Her hips rocked forward in slow rhythm, drawing him into her with focused pleasure. His hands drifted from her waist to her breasts, savoring the curve of her ribcage and the heat of her skin.
She leaned forward to kiss him. A moment of sweetness.
Her hips pulsed again. A moment of hunger.
He shifted his weight and pushed against her to turn her onto her back, but she slammed the heels of her palms into his chest and sat up. A knowing smile spread across her face, and she inched herself down onto him until a low whimper escaped her lips.
How he had missed her.
Her eyes closed, and she dissolved into quiet exhalations and the trembling of her thighs. She was losing herself in the experience, and he was losing himself in her dominance.
He reached for her waist, but her hands clutched his wrists and drove them above his head. The tips of their noses touched; her face grew tender.
When he tilted his chin to kiss her, she abandoned the affection. Her mouth tore at his, and his senses were flooded with the push of her tongue, the wetness between her legs, and the tickle of her nipples on his chest. He was too close to the edge.
She drew away with a soft gasp and he seized the moment. He planted his foot into the mattress and bucked upward with his left hip, sinking deeper into pleasure as they rolled together and he landed atop her.
She growled at him.
She was no match for the strength of his body, but he was weak in the shadow of her will.
She wrapped her legs around his waist and squeezed, and the edge came closer still. He exhaled to refocus himself but she was far from done with him. She looped her arms around his neck and hung from his body, pulling him in deeper.
He finally shed his composure and began thrust impatiently into her. She squealed and tossed her head back, arching her spine to press her small body into his.
The twist of her fingers in the sheets. The ripple of her breasts. The intensity of her eyes.
It was always her eyes – those dark, smoldering eyes that made him toss away his last vestiges of logic.
She clawed at his back and entered a crescendo of panting and moaning. He felt her spasms and the sigh of her release, and he stumbled into his own pleasure in the wake of her ecstasy. He melted into her arms, sliding down her smooth body to rest his head on her chest and seek comfort in her heartbeat.
Her fingers danced along the turn of his spine – electric.
He propped himself up on his elbows and began to kiss her breastbone, but she pushed down on his shoulders and began to wriggle away.
"I'm hungry," she announced, pulling herself upright and crossing her legs.
Spock sat back on his haunches and stared at her, taking in a slow breath and training his mind back to the logical discipline to which it was accustomed. A subtle grin broke across her face, and she bent forward to deliver a delicate kiss to the tip of his nose.
"Let's go," she called, bouncing from the bed.
Spock watched her trot to the sonic shower, unable to ignore the lines and curves of her supple figure. His mind was ablaze. He inhaled and closed his eyes.
He understood many things, but the fluid nature of Nyota's appetites would always be a mystery.
Thirty minutes later they descended in the turbolift to the upper levels of the central plaza to a long chain of restaurants and other eateries. It had been six days since Krall's attack on Yorktown, and though bots and maintenance crews had repaired much of the damage, the friendly atmosphere that had once flowed through the starbase was from healed.
Yorktown was a crossroads of cultures, constructed on the frontier to establish not only a base of operations, but also an informal cultural exchange. The destruction wrought by the Swarm left many of the Federation's newest members questioning the strength of the alliance they'd formed, and replaced their optimism with tension and fear.
These fears manifested themselves in peculiar ways.
Spock glanced down to the lower levels and could just make out a group of Berellian monks. Since the attack, they'd held vigil near the shipyard, convinced that the Swarm had been divine retribution for perceived moral failings.
The sensation of Nyota's fingertips on his knuckles shifted his thoughts. He observed her from the corner of his eye and noted a tiny, wry smile cut into her lips.
He was very glad for her company.
"What sounds good?" she asked, slowing to observe an Andorian restaurant.
The cultural origin of the night's meal was of little interest to him. He was not especially hungry, but Nyota was, and he was content to be wherever she wanted to be.
She cocked her head back and rolled her eyes at him, fighting back a knowing smile.
"You don't have to stare at me," she whispered. "I'm not going anywhere."
They had been too long apart.
"Nor am I," he replied.
Their eyes locked and he looked away before he felt the urge to touch her. He glanced down the row of restaurants and considered his options when a hand slapped him on the shoulder.
"Hey kids," Kirk beamed.
"Captain," Nyota grumbled.
"Where did you two run off to? I was looking for you after the party and Bones said you mentioned something about meditation."
"We did not 'run' anywhere," Spock explained.
The captain's belated birthday party had been pleasant, but reconnecting with Nyota had restored a part of himself he hadn't been aware was missing until she returned it to him. Perhaps it would have been wise to provide a pretense for their early departure, but neither of them had anticipated their quiet, private conversation in her quarters would have turned into something more physical.
"It was a good party, sir," she admitted with a wan smile. "We're just looking for something to eat."
"Oh! You have to try the Ktarian place," Kirk replied. "It might just be the best food I've ever eaten."
"I sense you are tending toward the human habit of exaggeration," said Spock.
"Oh no," Kirk insisted. "I had a chocolate puff for breakfast this morning that made me want to write poetry."
"You ate something called a chocolate puff for breakfast?" Nyota sneered. "Are you five years old?"
"I am curious," Spock added. "What meter should one use when composing a poem to a chocolate puff?"
Nyota stifled a giggle and offered him a wink.
"Don't knock it until you've tried it," Kirk insisted, steering them toward a food stand run by an elegant, cat-like woman.
"Hello again, my pretty captain," the woman cooed. "I was hoping I would see you today."
"Do you have more of that stew from yesterday? It was so good I had dreams about it," Kirk exclaimed, turning back to Spock and Nyota to add, "Seriously, you guys should try this stuff."
Nyota sniffed the air and shrugged. "It smells good. Why not?"
The Ktarian woman poured three bowls and bowed in respect as she accepted their payment.
"I'll see you again tomorrow," the captain smiled with a little wave.
"No, I'm afraid not," she replied. "Tomorrow is Ungreshsk – the day of the dead."
"Is that a religious observance?" Spock asked.
"We spend the day alone, deep in reflection. It is a day when we remember our honored dead, and guard our spirits against the tainted ones. There are many tainted ones here on Yorktown."
"What makes you say that?" Nyota asked.
"The sick man is gone, but his wickedness lingers here still."
"You mean Krall?" Kirk scoffed. "He went out an airlock. There's no way-"
"We wish you well on your spiritual journey," Spock interrupted, giving his captain a disapproving gaze.
The woman tilted her chin to study Spock, allowing a smile to slash across her sharp face.
"Be careful, my serious friend," the woman whispered. "The mind is a dark place."
Nyota's eyebrows flicked upward, but the three of them offered their thanks and located a table by the interior waterfall. It was the hour when many people took an evening meal, but patrons occupied fewer than half the tables.
"Place is still pretty dead, huh?" Kirk murmured, shoveling a heap of stew into his mouth.
"I wouldn't make jokes like that on the day before Ungreshsk," Nyota said with mock seriousness.
"There are a lot of superstitions floating around lately," Kirk agreed. "I overheard the Xyrillian bartender at my party talking about how this place is cursed."
"Ensign M'Ress told me this morning she thinks her cabin is haunted," Nyota added.
"The new Caitain communications officer?" Kirk asked.
"I'm not kidding," she nodded. "She swears she can hear voices in the shower."
Spock took a sip of the stew and discovered an elaborate blend of savory and tangy flavors. It was pleasant and comforting, and on his second bite, a warm feeling spread to his extremities and he realized how hungry he really was.
"Perhaps there is a malfunction in the acoustic inverter of the sonic shower," said Spock, taking in another large spoonful of the delicious dish.
"That's what I was thinking," Nyota admitted.
"A little superstition never hurt anyone," Kirk shrugged, scanning the plaza. "Though it certainly hasn't helped Yorktown's population."
"Debatable," Spock remarked.
"Huh?" Kirk murmured, slurping the last of the stew from his bowl.
"Superstition across many cultures can lead to torture and death. Did not humans often publicly execute accused witches by burning them alive?"
"Point taken," Kirk answered, wiping his mouth with the back of his hand. "Though I would like to think we've evolved a bit."
"Nevertheless, superstition is fascinating," Spock argued.
"I would have thought you would say it's illogical," Nyota rebutted, tossing him a careless grin.
Her smile travelled through her cheeks and into her eyes. It was always those dark eyes.
He repressed a fleeting recollection of their earlier encounter, swallowed, and replied, "Superstition is illogical and can be harmful, but that it exists across so many cultures as an attempt to explain mysterious occurrences suggests that sentient beings have an innate desire to understand and control the world around them."
"So does that mean Vulcans are superstitious?" Nyota teased.
"No," Spock replied. "It is illogical to suppose that things which defy explanation with scientific knowledge must be the result of supernatural phenomena."
"I don't know about that," Kirk joked. "I broke a mirror a few months ago and had a pretty bad day."
"Everyone knows that breaking a mirror gives you seven years of bad luck," Nyota retorted with a wide grin. "Maybe we should stay away from you."
"It is irrational to believe-"
"Spock – we know," Kirk interrupted, holding up his hands in surrender.
The communicator at his hip demanded attention.
"I have a late evening meeting with Commodore Paris," Kirk moaned, pulling the device from his belt. "I'll leave you to your… meditative healing."
A flush flashed across Nyota's face and Spock heard a soft snort as Kirk wandered from their table. When he caught her gaze, the corners of her mouth inched upward. Her eyes surveyed the immediate area in sly reconnaissance, and then he felt a tickling sensation on the inside of his lower thigh. Her fingers, daring and determined.
Spock looked away before his pulse could quicken, and exhaled a discreet, calming breath. Though she was out of practice, her talent for stirring things from deep within his psyche was as remarkable as ever.
The sound of chanting from the Berellian monks on the lower decks began to drift through the plaza. It was an eerie, low-pitched whine, and the duranium beams and aluminum glass of the station provided unique acoustics for the mournful sound.
"Do you want to go back?"
Her voice was faraway and empty. Spock scraped the last of the stew from the bottom of the dish, rolling the rich, viscous liquid over his tongue.
"You wish to return to your quarters?"
"Only if you're coming with me," she explained.
"You have yet to even sample your food."
He looked down at the full bowl of stew nestled between her forearms. She shrugged and said, "I have a preservation unit."
She clamped a plastic lid on the container and they wandered together down the long arm leading out of the upper plaza deck. There was a small crowd of people gathered around the railing to watch the ritualized remonstrations of the monks.
He caught a glimpse of something from the corner of his eye and his head snapped back to the crowd. There had been a man: a tall, familiar man with a purplish complexion just at the fringes of the group.
He was gone, or perhaps he had never been there at all.
"What is it?" Nyota asked.
"Nothing," Spock replied. "I mistakenly thought I saw someone."
They strolled out of the plaza and into the empty, wide corridor leading to her quarters. Her head and eyes were trained straight ahead, but she whispered, "Will you stay with me?"
Her language was imprecise, but no matter the intended meaning of her question, the answer was an undeniable yes. She raised her chin and pursed her lips to deflect a smile, and he knew they were of one mind.
Their second sexual encounter was just as desperate and feverish as the first, at least in the beginning. Rather than attempt to dominate him again, Nyota allowed herself to be pitched onto the small desk in the corner of the room. She clawed at his belt while he hiked up the skirt of her coral dress, both of them caught in a race to please one another. Moments later, he entered her.
How he had needed her.
Their synchronous movements were exhilarating, and he was soon lost in the grip of her legs around his waist and the pull of her hands around his neck. He felt the contraction of her muscles pulling him in and her low moans echoing his name. The words became more frantic, and soon she yelled, "Spock!"
He paused, realizing the bolts in the light aluminum frame of the desk were loose and the flimsy piece of furniture was on the verge of collapse. She emitted a candid laugh, and he looked around the room, plucked her from the small desk, and tossed her onto the unkempt bed. She was so small.
She bounced and when she propped herself up, her face was alight with wild surprise.
"I- I am sorry," he stammered, trying to regain control of himself.
She sat up on her knees and pulled the dress over her head and flung it at him.
"It's ok," she panted. "I'm not that fragile."
He stripped his blue tunic shirt and climbed onto the bed, laying her on her back while he kicked off his shoes and trousers. Her hands had grown more gentle and patient, and when they rejoined their bodies, he found himself connected to her in a way that bordered on completion.
Their movements were slow and purposeful, and he paced himself to drink in every image, every sound, every sensation of her body. They flowed together in harmony until they reached mutual gratification, and then curled into a tangle of arms and legs.
His heart hammered low in his chest and he focused on returning his breathing to a steady rate of twelve breaths per minute. He could see Nyota's pulse throbbing in her neck, and he reached for her hand and found it was trembling.
"Are you well?"
"What kind of question is that?"
"One of concern."
"What is this, Spock?"
"Could you specify?"
"This. Us. What are we doing?"
He understood her question was more general than literal, and in truth, he was unsure how to respond.
"I never stopped caring for you, Nyota, even after we agreed to go our separate ways."
"The heart has reasons which reason knows not."
She rested her chin on his breastbone and peered at him in the dim light of the room, her dark eyes searching for some unspoken thought.
"I love you, Spock."
"I love you also."
She pushed herself up and kissed him, and the warm embrace of her mouth and the tickle of her hair on his chest stirred something in him, not lust, but truly deep affection.
Her stomach turned in an audible growl, causing her to crane her neck to look at the bowl of stew she'd tossed on the entry table.
"You should eat," he urged.
"In a minute," she replied, rolling to her left side to stroke his chest. "That Ktarian woman gave me the creeps."
"Yeah, it's a very technical term – very scientific. You probably wouldn't understand."
He was the ship's science officer, of course he would-
He cocked his head to stare at her, appreciating that her broad grin was indicative of jesting. She flipped onto her back and shimmied upward to rest her head next to his on the pillow.
"I guess all this talk about curses and ghosts is a little weird. Sometimes I see Ensign Syl in my dreams, dissolving into…"
She fell quiet and turned to face away from him. Her lingering words hung in the air, and he listened through the silence. He had read her report on Krall's camp, and Syl's fate had been unsettling.
"We just lost so much, you know?" she said.
Her voice was marred by a choppy, husky timbre. He stroked her cheek with his left hand, observing the fluttering of her eyelashes and the soft rise and fall of her chest. When she turned back to him, he noted the tears brimming in her eyes.
"I am grateful I did not lose you," he replied.
She inched her jaw forward, delivering a chaste kiss to his lips.
"So what does that mean?" she asked.
"I do not wish to be parted from you again."
"Specify," she muttered in a mocking, monotone voice.
"I regret distancing myself from you," he explained. "My actions were misguided, but with your consent, I would like to reinstate our previous arrangement of an exclusive, intimate relationship."
She bit her lip to hide a smile and kissed him again, with less innocence than before. His body responded immediately, but she pulled away with a smirk.
"Maybe we should pace ourselves."
He dismissed a glimmer of anxiety as he waited for her response to his proposal. He could not have anticipated the words that she finally spoke.
"Tell me a Vulcan ghost story."
He paused for a moment to collect his thoughts before saying, "Ghost stories are not in the Vulcan tradition."
"But you have stories. You have poetry. You even have a word for ghost – tam'a," Nyota argued, propping her chin up with her hand.
"I can think of none."
"Really? That's a shame."
"Is not the purpose of a ghost story to inspire fear?" Spock inquired. "Fear is illogical, therefore ghost stories are also illogical."
"I disagree," she argued. "Ghost stories are a way to knit people together. I know you don't put a lot of stock in fear, but when you look more deeply, I think scary stories are a way to examine the hopes and fears we have about our world and the unknown. There's usually a moral to the story that warns of the risks for not following the rules. Surely there's something in all of Vulcan literature that could fit that bill?"
"I can think of a number of cautionary tales, but most are told for the benefit of children to teach them the virtue of correct conduct."
"Let's hear one then," she insisted.
Her index finger traced light circles around his pectoral muscles, causing them to involuntarily shiver.
"I do not believe any of them are particularly frightening, though I admit I am a poor judge. Perhaps you could provide an example."
She stopped stroking his chest and held her finger to her lips in thought. He regretted his request – he craved her touch.
"My bibi used to tell me a story about a dog that only came out in the darkest part of night. It had three heads and eyes that glowed red, and it would feast on the flesh of the wicked. If you were a good person, the dog wouldn't attack you. My brother used to come into my room with a red lens flashlight and scare me half to death."
"There is an evolutionary benefit to fearing what one cannot see."
"All it did was make me afraid of the dark," she laughed. "But tell me, if there's a benefit to fear, then why did Vulcans decide it wasn't worth keeping?"
"Many emotions have positive aspects, but-"
"I know," she interrupted, placing her fingers on his mouth. "You've told me many times. Emotions are illogical."
"May I ask why you have a sudden interest in ghost stories?"
"There seem to be a lot of them going around," she shrugged, sitting up. "Didn't you hear? Yorktown is haunted."
A vision of Krall standing among the crowd in the plaza flashed through his mind. Illogical. Krall was dead.
She seemed to be examining him with great interest, and his eyes wandered from her face to study the slope of her bare breasts. She watched him watch her, and leaned forward to whisper in his ear, "I know another ghost story you might be interested in."
"What is that?"
"Have you ever heard of a succubus?"
He had, actually.
"A female supernatural entity that engages in sexual intercourse with men while they sleep, often to the detriment of their health."
She slid her thigh over his midsection and straddled him, and he was lost to her again. She was ruthless with her pleasure, and when she was done with him, Spock drifted to sleep in her arms.
When he awoke some time later, he was freezing cold and alone. He sat up, trying to adjust his eyes to the pitch-black room.
He heard a soft growl rumble from the foot of the bed, and caught a glimpse of three pairs of red eyes staring back at him in the darkness.