(Standard Year 2249)

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I have to tell him.

Ruth Valley paced in her quarters and tried desperately to talk herself into – making a fool of myself, that’s what!

Somebody has to break the tension before it kills me. He’s not going to. Vulcans. Never get involved with Vulcans. You’ll end up a nervous wreck. One of us has got to swallow her pride and say something. This isn’t a game, and you aren’t playing to win anything. Except just maybe a lifetime of…

Push. Push, push.

Tell him.

What, just like that? Out of the blue? Walk up to him and say….

I’ve started to, about a dozen times in the past three days, you know, she told her head. And I haven’t been able to get the words out.

Her head responded with the abrasive sounds of barnyard fowl.

That doesn’t make it any easier, she scolded herself. What if he just looks at me? Worse, what if he gives me all the logical reasons why it’s impossible.

What if he doesn’t feel the same way?

She who touches, she who fulfills….

All right, so it’s not too bloody likely. I have to tell him.

The com sounded, and she jumped, then thumbed the switch with a scowl. “Valley.”

“Ruth Maxwell Valley, if you don’t get your ass down to the party in the next five minutes I’m coming up there!” Daffy Gollub’s voice screeched at her. “And I’m bringing Riley!”

Shit, the party! Ruth quickly shook off her inner monologue…


… and said, “Coming,” into the com.


My behavior in this matter has not been at all logical.

Spock sat in his quarters and tried to analyze the situation that had been plaguing him for the past three days. His thoughts were a jumble, and he had at last taken the time to attempt to order them. He took a steady breath, stilling the cacophony. Where to begin? At the beginning. Identify the facts.

Fact: there is communion between us.

Caused by her intrusion into….

And what does the cause matter?

Fact: we are compatible regarding interests, intellect and career.

Fact: she is telepathic. A union with her would be as completing as it was stimulating, within The Time and without.

Fact: we are both half Human. Living arrangements could compromise around that shared heritage.

Fact: children should be possible and viable as she is keheil.

Fact: her beauty touches me, as does her intelligence, her wit, her caring.

Fact: I am in love with her.

Why, then, have I not told her?

Pride. Fear. Neuroses. The only neurotic in the galaxy so neurotic that he refuses to admit being cured of his neuroses.

I relent, I admit. I will tell her.


Ruth intended only to put in a quick appearance at the Science Lab Christmas/Chanukah/Solstice Party, after which she was determined to go find the First Officer to stop the chicken noises if nothing else, she grumbled to herself. Then maybe I can come back – or maybe not… unless he tells me it’s ridiculous, ludicrous, out of the question, in which case I’ll just go beam myself out at widest dispersal.

Still trying to find a way to talk yourself out of it?

Shut up.


She said hello to Daffy and received a reprieve of her death sentence, then got a small cup of punch. She smiled at all the people in her section, making short-lived small-talk, mentally counting the minutes and determining how soon she could get away with leaving and still live through the night sharing a cabin with Daffy unless you’d be spending it somewhere else…

Don’t get your hopes up, Valley.


She turned to see Kevin Riley, looking very nervous in admittedly very flattering civilian clothing. There was a half-empty drink in his hand. She sighed. “Not tonight, Kev, I’ve got to…”

“No, I have to talk to you,” he interrupted her. His usual easy charm was nonexistent. He raised the glass, grinning weakly. “Courage,” he explained.

Warning bells went off in the back of her head. Ruth swallowed as dread raced up her spine.

“Ruth, lovely one, fair one – ” Kevin took a deep breath. “You know I love you. You’ve never said it back, but I know how you are. I love how you are. I want how you are, and I don’t just mean tonight or next week or next month. Will you… I want to… “ Another deep breath, and hopeful blue eyes gazed adoringly at her. “Will you marry me?”

Oh no. God, goddess, no! “Kevin,” she stammered, “I won’t even move in with you!”

He smiled sheepishly. “I know. So I’m offering…”

“You think it’s because I’m suddenly against pre-marital sex?” she demanded shrilly.

“Pre-marital commitment,” Kevin corrected gently.

Lord God of Hosts no! “Kevin, I’ve never said it because…”

“I know, Ruth. Words are difficult for telepaths…”

“I don’t love you!” she shrieked. Every eye in the room turned toward them and she flushed. Kevin looked stricken.

“But…” he stuttered, “but you… you’ve been with me, you… you’ve known how I feel, how I’ve always felt… I never made any secret of… “

Ruth cut him off. “No.” Why now, goddess, why now?

“Ruth, we’re good together, you know that, and I thought…” Kevin was saying.

“Kevin, no.”

His voice got very quiet. “Please, Ruth?” he asked plaintively.

Oh god, don’t beg!

“At least think about it?”

“Kevin, there’s nothing to...”

“Maybe this wasn’t the right time,” he demurred. He tried to smile. “I thought, romanticism, Christmas, Chanukah, a party… just say you’ll think about it.”

She suddenly found herself screaming. “No! Don’t you understand Anglo? No! No! How about Hebrew? Maybe Antari?!” She aimed the thought directly at him. “No, damn it, NO!

She rushed away from him, ignoring his pain, her thoughts crying and anguished. She found the punch bowl and started downing one glass after another, desperately willing the alcohol to quell the fierce bite of love betrayed.


The first person Spock saw as he arrived at the Christmas/Chanukah/Solstice part was Daphne Gollub. Her eyebrows rose in surprise, then she stalked over to him. “You’re not going to expect her to work during a religious holiday, are you?” she demanded.

Spock blinked. “Miss Gollub, I assure you…” he began.

“She’s upset enough as it is.”


“Who knew Riley was going to be such a schmuck? And at Chanukah!”

“Miss Gollub,” Spock said sternly, taking control of the conversation, “can you tell me where I might find Miss Valley?”

“Who do you think I’ve been talking about?”

“How did you…?”

“Are you ever looking for anyone else? Except maybe Jilla but it hasn’t been seven years.”


“Oh, alright. She’s over there,” Daffy pointed. “Somewhere.”

“My thanks, Miss Gollub.”

Spock moved through the crowd, expected to find Ruth with Mr. Sulu, or with Jilla Majiir, or even – and he couldn’t stop the disdainful frown – with Kevin Riley. He did not expect to see her leaning on a work table, drinking repeatedly from a nearly empty bowl of what he assumed from the smell to be some kind of alcoholic fruit punch. Her system cannot absorb the nutrients in fruit juice,he thought, and remembered that Lieutenant Gollub had said she was upset. Therefore, it must be the alcohol she is after.

He stepped up to her with a quiet, “Miss Valley….”

To his surprise, she glanced up at him, smiled beatifically, giggled, then pushed herself away from the table only to nearly collapse into his arms.

"You’re cute,” she sighed.

He flushed, aware of the other people in the room, and attempted to remove her arms from around his neck. This was hardly the place or the circumstances for his intended conversation. “Miss Valley, “ he told her sternly, hoping the inflection would convey the seriousness of his purpose, “Vulcans are not ‘cute.’”

She batted alcohol-glazed violet eyes at him and smiled coyly. “I didn’t say all Vulcans were cute,” she whispered. “Just you.”

Her body was pressing most – interestingly – against his. He placed his hands on her waist, intending to gently push her a discreet distance away, and her fingertips brushed his ears. His grip involuntarily tightened and Ruth let out a low, pleased moan, wriggling delightedly. Spock cleared his throat, looking down at her. Her eyes were

… sparks of life coming from depths of velvet beauty…

slowly closing, and he felt limpness coming over her muscles. He swung her into his arms as she passed out. He took a step toward the laboratory door and Lieutenant Riley began stalking toward him. He matched the murderous glare in the Irishman’s eyes with a solemn look of concern and silenced the outburst the boy was about to make with the statement that Lieutenant Valley was unable to speak with him at the moment, being, as she was, dead drunk.


There was a drum roll going on somewhere. The first thing Ruth thought of was that somehow she’d managed to get herself court-martialed again and was being drummed out of Fleet. Do they do that? I know I heard of it somewhere. I wonder what I did this time.

Then she began to feel incredibly warm, but just on one side. The back of her body was quite comfortable. The drum roll wasn’t stopping and feeling was returning to her head. And other places. This is definitely only half a mattress I’m lying on. And those aren’t Sickbay restraining straps around my shoulders. Oy god, that drum’s getting loud!

She tried to figure out where she might be, no easy task as she fell back unconscious every other thought or so.

Last thing I remember – was the party and – drinking way more than was good for me – ugh, I hate fruit juice – and letting alcohol have its way with me – because – because – shit, I don’t want to remember this – Kevin asked me to – “Fuck NO!”

She said the words out loud and her head became a thunderous, echoing torture chamber. The drum roll was crashing into her skull and she moaned weakly, then concentrated on straightening out her alcohol poisoning and attendant hangover.

A few moments later she put on her best angry and annoyed look and pushed herself away from the chest of the man she’d been sleeping on, praying that she wasn’t Mrs. Riley – no, Bwana would never

She looked down.

And saw Spock looking quizzically back at her.

Her eyes opened wide in shock, dismay, surprise, delight, fear, curiosity and incredulous disbelief all at once. She did a quick double-take, checking her senses. Hangover gone and I’m still seeing green skin, arched eyebrows, pointed ears… no doubt about it; Spock, or at least a Vulcan and he’s the only one on board. Her eyes began to sparkle, but her voice was still hesitant.



Spock gently moved Ruth aside, sitting up. Her exclamation had startled him awake, but it became rapidly apparent that she hadn’t known she had spoken aloud. He rose swiftly from the bed.

“You will no doubt wish coffee,” he said. He was aware of her gaze following him, suspicious for all the incredulous joy in them. The joy warmed him, the suspicion half amused and half offended. He returned to the bedside with a large, steaming cup. “You were quite intoxicated,” he told her and intoxicating his thoughts interjected. He acknowledged but ignored them. “I could have taken you to sickbay, or to your own cabin,” he went on, “however - am I correct in assuming this is the first time you have allowed such an advanced state of inebriation to occur?”

She lowered her head but took the offered coffee.

He nodded. “I was concerned for your awakening from the disorientation. It seemed to me that Dr. McCoy could not have anticipated the needs of a keheil in such a state, Miss Gollub would have been decidedly unhelpful, whereas another telepath would be able to reorient you should the situation prove to…” He let the sentence trail off. She was beautiful. Her legs were drawn up, the blue of her uniform complimenting the honeyed tan of her skin, her graceful fingers clutching incongruously at the coffee cup. Her hair was a golden waterfall around her, her eyes peeking up at him, a flash of amethyst mirth and wonder.

“Did you take advantage of me?” she asked.

“You will note we are both fully clothed,” he replied.

“Too bad,” she said.

Despite his usually excellent control of his physiological reactions, he flushed. And does not the fact that she has such an effect on you only confirm the logic of the situation? She grinned but was thoughtful enough to look away. He waited in silence for her to finish her coffee and set the cup aside.

“Miss Valley,” he said, and when he had her full attention, he found he had to take a deep breath. “Ruth…” Her eyes widened and words tumbled out of his mouth. “Our minds have touched, the contact is still there. Your company stimulates me in ways I can barely comprehend, much less analyze logically. You are my equal in all things, intellectually, physically, telepathically; indeed – ” He went on quickly, forestalling her bantering protest, “ – indeed, in some areas you are more than my equal. I – ” He swallowed. “I believe you can complete me, as I could complete you.” He sat down on the bed, his fingers reaching out, touching her temples, the words sent to her mind as well as spoken aloud. “I love you, dei’larr’ei. I need you. I ask you, for that love, that need, marry me.”

“No widest dispersal,” she murmured, and he didn’t understand it but she felt warm and loving and happy. She, too, took a deep breath, her lovely eyes bringing their life to him as her thoughts gently surrounded his. For that love, for that need, because I love and need you - and since I was just about to ask you the same thing – yes, Spock, I’ll marry you.



Jim Kirk looked up from his desk, the list of crew replacements they were due to pick up, and the mild hangover left from the Science Lab party. The voice was Spock’s and so he expected to see his First Officer. He did not, however, expect to see Ruth Valley. “Yes, Spock?” he said, adding, “good morning, Lieutenant.’

“Yes, it is,” she murmured and Jim wondered why she had such an unusually sweet smile on her face.

“I wish – ” Spock began, then glanced down at Ruth. “We wish,” he amended, “to request of you and of Starfleet permission to wed.”

The last thing Jim wanted to do was stare, but that’s what he found himself doing nonetheless. “Wed?” he repeated stupidly. “You and…?” He damned his tongue and recovered. Ruth smiled at Spock and he began to feel normalcy returning. No, not normalcy, exactly. Familiarity, then. He breathed easier. “Of course you have my permission. I’ll send in the request to Fleet right away.” He paused. “You and…?” Then he laughed. “Well, I must admit I’m flabbergasted. I never expected this from either one of you, but…” He grinned crookedly. “You Aprilists were just waiting for the Nests, weren’t you?”

Spock and Ruth looked at each other, then Spock looked back at him. “We had not considered that possibility, Captain.”

“Of course not,” Jim agreed amiably, not believing it for a moment. “I’m pleased for both of you.” He got up, moving around the desk, smiling. “Old Terran customs,” he said. He gasped Spock’s hand, clasping his forearm. “Congratulations, Spock.” Then he turned, gently cupping Ruth’s face, leaning over slightly to kiss her. “And to you, Ruth. You’ll make a lovely bride.”

She flushed. “Thank you, Jim.” Her eyes were warm and he almost kissed her again. For luck.

“As we wish a Terran ceremony,” Spock said calmly, “there is a request I would make of you. The term is, I believe, Best Man. I would be honored if you would act in that role, Jim.”

It was Jim’s turn to flush. “Thank you, Mr. Spock. I’d be honored.” He paused, a twinkle in his eye. “I doubt it will be as dangerous this time.” He ignored Ruth’s quizzical stare and activated the intercom. “Lieutenant M’ress.”

“M’ress here, sir,” came the purring reply.

“A message to Starfleet Command, requesting permission for the marriage by Terran ceremony of Commander Spock and Lieutenant Valley.”

After a long pause, the Caitian’s voice mewed incredulously. “Sir?”

“You heard right, Lieutenant. Priority please, I’m sure they don’t want to wait any longer than necessary. Kirk out.” He grinned at the couple in front of him. Couple. Yes, I think I like it.

He could hardly wait to tell McCoy.


Sulu sat in the sleeping area of his cabin, listening to the soft music of the lyrette coming from the other side of the divider screen as he considered what to say to the hung-over – and drinking again – Kevin Riley. He had rescued the Irishman from the disaster in the Science Lab after Daffy had alerted him to it. Sulu had spent the night giving aid and comfort to his friend, Jilla graciously agreeing to give up the sleeping area to them. Kevin had spent the night alternating between sobbing into Jilla’s pillow and vomiting in the head and downing more Bushmill’s single malt whiskey. That the man had actually asked Ruth Valley to marry him… Jesus! How to avoid yet again what he’d been avoiding saying to Kevin for months. She doesn’t love you, Kev. Never has, never will. She sleeps with you because you’re there, and, honestly Kevin, because I’m not and Cajun’s not and Jock Thompson’s not and evan Rhialan’s not. And, according to Jilla, Spock’s not. You’re a body, Kev, that’s all. He took a deep breath.

“Kevin,” he began gently, “you should have known better than to ask Ruth…”

“But I love her!” Kevin wailed, his blue eyes bloodshot and tear-filled.

“I know, Kev, I know. But she’s – she’s Antari. She doesn’t form permanent relationships. She isn’t about to pledge anything to anyone, she values her freedom too much. And her word. She’s never lied to you, has she?”

Kevin stared at the deck, utterly miserable. “No, but…”

“So she said no. So she said it – ” he grimaced inwardly, “ – a little more forcefully and publicly than was comfortable. If you give her a chance to cool off, if you apologize…”

“Apologize?” Kevin repeated. His head came up, and he stared balefully at Sulu. "Apologize? For what? For loving her? For wanting a life with her? For wanting to be an honorable, decent, giving…”

Sulu held up his hands in concession. “Okay, okay. I just meant if you don’t push her, she’ll probably still….”

“Fuck me,” Kevin finished bitterly. “Yeah, I know. That’s what’s killing me.” Kevin reached again for the bottle of whiskey. Sulu heard the faint hiss of the cabin door opening. The lyrette music stopped and Ruth’s jubilant voice cried out;

“Jilla, I’m getting married!”


Jilla looked up as Ruth came into her quarters. The joy radiated like sunbeams in her tia. Jilla felt her heart-rate pick up in response. She was well aware of what had transpired in the Science Lab, though she had not been present. Daphne Gollub had spent the better part of the morning in cackling speculation.

“Jilla, I’m getting married!” Ruth cried delightedly.

Jilla set down the lyrette, rising from her seat. “Spock,” she said. Ruth flushed happily, nodding, not even asking how the Indiian knew. “I will not say I told you so, and you could say I was right.”

Ruth laughed. “You’re right, you were right, you’ve always been right!” She whirled suddenly. “Jilla, I’ve never been so…”

“He will make an excellent…”

“He said he loves me, needs…”

“To him I will say I told you so.”

Ruth abruptly hugged the shorter woman. “I can’t believe it, goddess, this feels so… “ She pulled away and Jilla could barely catch her breath. “Will you stand up for me?”

“Stand up?” Jilla questioned.

Ruth laughed again, a sound of pure enchantment. “It’s a Terran custom. The bride’s – bride, Jilla! – best friend…”

“Congratulations, Ruth,” Sulu’s more-than strained voice said. Jilla went pale, remembering that Sulu had a guest, and who that guest was.

Sumin tu,” she murmured.


Ruth spun joyously toward Sulu, “Roy, I’m…” she began, and saw Kevin. She froze, caught by the cold hatred in his eyes, feeling the bolt of betrayal that seared through him. No way to take it, no way to heal it, and she had caused it. Goddess, Kevin, I’m sorry. That doesn’t mean a damned thing and changes nothing. “I’m sorry,” she whispered desolately. But I never pretended to love you.

His accusing eyes never left her as he pushed around Sulu and came towards her. She heard Jilla’s gasp and Sulu’s warning, “Kev…” But Kevin spat only one word to her as he went past her and out of the cabin.


Jilla gasped again and Ruth spun on her. “Well, maybe I am!” she shouted angrily.

With astonishing vehemence Jilla’s hand slashed across her face “You will not say such a thing in my home!” the Indiian snapped. Ruth drew back, startled, her helpless anguish lost in the shock.

“Did you just hit me?” Ruth asked in dazed confusion.

“You are not, I will not hear it!” was Jilla’s tight response. Then she abruptly turned away, clutching her left wrist with her right hand.

To Ruth’s surprise, Sulu took a step not toward Jilla, but away from her. His eyes were nearly as anguished as Kevin’s had been. “It’s a very loaded word for her, Ruth,” he explained quietly.

Ruth hung her head. It seemed like a very long time ago that she had been flooded with the shame of Jilla’s damnation as she helped her heal from a Klingon mindsifter. The fact that normal Indiian promiscuity was turned into a horror beyond comprehension after the act of telmnori still burned in Ruth’s memory. She nodded, understanding and accepting. “I did screw him Roy,” she admitted softly.

He shook his head. “Yeah, you did, but he did it to himself too.”

She felt the tears welling up in her eyes. “I haven’t wanted anyone but Spock since Shas,” she said. “Why didn’t I leave Kevin alone?”

Sulu’s grin was rueful. “Because he was there. And…”

“Spock wasn’t,” Ruth said with him. She, too, managed a weak smile. “Well, he is now.”

“So I heard,” Sulu said, and his eyes lost their sorrow. “Do I get to kiss the bride?”

Ruth’s smile widened and warmed, and she started to open her arms for an embrace, then glanced mischievously at Jilla. “Okay?” she asked teasingly.

Jilla turned, her grey eyes glistening with their own tears. “Of course,” she said, and burst into both weeping and laughter. “Of course!

They ended up in a three-way hug of joy and celebration and acceptance.

“I can’t wait to tell Bones,” Ruth grinned.

Sulu laughed. “He’ll probably faint.”

“And it will serve him right,” Jilla added.

“I’ll tell him you said so,” Ruth beamed, and strode happily from the cabin.


“Hon,” Sulu said when Ruth had gone, “as long as the captain is arranging one wedding…”

Jilla bent her head. “Sulu, you know I cannot.”

He sighed, hugging her. “Yeah. It was just a thought.”


Ruth walked into Sickbay and a hand grabbed her arm, a medical scanner whirring over her. She grinned.

“That’s valuable equipment, Valley!” McCoy protested as the scanner’s soft sound turned into a high-pitched wail.

“Is it really?” she asked, batting her eyelashes. “What for?”

He was grinning so broadly Ruth thought his face might split in two. Jim told him, she thought, and shook her head indulgently. I suppose I should let him have his fun. She continued to stare innocently while he palmed the scanner and sat her down on an exam table. Then, to her surprise, he sat down next to her.

“Just doin’ my job,” he told her. “Gotta do a physical on all couples intending matrimony. You’re perfectly healthy, by the way.” Then he added, his voice full of mischief, “except in the head.”

“Yes, Doctor,” she replied meekly. Before she could laugh, he became suddenly serious, taking her hands in his and looking her straight in the eye.

“Ruthie…” he began, “I… I don’t often say these kinds of things. I’ve never said it to anyone I wasn’t married to or hadn’t fathered. But your daddy’s gone and my Joanna is far away and… Hell, Ruth, you know what I’m tryin’ to say!” She opened her mouth, but he shook his head. “Now let me finish.” He took a deep breath. “You and I… we’ve got something and it’s special to both of us. I don’t let people get close to me. It’s not that I don’t care…” His voice got quiet. “I just don’t let ‘em care back.” He paused, then looked at her again and went on. “You’re one of the people who I’ve let care back.” His eyes started twinkling again. “And as much as I hate to admit it, Spock’s one of the other ones.” Ruth smiled and he nodded an acknowledgement. “I want you two to be happy. You’re good for each other and I’m glad for you.” His voice became mock-gruff. “And that’s the last you’re gonna hear about it from me – honestly, I mean – and forget you heard it.”

“Heard what?”

“Good girl. Now, what’s this I hear about you and that overgrown elf?”


A starship was a small community whose inhabitants had no choice but to be intimately involved with each other. As First Officer, Spock was even more involved with the crew than was the captain; it was a part of his job. His interest in their welfare had never been as impersonal as he claimed. The Enterprise was home, its crew, family. The high morale rating that was so consistent was largely due to those familial ties formed between crewmembers. And there was always notice given to matters of romance.

Spock looked up from his station at the unexpected touch of a hand on his shoulder. He found Lieutenant Commander Uhura standing next to him. Her manner was far from her usual self-assured confidence; in fact, she appeared to be almost shy and definitely uncertain. “Yes, Miss Uhura?” he prompted.

“Mr. Spock,” she whispered, “is it true?”

“Is what true, Miss Uhura?” he asked, knowing full well what she was talking about but unwilling to step out of character. There was a well-established line of information that began and ended with Communications, usually referred to as the ‘grapevine,’ and Spock knew Uhura was the acknowledged queen of that line. The captain had placed a call through Communications; therefore, Uhura had to know about it.

He heard a muffled chuckle from the captain’s chair and turned slightly to meet Jim Kirk’s gaze. He raised one capitulating eyebrow. Very well.

“Yes,” he admitted loudly enough for the entire Bridge to hear, “Lieutenant Valley and I intend to be married.” And he returned casually to his work.

As usual he ignored the chatter and emotional exchanges from those around him. He did spare one thought for speculating what Ruth’s reaction would have been to the dumbfounded look on Miss Dubois’ face. He was aware, unofficially of course, of the young navigator’s personal quest to beat an Antari in the game of seduce-and-conquer. He didn't speculate on whether the look was for having lost a prize, or dismay at her competition’s retirement from a match she didn’t even know she was playing.

“You lucky devil!”

Spock was completely taken aback not only by Mr. Scott’s exclamation, but by the hearty slap that hit him squarely on the back. It nearly sent him sprawling across his console. He straightened and regained breath enough to say, “Thank you, Mr. Scott.” Scott said no more, but his benign, approving smile and the warm friendliness of his eyes were most gratifying. Spock had not realized – no, not admitted – the affection he felt for this man. Scott, had, of all the crew of the Enterprise known him the longest, for he was the Assistant Engineer when Spock had signed aboard as an ensign.

He overheard Miss Dubois whispering to the helmsman, David Kelly, “Do you suppose she’s pregnant?” After a second’s pause, she answered her own question. “Non, il ne peux pas être.

Sometime later, Lieutenant Gollub brought reports from Chemistry for him. As he signed them, she whispered conspiratorially, “She talks in her sleep.”

At least, he thought wryly, I have not yet had to deal with the dubious humor of Dr. McCoy.

He did not resent the interest being shown in his intention to wed. It was, after all, their right. No one’s privacy was sacrosanct. His and Ruth’s marriage would elicit more reaction than would another couples’ if only because he was a senior officer. Therefore, Spock accepted the teasing he knew would follow him for days to come. Ruth would, in fact, consider it deserved. All’s fair, as Miss Valley would say. The thought gave him pause. Valley. McCoy would doubtless begin referring to her as ‘Mrs. Spock,’ which was not at all appropriate. However, Spock’s family name was nearly unpronounceable by Humans. Perhaps a compromise, as Jilla Majiir had found…

No. It is vanity. Ruth will see no reason to call herself anything but ‘Valley.’ And I should feel no need to announce my claim. Miss Valley, then, the wife of Commander Spock Sareklrn Xtmprosqzntwlfd. It is more than enough.


I love you, Mr. Spock.

Christine Chapel was glad she was alone in the duty nurse’s office. She was upset enough not to know if she was speaking aloud and wouldn’t be able to bear the indignity if she were overheard. She had a reader switched on in case someone came in, but she paid no attention to it. She needed to be alone, to talk to herself whether out loud or not, and to decide how she was going to deal with the devastating news. Uhura had been as kind and sympathetic as was in her considerable ability, but it hadn’t helped. Spock, the man who after Roger Corby’s death had been the love of her life, was going to marry Ruth Valley.

I said it, Spock, and I meant it, despite the intoxicant Joe Tormolan picked up on Psi 2000. God, everyone on the ship has known for years and you’ve always been as acutely aware of my presence as I am of yours – and embarrassed by it. Christine closed her eyes. She never embarrasses him, though I can’t for the life of me understand why not. She’s so young, so different… is she really? Scientist, telepath… brash, outspoken, flirtatious, promiscuous… What does she offer him that I couldn’t? How will she be able to make him happy?

Could it be simple gratitude? She cured him of the cordrazine addiction, she saved his life after I was helpless to stop Crawford…

Stop it, you’re rationalizing. He loves her. That’s the only possible reason for him to abandon his self-made solitude. But does she love him? She’s been so free with her affections – Jock Thompson, Sulu, Kevin Riley, M’Benga, Ramon Ordona, the list is practically endless. How can he be anything more to her than another conquest?

That’s not nice and it’s not fair. Just look at the way she looks at him. You know that look. You’ve seen it in the mirror a hundred times. There’s never been anything real between you and Spock – at least, not on his part. You’re a fool and you’ve hung on to hope where it never existed. He’s never been anything but careful and correct with you…

And up until a few hours ago, he was never anything but careful and correct with…

Stop it!


She jumped at the voice, feeling a flush come into her face and realized there were tears falling from her closed eyes. She swallowed the bitter humiliation and turned to face Ruth Valley.

The Antari stood in front of her, neither pity nor triumph in the huge purple eyes. Her voice was soft, but not in the least condescending. “When I was a cadet,” she said. “the name Spock was a legend, the great god of science. He could do anything and all I wanted was the chance to show him up. When I got my Hawkeye run on the Enterprise, I couldn’t wait to prove to him – to everyone – that I was just as good, if not better, than he was.” She paused, and a touch of regret came into her voice. “I know you heard ‘Chapel Syndrome.’ I’m sorry about that. Children can be cruel.” She straightened her shoulders. “Anyway, I was commissioned and suddenly Spock was more than a name, more than a legend, and somewhat less than a god. But he was my boss and I found to my great surprise that falling in love with him was far too easy a thing to make a joke over. But I knew it was impossible, so I did my best to ignore it.” She paused again. “I know how you must’ve felt when – well, when Jilla came on board. The jealousy damn near killed me and yes, I know it was my own fault. But it’s hard to resign yourself to losing something you’ve never had and I was never very good at accepting that I couldn’t have what I wanted.” She took a deep breath. “Christine, we’re telepaths, and hybrids. We share a lot of the same traits, so we can compliment each others' strengths and compensate for each others’ weaknesses. I don’t think I’m the only one who could ever understand him, but I may be the only one who can make him understand himself.” The huge eyes filled with a joy that was painful to face. “I love him. I’m sorry you’re hurting, I’m sorry for the hurt I’ve caused others, but I can’t be sorry I love him. I can’t be sorry he loves me. I just hope you can understand.”

Christine closed her eyes again. The words had hurt, having to acknowledge the truth in them hurt more. “It wasn’t necessary for you to…” she began, her voice rasping. Then she felt warm hands taking hers.

“Yes it was,” Ruth said. “You of all people deserved the explanation. I’ll make him happy, and that’s a done deal. And you know how welshers are dealt with when that phrase is invoked.”

Christine laughed even through the tears. “I’m sure you will, Ruth.”

The Antari smiled and turned, leaving the office. When she was gone, Christine gave up and allowed herself the good cry she needed to cleanse herself of longing and hopeless, futile fantasy.


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