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) 2010 by Djinn. This story is Rated R.
It's uncomfortable, when Chapel passes the Spock of her reality in the corridors of the Enterprise. It's uncomfortable for both of them, as he scrutinizes her with that oh-so-Vulcan look that her Spock doesn't seem to use the same way.
Her Spock. This Spock. Too many Spocks.
This Spock knows she's sleeping with her Spock. Not all the time, obviously. Only when she's on leave, on the planet that has come to be known as New Vulcan even if the Vulcans haven't decided on a name yet.
Names are important. Names aren't things to be given lightly, to be designated quickly.
Just as this Spock won't use her given name even though he knows that another version of him is having sex with her. He insists on calling her "Miss Chapel" or "Nurse Chapel."
Just as her Spock has never learned to shorten Christine to Chris, the name she prefers. No one here calls her that, except Kirk, but she thinks he does it because he likes to call her that, not because he knows she wants to be called that.
She doesn't correct Kirk, though. It's nice hearing someone call her by the name she prefers.
She hurries, telling herself to stop worrying about what people call her. She's on her way to the transporter room. Sarek is beaming over, on a mission that doesn't include her Spock. The two men have not warmed up to each other despite months of trying. Years, actually, if she considers all the time her Spock had to work on the relationship with his version of the Vulcan who now beams in and stands so tall on the pad. He's vital, strong.
He's younger than her Spock, his son-non-son.
"It's Chris," she says, the words coming out as vicious snaps. It's not his fault that her Spock can't get her name right; Sarek has no way of knowing he should call her something else. Even calling her Christine is a great concession on his part.
"I am sorry. I did not realize." He steps off the pad and walks over to her. "Shall we start again?"
"Sir, I was so rude right then. Please forgive me. It's been—" She shrugs. There's no excuse for her behavior.
"It never happened. All right? Chris?" Sarek's eyes are gentle. The way her Spock's get when he looks at her. The way she's seen the other Spock's eyes become around Uhura.
"Thank you," she says softly. "Spock wanted me to be here when you beamed over."
"It was kind of him to think of me."
"He often does." She knows this is true, even if he doesn't always think of Sarek kindly. Yet he tries to please him. By doing things like this, easy things, having his woman meet his father-not-father and make him comfortable on the ship.
Sarek nods for them to get moving. He strides lightly. He looks like he'd have been comfortable no matter who met him.
"Nurse Chapel," the other Spock says to her, nodding slightly as she sits near him and Uhura for a concert.
Uhura smiles at her, in the neutral way colleagues who aren't friends have of smiling at each other. "Hello, Christine."
Sarek comes in. He sees her and walks over, taking the seat next to her, leaving a seat between him and Spock. He nods at his son. "Spock."
"Father." Spock looks unsure and stares at the empty seat as if it might rise up and bite him, then back at his father with almost the same look. "If I had known you were coming...?"
She glances at Sarek. Her Spock knew Sarek was coming, but this Spock didn't?
This Spock continues, his face slightly flushed, as if he's angry or embarrassed—or possibly both, "The manifest said only that a Vulcan envoy was coming. Had I known it was you...?"
"I did not want you to go to any trouble, my son."
"It would have been no trouble." Spock glares at her, as if he knows she's gone to some trouble.
She looks away, unwilling to be part of this. She knows this Spock wouldn't be happy to know her Spock got the jump on him.
"Nurse Chapel was most accommodating," Sarek says, apparently unaware of just how that sounds given her fondness for Vulcans—or one of them, anyway.
Nyota's eyebrows go up, and she glances at her Spock, who manages to keep his face neutral.
"Excellent, then." Spock meets her eyes and his go hard. "And how is...?" He trails off, clearly unsure how to refer to his other self, his older self.
"He prospers." It's the accepted answer these days.
Spock barely nods, as if he doesn't care about her response, even if he did ask.
When she's on New Vulcan, her Spock will grill her in the same casually uncaring way about the other Spock. It's all she ever talks about, it seems. One to the other. Each pretending not to care and making her crazy with the act.
Sarek seems to take pity on her; he turns to his son, says, "The other Spock is, of course, very different than you, my son. So many choices lie ahead, and you do not have to make the same ones he has." Sarek sounds as if he disapproves of those choices.
Chapel looks down: she's one of those choices.
"I did not mean you, Chris." Sarek's voice is pitched low, but she can tell by the way the other Spock stiffens that he heard what Sarek called her. She sees Nyota's eyebrow go up again. Is she learning that from her Spock? Copying it? Chapel resolves to make sure she isn't doing the same thing.
"Thank you, sir."
"Sarek. You must call me Sarek."
He sits back, everything apparently fine in his world. Chapel can feel herself blushing, can sense Spock glancing over at her, as if she holds the key to a room he's never been able to open.
At the intermission, she pleads a headache and flees.
"Sarek spoke most highly of you and your hospitality," her Spock says when she's again on the planet, in his bed, lying beside him.
"It was nothing."
"I think he is fond of you."
This isn't the pillow talk she hoped for as she rode the shuttle to be with him. "He's just being polite, Spock."
He seems to consider that, then shakes his head. "No, I believe he approves of you."
"Can we not talk about Sarek immediately after having sex?"
He meets her eyes and frowns slightly. "I am...sorry."
"Good." She rolls over. It's been a long several weeks and she's exhausted from working extra shifts trying to earn more leave so she could stay longer this time.
"Are you all right, Christine?"
"I'm fine. Just tired. Is it okay if I sleep?"
As if he'd ever say no to that? He's kind and generous, her Spock. She knows he knew her counterpart in his own reality. She knows that Chapel never won him, yet he's decided that she's worthy. He won't tell her things about her other life, even if it's a life she'll probably never lead given all the changes he's indicated have been wrought since the Narada came through.
"I care deeply for you, Christine." His voice is low, husky. It would make her happy, this declaration, if she didn't think that he was fully capable of using the word love and meaning it.
But, in a way, she's glad he hasn't used the word. She isn't sure why she's with him. She likes the sex. She loves the discussions about science. She finds it interesting to be with a man who's seen and done so much.
But she doesn't think she loves him. "I care deeply for you, too, Spock."
It isn't a lie. Not if it's possibly true.
Another visit, and she walks. It's becoming a ritual, strolling through the settlement, alone, waiting for Spock. Each time she comes, now, she does it.
She's just never timed her walk so she arrives at Sarek's building at the midday meal break.
"Chris." He says it so easily it makes her smile. "You are on leave?"
"I am." She should get moving. She should keep walking.
"Have you eaten?" He immediately looks down. "But, no, you were of course planning to eat with Spock."
It's funny how Sarek can call both of them Spock and not seem to have any confusion. His son Spock and this other Spock.
"Spock is busy with an experiment." He's been busy with this same experiment for two days. It hurts her that he can't put it aside while she's here. It hurts more because she knows he didn't have to start it when he did; he knew she was coming and embarked on it anyway, knowing it would steal time from them.
"Spock is perhaps a fool."
She laughs at the almost droll expression on his face. "I think so, in this case."
"You made a special trip, I assume?"
"I did. Worked extra shifts to stay longer."
"He is miscalculating badly." Sarek indicates she should walk with him. "Does he do this often?"
It's the height of rudeness to ask this, not very Vulcan to show this kind of curiosity about someone else's relationship. That he's asking about Spock makes it more perverse.
She shouldn't answer. She should change the subject. She should tell him to mind his own business. Instead, she says, "More and more."
"Then he clearly does not appreciate what he has."
She looks down. "He's very busy. There's much to do here."
"My wife Amanda used to tell me that on most occasions, nothing is more important than the people we love."
"You loved her?"
He looks as if he might tell her she's inferred too much from his statement, but then he takes a deep breath and says, "Yes, I loved her."
"I'm very sorry for your loss."
"As am I. She was...my world."
"She and Spock."
He looks down. "I think you know too much of my history with your version of my son to believe that. I...try with Spock. But it is never easy." He glances at her. "Was your relationship with your parents satisfying?"
"I loved them. Deeply. They were very good to me."
"They are dead?"
"Yes. Transport crash on Mars."
"I am sorry."
"I was fourteen when it happened. My father's sister raised me." Chapel's shrink has told her she's attracted to Spock partly to fill the void of having lost her father. She's not sure if this is true or not.
"That could not have been easy."
"Losing those we love never is. You know that well."
He nods. "I will be bold, Chris. I will ask you what you asked me. Do you love Spock?"
She meets his eyes amd finds a lie but can't get it past her lips. Finally, she shrugs.
"Interesting," he says, and for a moment, she thinks his eyes gleam.
She swallows hard. "You invited me to lunch, I believe?"
"I did." He indicates a dwelling just ahead, opens the door and then steps back to let her enter first. It is scrupulously clean. And soon he has it smelling of rich Vulcan foods he reheats in the warmer.
They eat slowly, talking at times, silent at others. Finally, he rises and starts to clear the table. "I do not wish to end this most pleasant meal, but I must return to my work."
"Of course." She hands him a few dishes. "Thank you. You made my afternoon pass more quickly."
"It was no trouble." His eyes shine again for a moment, a subdued twin of her Spock's slightly easier expressions. He walks her to Spock's house before heading back to work.
Spock doesn't come home for many hours. When he does, he fixes dinner, and makes love to her. But he doesn't ask her how she spent her day.
"We have a visitor, Christine." McCoy's gesturing at the doorway of sickbay. "And I don't think he's here to see me demonstrate my amazing medical know-how."
She glances over and sees Sarek standing, watching her, clearly watching her.
"What have we here?" McCoy is laughing, and she'd slug him if she could do it without Sarek seeing. "Go on. See what the august personage who is Spock's father wants."
"You're an ass."
"That's Doctor Ass to you, missy." He turns away, still chuckling.
She walks with as much dignity as she can muster over to the doorway. "Sarek."
She smiles. "You do that so well." Her voice is too familiar, too friendly. She tries to dial back her smile. Fails utterly. "What can I do for you?"
"I am here for the Vendirian trade negotiations."
He concedes with a nod. "Yes, Amanda found trade issues boring also. She enjoyed peace negotiations, however."
Chapel laughs softly.
"There is a reception tonight. I am allowed to bring a guest—expected to bring one, actually. The Vendirian do not trust a man with no partner. I realize it is an imposition."
"You wish me to accompany you?"
"I do." He leans in and seems to study her. "Unless you believe that Spock would object."
"I have no idea what he would do." She'd like to think her Spock would object. She's relatively certain Sarek's son would object to this. "I'm not sure this is a good idea."
"Then you are also not sure that it is not."
She gets lost in the logic for a moment and sees his lips tilt ever so slightly upward. "That's true."
"I would be in your debt."
"All right." She smiles. "You'll prep me, of course?"
"Yes, please come to my quarters when you have completed your shift. We will discuss the finer points of Vendirian culture."
He nods and leaves.
"None of your business, Doctor."
"I will pry it out of you."
"No. You won't." She winks at him and he rolls his eyes.
He doesn't pry it out of her.
The reception is very dull. Sarek, however, isn't. When he isn't making small talk with the Vendirians about grains and ores she's never heard of, he's focusing his attention on her. The Vendirians are beaming at the two of them as if they're the latest lust-crazed vid stars rather than an ambassador and a nurse engaged in nothing more than conversation.
"You are an asset," Sarek says as he hands her a drink.
"I think it's the attention you are paying me. You don't have to overdo it."
He studies her, one eyebrow rising slightly. "Am I 'overdoing' it?"
"I mean you don't have to pay that much attention to me if it's just for them."
"So, you do not mind the attention?"
She laughs. Spock, her Spock, at first, seemed like he'd lavish this kind of attention on her. And then...something changed. Or maybe they just petered out.
Why else is she enjoying this simple, yet highly charged, discussion with Sarek so much more?
She can't meet his eyes. "May I ask you something?"
"Of course." He leads her to a balcony and nods to those they pass but makes it clear they're going out for some air. Alone. She envies him his command of the event, of the people around him.
"It's beautiful here."
"It is." He waits and sips his fruit drink, watching her.
She almost loses her nerve, turns and gazes out at the night sky, enjoying the smell of trees, of things green and resinous.
He moves closer.
"What do you want from me?" she whispers. She looks up at him. "Since I first met you on New Vulcan, with Spock, I've felt..."
"What have you felt?"
"Drawn to you."
"And I to you." His look is very gentle. "Yet you are another man's woman. And if you were not his woman, you and I would likely never have met. And this man is my son in another reality."
"It's pretty screwed up, isn't it?"
"Yes." He takes a long, deep breath. "What do you wish to do, Chris?"
"I don't know." But that's a lie. She wants to kiss him. She wants to tell him that when they return to the ship, they should go to his quarters and find out what this thing is between them. "What do you want to do?"
"What I wish to do does me no honor." His lips turn up enough that the tilt is unmistakable, but it's a sad expression, one of resignation. "I believe our hosts will let us leave now. I should prepare for tomorrow's negotiations."
"Of course." She feels empty. Hollow to her core and it's wrong. She knows it's wrong, but still it's there—the wanting.
"Thank you for accompanying me."
"Thank you for asking me." She leans up, glad she's tall and can reach his cheek. She feels him push into her kiss, his skin warm against her lips. Then she pulls away.
He escorts her up to the ship. They say goodnight at the transporter room. He doesn't seek her out again during the negotiations.
Her Spock watches as she comes into his house holding her carryall, his head tilted as if she's some specimen. His eyes are untroubled, but also not very welcoming.
"I'm here," she says, trying to muster up the enthusiasm that's eluded her the entire trip over.
"I am afraid I have another experiment underway." He looks at her with open interest, as if waiting for her reaction.
She swallows and looks down.
"Are you not curious, Christine, why I do this?" He moves closer. "Why, when you are coming expressly to see me, I make plans to be unavailable?"
"Because you're a first-class jerk?"
He looks amused. "I have been that, at times, to you—the other you. But this is not why I do this now." He touches her face and pushes her hair back. "I was curious, what it would be like with you. I am no longer curious."
She pulls away from his touch. "This isn't making me feel better."
"You do not understand. I...indulged myself, having you. But having you was not my plan."
He pulls her in and hugs her close, a real hug, a sweet hug. His lips rest on her forehead. "My father—or this reality's version of him—is alone. My mother is dead. And it is my fault. In some way, it is."
They've talked about this. She's told him it's not his fault. But he tells her for every action there are consequences, and his actions have brought this to pass indirectly, even if he wasn't to blame the way Nero said.
"In my reality, many years from now, you and Sarek will become very good friends. You were at ease with him in a way you never were with me. And you see, it continues even now, here, in this new reality, where I am your lover and he is not. Not yet."
"My mother is gone. In my reality, she cared for you. She would not mind that you will take her place. She was a kind woman and she loved my father deeply. She would not want him to be alone."
She just stares at him.
"In my reality, my mother died of old age. And when my father met a woman. A blonde"—he plays with her hair—"as it happens, I did not accept her, could not forgive him for replacing my mother with her. It ruined whatever was left between my father and me."
She wonders if he realizes the Spock of this reality will probably feel the same way.
"Sarek has grieved long enough. And I have ensured that my treatment of you would gain his interest...his sympathy." He looks down. "His rivalry, if you will."
"You set this up." She wishes she could truly be shocked, but she isn't. Nothing Spock does surprises her. Nothing this Spock does, anyway.
"It was only logical, Christine. He will be happy, and I believe you will be as well. And, I benefitted in no small way from it—I enjoyed being with you, for what it is worth."
She slaps him. Hard. "It's worth that." She brings her hand back to do it again, but he stops her, capturing her wrist, his grip like iron.
"No. Christine. No." He lets her go. "I must go. My experiment."
"Orphan. In my time. Parent-less." He touches her face gently. "You will be a good influence on Sarek. You will soften him, make him more open to this reality's Spock. I don't just do this for my father or you, you see. I believe he will accept you; Nyota will see to that—for Sarek's sake, for their relationship's sake. She is a wise woman." There is something in his face, something that hurts her. "I do this for her, too."
"Forgive me if I don't cheer your altruism."
"Of course." He inclines his head, not with any discernable sign of regret or victory, and then leaves her alone in his home.
A home that's no longer welcoming.
She leaves her carryall at Spock's. Doesn't want to wander the compound like some vagrant. She finds her way to Sarek's; he's not there, so she sits on the stoop and waits.
At lunchtime, he comes. She's hot and unhappy. He takes one look at her and actually frowns.
"He wants us together." She laughs. "He planned this."
Sarek eases her up and draws her inside his house. He gets her water and waits for her to finish the glass before he says, "Spock? Spock wants us together?"
She nods. She starts to tell him what Spock said, but he holds up his hand.
"Does it matter?" he asks.
"Does it matter?" He doesn't seem perturbed at what Spock's done. He's staring at her, as if confident she will come to the right conclusion, which apparently is that it doesn't matter.
"Yes, it matters."
He looks disappointed. Under the Vulcan calm there's definitely a pang of unhappiness.
"Sarek, it matters. You were manipulated into being interested in me."
"I have enjoyed your company since I first met you. When Spock first brought you here, when I was still grieving. You were a welcome presence. You made being around Spock bearable." He moves toward her. "I am lonely, Chris. I was married for two decades to a woman I loved very much. I miss her. I despaired of feeling any form of contentment again. I thought my life would be only my work; I would have purpose here, and that would be enough. But...now there is you. And I...feel again."
"Yes. Feel." He pulls her to him, slowly leans in, his lips drawing closer to hers as he says, "It is far from logical."
"Spock would say it's very logical."
"Spock perhaps overthinks things."
Sarek kisses her, and she wants to pull away and tell him this isn't right. Except it feels right; it feels wonderful. She lets him pull her to the bedroom, helps him get her clothes off, then takes his off him. He's so much younger than Spock, and he shows her what a Vulcan just entering his prime can do in bed. He murmurs to her, sweet things that make her smile. He takes no shame in the giving of love, in the receiving of her touch.
And she realizes Spock will never have that. He'll fight his human side forever and never realize that what he feels, what he wants, is Vulcan, too.
She wonders if Sarek's Spock, the Spock of her time, will get past that. If Uhura will help him.
Then she stops wondering and gives her full attention to Sarek, to his touch and his lips and his body. He lets her do whatever she likes and she returns the favor. They finally lie still, and Sarek strokes her back as she rests half on his chest. She's exhausted, but he's still ready for her. He lets her be for a bit, then he rolls her so she's underneath him and takes her gently, as if he can tell how sore she is.
He kisses her, runs his fingers through her hair, and murmurs more of his Vulcan sweet nothings.
She gives in to him, gives up for him. And she knows that, in time, she'll tell him she loves him.
She meets his eyes as he moves above her, smiles at the look he gives her.
In time, she knows he'll tell her that too.