DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Ster J and is copyright (c) 2004 by Ster J. Rated PG.



I CALL YOU FRIEND

Ster J



Part 1

(Set after "Plato's Stepchildren")

Spock took his place beside Captain Kirk and the others as they prepared to beam up from Platonius. Fingering the fabric of his skimpy toga, he realized that he did not wish to be seen on the Enterprise in this ridiculous costume. Before Spock could mouth the request to the captain, four bundles flew to them through the air, landing at the feet of Kirk, Spock, Uhura and Chapel. Looking down, Spock recognized his uniform and boots in the lumpy pile. He looked to Kirk to thank him for summoning the clothing, but saw his captain's puzzled face.

"Did you do that?" Kirk asked. Spock shook his head.

"I assumed you did." Kirk looked back to Parmen and the others in the gallery.

"Perhaps one of them..." he began. Spock's eyes narrowed. The thought of one of those sadists helping them was laughable. He was about to say so when the laurel wreath encircling his head launched itself viciously toward the Platonians. Spock's mouth dropped open in shock.

"Uh-oh," McCoy breathed.

"We should leave, Captain, quickly," Spock whispered hoarsely. Kirk flipped open his communicator.

"Energize," he barked.

After the shimmering effect of the transporter had ceased, Spock's bundle of clothing leaped into his arms. The toga and sandals shredded themselves from his body as he quickly pulled on his uniform and boots. He turned and found the others just staring at him.

"Sickbay," McCoy ordered. "Everybody. Now." He pointed a finger in Spock's direction. "Especially you." Spock looked at the faces of the others and slowly shook his head.

"I... I need some time alone first," he said in a small, faraway voice. "I will be down shortly." McCoy began to protest, but a hand from Kirk stayed him.

"You know, we could all use some time to clean up and change. One hour, everybody."

"What about me?" piped a voice from somewhere about knee level. Kirk turned to Alexander.

"Dr. McCoy will take you in hand, Alexander, show you around, examine you. I'll get you settled in later." Alexander smiled and cheerfully followed McCoy out the door. Kirk looked down at himself and grimaced at the short toga. Tucking his bundle under his arm, he put on an air of dignity and started out of the transporter room. "Heads held high, people."

As soon as the group had entered the lift, it started moving on its own and deposited them near the officers quarters. Kirk eyed Spock again. The Vulcan opened and closed his mouth several times before he could speak.

"I don't know how I'm doing that," he gasped. "It is not by any conscious thought. Excuse me." He rushed uncharacteristically down the corridor and ducked quickly into his cabin. Kirk barred anyone else from chasing after Spock, including himself.

"Let's give him the time he wants."

* * *

Spock entered his cabin and fell to knees, burying his face in his hands. He tried taking the three deep breaths to calm himself, but to no avail. He tried again, focusing his gaze on the fire pot near his bed. But instead of calming him down, he saw the flames leap higher and higher until they scorched the ceiling. The ancient weapons rattled against the draped walls. Spock was angry, and the kironide's psychokinetic effect was causing him to manifest that anger in frightening ways. Daggers and other bladed weapons tore themselves from the walls and began circling him. He cried out for it to stop.

* * *

Kirk took little time in cleaning up and changing back into uniform. It was satisfying, almost amusing, to watch the little toga, sandals and laurel wreath slam themselves into the disposal chute one by one. Then Kirk remembered Spock. He had been so angry down on the planet. How was he coping with both the anger and the kironide's effects?

As Kirk moved closer to Spock's cabin, he noticed Uhura standing by the door, obviously listening to what was going on inside. Before he could chide her, Uhura motioned the captain to come closer.

"Something's wrong, Captain," she reported, turning worried eyes to him. "There are weird sounds coming from inside, and I think I heard him cry out." Kirk pushed her aside and opened the door. He ducked as a blade flew past his face and heard a scream from behind. The blade had sliced Uhura's cheek. Peering carefully inside, he saw Spock curled tightly into a ball, blades and other objects circling about. Concentrating, Kirk forced the blades to stop in mid-flight and clatter noisily to the floor. Spock's head flew up and he took a great gulp of air.

"I couldn't make them stop. I couldn't make them stop," he panted. Kirk stepped over to the flame pot and extinguished the fire. He ventured nearer to his friend and crouched beside him. "I'm sorry," Spock whispered softly.

"Don't tell me, tell Uhura," Kirk stated. Spock looked up towards the door and saw the lieutenant holding the side of her face, a thin stream of blood oozing down her cheek. Spock jumped up and grabbed from mid-air the towel that flew from the lavatory, holding it to her face.

"I'm okay. It's only a nick." Spock shook his head in dismay and the weapons rumbled ominously.

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry," he repeated. Kirk jumped to his feet and took Spock by the shoulders.

"Get a hold of yourself, Mister, before you kill somebody," the captain ordered. Spock shuddered beneath his hands. "Take control. You can do it." Kirk shook his head in bewilderment. "Spock, I don't understand. The Platonians humiliated me, too. Why are you so much angrier?" Spock studied his friend's face, miserable.

"Did they force intercourse on you, too?" he said in a bare whisper. Kirk's mouth dropped open in absolute shock. Spock nodded and whispered gruffly, "I raped Nurse Chapel." Kirk was numb and couldn't speak. "I thought I was imagining all this, but then I saw the look of pain on her face. I couldn't stop them. I wasn't strong enough!" The weapons flew up all at once and embedded themselves into the ceiling.

Uhura put a hand to her mouth, tears springing into her eyes. "Poor Christine!" she murmured. Kirk pulled his friend into a fierce embrace.

"I didn't know, Spock. I didn't know," he whispered. After while, Uhura drew closer and put a hand on Spock's shoulder.

"You didn't do it, sir," she said soothingly. "They did. The Platonians raped you both." Spock looked at her, frozen in horror, then he took a deep breath and began to scream.

* * *

It was hard to understand Uhura's frantic message in Sickbay, but McCoy had a good idea what was happening. He had Dr. M'Benga finish treating Nurse Chapel, grabbed a hypospray and charge, and ran to Spock's cabin.

The doctor pressed the hypo to Spock's shoulder and the Vulcan crumpled into Kirk's arms.

"What happened?" the doctor barked. Uhura directed his gaze to the ceiling. McCoy just gaped at the weapons embedded there. "Well, we can't take him to sickbay. There are too many loose objects there." He thought a moment. "Let's put him in an empty VIP cabin. That should be safer for all concerned." The doctor put a hand to Uhura's face and scanned her wound. "Come down to sickbay and let me fix that for you before it leaves a scar." Uhura nodded.

Kirk carried the unconscious Spock to the VIP cabin. McCoy set the environmental controls twenty degrees higher. Uhura removed Spock's boots and helped Kirk with the uniform. She put them through a cleaning cycle and stowed them in the dresser. Kirk pulled the covers over Spock and sat next to him on the bed.

"Bones, how is Christine?"

McCoy nodded. "She's a little bruised, but she's okay. You know what happened?"

Kirk nodded. "Yeah. Spock told us. I didn't know. I couldn't see what was going on. We were both frozen in place."

"It was awful. We all had a perfect view. Dionyd and Eraclitus were taunting him. It's no wonder he blew up." McCoy turned back to Uhura. "How did this happen?" he asked, checking her wound once more.

"I forgot to duck."

Kirk turned to McCoy. "Bones, how long until the kironide is out of our system?"

The doctor shrugged. "I don't know. You had me give the two of you a pretty high dose. We can monitor you, but my guess is a couple of days at least. A lot of fluids should help."

Kirk reached to smooth Spock's hair. "Well, you'd better keep Spock under until it's gone. Uhura and I were both nearly killed by flying objects." McCoy opened his mouth to protest. "Bones, Spock is angry, and the psychokinetic ability is operating in him at a subconscious level. He can't control it or his anger right now. We've got to help him and protect the crew. I'll stay with him and control any flying objects."

McCoy thought about it and finally nodded. "I'll need to set some things up down here. He should be out for a couple of hours on this stuff. I'll be back before then." Taking Uhura by the arm, he steered her out the door and toward a turbolift. "What brought all this on, Uhura?" he asked in the privacy of the lift.

"Spock told us that he raped Christine."

McCoy shook his head. "Chris doesn't see it that way."

"But he does. I'm afraid I made it worse by telling him that the Platonians raped him, too. That's when he started to scream." Tears welled in her eyes at the memory. She dabbed at her eyes with the towel she still held.

"And how did this happen?" McCoy asked, referring to her cut cheek.

"Spock's anger was manifested by all his ancient weapons flying about his cabin. When we opened his door, one of them came flying right at me. I turned my head, but not soon enough."

"Well, this will be easy to fix. I'm not so sure about Spock."

* * *

McCoy returned as promised with various pieces of medical equipment. Spock was still sedated as the doctor set up and inserted the I.V.

"This should help his body to flush out the kironide more quickly," McCoy explained to the captain. Kirk nodded.

"Good." He thought a moment, then looked to the doctor. "Should I get one, too?"

McCoy shook his head. "No. Just drink a lot." The captain grinned. "Of water," McCoy added.

Kirk made a face. "Water?"

McCoy glared at him. "Yes, water. My God, I can just see you running drunk all over the ship and bending spoons -- or worse -- with your newfound ability."

Kirk chuckled at the mental image, then quickly sobered as he glanced at Spock. "How awful it must be for him, Bones," Kirk said softly. "He works so hard to keep himself in check, only to have the kironide undo all of that."

The two men looked up at the sound of the cabin door opening. In came Nurse Chapel, staggering, walking as if she were a marionette with an inexperienced puppeteer controlling her strings.

"Help me!" she cried weakly. "I'm so scared."

McCoy took her by the shoulders. "What's wrong, Christine?"

"He's calling me," she answered. Kirk looked to Spock. McCoy was confused.

"Who's calling you?" he asked.

Chapel broke free of the doctor and knelt next to the bed. She put a shaking hand on the Vulcan's head. "He is."

The doctor shook his head. "That can't be," he said. "When I sedated Parmen, his psychokinetic ability was ... deactivated, for want of a better term."

"Spock's different." Kirk said. He thought a moment. "Bones, is there another way to sedate Spock, one that would put him in a deeper sleep? Maybe that would help."

McCoy rubbed his jaw as he thought. Finally, he nodded. "There are several ways, including putting him in stasis, but I don't think that would be in his best interest. Let me try a sleep inducing aid first, a 'sleeping bug.'" McCoy put a hand on Chapel's shoulder. "I'll be right back. Hang in there, Christine."

McCoy returned, carrying a small device which he placed on Spock's forehead. As soon as the sleep inducer was activated, Chapel was released. She collapsed onto the bed, relieved to be in control of her own movements again. Kirk helped the nurse to her feet and steadied her. She nodded her gratitude and beat a hasty retreat. Kirk looked warily at McCoy.

"Bones..."

"I know, I know," the doctor answered. He ran his hands through his hair. "This is going to be a long few days, and we aren't even sure that this will work."

"We'll need a backup plan, Bones," Kirk said. "I want this kironide out of his system before anyone else is affected. Understood?"

The doctor nodded. "I'll get right on it."

* * *

Kirk jerked awake, having lost the battle to keep from falling asleep. Looking over at Spock, he found his friend curled on his side, clutching something pale to his chest. Standing up, Kirk could make out the form of Nurse Chapel, once again kneeling at the side of Spock's bed, this time her head bowed, asleep. Kirk rose quietly and moved to her side.

"Nurse?" he whispered. He touched her shoulder. Chapel woke with a start. "What are you doing here?"

The nurse rubbed her face with her free hand and looked around wildly. "I don't know. I don't even remember coming here." She tried to pull her hand from Spock's, but his grip was too strong.

Kirk tugged, to no avail. He finally bent over Spock's sleeping form and shouted, "Let go! That's an order!" into his ear. Spock moaned weakly and eventually eased his grip until Chapel could pull free. She rubbed her sore hand and moved quickly to the door.

"Nurse!" Kirk called after her. "Wait!" Chapel obeyed and turned to her captain, tears staining her cheeks. He stepped nearer to the nurse and brushed the wetness from her face. Kirk took Chapel's hands in his own.

"He doesn't mean to hurt you," Kirk murmured, "or frighten you." She nodded mutely. Chapel took a few gasping breaths, desperate to calm down.

"It's just like it was ... like it was on Platonius," she whispered. "What does he want from me?" Kirk smoothed the nurse's hair.

"I don't know," he said, "but I promise you this: I'm staying here until he's done with this, until the kironide's gone. I won't let you get hurt." Chapel nodded her gratitude, squeezed the captain's hands, and left.

* * *

McCoy passed Nurse Chapel in her mad dash from the VIP cabin. He entered and found a tired Captain Kirk frowning down at his sleeping first officer.

"I'm getting tired of this, Bones," Kirk grumbled.

"And Good Morning to you, too," he replied sarcastically. The doctor pointed towards the door. "How many times does that make?'

"Four," the captain spat with disgust. "What does he want?"

McCoy passed the scanner over Spock and checked the readings. "This isn't good," the doctor reported. "No change. His kironide levels are just as high as when you two beamed up from Platonius."

Kirk crossed his arms and gazed at his Chief Medical Officer. "Okay, Bones," he said. "Time for Plan B."

McCoy met Kirk's gaze and shook his head. "It's risky," he warned. Kirk started.

"Bones, you're not going to put Spock in stasis!" he said fearfully.

"No, that wouldn't solve anything." The doctor reached over to the Vulcan's I.V. and adjusted it. "No, we are going to replace his blood." Kirk was puzzled.

"All of it?" he asked.

"Yeah," McCoy replied. "We have plenty on hand from when he gave his father a transfusion last year. We'll just replace what's in his veins with saline, then replace that with the untainted blood." Kirk looked at his Vulcan friend, then back to McCoy.

"What's the risk?" he asked. McCoy crossed his arms and sighed.

"Technically," he began, "during the procedure, with no blood in his veins, Spock will be dead."

"What!" Kirk exploded. McCoy held up his hands.

"It will take three minutes to replace his blood with the saline," he explained, "then another three to replace the saline with fresh blood. The problem is, brain damage in Vulcans occurs after four minutes of oxygen deprivation. There is no room for error." Kirk rubbed his face with his hands. "Any other options, Doctor?" he asked. McCoy shook his head.

"No," he answered. "I've been studying this kironide molecule. It's too large for Spock's organs to filter out in the normal manner. And it takes a long time to break down. Either we let this run its normal, slow course, or we take this very drastic action." Kirk sat next to his sleeping friend. The cabin door opened and a very frazzled Nurse Chapel stood in the doorway -- again. Kirk looked from Spock to Chapel and back again.

"Let's do it," the captain said. McCoy bounced the scanner in his hand.

"I'll get set up and come back for him."

Nurse Chapel knelt once more next to Spock's bed. She turned tired eyes to Kirk.

"What is Dr. McCoy planning to do?"

Kirk took a deep breath. "He's going to replace Spock's blood."

Chapel was taken aback. "A complete blood replacement? Is he serious?" Kirk nodded.

"Very," he replied. "There doesn't seem to be any other options." The nurse stroked Spock's head.

"Does he know?" she asked, dipping her head towards Spock. Kirk shook his head.

"No," he answered. "He's been out since we first brought him here." Chapel tapped the covers, deciding what to do. She reached for the "sleeping bug." Kirk's hand shot out and stopped her from removing the device.

"Do you think that's wise, Nurse?" he asked. She met his eyes levelly.

"It's an extremely dangerous procedure," she stated. "Spock should be informed."

"But his psychokinetic ability..." Kirk began.

"Is yours still intact?" she asked bluntly. "Could you help control him if he gets out of hand?" Kirk looked again at his friend and nodded.

"I think so," he answered.

"Good." Chapel reached again for the device and removed it. Spock took in a great gulp of air. His eyes fluttered open and focused on Chapel. His mouth opened, but no sound emerged. "How are you feeling?" she asked. He reached a hand out to the nurse weakly. She took it and squeezed reassuredly.

"I'm sorry," he gasped. "I'm sorry." Chapel was puzzled.

"For what happened on Platonius?" she asked. Spock nodded. The nurse shook her head.

"It wasn't your fault," she murmured.

"I... wasn't strong... enough," he managed. She placed a hand on his head.

"They were just too strong," Chapel answered.

"I'm sorry," Spock repeated. Chapel cocked her head to one side.

"Was this what you were trying to tell me, all those times you dragged me here?" Spock swallowed.

"I dragged you here?" he asked in a small voice. Chapel looked at Kirk then back to Spock.

"Just a few times," she answered, smiling wryly. "Apology accepted."

Spock squeezed her hand and sighed. "Thank you," he breathed. He started to nod off, but Chapel shook him awake.

"Wait," she said. "Don't sleep. I have to tell you something important." Spock looked at her expectantly. She took a deep breath. "Your system is not eliminating the kironide as we hoped. Dr. McCoy is readying the sickbay for a procedure. You have to know that this is risky, dangerous even." Spock stirred.

"What is the alternative?" he asked.

"The alternative would be to let the kironide break down over time," she explained, "which, in your case, could be a very long time. The doctor wants to replace your blood with some of your reserved blood we have on hand. That should get rid of most of the kironide, if not all." Spock's brow creased.

"What is the danger?" he asked. Chapel took a deep breath.

"The danger is that your blood will first be replaced with a saline solution," she explained, "then that will be replaced with the new blood. There is a risk of brain damage if the procedure does not run as swiftly as planned."

Spock withdrew into himself. Brain damage. The only other word that held more terror for him was insanity. He started to shake.

"There is no... other..." He couldn't finish.

Kirk looked around the room nervously, but there weren't any objects for Spock to fling about. The corners of the blankets ruffled as if in a windstorm, but nothing else betrayed the Vulcan's fears.

"Will you stay with me?" Spock asked quietly. Chapel squeezed his hand again.

"Of course," she replied. The nurse picked up the sleep inducer again. "We'll need to put you back to sleep. When you wake up, it will be all over." Spock began to breathe rapidly.

"If I wake..." he began. Kirk rose to his feet and bent over his friend.

"Belay that, Mister!" the captain ordered. "Have some faith in our Chief Medical Officer. He knows what he's doing." Chapel switched on the device and Spock drifted off to sleep. "I hope," Kirk added.

* * *

McCoy passed the scanner over Spock and nodded.

"Good. The kironide is out of his system. I find no trace of it." He looked up at Kirk, who was still keeping vigil at the Vulcan's side. The doctor passed the scanner over him.

"What's that for?" Kirk asked, stifling a yawn.

"As they say in the vernacular, Captain, 'You look like hell.' Have you gotten any sleep these last few days?" Kirk shrugged.

"Catnaps. I was worried about him."

"Great. Now I've got two patients. Well, there are only traces of kironide left in your system, Jim. Still bending spoons?" Kirk chuckled tiredly and shook his head.

"Not any more. It's a fun parlor trick, but I wouldn't want to live with it." Spock began to moan and move restlessly. "Is he okay?" Kirk asked. McCoy nodded as he fiddled with something under the covers. Out came a long tube and collection bag. Kirk gave him a curious look.

"Didn't want him to wake up to a wet bed or an exploding bladder," the doctor explained. McCoy stowed the device. "Yeah, he'll be his own self, soon as I wake him up." At that, McCoy reached for the sleep inducer on the Vulcan's forehead and removed it. Spock came to immediately. He looked around the ward, then sighed in relief. McCoy smiled.

"Yes, Spock, you made it," the doctor said, bouncing on his toes. "You're alive." The Vulcan nodded.

"And the kironide?" he whispered hoarsely.

"Gone," McCoy replied. "I wasn't sure if we'd get it all, but we were damn lucky." Spock fought for enough control to ask the next question, but he had to know.

"Any brain damage?" he managed. McCoy rested a hand on the Vulcan's shoulder.

"Preliminary tests show no damage," the doctor answered. Spock let out the breath he was holding. "Everything went like clockwork."

The Vulcan nodded. "Good work, Doctor," he breathed. McCoy feigned surprise.

"A compliment?" he said with glee. The doctor turned to the captain. "Jim, did you hear that? Spock actually said something nice to me!" The Vulcan crossed his arms on his chest.

"Don't get used to it, Doctor," he warned. McCoy harrumphed at that, took Kirk by the elbow and led him to another part of sickbay.

"Ingrate," the doctor muttered over his shoulder.

Just then, Nurse Chapel entered the ward and stood at Spock's bedside. His eyes grew large at the sight of her.

"Nurse, did I..." he began. She shook her head and smiled.

"No, you didn't summon me," she interrupted. "I came here on my own power. How do you feel?" Spock melted into the pillows.

"Washed out," the Vulcan answered. Chapel laughed.

"That's pretty accurate," she said. "I'm glad everything went well." Spock reached for her hand.

"So am I," he answered. Spock looked at the nurse a long moment. "May I ask you something?" he said at last.

"Of course," Chapel replied.

"We have been through a humiliating experience together," Spock said. "You have also stood by my side during this whole time." Chapel gave him a wry half-smile.

"Not that I had any choice in the matter," she said. Spock turned away. "Forgive me," she added quickly. "It was only a tease. I didn't mean to offend..." He waved away her apology.

"No offense taken," he said at last. "I must admit, however, I am most grateful that this trying time is behind us. As I was saying, we have passed though this difficult incident together. May I call you friend?"

Chapel's mouth fell open. Tears misted her eyes. She worked her jaw several times before she could speak. "I am honored," she finally breathed. A sudden thought came to her. "On one condition," she added. Spock was puzzled.

"And what is that?" he asked. She smiled again.

"Please call me Christine."

* * *

Sometime later, McCoy made a cabin-call to check on his patient. Satisfied with the readings, he pulled the covers over the Vulcan's shoulders. Spock came to immediately.

"Christine's pregnant?" he groaned. McCoy looked at him in amazement.

"We just found out! Who told you?" Spock tapped a finger to his temple.

"You did, when you touched me. Where is she? How is she?"

McCoy checked the chronometer. "She's off duty now, probably asleep. It's very late." McCoy sat on the bed. "Now, Spock, Christine didn't want to make any decisions until you were awake. Right now, it's a very simple procedure to terminate..." Spock shook his head.

"I cannot ask her to do that." He took a deep breath. "But neither can I require her to carry the child." He looked at his friend, miserable. "I don't know what to say. I don't know what to do." McCoy walked over to the food dispenser and ordered up a glass of warm milk."

"Well, I can think of something. Drink this, then go back to sleep, on your own, this time. You can meet with Chris in the morning. Meanwhile, I'm going to check on the good captain. Sleep well."

* * *

Spock awoke to the sound of the call bell and a hand slapping against his cabin door. "Come," he croaked sleepily.

The door opened and Uhura stormed inside. She marched over to the bed and stood glaring down at him, fists on hips, every inch of her displaying fury.

"I heard you found out about the baby last night," she said frostily. "What are you still doing here? Why haven't you spoken to Christine yet?"

Spock was puzzled. "Why are you angry with me?"

Uhura sighed explosively in frustration. "She's waiting for you to come to her. You two have to talk. You have to make a decision about this baby." At that, Spock lowered his head and turned away.

"I'm not ready to talk to her," he whispered.

"Well, get ready."

"I don't know what to say to her." Uhura threw up her hands and turned away. It was then that she noticed the dish of barely touched food near the replicator. Turning back to the bed, she saw how rumpled the bedclothes were, and how miserable Spock looked. Obviously, the Vulcan had had a difficult night.

"Did you eat?" she asked gently.

"I tried, but I couldn't get anything down. The soup ... the soup reminded me of Christine."

Uhura nodded. "She made it for you during your Time." Spock nodded. He looked around the cabin. He took a deep breath and looked at Uhura wild-eyed.

"Nyota, what am I going to tell my parents? How can I tell them that their unbonded, unmarried son is expecting a child with a woman he raped?" Uhura took him by the shoulders and shook him.

"You stop that, understand? None of this was your fault. You tried to fight them, but they were too strong. Remember, they did the raping. They raped both of you." Spock's hands flew to cover his face. Uhura was afraid that he would start screaming again. She saw him take several ragged breaths, and slowly, he calmed down. She drew him to her, and Spock rested in her embrace.

"I don't know what to say to her," he whispered. Uhura shook her head, smoothing Spock's hair.

"You don't have to have all the answers. Just talk to her. Come to an understanding together." She felt him nod against her shoulder.

"I have another problem."

Uhura pulled back to look at him. She had never heard him sound so vulnerable before. "What's that?"

Spock looked down at the Sickbay coverall he was wearing. "I don't know where my uniform is."

Uhura caressed his face, shaking her head. "It's in the wardrobe. After I helped the captain put you to bed, I cleaned it and put it away. Your boots are there, too." Spock looked up at her, chagrined.

"I didn't think of looking in the most logical place."

Uhura chuckled softly. "Well, nobody's perfect." She pulled back from Spock. "Why don't you get cleaned up and I'll see if Christine is free." Spock grew quiet, but eventually he nodded. "Then, I have to get back on duty before my break time is up." She stood and headed for the door.

"Nyota?" Uhura turned back. "Thank you." She smiled.

"Good luck with Christine."

* * *

Spock had just finished tidying up the bed and stowing the plates when the cabin bell sounded. He took a deep, calming breath.

"Come."

The door opened to reveal Nurse Christine Chapel. She looked ... peaceful. Spock wasn't sure why that surprised him. He saw no look of animosity, or anger, or shame, or desire, just serenity.

"May I come in?" Spock ushered her inside with a gesture. "How do you feel?"

Christine smiled. "I'm supposed to ask you that." Spock nodded, pulling out a chair for her.

"I am well. And you?"

"I'm fine," she replied, taking the seat. Spock sat in the chair opposite her. She raised her hand as he started to speak."

"Spock, I know that what happened to all of us was a terrible, humiliating experience. And I'm not going to further that humiliation by using this baby as a threat or a bargaining chip." Spock frowned.

"What do you mean?"

"I will not make any demands of you over this pregnancy. I will abide by whatever decision you make. I am willing to terminate this pregnancy if you wish." It took every ounce of Spock's control to keep his face impassive at that statement. "I am equally willing to carry this baby to term and either relinquish it to you or take it and raise it myself." Spock sat back, stunned. It took him a while to process all of the nurse's statement.

"I am concerned as to how my parents will take this news. On Vulcan, unmarried parents were branded 'shamed ones,' in the old days, quite literally. The child is considered the wronged party and is given equal inheritance in both families."

Christine stirred. "And on Earth, it was the child who was shamed and labeled `bastard,' bearing the guilt for the sins of the parents. But there is no guilt here. This baby is not shamed, and is not a bastard. This baby is the only bright spot in a terrible event. This baby is a gift, for both of us. I know that this pregnancy has really complicated our lives, and it will be difficult, but I am willing to see it through." Christine sighed deeply. "And as for your parents. I think you may be surprised. I suspect that they may take this very well." Spock reached out and took her hand gently. He gazed warmly at Christine.

"I certainly hope so."

* * *

Spock wrung out the excess cool water from the handcloth he was using and mopped Christine's face gently. Every time he touched her, he could sense the great pain she was in, both physically and emotionally. The events on Platonius -- was that only four months ago? -- had occurred so quickly that it was tempting to pretend they hadn't happened, but when the nurse had become pregnant, there could be no pretense.

Christine's body had not been prepared to nurture a Vulcan child. While she was healthy enough to carry a human child, she did not have the trace elements in her blood to support a copper-based life form. And now her body was trying to rid itself of the little invader. Spock remembered his mother's story of how she had to take so many supplements before she could even conceive him and...

Christine's hands gripped the blanket and she gasped sharply, her whole body convulsing briefly with the pain.

"Do not keep silent on my account," Spock said quietly, mopping her brow again. "Cry out, if it helps." Christine rolled her head from side to side, her chin quivering. "Then let the doctor give you medication..."

"No," she huffed. "I want to know this child, if only in pain."

Spock shook his head. "That is so illogical."

Christine attempted a wry smile. "So it is." As Spock rinsed the cloth again, he heard the most extraordinary thing out in the corridor. He heard the captain conversing with none other than Sarek and Amanda. It took all of his training to keep from displaying his great surprise. As his father and mother entered the sickbay ward, Spock did not stand, did not move from his self-appointed post at the nurse's side.

"Forgive me for not rising to greet you," he told his parents. "I am needed here." Amanda bent over Spock's shoulder to place her cheek against her son's.

"It's all right, Spock." She paused, trying to keep her composure. "We grieve with you." Spock turned his head to look at her.

"You know?" he said quietly. Amanda nodded. "The captain filled us in." She watched as he ministered to Christine. "You're caring for to her so tenderly." Spock looked down and smoothed her hair.

"She is in much pain, and she is bearing it most stoically." He paused and took a great breath. "It isn't fair, what's happened to her." Sarek placed his hands gently on Spock's shoulders.

"We hear that it happened to you both." Spock tensed at the memory, tensed with the struggle to control himself."

"I wasn't sure it really happened. I was ... on her and in her and done so quickly, that I thought I had only imagined it." Amanda squeezed her son's hand.

"It must have been humiliating," she whispered. Spock nodded.

"They humiliated us all."

Sarek stirred. "What is to be done with them?" he asked. Spock took a deep breath, trying to calm down.

"We placed warning buoys around the planet, alerting other ships to stay away."

Just then, Christine doubled over and started to moan. Spock set aside the cloth and placed a hand on her head.

"I'm here, Christine," he murmured. "I'm here. Shall I go and call..."

"No, don't leave me," she panted, grasping his hand. "It's coming." She squirmed, gasped and started to cry softly. After a awhile she whispered, "It's out. It's over. It's all over."

Spock gathered her gently in his arms and gulped a few breaths. "I grieve with thee," he managed finally. Amanda turned into her husband's arms, suddenly reminded of her own miscarriage when Spock was a small boy. Sarek enfolded his wife in his arms, reliving those painful days with her.

Amanda looked up and caught their reflection in a monitor. So much pain, both fresh and remembered. This surprise visit was to be a happy time for them. All there was was anguish.

Part 2

(Set during "Turnabout Intruder")

"Am I intruding?"

Spock turned at the sound of Christine's gentle voice. He removed his hands from the bulkhead, which had supported him during a series of stretching exercises, and clasped them behind his back. He moved closer to the forcefield that kept him prisoner in the small brig cell.

"You are not disturbing me in the least, Christine." He noted how luminous her blue eyes were, no doubt from the reddened eyelids and copious tears on her face. I cannot dry them this time, he thought. Then Spock noticed something else. Gone was the nurse's sunny blonde hair. Now she sported tresses of a warm brown. Christine noted Spock's gaze and drew a hand self-consciously to her head.

"Pool chemicals turned it a rather ugly shade of green," she explained with a bashful smile. "This was the only color that would cover it up." Christine looked up shyly. "Do you like it?"

"It is different," Spock noted.

"You hate it!" Spock shook his head.

"I neither like nor dislike it, Christine," he countered. "It simply is." Spock cocked his head to the side. "It is esthetically pleasing," he admitted at last. Christine started to smile, but then began to cry again. "What is it, my friend?" Spock asked her softly. The nurse's head snapped up.

"Do you even have to ask?" she said incredulously. "My best friend is fighting for his life, and I can't do a thing to help him!" Christine dragged her hands angrily across her eyes. "Medically, there's nothing wrong with the captain," she hissed, "so why is he acting like such a maniac?"

Spock drew as close to the forcefield as he dared. He could feel the crackle of electricity raising the small hairs on his body.

"Breathe, Christine," Spock said in a soft but insistent voice. "Breathe. Like I showed you. One breath in slowly for calm," he ordered gently, watching as she obeyed. "Another for peace." Christine's shoulders lifted again. "A third for serenity." She kept her eyes closed as Spock continued his instructions. "We will get through this insanity only if we remain at peace. Negative thoughts and wishful thinking are a waste of time and energy." Christine opened her eyes and looked at Spock woefully.

"I want to help you," she cried, "but I don't know what to do!" Spock sighed, frustrated that he could neither wipe away her tears nor ease her fears.

"But you are helping, Christine," he murmured. She looked at him skeptically.

"How?" she demanded. He gave Christine that special, gentle look he reserved for her alone.

"You are here," he breathed. "As always, you are standing with me through a most difficult time. I didn't have to ask you to come because you came on your own volition." Christine sniffed and gave him a small smile.

"But I want to do more," she whispered. Spock nodded.

"There is something you can do for me, Christine." She face brightened.

"Anything!" Spock lowered his gaze as he felt his control slipping.

"Sit by me," he whispered at last.

"What?" He raised his eyes to her.

"Sit by me, Christine, at the trial. There is ample room."

"Of course," she breathed. "Is that all?" Spock shook his head.

"If this trial... If he should succeed in executing me, I will need something important from you," he said in a small voice. "I would need you near me so I could transfer my katra to you before I ... die."

Christine was confused. "Your what?"

"My katra. You would call it my soul. I would need to touch you before ... the end. You would then have to bring it home for me." Christine started to cry again. They could hear the security guards coming down the hall. "Will you do it for me?" Spock asked urgently.

"Yes," she breathed. Spock closed his eyes to hide his gratitude. He took a deep breath to settle himself before the guards arrived. Wordlessly, the guards withdrew their phasers and lowered the forcefield. Spock threw one last look over his shoulder as they led him away. "Sit with me," he mouthed silently to the nurse. She nodded

Christine repeated the breathing exercise, dried her face and composed herself before heading to the conference room.

Part 3

(Set after "Turnabout Intruder")

"Am I intruding?"

Christine turned at the sound of Spock's gentle voice. The nurse smiled at his echo of her words of only a few hours earlier. She laid down her stylus, withdrew a disc from her padd, popped it into the outlet on her desk, and pushed a button before giving Spock her full attention.

"You never intrude," Christine replied. She moved closer to Spock, bubbling with happiness now the insanity of the trial was behind him. "I'm so glad everything turned out alright."

Spock gazed about the room conspiratorially. "So am I," he whispered.

Christine giggled, then sobered. "That was damn close," she hissed. Spock nodded.

"Indeed," he said quietly. After a moment, Spock withdrew his hands from behind his back and handed Christine a message tape. She gave him a puzzled look as she took it. "It is your reply from Starfleet Medical." Christine frowned. "Why wasn't it on my regular... " Christine realized that Spock hadn't released his grip on the tape yet.

"I wanted to be the one to bring it to you," he said, slightly chagrined at being caught dipping into her mail. Christine released the disk and stepped back.

"You read it," she said in a flat voice. "I didn't make it." Spock took Christine's hand and placed the disk firmly in her palm.

"I have not seen it. I merely wanted to stand with you as you read it."

Christine flipped the disk idly around a few times before sitting again at her desk. She removed the other disk that had transferred her daily report to the main computer and inserted the new one. She hardly noticed that Spock had circled to the other side of the desk in order to give her privacy as she read the message from Starfleet Medical. He saw the nurse's eyes flash like twin phasers on overload. She was not accepted, he thought.

Suddenly, Christine grabbed two handfuls of color coded disks and flung them in the air. She is furious, he thought, and rightly so. What could they be thinking?

"Yippee!" Christine screeched as the disks rained down around her. She jumped from her seat, and before Spock had a chance to react, she grabbed him by the arms and whirled him around.

McCoy came running into the nurse's office and stopped short as he watched Christine fling Spock around in a happy dance.

"What in blue blazes is going on in here?" he bellowed.

"I was accepted to medical school!" Christine shrieked. She grabbed McCoy and pulled him into round two of the happy dance. Spock backed away quickly.

"Wait a minute! WAIT A MINUTE!" McCoy hollered, which made Spock wince. Christine stopped dancing, but nothing could halt the stupid, sloppy grin covering her face. "When do you start? What do your orders read?" Christine knocked several of the tapes aside with her foot so she could get back to her desk. Her mouth dropped not once but twice as she finished reading.

"I report in two weeks!" she squeaked. "The term has already started! I'll be a month behind the others!"

Spock pushed himself away from the bulkhead now that there was little danger of him being dragged into another round of dancing.

"Perhaps if they provide the curriculum, you begin covering the missed material." Christine looked at Spock with exasperation.

"Oh, sure," she said with hands on hips. "I can study in between packing and saying goodbye, not to mention working my shifts and preparing my end report before a new head nurse takes over." Spock handed her a stack of disks he had rescued from the floor.

"I will help you pack," he said.

"I'll help you study, Chris," McCoy stated.

Christine held both men with her eyes. How can one girl be so lucky?

* * *

Half-filled boxes and cases littered Christine's cabin. Spock carefully wrapped the breakables Christine had collected from the various planets and ports of call she had visited during her stay on the Enterprise. He came upon one familiar item. It was a beautifully, intricately carved bowl with a tight-fitting lid -- a Vulcan burial urn. Spock knew that it held the remains of their daughter, the precious girl they had been forced to conceive on Platonius.

Spock say heavily in the nearest chair, clutching the little urn to his chest. This little girl who had drawn only one feeble breath had cemented a most interesting relationship between Spock and a most fascinating woman. Never denying that they were male and female, they were intimate, yet not physical. They had entered into a bond of friendship, nothing more.

Yet.

Christine had said to him that if his Time were to catch him unprepared again, she would be quite willing to "lend a hand." Odd choice of words, Spock thought.

He had considered moving beyond friendship in their relationship when Christine had started talking about medical school. Knowing how bright and truly caring she was, Spock thought that she would make a fine physician. But knowing that medical school would take several years, Most likely past my next Time. Spock knew that beginning a relationship with her now would not be in Christine's best interest.

Then there was this matter with the mission coming to an end. Dark thoughts clouded Spock's face as he thought of Kirk's message to him. "I'm being promoted to Admiral, Spock, and I submitted you for promotion to Captain. The Enterprise is yours for the taking."

I have never wanted command. I have never pursued a command of my own. I only took the job as First Office with the stipulation that I remain as Science Officer. This is not my destiny, and he knows that, just as being without his own ship to command is not *his* best destiny. He is forcing me to take this promotion, and I do not want it.//

* * *

Christine found a brooding Vulcan sitting in her cabin. Seeing what was in his hands brought sad tears to her eyes. Spock didn't even acknowledge Christine's presence until she placed a hand over his.

"We were hoping to take her home together," she murmured as she caressed the urn. "Now there is no time..." Christine's voice trailed off as she observed Spock's demeanor. "What's wrong, my friend? What are you thinking about?" Spock let his breath out in a puff.

"I am thinking of many things," he said, his voice flat, ominous. He rubbed the urn gently before setting it reverently aside. Spock turned to Christine, not quite meeting her eyes. "May we talk?"

"Certainly," she crooned. "Can I get you anything, Spock? Some tea or ...?" Spock shook his head. Christine closed the lid of her trunk and sat on it, pulling one of Spock's hands to herself. "Tell me what troubles you."

He covered her hands with his own and took a deep breath. "The captain has been promoted to admiral," he said softly.

Christine shook her head. "Isn't that good news for him?" she asked, puzzled. Spock shook his head.

"No," he fumed. "His best destiny is commanding a starship, not riding a desk. He knows that. The position does not suit his talents. It is a colossal mistake for him to accept it." Christine studied the Vulcan for a moment.

"That's not all that's bothering you, is it," she stated. Again, Spock shook his head.

"He ... he has promoted me to Captain of the Enterprise." It wasn't blatant, but Christine knew Spock well enough to see and hear the disgust behind that statement.

"You never wanted a command," she said gently, "and he knows that, too. That's what's eating at you. Jim Kirk is forcing you to do something you know not to be in your best interests -- again."

"Yes," Spock breathed, lowering his head. He had to do the breathing exercises -- again! -- to regain his composure. "Christine," he stated at last, "do you remember our past conversation when we discussed our future plans?" The nurse nodded.

"You mentioned then that you were thinking of going home," she said, clasping his hand more tightly. "You had just come back from that mission to Exo III, the one you said was so difficult. You never told me any more about that. What made the mission so hard? What happened?" Spock kept his head down as he thought. Finally he lifted his bleak gaze to her.

"The particulars do not matter, Christine," he said at last. "The mission just brought home how much I have lost of myself. I had to act contrary to my Vulcan training yet again. My composure and control have been affected as well." Spock heaved a great sigh. "I had planned to take a leave during the refit to go home and re-center, but now that I do not have the position I desire, I find that there is no reason for me to return." Christine squeezed Spock's hands. He squared his shoulders and gently withdrew his hands. "I have been accepted to the monastery at Gol."

The shock of Spock's statement caused Christine to fall back into the chair.

"Kolinahr?" she breathed. "You want to pour out your feelings on the sands of Vulcan forever?" Spock clasped his hands in his lap.

"Master. I need to master my passions, because they threaten to overwhelm me." Christine frowned. "It is for the best, my friend, for me. It is not a decision that I make lightly. I have considered this for the better part of a year." Christine's mouth worked a couple of times before she was able to speak.

"But I'll never see you again," she whispered.

"Perhaps, perhaps not," he replied. "As my mother would say, `Never say never.'" Spock cocked a brow and turned his head to one side. "That is an odd saying, is it not?" Christine clasped her hands in her lap, unconsciously mimicking Spock's pose.

"I had hoped to correspond with you while I was away," she said in a small voice. Spock turned a warm gaze on her. "How can I go through this without you?" Spock reached for her hands.

"Neither of us will ever be without the other," he said, stroking the backs of her hands with his thumbs. "Our daughter has seen to that. We will always be part of each other's life." Spock paused as his voice faltered. "It's just that, I am not at peace. I have lost my path, and I think this is the right step for me to take on my journey." He squeezed her hands. "Just as your step is the right one for your journey." Spock brought Christine's hands to his brow briefly. "Besides, you will be much too busy to correspond." Christine's chin began to quiver.

"I would have made time for you," she whispered. Spock pulled the nurse to her feet.

"Tell my parents how you are doing," he said gently. "They greatly admire you and they would be very interested." Christine's face brightened.

"Could they get messages to you?" Hope began to eyes in her eyes as she saw at Spock's guarded look.

"Perhaps." Spock moved to continue packing for Christine.

"Does anyone else know?" she asked at last. Spock shook his head. "I don't want to waste the captain's valuable time trying to convince me to stay. He will try, but he will not be successful." Christine tossed an embroidered pillow at Spock.

"You're a stubborn cuss!" she teased. Spock retrieved the pillow and packed it away.

"Christine, you have met both of my parents. You know that I come by it honestly!"

* * *

Med student Chapel logged on to retrieve her messages. The postmaster sent her notice of a package held for her at the dorm office. Curious she hurried down to the front desk to claim what turned out to be a small packet. Inside she found a photo and a handwritten note.

My friend Christine,

Peace and prosperity.

One exercise that Kolinahr postulants must complete before moving to the next stage is to take their leave of each person who has been part of the student's life.

I am sending you this note to tell you how grateful I am for your part in my life. I remember each time I woke up in Sickbay to find you tending my injuries and illnesses so completely and with such devotion. A soon as I saw you, I knew that I would recover.

I remember you caring for me so completely during my Time, even when I treated you so cruelly.

I remember your profound bravery and generosity when Parmen forced us together, resulting in the conception of our cherished daughter, and your intense grief when she was lost to us.

I will always remember our friendship. It was a cherished gift and a bright spot in a difficult time for me.

I wish you peace, my friend, and much success as a doctor. You will be a fine physician. Your patients will have nothing to fear.

Enclosed is a photo of the final resting place of our daughter. The wall you see in the background is our family shrine. On it is listed all of the names of our deceased. In the far right column you will see written in Roman letters the name I heard you call our child while she grew within you -- "Missy." We did not have the time to discuss names earlier, so I hope you are not offended by my choice. In the foreground you will see a fire pit, with the opened container that held Missy's ashes. It is our custom to commingle our deceased ones' remains. This signifies that those who were together in life continue to be together in the second life. Our Missy is now in the arms of her Vulcan forebears. They will hold her for us until it is time to join her.

As promised, I have left instructions that you should be given access to the gravesite whenever you wish. Tell them that you are Christine aduna Spock, and the caretakers will take you directly to the site. No one but family is permitted into the ancestral shrines, so I listed you as my wife. Again, forgive my presumption.

I wish you well, my friend. Please know that I am well and that I am on the road to peace.

Mene sakkhet ur-sevah!

Your friend,

Spock

Christine clutched the note to her chest as she fought back tears. It was on the third breath of the exercise when it finally hit her.

Aduna?!

THE END

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