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) 2001 by Djinn. This story is Rated R.
Parallel Universes: Lost in the Bizarro World
"I'll never get this down in time for the review. Just forget it!"
Christine heard the sound of a padd being slammed on the bed. She saved her work and turned to help her friend. "Stella, it's not that confusing. What is giving you such fits?"
"I just don't get this whole parallel universe thing. It's too confusing." The younger woman looked at her suspiciously. "Don't you find it confusing?"
Christine shrugged. "Not particularly."
"God, you're annoying."
"I'm a scientist."
"And I'm an engineer. I should understand this."
"You'll get it eventually."
"Don't you get sick of it? Being the perfect nurse, the perfect student, eventually the perfect doctor when you go back to school in a few months? Isn't there anything you can't do well?"
Christine thought of the last time she had seen Spock. He had been fleeing down the corridor at the sight of her, or at least had given her that impression. Nothing new there, she laughed to herself. "Well I am currently sans lover."
"Oh, like you couldn't have half the men on this ship. You just want the one that runs away because then you won't have to give up your precious freedom."
Christine nodded. "You're probably right. But he is pretty cute."
They shared an evil look.
Stella smirked. "Have you seen his hands?"
Christine's smile was wicked. "Uh huh."
"So why should I look elsewhere, hmmm?"
"You're right. Attractive and unattainable. What could be better for you?" Stella laughed as she picked up her padds. "So in a parallel universe you might be with him?"
"Anything that could happen will happen somewhere. But the probabilities vary."
Stella grimaced. "There you go again. So in another universe you could be his wife?"
"And in yet another one I could be rejecting his proposal."
"See that's what I don't get. Where are they all?"
"They're all around us. Sort of."
"But they never touch?"
"Well, some of them touch at the other side of a black hole, you remember that lecture don't you?"
Stella scrunched her eyes as if in pain. "I remember being lost in that lecture. I don't know why they put this on the review anyway. Why do I need to know this and everything else they want us to study just to get promoted?" She closed down her padd. "I've had enough of this crap for a while. There's a party down in engineering. You coming?"
Christine gave her a look.
Stella laughed. "Like you would ever miss a party. What are you going to wear?"
"That black outfit I picked up the last time we were on Starbase 8."
"The Riyake? Good. I'm wearing that little red dress I bought on Halcyon."
"You mean little red scarf." Christine corrected, watching as Lieutenant Stella Lansing deliberately drew herself up to her full height, her exaggerated posture throwing her assets into prominence.
Her friend stared her down before collapsing into a throaty laugh. "Scarves don't cost as much as that baby did." She walked to the door. "We are going to look so hot. They'll have to pick those boys up off the floor once we get done with them."
"They generally do."
"Meet you down there."
The door hadn't closed before Christine was pulling her hair out of the regulation and very austere braided bun she favored for work. She surveyed the results, her bleached hair framing her face in long messy waves. Perfect. Some sultry makeup, the new dress, and shoes that somehow managed to be sexy and comfortable and she was ready to go. She looked in the mirror. The dress had been worth every credit. Cut high and very low, it clung scandalously to her curves. If Stella looked as good--and she usually did--they really would have to peel the men off the floor if they wanted to dance. And they always wanted to dance.
She fastened a pendant around her neck. It had been one of her finds at Rigel V. The metal was a dull black, but it set the shining red stone off to perfection. Opalescent flashes brightened the stone even more. The shopkeeper hadn't known what kind of gem it was. He bought many such things from travelers who needed a few credits. She didn't care whether it was real or not. It looked perfect with the dress, just as she had known it would. First time wearing it, she thought, needs a brush for luck. Laughing at the silly superstition she ran her hand over the stone and thought she felt an answering vibration. Sure I did, she laughed to herself.
A few minutes later, Christine headed out of her quarters. The lift was waiting and as she walked in she felt it give a strange shudder, then jerk violently. She was thrown against the wall but caught herself before she fell. That was weird, she thought suspiciously. "Engineering," she ordered as the doors closed. The lift began to move and she tried to relax and get into her party mood. By the time the car stopped she was ready for anything.
Anything except the sight of Kirk, Spock, and McCoy standing in front of the car, staring at her. They all seemed to speak at once.
She looked at them in confusion. "Is there a problem, Sirs?"
They seemed to be fixated on her appearance. And not in a flattering way.
What, she thought in irritation, you don't like the dress?
Spock reached out to her, his hand fastening around her hand in an iron grip. "Why do you look like that, Christine?"
You really don't like the dress, she corrected. And when the hell did you start calling me, Christine?
McCoy looked at the other two men and shook his head somberly. "This could be a symptom of her condition. You know how women get at this time?"
Both Kirk and Spock nodded.
The captain seemed to come to a decision. "Better check her out in sickbay, Bones."
"I concur, Jim." Spock pulled her along, following after an already in motion Captain and a very concerned doctor.
"First of all," she said as she tried to stop Spock but failed, "there is nothing wrong with me. Secondly, even if there were, why are we all going to sickbay?"
They stopped and turned to look at her again. McCoy shook his head sadly. "It's the baby. She's just not adapting well to being pregnant. I'm very worried about this."
"As am I," Spock said as he tried to sweep Christine into his arms. "You must do nothing to endanger our child."
"Huh?" Christine fought him off, then found herself cornered by the three men. "What the hell is wrong with you all?"
"This is for your own good, T'hy'la." Spock's hand reached for her shoulder.
"Oh don't you even think of it, you idiot." But it was too late. She felt the pinch, then his hands catching her as she fell. "Bastard," she muttered as she slipped into unconsciousness.
Christine woke up on the biobed. Kirk, Spock, and McCoy all stood around her bed. Each watching the readings intently.
"It better be saying I'm not pregnant," she offered in an irritated voice.
Kirk startled guiltily, McCoy looked at her with concern, and Spock leaned down to try to take her in his arms, murmuring something that was apparently supposed to put her at ease.
"Get off me!" She pushed him away and sat up. Hopping off the bed despite their protests, she looked at the readings that had frozen once she left the diagnostic area. "See, I'm not pregnant." She smoothed her black dress down. "Thank god."
"I'm so sorry, Spock," Kirk moved to the first officer, his hand reaching out to touch his arm. Then he looked her way and glared.
Spock leaned into him. Christine wondered if he was going to cry.
"Hey! Never pregnant. Never. Get it?"
McCoy looked at her in a puzzled way.
Definitely not in
Spock looked at her, confusion evident. "T'hy'la, you reject me? The same way your body rejected our child?"
"Are you all on drugs?" She looked at the three of them. Grabbing the medical tricorder off a nearby counter she ran a quick scan over her torso. Satisfied, she handed it to McCoy. "See."
"You've never been pregnant," McCoy mused.
"But how? This is a medical miracle." He began to mutter something about writing her case up. She thought she heard him refer to the yearly Federation medical conference.
He jumped guiltily.
She stared at the Captain and Spock, until they stopped whispering together and paid attention to her. "Check the readings. Not. From. This. Universe."
"By god, she's right, Jim." He ran his own scans. "Spock, this isn't your wife."
"I would know if she were dead."
"She's probably in my universe." Christine assured him as she speculated on the intensity of Spock's bond with her doppelganger.
Kirk, supporting Spock with the closeness of his body, asked with concern, "Are you all right?"
Spock looked at him like a man drowning. "I will be fine, Jim."
If there's a bond at all, Christine amended.
McCoy shot Spock a gloomy look. "You're not going to have another one of those nightmares are you, Mister Spock. I can mix you up a sedative if you are afraid."
Spock stood up straighter, "I will be fine." He turned to her. "I have a duty to you, Christine."
"No. You really don't."
"You are my wife."
"Umm, no, she is your wife. I just look like her. Think of me as her identical twin." She tried to back away.
"You are my wife but not my wife. This is outside the precedents. I must meditate." He caught her hand and pulled her along behind him.
"I'm not really one for meditation," she said as he hauled her out the door.
"It is sufficient that I do it. You can watch. That is our way."
How exciting, she thought bitterly as she hurried to avoid being pulled off her feet.
Half an hour later, Christine gave up any semblance of attendance on the meditating Spock. She began to look around the room. There were an awful lot of frilly things in light colors. Especially blue. She saw that the pillowcases had been hand embroidered with the IDIC sign. There were flowers of some fabric material in a vase near the bed. Pictures of Christine and Spock filled the room.
No way, she thought, as she quietly got up and wandered over to an enlargement of them that dominated one wall. It was a wedding scene, Christine in puffy white dress, Spock in tuxedo. She'd apparently had seven bridesmaids. Christine wondered if she had that many close female friends in her own universe, let alone this one. The women in the picture were strangers, except for Uhura, who was looking over in Spock's direction rather than at the camera. Her parallel self didn't notice any of this. She was too busy looking radiantly happy, as if at the scene of her greatest triumph. Gag me, Christine thought.
She walked to the closet and checked out her wardrobe. She nearly slammed the door in dismay. Not a dark outfit in sight. Everything was light blue, or icy pink, or lightest mint green. Good god almighty, she thought in desperation, I must look like an Easter basket year round. A few visits to the replicator would fix that.
She saw some jewelry on the dresser. She picked up one of the rings. To her eye, the diamonds looked fake. They spelled out I-D-I-C. This is out of hand, she thought with disgust.
"I gave you those." Spock's voice was right behind her.
Cheap bastard, she thought but didn't say. "You two must have been very happy?"
"We were content. Our marriage was a matter of satisfaction for us both."
And they say romance is dead, she mused.
"What are you thinking? I cannot read you."
"I'm thinking that I need a room of my own, Spock."
He seemed to consider that for the first time. "Yes, I accept that."
"We'll get her back, Spock." She expected him to blow her off.
"I am not hopeful on that. My meditations have not been fruitful."
"Been fruitful in what?"
He frowned slightly. "In determining what caused you to appear here and my wife to disappear."
"Maybe you should move on to the ship's instruments then? I mean meditation is great and all but really."
"You do not need to tell me how to do my job, T'hy'la." His tone was stern and he seemed to have more to say to her.
Before he could break into full lecture mode, she asked crossly. "Do you think you could not call me that?"
He seemed taken aback. "Why?"
"Because it's getting on my one nerve, that's why." She walked to the door.
He looked at her in confusion.
"I'm ready to see my room now, Spock."
He was clearly unsure what to do with her as he nodded reluctantly. "Yes, of course, your room."
Christine thought she would go nuts if she spent one more minute in the tiny room Spock had assigned her. She needed someone to talk to, to really talk to. "Computer, locate Lt. Lansing."
"Lt. Lansing is in her quarters."
"Specify room number."
"Lt. Lansing is assigned to quarters 4-4B."
So that hadn't changed, Christine thought gratefully. She headed out the door and hurried to the lift, sure that Spock would find her before she even escaped the deck. He didn't and soon she was ringing the chime for Stella's quarters.
When her friend answered the door dressed in an extremely brief silver outfit and outrageous makeup, Christine nearly wept in relief. "Thank god!"
Stella frowned. "Excuse me?"
"It's you." Christine knew she was babbling.
"Who else would it be?" Stella's tone was not amused.
"Can I come in? Please?" When her friend did not move, she added, "Don't make me beg."
She saw indecision cross the other woman's face. Finally she moved aside. "Make it fast then. I'm on my way to a party."
Christine nodded and scurried inside, but not before checking the corridors to make sure no one had seen her.
"You AWOL or something?" Stella moved to the mirror and fiddled with her hair. Satisfied that the ebony strands looked perfect, she turned back to Christine. "So what do you want?"
"I need someone to talk to."
Stella's chuckle was derisive. "And you chose me why?"
"Because we're friends." Before the other woman could say anything she continued. "In another universe I mean. Not here probably. God, I wouldn't want to be friends with me here."
Christine nodded. "A parallel universe. It's hard to explain."
Stella moved to the door angrily. "I don't know whose idea of a joke this is but get out."
"No, you don't understand."
"What I don't understand is parallel universes. And I don't know who found out about that, maybe that bitch friend of yours Uhura? She's studying for the same review and would do anything she could to upset the competition." She hit the lock and the door slid silently open. "Now leave."
Christine didn't move. "I can make you believe. Just sit down and give me a chance."
"Give you a chance? Yeah, right."
"We're friends and I can prove it."
"I know things. About you. Things nobody else could know." Providing the same things happened in this universe, Christine realized.
"Looking at the personnel files again, Chapel?"
"You told me these things. In my universe. Where we are friends."
"Ok, so wow me with your inside knowledge."
Christine thought back. "When you were six, your cat Sanangelo died in your arms. For years you didn't want to get another pet because you didn't want to lose something you loved that much."
"You could get that out of the psych files."
"Your brother didn't want you to join Star Fleet. He wanted you in the family business."
"In my application forms."
Christine dug desperately through her memories. "Rafael Montoya."
Stella reacted with a jerk.
"You were in love with him, but he was your instructor in engineering subsystems at the Academy. You had an affair with him but had to keep it quiet."
"You said that people would think you got high marks from him because you were involved, but actually he was tougher on you than on the other cadets."
Stella looked at her blankly.
"Stell, you loved him more than anyone before or since. You've never gotten over his ship disappearing three years ago."
"You can't know that. I never told a soul."
"You told me. One night, when I was really upset over Roger. I said you couldn't understand what it was like to lose someone, to just have them disappear. You said I was wrong. And I was. You did understand." She watched as Stella's look of caution changed to amazement. "We're best friends. I know not here, but in my reality we are. And I need your help."
There was a moment as Stella considered. Then she looked at Christine, warmth for the first time visible in her expression. "What do you need?"
An hour later, Christine was still asking Stella questions about the Chapel from this universe. "So how did I end up with him?"
"Well you chased him forever. It was really pathetic. We'd see you hanging around the places he frequented. Just happened to be there kind of thing. Oh and then you'd go out with someone else for a while. Trying to make him jealous. It never worked. We used to run betting pools on the antics you pulled. But then about three months ago the ship suddenly diverted to Vulcan. Nobody would explain it and it cut into a really hoppin' shore leave so you can imagine the frustration level."
Christine smiled. "Oh yeah."
"Anyway, you and the three stooges," Stella ignored Christine's giggle at the reference, "beamed down and then we just waited. For 10 days. Not a word, no instruction, and shore leave going a wasting. When you returned, we heard that you and Spock were married. But nobody really talked about it. It was bizarre."
"That explains a lot actually." Christine imagined the Pon Farr that would have taken over Spock. The other Christine offering herself up for his use. Knowing the whole time that he would never have chosen her willingly. God what a desperate piece of work she must be in this reality.
"Then we heard you were pregnant. You should have been sent planetside pronto. But they kept you here on the active list but not doing a damn thing. You really didn't win any popularity awards with the other nurses."
"They had to cover my shifts for me?" Christine was incredulous.
"Pretty low. And it didn't help that you walked around like the lady of the mansion, all serene and lactating."
Christine guffawed, pretending to cover an expanded belly with her hands while arranging her features into a pompous, self-satisfied smile.
"That's scarily accurate. Stop it because I'm beginning to like you."
Christine dropped the act with a low giggle. "Sorry, Stell."
The other woman studied her intently. "We're really good friends, aren't we?"
Christine nodded. "You're my best friend. I can't imagine not being around you."
"What do you mean?"
"When I go back to med school. To finish my MD."
Stella was surprised. "Wow. And ick. I feel sad already and I don't even know you that well. I can't imagine how bad your Stella must feel."
"She'd never let me know."
Stella nodded. "I know. But she feels it. You can count on it. Even if she never says anything."
"I know." Christine smiled at her friend and they shared a moment of understanding. Then the door chime interrupted them. "Ignore it," Christine pleaded.
The door opened and Uhura stood in front of them, her fingers still on the code keys.
"What the hell do you think you are doing?" Stella was livid. "These are my private quarters. You can't just come busting in here!"
Uhura gave her a cold look. "I came for Christine. We were worried about her."
"There's four stooges now," Christine whispered.
"What did you say?" It was hard to imagine Uhura's expression getting any colder.
"Nothing." She rose and turned to hug Stella. While they were close, she whispered in her ear, "I'll be back as soon as I can. Thank you for believing me."
"Watch your back with her," Stella warned. "She obviously doesn't know the truth, not that it would change much for her anyway. Any woman in the way of what she wants is a threat. And you're still Christine."
"Hurry up. Spock is waiting and you know how he worries about you." Uhura's look softened when she mentioned the first officer. "You being delicate and all. It would be so sad if something happened to you, or your baby."
"Your back," Stella reminded Christine in a whisper.
"Got ya," Christine whispered back. She joined Uhura at the door. "Let's go then, wouldn't want to upset Spock."
Uhura ignored her as she led her down the hall.
"This isn't the way to my quarters."
"The Captain wants to talk to you first." Uhura's voice was full of curiosity.
Christine didn't respond.
"Can't imagine why."
"We're having a torrid affair and he misses me." Christine tried not to giggle at the idea.
Uhura whirled on her. "That's not funny. You have Spock. He's more than enough for any woman and if you haven't figured that out then you don't deserve to have him. Or to keep him," she finished ominously as they arrived at Kirk's door. She stayed until the Captain answered, then left them alone. But as she turned to go, she shot Christine a look so filled with venom that she stepped back.
This place sucks, Christine thought angrily as she walked into Kirk's quarters.
He looked up. "Ah, Lieutenant, I'm glad Uhura found you."
I'm on a bloody starship, Christine wanted to point out, it's not like I can hide. "Yes, Sir."
"I'll get right to the point. I'm going to do all I can for you. We want our Christine back and I'm sure you are eager to get home."
"I am, Sir. Thank you."
"I've been in touch with Star Fleet about this. They are most interested. Most interested indeed. Time travel on an individual basis has some unique military applications."
She tried not to shudder. "I'm sure it does, Sir."
He looked back down at his desk.
"Was there anything else, Sir?" She started to back away and brushed against a bookshelf that held a variety of trophies, medals, and an odd assortment of knickknacks.
"Careful there," he was on his feet. He checked several of the more fragile pieces. "These are heirlooms. Enormous sentimental value. Wouldn't want anything to happen to them."
He waved her out. "You're dismissed, Lieutenant."
She turned to go.
His voice caught her by surprise. "Be kind to Spock. He's been through a lot these past months."
"I'm sure he has," Christine said, her placid tone hiding the annoyance inside. What about me, you moron?
Several weeks later, they were no nearer a solution for her problem. They had tried to recreate the events that had led to her being trapped in this universe, but nothing brought any illumination. Research left them bewildered. While it was possible to move a ship back in time, to move just one person was beyond the realm of anyone's experience.
As it became clear that there was not going to be a quick return, she took her place in sickbay and was surprised at how much the other nurses and medics appeared to dislike her. She was used to being a leader and something of a mentor to the staff. But these people seemed to hold her in nothing but contempt.
As for McCoy, he was even worse. His manner was on the wrong side of condescending, and he didn't hesitate to try to bully her. Finally she reached the end of her patience. McCoy had asker her to run a series of tests but she knew they didn't test for the results he wanted.
She tried to tell him that. "You've ordered the wrong tests. If you want to isolate the toxins from this solution without disrupting the proteins you should..."
"Sweetheart, when I want to hear your opinion, I'll tell it to you," he told her, his tone ugly.
"I think I know a thing or two about bioresearch."
"Sure you do, Christine. You being so dedicated and all." He just laughed at her.
"You pompous ass!" She didn't back down when he got in her face and things escalated into a full-scale shouting match.
McCoy ran out of steam first. "Get out of sickbay and don't come back." He was shaking when he turned away from her.
So she was unassigned, bored, and anxious. Stella made her time bearable. She cajoled Christine into studying with her for the promotion review. "It'll help pass the time. You can't just sit around."
"Like I even have a career, Stell. McCoy put me on report for insubordination. If I weren't still Spock's wife, I'd be let off at the nearest Starbase."
Her friend giggled. "Well it's on her record not yours."
Uhura left her alone once she found out the truth. Christine saw her with Spock nearly every time she crossed paths with him.
The day that Kirk told her he was calling off the hunt for her home she felt true despair. It had only been a few weeks. She couldn't be stuck here. But he was adamant.
"You'll need to find a place here. If it's with Spock then you need to mend some fences with Doctor McCoy. I suggest you go apologize."
"With all due respect, Sir, I'm not the one that needs to apologize."
He had stood up angrily then. "Oh I think you are. And so does everyone else. You are a loose cannon, Lieutenant. And I don't like loose cannons on my ship. Make up with him or I'll transfer you myself."
"You'd like that, wouldn't you?" The words were out before she could stop them.
"What does that mean?" His tone was dangerous.
"Just that you'd like it if Spock found himself without a wife."
His eyes gleamed fiercely. "You better not be insinuating what I think you are."
"Look, if you two love each other then go for it. It's not like I have a problem with it. But I think you do for some reason. Or is it Spock? Is it against some Vulcan taboo?
He just stared.
"You touch him all the time. He's so needy with you. Why don't you just admit it? If you two care about each other, then be with each other. What's all this pretense? "
"Get out of my office, Lt. Chapel. I really am sorry that we couldn't find your home universe. I'd like nothing better than to send you packing."
She left in a hurry. Why had she said those things? The rec lounge was open when she arrived. She ordered the strongest drink she could think of and asked the bartender to keep them coming. She was well on her way to utter obliteration when Spock came in.
"May I sit with you?"
She stared at him for a moment. Finally she pointed to the chair across from her. "Sure. Why the hell not?"
"My Christine does not talk like you."
She laughed. "No, I bet butter wouldn't melt in her mouth."
He looked confused.
"A human saying. I'm sure you aren't familiar with it."
"Probably not." He studied her. "Are you inebriated?"
"I certainly hope so."
"Do you miss it that much?"
She looked at him in confusion. "Yes. I do. This isn't my place. I've managed to piss off both my boss and the Captain. I guess it's my turn to piss you off now, Spock."
"I did not come here to get angry."
She downed her drink. "Then why did you come?"
Spock looked at the approaching bartender and shook his head. The man turned and went back to the bar.
"Shit! I. Want. Another."
"You do not need another."
"I'll go somewhere else."
"Wherever you go onboard, I will see that you are cut off."
"Who died and made you god?"
He ignored her outburst. Just sat looking at her with something approaching tenderness on his face. "I miss my wife," he said quietly.
She suddenly felt ashamed. "Oh."
"She is never coming back. That is hard to accept. Especially when she is sitting right across from me."
Christine shook her head. "I'm not her."
"No you are not. And yes you are." His eyes suddenly were very fierce. "I need my wife."
"And I'll do?" Her head was spinning. From the alcohol and the direction the conversation was taking.
"In your reality, do you not love me? Or is there someone else?" he asked as if considering the possibility of a rival for the first time.
"I have had feelings for you."
"A cautious answer. I will not be so careful. I find that I do not wish to be without my wife. Since I cannot have the one I married, I would like to have you. It will be strange at first, but we can overcome this." He saw her look of skepticism and continued in what for him constituted a rush, "I love my wife. I wish to love you."
The booze was making her reasoning fuzzy. She knew there was something not right about all this, but couldn't quite put her finger on it. She looked at him all dark and gleaming and almost primitive in the low light of the rec area. She realized she wanted him. Badly. She stood up. "Let's go."
He did not ask for explanation but followed her to the lift. They rode in silence to his deck, walked the way to his quarters without touching. But as soon as the doors had closed he was on her. His lips rough on hers. His arms tearing off her clothing. He reached for her psi points but she stopped him.
"No meld. Not yet."
He complied and began to kiss her again. His tongue rough, his teeth nicking her lips. She could feel him against her. He was ready for her, and large. She remembered Stella's comment about his hands, and almost giggled, but was distracted as he pushed her across the room.
"Slow down, Spock." She fell on the bed and he followed her down. His lips found her again and she tried to relax but his pace was feverish. She felt his body join with hers and it hurt a little. He gave three mighty thrusts then lay still on her.
What just happened, she thought stunned.
"It was good, T'hy'la. So good." He nestled in her neck. She stiffened and he felt it. He looked at her with concern. "Something is wrong?" He seemed clearly not to know.
"Well, once you're rested, maybe we can talk about that," she said in what she hoped was a seductive tone.
"Ah, you wish to do it again. I will be capable shortly. We should meld this time. It is even better with the meld."
She tried again. "That's great. And then maybe we can try some of the other things you and your Christine do?"
His normally placid eyes were full of confusion. "What other things?"
"You know. Other things. Other places. That you touch. To make her happy."
He looked at her as if she had grown another head. "I have touched you all the places I would normally touch."
Her dismay must have been evident. He pulled himself off her. "You are not satisfied?"
The booze made her painfully honest. "Uh, no."
He pulled away even more. "My Christine would be satisfied at this point."
"No," she said angrily, "your Christine would be faking at this point."
"Are you saying I cannot please my wife?"
Her bitterness at being trapped away from her home made her mean. "Well, maybe not. She might have really low standards."
The insult hit home. He was angry now. "Or perhaps you are difficult to please?"
"That could be. But then I'm used to being with men with some finesse in this area."
He looked at her with disdain. "Yes I am sure that you have found many willing men to rut with. I have seen how you are. I foolishly thought you could be like the woman I married."
"Well you were pretty obviously wrong." She rolled off the bed. "And thank god for that."
"I am shamed that I took you to my bed. It was wrong and I should have realized it. But I was blinded by your physical similarity to my wife. I will pay for this moment each time I relive it."
"Well maybe if you'd let me show you how to please me, you wouldn't have to relive it."
"I please my wife. If you are not satisfied that is a problem of yours. I have memories of her pleasure to guide me in the future. You are irrelevant." He stared at her, his face emotionless. Finally he said quietly, "Get out."
There was nothing left to say. She pulled on her ripped clothes and fled.
"I've got to get out of here!" Christine paced the floors of her temporary quarters angrily. "If we leave it up to the three stooges I'll be here forever."
"Calm down, Christine." Stella was curled up on the couch, watching her. "Could you just sit down for a minute?"
Christine slowly sat at the opposite end. "He's such a jerk," she whispered.
"Spock." She looked down.
"Shit, you didn't. Christine! Are you brain damaged or something?"
"Probably. And I'd had a lot to drink. Kirk told me I was stuck here. I was angry and hurt. I went to the lounge. Spock seemed lonely for me. For her. Damn it! I hate this place. I just want to go home."
Stella sighed heavily. "Well, I guess my question about the mighty Vulcan's prowess is finally answered. Was he that bad?"
"Forget him. He doesn't matter. But they've given up on finding a way out. None of the scenarios they proposed panned out, none of the energy readings proved to be useful. So that's it as far as they're concerned. I'm stuck here."
"Well...then you and I will find it. The way out."
Christine was unable to sit still. She paced over to the dresser. Her necklace gleamed on the top. She picked it up. "You weren't very good luck," she chided it.
Stella rose. "What is that?"
"Just a pendant."
"Are you sure?" Stella gingerly moved it around in Christine's palm. "Put it down, ok?"
"What's the matter with you?"
"Just put it down." She walked over to the couch where she had left her equipment. She picked up the tricorder and dialed in some specifications then began to scan Christine, occasionally changing a setting as she worked. "I've been doing a lot of reading on parallel universes, Christine, I mean aside from the studying. I really do want to help you."
"Those little differences that mark you as from another universe, you should share them with everything you brought." She scanned the black dress and shoes in the closet. "Like these." She walked back to the necklace, fiddled with the instrument some more, then looked up in triumph. "This isn't the same."
"It's not from your universe and it's not from mine, either."
"This is the key?"
Stella nodded as they both broke into huge smiles. Then she frowned. "How does it work though?"
"Well, the only thing I did to it, other than wearing it, was a brush for luck. But the change didn't happen till many minutes later."
Stella picked the necklace up by the chain and inspected the gem. "There's nothing here except the setting and the stone. Did you brush it a certain way."
"Yeah, like this." Christine demonstrated on her hand.
"So maybe that is a direction command."
Christine nodded in understanding. "So a stroke in the opposite direction sends me back."
"It's a good hypothesis. But what if we're wrong?"
"Then I try another direction the next time."
"Christine are you sure it's worth the risk? The next place could be much worse than this. If you go to many more you could get lost. You'd be searching for home forever. If you wanted, you could still forge a life here. Get a divorce, move on."
She thought about it. "But what if your Christine is wreaking havoc in my world? I mean, Spock, Kirk, McCoy, Uhura, they're all different where I'm from. She'll mess everything up."
"If she's really there. What if it pushed you all forward?"
Christine considered. "I don't think so. I think that is what the time delay was. We had to be in similar places. I think we were both in the same lift when the shift happened."
"That doesn't make much sense. It could take days or longer before that happened."
"Out of all of the possible universes, I bet the odds narrow down. The gem picks the universe where things are lined up correctly at that moment. So to get back we have to figure out where she would be."
"In your quarters?"
"I don't know if they would put her there or not. I mean she isn't me, and come to think of it I really don't want her in my stuff." She thought for a moment of the possible trouble a bored Christine could get into. Visions of stenciled IDIC symbols all over the walls tortured her. Please god, let them put her elsewhere, she thought desperately.
"Let's guess guest quarters." She moved to the middle of the room. "I think that it would be right here."
"Can it really be that simple?"
"Occam's Razor," Christine reminded her.
"Think that'll be on the test?" Stella grinned, then sobered. "So this is goodbye?"
"I hope so." She felt a pang of sorrow at the thought of leaving this new friend. "I'll miss you. I thought I was lucky to have you as a friend once. But to know you twice? It's really just extraordinary."
Stella blinked back a tear. "You know I feel the same. Now rub that thing and get back to the right me." She took a few steps back. "I'm really going to miss you, my friend."
Christine nodded in understanding. Then fastened the necklace around her neck and stroked it in the opposite direction from last time. Nothing happened. "I guess that's not the way to make it..."
The room suddenly lurched. She was still in the guest quarters but they felt different. She walked to the closet and looked at the pastel suits and peignoir sets. She pulled one out and nearly choked on the marabou. "Damn it all!" she cursed out loud as she shoved the set into the closet. "I left my Riyake back there." Maybe Stella would take it. She thought of her friend. Stella would definitely take it. She didn't have to worry about that Christine wearing it...not that she would want to.
Smiling with evil satisfaction she called sickbay and asked for McCoy. "What is it now, Nurse Chapel?" He sounded very disagreeable.
"Is that any way to greet your long lost colleague, you shithead?"
His hoot of joy drowned out anything else she was going to say.
She spent the next few hours debriefing the Captain, handing over the pendant, and making a detailed log report. When she checked in with McCoy he caught her up in a huge bear hug. Then he put her down and began to shake a fist at her.
"I should assign you graveyard for the rest of your time here just for making me deal with that version of you. Yikes!"
She listened to his stories of her ineptitude and lack of work ethic. "I don't think she was really all that interested in medicine, Len."
"No kidding." He grinned at her again. "Get out of here. I'll see you for shift tomorrow."
Smiling her thanks she made her way to the crew quarters. She rang her friend's door and grinned as Stella answered it with a look that became wary when she saw who it was. "Chapel?"
"That's Lieutenant Chapel to you, Stell." She said, winking in an exaggerated way.
Stella launched herself at her, hugging her tightly. "Oh my god, I'm so glad it's you! You don't know what it was like with her."
Christine laughed as she hugged her friend back. "I was much luckier, you're amazing in both universes."
Stella pulled her into the room. "Really? I wasn't some tight-ass, moralistic, insecure, scheming, ineffectual idiot?"
"You really, really weren't."
"Well thank god for that." She winced as she looked at the chrono. "It's time for the review. Are you going to go after all this?"
"Are you kidding? I had lots of time to study. You and I did a lot of it
together." She smiled
"Well needless to say, I didn't spend much time with your counterpart."
"I bet not. She's a loser huh?"
"Oh hon', that doesn't cover the half of it." Stella laughed as she led Christine out the door. "And for the record, if I ever see you in pastel anything I'm going to burn it. They really aren't your colors."
Christine chuckled as they walked down the corridor toward the review. She saw Spock heading down the corridor toward them.
"He's proctoring," Stella whispered.
Before Christine could comment, Spock was in front of them. "Lt. Chapel?"
She smirked. "In the flesh, Spock. The real me."
"I am gratified to know that you are back safely."
She laughed. "Oh cut the crap, Spock. You're just thankful that the other me is gone so you can have some peace."
His eyebrow rose slightly. "That aspect is also fortuitous. I was required to spend considerable time with her."
"Well yeah, considering that the other you knocked her up, I can see how that could happen. You have my condolences. She could not have been pleasant."
"She lacked your self confidence."
Christine laughed. "From what I understand that's putting it mildly. She was a needy, self-serving doormat who was willing to accept any little morsel you would throw to her."
Stella seemed to be enjoying the back and forth but a stern look from Spock sent her hurrying into the test room.
"I would speak with you privately."
Her question seemed to surprise him. He was silent as he considered the answer. "I had not fully appreciated your qualities until I was..." he searched for the words.
She supplied them for him, "Saddled with the other me."
"Not the most diplomatic way to express it, but accurate."
"And you didn't like her?" When he again seemed to be searching for the right response, she rescued him. "It's ok, Spock, you won't offend me. There wasn't much to like about her, was there?"
His expression was rueful as he admitted, "There was not."
"Well now that we've cleared that up, I have a test to get to."
She looked at him in shock.
"Lt. Chapel," he corrected hurriedly. "I was wondering if it would be possible to discuss your experiences in the other universe."
She shrugged. "Sure I'll come to your office."
He actually frowned slightly. "I was thinking that perhaps a less formal venue would be appropriate."
"Are you asking me out on a date, Spock?"
He caught the dismay in her tone. "You do not wish to?"
"Not on your life, Mister." She saw that her impulsive answer seemed to sting. "I'm sorry, Spock. I know that I've expressed interest in the past. But see, just like you, I got to know that Spock much better than I would ever have guessed. And I think it would be best to just leave well enough alone."
"I take it he did not please you?" He was actually curious, not incredulous as she expected.
"Did she please you?"
"Fortunately I did not dive headfirst into that particular pool," his tone was gently teasing, "but only stuck a toe in to test the temperature."
She was stunned that he had so quickly figured out her meaning. Most unexpected.
He went on, "But I see your point."
"Well there you go then."
As she began to walk away, his voice carried after her. "But there is a flaw in your logic, Lieutenant."
She didn't turn around. "And that would be?"
"You are not the same person here as there."
"I know. Lots of things were different. But not everything. Or everyone, some people were the same."
"Can you afford to assume that I fall into that category without the benefit of further tests?"
She turned and could have sworn she saw a twinkle in his eye. That alone made him different than the humorless Vulcan she had found herself tied to in the other universe.
"I will consider your suggestion, Commander. In the meantime I have a test to take."
"May you find all the answers you need to, Lieutenant." His eyes again seemed to shine with amusement. "And in an expeditious fashion."
"Don't rush me," she ordered, but it came more teasing than angry.
"Of course not. I have found that in most situations haste is a bad thing."
Maybe there is some hope for you after all, she thought mischievously, allowing herself to sneak a look at his hands, and then travel lower.
He saw the directions her eyes took and did not flinch. "A very bad thing," he reiterated.
Christine threw him a wicked grin. "Well, you just never know, Mr. Spock. You just never know."