DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of SterJulie and is copyright (c) 2004 by SterJulie. Rated PG-13.
Angels of the Epidemic - Fallen Angel
Spock awakened to the soft shurring of curtains being drawn around the next bed. Whoever his new neighbor was was whimpering in pain. There had been no new outbreaks after he fell ill, Spock had been told. Was this a new illness or just another case of Hot Tub Fever?
"Chris," came McCoy's voice from behind the screen, "just you rest. We'll take good care of you."
Chris? Could Dr. McCoy mean Nurse Chapel? Spock thought. She had worked many long hours in caring for the crew. It seemed unfair to Spock that she should be stricken now.
And how had she gotten the disease? It was Nurse Chapel that had initiated the quarantine and followed all the protocols for contagion, including the ban on using water from the ship's plumbing system. Was there another way for this disease to spread, and was the crew still in danger? The Vulcan had many questions.
"Doctor McCoy?" Spock called.
"Not now, Spock," came the voice from behind the curtain. "I'm busy with a patient."
"I know," Spock replied through the curtain. "I also know that you are still short-staffed. May I be of assistance?"
There was a pause, then the curtain was shushed back.
"That's... That's kind of you, Spock," McCoy said as he snapped off the protective gloves. "I really need to take a look at this culture. Chris seems to have another new strain of the disease."
Spock looked at Nurse Chapel. She was lying face down with only a sheet covering her. Angry red blisters lined the spaces between her fingers and toes and covered the back of her knees and neck. There were also red splotches trailing under her arms and along the sides of her breasts.
"What do you need me to do?" Spock asked quietly as he took the gloves that McCoy was handing him. "First put these on," the doctor began. "Now, I've already taken care of her front and her, uh, private areas." Damn, I'm blushing, McCoy thought. "I need you to bathe her back, her arms and her legs, then put that salve on the red areas."
Spock picked up the tube McCoy indicated.
"Do I apply this in a thick coat or thin?" Spock asked as the doctor changed the cool cloth on Christine's forehead. "Do I just apply it or rub it in?" McCoy looked at Spock as if he had grown a third head. "Doctor," Spock said in exasperation, "I do not remember the particulars of my own illness or its treatment. I wish to do this correctly, for Nurse Chapel's benefit." McCoy's gaze softened.
"Wash her down in sections, dry her off, then apply a thin coat with the swabs," McCoy explained patiently. "Rubbing the medicine in would be beneficial, but if it seems to cause her discomfort, don't rub." The doctor picked up the culture he had taken earlier and turned to leave. "Say," he declared as he turned back. "How are you feeling today, Spock? Any better?"
"I am still somewhat fatigued," Spock replied, nodding, "but much better than yesterday."
"Good. I'll be in Lab 1 if you need anything," McCoy said on his way out the door.
Pathetic whimpering drew Spock's gaze back from the door where McCoy had just exited to the suffering woman on the diagnostic bed. He looked at the paraphernalia surrounding the nurse, the gloves in his hand, and the creamy whiteness of her skin, marred by the angry splotches of the disease. He cleared his suddenly constricted throat to shake himself from his reverie, donned the gloves and began to work.
Spock's first order of business was to strengthen his mental shields. He would not invade Christine's privacy by entering her mind without permission. This only took a few seconds, and Spock had accomplished this task before he had the washcloth wrung out.
Gently, Spock lifted Christine's hair from the back of her neck and bathed her gently there. He patted the area dry and applied a thin coat of the ointment. Spock noticed a large welt behind her right earlobe and he took extra care there, reminding himself to check her left ear when he was finished.
Next he bathed one arm, then the other. He looked at her hands with dismay. These hands, the ones that had soothed so many sick crewmembers, including himself, were bubbled with blisters, swollen and angry looking. Spock worked tenderly on those hands, those healing hands.
Spock moved up to her elbows. They were not as bad as her hands, but they were not unaffected and needed salve as well. Christine's armpits needed extra care. Each sported several large, weeping welts.
Christine vocalized again.
"Forgive me if I am hurting you, Nurse Chapel," Spock said, wondering if she had moaned in relief or in pain.
Mercifully, Christine's back seemed unaffected. Spock wiped her down and dried her carefully. He could feel her fever through his gloves and was reminded that he should change the cool compress on the nurse's forehead.
Spock moved the sheet that covered Christine and quickly inspected her top of her buttocks. McCoy had said that he had taken care of her 'front and her private areas," but Spock wondered if that included the good nurse's backside. The welts that trailed between her glutes did not seem to have any ointment on them. Spock sighed and plowed ahead. He wanted to do a thorough job, so he bathed, dried, and anointed this area as well. He concentrated on the job at hand, mentally scolding himself for noticing the curve of her hips or the softness of her skin. The thought that she had done the same for him with detachment and professionalism shamed him into trying harder to do the same for her.
But the image of her lying there was going to haunt his dreams, he just knew.
Spock continued his work down Christine's thighs and calves, spreading extra ointment on the back of her knees. Moving to the foot of her bed, Spock bathed Christine's feet, gently spreading her toes to treat the livid blisters there. Remembering the blister behind her right ear, Spock moved to the head of the bed. Cradling Christine's head gently, Spock turned it to the left so he could treat her other ear. Once finished, he once again replaced the cool compress on the nurse's head. Spock unfolded the sheet covering Christine's hips and covered her legs, then her back. He removed the protective gloves, gathered up the supplies McCoy had left him and placed them on a counter.
Returning to her side, Spock delicately touched the silk of Christine's hair.
"Nurse Chapel?" he began. "This is Spock. I am in the next bed. If you need anything or anyone, call out and I will hear you." He stroked her hair again. "Rest now." Pulling the drapes closed around Christine's bed, Spock returned, exhausted, to his own.
* * *
Uhura tiptoed into the ward, not wanting to awaken the two patients there. She peeked through a split in the curtain and saw her friend Christine.
"Poor angel!" she breathed.
"Do you not mean 'fallen angel'?" Spock said wearily as he sat up in bed. Uhura was confused.
"'Fallen angel' has a totally different connotation, Mr. Spock," she replied.
"Forgive me if I take poetic license," he replied. Spock knew very well that a fallen angel was a devil. "Miss Chapel was an angel of comfort to all of us that took sick last week, and she has fallen in the line of duty. Hence, Fallen Angel."
Uhura opened her mouth to argue further, but hen she saw a teasing twinkle in Spock's eye. She pursed her lips in a mock scowl.
"Well, someone here is feeling better," Uhura said. Turning back to her friend, she asked, "How long has Christine been here?" Spock turned his gaze to the privacy curtain.
"She was brought in three hours ago," he answered. Uhura was puzzled.
"Has Doctor McCoy tried the serum on her?" she asked.
"I believe that he is still running tests, both on Miss Chapel's illness and on the formula," Spock replied.
Christine stirred at the sound of the voices around her.
"Spockie?" she called in a small voice. Both of the Vulcan's eyebrows shot into his hairline. Uhura tried in vain to smother a giggle. "Spockie?" Christine called again. Spock rose from his bed, drew aside the curtain and moved to the nurse's side.
"This is Spock," he responded.
"Did you bring your bear?" she asked in a child-like voice.
"My bear?" Spock echoed.
"Spockie!" Christine replied, perturbed. "You know I come over your house every day and play with you and your bear! How could you forget?" Spock looked over to Uhura and shrugged. He had no idea what Christine was going on about.
Uhura stepped forward and put her hand softly on Christine's head.
"Chrissy," she began. "It's Ny. You got sick, Angel. We're going to take good care of you and get you all better." Christine lifted her head and turned fever-bright eyes on Uhura.
"Ny-Ny?" she breathed.
"Yes, Sugar," Uhura smiled. Christine continued to sit up in bed, her face darkening in anger.
"You stay away from Spockie," she threatened, ignoring the sheet as it slipped down her bare form. "Spockie is my friend. He lets me come over to his house and play wif his bear!"
Spock pulled his gaze away from the nurse, retreating quickly behind the curtain.
"Chrissy," Uhura gasped as Nurse Chapel grabbed a handful of her hair. "Chrissy, ow, let go of my hair. You're sick, honey, and you need to go back to bed."
"He's my friend," Christine hissed.
"Spock, help me!" Uhura cried.
"Is Miss Chapel covered?" Spock asked reticently. Uhura grabbed an end of the sheet and threw it haphazardly over Christine's shoulder.
"Ow!" she replied. "Yes! C'mon, Spock! Give me a hand!"
Spock moved the curtain aside and was rewarded with a full view of Christine's nude, rash-splattered body. Uhura's attempt to cover the nurse had failed. Stooping down, keeping strict custody of his eyes, Spock grabbed the sheet from the floor and threw it around Christine as he enfolded her in his arms.
"Please release Lieutenant Uhura, Miss Chapel," he said gently into her ear.
Christine complied immediately, giving Spock a broad, fevered smile in return.
"Spockie!" she exclaimed happily, throwing her arms around the Vulcan's shoulders. "You came to play!" Christine hugged Spock briefly, then released him and started to cast her gaze around sickbay. "Where's 'Chaya?" she asked as she clapped her hands and called, "Here, boy!" followed by three short whistles.
Spock was hard pressed to keep Christine's body covered as she continued to move, searching for the imagined sehlat. As he tried to coax Christine back into bed, Uhura ran to the closest intercom and paged Dr. McCoy. Meanwhile, Spock continued to return Christine to her bed.
Christine's playful child-like nature changed quickly into something more sultry. She seemed to realize that she was quite naked under the sheet, and that Spock was bending over her bed.
"Hey, sailor!" she purred. "Weren't you my bathboy?" Spock blushed despite his attempt at control. "You came over to play," Christine continued, "so let's play." She pulled on Spock's uniform, trying to pull him atop her, but stopped as a hypo hissed against her shoulder. At the sudden release of Christine's hands, Spock went flying backwards, his momentum finally stopped by Uhura.
"Easy there," Uhura breathed as she held onto the Vulcan. "I've got you."
Spock recovered quickly and extricated himself from the communication officer's hands. Two sets of women's hands on him today. Ah, yes. His dreams would indeed be vivid tonight.
McCoy loaded two more hypos and emptied them into Christine. Uhura looked on hopefully.
"Is that the cure, Doctor?" she asked. McCoy didn't answer until Christine's temperature began to fall. The doctor grinned one of his famous lopsided grins.
"Seems so," he responded.
Spock sat heavily on his assigned bed. McCoy mistook his actions for relapse, but Spock knew that they were just the reaction of someone who had successfully completed a struggled for his honor. A medical scanner passed over Spock a few times, and McCoy grunted at the display.
"This shows you're fine, Spock," the doctor reported, "so go home. Stop taking up valuable space here." Spock merely tossed his gaze around the near-empty sickbay and raised an eyebrow in response.
Spock stood, straightened out his uniform, and moved toward the door. He stopped as he passed Nurse Chapel's bed and gave her one last look.
Christine's blonde hair had fanned out on the pillow when the hypo took effect, giving her an illusion of a halo. Gone was the sultry, "fallen angel" look on her face. It was replaced by a look of relaxed innocence. The blisters were already fading as her temperature continued it's drop to more normal levels.
Spock was pleased that this hard-working angel of mercy would no longer suffer the indignities of delirium, or the pain of blisters and welts in so many delicate areas, the itching, the sensitivity to light, or the mortification of relying on someone else to handle your most basic needs. As Spock left her side and exited Sickbay, he made a decision.
Spock would see to it personally that word of these "Vuhrangees" and their sinister plots of extortion and biological warfare would be made known to all Federation of Planets member worlds, and as many fringe worlds as possible. The message would include the symptoms of the disease and the chemical formula for the cure. Spock then made a second decision with a twinkle in his eye.
He would not meditate away his reactions to the events of the past few hours. Spock would allow himself to entertain whatever dreams may come.