DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Djinn and is copyright (c) 2000 by Djinn. This story is Rated PG-13.
From the Sky
The sky had darkened. In the distance she thought she heard the first rumble of thunder. She waited for the lightning, but the sky remained black.
"Come back to bed." His voice was warm and deep and sleepy. "Come back to bed, Chris."
"I just want to watch the storm for a while," she whispered. "Watch the sky."
He wrapped his arms around her. She hadn't even heard him get up.
"Maybe someday you'll tell me what's up there you find so fascinating? You need to start sharing with me, love. We're together now. We shouldn't have any secrets."
She leaned back against him and felt his arms tighten. "Everyone has secrets, Steven."
He leaned in and kissed her cheek. "I don't."
No, he probably didn't. But she did. Secrets she intended to keep...forever.
He pulled her back with him to the bed. "You're in a strange mood tonight, Chris."
She followed him down to the nest of covers and let him tuck her in next to him. Curling into his body, she found a spot that allowed her to be close to him and still watch the storm. "Go to sleep, Steven. I'll be better in the morning."
He kissed her gently then relaxed. She heard his breathing slow as he drifted into sleep. It was only as she watched the sky that she felt her own body relax. A rhythmic sound on the roof signaled rain had started. The sky suddenly lit with the first bright streak of lightning. Several seconds later came the deep rumble of thunder. Still far away. Just like Spock. So far away.
As the sky ignited with a sheet of lightning, she felt her eyes begin to fill. Storms and Spock. Forever linked in her mind. She hated them both. She loved them both.
Steven rolled over and released her. She rose carefully from the bed and left the room. Finding her way across the living area, she grabbed a throw and wrapped it around her shoulders. She settled into the chair by the large picture window and let the storm mask the sound of her weeping.
She hoped Steven wouldn't wake up. He didn't deserve this—didn't need this.
She buried her face into the crook of her arm and muffled the wild sobs that threatened to tear her apart in the thick softness of the throw. Why wouldn't this pain go away? Why couldn't she forget Spock? Damn him!
Two years earlier
"Doctor Chapel, may I speak with you?"
Christine turned to see Spock standing in the door of her office at Starfleet medical. She felt her stomach lurch.
"Spock, this is a surprise. What could possibly cause you to darken my door?" She tried to soften her words with a gentle smile.
He looked down as he nearly whispered, "It is a private matter."
Christine fought a moment's panic. So it had finally come, the words she both dreaded and wanted to hear. The burning was imminent and he hadn't found a mate. After the incident with V'ger she'd found the courage to seek Spock out. She'd told him that if he ever needed her, she'd be there for him. She'd sworn she wouldn't see him die. All he had to say were the words she'd just heard. He'd thanked her gravely at the time but she'd never thought that he'd need her, had expected him to take a wife, build a family. He hadn't. He was here.
"Now?" Her voice was steady despite her racing thoughts.
He looked at her finally. "Soon."
"How soon, Spock?" She'd need to take leave. No one else was gone so that shouldn't be a problem. They could go to her uncle's house in the Blue Ridge Mountains. They would be assured of privacy there.
"Doctor?" She realized that Spock had answered her and she'd been lost in planning.
"I'm sorry. I didn't hear what you said."
"One week, I have about one week."
"Okay. I'll call you when I've arranged everything. I can leave in five days—will that be soon enough?"
"Yes." He stopped and swallowed visibly. "Doctor Chapel, you made this promise some time ago. Your feelings or your circumstances may have changed. If you no longer wish to do this, I will understand."
She gave him another gentle smile. "I won't let you die, Spock. I can't."
He nodded and turned to go.
He turned, his expression questioning.
"I think you have to call me Christine now."
He nodded again; his eyes were dark and unfathomable. "Christine."
She felt her heart flutter in anticipation and in fear. At that moment he seemed perfectly alien. But it didn't matter—she would not let him die, not when it was in her power to save him. "I'll call you as soon as I have the details."
"Thank you, Christine. You cannot know what this means to me..."
"I know, Spock. I know."
The cabin was perfect. Christine finished putting away the last of the supplies and went into the next room to make up the bed. She opened the windows to chase out the stuffy air. The temperature outside was fresh and clean, much cooler than in the lowland areas below. Summer in Virginia—who could stand it? Her uncle had taken them on day trips to Charlottesville, D.C., Williamsburg, Richmond. She'd hated leaving the pleasant warmth of the Blue Ridge for the swamp feel of those crowded tourist sites.
But she'd always loved the fierce summer storms that swept the area. Her cousins had huddled in their beds but she'd never hidden from the lightning and thunder. She remembered sitting in front of the open window in the attic room they all shared with the rain blowing into her face as she felt, not just saw or heard, the storm. A part of her wanted it to storm tonight, wanted to have that as the accompaniment to being with Spock.
She whirled at his voice. He was early. He set his travel bag down and moved to help her with the bedding. She felt herself blush at the simple domesticity of the act.
His voice sounded somewhat deeper than normal as he expressed approval for the cabin, and she felt a rush of pleasure that he appreciated the place, appreciated her. She started to pull the spread over the sheet but he moved to her side of the bed and reached for the covering.
"We will not need this, Christine." He took the spread and folded it carefully, placing it on the dresser. Turning back to her, his eyes were like liquid darkness. "Come out. We should talk while we still have time."
She realized he was going out of his way not to touch her. He must be very close. She followed him to the living area and sat across from him.
She started to speak but he held a hand up. "Christine, I have much to say and it is so difficult. Vulcans do not have to speak of this. It just is. Both partners are fully aware of all that will come. But I need to explain things to you. There is much you must know before this begins."
"Yes, I have many things I wonder about, worry about."
"Do not fear this, Christine. It will be intense but I will not injure you. If you did not desire me so, it might be harder for you. But you are aroused already."
"My senses are more acute than usual at this time. I know you desire me. I know that you also fear me."
She nodded. "I am trying not to. But there are so many rumors of the Pon Farr and what it means, and how a human wouldn't survive it."
"You will survive it. Christine. I will meld with you, but it is likely that I will also be overcome by the intensity of the experience. I may seek to bond with you. Would you be opposed to that?"
Christine felt confusion overwhelm her. "Bond? You mean as husband and wife?"
"No!" The words were out before she could soften them.
His expression was one of pure surprise, "I would have thought you would welcome the idea. It is what you have wanted, is it not?"
For a moment she felt her world crumbling as she fought a nearly overwhelming urge to agree with him. "I wanted you to come to me. I wanted you to want me. But not like this. Not because you're under the influence of your hormones." She took a deep breath. Suddenly a dark emotion was clouding their time. To have the chance to be his wife and to refuse it was almost more than she could bear. "Can you fight the urge to bond?"
He nodded, "If you do not wish it, we will not bond." He looked at her almost sadly. "Your reasoning is logical. I commend it even if I am surprised by it."
Was he disappointed? She couldn't tell from his expression. Christine saw the curtains billow as the wind shifted. In the distance she thought she heard thunder. She looked out for a moment but there was no sign of the storm. When she looked back, her eyes met Spock's. His look was more intense than any she'd ever seen him wear. She slowly stood up, and he mirrored her action. "Spock?" She felt a rush of desire and saw his eyes darken as he seemed to sense it.
"I burn for thee, Christine." His hand at last reached out. She held her own out. When they met it was fire. She was consumed by the feel of his fingers on hers, his emotions overwhelming her own. Her sadness and confusion were forgotten, subsumed by Spock's passion, by his lips on her mouth, his hands on her body. There was no space between them; they were fused and melting into one another. Spock was feeding off her desire, and sending her back his own in equal measure.
His mind touched hers and everything she'd felt up to that moment seemed inconsequential in the face of this new battering of sensation. Christine, my Christine. Bodies entwined they fell on the couch as outside the storm broke in all its fury. Lightning was their witness, thunder their music. Rain blew in on them, cooling the fires momentarily as they rested. But the burning was on him now and he was unwilling to be parted from her for long.
Christine felt as if she'd die of pleasure. His mind, his body, his desire drove her down and then lifted her up. She felt pure ecstasy, raw sensation. The storm inside her far outshone the one going on outside.
Hours later Spock lifted her and carried her to the bed. Exhausted she pulled him down with her. Sleep, Christine. While you can, you should sleep.
She was out before he finished shifting to get comfortable. She slept a deep dreamless sleep until he woke her and the pleasure began again.
Christine heard birdsong as she opened her eyes. She grimaced as her body reminded her just how exhausted and overtaxed it was. She felt herself turning red as she remembered the way Spock had made love to her, the intensity of the experience. Turning to see if he was still asleep, she discovered she was alone in the bed.
"Spock?" she called out softly. There was no answer.
Moving carefully, she got out of bed and made her way into the other room. "Spock?"
The room was empty. His travel case was gone. She saw that the communications module was blinking. Already knowing who it was from, she started the message.
"Christine, I will never be able to fully express my gratitude for what you have done for me. We both know that you have saved my life. I regret leaving in this fashion, but I do not see a logical alternative. Anything I felt during the days we shared was a result of the Pon Farr. It would be unfair to try to build a life on that. You deserve more. You are an exceptional woman, Christine, and I am in your debt." There was a long pause. "I am sorry."
Christine played the message a second time, then a third. Unwilling to believe her ears. He could not have just left her. Not like this. Not after what they'd shared. Anger overwhelmed her. Misery joined it. She walked outside, clutching the porch column as she stared out at the view. Tears blurred her vision and huge wracking sobs cut off her ability to think, to comprehend. She could only feel, and all she felt was pain.
Christine jerked awake. She was still sitting in her living room. Steven knelt before her, obviously concerned.
"Are you alright?" He reached up to stroke her hair.
She felt a rush of affection for this sweet man who was so concerned for her. "I'm fine. I couldn't sleep and I didn't want to disturb you so I came out here. I must have fallen asleep."
He shook his head at her, "You came out to watch the storm, didn't you?"
She nodded and he smiled knowingly.
"Come on, Doctor, I'll make you breakfast."
In no time he'd put together a hearty meal for them both. He kissed her as he set the plate in front of her.
"You spoil me."
"I love you."
She smiled at him. He waited for a second then his look grew sad. Sighing, she busied herself with fixing her coffee.
"Someday, maybe, you'll say it too?"
She knew he was tired of waiting for her to express her love. She'd said it more than once when they were making love, but they both knew it didn't really count then. He wanted to hear it just out of the blue. She wanted to be able to give him that, but she couldn't bring herself to lie to him. "Steven, we've talked about this."
He slammed his fork down. "No, we really haven't talked about this. You refuse to tell me about your past. You won't tell me who hurt you."
"Nobody hurt me."
"Quit lying, Chris. Just once, tell the truth. I can see it in your eyes. I can hear it in your voice. Someone hurt you. And the sick thing is that he's the one you love, isn't he? Not me. Him."
She rose. "I'm late for work. I can't do this now."
He followed her into the bedroom. "You never can. Why won't you tell me what this thing is that stands between us? Why won't you let me love you? Let yourself love me."
She walked into the bathroom, closing the door in his face. As she entered the shower, she heard him say, "We're not going to make it, Christine. Not if you won't talk to me."
She let the hard stream of water drown out anything else he had to say. When she finished her shower and walked into the bedroom to get dressed, he went into the bathroom without saying another word. She sighed heavily. Fine, if that was how it was, she'd just go on without him.
The walk to the clinic seemed longer without his normally cheerful presence. How many months had he been living with her now? Three, no four. He'd pursued her since nearly her arrival on Cannalise. She'd eagerly accepted a posting to this beautiful world a few months after her encounter with Spock. She hadn't been able to stand the thought of running into him anymore at Starfleet. Of pretending they hadn't been lovers. So she'd run. And Steven had made no secret of his attraction to her.
He'd been relentless. He was younger than she and so handsome. Many of the young women would have loved his attentions. But he wasn't interested in them. He wanted her. She'd resisted him for over a year. Then one night they'd gone to a party together. A little too much wine, two full moons, and the next morning she woke up in his arms. He was so sweet, and his love was like a balm to her battered heart. But she didn't love him. Would it be kinder to lie to him?
As she entered the clinic, one of the nurses came over to her. "Doctor Chapel, you have an important message waiting, from Starfleet medical."
She hurried to her office and activated the message console. Commander Weston appeared on the screen. Christine smiled when she saw the other doctor. They'd been roommates in medical school before Christine had left to pursue Roger Korby. Sharon had been one of her staunchest supporters when she'd returned to finish her degree.
"Christine. I'm sorry I didn't catch you personally. It's been far too long since we talked. But this isn't personal. I wanted to let you know that the Board met today to decide the upcoming senior level assignments. If you want it, Director of Emergency Operations is yours. Get back to me as soon as you hear this. I need to get your acceptance logged in so we can start arranging your transfer. Congratulations, Christine. Weston, out."
Christine stood stunned. She hadn't expected to get the position when she threw her name into the hat. She replayed the message again, almost unable to believe that she'd won the plum slot. She sent a quick reply back to her friend, accepting the assignment.
"So, another secret you weren't going to tell me about?" Steven gave her a hard look from the doorway.
She started to answer but he turned and walked away before she could form the words.
Sinking into her chair, she sat for several moments lost in thought, weighing what she was doing. The beep of the message console interrupted her reverie. It was Sharon.
"So you're coming home?" Her friend was clearly pleased. "There will be a shuttle there on Wednesday. Is that too soon for you?"
"Wednesday." Three days. It probably was best. Cut the cord quick. "I can be ready by then, Sharon. It'll be great to see you."
"Same here. Call me when you get in. We have lots to catch up on."
"I will. Chapel, out."
Christine found herself suddenly overwhelmed at the thought of going back to Earth. Spock was still there—but did it matter? He haunted her here too. Wherever she was, he was going to be a spectre in her life.
She reached over and dialed the admin officer. He was sorry to hear she was going but assured her that there was no reason to delay her departure. Two new doctors were coming in on the same shuttle so the clinic wouldn't be left short handed. She talked with him a few more minutes then broke the connection.
A steady stream of patients kept her from dealing with Steven till the end of the day. She found him in his office, getting ready to leave.
At her soft knock he looked up. His expression was controlled and distant. "So would you have just left one day? Would I have woken up to find you not here anymore?"
She fought back a sharp retort. Instead she pulled a chair in close to his. Taking his hands in hers, she shook her head gently. "Someone did that to me once. I could never do that to you."
"At last the truth. When it's already too late." He pulled his hands away, pushed his chair back, and moved away from her. Then he got up and began to pace—she let him walk because she didn't know what to say to him.
He turned around suddenly. "I'd go with you."
She felt a new burst of emotion. This time guilt. "I know but I can't ask that of you."
She stood and approached him. When he looked away, she touched his face and forced his gaze up. "Because you deserve someone that loves you. Completely and unconditionally and madly and to the end of time. And you're right. I am in love with someone else. Someone who doesn't want me. Who may never want me."
It was her turn to look away and his to pull her face back up. "I do want you. I've always wanted you. Choose me, Chris."
Oh God, why was this so hard. She pulled away from him and walked to the window. Staring out at a landscape she'd come to love, she tried to find the words. Finally she turned around and met his gaze. "Steven, once upon a time, I turned down a chance to spend the rest of my life with this man that I love because the union he proposed didn't involve him actually loving me. How can I then turn around and offer you just such a life? It would be wrong."
"You could learn to love me. You could at least try?"
She smiled sadly. "That's what I used to think about him."
He turned away from her then spun back around angrily. "How can you still love him?"
She shrugged. "How can you love me? Love is strange, Steven. We love who we love. It doesn't always make sense. And this man, he is who he is. I hate him for hurting me. But I also respect that since he couldn't offer me what I wanted, he didn't insult me with less."
"Would you take his offer now?"
She didn't even have to think about it, "No. I need his love. Anything less would be half a life."
"Is that what we've been living?"
"Yes." She saw him flinch at her bluntness. "Don't fight this, Steven. You're a kind and generous man. You're an exquisite lover. Somewhere out there is the woman who'll love you back just the way you want. I really wish it could be me. But it isn't."
He seemed to think about this for a long time.
She let him have silence to process, walked to the window and tried to memorize the landscape. She should probably try to memorize the man standing behind her but...she just didn't love him. Regret filled her.
His voice was in her ear as he whispered, "This man you love. At least tell me who he is?"
She shook her head firmly, "No. Better to let him remain faceless. Hate and anger are powerful emotions, Steven. They eat you up inside. If I don't give you a person to focus on, then you can't waste your life in hatred. Just move on. Move on and forget me."
He hugged her close, his chest pressed to her back. "I'll never forget you. Never."
She felt the tears spill down her cheeks before she realized she was crying. "Nor I you."
The stood together for several minutes and he held her as she cried. Finally she turned in his arms so she could face him. "My shuttle leaves in three days." She saw his dismay as he took that in. "You can keep the house, I already checked."
"Do you want me to be somewhere else while you get ready to go?"
"No. But that's so selfish of me."
He gently wiped the tears from her face. "Three days. Three days to make enough memories for a lifetime. I'll take it. Maybe I can change your mind."
She smiled sadly as he led her out of his office and back to their home. And for the next three days he loved her the only way he knew how: with everything in him. He did his best to change her mind.
And in the end, he didn't. As her shuttle pulled away from the planet, she watched the house they'd shared grow smaller and smaller. She bid him a silent farewel as the little ship turned for Earth.
The trip was uneventful, even boring. Christine watched through a viewscreen as Earth's spacedock came into view. A starship was pulling out as they approached. As it slid below them she saw the writing on the saucer section. U.S.S. Enterprise. My God, she thought. I wonder if they're onboard? Kirk, McCoy, Uhura, Sulu, Scotty, Chekov? And Spock. Was he there too? She felt a prickle down the back of her neck when she thought of him, but dismissed it as the ship disappeared underneath them. She was getting superstitious in middle age, seeing disaster at every turn.
As the shuttle pulled into its berth, she gathered up her bags and followed the other passengers to the transporter pads. Her household effects would be shipped directly to the Starfleet holding facility to wait for her to find permanent housing. She gave the transporter operator her destination and joined a group of other officers heading for Starfleet Command. A second pause as the transporter hummed and then they were in the main arrival area. She stepped off the pad.
She turned and found herself in a tight embrace. "Sharon, what are you doing here?"
The other woman grinned. "I'm just getting off work. Thought you could use a hand settling in. And I missed you, so shoot me." She took one of Christine's bags. "Do you have a place to stay yet?"
Christine followed her friend out of the room. "I came here to arrange for temporary quarters."
Sharon stopped and scowled at her. "Are you kidding? Stay with me till you find your own place. I've got plenty of room." She continued walking, the matter obviously closed in her mind. "We can catch up and watch vids and make popcorn and get wildly drunk and spill all our secrets. Just like the old days."
Not all their secrets, but Christine smiled at Sharon's enthusiasm. The other woman had always known how to make her feel right at home even though they'd been separated for years. "I've missed you," she said.
They talked about Christine's journey and her new position as they walked to Sharon's apartment. Christine unpacked her things in the guest bedroom then went out to help make them some dinner.
Sharon handed her a glass of wine and some vegetables to chop up, before asking, "So, you nervous?"
Christine took a sip of the wine. Ah good California Merlot. She'd missed that on Cannalise. "About being Director of Emergency Ops? Yeah, actually I am. I'd be a fool not to be nervous. But I'm looking forward to it too. Cannalise was beautiful but frankly I was getting a little bored. I guess after being on a starship..."
"The starship," Sharon said with a grin.
"The starship, then something as mundane as being a doctor in a clinic on a peaceful little planet just wasn't going to be very satisfying."
Sharon nodded as she took the vegetables from Christine. "Did you find anything to 'satisfy' you while you were there?"
Christine shot a glance at Sharon, who was looking at her with a knowing smirk. "I was living with someone when I left."
"Wow. That's serious. For you that's really serious. And you just left him?"
Christine drained her glass. "Yeah, I just left him."
Reaching for the wine bottle, Christine refilled both of their glasses before she answered. "Because I'm a heartless bitch. Because I'm too stupid to know a good thing when I see it. Because he loved me, and I didn't love him. All of the above."
Sharon didn't look at her as she asked, "It's not still Spock, is it?" When Christine didn't answer, she let out an exasperated huff of air. "Christine Chapel, I cannot believe you're still pining for that man? Has he ever said more than five words to you? What's wrong with you?"
Spock was the one, Christine thought but didn't say. '"Steven was a wonderful man. It just wasn't meant to be. Spock had nothing to do with it."
"I hope not. I'd hate to think you threw away a perfectly good relationship for that Vulcan piece of—"
"Okay, okay. I won't call him names. I just don't like him, you know that."
Christine nodded and her friend went back to cooking. Sharon really wouldn't like Spock if she knew the entire story.
Several days later, Christine came in from a long but invigorating day in her new position. She dropped her things on the table and yelled a response to Sharon's greeting from her bedroom. A moment later Sharon came out and dropped on the couch in the living area and turned on the communications console. "Christine. Get out here."
In the kitchen, Christine was getting something to eat. "In a minute. Do you want a sandwich?"
"No, and neither will you. Get out here now."
Surprised at her friend's tone of voice, she left the food and walked out to the living room. As she got closer, she saw Spock's face on the video screen. "What's going on?"
Sharon just looked at her, ashen. "I'm sorry. I know you cared for him."
"What are you—" Christine finally was close enough to read the memo. "Captain Spock gave his life to save the Enterprise and his crewmates." She felt as if she'd been slugged in the stomach. She couldn't remember how to breath. No, no, no. "Oh God."
She sank into the couch. They read the dispatch and then sat in silence. Christine found that she couldn't cry. She'd been crying for Spock for the last two years. Maybe she didn't have any more tears.
Sharon touched her tentatively on the arm.
She gave her a sad but reassuring smile. "I'm alright, Sharon. I mean, this is so incredibly sad. My shipmates must be devastated. He was a fine man, and an excellent officer. But as you said, I hardly knew him." Christine felt what little was left of her heart shatter into a million pieces. But the face she presented to Sharon was calm and composed.
Sharon nodded uncertainly. "If you want to be alone...?"
"Don't be silly." She got up and went back to the kitchen. "Are you sure you don't want a sandwich?"
Christine somehow made it through the rest of the evening. The excuse of a busy day at work allowed her to retire early. She made it through her door, managed to close it, before the pain felled her. Holding her stomach, doubled over, the tears she'd thought she was incapable of crying streamed down her face and she fought to keep her grief silent. Not making a sound, with shudders wracking her body, she wept her bitterness and anger and loss and, ultimately, love.
The next few days passed in a blur for Christine. She went to work, interacted with Sharon, all the while hiding the depths of her loss. She thanked God she'd never told Steven the name of his rival. Had he known, she suspected that he would have been on the next shuttle out. And she really couldn't deal with him too right now.
She watched on the monitors in her office when the Enterprise limped into Spacedock. She sought out Uhura and heard the whole story, or as much as she could tell her. Then Uhura disappeared without a word. Using her access, Christine made some queries about her friend. She was shocked by what she found out. Uhura had helped Kirk take the Enterprise back out, against orders. And then she'd left with Sarek, presumably for Vulcan. What the hell was going on?
It was several days later that Christine heard that the impossible had happened. Spock was alive. She had no idea how this could be so, but HQ was buzzing with it. She was able to find out that the Enterprise had been destroyed and that a young man she'd never heard of but who was apparently Kirk's son was dead. But Spock was alive. Alive and on Vulcan. And she was here on Earth and nobody even had thought to tell her he was alive. Nothing has changed. Other than she could let go of this grief now, not a damn thing has changed.
In the following months, Christine's life fell into a pattern. She worked hard at a job she not only loved but was good at. She moved into her own place but still saw Sharon often. She made new friends at work. Some of these friends would have been happy to deepen the relationship, but she always held them off. She'd learned her lesson with Steven. It wasn't fair to the other person. Another man already owned her heart, and that wasn't going to change.
She was just getting breakfast at home when the console rang with the immediate tone. She rushed to the screen and heard the ensign notifying her of an impending threat, one that was causing havoc all over the Federation. She dressed hurriedly and nearly ran to the Operations Center. The lieutenant on duty gave her a quick picture of the probe that was even now entering Earth's' orbit.
She and the others watched helplessly as all their efforts to communicate with the probe came to naught. She was heartened to see Sarek enter the room, but soon felt dismay when she heard him urge the President to send a planetary distress call. Then Kirk appeared on the screen. As he detailed his bizarre plan, Christine felt absurdly better just knowing he was on the case. If anyone could find these whales, he would be the one.
Moments later, when everything seemed to be crashing down around them, she saw the Klingon Bird of Prey dive into San Francisco Bay. For a moment the craft seemed stable then it began to sink. She could see nothing happening but suddenly the pattern of transmissions from the Probe altered and became more dynamic. They'd really done it. That thing was talking to something. Within a few moments the Probe withdrew and the systems came back on line. She saw the rescue pod pick up the crewmembers of the Bird of Prey. One of those people could be Spock. She felt her spirits lift till she reminded herself that nothing had changed.
The next day Kirk and his crew faced charges, and Christine used her position to get into the proceedings. She found herself talking to Sarek and the cetacean biologist Kirk had brought back with him from the past. Then Spock walked up. Christine worried that he could hear her heart racing as she struggled to maintain her composure.
"Welcome back, Captain Spock."
He turned to her. "Thank you, Doctor. It is satisfying to have returned safely."
She was about to say more to him when they were called to order. Spock walked away from her to stand with his shipmates. Slightly more than five words but not by much. She left quickly once the verdict was rendered barely stopping to say hello to her friends from the ship.
That night Christine was making dinner when the door chime sounded. She palmed open the door. Spock stood before her.
Her shock was palpable. "Spock?"
"May I come in, Doctor Chapel?"
She recovered just enough to motion him in and invite him to take a seat in the living room. He sat very straight, very rigid. Something was very different about him.
"Doctor Chapel, I may be presumptuous in coming here. I am struggling to put my past into perspective. Do you have any idea what happened to me?"
She shook her head so he briefly explained about the katra and how his was taken from where he'd placed it in McCoy and refused with his body. "My memories are no longer linear. No longer coherent. It is as though I have many fragments of memories, most with little to no context."
"Like a jigsaw puzzle?'
He thought about that for a moment. "Very much so. As I put some of the memories where they belong others fall into place as well. But I have a rogue memory that I cannot seem to place into context. It concerns you."
She looked at this new Spock. "You mean the memory of our encounter? Your Pon Farr?"
He looked distinctly uncomfortable. "Yes. You were not my mate. You did not become my mate. Why would we have been together like that?"
Was she so unimportant to him that he really couldn't recall? "I couldn't let you die. I loved you."
"Love. It is a difficult concept. I am trying to understand it as my mother appears to deem it important."
"Your mother is human, Spock. Love is important to all humans."
He nodded slowly. "Do you love me? Still?"
She felt anger rising in her. And pain that he could treat her like an experiment as he tried to sort out his memories. She presented her coldest face to him as she replied, "No Spock, I hate you."
"Hate is a negative emotion. It is not love. I must try to make sense of this." He rose slowly, lost in thought. As he studied her expressionless face, he continued, "I felt that I owed you an apology. Do I?"
"If you don't know what you're apologizing for, Spock, then the gesture is meaningless."
He nodded again. "Logical."
She rose and brought the conversation to a close. "Good bye, Spock. I wish you Peace and Long Life."
His expression was puzzled as he turned to her before walking to the door. "Live long and prosper, Doctor Chapel."
As the door closed behind him, Christine felt the ice she'd wrapped around herself crack. She fought the tears but then gave in. What was that? What the hell was that?
Christine spent the next few months trying to avoid Spock. But as time went on, she realized he was at HQ less and less frequently. She settled again into her routine. During the day she worked. At night or on weekends she spent time with friends, usually Sharon or Uhura when she was in town. She avoided romantic relationships and found her life settling into a dull but comfortable rut. After three years, she was offered the position of Associate Director of Medical Operations for Research. She took the job and absolutely loved it.
She heard news of Spock from time to time. Uhura kept her up to date when she saw him. He appeared to be involved with a Vulcan woman, a fellow officer. Her name was Valeris. The first time she heard of the relationship, Christine felt sadness and anger. But over time even that seemed to go away. Spock hadn't sought her out since his visit so many years ago. He clearly had managed to put her memory to rest in its proper place.
It was many days after Khitomer that she heard of Valeris' betrayal of Spock and the Federation. This new position didn't offer her the same kind of access she'd enjoyed in her former job so she had to wait for Uhura to return and give her the real story. Christine expected to feel smug over Spock's pain, but she didn't. She didn't seem to feel anything. Maybe she was finally over him.
Several months later, Christine was enjoying her weekend, curled up on her couch with a book. She was so engrossed in the story that the sound of the door chime made her jump. She was shocked to see Spock standing there. Her heart raced and she felt excited and irritated at the same time.
She wanted to be rude to him but her own natural courtesy held her in check. "Captain Spock, what can I do for you?"
He said the very last thing she ever expected to hear from him again: "It is a private matter."
"I said, it is a private matter." He stood at her door waiting for her to invite him in. She stared at him incredulously for several seconds before she moved aside and let him enter.
He stood before her, the rigidity he'd displayed the last time she saw him was gone. He seemed almost relaxed, comfortable with himself. He raised an eyebrow at her. "If you do not wish to help me, I will understand."
Christine walked up to him, stopping when they were nearly face to face. She could barely restrain herself from shaking him as she hissed. "Couldn't you try to find someone else?"
"I thought I had. She turned out to be a traitor. I have no wish for further contact with her. Who else would you suggest I try?"
Christine looked at him in amazement. There was the barest hint of humor in his voice. He thought this was funny? "You can try the Horta, for all I care."
"She is really not my type."
Christine glared at him. "Not your type?"
"No. Doctor Chapel, I do not want to waste my remaining time. Do you wish to save me or shall I prepare myself for death?"
That bastard! "You can't tell me Vulcan doesn't have plans for this. There has to be at least one other unbonded male out there."
"Indeed. But I will not make it there in time."
She tried to find a way out of this and failed utterly. He'd defeated her and she knew it. And worse he knew it. "Fine," she said tightly. "When?"
"Now," he replied calmly. "We should leave at once."
Now. At once. This could not be happening. How could he just show up and force her to choose? She was a healer for god's sake. She'd sworn to preserve life. "Now?"
"I was delayed in arriving. I thought I would have more time."
She stared at him for a long moment. "Fine," she said again. "Let me make some calls."
While he waited for her, she arranged for indefinite leave and then called the cousin who'd inherited the cabin from her uncle. He'd been planning to use it, but when she managed to convey to him, in the vaguest way possible, that this was urgent, he agreed to let her have it. She packed some things and came out to where Spock sat waiting.
"You don't have a bag, Spock?"
"It is outside your door. I did not want to appear that I had taken your acceptance of the situation for granted." He opened the door and retrieved the travel bag. Opening his communicator, he called Starfleet. "This is Captain Spock. Two to beam to prearranged coordinates."
"Didn't want to take that for granted either, huh?" She could feel her anger boiling. He'd known she'd say yes. This was so wrong. But what else could she do?
They materialized just outside of the cabin. She led him inside and inspected the larder. It appeared that Jake had everything well stocked for his own time in the mountains. A good thing, because if Spock wanted them to get here now, he must be very close. There wouldn't be any time for shopping.
She turned to discover that Spock wasn't in the room. She found him in the bedroom, making up the bed.
"Not wasting any time, are you?"
He looked at her evenly. "I decided to make myself useful while you assessed our supplies. Does this bother you?"
"Everything about you and this situation bothers me, Spock." There she'd said it. The honest truth.
He moved toward her and reached out a hand to her face. She tensed, expecting to feel the rush of desire of last time. But all she felt were his fingers, warmer than a human's, brushing her hair away from her eyes.
In confusion she said, "I thought that this was a matter of some urgency."
He dropped his hand. "It is. I must talk to you."
He walked out to the living room. She followed him, completely at a loss.
He motioned her to join him on the couch, and she blushed remembering all the things they'd done the last time they shared this particular piece of furniture.
"I wish to speak of many things, Christine. We still have some time before the burning. I believe that this time will be best utilized by conversation. By 'hashing things out' as I think is the saying."
"Hashing what things out?"
She laughed. It was a hoarse, bitter sound. "Spock, there is no us and there never has been. Never will be. We don't exist."
"We are here now."
"A technicality. A once every seven years aberration. Nothing more."
He seemed not at all bothered by the vitriol in her voice. "I have thought much of our last meeting. I have had cause to think on love and hate since my protégé betrayed me."
"Your protégé? I heard she was your lover?"
"She was not. Not yet anyway."
"Yeah, I guess a little thing like betraying the entire Federation kind of put a damper on your wedding plans."
He shifted to face her. "You have the right to be bitter. Do you know why I chose Valeris?"
Christine stared at him angrily. "A wild guess? Because she's Vulcan?" She looked away in disgust.
"Precisely." He waited till she turned back before he continued. "I have spent my entire life subjugating my human side. And I was never good enough no matter what I did. Never Vulcan enough. But this perfectly logical and quintessentially Vulcan woman cared for me. Looked up to me. I had pride in her. And because of her esteem, I could have pride in myself."
"Pride goeth before a fall."
"Indeed. As I found out." He seemed to gather his thoughts. "I do not wish to speak of what was. I wish to speak of what is now. After Valeris' betrayal, I was not myself. I found myself...hating her. It was a new emotion for me. I found it overwhelming and sought my mother's counsel. Do you know what she told me?"
Christine shook her head, wondering where he was going with this.
"She told me that hate and love are not opposites. They are just two faces to the same emotion. Love is the good and hate is the bad reaction to a strongly held attachment to someone. We love, then we hate, then we love, then we hate again. But we are always intensely aware of the object of our attachment. That person still rules our lives."
Like he ruled hers.
"You said you no longer love me. You said you hate me. But if love and hate are the same thing, one could infer that you love me as well as hate me. Or that you feel both, but it is in fact only one emotion, just directed differently."
"Your logic is obscene, Spock. Love can't be reduced to a science experiment or a math equation."
"Here is another example. My mother says that indifference is in fact the opposite of love. Indifference allows no outpouring of emotion because one is not reacting at all. Do you understand what I mean?"
She nodded bitterly. "Indifference is what you've felt for me all these years."
"Yes, that is what I thought too. But it is not true." He leaned forward, gesturing toward the couch. "I can tell you everything that we did on this couch, every expression you wore, every sound you made, every sensation I experienced. I can tell you what your desire felt like, or the exact number of times you told me you loved me."
"You're Vulcan, it's your nature to catalog, to be precise."
"Perhaps I am not making myself clear. I can feel all those things. Even after nearly a decade, I could describe every moment of our passion, in this room, in the bedroom, everything. I have never been able to push it to the back of my mind, and I have tried. Even immediately after the fal-tor-pan, the memory of you was one of those foremost in my mind. I could not reconcile it with other memories I had of you. It was so different, so vivid. I believe the memory of this time colored everything. Even with Valeris, though I loved her in a way, I did not feel what I do when I think of our time together."
"You're saying you love me?" At this she laughed outright.
"I am saying," he said more loudly, "that if the burning had come upon me when I was with Valeris, I believe that I would have rejected her. That my body and my memories would have led me to find and join with you instead. I am not indifferent to you. I am so far from indifferent to you as to be the opposite. The opposite of indifference is...?"
"Love." Christine sat stunned. A part of her wanted to believe what he was saying, wanted to think that he did love her. But another part warned her against allowing herself to hope again.
"Yes. Love. Logically it is true. Emotionally it is true. You have always known it. I did not see it because I did not want a human wife. But now I understand. We were meant to be together. I love you."
She looked at him in dismay. This was everything that she'd ever wanted. Spock saying he loved her. Why did it have to be now, when he could say or do anything and not even know his own motivation? She ignored her hopes and dreams and her traitorous heart that only wanted him, and let her intellect rule.
"It's the burning, Spock. You don't know what you're saying. I'm going to the bedroom. Come in when you're ready."
She rose and headed for the other room.
"Christine, I am not going through Pon Farr. It is approximately six months away. I know exactly what I am saying."
She didn't turn around. He could not have said what she thought he just said.
"Christine, I am not suffering the Pon Farr."
She turned around. "But you said—"
"I said the only thing I could think of that would make you agree to spend time with me. In a place where no one would disturb us. Where we would be free of work and other duties."
She slowly turned and headed back to the couch. Sinking into the cushions she looked at him in confusion. "You lied?"
"I obscured the truth."
He sat quietly next to her as she processed what had just happened.
Finally she spoke. "So what now?"
He sighed, as if in relief. "I would like to get to know you better. I have two experiences of you. One is doing my utmost to avoid you; the other is quite the opposite. In neither case did I get an understanding of what you were like on a normal day, doing everyday things. And you, for all the love I know that you carry for me, really do not know me at all. We should take the time to get to know one another."
He wanted to date? She felt frozen, still in shock. She looked over at him. He sat calmly, awaiting her reaction. Suddenly the anger she'd been containing broke free.
"You lie to me. You make me leave my job, and kick my cousin out of his retreat, and you make me think you're dying and all so we can get to know each other? I have responsibilities, you arrogant son of a bitch! I have friends who'll wonder where I am. I have a life that you have no right to interrupt!"
"I know these things. I too have reasons that I should not be here. But perhaps this is more important than all those other things. Perhaps we are meant to be here right now at this crossroads where you decide whether to stay or go." He reached for her hands and took them gently in his own. "Christine, you have managed to love me all this time. My indifference could not kill your love, my rejection and abandonment could not kill it. You love with a steadfastness that I am in awe of. You love thinking all the while that you will never have what you want. I should like to learn about the woman who can do that. I should like that woman to learn that the man she loves is worth the trouble. Our work can wait. Our friends will be fine. This is about us, and a chance for unity that may never come again."
"What are you proposing?"
He rose from the couch and held out his hand. "I think we should sit outside, where there are no memories. We should talk. We should discover. Will you do that, Christine?"
She hesitated as her eyes met and held his. She tried to read his emotions but she couldn't. As if he understood what she was doing, Spock relaxed his expression. Suddenly she could see affection and humor laced with his recent pain and a little bit of fear. She couldn't resist what she saw. Her hand was in his before she even realized she was reaching out to him. He pulled her from the couch and they headed outside.
Christine and Spock sat side by side on the porch, only their shoulders touched as they dangled their feet off the side. They'd been talking for hours. Taking turns asking and answering questions. Once she realized he was quite serious about them getting to know each other, Christine had relaxed and asked him the things she'd always wanted to know. Now, many hours later, she relaxed, words temporarily exhausted.
She looked over at Spock and was surprised to see him studying her. "What?" she asked, a little self consciously.
"I was admiring your physical appearance. You are beautiful."
Christine felt a flush of pleasure. "Thank you."
"One does not thank eyes for seeing the truth, nor lips for speaking it."
She shot him a startled glance. "That was quite...poetic, Spock."
He seemed very pleased with himself as they settled back into silence. A rumble of thunder made Christine look up. It was too dark to see how close the storm was.
"We need to get inside. These storms move quickly. Not good to be out in one."
They went inside and Spock began to close the windows but Christine stopped him. "Something else you need to know about me: I like storms."
"Yes, I remember." His tone was so warm Christine felt herself blushing again.
She moved to the window and stood there, enjoying the crisp ozone feel of the air. The first streak of lightning struck nearby. Spock came up behind her. She could feel the warmth of his body as he stood very close to her. His breath was hot on her neck.
"I have never watched a storm," he murmured.
"Of course I have for scientific reasons. But never for pleasure. I will watch with you, unless you object?" He snaked a hand around her waist as played with her hair with the other. "Do you object, Christine?"
She felt as though her knees would give out. Just being this close to him had a profound effect. She fought to keep her voice steady as she leaned back into him and felt his arm tighten. "I don't object."
They were silent then, watching the lightning. Spock's hands were never still but he did nothing that would completely distract her from the storm. She didn't know which was louder, her raging heart or the thunder. Suddenly lightning flashed above them, followed directly by a tremendous crack of thunder. They both jumped.
Spock's voice was ragged as he spoke into her ear. "Storms arouse you, Christine."
"This storm does."
He had both arms wrapped around her now, capturing and pinning her against him. She felt his strength and it only excited her more.
His lips found her neck, her shoulders, her ears. "Your arousal stimulates me. I find that I can think of only one thing."
She pulled against him and felt his arms loosen. Turning to face him, she studied his face. Then, despite some lingering fear that this wasn't real—couldn't be real—she gently began to kiss him. She felt him shudder against her.
"I love you, Spock."
She had to wait, but only for a second. "I love you, my Christine."
As the thunder crashed around them, Spock pulled her back to the couch. "I feel your desire, Christine. You must feel mine." As his fingers found the meld points, and his mind touched hers, Christine felt everything he was feeling. His pain, his loneliness, his uncertainty, his friendships, and his love...for her. His feelings for her were chaotic and undisciplined, but strong and undeniable.
Like the storm outside, he told her mind to mind. You make me like that.
Christine laughed in delight as she let go of the last of her fear. Their bodies, so well matched, found the blissful rhythm she remembered from last time, and then surpassed it. Between the meld and the physical union, she'd never felt more complete.
Spock's mind answered her thought. Nor have I, my love. Nor have I.
As they again reclaimed the pleasure they had once known, lightning lit the scene for two lovers, together at last.