Should You Know If I Never Tell You?
Kirk's tired, he's dusty, and he's sick of walking. But he's got five crewmen behind him, and he knows they need him to be strong. He glances back, sees Chapel trudging at the rear, taking readings of everyone, probably him, too. She shoots him a sweet smile.
Chris is happy now. Even though Kirk's stolen the ship from Decker and demoted her. She's happy because Spock's back. She can resume her goddamn crush on his best friend.
She has no idea Kirk's in love with her. Primarily because he never told her. But she should have figured it out, shouldn't she? She was his plus one of choice for the months on Earth after Lori dumped him and before the Enterprise launched. They laughed, they danced, they drank...a lot. He thought they connected. Even if they never fell into bed.
Even if she always seemed to pull back just when he was about to turn a chaste peck on the cheek into something else, something more.
As cockblockers went, she was goddamned effortless. And he doesn't honestly know if she did it on purpose or with absolutely no clue that he wanted her—that he still wants her.
That he would break every one of his rules if he thought she wanted him, too.
But she doesn't, so he keeps his stupid, lovesick mouth shut and carries on. Like now, walking across a goddamned dessert because their hosts are suspicious sons of bitches who don't like visitors beaming directly into their encampments.
"Just a short walk," they said. They neglected to mention it would be over desert, in this ungodly heat, at altitude.
"Here." A hiss and then cooling mist in his arm, and suddenly he can breathe better. Her voice, soft and low. "I read up on the planet. Brought some tri-ox. I figured you'd have taken some before we beamed down. You off your game?"
No censure, just curiosity. And the easy familiarity of all those nights spent laughing and dancing and not goddamn having sex.
He shrugs. But she's right—he is off his game. He saw Spock and her in the mess eating breakfast before beaming down. It threw him, and he forgot all about the tri-ox he'd laid out in his quarters. She and Spock were talking, actually conversing. She looked...happy.
"Thank you," he says.
"Sure." Her voice is the same as always. Low and soothing, and he wants to hear it in his ear as he's pulling her on top of him. He makes a strangled sound and starts walking faster.
He nods and is grateful when she falls back, is not sure what he would do if she touched him again.
Good God, he's obsessed with her. This is not good. Not good at all.
Caldive is a paradise of a world. Two beautiful women—sisters, if he understood them right—are sitting on his lap. He's very drunk and he's laughing at them but watching Chris.
Her hair is shining like black silk in the torchlight. It's not fair. She's nowhere near as beautiful as the women on his lap. They are drop-dead perfection as far as he can tell, and he knows he just has to say the word, and they'd lead him off to some Caldivian love tent, and he could bury his lust in their very willing bodies.
"Ladies, I'm going to have to call it a night."
They both frown at the same time. He wonders if they do everything at the same time. That might be interesting.
He sees Chris glance over at him. She gives him a grin that isn't anything someone who is interested in you would give you. Someone who is interested in you would be angry that you have two gorgeous women ready to pleasure you.
"Scram, my lovelies." He stands up, nearly dumping them off his lap. He knows he's being a jerk and gives them his best smile to try to make up for it.
They look very confused as they wander off to where other crewmen cluster.
He doesn't walk directly over to Chris, stops at the bar first. Downs a drink, then another. Then walks over.
"I want to dance," he says to her.
"You are very drunk." But she follows him onto the dance floor, seems to melt into him.
"Your hair looks beautiful in torchlight."
"It's just this new conditioner I got."
He is not sure how to respond to that, and she laughs softly.
"I guess I'm supposed to say thank you. But it really is the conditioner. It costs a fortune. Makes it thick and shiny." She sighs as she wraps her arms around his neck, having no idea apparently what that does to him. "Why are you so drunk?"
"Well, it's not because you couldn't find some good looking company, that's for sure. Were they unbearably stupid or something?"
"I don't know. Just not my type tonight. Why are you alone? Spock making love to a petri dish?" Whoa, that came out way too bitter.
Fortunately, she laughs. And digs into the pocket of her sweater. "Open your mouth."
He does as she says, and she pops in some antitox. He feels the familiar fizzing as it goes to work. His head starts to clear up.
"What's wrong with you, Jim?" The music ends, and she seems uncertain.
"I want another dance."
She relaxes against him as he leads her into the next dance. "Spock is on the ship where he generally is when there is a party like this and his attendance isn't required. You know that."
He sighs. "It's been a bad day. Indulge me?" It's his old mantra from Earth. It's unfair to use it here when it hasn't been a bad day, but what she doesn't know won't hurt her.
"I'm sorry." She sighs and runs her hands through his hair for a moment, the way he loves. "Don't drink so much. It's not good for you."
He smiles, wishes it was Chris the woman who thinks that and not Chapel the doctor.
He cannot believe he is skulking through the marketplace of Gamma Alpha III following Spock and Chris. Chris is laughing as she walks with Spock, chattering the way she does when she is with someone she's comfortable with.
When did she get so goddamned comfortable with Spock? Is she "I sleep with you" comfortable with him?
They stop at a table full of what looks like old books and seem to be debating the merits of one over the other. He thinks he sees Spock's lips tick up. She's made Spock smile?
Goddamn it, this is worse than he thought.
He knows he should turn and walk away. But he can't force his legs to do it.
Oh shit, they've turned, so he ducks into a booth full of what appears to be ladies' undergarments, moves deeper in, smiling and nodding at the woman who is asking him if he wants a present for a special someone.
He imagines Chris in any of the items. Decides that is not productive. Glances out and sees her and Spock walking by. He waits a few moments, then peeks out. They have stopped just outside where he is, and Chris sees him.
She shoots him a puzzled look. He gives her a strained grin and then ducks back into the booth.
A moment later, she walks in.
"Ah," the woman in the booth says. "Here is the special someone?"
Chris laughs. "What are you doing?"
"A man can dream." He gives her his best smile. The suave and debonair Kirk—or so he prays.
She reaches past him, and he catches a waft of her perfume—God, he loves that scent—and pulls out a rose nightgown. "This is pretty."
It is pretty. It looks like it will fit her. "You should buy it," he says, imagining her in it. Then realizes that he won't see it—his best friend probably will.
She looks at the price tag. "Oh, I don't think so. They don't bargain on this world." With a smile that's a little sad, she puts the nightgown back, another waft of perfume accompanying her action. "Well, whatever you're doing in here, have fun." She leaves him alone.
He waits till he's sure she's gone, then tells the saleswoman, "I'll take that. Can you wrap it up?"
The woman in the booth beams at him. "It will look lovely on her."
"Yes, it will." It's monumentally stupid of him to waste his money on it. But he does it anyway.
Kirk charges into Sickbay, nearly runs into a nurse. "Where is she? Doctor Chapel?"
The nurse points to the isolation ward. He sees Bones there and hurries over.
"Hold on there, Jim," Bones says, stopping him before he can go into the room where Chris lies unconscious. "She's all right. I think."
"I'll know for sure in twenty-four hours. The antivirals appear to have taken effect. She should sleep for the next eight hours or so. Come back when your shift is over. I'll have more news."
Kirk runs his fingers through his hair, paces a little. "What the hell happened?"
"I don't know. They told us all the cases were well contained. They observed proper protocols. She was down there longer than the rest of us, wanted to stay and work with the kids. I shouldn't have left her there." He looks down and sighs.
"I let you. We both left her there." Left her there, ran a routine supply drop-off, and picked her up on the way back. Already sick. He elected to bring her aboard, using the special medical transporter—against her wishes but with Bones' blessing. Two old fools wanting their girl back.
"She's gonna be so mad at us when she realizes we beamed her back on the ship. It was stupid, Jim. The disease was already on Dirella V. The Enterprise was clean."
"It still is. We were careful. And we weren't leaving her there." He looks at Bones. "We weren't."
"No. We weren't."
They both stand and watch her for a long time before Kirk goes back to the bridge.
Bones wasn't wrong: mad doesn't cover how angry Chris is with them. Fortunately, there's a limit to how much she can do from isolation.
Kirk sits in the small booth between the main window and the isolation chamber. It's meant to give some privacy to whoever is visiting the patient. She's done chewing him out, has slept some, and now she lies watching him.
"Why'd you bring me back? Really?"
"I don't leave anyone behind."
"A nice safe answer, Jim."
"Remember that dinner you went to at Admiral Dullahan's?"
She starts to laugh very softly. "Oh, holy crap. The most boring night of my life. They sat us at separate tables. The guy next to me was a spitter. The guy across kept trying to play footsie with me."
"Exactly. And you got food poisoning from the chicken."
"Yes, I did." She sighs. "I said you owed me, didn't I?"
He nods. "I pay my debts."
"This was not that kind of debt."
"Chris, shut up. I'll never leave you behind. And neither will Bones." It suddenly occurs to him that Spock has not been by in the hours he's been in the booth. "And neither will Spock," he says, unsure why he feels it necessary to include her boyfriend if he can't bother to get his ass down to see her.
She shakes her head. "I'd give anything for a gin and tonic."
He laughs. "As soon as you're free, I'll buy you one, all right?"
"I can't drink on these antivirals. I'll be on them for several weeks."
"As soon as you can, then. First G&T is on me."
Her eyes are closing. She smiles at him. It's a beautiful sight. "I'll hold you to that."
She can hold him to anything she wants.
Chris comes into the mess, looks shaky and he motions her over to his booth.
"Sit. What do you want? I'll get it."
"I should get sick more often. Get waited on hand and foot."
He grins. "Just tell me what you want."
"I'm not very hungry. Just get me things that taste good so I want to eat."
He realizes she's lost weight and nods. He goes through the line, picking anything he thinks looks remotely good and comes back with a tray full of food.
She laughs as she takes in the bounty. "I'll get sick if I eat all that."
"I'll help you eat some of it. I'm still hungry."
She picks at the food, but smiles at some of the more sinful bits. "Thank you."
"You're welcome." He studies her. "You sleeping okay?"
"Do I look like I'm not?" She sighs. "Don't answer that. I know I look like shit."
He shakes his head. "You're alive. You look beautiful to me."
"When you put it that way..." She takes another bite of a particularly good Danish he's helping her eat. "This is yummy."
"It is, isn't it?" He looks down. "I was afraid we were going to lose you—that I was going to lose you."
"I'm too mean to die." She smiles at him, a goofily sweet smile that gives lie to the declaration of mean.
"I would be lost if you died."
She studies him. Then she nods. "I know. Me, too. If you did." There is one bite left of the Danish. "You take it."
"No way. You're the patient here."
She doesn't argue, just eats it happily.
"Do you want another?"
She nods, and he gets up and cuts the line, grabbing the last one and not feeling the least bit guilty about it.
Kirk is sitting in the rec lounge watching Chris sitting with Spock and Uhura. She is drinking something clear with lots of ice, and he can feel his mood darkening as he sees the lemon in it.
So much for him buying her that first drink. He motions the bartender over for a refill on his scotch, decides not to have him make it a double. This is not Earth—he does not need to drink his troubles away.
He is meditating on that concept, staring deeply into the amber liquid of his single malt, when he feels a soft hand on his shoulder, her husky voice murmuring, "Buy a girl that drink?"
"Looks like Spock beat me to it." He doesn't even look at her.
"This is water. Taste it." She pushes the glass toward him.
He does taste it. After the scotch, lemon-flavored water tastes horrible—but not as bad as gin would have. He meets her eyes.
"You said you'd buy me my first drink. So I waited." She smiles at him, and he thinks he could drown in that smile.
He turns to the crewman tending bar. "Barkeep, one G&T for the lady."
She slides onto the stool next to him. "Why are you sitting alone here? You could have joined us."
"You're acting very weird these days. You know that, right?"
He shrugs again.
The crewman slides her drink to her, and she picks it up and says, "Here's to a Jim who's not quite so strange."
He softly clinks his glass against hers. "I can't promise that."
"Try." She leans in and kisses his cheek. "Thanks for the drink. And thanks for not leaving me on that planet all alone."
As she eases away, he has a mad urge to pull her back to him, to kiss her the right way, on the lips, a deep, fierce, show her how he feels and make no mistake about it kiss. He resists the urge.
They talk about safe things the rest of the evening.
He is sitting in his quarters when his chime rings. "Come," he says.
Spock walks in, holding a package. He hands it to him and says, "Happy Birthday, Jim."
Kirk smiles in surprise and opens the package. It is a book—antique and very beautiful. "Did you get this on Gamma Alpha III?"
"I did. Christine helped me pick it out for you. As you know, Vulcans do not celebrate birthdays as a rule, but I wanted to make an exception this year, and I thought she would know what you might like."
"V'ger made you sentimental?"
Spock nods a little sheepishly.
"And being with Christine made you all mushy inside?"
Spock looks slightly less sure how to answer.
Kirk waves that question away. "Never mind. Thank you, Spock. This is beautiful." He gives his friend the best smile he can. "Whatever the reason, I appreciate it."
"You're not busy with Christine?"
"No." Again Spock seems unsure.
"I'm sorry. It's none of my damn business, now is it?" He gets up, claps his arm around Spock's shoulder, and says, "Then, yes, chess tomorrow. I'm glad to have you back on the ship, my friend."
Spock doesn't seem to have any problem answering that. "As I am glad to be back, Jim." He gives Kirk one of his rare almost smiles and leaves.
Jim carries the wrapped nightgown under his arm, feeling like a damn fool but knowing he has to do this. He stops at Chris's door and rings the chime for admittance. The door slides open, and he walks inside.
"Just the man I was going to hunt down." She grins at him and then sees the package. "Oh, no, toots, you've got it backwards. It's your birthday, even if you are the biggest birthday grouch I've ever met." She gets up, walks over to him, and leads him to the bed, pushing him down, and for a moment he is willing to swear everlasting devotion to any god that will make her his birthday present. But she walks away and grabs a package off her desk and he sighs.
"Open it, grumpy." She sits down next to him.
He sees a small card affixed to the present and opens it first. It says "Jim's Birthday Gift, Part 1." He glances at her and asks, "Part one?"
She laughs and nods.
He tears open the package, stops when he sees what's inside. The beautiful crystal glasses that reminded him of the ones his dad used to drink scotch out of. "Oh, Chris."
"You admired them so that day. At the antique shop on the way to Dullahan's house. I couldn't go back the next day...obviously."
He laughs gently. "Sorry about that."
"You didn't prepare the damn chicken." She rubs his arm. "I went back the day after that, though. They were still there."
"These must have cost you a fortune."
"Why do you think I couldn't afford that nightgown?" She grins and reaches behind her pillow. "Well, this might have set me back a bit, too." A twelve-year-old Macallan lies in her hands with a little card that says "Jim's Birthday Gift, Part 2."
"Are you kidding me?"
"I am not. Only the best for you, mister." She leans in and he turns. The kiss he imagines she meant to go on his cheek lands on his lips.
It stays on his lips for a long time; he thinks both of them are too surprised to do much with it.
She pulls away first. "Happy birthday, Jim."
"Thank you." He knows he's staring at her, probably a little more helplessly than is smart.
"So, what's in that package you're carrying?" She laughs a little self-consciously. "Normally, since it's your birthday and all, I'd just think it was another gift for you, but seeing as how it's pink wrapping paper with high heels on it..."
"Oh, yes. This is for you. I got it...I got it because you liked it." He thrusts it at her almost angrily. "Just...open it."
She does. She stares at the nightgown, then at him. "You got this for me."
"For you...and for Spock." He looks at the floor, can't stand to look at her when he says it.
"For me...and Spock?" She starts to laugh. "Ummmmm?" She starts to laugh harder.
He does look at her then—glares at her, in fact. "What is so goddamned funny about that?"
"I'm not with Spock." She is studying him as if she's never seen him before. "Is that why you've been acting so weird lately?"
"I haven't been weird."
"You've been beyond weird. You've been bizarre."
"Well, you try watching the woman you love with your best friend and see how normal you act." Oh shit, did he just say that out loud?
She starts smiling, and it's the most amused and happy smile he's ever seen her make. "I think I'm going to go try on this lovely present. Do you think that's a good idea?"
He is not entirely sure he's heard her right. "Try on...that?"
"Umm huh." She is grinning. "Unless you think I shouldn't."
"No, no. I think that's an excellent idea." He stops her before she can go. "I think I'm going to open this lovely bottle of scotch. Do you think that's a good idea?"
"I think that is also an excellent idea." She smiles and it's the most seductive smile she's ever given him, and then she turns and heads into the bathroom.
He wipes off the beautiful glasses, admiring the way the lights hit them, then opens the scotch, pouring them each a finger. They don't need much—he doesn't want this evening dulled by alcohol, just enhanced by the perfection that is this amazing bottle of scotch she gave him.
"I think it fits," she says.
He turns and nearly drops the glasses. It fits. It more than fits. "Oh my, yes." It's form fitting and he can tell she has nothing on underneath but it's opaque enough that it hides the good bits for later.
She blushes and he loves that. She walks to him slowly. "Why didn't you just say something?"
"Why didn't you?"
"Me? I'm famous for my inappropriate crush on Spock. Did you think I was going to compound it by having one on you?"
"Well, I'm in love with you. It wouldn't have been unrequited."
"How was I supposed to know that? You never even tried to kiss me."
"I did. But it never worked out right."
"You are a legend, Jim. You get the girl every single time and you could not close the deal with me in six months?" She moves closer. "I'm sorry but all I could think was that you weren't interested in me that way. And I was having so much fun with you that it was okay if you just wanted to be friends."
"But you do want more, right?"
"Yes, I want more, you big idiot."
He hands her a glass. "To having more. Right damn now."
"Here, here." She clinks very gently. "These really are beautiful glasses." She drinks slowly. "Oh my God, that's good."
"Worth every penny? I know that nightgown is. I wish I'd bought you one in every color."
She laughs. "Every color would not have gone with my skin tone."
"Details." He smiles, suddenly in no hurry, suddenly feeling like himself again.
"Wow, you finally look relaxed. Is that what good scotch does for you?"
"No, that's what you do for me, Chris." He puts his glass down, takes hers and puts it aside, too, then pulls her into his arms. "Do you think we can improve on that last kiss?"
"Dead people could improve on that last kiss."
He laughs and has to wait a moment to kiss her because she starts laughing, too.
"If you hadn't turned when you did," she says, as she moves in, twining her arms around his neck, playing with his hair until he moans. Then she kisses him, and it is a great kiss, and he opens his mouth and lets her play at will, enjoying the feeling of her wanting him, of her reaching out for him.
Then he sweeps her up, carries her the short distance to the bed, and lays her down, following her onto it, easing the lovely rose nightgown up her legs, then up her thighs until he can see her. He knows in baseball terms he's rounding the bases backwards, but he's beyond caring and he stops at third and feels her arch into his mouth as he sucks and licks.
"Jim, I've thought of this so much." She's writhing underneath him and that's really just the best thing she could say, that she's imagined this. It spurs him on to add fingers to the mix, to change the tempo and hold her legs apart until he hears her calling his name as she comes.
He moves up to lie beside her, watching her face as she comes back to him. Her chest is very flushed—no faking for this girl—and she is breathing hard and the smile on her face as she looks at him is wondrous.
"I wasn't expecting that," she says.
"I like to improvise." He grins and eases the nightgown straps off her shoulders, pulls the fabric down so her chest is bared. He has fantasized about her breasts more times than he would want to admit. His fantasies fell far short of reality. "I am officially in love with the girls here."
"You and every other man." She rolls her eyes as if very bored with the whole thing, but then she moans when he begins to kiss and lick and suck. He likes to think he's good at this. From the sounds she's making, he believes he can go on thinking that.
He is moving back and forth between the two girls, contemplating names for them, when he feels her trying to take off his shirt.
"Jim, take some of these goddamned clothes off."
"I will, don't worry. We have all night, Chris." He shoots her a grin. Jim Junior is echoing her, though. He is more than ready to jump into the action, but Kirk wants to play, wants to get to know her body this way. There will never be a first time again.
"Please, I want you inside me." She seems quite sincere, and he does like to make his ladies happy, so he allows her to strip him.
She's a bit rough and he laughs at her efforts. "A little help would be nice," she mutters.
He pulls her to him, kisses her, and lets his fingers walk down her body, back to the place where orgasms are born.
She throws back her head and moans. "Not that kind of help."
He admires her level of commitment to his pleasure. But he doesn't let up on her, and she abandons undressing him, is soon writhing under his touch.
Once she is done, he gets his clothes off, is on top of her. "Is this what you want?"
"Finally," she says with a smile. "Jesus, it's like pulling teeth." She looks too sated for the statement to have much weight.
He eases into her and closes his eyes.
"It's like coming home." He kisses her, sighing in relief. "I was going nuts, Chris."
"I'm right here." She wraps her legs around him, pulls him into her deeper, and he groans and begins to move. "Harder. As hard as you want. I won't break."
He takes her at her word, secure she'll tell him when to back off. Her eyes are wild and she has her fingers twined with his.
"I love you," he gets out and she echoes it back as he comes.
He collapses on her, trying not to crush her but held in place by her strong legs and arms. "Chris, I'm too heavy."
"I'll say when you're too heavy." She is kissing his neck. "I can't tell you the number of times I've sent myself to sleep thinking of you doing that to me, touching myself. I thought it was one sided. I had no idea you wanted me."
"In the future, we say what we want, when we want it. No more being quiet and assuming."
She laughs. "Oh you think there'll be a repeat of this?" She kisses him as if she wants him to know he's kidding.
He's figured that out already—the stranglehold of her legs holding him close is a huge clue.
She lets him go and he slips out, nestles next to her, playing with the girls. She watches him with a grin, then says, "You love them more than you love me."
"It is possible. I think I'm going to name them."
She laughs. "Let me guess: Sis and Tine?"
"Ooh, I like that. But maybe a bit too...religious?" He sighs as she plays with his hair. "Best birthday ever, Chris. Best birthday ever."