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) 2017 by Djinn. This story is Rated R.
In Your Bed
In your bed, I feel safe. Burrowed between the two of you, my stuffed rabbit secure beside me as I close my eyes and try to forget the monster I'm sure is under my bed but neither of you can ever find.
I love you and you're grown ups. Why can't you find it? Why can't you make it go away?
"Chrissie, go to sleep," one of you says so softly I can't tell which of you it was.
I'm already halfway there so I let go and sleep.
In your bed, I feel special. It's your birthday, and you and I are sharing your bed when we're supposed to be in the living room, safe in sleeping bags like all the other girls you invited to your sleepover. But you touched my hand once they were all asleep and said, "Chrissie, come on." And you led me up here.
You're the prettiest girl in third grade, and you picked me to come up here with you, to lie face to face, and giggle out secrets about the others and ourselves.
"What're you going to be when you grow up?" I ask you and you smile and say, "A starship captain" without hesitation.
My father's in Starfleet so I know women can't be one of those. But I don't tell you that.
You touch my face gently and your eyes practically reflect stars in the low light of a bedroom so pink and frilly that probably no one expects you to want such a big thing from life.
I believe it might happen for you. Anything you want seems to happen your way.
"Captain Janice Lester," you murmur, and then you pull me to you and kiss me.
I jerk away and you just laugh.
"We're practicing, silly. For boys." You stroke my hair—it's long and dark and you always say how shiny it is. "Besides, didn't you like it, Christine?"
I nod because even though you surprised me, it did feel good. "But for boys."
"Right. For boys."
I'm already moving back to you before you get the last word out.
In your bed, I feel like a woman. I know I'm only seventeen, so technically I'm still a girl, but it's my first time, and you were sweet and gentle and you told me I'm beautiful.
And you made me come. Alicia's boyfriend never makes her come even though they've been together forever. She bitches about it constantly.
But you took your time, and I really like that.
I just wish I liked you more. You're handsome and all. You're sort of beautiful, if you can call a guy that. But you're not the brightest mind I've ever met.
You're not even close.
But that's okay because I didn't pick you for your brains. I wanted to know what it felt like to have a gorgeous boyfriend that other girls wanted. And I wanted to have sex.
Virginity seemed like a millstone and now it's not.
Speaking of millstones, my goddamn chemistry midterm is in three days and I've been so busy letting you think you're chasing me that I've barely studied. No boy is worth throwing a grade away for. No boy is worth throwing anything away for. Even if the sex is really good.
"What are you thinking about?" you ask, and it sounds like you actually care.
"How much I love you." The lie comes easily. You look appeased. I wonder how soon I can leave and go study.
In your bed, I feel scandalous. You're the first man I've made love to—all the others were just boys. You're smart and you have a job, not just classes, and you don't care what my major is. You saw me at a bar where I was drinking, and you sidled up next to me and said something funny.
Something that if a younger guy said it, would have sounded lame and not at all sexy.
But you're very sexy. Then again, I've always been attracted to older men even if you're the first one I've done anything with.
You're lying on your side, staring at me, and every so often you reach out to touch my arm or my back. You seem amazed that you're in bed with me, which will probably get old fast, but right now feels pretty good.
"So what is finance like?" I ask, even though I know theoretically what it's probably like and don't give a shit if I'm wrong or not. But men like to talk about themselves, and you're no different.
Fortunately, you don't go on long. You seem to know when to shut up and kiss me again.
I kiss you back with a fever—and just like one, I'm pretty sure this thing we're doing will burn out and I'll go back to normal life, but for now, it feels like the right thing.
In your bed, I feel brilliant. You're older, but unlike the other lovers I've had who couldn't believe a young thing like me was in their bed, you don't seem surprised.
You act as though I'm lucky to be in your bed, and so I feel that's probably true. Confidence can convince a girl of a lot.
And you're not cocky. You're the most intelligent person I've ever met, and you want to sleep with me, spend time with me, share experiments with me.
You're my professor, and I shouldn't be sleeping with you, but I am and I don't care what anyone else thinks.
Not that we flaunt this. You insist on discretion, and I'm happy to go along because I've never felt this way about anyone—or had anyone make me feel this way about myself.
Different things and you manage them both.
I think we're more compatible than either of us expected. Bodies and minds. I'd say souls, too, but I'm not really a spiritual person, and you've taught me to be scientific when I view these things. Some of what we're feeling is just a normal biological imperative.
But there's more. And I know it. Biology might make you say "I love you" right after you come, but love makes you say it hours later.
You love me. And I love you. And everything's going to be all right now.
I feel like life is on track. Finally.
In your bed, I feel abandoned. I love you more than anything, but you're making me stay behind—to watch "our" experiments, you say, but that's bullshit and we both know it.
I've gotten cocky. That's what you're not saying. Flaunting our engagement with some of the other assistants like that stupid Andrea. Acting like I'm in some way critical—but damn it, I am critical. You've said so yourself.
And now you're running away, on your precious expedition that I helped you plan.
That I'm suddenly not welcome on.
Although that's not how you phrase it because you're no idiot.
I'm crucial back here, you say. You lie in bed and sleep like a baby while I obsess over why I'm not going with you.
At least Andrea's not going either. I hate the way you look at her—and I hate even more that you know not to look at her too long. You're attracted to her and who wouldn't be? She's so pretty and her curves have curves. She makes me feel gawky and clumsy.
But we'll both be here while you go make history.
In your bed, I feel dirty. But I don't care. I need to find Roger and the best way is on a ship that's headed in the right general direction. And to get on said ship, I need some intervention, and who better than a lecherous admiral who likes lanky young blondes?
No one, that's who. Even if you do turn my stomach a bit, I don't care. I've made it clear what I want and what I'll trade for it.
And Starfleet is hurting for nurses. It's not like I'm going to be able to take a science billet. Those are hard to come by. I'm filling a post that you need to fill.
I'm even taking a condensed nursing course—all my experiments with Roger have been put on hold or given to someone else to finish.
This is my mission, now. Find my goddamned fiancˇ.
"You in there?" You knock on my head a little harder than is really necessary.
Guess you're ready for round two—yippee.
In your bed, I feel vindicated. I've searched and searched and now I've found you.
And it's better than I remember. But you've been without me, so of course you missed me.
Even if you made a goddamn android of Andrea to keep you company. Really? You keep saying she's just an assistant, and your ardor for me does go a long way to convincing me you're a man who's gone without sex for quite a while, but why her?
Why did it have to be her?
Then again, you never need to know I told our Vulcan first officer that I love him. That it wasn't just the virus making me say that: I actually do love him.
I was lonely. He was kind, in an unemotional way. Not unlike you on your more distracted days. So sue me, I fell for him.
You don't need to know. We're together and we'll go back to Earth and somehow I'll get out off the ship and we'll be happy finally.
Everything's going to be all right now.
In your bed, I feel comforted. I never expected to be here. But we've become masters of the long hug. You crying over the captain. Me over first Roger and then Spock.
Me wanting to kill Spock for what he said to you about the captain and his goddamn interesting qualities after he nearly raped you. Sensitivity training all around for these boys, if you ask me.
It's nice to hold you. You're soft and you cuddle into me and somehow I'm the one taking the lead in this. I'm the one that kissed you as you cried. I'm the one that took our clothes off.
I'm the one that kissed down your throat, to your collarbone and breasts and...
The captain is missing out. That's for sure.
"This isn't what I want," you murmur into my shoulder.
"I know." It hurts, though. So soon after Roger. It hurts that you don't seem to even want me to stay the night.
I grab my clothes.
"Don't go." You clutch at me like I hold the answer to every question.
As far as mixed messages go, you're the queen. "What do you want me to do?"
"No more sex. Just...sleep with me. Like a slumber party."
"Was the sex bad?" Can't I just let go of this?
"No. It's just... You're not him, okay. I'd be saying the same thing to one of the guys."
Knowing you, you probably would, so I let go of my hurt feelings and settle back in next to you. "You need to leave," I say softly. "You're too close."
"Says the woman with the crush that won't quit."
"But I don't work for him. If I did, I'd be gone."
"Do you ever think of McCoy that way?" you ask and I laugh. You never fail to surprise me where you go with conversations. You zig when I think you'll zag.
"No. He's not my type." And he can get mean. I leave that part out, though. You'd read him the riot act if you thought he was treating me badly—that's the kind of friend you are.
"You won't tell Ny we did this, will you?" You sound like this is something we should be ashamed of.
"Jesus, let it go. It's our fucking secret."
You start to laugh. "No it's our secret fucking." Your eyes sparkle, and I wonder how the captain can see you and not want you.
Or how, because I can't imagine him not wanting you, he manages to stay away.
In your bed, I feel awkward. Well, technically it's more of a blanket than a bed, and I seem to still be half dressed.
These fucking spores. I'm not even sure what your name is.
I pull the rest of my uniform on and tell you to forget this happened. Thank God you're a member of Sandoval's group. I won't have to see you again after this mission.
"It was fun," you say softly.
"Yeah, great." But I'm not sure it was. The spores made everything cotton candy and rainbows. I don't think I even came once. In fact, I'm not sure we technically had sex. It was more the kind of making out you do when you're flying high on hallucinogens.
I stand and see the tree that Spock was hanging from. With that pretty woman and her willowy build and her pretty hair that looked like it was the kind of blonde a person is born with. She hung on his every word from the look of it—he returned the favor.
It hurt so much I broke free from the spores for a moment until you pulled me with you toward another cluster and I got zapped again.
I was happy, at least, when I was on them. I could forget that it's clear Spock can love a woman.
Just not me.
In your bed, I feel heartbroken. I made you soup, just as you asked. I made you soup and brought it and you didn't throw it at me this time.
You told me to come in.
You told me to lie down.
You told me to relax.
You took my uniform off and made love to me. Or that's what I told myself while it was happening.
You were a little rough, but you didn't hurt me, not really. Or not my body anyway.
"We are headed for Vulcan?" It's the third time you've asked me this since we finished.
"Yes." I want to cover up my body, hide what you've already seen so much of.
"Computer, estimated time to Vulcan?" Your voice is scratchy and emotional in a way I've never heard it.
"Eight point four five hours."
You turn to me, your eyes very far away, but your grasp knowing—you've found out what I liked, how I enjoy being touched. "We have time before I must be alone to prepare."
"Prepare for what?"
Your expression changes; I see hurt when I don't expect to. "I regret that I cannot tell you." Your touch on my face changes and becomes almost tender. "You are...fascinating to me."
I can live with that. Even if you won't tell me why you need to get to Vulcan.
In your bed, I feel triumphant. You smiled when you saw the captain. You smiled and even though McCoy kicked me out of sickbay, I know you were ecstatic he was alive.
I've never seen such joy on any face.
You called me to you a few hours later. You called me to you and told me about your wife—that gorgeous woman you greeted with such lack of emotion.
You told me very little, but I got the gist: you were engaged. Now you're not.
We're alike in that.
You want me again. You can have me now. You've said the first part; I imagine you'll get to the second in only a matter of time.
You push me down and you're kissing me, your hands sure as you draw me toward the brink of pleasure. I am about to go when I hear you murmur it.
I jerk away from you, from your mouth and your fingers. "What?"
You look stricken.
"You said, 'Jim.'"
"I did not mean to." You seem to want to look anywhere but at me.
"But you said it." I back up until I can sit against the headboard. "Why are you with me if you want him?"
"You are extrapolating a great deal from a name."
"I'm a scientist. Extrapolation is what I do." I fold my arms over my chest. "Your smile. When you saw him. I wanted to believe it was just friendship but...was it more?"
You wave my words away, frustration evident in your expression. "Christine, please. I need you."
And suddenly it makes sense. Why you fucked me before. Why you want to fuck me again now. My specialty is biochem, and this is pure biology spurring you on even if I wanted to believe it was emotion. "This is about reproduction. He won't do—your body knows you need a woman."
"It is about reproduction. A strong bond, however, could negate the need for a fertile partner."
I pull my knees to my chin. "Hate to break it to you but I'm not exactly fertile." Birth control is mandatory, except for special circumstances.
"My mind knows that. My body does not. Not at this time."
You want him but you're stuck with me. "You could bond with him, then?"
"He would need to want it, as well."
I can almost hear the longing in your voice. You want him so much and he doesn't see you that way, does he? "If I go...?"
"Please do not. I am unsure if the burning is over." You sound embarrassed to be asking me to stay. You sound as if you would let me go if it were up to your intellect and not your biology.
"I love you." I want to call the words back as soon as they are out.
"So you have said." It's a slap the way you say it. You seem to realize it because you reach for me gently. "Christine, please."
I'm helpless to tell you no. I let you pull me back into your arms.
I'm the worst kind of fool.
In your bed, I feel spiteful. Spock wants you but I'm the one fucking you. You came to me filled with Kironide-driven lust.
You could have gone to Ny, but you came to me. I'm still processing that. But you and I have shared things: Roger, Miramanee's death.
It was enough apparently to bring you to sickbay, to leave you standing in the doorway, the door hissing as it bumped against your leg.
I took one look at you and said, "I'm taking off a little early," to my peers who probably can't stand me anyway.
You turned and were halfway down the hall when I caught up with you. You reached for my hand in the lift and held it until the door opened to let more people on. We didn't speak until we got to your quarters.
"This isn't what I should be doing," you said. "It doesn't mean—"'
I shushed you with my finger on your lips. "Anything. I know."
And now I lie next to you, breathing hard, feeling so damn good from the sex and the way you are—so present even if this doesn't mean anything—and I know that Spock would give anything to trade places with me.
"I worried that Spock might be with you," you say softly, watching my face, reading me better than most people even though we've spent so little time together.
"I think with me is not where he'd like to be." I want to see if you know—if you can tell how much he wants you or if you believe the two of you are just friends.
But your expression gives nothing away. You just nod, and I realize you might think I'm referring to Ny. She and Spock have always had a special bond; she flirts with him more than a friend really should.
Jan and I used to talk about that, how she flirted with both our men.
Shit, Jan is going to fucking kill me. This is so much more than flirting.
I decide to let it go. This doesn't mean anything, and I know you won't let it happen again.
"Thank you," I say as I kiss you gently. "For the poker—or lack thereof. I could feel the heat on my face. I didn't want to feel it for real."
You trace my cheeks gently and say, "I think that was the extra push I needed. Seeing you..." You sigh. "You do realize you're exactly my type, right?"
I laugh softly. "Yeah?"
"Scientists. My Kryptonite."
I reach down and play with my new friend and feel him roaring back to life. "You are pretty super."
You grin and pull me on top of you.
I'm going to be very sorry when the night is over.
In your bed, I feel like a replacement. I know because Len told me what happened on Sarpeidon. With Zarabeth—your great love that you had to leave in the past.
And now you're here. Fucking me when another person is on your mind. Again.
You've fallen for women over and over. I know you love Jim, but you clearly can be distracted by pretty faces.
My face apparently isn't pretty enough. I'm just here for the clean-up work.
God, could I have any less respect?
I must be broadcasting my anger and self-loathing because you move away from me in bed. You don't go so far as to turn your back, but rejection is clear.
"Do you think I do not know you were with him?"
Him? Oh, shit, do you mean the captain? "Him who?" Play dumb. Always the safest opening.
I play chess, too, you know. Oh, you didn't know? Yeah, because you didn't fucking ask—or care.
"Jim." The word is said like you have the right to claim it, as your partner, your love. Jim. I don't even call him that. I've slept with him, and I whispered his name that night because he told me to call him by it. But it was clear that was a privilege that would expire with the morning.
"How would you know that?" Surely the captain hasn't told you.
"I've had occasion to meld with him. I saw you in his mind." There's a look I can't read on your face. "Multiple memories spread over time."
You say it like those kind of memories are a problem. But for what?
"He cares for you," you say and there's a deep bitterness in your voice.
"And I love you. And you love him." I push myself out of the bed. "How sad is any of this?"
You don't call me back. The sex was lovely until I figured out it wasn't me you were making love to. Should I thank you for that?
I study your expression. The almost...distaste on your face.
I think I won't thank you for jack shit. "Good night," I say instead.
Like we're normal people on a normal occasion calling it a night.
Like we're not instead destroying each other under your covers.
In your bed, I'm not sure how I feel.
"Spock's leaving," you say, and you pull me closer so I snake my arm over your chest and relax into you.
"I know. Spock told me. He told me and I'm not sure why, because he's never, ever loved me the way he does you." But he was mad at me, still, for the fight we had after Zarabeth. I don't tell you that, though.
"There were things I felt from him. When I was in Janice's body. And in the meld he used to determine it was really me." You sigh and turn so you're facing me. "He loves me. I mean, I knew that. I love him, too. My...best friend—or one of them. But...he's in love with me."
"I've always known that." I think the whole ship knows that, but I'm not going to tell you that. "The question really is do you love him?"
"Not like that." You frown. "But, in her body, it was different. He felt as if it was all right that he loved me, if that makes sense? And...maybe I did, too."
"You should have stayed female, then. You'd have gotten the hang of it, I have no doubt." I nuzzle you and you laugh, but it's a half-hearted sound. "It's okay to be attracted to him."
"I know that. But I like women."
"Exactly." You meet my eyes, and yours are searching. "Have you ever? With a woman?"
I start to laugh, and it's the hysterical laugh that threatened every time I saw Janice Lester on the ship. She'd forgotten me. Not just when you were in her body but when she was.
"What?" You sound almost hurt.
"No, it's just—it was with her. With Lester. When we were kids. Practicing for boys."
Your grin is gorgeous. "How far did you go?"
"Kissing. Only. We were kids. But clearly it wasn't very memorable. She didn't even remember me. Or if she did, she sure didn't show it." And she maybe had forgotten me since she transferred to another school halfway through third grade when her mom was reassigned. I thought I'd never see her again.
"So just her?"
I look down and shake my head. "I must have a thing for girls named Janice."
"Rand?" Your smile grows as I nod. "Was she good?"
"Well, we may grade differently and it was just once, but yeah, she was." I sigh and stretch my legs, rubbing along your calf with my foot. "She wanted you so much. She was...frustrated. I was frustrated with Spock. Perfect confluence of frustration and available outlet."
"Is that all it was?"
"I think so. It was fun. So fun. But she never wanted to repeat it—or for Ny to find out. I wouldn't have cared. Might have made me look less pathetic in her eyes, you know? The endless torch for Spock and all that."
Your smile fades, and I know I shouldn't have brought him up again.
"What am I going to do without him?"
"Find a new first officer."
Your look changes.
"I could leave. The ship, I mean, not Starfleet. The admiral promotion list comes out in a few months. If I'm on it, I'm Command bound."
"You'd make a very good admiral." I say, but I'm not sure I mean it.
Your look tells me you're just as unsure of my sincerity.
In your bed, I feel like a proxy. Why did I even sit down with you when you were so clearly angry and well on the way to drunk?
There was a part of me that thought once I was on Earth at med school and you were at Command, we'd find a way to make things work. I thought that until I heard from Janice that you'd gotten married.
"I hate my life, Chris," you said as you led me out of the bar. "I hate my job and my fucking ex-wife, and I hate Spock—do you hate him?"
I didn't answer because nothing really would be an answer. If English had a word that meant "some of the time with every fiber of my being but then other times not so much," or even "no, because I blame you for his leaving" then that would be my answer.
Because I do blame you. He loved you, and you didn't love him back the way he wanted, and now he's gone. And yes, I know it's illogical because if you had loved him back the way he wanted, he'd still be here but with you and I wouldn't have him, but you could have loved him back only part of the way and I'd have taken the rest.
I'd have been enough for the rest. Maybe.
Oh hell, okay, no, I wouldn't have been. He loved you and you love women. Not enough to ever make it work, though. What's wrong with your ex-wife exactly? Other than she doesn't hate Earth?
I happen to have treated Admiral Ciani more than once, but I don't tell you that because I'm enjoying sex with you, even if it's not really about me. Even distracted and pissed off, you're still a master in the sack.
After you've calmed down—and sent me down the orgasm rabbit hole a few more times—you rub my back gently and say, "Sorry. Working shit out."
"Am I complaining?"
"You should. You deserve better." You roll to your back. "What's your choice of assignment, Chris? Let me make your life better if not your sex life."
"CMO on the Enterprise," I joke as I nuzzle you. "And the sex was amazing. I just wouldn't call this romance."
You turn and smile, and there's a broken tenderness in the expression. "We've never been a romance."
"I know. I'm here knowing that." I kiss you gently so you know I'm being serious. "I don't expect you to fix anything for me."
"Are you serious about the Enterprise?"
I fix you with a look, but your expression doesn't change. "I'm a newly minted lieutenant and a new MD."
"Not what I asked."
I start to laugh—I can't help it. Will I always get on that damn ship by fucking an admiral?
"Yes, I want it. But it's ludicrous."
"I happen to know the new captain. I'll make introductions tomorrow if you're free." You stroke back my hair, and the strength of your touch makes me press into your hand. "You'll like Will."
"I'd be happy just to be a doctor on the ship." I rub my nose against yours, making you laugh, finally. "I don't expect anything."
"Maybe you should. Maybe you should expect everything." You pull me back down for a kiss. "Now, where were we?"
In your bed, I feel a kinship. You lost the love of your life, an alien, and you know what it's like to lose someone to space as well.
You smile lazily as you write nonsense words on my back with your finger. "How's Jim going to take this? I'm stealing both his girls."
"I'm not his girl." In fact, he cut me loose not long after he introduced me to you. "He'll hate you more for the ship than for me." Although he recommended you for the ship and then gave me to you, so maybe he'll hate you for both. It's not something I'd put past him if he's in a mood to wallow in how much he despises his life.
"I don't think Commander Uhura cares for me." You cross your arms behind your head and stare up at the ceiling as you often do when we talk crew stuff in bed. Like it belies the fact we're naked while we do this.
"She's a big Jim fan. She'll get over it. Just treat her like she has half a brain and she'll love you." I've never understood Ny's desire to be on the bridge in the same post for so long. She should be on another ship—a smaller one but in a bigger role. She should be working her way toward command. But she likes it here.
Although maybe you'll be what finally drives her away.
"It's going to be an amazing ship, Christine." You smile in the easy way of yours, and I grin back, the expression coming more frequently and more easily and making me understand that I didn't smile all that much before you. Or not a real smile—I put on a smile every day, but I'm not sure I really meant it. Not since Roger disappeared—or more accurately, not since he left me behind.
Neither of us has said we love the other. I don't know when we will, but I could say it now and it wouldn't be a lie. I think I could love you more—and will, once we're out and free to forge our own path in history.
It excites me to think of what we'll do. The memories we'll make.
In your bed, I feel betrayed. "We built this crew together." Well, the parts Starfleet Command didn't dictate. "And you bring her on board."
Ilia. Your great love. A fucking Deltan.
"Christine, calm down. It wasn't my doing. Delautro elected not to re-up—he has a new baby and he decided at the last minute he didn't want to miss her first years."
"So they send us her?" I can hear the bitterness in my tone and wince. "At least her oath of celibacy is on record." I looked that up the minute I heard she was coming aboard.
You laugh in a way I can't quite read. "Those oaths are bullshit. Deltans do without sex just about as well as we do without water."
I stare at you. I'm naked in bed with you, your lover for months now, and you say this? "If you're going to end this, just do it. Don't use me until she gets here."
Your smile is your normal, sweetly lustful one. You push me to my back and kiss down my body until...oh, sweet Jesus you're good at this.
"She was angry when I left her. She may not want me." You reach up and take my hand, squeezing it gently. "And even if she does, Deltans are into groups, Christine. No one's going anywhere."
"So you want us both?"
You give up what you're doing and move back so we can look each other in the eyes. "Maybe. If she wants me still. She may not—I left her, after all. Ran from the intimacy." You make a face because this isn't how the story went when you told it to me the first time. "Ironic, since now I can envision having her and you, too."
"You're not even going to ask me if I want to be part of a group?" It's not the first time you've gone around me—you're turning out to be more ambitious than I thought, and your "aw shucks" manner hides a man willing to do just about anything to get what you want—but each time seems like a new blister being torn open. You're starting to remind me of Roger. "Will, this isn't what I signed up for."
You sigh and say, "Let's just see what happens, okay?"
I already know I've lost you, even if I stay with you and this goddamn, no doubt very sexy, Deltan. I'm angry and hurt and wishing I'd never become your CMO or your lover.
But I murmur, "Okay." Because I'm an idiot and I love you.
And maybe if you think this can work, it can.
In your bed, I feel wary. You say you want me, that V'ger made you more open to me. But I was in sickbay. I witnessed you finally getting your emotions back. The way you were with Jim.
This simple feeling.
I have a feeling I'm an idiot for being here. I pride myself on being driven and focused and getting things done and yet I throw everything that matters aside when you express the least amount of interest.
I'm beyond pathetic at this point.
But the sex...oh, God, it's so good. If I close my eyes, I can pretend that you love me. That you see me and not Jim or one of the countless women who made you forget him for a moment when I couldn't. I could think that, but nothing is going to erase the last time, when you called out Zarabeth's name instead of mine. Or the time before that, when you called out Jim's.
"Are you thinking of him?" you ask, your tone neutral.
"Why would I be?" Shit, am I broadcasting?
"Your eyes are closed. I know you were involved with him, and now he is gone."
Oh. Crap. We're talking about Will.
What are the odds a woman can lose a man she loves to a machine twice? Because I think I'm beating them.
"I loved him." I try to use the words as a weapon. Both to hurt you and to get you off the track of Jim. Jim who hugged me and told me he was sorry Will was gone, and actually sounded like he meant it.
Why the fuck can't I love Jim? Do I have a problem with emotionally available men?
And if so, why? My father was a good guy. I'm not seeking to replace him. Or find a better replica of him. I loved him. I cried when he died, but the normal amount.
Why do I find cold men so appealing? Roger wasn't always warm. And you, well, you want cold? Find a Vulcan who doesn't love you to sleep with. It'll freeze your heart right in pieces.
"So you were thinking of him?" you ask again.
"Shouldn't you know who I'm thinking of?"
"The meld with V'ger—it left my psi abilities overwhelmed. The amount of extraneous noise is extreme."
"So you can't read me?"
"If we were to meld, then of course I would be able to. But by touch alone, I'm sensing at the most basic level only."
I nod, exhausted suddenly, overwhelmed by the choices that have been made on top of mine. I should be CMO for Will. We should be travelling the stars together—maybe worrying about how to fit a Deltan into the bed. Instead I'm back exactly where I started except I'm a doctor instead of a nurse and I'm down one more lover.
"I'm leaving the ship," I say before I can call the words back.
"I'm leaving you." I say it so you get it—I don't want this to be unclear because you can't read me well enough to understand.
"I see," you say again and this time you sound hurt.
I sit up and reach for my uniform.
"You could stay the night," you say, and I turn and stare at you.
"Why in God's name would I want to do that?"
You have no answer. The hurt expression on your face grows. I dress and flee.
In your bed, I feel good. I stretch and practically purr as you kiss your way up my stomach.
"This is not how I envisioned our lives working out when I recommended you to Decker."
"No kidding." Being with you feels right, on my last night on your ship before I head back to Starfleet Medical to weigh assignments.
"You were with Will?" You're fishing—I know you well enough—and if Spock didn't know the truth, I'd lie to you. But he does know and I don't feel like being caught in the lie sometime in the future, so I nod.
Then I meet your eyes. "Ilia was Will's Spock."
The hit registers. That even if I'm in bed with you, even if we've given each other many lovely orgasms, you're not my great love.
It's cruel. But I'm feeling that way after Will's defection, after Spock's trial run.
Then I immediately feel bad because none of this is your fault. Only, it sort of is. Would Will have been able to beat V'ger on his own? I've run the options and don't see a happy ending for humanity or any other species if you hadn't taken command. So you didn't set out to make me unhappy, other than by demoting me.
I shake it off and murmur, "I'm sorry. That wasn't nice."
"It's all right. We're honest with each other, right? We don't pretend this is more than what it is."
"Right." I meet your eyes, and I see the hurt in them, and I wonder if there's a similar pain in mine.
I'd probably be a happier woman if I could just fall in love with you and call it a day. You might be a happier man if you could have me. But I know your policy about crew and romance.
"It could have been great," you murmur as you push the covers off and reach for your uniform.
I'm not sure if you're talking about us or the future that might have been with Will in command and me as his CMO. Your face gives nothing away.
"We could go a bit longer—I could stay the night," I say and as the words come out, I hear Spock saying them to me.
"No thanks." You smile gently as if to take the sting out but I nod, understanding.
And I'm sorry. So very sorry.
In your bed, I feel less alone. We're cuddling, not having sex. We haven't had sex since that one time. It never hurt our friendship. But the truth might.
But if we can't have truth what kind of friendship is it?
"I slept with the captain." There, it's out, and I wait for you to react, to push me out of your bed, to yell at me. "Did you hear me?"
"I did." You turn to face me. Your expression is untroubled. "I gave up on him a long time ago."
This isn't what I expected. "Okay."
"I wish you could give up on Spock. You'd be a happier person." You lean in and kiss my cheek. "Thank you for finally telling me."
You nod, but you don't tell me how you knew, and I'm so relieved we're not fighting that I don't want to pursue this.
"Was he good?" you ask as you slip to your back and stare at the ceiling. You've painted it with stars that glow and that surprises me.
Only maybe it was this way when you got it. Maybe you're not longing for space but some other renter was.
"Very good." I should be honest, the way you'd be with me if you were with Spock. Only you wouldn't sleep with Spock.
Or would you? Is that why you're so calm? "Did you ever...with Spock?"
You slap my arm without looking at me. "You're an idiot," is all you say.
My arm stings. Your slap was harder than I expected.
Maybe you are a little bit mad.
In your bed, I feel powerful, the way I used to when Roger and I just started and I felt like I was Queen of the Lab.
"You should come to ops. I think you would like it. And admit it, you're bored with medicine."
You're a force of nature. Moving quickly. Declarative statements rule your vocabulary. We met at a party Jim and Antonia threw.
He's happy. She's beautiful and loving and everything he deserves. I was surprised to be invited, but she made me welcome so I don't think he ever told her about us.
And he introduced me to you. "Chris, meet Cartwright."
"Matthew, to my friends," you said with a twinkle in your eyes.
We've been together since.
You know about Spock. I know about your ex-wife who left you out of the blue, nursing a broken heart and a love that still beats strong.
We're under no illusions this is love. But it is compatibility in so many ways. I get you and you get me and this feels...easy.
"But you're in charge of ops. Wouldn't we have to quit doing this?"
You shrug. "How discreet can you be?"
"Pretty damn discreet." Or at least I think so.
"Then I'd say the answer to that is no, we don't have to stop." You lean in. "Or we can. If that makes you feel better? I'd rather have you working for me than in my bed, if you want the truth."
If any other man said that, I'd be crushed. But you have no stronger compliment than for those you think are good to work with. You're stingy with that accolade.
"I think it might be better if we quit." Oh my God, did I just say that? Who am I becoming? I almost laugh.
You nod as if I'm being wise. Then you kiss me. "Might as well enjoy ourselves tonight, then."
I smile, loving how easily you let me off the hook. "Or until I actually get assigned to you."
"I have a friend who would also be good for ops." I owe Jan for so much, not least for sleeping with Jim and not telling her till now.
"If they're anything like you, I'm interested."
In your bed, I feel heartbroken and I know you do, too. You clutch me to you and murmur, "He's gone, Chris," even as you thrust harder.
And I hold you tightly and urge you on and whisper back, "I know. I'm so sorry. I know."
He's everything to both of us, and you were there with him when he died. He died so you wouldn't. And now he's gone.
He'll always be gone, and I'll never have him, and maybe you're wondering if you should have, but it doesn't feel that way and you've never chosen him. You had Lori and Antonia and God knows how many other women—and I'm not going to throw stones because I've had God knows how many other men.
But you never had him. Not as far as I know.
Although it's not like you'd tell me. Or he would. But I think I would just know. Like, somehow, I'd find out.
Or Janice would. And she doesn't think you were with him, either.
You bury your head in my neck as you come, and you say my name over and over and it's nice, that you do that, that you make sure that I know I still exist here for you, even in the middle of all this pain.
"How long have you been awake?" It's a doctor's question, and it's been awhile since I've been that, but I care about you. So much.
So much I think if I'd never fallen in love with Spock, I'd be in love with you. I think you know that, too. I think you'd welcome it. And I think it's why you've never pushed me harder for something when we've had plenty of opportunities over the years.
Because you want to come first. I certainly understand that. T-fucking-Pring taught me that nasty lesson.
"Do you want a sedative?" I ask.
"Do you have the counter-agent if I need to get up?"
I kiss you and say that of course I do, and you nod and let me grab it from me drawer in my nightstand.
You make a funny face and ask, "Was that for me or do you have problems sleeping?"
"You work in ops for long and try sleeping after all that death."
Which is a stupid thing to say because you just lost your best friend, and I feel like a bitch, but you nod as if I've said something wise and murmur, "Point taken." Then you guide my hand to your neck and say, "Give me some peace, Chris. Just for a moment."
And I do. I let it hiss into your bloodstream and watch your eyes close, and as you let go, I stroke your cheek and murmur that I won't leave you until you wake up.
And I don't.
In your bed, I want to take away your pain. You're ten years old and you're our last patient.
Last as in the last to die, not the last to get well. We developed the vaccine too late for most of the sick. I'm covered now, so I don't have to use the biohazard suit, thank God. I can be here with you, flesh to flesh. My hand on yours, my lips on your fevered forehead.
Usually I do better at staying detached, but you remind me of Jan—blonde hair and big eyes and a forthright way of speaking, even for a child.
I'm lying on top of the covers, reading you a story my mother used to read to me when I was a kid. I've told the other doctors and nurses to clear out.
They need the rest, and I want the room. For us. Just us. We've bonded. If you'd survived, I'd have adopted you. If we couldn't find your family, I mean.
I...I love you. I never really wanted kids until now.
"Christine, stop reading." Your hand is hot on mine. "What happens after we die?"
I hate this question. I don't know the answer, and I'm a terrible liar when it comes to the afterlife or lack thereof. "What did your parents think? Were they religious?"
She nods. "But I don't know if I believe it."
I try to imagine Roger in some heaven, picture Len with Spock's katra in his head. Sometimes the dead do come back to life.
But not this time.
"I think heaven's a beautiful place. It's bright and happy and it's full of people who are nice. There are kittens and puppies and ponies." All the things I wanted when I was a kid.
"Is there candy?"
"All your favorite kinds." I blink back tears and hope you can't see me doing it. "There's music and everything fun that you like to do. And all the people you love." I bite back a sob, and you squeeze my hand.
Your breathing is growing more labored. I can hear that even as I make up lies for you about heaven.
"Thank you for staying with me."
"I love you." I somehow manage to get it out. It's been so long since I've told anyone this. And now it's tearing me apart.
And then you're gone. I scan, just to be sure, and then I curl into you and let myself cry for real.
How long am I supposed to do this? How many people can I watch die before part of me dies too?
I get up and dry my eyes. There are things to be done, documents to be completed. You were a patient, not my child.
I walk out and find the other doctors. One of them pulls me into a quick hug, then lets me go without a word.
Another says, "The Enterprise is on her way."
And I smile. Maybe there is a God.
In your bed, I feel comforted. I told you about Sarina, and you held me while I cried.
And now we're curled against each other. We've made love, and it was gentle and sweet, and I wish more than anything that I loved you and only you.
"Do you believe in heaven?" I ask softly enough that you can ignore the question if you want.
"I don't know. Do you?"
I shake my head.
"I want to think that David's in a better place. I don't want to think he only lived that short time and then that was it."
"Reincarnation's appealing. No waste." I frown, thinking, and you smile and stroke the lines that have no doubt appeared between my eyebrows. "Souls are real. Or at least Vulcan souls are. So are human?" No scientific evidence exists, no medical map to the soul.
"It would be nice to think so." Your eyes are closing, and I know you've had a busy week.
I can feel my own eyes closing and cuddle into you. "Did you know? That I needed you?"
"I wish I had," you whisper so gently that I start to cry again.
But only for a moment. This is my life. People die. I go on.
In your bed, I feel like I'm losing my best friend. Excelsior awaits and this is our last ops sleepover.
"Don't you dare cry." Your voice is firm. "It's time for me to go. It's probably time for you to go, too."
"I know. But Cartwright's moving up and rumor has it so am I."
You frown. Not because you're not in the know—that's never bothered you. But because you think I'm burned out and leading the show is not going to change that. It's going to make it worse.
Although the travel is less. The feet-on-the-ground aspect will be mostly gone. I actually think it'll be easier, and Matthew has told me it will be. Other than losing team members that I will have sent out.
That part will tear me apart, but I know it going in. Jim's talked to me about that, too. Given me coping mechanisms. Things that work for him.
You turn to look at me and you laugh. "You're thinking of him."
"The accessible one you're too stupid to go after."
I nod because you're not wrong. Then your look changes and I ask, "What?"
You lean in close and murmur, "Hikaru doesn't have a not-in-the-nest policy—when it comes to me, anyway." Your smile is a beautiful thing.
"You and him?"
You nod, and I wonder where the hell I was when this was happening. I'm the world's shittiest friend.
"Is it good?"
You nod again and your look is wicked. "I'm happy, Christine."
I pull you into a hug, our last for a while. "Then so am I."
In your bed, I feel happy. You pull me to you and kiss me in a way you haven't before. Free and joyful.
You came to ops yesterday, a month after Khitomer.
I smiled as you stood in my doorway. "All hail the conquering hero."
Your rolled your eyes the way you do when you're uncomfortable with praise. "Can you come over tonight? I'd like to talk."
I came over and you hustled me to bed. And it's been hours. I rub your neck, under your hair, and you sigh. "I thought you wanted to talk."
"I do. I waited. After Khitomer. After Valeris. I waited for Spock to come to his senses and choose you. But he didn't, did he?"
You pull away so we can see each other clearly. "I'm not the guy who thinks I have to be your first love or your greatest love. I'm older and I'm wiser and I'm fatter."
I laugh because so am I.
"And I want you. To be my love now. Whatever kind. I want to be with you." You take a deep breath. "Have you given up on him?"
"I want to make a difference, Chris. I'm retiring soon and I've listened to you say so many times that ops can only do so much. That the same things happen over and over because once the emergency is done, the teams all leave and people go back to doing stupid things or dangerous things. I want to start a foundation. One that can get teams on the ground after ops leaves. Teams that stay and work to make a difference.
"I'm tired of being shot at. Of being put in alien prisons." You grin but it's a bittersweet expression. "I want to have a legacy and I want you to help me."
"You. I know you have a few years left before you retire, but by then I'll be up and running with donors lured by my charm and star status." You laugh, at yourself, never afraid to.
I love that about you. "It's a great idea."
"And we can do it together. Work...and love. What do you say?"
I smile because even if you're older, you're still such a handsome man. "I say yes. I say I love you." It's not untrue. You're not my greatest love, but you are a love of mine.
And you've been there. For so long you've been there.
We've been there for each other.
"Then it's settled. It's going to be great, Chris."
I believe you.
In your bed, I feel like a substitute. I imagine in some ways you might feel that way, too.
You came to my office door, while the news vids were running the endless headlines. Captain James T. Kirk dies saving new Enterprise.
You stood at my door, your face no longer a Vulcan mask, misery clear and I opened my arms and said, "I'm so sorry."
And you went into them as I called for privacy.
We went back to your place because I couldn't face Jim's apartment without him there. With him never going to be there.
We didn't make love. I think it felt like a betrayal to both of us to do that to him.
But you're holding me, and your lips on mine are more helpless than passionate. You're trying to find some piece of him in me and I know it.
"Take some time off, Christine. Come to Vulcan." You sound almost human in your urgency.
Any other time, I might have said yes. But not now, not when he's gone and I can't run to him to save me. "I can't."
"You love me."
I won't debate this with you. "And you loved him. And you need to mourn, not move on to me with no time spent alone. Grieve, Spock. And if you really think I'm what you want when you get done, then come find me."
There will be no foundation now. No way to make things better. No lasting Kirk legacy. "I won't be hard to find," I murmur, already feeling the loss of my future, not just my man. "I'll be in ops."
I'll die in ops, or at least I feel that way. One of the real old timers, the lifers, who work one emergency too many and make a last big mistake—or get so hard they might as well have died.
"Stay with me tonight." You sound tentative, and I wonder if you're remembering a time when I wouldn't.
I wrap my arms around you and nestle in. I don't sleep. I don't think you do either.
But it's a comfort even so.
I leave you in the morning. I leave you and face the world as Jim's bereaved girlfriend, the poor thing, the sad woman.
I clean my things out of his apartment—I never kept that much stuff there since my place was so much closer to Command. I only stayed at Jim's on my days off.
Usually he stayed with me.
His smell is still on my pillow. I curl up with it and wonder how long before it disappears the same way he did.
In your bed, I feel like a fraud.
You're sweet and lovely. The kind of man women and men look at. You remind me a little of Jim and nothing at all of Spock. You say what you feel like you're being paid by the word.
This is what I wanted once upon a time. To be loved and love in return.
Only that second part...it's not happening and I never expected it to.
You're not Spock or Jim or Will or Roger. Or even Janice. You're just another lover who'll stay for a while until you realize how broken I am.
"You should leave ops," you murmur, and it takes me a minute to process what you've said.
"Why would I do that?" Ops is my touchstone. It's the only thing that's solid. Which is ironic because nothing's ever the same other than we're cleaning up a mess somewhere. But I know how to do that. It's...easy.
"Because you're getting hard."
Seriously? You've got a lot of nerve. Is this because I won't love you? "Am I?" is what I settle on saying in response.
"You are. I love you. Stay with me. Think of the good we could do."
I imagine the future with you. Rescuing endangered species on some faraway world or fighting for the rights of beleaguered populations on some other. You love a cause—and truth be told you reminded me of Jim when you talk about those causes—and it suddenly occurs to me that I may just be the latest one you've added to your list.
"I like ops. We do good."
"You're not exactly Mr. Proactive." My tone is the ops one, and you hate it. The slightly mocking nature. The hard shell.
Yes, you're right. I'm a stone-cold bitch at times, but that's not a bad thing in my line of work.
And you're too fucking soft. There, it's said. You were my kneejerk reaction to losing Jim and walking away from Spock.
And not having him find me. It's been a year. How long before I give up on Spock?
But I want him. There, I've said it, if I'm going to settle down with anyone, it's going to be him.
Even if he doesn't even want me, so it won't ever come true.
It's good to know what you want. Even if you'll never get it.
In your bed, I feel dangerous.
Or I would if Starfleet Security didn't know I was sleeping with you and had encouraged a little fact-finding.
Sadly, you seem to be on some weird kind of info mission also, since all you can ask me about is Spock.
"Does he ever speak of my people?"
Your people, who look so much like Vulcans but aren't. I could tell you that Spock doesn't really talk to me all that much. That he and I have probably fucked more than conversed over anything except work over the years, but that's a pretty embarrassing thing to admit, so instead, I just shake my head in what I hope is a regretful way.
You're handsome for a Romulan. And you've been damned easy to work with on this experimental joint venture the Empire and the Federation have embarked on. But I think you've gone out of your way to be easy to talk to—this is not my first rodeo and I can recognized someone who's targeted me.
But I thought it was to get Federation secrets. Or some nasty thing in my past I'd rather not come to light that you could try to blackmail me about.
Instead, we're yakking about Spock.
But at least the sex is stellar. If Starfleet Security wants to know what I learned, I can tell them, "He fucks like a god and seems to be obsessed with Spock."
Maybe we should start a fan club?
In your bed, I feel safe. I turn, my injured shoulder protesting slightly, and you pull me to you in this hut that's clear of the firing zone. Your diplomatic team and my ops team are stuck here until these idiots we're supposed to be helping stop shooting at each other. I wince again, and you say, "When the firing stops, we must get this attended to." Medical assistance is, unfortunately, on the other side of the firing zone, and I lost my med kit in the bug-out.
So I settle for nuzzling your neck. "You mean before or after the sex?"
"After. I will be careful." And then you kiss me and for once, finally, I don't feel like it's Jim you're thinking about or some stupid Vulcan woman who will make me feel gawky and ugly.
It's me. You finally want me.
And you slayed the goddamn dragon to get me. Okay, fine, it was only a lizard, but it was a scary looking one. And okay, you didn't slay it, you captured it and let it loose in a logical place away from both us and the firing.
But you got rid of the monster under the bed. Something my parents were never able to do.
I didn't expect you on this mission but then you showed up.
"You don't, as a rule, work with me." I crossed my arms and tried to look imposing.
"I believe that will change," you said, and your eyes were light, and your lips almost ticked up.
And that's when I felt it. Something shiny and beautiful—something I'd thought long gone: hope.
"Have you mourned?" I asked.
"I have. You were most wise."
We stared at each other and finally I said, "Okay, then. Let's get to work."
And the rest of the mission, while you weren't doing your own thing, you trailed me around like a hound on a favorite scent. It was just shy of obvious—but I couldn't miss it. And damned lucky, because you're the one who got me out when my shoulder was injured—even bandaged me up with some handy Starfleet-required field-medic training.
"Why now?" I whisper.
Your face is untroubled, your touch soft and sweet.
"Why now?" I ask again, even though I know Vulcan ears could hear me the first time, but just to be clear, that I'm not afraid to ask this at full voice—that I want to know—have to know.
You don't give me a quick answer or make a face—not that a Vulcan would be likely to, but not even the slightest indication that you find the question annoying or strange. You push me to my back, and you ease the hair away from my eyes, and you say, "Because now is ours."
"You're a goddamn poet." I use my ops tone because you seem to like that, and you almost crack a smile, but I also see a tenderness in your eyes that's new and makes my heart speed up. And I know, since you're touching me and you have magical, telepathic hands that you can sense that I actually mean that you are a goddamn Vulcan poet.
And I love you.
And you're right: now is ours.