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Spock was feeling better. Free of Kirk's presence, he had successfully imposed a measure of control over mind and body. He was able to leave his bed and sit at his new computer console. If his hands clenched convulsively, he willed them to open. Their trembling was scarcely noticeable.

Reaching deep into a desk drawer, he drew out an old computer disk and inserted it into the proper slot. A female child appeared on the screen-Vulcan, with a cool look of arrogance. Spock gazed longingly at his former betrothed, and was disgusted by this need that should have died with T'Pring's rejection seven years ago. Since that day he had scarcely given her a thought. She was Stonn's now, and though a vestigial link remained between them, it was degrading to desire another man's consort.

When the buzzer sounded at his door, Spock responded absently, "Enter".

An alluring fragrance signaled Ensign Orella's presence. He rose so awkwardly that his hand bumped the computer screen, swiveling it by ninety degrees.

"Mister Spock," Orella said softly. "I hope I'm not disturbing you."

Spock was, in fact, highly disturbed by her satiny plumage and the velvety pink facial skin that visibly warmed under his gaze. He could not tear his eyes from her, or stem a rush of madly illogical thoughts as he stammered, "No...certainly not, Ensign. You...you are most welcome."

Her head feathers shimmered as she glided fully into the room. "You seem unwell," she said worriedly.  

"Do I? Perhaps you are projecting your own discomfort. My cabin must be oppressively hot to your species."

Her scent seemed to intensify as she smiled at him. "I'm never uncomfortable with you, sir." Catching sight of the viewer, her eyes lit with interest. "Why, she's lovely, Mister Spock. Is she a relative?"

Spock hurried over and switched off the screen, only to realize that there was now scarcely a feather's width between them. His heart went wild and he began to breathe heavily.

"Something is wrong," she whispered as her creamy plumage rustled and sighed an invitation to Spock's fingertips.

"Do not concern yourself," he said thickly. It seemed very important that he ask her to leave, yet somehow he was leaning closer and his hand was rising, fingertips extended. He touched her delicately feathered temple. The fine plumage was even softer than it appeared, far silkier than he had imagined. His fingers drifted to her pink, velvety cheek. In the midst of his rioting emotions, he could feel her responding.

The Avitian wanted him, and he wanted her.

His mind reeling with each breath of alien sweetness, he bent down and pressed his mouth to Orella's welcoming lips. His arms were moving around her when the door buzzed. Then again, insistently, but he was beyond caring.

The door slid open. Orella twisted free of his embrace, her feathers ruffling in acute embarrassment as Spock continued to clutch at her.  

Suddenly a rival male was between them, and placing both hands on Spock's chest, the man shoved hard.  Keeping his balance, Spock raised a fist to his captain.

"Stop it!" came the command.

It was enough.

Spock froze, horrified by his own behavior, yet still torn with desire.

"Leave, Ensign," Kirk said sharply, and as Orella slipped from the cabin, he demanded of Spock, "What the hell were you doing?"

Slowly Spock lowered his arm. "That...that is none of your concern."


"Leave me alone," Spock said bitterly and turned aside.

"Avitians are far too fragile, and you know it," Kirk reproached him. Then he spoke of Uhura's efforts on the bridge.   

Spock faced him, one slanted brow rising in disdain. "Don't you think that I have already conducted such a search? You never could face a no-win scenario...but this time we have met our Kobayashi Maru."

"That remains to be seen. We may yet find an eligible Vulcan woman."

A tremor of despair passed through Spock. His insides twisted with nausea and his knees buckled. Somehow the captain was there, helping him back to bed, and he no longer had strength to protest.


Orella was back.

Or was it only a dream?

Burning with fever, Spock opened his eyes and found the Avitian seated beside his bed.

"You need me," she said softly, her plumage faintly iridescing in the shadows.

Orella's fragile vulnerability only added to her allure. Gazing upon her beauty, Spock became aware of his own ragged breathing. In his present state he dared not touch her, but as he lay stock-still, fighting for control, her slim feathered hand drifted up his arm. And reached his neck.

The naked caress jolted him upright. Rolling from the bed, he towered over her, every muscle rigid.

"No," he said fiercely. "You will not do this!"

"But I need you, too." Tears spilled from her eyes. Gazing up at him through wet lashes, she reached for his hand and pressed it longingly to her soft, pink cheek.

Spock cast about for some way out of this, but logic was failing him, and his survival instinct had already reached the point of crisis. There was no turning back. With or without her cooperation, he would have her...or die in the attempt.

Orella gasped as he crushed her to him.


There would be no charges. What happened between Spock and the Avitian had been a matter of Vulcan biology, and therefore considered a medical issue. It could be worse, Kirk told himself as he stood over her treatment bed. She might have died. Once her bones fully healed, she would have the option to continue her career in Starfleet.

As for Spock...

What was it that he had said beforehand? "Lock me away." And Kirk had disregarded the plea, choosing to trust his Vulcan strength, even knowing how little of it remained. A near-fatal error, and now it remained to be seen if even Spock would recover fully.

Orella's rosy eyes fluttered open, and seeing her captain, she gasped, "Sir...he...he didn't mean to hurt me. He...he tried..."

A lump formed in his throat as he said, "Yes, Ensign. I know."

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