DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of T'Kuht and is copyright (c) 2001 by T'Kuht. I base this little story on the novelization of Star Trek: The Wrath of Kahn. In the book, Chapel is aboard as a physician. To sort of recap a few details that the film didn't include or glossed over. Sulu was injured in the book, Scotty's nephew was the one that he brought up to the bridge and subsequently died grasping Kirk's tunic, and Saavik watches over Spock's body after he dies.
The lights in Sickbay were too bright, but Christine didn't turn them down. Her head pounded, and her heart felt like it was going to explode. Under restricted access, Spock's body lay in state in the ship's morgue. The radiation from his body had made it impossible to remove him from the reaction chamber for nearly 12 hours after his death. There was nothing that she could have done to bring him back or relieve his pain, so he just lay there cold and dead. There were other patients to see to. Luckily Sulu had been released back to duty so he was out of her hair. The rest were young kids who had no more right to be out there than Kahn had. The only other body in the morgue was that of Scotty's nephew Peter Preston who had died while staying at his post. Running a hand through the dark mangle of hair, she wondered how many silver threads there would be amongst the walnut when she finally looked in a mirror. It didn't matter. She'd aged at least 20 years this trip.
The outer corridor doors whooshed open, and with a sigh she decided to let whomever it was know where she was. "I'm in here."
For a while there was no response and she decided that whoever it was didn't want to speak to her in the first place. The sound of a stack of tapes being knocked over caught her attention. "Och, damn."
"Scotty?" she called and headed in to find him with his head propped against the window to the morgue. The shield was drawn for privacy.
"Aye, lassie." His voice was soft and rough; she could tell he'd been crying for some time. Scotty always presented himself as a jovial, hard-nosed Scotsman, but it was all bravado for the kind, tender man he was inside. Christine approached him quietly, didn't want to hug him or touch him for fear that she would let loose herself and create more of a problem than she could solve. With McCoy off duty for the time being, she was the only one left in charge of Sickbay aboard ship. Standing beside the chief engineer, the assistant ship's surgeon placed her hands on the cold glass. They stayed that way for a while. Scotty looked as if he'd been run over with a shuttle and she knew she would be passed over by a cat. Finally, she asked, "Buy you a drink?"
Scotty nodded. Normally the idea of a drink would bring a smile to his burly features. Now, it just seemed to give him an excuse to leave the window. Christine opened the large cabinet that McCoy kept stocked with liquors from all over. Choosing the one that she knew Scotty would prefer, she presented him with a glass. The Scotch went down smooth and fast, but it did nothing to ease the pain in his heart or mind. It only seemed to make it worse. "He was such a wee lad."
"Peter was your nephew, wasn't he?" Christine asked.
The silvery head nodded. Out of them all, he had aged the most over the years. "My sister's youngest. He stayed at his post. The other lads ran and are alive, and he did what I told 'im and is dead."
"Scotty, you had no idea."
"But I'm s'posed to be the man that knows this ship inside and out. Now Spock is lying dead too, and I should be the one." He trailed off and choked down the rest of the Scotch with the tears that had spilled down his face.
"Don't do this to yourself," Christine tried. The engineer was nearly bent double in his agony. Forgetting that she also hurt, she placed her hands over his. "You know as well as I how stubborn Spock is. Was. He would have gone in no matter what you would have done or said. He knew you were too ill from the radiation to go in."
The Scotsman's head shook again and he straightened. He met her haunted eyes, nearly started crying again at the look in them. For years she'd been in love with Spock, only to have to witness him die such a painful death. She smiled a slight, melancholy smile," After all, he saved us, didn't he? If he hadn't gone in, we'd all be dead."
She had wanted to add that she wished she had died if it meant not feeling this much pain. Scotty agreed with her, "I know lass, I know."
Christine poured another shot of Scotch. Scotty didn't drink it immediately. He stared at the amber liquid as it gleamed in the lights. "Scotty, about Peter, where should I have the body sent?"
"To his mum, God help me when she finds out. I was supposed to protect the boy while he was here. He's so high-spirited and eager to please. I'd gie my own life for that lad in a heartbeat. My life's been run, his hadnae started yet."
"Scotty, I'm going to sound a little trite, but maybe the reason that you're alive is just that -- a reason. Whenever anything happens like this that there is no explanation for, I try to think of the ways my life can affect others in a positive way. We all have to take this tragedy and find a way to create something better. I can't believe that Spock's death, or your nephew's, was just to save our sorry hides from destruction. There has to be something." She sighed and trailed off. She could feel Scotty's bear of an arm hug her shoulders and the tears that had collected in his mustache soak her uniform jacket. She had to remain calm or she'd end up bawling the rest of the day. Right now she was numb, and that's the way she wanted it till she could be alone, really alone.
Separating, she smiled at him as she brushed some of the tears away, "Better?"
"Lass, you've at least given me a second wind. Thank ye."
Putting the still full glass of Scotch down on the desk top, he ran a hand through the thick graying head of hair and sighed, "I'd better get back to my engineering room. Those boys are just that, boys."
Christine listened as he walked out of her office and into the main room. He paused just a moment before his boots shuffled out the door.
Leonard McCoy wanted a drink. He really wanted a drink. He'd had this wild nightmare and woke up with a hell of a headache. Stumbling out of bed, he found himself somewhere other than his quarters. It took him at least a good two minutes for him to realize he was in one of the private cubicles in sickbay. That was odd. Shaking his head to try to clear some of the cobwebs, he only created more. With a harrumph, he started to his office. The morgue was a shortcut. Two bodies lay under sheets. One he knew was the young Preston that had died, but who was the second one? Pushing the sheet away from the stasis field, the Vulcan's burned and scarred face was composed and quiet. McCoy realized the dream hadn't been a dream at all. "Spock, no."
The door slid open. Christine stepped in. "Leonard?
McCoy's eyes found hers in the darkness. "Spock?"
"He's dead." She managed rather well she thought.
"My God, my dream ... it wasn't a dream," he rambled.
She shook her head, "No, none of it has been a dream."
He tried looking back at Spock's body, found it impossible to do so and stumbled away from the stasis field to find Chapel's stronger arms supporting and maneuvering him away from the room. She needed to keep as many people out of here as possible.
"Come on, come into my office," she murmured into his ear. McCoy followed her without complaint. He flopped into the chair, his head bobbing up and down rather uneasily. He tried to keep calm and found out he wasn't going to make it. Chapel had a pan under his chin before he threw up. She saw it coming. McCoy's head ached so badly. "I need a drink," he declared.
"I think this proves you need food not alcohol, but I'll let you have a small glass just to get you to shut up," she said and pulled out the bourbon that he kept in his personal stock. Scotty's glass of Scotch still sat on her desk. Choosing another tumbler, she filled it three quarters of the way and passed it to him. He drank it without so much of a second glance. She could have passed him a glass of pink bismuth for all he knew. It burned all the way down. He coughed, thought he might end up with his head in a bucket for the rest of his life.
"Better?" she asked.
"No, but thank you. My God, Chris." Their blue eyes met and for a moment her strength failed. Tears began to well up. A single tear fell down her right cheek and in an uncharacteristic gesture, McCoy took it with his left index finger, whispered hoarsely, "Your face is wet."
Her heart seized up on her. Why did he choose those particular words in that particular instance? Only one man had ever said that to her, and he was dead. With a slight sob she managed, "What did you say?"
McCoy's eyes seemed to clear. He grabbed Christine close and held her as he wept. His hold was so tight that he nearly choked all the breath out of her. If she'd not been frozen in astonishment, she would have wept with him. Her mind was still trying to believe he'd said what he did to her. She tried to push Leonard away so she could breathe. He didn't want to go. "Leonard, please, let me take you back to your cabin and you go back to sleep. You need to sleep some more. I can give you a sedative."
"Sleep. Sleep. I have this headache," he was saying absently as she set his glass beside Scotty's still half full one.
It took her nearly half an hour to get McCoy to the point that Christine could leave him, which was dead to the world. When she finally heard his snoring, she crept out of the room to return to Sickbay. Walking in, she saw Lt. Saavik standing in front of the window. She stood as if she could see what was behind the panel.
"Saavik?" Christine asked.
"Dr. Chapel," she replied.
"May I help you in some way?"
"I wish to... sit with Captain Spock. It is the way of our people," she excused not knowing how well Christine knew Vulcan customs, and this was not one of them. She smiled a little. Saavik wished to be close to him in the only way she could. She would not deny her.
"As long as you promise not to disturb the stasis field. His radiation levels are still lethal."
Saavik nodded. It was not logical to wish to sit with a corpse, but she had to do it. "I shall do nothing more than sit with him."
Christine keyed the door open. "I'll make sure to note that you have permission to be in there. I'll be off duty in another ten minutes."
The lieutenant simply met her gaze and stepped into the morgue.
Christine stood there a moment realizing how silent the place was. She could hear every tick of the antique clock McCoy had in his office, every blip on the bio-beds in the main ward, every rattle of air that came out of her chest. Suddenly she couldn't stand being stuck there any longer. Stepping through to the main ward, she summoned the nurse. "Dr. McCoy is not to be disturbed in his quarters. I will be in mine."
"Yes, Dr. Chapel."
With that she was getting ready to go. The two glasses caught her eye. She didn't drink except wine or a beer occasionally. Picking up the first one, she downed it, wished she hadn't. With McCoy's, she let it slide a little more smoothly. Shaking her head in disgust, she decided she'd need something to take the taste of the stuff out of her mouth. Reaching into the cabinet to retrieve one of the special malt ales that she kept for herself when she ate pizza, she took it with her to her cabin. She hadn't seen the place in three days since before the attacks began. The bed was still disheveled from where she'd been jolted out of sleep, the clothes still strewn across the floor. With swift movements she pulled the clothes off and tossed them towards the laundry chute. Taking the beer with her, she popped the top as she turned the shower on full power. She had no blood on her, no secretions, no filth, but she had to come clean. She had to sanitize herself. Getting in under the stream of hot water, she drowned under the water. It pulsated and hit and stung and still it did no good. She was dirty, needed to come clean. The water was not nearly as hot as her tears as they poured down her cheeks. The saline mixed with the soap as she tried to lather it up. It was no good, she wouldn't be able to hold any more of the pain in. With her head beating on the shower stall, she tried to hurt physically as bad as she did emotionally. She knew that nothing short of a mortal wound would do that now. In utter anguish she threw her head back, opened her mouth, and screamed as loud as she could. She didn't care if anyone heard her. She screamed until she was hoarse and the water was growing cold. Wiping the water away from her face, she remembered the bottle of ale sitting on the sink. Opening the stall door, she dripped across the floor and grabbed it. For a moment she wanted to drink it and the other two-dozen she had stuck in the cooler in lab #2. But, the alcohol wouldn't do any good. She'd just end up like McCoy, with a splitting headache in the morning to go with her shredded throat. Upending the bottle, she poured it over her head. At least the beer would be good for her hair if nothing else. It drizzled down her face, and she lapped at it before it was washed away completely. Luckily it was gone before the buzzer signaling the end of the water sounded, and she was left in a shower stall wet and cold. Beating on the stall, she was barely aware of the pain that shot through her hand from that action. She didn't even bother with the towels or drying off. She simply stumbled back out into her cabin and flopped across the bed gathering the blanket around her. Roger's death had not hurt her this way. Why did Spock's? She had loved him once, probably still, most likely always, but she had not really thought of him in that manner for years. It had become clear that she was not what he considered his type. She was human and he wanted a Vulcan woman as his mate. She couldn't blame him. He simply wanted someone of his own kind. She'd come back for the second five-year mission intent on seeing him as a friend and compatriot instead of that giddy schoolgirlish fantasy. She thought she'd done that well. He'd actually been able to relax with her, share more of himself with her as a friend. Maybe that's what she cried and ached for, that friend that she had found and now was gone. Her tears lulled her to sleep.
"I am here."
She sat bolt upright in bed. The voice, she'd heard his voice. But, how? Spock was dead and he did not believe in angels. Looking at the chronometer, she discovered she'd actually slept several hours. She was not exactly rested, but she was a little better than she had been. Deciding that she'd better at least dress for bed if she was going to stay there, she pulled on a set of short pajamas and changed the wet sheets on the bed. She considered taking a mild sedative to help her go back to sleep. But, she might be summoned and could not afford to be half drugged in an emergency. She needed to be at the top of her form to keep Sickbay functioning smoothly. After all, she was Starfleet, and she was stronger than she looked. She'd have to follow the example that Spock had set for them all: above all else, duty, no matter what the cost.