep. Let your brain sort things out without you getting in the way."

She slammed the hypo against her arm, as if punishing herself for needing it.

The haze turned to something darker. She could barely keep her eyes open. She felt Len take her arm. "Come on, darlin'."

"Don't let them in."

"I won't. Don't worry."

She got to the bed just before the blackness hit.

##

Christine stood at the door to their quarters. They weren't expecting her. She'd told Len not to tell them she was coming home tonight.

She palmed the door open, found them both working silently, one on each side of the room. There was a tension between them, but it was the kind that had been given time to settle and grow cold. Len had been wrong: they'd worked nothing out while she'd been away from them. She could tell just by looking.

They both were surprised to see her. Spock didn't bother hiding it. A myriad of emotions passed over Jim's face, none of them particularly good.

"I'm home." She stood in the doorway, unsure what to do, but when she saw Spock start to move, she moved first, coming into the room to stand between them. She knew she could not favor Spock.

Even if she wanted to. Even if somehow he suddenly stood for savior to her.

"I'm hungry. Have you eaten?" She looked at Jim then at Spock. "I want to have dinner with my husbands."

"I'm not hungry." Jim went back to his padd.

"That's really not what I asked." She could hear her voice shake but didn't move. "And I really don't fucking care if you're not hungry."

"Christine." Spock rose, his hand out.

"I assume you're hungry?"

"I am."

"Excellent. One on board, then."

Jim didn't look up.

"What's the matter, Captain? Afraid of a little meal?"

Jim stood up so suddenly he kicked his chair over. He tried to move past her, but she grabbed his arm. "Goddamn it, Christine."

"You don't get to run away. I didn't get to, Jim. So you don't get to. We have to face this."

"What? That I raped you?"

Spock sat down slowly.

"You didn't rape me."

"Didn't I?" He reached for her, the way he always did when he wanted to kiss her. He watched her intently as he did it. "You look terrified."

"That's because I am terrified. The Pon Farr was traumatic. That does not mean it was rape. You were not yourself. But that doesn't mean you didn't hurt me. These may be semantics, but they are semantics that matter." She swallowed hard. "We just have to work through this. And if you won't stay, we can't."

"Why do you want me to? I hurt you."

"Spock hurt me, too. By the end of my time with him. But I had a chance to heal myself. I just didn't expect you to...I wasn't ready. It's not your fault."

He looked down. "I'm not hungry, Christine. Go eat with Spock."

"So you can wallow? When did you get to be such a coward?"

"Christine, he does not deserve that."

"Shut up!" She whirled on Spock. "God damn it. I just want to eat with both of you. I've been alone for days. Is that too much to ask?" She turned and went to the door. "Fine. Just stay here and don't talk and let it fester and kill us. I don't care." She walked out and went to the mess.

Hoping to God that her husbands cared enough about their marriage to come after her.

They didn't.

She slept on one of the cots in sickbay that night.

##

She went into their quarters the next morning once she was sure they were on the bridge. Moved around the room, touching things that used to be theirs and now just felt like his or hers or his.

The door opened and she turned around, saw that it was Spock. He did not seem surprised to see her.

"I came for some of my things," she said. "I've had the quartermaster assign me some temporary quarters."

He frowned. "Upon whose authority?" He and Jim were the ones who would normally sign such orders.

"Yours, actually. You shouldn't borrow my padds so often. I copied one of your old requests."

"That is improper."

"Well, feel free to throw me in the brig, Spock. I'll be happy to tell anyone who asks why I did it."

"All you had to do was ask me."

"And make you the bad guy with Jim? No thanks." She grabbed a carryall. "How is he?"

"You saw how he is."

"How are you two? I mean together. You having sex?"

"No."

"Are you sleeping in the same bed?"

"As you know, I do not need much sleep."

"Are you even talking? You weren't when I walked in."

He didn't answer.

"We're just falling apart all over, then, aren't we?" She turned. "Thank you, by the way. For helping me. For saving me." She went back to throwing things in her bag.

"I was afraid for you."

"Well, I was afraid for me, too, so we're even."

"Christine, do not go. I do not want our marriage to end."

"Neither do I. But I can't stay here, in this tiny room when the atmosphere is so damn toxic. I want all of us to talk. I want us to figure this out. But we need space to do that, I think."

"Do you still love me?"

"You or both of you?"

He had to think about that. "Me."

"I love both of you."

He forged on as if she had answered his original question. "If Jim were to ask us to leave, would you stay with me?"

She narrowed her eyes. "Is he going to ask us to leave?"

"It is possible. He will want to keep the ship if he gives us up."

"Why does he need to give us up?" She sat down on the bed. "Shit. Are you serious? This isn't some game of yours to get me to stay here and not move to guest quarters?"

"He is struggling. He cannot get past what he did to you."

"It wasn't him. He didn't mean to."

"I know this. You know this. Somewhere perhaps he knows this—but he does not feel this and that is what we are dealing with."

She sighed loudly. "Okay, this is how it goes down. We're going to talk. In the bed I bought when you two left and didn't come back."

He had the grace to look slightly sheepish.

"I'll mix the drug cocktail that'll get him relaxed enough to open up. You get him here. If it takes all night we talk this through."

He nodded. "And if he wants to have sex in that mood, once we've talked this through?"

"Then we will have sex, and you, mister, are going to have to give us the meld of all melds, down-to-the-bond level meld. Remind me why I'm not afraid of him—or of you."

"Are you afraid of me?"

"Not right now. You stopped him. But once we start having sex, I don't know. I might flash back." She shrugged.

"I understand."

She walked to him, touched his arm. "Our part, it wasn't bad. You went out of your way for me. I think we'll be fine. With him, things just spiraled out of control."

"Yes."

"So have him here after shift. I'll meet you here." She turned to go.

He stopped her. "I need to hold you."

"And I need to be held. But holding would turn into kissing, and I don't want to do that now. I don't want to cheat on Jim."

He nodded and moved past her to the door. Then he turned to look at her, the door bumping his hip softly. "You did not answer my question. If this does not work and he asks us to transfer, will you stay with me?"

She met his eyes and sighed softly. "Yes."

##

Christine was in the lab when Len found her.

He stood for a moment, watching her work, then said, "Oh, sweetie, you are playing with fire."

"My fire to play with."

"You're going to use that on Jim, I take it?"

"Nothing wrong with your deductive reasoning."

"Highly. Unethical."

"Fighting for my marriage. Don't really care." She turned to look at him. "Spock thinks he's going to transfer us off."

"You're his spouses. He can't just transfer you off. Moreover, he wouldn't."

"I know him well enough to think he could. Or he can make it uncomfortable enough—cold enough—that we beg for it." She laughed, a short, brittle expulsion of air that barely qualified as amusement. "Not like it hasn't happened before when he's let someone get too close, cared too much. Janice. Ensign Garrovick. Helen Noel. Will Decker being the latest case. Oh, forgot one: Lieutenant Moreau."

"How the devil do you know about her?"

"Compared Jim's logs to transfer dates." She finished with the concoction. "He may transfer me off for doing this to him."

"And I'll back him one hundred percent."

She turned to look at him. "I want what we had back."

"It's only been a few days, Christine. For God's sake give it some time. Give him some time."

"You didn't see him. He's gone, Len. He's so deep in whatever emotion he's wallowing in, that's he's never coming back. Not without help. And Spock's not willing to do it."

"That's because Spock—" Len looked away.

"I know. Something's changed. Spock seems to want me for himself. But I think that's protection. I think he's shaken by what he saw. Jim was his rock as much as mine. And he's sunken as deeply as Jim is in whatever dark emotional place he's gone to. Scarily, I'm the sanest one of the bunch at the moment." She dug into her pocket, pulled out another hypo. "This one's for Spock."

Len closed his eyes, but when he opened them again, there was a trace of amused admiration in the disapproval. "I should put you in the brig."

"Maybe you should. I might even welcome it. Not having to do this." She swallowed hard. "I'm not sure I want to hear what they have to say. What if they would rather I leave? I'll be straight with you, Len. When we were rescued off that ice world, Jim and Spock left me. I was abandoned and the only reason they came back for me was because Jim lost the Enterprise. He chose Spock, and he said then it was because Spock was on the ship, but what if it wasn't? What if they're the primary pair and I'm just the girlfriend?"

"That's not how it works."

"But what if it is? What if that's what I find out? The truth is going to be out there, in the middle of us, of our marriage. Nothing in these hypos will take their memories away. Or mine."

He studied her. "You've been living with these doubts all this time?"

"No. Jim and Spock came back to me and I guess I buried these feelings. It's been so good with them. I love them. I love them more than I thought I could ever love one person, much less two. That's why I have to do this. I'm a rip the bandage off fast person, you know that."

"How's that worked out for you?"

"Stop it."

He held out his hand for the hypos. "Just wait a day. If you still want to do it, I'll give these back to you."

She shook her head.

"I need to talk to Jim, then. Not about this. I just want to see where his head's at. You're not going to shoot me full of something to stop me, are you?"

She laughed softly. "No. If you can tell me you think he'll come around, I'll delay this."

"Okay. Just give me time."

She nodded, put the hypos in her pocket, and went back to work.

##

"Kirk to Chapel."

She frowned, looked around to see if Len was in his office. He wasn't. Damn it all. What had he done? She hit the annunciator. "Chapel here."

"Please come to our quarters now."

"I'm a little busy."

"Maybe you don't recognize an order when you hear one, Lieutenant."

She closed her eyes, said, "Aye-aye, sir. I'll be there on the double." She locked the hypos away in her desk drawer—no telling what Len had told Jim, but she was not going to get caught with the evidence—and hurried to their quarters.

Jim sat alone, staring at the star stream. "Hello, Christine."

"Jim."

He turned. His face was not that of her husband, but of the captain of the Enterprise. "I've talked it over with Bones. You'll be assigned to Gamma shift until further notice."

She tried and failed to keep her jaw from dropping open. "And Spock?"

"I need Spock to stay on Alpha shift. Believe me, he'd be on Beta shift if I could spare him."

"Nice." She saw two carryalls packed by the door. She'd walked right by them as she came in. "Those?"

"Your things. You said the other day this place was too small. I agree: right now it is. I've assigned you quarters of your own. Spock, too. Feel free to move in with him if you need to. We're married, after all. Not like you'll be cheating on me when I'm the one sending you away."

"Why are you doing this?"

"I had a good talk with Bones. He let me see I need to do this. To show that I was serious about keeping you on the ship but need time to process what happened. Those were his exact words. I find them...concerning. I also found his urgency concerning. What did you have planned? Some kind of...intervention?"

She knew her expression gave away too much. "Jim, we need to talk. We don't need to be exiled."

He got up, walked over to her. Stood just far enough away that he wasn't in her personal space and she didn't feel threatened. "I hurt you. I have nightmares about how I hurt you. And I hurt Spock, too. Trying to get to you to hurt you some more." He shook his head. "I love the two of you more than anything. I went into that room wanting to protect you. And I'm the thing that hurt you."

His eyes were shining with the rawest pain she'd ever seen. She reached out for him, and he let her touch his neck and pull him close. They stood for a moment, foreheads resting against each other.

"I love you," he whispered. "I just need time. Don't force me. Please don't force me."

"All right." She pulled away.

"Don't be mad at Bones, Christine. He loves you so much. You have no idea how protective he's been of you. Let him protect me now."

She nodded.

"And I meant it. About Spock. And I'll tell him the same thing. You need to have sex. You need to have sex that isn't cruel and hard. And for now, he's the one who didn't hurt you. Let him hold you. Let him love you. I'll be back. I just don't know when."

She looked down, was trying not to cry. "I love you."

"And I love you. I do. I married you. This is not me abandoning you. But you don't get to decide when I'm ready to come back, when I'm ready to be...loved again." He shook his head and turned back to the star stream.

"Jim?"

"Yes?"

"I really am going to come up with Plan B."

She heard him laugh. A small laugh but still a laugh.

If it meant they were looking anywhere close to the future, it was a start.

##

She carried her bags to her new quarters. Len was waiting by the turbolift.

"You still talking to me?"

"You're my boss. I have to talk to you."

"Not what I meant."

She sighed and handed him one of her carryalls. "Yes, I'm still talking to you. I take it you didn't tell him about the hypos."

"Nope. Just told him he was going to lose you two if he didn't do something."

"Old busybody."

"Hey, who you calling old?" He smiled at her. Then his smile changed. "Someone's waiting for you."

She looked up. Spock was waiting at the door to her quarters. When they reached him, Len handed him her carryall and said, "Have a good evening, you two," and headed back down the corridor.

"My quarters are just there," Spock said, pointing across the hall.

"Convenient."

"Indeed." Spock was looking at her with no apparent attempt to hide his need for her.

"Come in." She put her carryall down, heard him do the same, had barely turned before he'd caught her up in his arms, holding her tightly, head buried in her neck.

"I have missed you so," he said.

She resisted asking if he missed Jim just as much or more. It didn't matter. Jim wasn't here. He'd be here, hopefully, someday. But for now, it was just she and Spock.

She nuzzled his cheek, worked her way to his ear and heard him sigh. He lifted his face to her and they kissed. He seemed to be going out of his way to keep the pace slow, the touches gentle.

He sat on the bed, pulled her astride him and she wrapped her arms and legs around him as they kissed for a long time, getting reacquainted.

"I've missed you, too, Spock," she murmured between kisses. "I love you."

"Do you wish to go further?" He was rubbing under her uniform top, his hands hot against her skin.

"That feels good. Touching me. Holding me. Sleeping with me would be nice—not to be alone in bed. But maybe sex some other time?" She looked down. "I'm sorry."

He tilted her chin up. "Do not be sorry. I would not have asked if I had not wanted an honest answer." He looked around her quarters. "Do you wish to live here or with me?"

"With you," she whispered, as if it was a crime to want to be with the husband who still wanted her with him.

"Good. I want that as well." He eased her off his lap, rose and picked up her carryalls and led her across the hall. He changed the door access to allow her entry before anything else, then asked her if she was hungry.

"I am but I don't want to go to the mess."

He dug in the carryall Jim had packed for him, found a nutrition bar. She chewed it slowly while he made room in his drawers and closet for her.

"Are we cheating on him?"

"We are not. Primarily because he told us to do this. But also, were any of us to be assigned somewhere away from the rest, the remaining two would revert to a pairing."

Like when they left her on Earth and went back to the ship. God, why couldn't she let that go?

He walked over to her. "We are maintaining our marriage. When Jim is ready, we will be waiting for him. And we will be in a healthier place than we are now, more fit to welcome him back. You know this is true."

She smiled. "You can rationalize anything."

"Admittedly. But I am also right." He eyed the nutrition bar. "I am hungry, too."

She held it out to him, smiled as he took a bite. "I've missed you."

"And I have missed you. More than you know."

They finished the bar and climbed into bed naked. She thought it would be strange disrobing in front of him with everything between them, but he pulled her uniform off very clinically, then his own just as dispassionately. As they lay in bed, he let his hands roam everywhere, soothing and loving but never lingering anywhere designed to arouse her—although she could tell he was aroused, but they both ignored it.

As she lay cuddled against him, he fell asleep, one arm slung around her, holding her tightly to him. She could count the number of times he had fallen asleep before she did on one hand. She wondered if he had slept at all since the Pon Farr.

##

She felt Spock getting out of bed, turned and said, "What time is it?"

"It is...you still have time..." He was half out of the bed, turned away. "If you will excuse me for a moment?"

"Spock?" She pulled him back. "If you just have to go to the bathroom, that's fine. But if you're going in there to...take care of things, tell me that."

He let out a ragged breath. "I underestimated what being near you again would feel like."

"And you're going to go in there and handle it all by yourself?"

"I do not wish to burden you."

She pulled him back into bed. "Well, let's leave that as option two, shall we?" She kissed him slowly, made it as good a kiss as she could make it.

He actually moaned.

"Make me ready, Spock. Go slow. When you take me, go slow."

"You could take me. Control this."

"True. But I think it's important that you control this, and that you do that and not hurt me. I think we both need you to be able to multitask in that area, don't you think?"

"You are probably correct."

"Just probably?" She moaned; he was already kissing down her body, had reached her chest.

"Most certainly correct." He gave himself over to sucking, to kissing, to reaching down and using his elegant fingers to make her ready.

It took her longer than usual to relax, but he was infinitely patient. His kisses were never rushed, he found new ways to move his fingers until she suddenly felt it, the build up of tension, the coming explosion.

"Yes," he said, watching her as if she was the only thing in his world. "Yes, Christine."

He found an even better rhythm and she fell and fell, almost crying in relief—she'd tried this by herself, could not get even remotely close. Had been afraid she might never get close again.

He rubbed his fingers over her chest, then sucked where he'd done it while her insides became a little less sensitive. Then she pulled him onto her, helped him slide into her, slowly, so slowly. He moved as if she would break, and she didn't mind.

Once he was in, as he smoothed her hair off her face and kissed her, she did start crying.

"Are you all right? Do you wish me to...?" He started to withdraw.

She wrapped her legs around him, holding him in place. "I was so afraid I wouldn't be able to." She pulled him down to her, kissed him with a passion she could tell surprised him. "Love me."

He smiled. A real, honest-to-God smile. "This is not a difficult request, Christine." And then he started to move. Gently, but enough so she felt it, so he clearly felt it, too. He closed his eyes, his mouth slipped open just a bit, and he moved with intent. With each gentle thrust, he came closer and closer until finally he groaned and let himself go, slumping onto her.

She could tell he was afraid he was hurting her, so she held him tightly, letting him rest, still inside her, her arms and legs wrapped around him as they kissed lazily. "I love you," she murmured.

"I love you, too," he said, and his eyes as he looked at her were filled with a peace that had been missing for days. "It was good."

"It was very good, Spock." She smiled as she let him go.

He rolled off her, pulling her with him, so they lay cradled together on their sides. "I may wake again. My need for you is great."

"I don't mind." She kissed him, could already feel her eyes closing.

She felt his lips on hers as she surrendered to sleep.

##

Christine was in the mess when she realized someone was standing by her table. She looked up, saw it was Jim. "Hi."

"Hi. Want company?"

"I'd love company."

"Spock joining you?" He looked around the mess.

"No, he's in the lab."

"Not that I don't want him here." He seemed in a rush to say that.

"Of course not." This was beyond awkward. It used to be so easy to talk to him.

He smiled at her. He looked tan and fit. She knew he'd been working out a lot, spending time in the sunroom. It was good for depression and working out frustrations, she just hoped he wasn't overdoing it.

"You look good," she said.

"You, too." He reached for the pepper, applied it liberally to his salad. "You moved in with Spock?"

"I did. We're married, after all. Just waiting for you now."

"You guys look good together. Happy." He met her eyes. "You're sleeping with him, right? I mean...sex not just slumber."

She nodded.

"And you're okay?"

"I am."

"Just okay or really fine."

"I'm really fine. I was afraid that I wouldn't be. But I am."

He looked down, seemed to be playing with his lettuce. "Do you think you'll be really fine with me...I mean when I'm ready to come home?"

Home. They were still home to him. She smiled "I think so. I think you were smart. If we'd done it my way, I probably wouldn't have been ready. This was better. Ease me back into it."

"Good I'm glad." He looked down. "But the thing is, you and Spock have this time now. I'll never have it."

"You and Spock had the Enterprise before you came back to include me again. I'll never have that. How is it different?"

He seemed surprised at the bitterness in her voice.

She smiled, tried to take some of the sting from her words. "There may be times when we're not all together. And we deal with it then. Right now, Spock and I are a couple. But we're missing you. We're happy. We could be happier, though. And I know you know that." She pushed her tray away, suddenly not hungry. "Our bed feels...small."

He smiled gently. "Our bed feels way too big for one person."

"Well, hopefully we'll get three back in it pretty soon." She looked down. "Or do you just want Spock?"

"What?"

"You didn't change his shift. I know you said he's crucial but still. If you don't want me in this anymore, would you tell me?"

"How can you even think that? I watch you and Spock—I don't think you are even aware how together you two look—and I feel left out. I wonder if I'm wanted. You loved him first, Christine."

She sighed. "I don't just want Spock. I want us all back together the way we were."

"It'll never be the way it was." He looked down.

"Okay, I accept that. I want us all back together the way it is now and how it will be. We've been through something awful. And, Jim, the hellish thing is that in seven years, give or take, we're going to go through it again. We weren't ready for it this time because we thought love could conquer all. Next time, we'll know better. Love and a better plan will conquer all."

He shot her a crooked smile. "How can you be the practical one here? You're the one who got hurt the most."

"I'm not sure that's true, Jim. I'm not sure that's true at all." She reached out her hand to him, palm up.

He took her hand, squeezed it, watching her face the whole time, seemed unaccountably relieved when her expression didn't change, when she didn't flinch at his touch.

"I love you, Jim Kirk. I want us all back in our bed. Spock is wonderful, but I miss you—and he does, too."

"You're the best wife I could have picked."

"Damned straight." She eyed the cookies on his plate. "Can I have one of those?"

"You think I'm going to share?"

She batted her eyelashes at him in an obvious display.

He laughed and said, "Oh, all right."

She let go of his hand and snatched one. As she ate it happily, he started to talk, hesitantly at first, but then more comfortably. Not about anything in particular, just normal ship stuff.

Normal ship stuff had never sounded so wonderful.

##

Christine knew that Jim and Spock would be on the bridge until they were ready to head to Starbase 16 for the mandatory sector meeting. They'd be gone for two days. Not long, but long enough.

She hurried to their old quarters, palmed the door, and was happy to see Jim had not taken her off. She took a moment to look around. It seemed empty with her and Spock's things gone. The bed must seem very big to Jim when he went to sleep at night.

She didn't have time for getting sappy. The shuttle would be here soon and her husbands would be on it. She went to the nightstand on the far side of the bed, where they'd always kept their "toys." Everything was still there. She felt a pang at the thought that Jim hadn't moved anything, at the idea of nostalgia. She had almost hoped she'd find some of the things gone, that they'd have thought of this themselves, but the selfish part of her was glad they hadn't.

She could give this to them.

She grabbed what she needed, shoved it in the small shaving kit she'd brought, and hurried to the transporter room, just in time to meet Jim and Spock as they got off the turbo lift.

"Christine?" Jim's smile was easy. They'd been spending more time together since he'd found her in the mess. The three of them. The two of them. A lunch here. A breakfast there. Jim had even put her back on Alpha shift.

She handed him the shaving kit. "You forgot something, dear." She was trying not to laugh.

He peeked into the case, showed it to Spock who raised an eyebrow at the selection of lubes she'd shoved in there. "Perhaps on purpose. Don't you want us to wait for you?"

She smiled, felt a small part of her say that "Yes, yes she did," but she ignored it. "Use the time. Reforge your own relationship. It's important." She looked at Spock. "You know I'm right."

"I do." He looked at Jim. "She is right."

Jim pulled her to him, a tight hug—one he immediately started to let go, as if he'd forgotten about everything that had happened.

So she pulled him tighter, letting him know it was okay. "I love you. Now get out of here and have fun."

He kissed her quickly on the lips and said, "I love you, too." Then he walked into the transporter room.

Spock's lips ticked up. "You are generous."

"It's part of the arrangement, I think." She moved closer. "I had you all this time to myself. He should have you for a few days. Use them well, husband."

"I shall. You will be all right?"

"Of course I will be. I'm surrounded by friends." She felt him take her hand; the way they were standing hid the movement from anyone.

He squeezed her hand gently. "I have never had cause to regret our marriage, Christine. Never."

She squeezed back and then let him go. "Get out of here, mister."

"I will see you soon."

He turned, went into the transporter room. She knew they'd be gone in moments. With a deep breath, she went back to work.

Once her shift ended, she went back to the quarters she shared with Spock, found herself at loose ends without him there so she walked to the mess hall.

She saw Uhura and Rand sitting at a table near the back and went over. "Hey, room for me?"

Rand looked up, her smile not entirely welcoming. "You've been pretty distant lately."

Uhura nodded.

"Okay. So no room for me." She turned on her heel and walked out. There were auxiliary messes. She could grab something and go.

"Christine, damn it, wait up." Rand was running after her. "Look, of course there's room for you. But we know something's been going on and you won't talk to us. You were in sickbay, for God's sake after you and Spock and the captain disappeared. And you did not talk to us."

"I'm married to a Vulcan and the most private man I know. I couldn't have talked to you about this, even if I'd wanted to, which I didn't. Some things you have to work out inside the marriage."

Rand tried staring her down, which often in the past had made Christine crack, but Christine knew she'd changed a lot since she'd married her men, and never more than over the past month.

"Okay, just tell me two things. One: are you okay? You Christine? And two: is your marriage okay?"

"I'm fine. The marriage...I can't really—"

Rand held up her hand. "Fair enough. As long as you're okay."

"I'm fine."

Rand studied her, then seemed to relax. "Okay. Come back in and let Ny and I regale you with tales of how we crashed and burned with Rondeson trying to recreate what you and your boys have. That guy was a jerk."

"I wondered what happened to him."

"The husband you don't appear to be currently living with transferred him off. We had nothing to do with it. Man brought it on himself. Real fuck-up on top of being a jerk."

Christine smiled and followed Rand back into the mess.

Uhura smiled at her when they got back to the table. "I got you cake. You can get whatever else you want, but they were almost out of that, and it's your favorite, and you looked like you could really use some chocolate."

Christine was touched. "Thank you."

"You're welcome." Uhura looked at Rand. "She all right?"

"Standing right here."

Rand gave a shrug that clearly said, "Tell you later." Then she started to laugh. "I told her we'd regale her with Rondeson is an asshole stories."

"Oh my God. We've got so much to catch you up on. Go get your dinner so we can talk while you eat."

Christine grabbed something and got back to the table as quickly as she could, happy to spend the evening laughing at the comedy team that was Ny and Jan skewering love gone wrong.

##

Christine felt someone crawling into bed with her, hot rather than warm hands on her hip told her it was Spock. "You're back."

"I am."

She rolled over, cuddled against him. "No Jim?"

"I asked him to wait."

She lifted her eyebrow in what she thought was a creditable copy of his, then realized he couldn't see it in the near total darkness. "Why?"

"Because tomorrow I am going to beam over to the Tananarivo for a science symposium that is being run in conjunction with the sector meetings. I had not originally intended to attend but...changed my mind. I will be gone a week." He began to kiss her neck. "The week will be time you and Jim can put to good use. I hope that when I come back, it will be to find my things once more in our quarters, not these quarters."

"That would be nice."

"Yes, it would." He kissed her tenderly.

When he finally pulled away, she asked, "So you had a nice time with him?"

"I did. You were wise to have us reconnect during our period away."

She smiled. "I am wise. But it was only fair. I had you all to myself, so he should, too. Is that why you're going away? I can't imagine you're going to learn much from anyone on the Tananarivo."

"You are a snob, Christine. There will be scientists from many ships in the sector. But as you say, it is possible I was seeking a pretext to give you time alone with Jim. Not just because it seemed fair. But because I believe it is critical for your and his relationship that you not have a referee when you resume having sex. He needs to know he can moderate himself. You need to know that, too."

"Do you know that?"

"I do. You are fine. He is fine. You will both be fine together. If you can let go of whatever fear you have left. Which, since you are exceptionally strong and intelligent individuals, I have faith that you can."

He pushed her to her back, whispered, "You do not mind if I indulge myself, do you?"

"I don't mind."

"It does me no credit to say this, Christine, but there is a part of me that has enjoyed our time together, just the two of us. Had we ended up leaving, I would have done my utmost to make you happy."

"I know. Me, too." She pulled him down to her. "Let's not talk about that anymore. It didn't happen. Love me?"

"I do love you." He followed up his words with actions. Melding with her, loving her until morning, when he rose, showered, packed some things, gave her a last, lingering kiss goodbye, and headed off to the transporter room to beam over to the Tananarivo for the symposium.

##

Christine ran into Jim in the mess at breakfast. She felt like a teenager again, gawky and tongue tied.

He smiled at her. "Good morning."

"Hi."

"Spock get off okay?" His smile told her he meant that in every possible way she could take it.

"Oh, he did," she said, trying not to laugh.

"Good. Sit with me?" When she nodded, he led her to a booth. "I feel like a teenager on a first date. With my own wife."

She laughed and nodded. "I know. My palms are sweating."

He held up his orange juice. "To new beginnings?"

She clinked her coffee mug against it. "Chin chin."

They drank, not looking away.

"So there's a party tonight in the rec lounge. Be my date?"

"You don't want to try your luck with someone new? Jan and Ny are free now that Rondeson's gone."

"I think I'll stick with the woman I have." He winked at her. "I happen to love her."

"That's good. She happens to love you, too."

"Does she still like me?"

"She does."

He reached out, and she took his hand, felt no hesitation as he pulled her toward him a bit so he could lift her hand to his lips. It was an uncharacteristic gesture for him to make—he usually saved displays of affection for private when they were onboard the ship. "I have missed you so goddamn much."

"Me, too."

He let her hand go. "There will be dancing tonight. Wear shoes you can dance in."

She smiled. She loved dancing with him. Vertically or horizontally.

"Can you wear your blue dress? It's still in our quarters."

"I can wear that."

"Come to our quarters and change. I'll meet you there." He seemed to read some hesitation on her face. "We'll take this as slowly as you need to. But it makes more sense than carrying it back to your quarters, doesn't it?"

"Not really. But I know why you want me to do it."

He smiled in a way that nearly broke her heart. "I'm lonely there."

"I imagine you are."

"I lived alone for so long. Just me and the ship. But then there was you and Spock on the planet. And then there was Spock on the ship. And then the two of you, on Earth, and then here. To go from that to alone..."

"Alone—while Spock and I were together. I'm sorry for that."

"No, I didn't mean to make you sorry. And you did have to get used to it—when Spock and I were on the ship and you were at med school. We never talked about that once we came back. I never realized how angry you still were."

"I'm not usually angry about it. It was just when it got bad that it came back up."

"And it was me you were angry with."

"Yep." She looked down. "You made the choice, not Spock."

"I did. I made the choice." He sighed. "You'd already chosen med school."

"I didn't say my anger was logical." She smiled. "I'm not angry now."

"Good." He looked down, then up, his eyes narrowed. "You remember when you told me you thought Spock loved me best?"

She nodded.

"Do you still think that?"

"I don't know."

"I don't think you should. He loves you, Christine. That first night, when you were in sickbay recovering. When he and I were in our quarters. He was so angry at me—but mostly at himself. That he'd let that happen to you. When Bones wouldn't let him into sickbay, I thought I'd have one dead McCoy on my hands."

"He's still alive so...?"

"He stood up to Spock. Stubborn, suicidal coot." He smiled. "Looking out for me. I'd have died if you'd turned to Spock and shut me out."

"I probably would have right then." She hated saying it, but it was truth and she didn't want to lie to him. "I was afraid of you."

"I'd have been, too."

"Len saved us. Several times. We owe him a really nice dinner."

"We owe him more than that. Call our firstborn after him or something."

She laughed. "I'm sorry, am I pregnant?"

"No, but maybe someday? A son or a daughter, maybe both? A month ago, I wouldn't have been able to see that happening. Now I can. Time...it really does heal all wounds." He held out his hand again, seemed desperate to touch her. "So does love."

She took his hand and squeezed it gently. "Yes, so does love."

##

She was running late, got to their quarters at the same time Jim did. "I'm sorry. Last minute gym accident. Why do they have to race each other up the ropes just before my shift ends?"

"Who is it? I'll put them on report. Although if this means I get to watch you put your dress on...?" His smile faded. "Sorry, that was me slipping into the old routine."

"I don't mind the old routine."

"You don't?"

"I liked the old routine. You can watch, but you can't touch."

"I can't touch?" He was grinning.

"Not yet." As she teased him, she felt the nervousness falling off. This felt good. This felt right. Happy and light and easy.

"Hmmm. Well." He palmed open the door, let her go first. "Can I touch you later?"

"You can dance with me?"

"And after that?"

She shrugged in the most flirtatious manner she knew, trying to get back the playfulness they'd first had on Thule. It worked; he laughed, his grin lighting up the room.

She put her hands on his shoulders, pushed him down on the bed. "No touching." Then she leaned down and gave him a long kiss.

He moaned but he did not touch her even as she ran her fingers through his hair and down to his neck. "You are a devil."

She smiled and walked away, putting a bit more sashay into her step than she might normally. She heard him groan. She found the dress, pulled it out. "This one?"

He nodded.

She decided not to make the changing too sexy. She did want them to get out of this room and to the party. As good as kissing him was, she wasn't sure she was ready for sex just yet.

She stepped out of her uniform and slipped the dress over her head. "I suspend the no touching rule. Will you zip me up?"

He got up and walked over, zipping her up very slowly, his lips touching down on the back of her neck, making her shiver. "Do you want your hair down?"

She nodded.

He took the clips out, played with her hair for a moment, then turned her. Leaning in—and she knew it was to test her—he kissed her. And it wasn't a sweet or gentle kiss. It was full of the passion she knew was bottled up inside him.

For a moment, she hesitated. Then she let go and met him all the way. She felt him relax in her arms, and he let her go with a smile.

She rubbed his back, down low where it always bothered him after sitting in the chair all day, and then went into the bathroom, watching him change in the mirror as she freshened her makeup.

He came in and stood behind her, smiling at her, and she leaned back against him, closing her eyes when he began to play just a little, his hands roaming across her chest, down the length of the dress and then up under and under her panties and—

Her knees nearly buckled but he held her, was watching her intently, and she knew it was as much to make sure she wasn't frightened as to know where she was.

She was on the edge, nowhere to go but over the cliff, when he whispered, "I would have done this for you, Christine. I would have." And then he sent her over and held her while she fell. "I should have done this for you," he murmured into her neck, no longer watching her.

She turned around, breathing hard, still shaky, and made him look at her. "You had no choice. You would have, there is no way you would not have made me ready, Jim. You waited so long for me while Spock had me. I don't know how you waited that long. Stop beating yourself up over it." She reached down, found him half ready for her. "Stop it." She pushed him out to the bed, undoing his pants as she went.

"Christine, you don't have to."

"Jim, shut up. That's an order. From your wife."

He smiled as she pushed him onto the bed, as she told him to scoot up, as she pulled his legs apart and crawled between them and took him in her mouth. "Oh, God," he said, the words mostly moan.

Half ready became ready in no time. She knew they should wait. She knew they should dance and be romantic and probably write a love sonnet or two. But they'd never been that before. They started on an ice-world when going without sex had proven untenable. They were made of harsher stuff than nice dresses and romantic evenings.

She pulled her panties aside and slid onto him. He opened his eyes, shocked, she could tell.

"I don't want to wait. Is this all right?"

He started to laugh. And it was a sound of pure joy and relief and amazement. "What idiot would say no to you?" He laughed again and she realized his eyes were just a little bit bright.

As she moved on him, controlling the pace, she leaned down and kissed him, their tongues meeting desperately, his hands everywhere on her, pulling the dress up so he could see her, finally pulling it off her.

"So beautiful."

She was moving slowly, on purpose, building him up just enough to keep him moving in the right direction without making him come too soon. Then she slipped off him, kicked off her panties, rolled to her back, and pulled him on top of her.

She saw the doubt in his eyes, so she wrapped her legs around him and gave him a stern look. "Do I have to do all the work here, Jim?" She reached down, touching him, teasing him, playing with him.

He closed his eyes, smiling as she worked. Then he moved into her, moving carefully, too carefully.

"Harder."

"No."

"I won't break."

"No."

She started to squeeze with every muscle she could use down there.

"Christine, damn it." He was breathing hard. "Stop it or you'll make me come."

She stopped. "Jim, please. You used to do it harder without hurting me. There's a difference between mindless fucking and good fucking."

"And you'll tell me when I hit the mindless?"

"Yes, I will tell you. Trust me on that."

He still looked doubtful.

She kissed him, licking across his top lip the way that made him crazy, murmuring, "Jim, please," as she pulled him down, finally felt him ease her legs up, around his shoulders. "Oh, God." She loved this way—he was taking her at her word.

"Tell me if it hurts."

She nodded and he started again. This time going deeper, and harder. And she smiled and threw her head back, moaning and sighing and murmuring, "Yes, yes," so he wouldn't mistake her sounds for anything but pleasure.

She came again, and then he followed her, easing her legs off his shoulders, stroking her face as they lay together. "That was so good."

"It was." His expression was one of pleased relief. Which changed to one of pure happiness as he moved in to kiss her.

They kissed for a long time, touching and stroking, reestablishing the connection they'd lost for the time they'd been apart.

"I missed you, Jim."

He closed his eyes. "I missed you. So much." He pushed a tendril of damp hair off her cheek. "So I guess we're not going dancing, huh?"

"I thought that's what we were doing."

He laughed. It was a beautiful sound. "You're right. My mistake."

##

She woke the next morning, Jim's arm tightly around her, his chest pressed to her back. She felt him stir as she did, realized the chrono was going off softly. He reached behind him and turned it off.

"Good morning," he said, kissing her neck.

"It feels early. Is it?"

"Well, we didn't get much sleep last night." He chuckled as he nuzzled her throat. "But it is early. I've been setting it an hour ahead so I could go to the gym. Helped me work off some of the tension." He began to play, letting his fingers find their way down her body.

She moved a little, to give him better access to her, then he shifted her even more and she felt him against her, ready.

As he played, he murmured, "I was so jealous of you and Spock. I told you to be together, but I was jealous of you. Stupid, isn't it?"

"Human," she managed to get out.

He shifted her a little more, then himself until he was...there, with her. She moaned. He went back to playing as he moved.

He kissed her neck, just under her ear. "Did you really think I'd send you away?"

"I don't know. You...you retreat sometimes. Disappear inside yourself as far as your emotions go. And you were so hurt by what you did."

"What I did to you. And to Spock—although he at least could get me off him when he needed a break. He was strong enough. You didn't have that luxury." He was moving slowly, as if they could go forever while they talked this out.

She leaned her head back, and he kissed her cheek. "I'm glad we didn't have to find out if you'd let us leave or make us leave." She began to press backwards, heard his quick intake of air. "Less talking, more thrusting."

"You are the only woman I know who would say that."

"Which is why you married me. Now shut up."

He laughed and began to go in earnest, moving his fingers in the rhythm he'd perfected on Thule, finishing her in moments, following her not too long after. They lay together, panting, and she put her arm over his, felt this deep need to hold onto this moment—she'd learned that things could change in a flash. Love might not conquer all, so appreciate what you had when you had it.

"You okay?"

She realized she was crying. When had she started crying? He slipped out of her and turned her, pulling her into his arms, holding her tightly, murmuring all the right things: that he loved her, that he was sorry, that he'd have died if he lost her, that he'd have never let them go.

She finally pulled herself away, knew she looked like crap. She was not a pretty crier.

He kissed her tenderly. "We're going to be all right. May I make a suggestion?"

She nodded.

"Why don't we move your and Spock's stuff back in here?"

She laughed and nodded. "Can we have breakfast first? I'm starving."

"That's probably because we skipped dinner."

"Yes, it probably is."

"And I meant sometime in the next few days, not right this minute."

"Oh, right." She took a deep breath. "Spock will be pleased."

"Yes, he will." He smiled at her. "I'm glad he gave us this time, though. We needed it."

She nodded.

He got out of bed, held out his hand. "Come on, woman. We need a shower before breakfast."

She rolled her eyes. "We'll never get breakfast if we shower together."

"Just a shower. I promise: no funny stuff." He had his hands where she could see them so she was relatively sure he didn't have anything crossed.

"Okay, just a shower."

They managed the shower with no funny stuff; it was the drying-off part that was their undoing. They barely made it to the mess in time to wolf down breakfast and get to their shifts on time. She was smiling like a fool the whole day.

##

She and Jim were both on the bed, catching up on their reading. He was sitting in the middle of the bed, leaning up against the headboard. She was on her side, her head resting on his thighs. He played with her hair as they read.

"Does this word look familiar to you?" He showed her his padd and the word on it.

She frowned. "I think someone needs an editor on their papers. I have no idea. What are you reading?"

"It's this article on transwarp. I thought I was up on things but apparently not."

"I'm telling you, I think that's a typo."

The door to their quarters opened and Spock stood there, looking extremely satisfied. "I went to our old quarters. They were, as I hoped, empty. I take it I am welcome."

"Get in here," Jim said. "Look at this word for me."

Spock put his carry all down and walked over the bed.

Jim pulled him down onto it, gave him a kiss, let him kiss Christine, then showed him the padd.

"Oh, that is clearly some kind of error. I do not recognize the word. And I have an excellent vocabulary."

Christine laughed. "Jim, if the three of us don't know what the word means. I think it's not a real word."

He put the padd down in disgust. "Well, damn it. Now how do I know if anything in the article has merit? I was going to give it to Scotty."

Spock looked at Christine and gave her his version of a smile. "Send it to Mister Scott. He will, no doubt, have a wonderful time eviscerating the article. If there are any ideas that have merit, I am sure he will let you know."

Jim smiled. "You are so smart." He forwarded the message and tossed the padd onto the nightstand. "So. You're home." He grinned at them both. "I think this calls for a whole lot of sex."

Spock gave them a look that said he'd arrived at this conclusion days ago. Christine laughed and began to take her clothing off. Jim sat back and watched for a moment, then smiled and pulled his off. They both turned to Spock. He slipped out of his uniform, left it crumpled on the floor instead of straightening it up the way he might normally.

"He must really want us," Jim said with a grin.

"He must."

"You know that I do." Spock sort of swept her up so she was lying next to Jim. Spock stared at them, the look on his face not just full of desire but incredible affection. He reached in for the meld points, touching both of them at the same time, as if it was incredibly important for him not to pick one over the other.

The meld surged to life and Christine closed her eyes and laughed at the feel of it. He was...overjoyed. His happiness sang through the meld. She felt Jim's delight, too, not just for himself, but his feelings over how Spock felt. At how happy she was.

For a moment, no one moved. They just let the feelings surge through them. The love. She realized it felt different than it used to. Harder in a way.

Tested. They had been tested. They weren't pretty and new anymore. They were scratched and scarred and this was just the beginning. But they'd come through and they could again.

If they never forgot that they loved each other. That they were friends. That they belonged together.

That this was work, but that it was worth it.

She felt hands on her, gave herself over to her lovers, her husbands, her friends. She opened her eyes saw Spock looking down at her just before he kissed her, then he pulled away, kissed Jim.

Spock pulled her up, shifted so she was facing away from Jim, eased her back down onto Jim's lap. Jim held her waist, rocking into her as she pulled Spock closer and suckled him, making him cry out.

He reached out for both of them again. Deepened the meld then let go, letting their bond carry it for him. She lost track of who was doing what, of how many times they made her cry out. She only knew when she finally came back to herself, she could barely move.

But not in a "need a healing coma" way.

Jim looked over at her, his eyes glazed, like he was coming off of the mother of all drug trips. "Holy shit."

"We may need to almost break up more often?"

"That's what I was thinking." The words were so slurred she almost couldn't understand them.

Spock put a hand on both of them, but his motor control was a bit off so it was more a thump than a caress. "I am gratified we are reconciled."

Jim smiled, it was a goofy smile and there was a bit of drool, but it was the most beautiful thing Christine had seen in a long time. "Me, too, buddy. Me, too."

##

They were back on Earth, at one of the finer restaurants in Savannah. It was Len's favorite—Christine had checked.

He had looked as tickled as she'd ever seen when they'd beamed down. "Really? But it's impossible to get reservations here on short notice."

"Not if you're the savior of the galaxy." Jim said with a smile.

"And a Vulcan noble."

"That, too." Jim took Len by the arm. "We owe you far more than just dinner at your favorite place, my friend. But this is a start."

The maître d' fawned over them appropriately, the sommelier recommended an outlandishly expensive wine, which Jim ordered, and they got appetizers for the table, enough to feed twice their number.

"Oh my God, these are good." Christine licked her fingers happily as Jim and Len helped her polish off a plate of catfish fingers with remoulade dipping sauce. Spock was busy with a Caprese salad that everyone agreed was also excellent.

After they ordered their entrees, Jim leaned in and held up his wine glass. "Bones, I do want to be serious for a moment. You were with us, through that whole thing. You didn't sign up for that, but you did it anyway. You worked like a dog beforehand to keep us safe—and you did the same after, to keep us together."

"Even if it meant standing up to me," Spock said. "I applaud your bravery, Leonard. I am still a bit..."

"Amazed? In awe?" Len grinned.

"Fascinated by how you were able to divert me from my mission to see Christine."

Len smiled. "I like amazed better."

Jim grinned. "Who's giving the toast here?"

"You are, dear," Christine said, laughing softly.

"You took great care of her. You took great care of me. And you were looking out for Spock, too, even if it might not have always felt like it to him. You're our best friend, Bones." Jim suddenly started to blink quickly, swallowed hard and took a moment before continuing. "Individually and collectively. And we owe you everything. And we won't forget it."

Christine wiped her eyes. Len smiled, his eyes welling up a bit. Even Spock looked more than a little touched.

Jim held his glass up. "To Leonard McCoy."

They clinked their glasses of wine—or water, in Spock's case—and drank.

"Can I say something?" Len asked.

"Of course."

"I love you all. You didn't have to thank me. I'm glad you did, because I love this place more than words can say. But you didn't have to thank me. I can't imagine life without you three. It's just that simple. I didn't do this for you. I did this for me." He raised his glass. "So, here's another toast. To friends. To never losing them."

They all clinked and drank again.

Christine turned to Jim after she had to wipe her eyes again. "Is my make-up smeared?"

He smiled. "Just here." He wiped the corner of her eye gently. "There. Perfect."

The entrees arrived before anyone could think of another toast that would make her cry. They shared tastes of what was, indeed, a first-rate meal. They ordered desserts, coffee and brandy. Made a night of it.

The bill was astronomical.

They didn't care one bit.

FIN