DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc and Viacom. The story contents are the creation and property of Djinn and are copyright (c) 2013 by Djinn. This story is Rated R.

Give Them Always a Place to Cry and Never a Reason to Need It

by Djinn

 

 

 

 

You are back on the ship.  This ship you have already left twice.  You are back because you don’t know who you are anymore.  Once a nurse, then a doctor, then Emergency Ops, now...what?  You have lost yourself.

 

And you have lost your parents.  They seemed still young and you thought they had more time.  But they went one after the other.  Your mother from a flitter accident.  Your father from a broken heart—or so it seemed.  He just...quit living.  Dead on his feet long before he stopped breathing.

 

They loved each other so much.  No one has ever loved you like that.

 

You wander the ship at night.  Len has put you on Alpha shift even though it would make more sense for you to have Beta or Gamma, but you think he has figured out how adrift you are.  You think he wants to keep an eye on you.

 

He offered you an ear the second week you were here.  A drink and no judgment.

 

But you aren’t ready for that.  You’re barely alive right now—burned out from years at Ops.  Grieving, even if you’ve told only Nyota why.  It’s not a secret, though.  Anyone could find it if they wanted to look.  “Parents deceased” it will say in your file.  The system would have received the information on their deaths and updated your file automatically.  Losing both of them may even have triggered something in your psych file—just before you took Kirk up on his offer, you had a visit from a Starfleet shrink.

 

Fortunately, you know how to game the system.  You didn’t minor in psychology for nothing.

 

You’ve minored in many things.  Studied and tested out of things and excelled.  If only life were as easy as school, if you could test out of it.  If only you could collect degrees for adjustment and flexibility and ability to roll with the punches—maybe then you’d do better right now at all those things.  If there were a prize to be had, a rolled parchment at the end of the road.

 

But there is no prize and you are not doing well.

 

And you are wandering the ship again.  You hear footsteps behind you and you realize someone is keeping pace with you.

 

You turn to stare at them—you’ve learned that behavior in Ops, the ability to be ballsy, to face down someone—and see it is Spock.  “Sir?”

 

He does not say anything, just joins you and then gently turns you, gets you going back in the direction you were originally heading.  You wonder what he read from that brief touch—did he read anything? 

 

Why is he here?  You have never seen him strolling along the corridors just for the hell of it, but he is walking next to you, unhurried, saying nothing.

 

You glance at a chrono on the wall monitor, note the time, and when you pass the next one, seven minutes have gone by.  With no words.  With him simply walking close, but not too close, to you. 

 

His support is clear.  But support for what?

 

The old you would think perhaps his death has left him open to new things.  But the new you knows better.  If he is here with you, it is probably because he is concerned that you are not at one hundred percent.

 

That you are a danger to the ship.

 

If he transfers you off, you do not know what you will do.

 

You take a deep breath, then murmur, “Pleasant night for a walk.”

 

“Is it?  Your state of mind seems far from relaxed.”  Apparently he could read quite a lot from that touch.  “Doctor McCoy is worried about you.”

 

“But you aren’t.”  You turn and smile at him.  “Or you’d be sending me to the counselor—or getting my transfer arranged.”  This, too, is Ops behavior.  Face your greatest fear head on—find the scenario that’s most likely and turn it on its goddamn head.

 

You were good at Ops.  Even if it ate you alive and then spat out this little bit that now roams the corridors for no good reason.

 

“I know what it’s like to feel broken.”  He says it so evenly that there is no judgment in it.

 

You did not expect this—this honesty.  Or for him to give you something so personal.

 

“When were you broken?”  You know of course.  After he died.  Possibly after Gol when V’ger inserted all the emotion into an emotionless husk.  But you want to hear him talk—you want to hear him talk to you.

 

You’ve known him half a lifetime and never exchanged more than a few words unless it was for work.

 

“The re-fusion process left me disoriented.  Left me struggling to put the pieces of myself together.  And there was a sense of...wrongness to being alive again.”

 

“You were dead.  Then you weren’t.  That doesn’t happen, not unless you’re only dead for a few minutes.”

 

He nods.  “It was more than that.  I was...ready, in some sense, to make the sacrifice that I made.  It was my time and I could see that—and I accepted that.  I put my katra in Leonard and did what I had to do.”

 

You wonder why he is telling you this.  He would not do it just to share deep feelings.  There is a way he believes this relates to you.

 

Oh.  The mission at the Fonnelli Colony.  When you survived—but just barely—and most of your team didn’t.  It was right before you transferred to the ship.  Does he think it left you broken?

 

You were lucky.  You didn’t die, not like he did.  You weren’t resurrected, only able to duck when ducking could save your life.  You were injured and dirty when they found you, but nothing they couldn’t fix, unlike the bodies lying near you.

 

Bodies were a way of life in emergencies.  You don’t tell him this, though, because unless you’ve lived it, you can’t possibly understand how a person can almost not see them anymore.  Can will yourself to ignore, to not cry, to not feel.

 

Why can’t you ignore your parent’s death?  They are just bodies, too.  Why do you feel as if you’re mourning for yourself as well?

 

Again, the Ops persona surfaces.  “I’m not sure I get where you’re going with this, Spock.” 

 

“I am not going anywhere.  I am sharing.”

 

“Oh.”  You process that.  “Why?”

 

“Because you are in pain.  You seem...lost.  And I can resonate if I call up that time—it is the closest thing I can find.”

 

“I’m not lost for the same reasons, though.”  You realize the better counter would have been saying you’re not lost at all.  You’ve as much as admitted you’re compromised now.

 

“Explain.”  He does not seem to care that you have admitted it.  But then if he believes you’re lost, you are lost.  His belief is his reality.

 

“My parents died.”

 

“Yes, I saw that in your file.  I grieve with thee.”

 

“That’s an odd saying, Spock.  When you’ve never met the people who died.  When you barely care about the person who lost them.  Will you really grieve with me?  Or are you just sorry for my loss?”

 

“You wish to debate cultural norms for expressing condolence?”  He moves closer to you.  “Or to berate me for never having let you in?”

 

Okay, that was more honest than you expected.  You’ll be blunt right back.  “Both, I think.  And to ask why you are doing this—it’s not just that you never let me in, but now you seem to think I’ll let you in.  Why?  Because I love—loved you?”

 

“Your change of tense is telling.”

 

“Your ability to read into things is, too.”

 

He sighs, the sound filling the empty corridor he has somehow steered the two of you into.  It amazes you that in a ship this well staffed, there are still corridors like this, where you can walk and not run into anyone.

 

“However you wish me to say it, Christine, I am sorry for your loss.”

 

“Thank you.”  You yawn, and you know he is wondering why you are not in bed if you are tired.  “Sleep is an enemy sometimes.”

 

“Elaborate.”

 

You are getting tired of his one-word dictates.  “No.”

 

He stops, puts his hand out to stop you.  “If you would prefer, you can talk to a counselor about this.”

 

You glare at him; it has no effect.  “Why not just refer me immediately?  You’re hardly qualified to deal with me.”

 

“I wish to help you.”

 

“Why?”

 

“Because when my personality was reintegrating, when I was recovering my memories, you figured prominently.”  He cocks his head and studies you.  “Yet I could recall no long conversations.  It appeared that I barely knew you.  Yet...there you were in my mind.”

 

“Probably because you’d filed me away as a port in the storm in case the Pon Farr struck and you found yourself partnerless.”  You can see that comment does not make him happy. 

 

His mouth tightens and his eyes narrow.  “I do not believe that is why.”

 

“Well, it certainly wasn’t love, Spock.  Maybe just lust.  I made it very clear over the years that I was willing to give you just about anything.”  You turn and walk away from him.

 

He catches up in just a few strides.  “Why else are you sad?”

 

“A set of dead parents isn’t enough for you?”

 

“I understand that losing one parent, let alone both, can leave you depressed.  But I do not think that would cause you to be so adrift professionally.”

 

“I’m tired.”  It’s out before you can call it back.

 

“And yet you do not sleep?”

 

“Not that kind of tired.”  Although you think you could sleep for days if you just let yourself.  Instead you stay up too late and then get up and start your day sleep deprived.

 

“You are exhausted.  I felt it when I touched you.  If I touched you now, I would feel it again.  Are you having nightmares?  Is that why you said sleep is the enemy?”

 

“No.  I’m just...  Just what?  A mess?  At a crossroads?  Wondering what the hell you’ve done with your life—being back on the ship after all this time, working in sickbay.

 

He waits for you to finish what you were saying.  When you don’t, he doesn’t seem to mind, just says, “I followed you because I would like to propose an idea.”

 

You glance at him.  By the seriousness of his face, you don’t think he’s going to proposition you.  “Okay, let’s hear it.”

 

“You have served in sickbay for too long.  There is a science billet coming up that is appropriate for your experience and rank.  I suggest you transfer out of Medical.  I believe you will find life more stimulating if you are not doing a job that is in a section you have already left twice.”

 

You blink.  This is not what you were expecting.  “Whose billet is it?”

 

“Commander Carson’s.  She is being reassigned to the Maxilla Array.”

 

“Oh.  I didn’t know.”  You’ve always thought the section she worked in looked interesting—more like what you used to do when you were first working with Roger.  Theoretical stuff. 

 

Things you can’t do in your sleep.

 

“Have you talked to Len about this?”

 

“I have.  He is not happy to lose his deputy so soon after appointing you, but he will not oppose it.  As I said, he is worried about you.”

 

You should think about this.  You should talk to Len about this.  You should at least get some goddamned sleep before you say anything.  But you don’t.  “Yes.”

 

“Yes?”  He sounds as if he thought it would take much more convincing to get you to take the spot.

 

“Yes.  It’s a good idea.  Thank you.”

 

“You are welcome.”  He turns you and again gets you walking, moseying alongside you.

 

“Isn’t your work here done?”

 

“It is.”  He does not look at you, but you think he knows you are staring at him. 

 

“So, you’re going to walk the corridors with me?”

 

“I am.”  He finally looks over.  “Unless that idea is unpleasant.”

 

You are not sure if it is or not.  You’ve wanted him for so long.  You used to fantasize about all the ways you might spend time with him.

 

This was never on the list.

 

“Have you ever been burned out, Spock?”  The question comes out almost against your will, but once it is out, you feel a sense of relief.

 

“I have not.  But I believe Vulcans are far more accustomed to doing the same thing over and over.”  He seems to frown slightly.  “But that is not why you are burned out, is it?  Not the repetition, but the stress.”

 

You nod.  “And the death.  The days where no matter how hard you try, you make no damn difference to anyone.  We were there to help people—to make things better—but we often didn’t.”

 

“Is that why you went back into medicine?  To...make things better?  To help people?”

 

You laugh softly.  You didn’t think about it this consciously, but that is no doubt exactly why you went back into a job you didn’t really want to return to.  You’d still have bodies around, but you’d be trying to save them, not walking by them because there was nothing more left to do.  “Dying’s made you insightful.”

 

“No, Christine, dying made me dead.  Dealing with the repercussions of being brought back to life gave me whatever insight I may have into this.”

 

You smile.  The first real smile of the night—possibly of the week.  “I stand corrected.”

 

##

 

You are happier now, in this science billet Spock has found for you.  There were other people hoping to get in—one of the other scientists told you that.  You think possibly one of the people who lost out was his friend, that he is trying to make you feel guilty that you got the job from association. 


He doesn’t know very much about you if he thinks you will.

 

You’ve filed this incident away in your memories.  It’s good to remember who made you feel unwelcome.  Not for vengeance, but for how you deal with them in the future.  This man will always be suspect, even if you smile and act like you are fine with him.

 

Mostly, you ignore him and focus on your own work—and it is your own work, not the crisis de jour, and you are only now realizing how much you have missed that, the feeling of ownership, of being able to plan long-term rather than just react.

 

You haven’t felt this excited about science since you first studied with Roger.

 

You often lose yourself in the lab; hours go by and you forget to eat.  You’ve done that again tonight, and you look around and realize only two people are left in the room.

 

Two people who start to pack up their things when Spock comes in and takes a seat at his station.  You’ve seen this happen before.  No one wants to be in there when he’s working after hours.  Probably because it gets a little more rowdy after hours—if by rowdy you mean its dull cousin.  But no one wants to be yelling across the room or smuggling in a beer when the First Officer is in the room.

 

You watch him as he works.  He stopped being the First Officer to you a long time ago.  Not that you don’t fully realize that he’s your superior in rank, but you just don’t feel that sense of...wariness you think the others do.  Or maybe you just don’t care at this point—what more could you do to embarrass yourself with this man?

 

He looks up when the other two leave, sees you watching, and lifts an eyebrow.  “They do that whenever I come in.”

 

“No one wants to work with the boss watching, I guess.”  You smile and go back to your experiment.

 

“You are thriving here?”  He can see you are, but you like that he asks.

 

“I am.  Thank you for suggesting it.”

 

“I am pleased.”

 

You turn to look at him.  “In a professional way, you mean?”

 

His lips tick up a little.  “Yes.  And also in a personal one.”

 

You laugh.  “Two for one, then.”  You turn back around.

 

“Are you planning on spending time on Dalisha?”  He is talking about shore leave, and it amuses you because he is speaking loudly enough for you to hear him across the room rather than coming over.  Would the others relax around him if they knew he could act like a normal person, not just the impeccable Vulcan officer?

 

You get up—your back could use a break—and walk over to his station.  “I don’t think so.  I’m not really in the mood these days for endless shopping and drinking.”  You play with one of his padds, pushing it around the table, and he does not tell you to stop.  “Why?”

 

“There is a restaurant on the western continent.  A place not usually visited by outworlders.  I discovered it some years ago.  It serves excellent food and the host hires skilled musicians to play in a courtyard.”

 

You think it sounds like a romantic place to eat.  You don’t say that, of course.  “Sounds nice.”

 

“If you would like to accompany me...?”

 

“To a place where the food is good and there’s music playing while we eat?”  You start to smile, can’t stop it from growing broader as you think about it.  “Sounds like a date, Spock.  You might want to rethink.”  You go back to playing with the padd.

 

“I have no wish to rethink.  And there will be no drinking or endless shopping, so I think it meets your criteria for things to not do while on shore leave.”  Again the slight uptick of his lips—you’re finding it a very appealing expression. 

 

“Why?”

 

“Why ask you to accompany me?”

 

You nod and don’t look up from the table, from watching the padd as you push it around.

 

He reaches over and stops your hand.  “Because I wish to.”

 

“Why do you wish to?”  Your voice is so soft you don’t think a human would have heard you.

 

“Because, as I told you, you were present in my thoughts as my personality re-formed.  And I find I wish to spend time with you.”  He moves his hand off of yours.  “Do you no longer wish to spend time with me?  Once you would have found it most agreeable.”

 

“It’s not that.  I’m not exactly good company these days.  Not sure I’ll be much fun.”

 

“How much fun do you think I expect to have, Christine?”

 

You laugh because it is ironic: he’s not known as the cut-loose king. 

 

You nod.

 

“Is that a yes?”

 

You nod again.

 

“Excellent.”  He takes the padd from under your fingers.  “I am sorry to deprive you of your toy, but I need this.”

 

You smile because the way he has said that is so light.  It strikes you that Spock might be a lighter person than you right now. 

 

Life is so weird.

 

##

 

You sit with Spock in the restaurant he told you about.  The food is delicious, just as he said, and the music is lovely but not overpowering.  You and Spock can talk all you want and hear each other just fine.

 

The trouble is, you can’t think of anything to talk to him about, other than science, and you think you might owe him something more personal given he’s invited you to eat with him.  For the old you, this would be a huge moment. 

 

For the you who barely remembers how to be happy, it is just a nice thing.

 

“Were your parents happy together?” he asks you.

 

“They were.  But they were passionate people—they fought a lot.”  You look away.  “They...  Have you ever seen two people so in love they needed nothing else?”

 

“I do not believe I have.”

 

“Well, they were like that.  They fought, they made up.  They had each other and that was their whole world.”

 

“But when you were born, surely their world expanded?”

 

“Not everyone makes great parents, Spock.  Their world didn’t expand.  I was...this other thing in their life.  Something they made, were responsible for, but had little interest in.”

 

“You have always been lonely, then?”

 

You are surprised that is where he goes with your statement.  Although he’s right: that is a core truth of your life.  “Yes.  Always.”  You are not sure why you are telling him this.  It may be a core truth, but it is one you don’t share with others.  “I guess it explains some of my choices.”

 

“I can see how it would have made Doctor Korby an attractive choice.  Was he a father figure at some point—as an advisor?”

 

You nod.  He was exactly that.  Until he saw you as more—until you made him see you as more.

 

“I am unsure, however, how I fit into your pattern.  I have been neither nurturing nor in your direct chain of command.”

 

You laugh softly.  “You were cold and disinterested.  Roger started out that way.  I had to win him over, too.  Only he actually was won over.  You—you never did fall for me.”

 

Spock lifts an eyebrow.  “Are you certain of that?”

 

You laugh again, not sure if he is kidding but amused either way.  “For you, dying may have made you more open to me.  For my father, my mother’s death left him...so alone.  I tried to reach out to him, but...  You realize you are about to cry and stop talking. 

 

“Did you think he would finally be open to you?”

 

“Yeah, but I thought wrong.  He only needed her.  And when she was gone, he died of a broken heart.  The diagnosis was something more prosaic, but that’s what it was.”

 

“I am sorry.  I know what it is like to not be close to a parent.”

 

“But you have your mom, right?  You’re close to her?”

 

He nods.  “Not as close as she would like, I think.  I try too hard to be Vulcan when I am around her.”

 

“Because your father is watching?”

 

He nods.  “Sometimes I feel as if all of Vulcan is watching.”

 

“That’ll teach you to die and be reborn when you were famous already.”  You smile, are surprised to see his lips form a real, if tiny, smile.

 

“Indeed.”

 

“I have no idea what that feels like.  To be so exposed—so on trial, or that’s how I’m reading what you’re saying.”

 

“As judgment is assumed, on trial is apt.”

 

“At least you’re connected to something.  I feel like I could disappear and very few people would care.”

 

“I would care.”

 

You meet his eyes, try to read what’s there, why he’s suddenly so interested in you.  There are no answers in his expression.  He is here, though, because he wants to be.  You are here with him because he also wants that.  It is pointless to seek the reasons; perhaps you should just enjoy what you have always wanted?

 

It figures you would get what you’ve always wanted at a time when you are floundering and have no idea what to do with it.

 

“The Christine I used to know would have wanted to pursue my statement.”

 

“You never knew me, Spock.”  You smile tightly, even though he is right.  The Christine you were would have wanted to know all the reason why he cared.  And what he planned to do about it.  She would be flirting with him, working the connection he’s started. 

 

You do not know that you want to do that.

 

“I would like to get to know you.”  His voice is matter of fact, as if he is talking about anything, not something that makes him uncomfortable. 

 

“There’s not much left to get to know.”  More honesty.  Why are you doing this?

 

“I do not believe that.  You have changed.  You are going through a hard time.  That does not mean you are no longer a complete person.”

 

“Are you so sure about that?”  You busy yourself with the food, not making eye contact with him.

 

“I am certain of it.”  He sighs.  “It has been my experience that life has a way of bringing things—people—together when they are ready.”

 

You laugh, and you hate how mocking the sound comes out.  “Or maybe it’s when they’ve had a life-changing experience—death in your instance—and they think they want to reach out.  Because they’re afraid not to.”

 

“You think I am afraid?”  His eyebrow nearly disappears into his hair.  “Bravery is required to woo you right now, Christine.  Not fear.”

 

“Are you wooing me?”

 

“I am.”

 

“That might be incredibly stupid of you, not brave.”

 

“They are often one and the same.”  He holds up his water glass to you.  “May I propose a toast?”

 

“Can I stop you?”

 

He ignores you.  “To exploring the options ahead of us.  Whatever they may be.”

 

You clink your glass to his.  “You’ll be sorry.”  You are teasing—sort of.

 

“I highly doubt that.”

 

##

 

You are in the lab, working.  Everyone has left and you are enjoying having it to yourself.  You have skipped dinner again, and you tell yourself that you will work just a few more minutes and then go get food.  But a few minutes turns into many minutes, then hours, and you still have not eaten.

 

The door opens, you hear footsteps, then Spock sidles up behind you—you can tell it’s him from the smell of incense and the slight swish of his robe.  “Have you eaten?”

 

“I will.”

 

His arm bumps yours and you turn to look at him. 

 

“Stop mothering me, Spock.”  Mothering—as if you’d have any idea what that’s really like.

 

“I think you should take a break.  It is time to eat.”  He looks at the chrono on the wall.  “Long past time, to be more accurate.”

 

“I’m not hungry.”  Your stomach chooses that moment to rumble, giving lie to the statement.

 

“Christine.”  He touches your neck, and you lean back into his hand before you can think better of it.  He rubs gently, and you imagine he is feeling all sorts of interesting things from you.

 

“What are you sensing when you do that?  I assume that’s why you suddenly can’t keep your hands off me?”  Your tone is not pleasant.

 

“To be honest, I am getting very little from you.  You are either highly trained in shielding, which I doubt, or you are extremely shut down.”

 

“Didn’t I tell you I was?”

 

“It is possible I thought you were exaggerating.  Many humans say they are shut down but broadcast with abandon.”  He rubs your neck some more and says, “Let me in.  Relax.”

 

“Maybe I don’t want to let you in, Spock.  Has that occurred to you?  You wait all these years to finally get interested, and maybe I don’t want that kind of sharing anymore.”

 

“Do you believe that?  That you don’t want me?”  He pulls you back against him and you feel trapped.

 

“Stop it, Spock.”

 

He lets you go immediately.  You wonder if it’s because he’s afraid you’ll make trouble for him or if he’s finally read something he doesn’t like from you.

 

“I apologize.  My mother always says that my father and I are alike in our determination—and our inability to know when not to push.”

 

“Your mother is right.”

 

 “I am sorry for forcing the issue.”  He moves around so you can see his face—out of touching range.  “Consider dinner.  I do not wish to eat alone.”

 

“Go ask the captain.” 

 

“Why do you never call him Jim?”

 

“Because he’s never told me to.  We’re not friends.  I’m just one of his crew.”  You watch Spock’s face as you say this, see his expression change.  “What?”

 

“He is worried about you.  I believe it’s why he wanted you back here, away from Emergency Operations.  He was most positive about the change from a medical billet to a science one.”

 

“He’d feel the same way about Sulu or Nyota.”  You exhale loudly, hoping he’ll leave you alone.  You didn’t come here to analyze your life or your relationships—you could have stayed in your quarters to do that.

 

“I am confused by your attitude, Christine.”

 

“What?  You thought I’d fall at your feet in gratitude?  That everything that’s wrong would magically disappear if only you were interested in me?  Do you think I’m that one dimensional and pathetic?”

 

“I meant none of those things.  But you pursued me for so long that it never occurred to me that you would not now be interested.  I will leave you alone.”  He moves away and goes to his station.  

 

There is a tension in the room now, and somehow you feel you have hurt his feelings, which annoys you.  How is this your fault?  You never asked him to feel whatever it is he’s feeling.

 

Your stomach rumbles again.

 

Damn it all.

 

You get up and walk over to him.  You stand behind him so he can’t see your face and rub his neck the way he was rubbing yours.  “In Ops, we see so much.  We smell and hear and sometimes taste so much that we have to shut down.  You don’t survive if you can’t.”

 

He leans back slightly into your touch but says nothing.

 

“I did that.  For several years now.  And I’m not sure I can open back up.  I’m not sure I want to feel things that way again.”

 

“You are not happy the way you are now.  I can feel that through your touch.  You are very far from happy.”

 

“Am I some kind of project to you?  Make Christine happy?”

 

He reaches up, takes your hands and pulls you slowly—holding on very lightly in a way that lets you know you could escape at any time—against him. 

 

You wrap your arms around his neck and lean in.  “Why are you doing this?”

 

“Because I wish to.”  He cocks his head to the side, giving you access to his neck.  You are already resting your chin on his shoulder; it is a small thing to move enough to kiss his neck.

 

“Computer, lock doors,” he says, then he goes still as you touch him, as you let your lips slide from his neck to his ear.

 

“What are you getting now?”

 

“Arousal.  Confusion.  Desire.”

 

You pull away.  “That’s a probably a good summation of what I’m feeling.” 

 

He moves enough to pull you onto his lap on the stool, and you don’t fight him because the stools aren’t that big and you don’t want to make you both fall.  You think he will kiss you, but he doesn’t.  He studies you for a long time, then he puts his fingers on your face, on the meld points, and murmurs, “Give me permission.”

 

It strikes you as typically Spock that he would ask by way of a command.  You almost rebel, but then see something in his expression that makes you want to let him in.  It’s been so long since anyone really touched you.  When you shut down, you made yourself into an island, in the middle of a huge ocean.  Even the lovers you’ve really liked have barely made waves.

 

You loved this man once beyond all reason.  He didn’t want you and that only made him more attractive.

 

Was it because you wanted him to let you in?  Or because he never would and you would never be in danger of being hurt?

 

Or was it that you thought he would love you—if he ever did fall for you—the way your father had loved your mother.  To the exclusion of all else.

 

But that was then and you know better now.  Spock will always love other things: his parents, his captain, possibly Len, you have never been sure how deep their affection goes under all the mocking.  If they are truly friends or just friends of the same man and forced to interact because of it.

 

Spock is waiting patiently for you to give him permission.  His expression has lightened, as if he is amused by your need to think this through.  He has probably always considered you emotionally spontaneous. 

 

You were; you are no longer.

 

“Not tonight,” you murmur and he pulls his fingers back as if you have burned him.  “I am hungry, though.  If you still want to get dinner?”

 

He nods slowly, and you realize you have surprised him.  He expected you to say yes.

 

“I’m not saying not ever.  Just...not right now.”

 

His eyes narrow and he brushes back your hair.  Then he leans in and kisses you.

 

It is a quick kiss.  Nothing too demanding.  Just his lips touching down on yours and his hand on the back of your neck, his skin hot against yours.  Then he lets go and slides you off his lap.  “Dinner, then.”

 

You smile as he stands up and say gently, “Don’t you want to save your work?”

 

He looks at the terminal as if surprised, then reaches in and saves.  “I am distracted.  You distract me.”  He sighs.  “I do not distract you, though, do I?”

 

“You do.  You’ve gotten further just now than men who were in my bed for weeks did.”

 

That seems to make him feel better.  He straightens up, tells the computer to unlock the doors, and leads you off to dinner.

 

##

 

You are in your quarters, tossing and turning with the low-grade fever that’s come with the Darlevian flu that’s hit the ship.  You thought you might avoid it—you’ve been exposed to so much in Ops—but it caught up with you.  It’s not life threatening, not when you’re strong and healthy, but it still makes you feel like a shuttlecraft ran you over and then did it again for the hell of it.

 

Your door chime sounds and you say, “Come,” hoping it’s Len with a hypo of something or Nyota with chicken soup.  It is neither.  It is Spock and he is carrying a small bottle of something and a small glass.

 

“You’re half human, Spock.  You can catch this.”

 

“I already have.  I have been out the last two days just as you have.”  He comes over to the bed and pulls the cover up, kicking his shoes off and not asking you if you mind that he’s sliding into bed with you.  “Are you coughing?”

 

You nod.  The cough is the worst part.  You cannot sleep; the minute you lie down, the cough starts back up.

 

“This is a concoction my mother makes.  It is quite effective.”  He pours some into the tiny glass he holds and hands it to you. 

 

It smells like whiskey.  You drink it and it tastes like whiskey, too.  With honey and lemon and herbs of some kind.  “Spock?”

 

“Yes.”  He takes the glass from you and puts it and the bottle on your nightstand, then pulls the covers over both of you.

 

“Why are you in bed with me?”

 

“Because I have been sick and do not wish to be alone.  Because since I do not wish to be alone, I am assuming you do not as well.”  He pulls you down into his arms.  “If my assumption is a bad one, tell me and I will leave.”  He rubs your back as you get comfortable next to him.  “I was worried about you.  I wanted to make sure this sickness does not progress to pneumonia or something worse.  That is common, is it not?  Secondary infections?”

 

You nod.  That is indeed common.  “I’m strong.”

 

“You are exhausted.  You have not been eating consistently.  And psychologically you are not at your best.  You are, in fact, exactly what a secondary infection would look for in a host.  Is that not true?”

 

You sigh.  He is not wrong.

 

He kisses your forehead, and you yawn.  “She puts sedating herbs in the cough syrup as well as strengthening ones,” he murmurs.

 

“I’m so tired.”

 

He kisses you again, this time on the mouth, not seeming to care that you probably don’t smell your best after having been sick.  Then he pulls you in closer, and you roll to your side and slide your arm around his waist.

 

“Thank you.”  You close your eyes, are already so close to drifting off you barely hear him say, “You’re welcome.”

 

You wake hours later, and find him still in your bed, covers pulled up tightly—is he too cold?  You nuzzle his neck and he slowly wakes.  “Are you working today?” you ask him softly and he nods.  “Then it’s time to get up.”

 

He reaches for the bottle and glass, pours out another dose and hands it to you.  “I expect you to take another day off.”

 

“Has anyone ever told you you’re incredibly bossy?”  You drink down the syrup.

 

“Yes.”  He leans in and gives you another kiss, and as he does it, he runs his hands down your side, his touch incredibly possessive for someone who has wormed his way into your bed when you are not at your best.

 

You are about to ask him if you said he could do that when he opens his mouth and his tongue finds yours and you decide the question is moot.  You did not tell him he could do this, but he’s doing it, and you like it.

 

You like it a lot.  It’s the most you’ve felt for months now.

 

“We have time, if you want to...?”  You rub against him to let him know what you are talking about.

 

“We do have time—there is no rush, Christine.  So I am going to wait.”  He kisses you again, as if he wants to show you that he does want you, that this isn’t like before.  And it’s the kind of kiss that leaves you wanting more.  “Sleep now.  Take another dose in six hours if you need it.”  He touches your cheek, then gets out of bed, slips his shoes on, checks his hair in the mirror, and leaves.

 

The pillow smells faintly of his incense, so you hug it to you and let his mother’s magic cough syrup send you back to sleep.

 

##

 

Spock does not come to you that night to check on you, but he comes around to your station the next morning, and his expression seems to lighten when he sees you working.  “Good morning.  Are you feeling better?”  His voice is pitched low, only the two of you can hear what he’s saying.

 

“I am.  Thank you for...everything.”

 

He nods.  You wonder if he realizes you’re including waiting in that list of everything.  You would have given him your body, but you’re glad now he didn’t rush, that he feels enough security in your future that he was willing to say no, not this time. 

 

Then again, a cynical person could say it was payback for you rejecting the meld.  But you are trying not to be a cynical person, and he was sweet to you when he held you in bed, so you don’t want to think that of him.

 

“I am gratified you are recovered.”  He seems to be searching for more to say, an excuse perhaps to linger, but it is clear he can’t think of one, and you can’t think of much to say either with so many others around you, so he nods and moves on.

 

He stops to talk with several of your colleagues, you notice.  Can’t be seen playing favorites, although you think he does not deliver cough syrup to them and hold them while they sleep.  At least you hope he doesn’t. 

 

When your shift is over, you go back to your quarters.  The cough syrup is still on your nightstand, so you pick it up and take it down the corridor to Spock’s quarters.  You imagine he will be meditating, and when you go in after hearing him say, “Come,” you find him sitting cross legged on the floor.

 

“I brought this back.  Do you think your mom will give me the recipe?”

 

“You can ask her yourself, if you like?”

 

You frown.  “When?”

 

“Next month, when we are on Earth for updates to the warp drive.  If you would like to come to dinner at the embassy, I know she and my father will be most pleased.” 

 

You aren’t sure what to say.

 

“Am I pushing again?”

 

You laugh.  “No.  I’m just not sure I’m ready to meet the parents.”

 

“You have met my parents.”  He frowns.  “You know my father well enough to ask him to testify on Jim’s behalf.”

 

“You know what I mean.  Or maybe you don’t.  If I go with you, won’t that be sort of as your...  You’re unsure how to phrase it.  “As someone of importance to you.”

 

“I have never brought a potential mate home, so yes, it will be a momentous occasion, Christine.  There will be parades and a large band.”

 

“Sarcasm?  You’ve been hanging around Len, too much.”  You smile and walk over to him.  You plan to sit next to him, but he pulls you down, into his lap.  “Interesting meditation technique, Mister.”

 

His lips go up, a real smile.  “You joked.  I am relieved to hear you are still capable of it.”  Then he pulls you closer and kisses you, and this time he is not holding back.

 

You kiss him back but when he eases away, you murmur, “That, however, might be pushing it.”

 

“Even I can tell you enjoyed that.”  His eyebrow goes up and it makes you laugh, how the expression can punctuate his humor.  He exhales slowly, runs his hand over your hair, then says, “Is this unwelcome?”

 

“You’ve just decided I’m yours, haven’t you?  No fuss, no muss, no inner struggle.  Me want Christine.  Me take her.” 

 

“If there is someone else you prefer, I will desist.”  He pulls you close again, but doesn’t go the few inches to touch you.  “If, however, there is no one else, then yes, I think you are mine and I suggest you kiss me.  I am tired of going first.”

 

You smile.  “What if there’s no one else, but I don’t want you?”

 

He runs his fingers up your spine, pressing hard, and watches you intently as he does it.  “I think we both know that is an unlikely scenario.”

 

You decide to kiss him, if only to stop him from staring at you in that almost unnerving way.  He wraps his arms around you as you kiss, and then he lifts his hand and settles his fingers on the meld points.  They rest lightly, and you realize he is waiting for you to give permission.

 

You don’t want to break the kiss, so you reach up and push his fingers more tightly into your skin.  And just like that he is with you, his mind familiar even though it’s been years since you shared consciousness with him.

 

His presence is so...warm.  He isn’t pushing, doesn’t seem to be doing anything other than hovering at the edges of your awareness, a deep affection coming from him.  Complete acceptance.

 

You feel something in you break at the warmth, at the sense of belonging.  You pull away and he barely gets out before you’re scrambling off his lap. 

 

“It is too much?”  He looks concerned—and a little hurt.

 

“It is too much right now.  Maybe not in the future.”  You feel as if you will cry and push yourself to your feet and head for the door.

 

He is up and to the door before you can open it.  “Christine, do not run away.  I accept that the meld may be too much for you at this point, but do not run away from everything I offer.”

 

You want to stay.  You don’t want to hurt him.  You still love him, and you wish you could tell him that in a way that makes sense, but it barely makes sense to you.  “Let me go and I’ll come back.  Force me to stay here and you’ll lose me.”

 

“I am not forcing you.”  He sounds deeply offended.

 

“Then get out of my way.”

 

He moves instantly, and you realize he is thinking how he has made the first moves—how this would look to an inquiry board.  You think you see something like panic—or the Vulcan equivalent—cross his face.

 

“Spock.”  You reach out for his hand, hold it gently.  “I’m not going to make trouble for you.  Don’t go wherever it is you’re going.”

 

He studies you.  “Do you believe I’ve forced myself on you?”

 

You let out a hollow breath, a bitter form of laugh you learned at Ops.  “It would be ironic if I did, wouldn’t it?  After all those years of chasing you.”  You pull him down to you, kiss him as fiercely as you can.  “Just give me time.  I love you.  I’m just...I’m not ready.”

 

He frowns, and it is a poignant expression given his normal lack of expression.  “I wish to help.”

 

“You are.  That may be hard to believe, but you are.”  You kiss him again, more tenderly this time, and he wraps you up in his arms. 

 

When you don’t let go, he hikes you up, and you wrap your legs around him and kiss him the way you’ve always wanted to.  He pushes you against the wall and you can feel how badly he wants you.

 

Then he lets you down.

 

“I will see you tomorrow, Christine.”

 

You nod and hurry out while you can still think.

 

##

 

You avoid Spock for the next few days.  It would make you laugh if you still had much of a sense of humor that you’re doing this.  You wanted him for so long and now you can have him—and you’re...what?  Afraid?  Messed up?  It’s not that you’re not interested.  You’ve thought about him every night when you’ve gone to sleep, have sniffed your pillow to see if any trace of incense remained. 

 

It hasn’t. 

 

It would be an easy thing to just walk down the corridor to his quarters.  To ring for admittance and then when he answered, to go willingly into his arms, into his bed, into his life.

 

It’s what he’s decided he wants from you.

 

But does he even know you?  The real you?  The one who can’t seem to get over losing parents who didn’t even like you as far as you could tell.  No matter what you did, no matter how hard you tried, they never noticed you.  They left this enormous hole in your life and you know you never even broke the surface of theirs.

 

And how do you know Spock won’t go away, too?  That’s one thing you learned in Ops: people die, and he’s already died once. 

 

You shut down for protection in Ops, and it was easier to live that way.  Why would you want to open yourself back up again?

 

What if he doesn’t like you once he gets to know you?  And you’ve gone and torn down all your walls for him?

 

It’s questions like these that make you avoid him.

 

Until you walk into the mess and see a lieutenant commander from xenobiology hitting on him.  You assume that’s what she’s doing.  You recognize the stance from your own days of trying to get him to notice you.  The open body language.  The shy smile.  The nervous lick of the lips.

 

Spock sees you come in.  He lifts an eyebrow and you almost laugh at how eloquent a plea it is for rescue.

 

You probably owe it to him after all the times you did the very same thing to him.

 

You stroll up, ease past the woman, and say, “I’m sorry I’m late, Spock.”  Then you give him your very best smile, the one that made unhappy administrators on ravaged worlds do your bidding, and turn to the woman.  “I’m sorry.  I don’t think we’ve met.  I’m Commander Chapel.”

 

“Lieutenant Commander Parkinson.”  The woman is a pretty thing.  Dark blonde hair.  Green eyes.  She is younger than you are, thinner than you are, too.  You can tell Spock wants nothing to do with her, so you give her the smile that says, “Why are you still here?” and narrow your eyes.

 

Parkinson moves on.  You think Spock heaves a sigh of relief—in a restrained, Vulcan way. 

 

“Got a new admirer, huh?”

 

“So it would seem.” 

 

“You need to quit being so tall, dark, and unfathomable.  Then maybe you wouldn’t collect so many stalkers.” 

 

“Did you not leave out handsome?”

 

“Caught that, did you?”  You smile and it is an easy smile to give him.  All the back and forth you have been doing in your head disappears in the face of hunger and a mission of mercy—you never could resist those, even if you’re only rescuing Spock.

 

“Sit with me?”  His voice is tentative and you realize he is not sure how long your rescue will last.

 

“I have to, don’t I?  She might come back.”  You move closer and he moves, too, so your shoulders bump.  “Missed me the last couple of days, huh?”

 

“I have.  Although it is illogical to do so.  We have no history to miss, nor have we spent enough time together recently for me to miss what was.”

 

“Love’s funny that way.”  Shit.  Why did you say the L-word?

 

“It is indeed.”  He doesn’t seem to pause over his response.  He considers himself in love with you, then.  Not just interested.  Not just in lust.  He thinks he loves you.

 

The idea is nice.  You lean in again, and he pushes back.  It is subtle, what you two are doing, but you are doing it in a crowded mess.  That, too, is unexpected.  And nice.

 

You get your food and follow him to a table.  “There’s a booth left,” you murmur, unsure if he will want to indulge you.

 

He changes course, heading for the last booth, even hurrying when it is clear another pair of crewmen want the booth, too.  They see him headed toward it and veer off.  You smile—there are perks to being with the First Officer. 

 

You’ve never had a problem with those kind of perks.  Spock apparently doesn’t have any problem letting you benefit from his position.  At least not while he’s still hungry for your body and hasn’t had the taste he wants.  You wonder if he’ll be as indulgent once he’s screwed you a few times.

 

Although he’s a Vulcan.  If he’s being indulgent, he’ll probably stay that way.  In all the time you’ve known him, he’s been pretty consistent in behavior.  Even his aberrations are consistent when you look at the root cause: honor a secret or help a friend or both.

 

“Thank you,” you murmur as you slide into the seat.

 

He takes the opposite seat.  “You are most welcome.”

 

“Those two wanted this booth.”

 

“I am aware of that.  I would not have increased my pace otherwise.”

 

“But since I wanted it you did?”

 

“Yes, since you wanted it.”  He looks a little sheepish.

 

You smile.  “Do you even like booths?”

 

“I am agnostic as to the practicality and comfort of these as opposed to tables.  I tend to gravitate to tables, though, now that I consider it.”

 

“But you don’t not like booths?”

 

“I would not have acquiesced to your request if I disliked them.  I am of a mind to give you what you want, but not if it is something I do not enjoy.”

 

“Good to know.”  You wink at him.  It is a very lighthearted thing to do and you can’t remember the last time you did it.

 

He almost smiles.  You think he is fully aware that you’ve probably not winked at anyone in a very long time.

 

##

 

You are in the rec lounge with Nyota.  The band that is playing old standards is made up of crewmembers who fancy themselves the next big thing.  As far as you tell, the only thing they can lay claim to is being the most out of sync with each other. 

 

“Can’t you go join them and make them at least stay together on the chorus?”  You smile at Nyota.  “They clearly need a new lead singer.”

 

“Even I can’t help them, honey.”  Nyota rolls her eyes and makes you laugh.  She smiles broadly and you realize you haven’t laughed very much around her.  “So, I saw you with Spock the other day in the mess.  Something you forgot to tell me?”

 

You’ve left her out of the loop on this.  That, too, is different.  Before you would have spent hours with her deconstructing what he said and what it meant.  Now, you’re doing it alone.  “I think he wants me.”

 

“Well, it’s about damn time.”  Ever since Ny hooked up with Scotty, she thinks everyone should be paired up and happy.  “How did this start?”

 

“Can we not talk about it?”

 

Her eyes open wide.  “Wow.  Okay.  Sure.”  She studies you.  “Is it something you’re ashamed of?  Is he doing something to you that—

 

“No.  No.  And in what way is this not talking about it?”  Your voice comes out harsher than you mean.

 

She holds up a hand.  “Okay.  Sorry.”  She stirs the ice around in her drink, then looks up and meets your eyes.  “Ops changed you, Christine.  And not always for the best.”

 

“I know.  Trust me: I do know that.”  You reach over, take her hand, and squeeze it.  “I’m just...”

 

“Really fucked up these days.”  She doesn’t look away when you give her a shocked look.  “What?  You think I can’t say that word?  Christine, this is what you’ve always wanted.  And you can’t talk about it?  Or won’t?  Can you tell me if you’re with him?  You say he wants you—do you still want him?”

 

Ny is still weak on the not talking concept.  You take a deep breath and try to hold in the frustration.  “I’m not sure.”

 

“You’re not...  What the hell is wrong with you?  If he wants you—and the way he was looking at you in the mess was light years from how he used to—then what is your problem?  The man died, for God’s sake.  You lost him.”

 

“I didn’t lose him.  I never had him.”  Your voice is bitter.

 

“And that was probably confusing.  I know how I felt when he died and I wasn’t in love with him.  You’ve loved him for as long as I’ve known you.  And you were never a part of his life.  But you were of Sarek’s—I heard that you were the one who got him to testify.  That must have been odd, being friends with Spock’s parents but not him.”

 

You don’t answer.

 

“Especially when you weren’t close with your parents.  Sarek is fond of you, isn’t he?”

 

“What are you saying?”

 

“Nothing bad.  Just that...he’s the closest thing you’ve had to a father, maybe?”

 

“He’s a friend, not my father.”

 

“But you look up to him.  I know you do.  You’ve told me you do.”  Ny leans in.  “You could lose him if things with Spock didn’t go well.”

 

“That’s not why I’m unsure.”

 

“Then why are you?”

 

“You’re right.  Spock could die.  He could leave me and what then?  I let him in and I love him and I’m left with what?  A broken heart and nothing else.  I’ve been through that.  I’ve lived most of my life without love, Ny.  I’m good at it.  But being with someone—when has that ever ended up happily?”

 

“Christine, that’s Roger.  Who else have you been with that you really cared about who’s left you?  You were never with Spock.”

 

“But he died.  I still loved him.  I still felt it.  I don’t want to feel it again.”  You take a ragged breath.  “It doesn’t make a lot of sense.  I know that.”

 

“It actually does.  In a really sad way.  I think you picked him to fall in love with because you knew he’d never love you back.  You could be in love but not ever have to deal with the loss because you’d never have him.  Am I close?”

 

“It wasn’t that calculated.  I fell in love.  End of story.”

 

“But that’s why you never moved on, and there have been plenty of men who would have liked to have had more with you.  You stayed in love with him because it was safe.  And because it’s what you’re used to—because your parents were shitty, and they made you feel that you don’t deserve love.”  Ny takes your hand.  “And I bet with them dying, it brought it all up again.  You loved them—I know you, you would have loved them because that’s what you do.  And that love just hung out there, unaccepted.”

 

“Unwanted.  Ny, they never wanted kids.  I’d hear them say that to people when they thought I wasn’t around.”

 

“I’m sorry.  You can’t make them better at loving you, Christine.”

 

“Not now, that’s for sure.”

 

“Not ever.  They weren’t the kind of people who were going to.  And you have to let go and move on.  Because you are capable of love—I know you are.  And there is a man you have wanted forever who wants you back, and you’re going to go to his quarters right now and find out just what you’ve been missing.”

 

You start to laugh.  It’s a hell of a speech.  And a good message for you to hear. 

 

“What’s so goddamn funny?”

 

“I’ll be waiting in the corridor if I go now.”  You point to where Spock is sitting with the captain and Len.

 

“Oh.  Well, once he leaves, then.”  She starts to laugh.  “You’re gonna lose all the momentum from my great pep talk, though.”

 

You smile.  “It was a great pep talk.  You could be a motivational speaker for the lovelorn.”

 

“Well, I’ve had my own epiphany lately on waiting too long.  I’m happy and I want you to be happy.”

 

“I know.”  You motion the bartender over.  “Another round.  On me.”

 

##

 

You’ve looked over at Spock enough times that he’s caught on that you’re interested in what he’s doing.  He gets up, says something to Len and the captain, and walks over.

 

Ny gets up and says, “I’m going to go find Scotty,” and you are alone with Spock at the bar.

 

“Sorry.  She’s the antithesis of subtle.”

 

“She knows?”

 

“Kind of.  She figured it out.”  You pitch your voice lower.  “She thinks I should go to your quarters and find out what I’ve been missing.”

 

“I heartily concur with that.”  His expression is light, his eyes very soft.  “What do you want to do?”

 

“I want to stop being afraid.”  You finish your drink and push it aside.  “I want to let you in.”

 

“I suggest we leave, then.”  He waits for you to get off the stool before he strides off.  He is not walking slowly, either.

 

You smile, and when he turns around to look at you, you laugh.  “Eager?”

 

“Yes.” 

 

You decide that Vulcan directness is something you can get used to.  You increase your pace and catch up to him.  He stares at the turbolift doors once you get on, and you murmur, “Afraid you’ll spook me if you look at me?”

 

The look he turns on you is the louder, bigger cousin of intense. 

 

“Okay, look at the doors. You will spook me.”  You rub his back to take any sting out of the words.

 

He goes back to his study of the doors.  “I want you intensely.  Being denied, having to wait, it has perhaps been good for us.”

 

“Has it?”

 

“Yes.  I will fully appreciate what I share with you, since I have not been sure it was even within my grasp.”

 

“What are the odds I’d say no to you?”

 

“Very high, from my perspective.  If you thought it was more in my favor, you did not let on.”

 

You shrug.  “Girl’s gotta maintain her mystery.”  Then you bump up against him.

 

“Hold lift.”  He pulls you into his arms, pushes you against the wall of the lift, and kisses you in a way that lets you know the mystery worked.  More than worked.  Maybe too much mystery if the way he is holding you is any indication.

 

He kisses you for a long time before he pulls away and says, “Resume lift.”

 

You are grinning like a fool as you wait for the doors to open.  He glances at you and gives you a stern look.

 

“What?  This is my fault?”  You grin even more and it feels good to be this light—this happy and excited about something. 

 

He leads you off the lift—is in fact double-timing it to his quarters and you have to half-run to keep up.  He palms open the door and lets you in, then pulls you into his arms once the door has closed behind you.

 

He is startlingly efficient, getting your pants off, then his own, and hiking you up onto him, until—there.  You close your eyes and breathe out, and you think you are letting go of more than just air, that you are letting go of fear.  You kiss him as he moves inside you, running your hands through his hair as he says your name, and then, as he comes, he changes to, “Mine, mine, mine.”

 

No one has ever wanted you enough to lay claim to you.  You hold him as he rests with you up against the wall, his head nestled against your shirt.  Then he lets you down and pulls off the rest of your clothes and pushes you to his bed, to lie under him as he kisses you gently and begins to get to know your body.

 

Some parts he gets to know especially well, kissing and licking and sucking until you are writhing underneath him and calling out his name.

 

He smiles, a real smile, as you pull him up to you, as you murmur, “I love you.  I still love you.  I’m sorry I’ve been so weird.”

 

“As we are here now, I am feeling quite sanguine about your past actions.”

 

You laugh.  “You’re afraid if you agree I’ve been weird, I’ll leave and you won’t get any more sex.”

 

“Perhaps.”  He moves over you, his eyes never leaving yours, and takes you again, going slower this time, making you moan and clutch at him, and as he finishes, he closes his eyes and calls out loudly.

 

You are not sure you’ve ever seen him lose control before.  You love that he is willing to let go this way with you.  When he finally opens his eyes, you smile, a sweet smile, one that you haven’t used in a long time because it belongs to a younger you, a kinder you.

 

He seems to understand that.  He touches your lips, tracing your smile, then kisses you so tenderly it leaves you shaken.  “I would have waited much longer for you.”

 

“Forever?”

 

He nods.

 

“Forever is a long time.”

 

“It is.  My estimates were slightly more optimistic than that.”  His lips tick up and you laugh at the way it makes him look, how content he seems.

 

“Did you think it would be tonight?”


“I did not.  I believe I will put Commander Uhura in for a commendation.”

 

You laugh, a spontaneous, straight-from-the-gut bark of laughter.  He is good for you.  Spock with his Vulcan/Human humor is good for you.

 

He rolls off you.  “Will you come with me to my parents?”

 

“It’s important to you, isn’t it?”

 

He nods.  “I want them to know we are together.”

 

“Does the captain know?”

 

“Yes.  I have told him I am pursuing you.  He is in favor of the match.  You must call him Jim.”

 

“Maybe.”  You kiss him gently to let him know that while he can’t order you around, you don’t mind when he tries to do it for your own good.

 

You lie quietly together, and he plays with your hair and scratches your back so lightly it makes you shiver.

 

You turn to look at him.  “My parents were crappy parents, Spock.”  It feels strange to say it so definitively.  To not try to soften it or give them an out.  “I wanted them to be good parents, but they weren’t and now they never will be.”

 

“I am sorry.”  He kisses your forehead, and you realize that is the most tender kiss he has in his repertoire.  The one that isn’t about sex, but is about love, about connection and understanding.  “I have struggled with Sarek as you know, but I was always secure that my mother approved of me and loved me.  I would not want to imagine a life where I could not be sure of either of them.”

 

“It wasn’t good.  And losing them...I guess I always hoped it would be different.  That they’d come to their senses.  But now they’re gone and they never will.”

 

He kisses you again, this time on the lips.  “I did.”

 

“Yes, you did.  And it’s scary for me, Spock.  Opening back up.”

 

“I know.”

 

“It’s scary, but I’m willing to do it.  Because you’re not them.  And neither am I.”  You lift his hand to your face.  “If you want to, I’m ready.”

 

He presses his fingers into the meld points and is with you.  You close your eyes and allow yourself to drift along with him, and when he tentatively moves deeper, you get out of his way and welcome him.

 

You feel overwhelmed for a moment by the emotions he is giving you, but then you tell yourself to relax.  That this won’t hurt.  That he won’t hurt you.

 

You hear him echo back that thought, are unsure if he has spoken it with words or said it mind to mind.  But however he said it, the reassurance pulses between you.

 

He will not hurt you.

 

You let go and let him in the rest of the way.

 

##

 

You are walking next to Spock and Jim and Len.  They are headed for a club that is in the same direction as the Vulcan embassy, so they are tagging along with you. 

 

Len has been giving you shit about living up to Spock’s parents’ standards.  And Jim has been telling him to shut the hell up.

 

And you’ve been laughing and smiling and just enjoying the fact that Spock’s friends like you, want you to be with him, and are your friends now, too.  Not that Len wasn’t before, but Jim was always something separate, and who Len was when he was with Jim never included you.  Now it does.

 

The minute Jim told you to call him by his first name, everything changed.  At least for you.  You realize that things probably didn’t change that much for him, that he did consider you a friend, that he did rescue you when he talked you out of Ops and back onto the ship—with the help of Len.  That there are people who care for you without ever being family.

 

Because you’ve had no luck with family to date.

 

You hit the place where Jim and Len turn off, and Len says, “Break a leg, Christine,” and Jim gives you a grin and rolls his eyes at Len.

 

And then it is just you and Spock.  And he looks over at you and almost smiles, and you feel the warmth that he gives you, that has filled you since you let him in with the meld.

 

Since you quit fighting what was happening.

 

He stops just before you get to the embassy and turns to you.  “I love you.”

 

It is the first time he has told you that.  You smile and say, “I love you, too.”

 

“I want you to know that.  Before we go in.  My father sometimes makes me...”

 

“Angry?”

 

“Yes.  Unfortunately.  I will hide it, but I may shut down some.  I do not want you to think it is about you in any way.  I am proud of you.  I am happy with our relationship.  And I love you.”

 

“You’re incredibly nervous, aren’t you?  Do you want me to head down to the club with Jim and Len, and you can say I got sick or something?”

 

“No.  I will persevere.”  He starts walking.  “At any rate, you must not think my parents will disapprove of you.  My father has been your advocate for some time.  If anything, he is disappointed I took this long to realize he was right.”

 

You laugh.  “Kiss of death.  Approval of parents.”

 

“On the contrary.  I am pleased they are in favor of our relationship.”  He looks at you, a strange expression on his face.

 

“What?”

 

“You are closer to my father than I am.  I have, at times, been jealous of the easy way you interact with him.”

 

“I wasn’t aware you even knew I did interact with him.”

 

“I knew.  It was ironic in some ways, given the nature of our relationship.  Yours and mine, and mine and Sarek’s.”

 

You want to take his hand and squeeze it.  Settle for a shoulder bump instead.  “I’m sure my father would have liked you better than me, if it’s any consolation.  He was a mathematician.”

 

“So you are saying my father does prefer you to me?”  His tone is light and he bumps up against you.

 

“You know what I mean.”  You smile and see the embassy, follow him up the stairs and past the guards. 

 

Amanda is waiting in the salon, beams when she sees you both.  “There you are.”

 

She gives Spock a hug, and you notice he hugs her back with more freedom than you think she is expecting judging from the surprise on her face.  Then she takes your arm.  “Oh, my dear, we are so happy you’re here.”  She leads you off, grilling you in a subtle way about how you ended up with her son.

 

You can feel how much she cares for Spock, can feel how much she cares for you even now—and it’s more than your own mother ever did.  You sigh and push that thought aside.

 

Your parents were shitty.  Ny had it right.  Let it go.

 

You see Sarek up ahead.  He nods at you, his eyes lightening, and then he looks at Spock.  You think Spock is wrong if he believes his father does not love him.  There is a look that you recognize because you’ve seen it in the mirror.  The look of constant misunderstanding. 

 

Amanda lets you go and waits for Spock to catch up, and you move on to Sarek.  You smile and say, “For once there’s no crisis for me to bother you with.”

 

He says, “It is never a bother, Christine.”  Then he looks at Spock.  “My son.”

 

“Father.”

 

You could cut the tension with a butter knife.  You take Sarek’s arm, smile up at him, and say, “Spock is so pleased that you approve of me.  He’s very sorry he didn’t listen to you all those times you talked me up.”

 

Surprise shows on Sarek’s face, then it is gone and he says to Spock, “Everything happens in its own time, my son.”

 

Even maybe their relationship.  They love each other.  You can tell that.  They both care.

 

They are light years ahead of the relationship you had with your parents.  Even if they don’t get on the way they might like.  At least they aren’t ambivalent.

 

You let go of Sarek and move closer to Spock.  Your shoulders bump gently and you smile.

 

“Will you have some wine, my dear?”  Amanda is holding up a bottle with a hopeful look on her face, and you smile and nod, giving her the reason she needs to open the bottle.  She pours you a glass, hands it to you with a wink and a mouthed, “Thank you.”

 

You nod and sip the wine, which is excellent.  You feel yourself calming, even as Sarek and Spock start to argue—discuss, they’d probably say.  It is something about a recent treaty that Sarek negotiated.  They are soon lost in the details and you give up trying to follow them.  You think if they’d both stop talking and start listening, they’d realize they are arguing the same thing.

 

You smile at Amanda, and she grins back.  “Family,” she says, rolling her eyes.

 

“Family,” you say, happy to finally have one.

 

 

FIN