DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Cheree Cargill and is copyright (c) 2005 by Cheree Cargill. Rated PG13.
The kiss seemed to last forever, Spock's lips jerking and trembling against her own, bruising and hot. She couldn't move, couldn't break out of the paralysis that froze her beneath him, pressing her thinly clad body into his hard torso. She could feel every muscle and sinew that burrowed against her, for the tunics they wore were of fine silk and there was nothing underneath them but skin. As he struggled against the Platonians' control, Spock was moving -- or being moved -- atop her and Christine could suddenly feel his arousal pushing into her groin. It triggered a nightmare that exploded across her memories--
Henoch -- in Spock's body -- raping her -- controlling her -- using her as a plaything. Just as the Platonians were now.
Chapel squeezed her eyes shut hard, unable to make a sound except for the screaming that erupted through her brain. Get away get away get away!! She was shaking hard, tears leaking from between heavily-kohled eyed and leaving streaks down her cheeks.
Spock's voice, sharp and commanding in her mind, snapped the hysteria like a physical slap.
Christine, he repeated, softer and more reassuring, though the power of his psyche rocked her. She squeaked a feeble affirmative sound, a little moan. Be calm, he told her, making it an order. I am not strong enough to fight both Parmen and you. You must not fight me. Let me concentrate…
Yes… She tried to draw a breath around their still-locked lips, managing to suck in air at the edges. She felt him do the same. She concentrated on the taste of his mouth, on the heat of his lips, on the slight roughness of his chin against hers. It helped…
The warm alien presence inside her head bathed her in strength and she made herself settle into his control.
Better … yes … His deep voice murmured through her again and he stopped battling the kiss as well. It was still Parmen who kept them in their humiliating position, but it was easier now to endure. And she felt Spock's presence sparkle slightly with a new fire.
The kironide, he answered. It is beginning to take effect. But he still could not break Parmen's hold. Soon … soon… His pelvis ground harder against hers and both knew what was coming next. Her legs began to spread apart as if rough hands had seized her thighs and yanked.
Oh, please, make them stop! she begged once again, frantic. I can't stand it, Spock! I'm afraid-- Don't! You're hurting me!!
As if in answer, they were abruptly released, but it was because Parmen had tired of this game and was ready to move onto crueler pursuits. Hurt. Yes, he would hurt them now. Pain would make the orgy so much better…
Spock was jerked to his feet, as was Kirk on the next couch, and the men were manipulated toward instruments that had appeared -- a whip and a cattle brand. Both fought the Platonian's influence, but Spock found his hand closing around the handle of the sizzling brand and turning to thrust it toward Christine's face. He would brand her as his own. Brand her cheeks, her breasts, her…
Christine could not move away, could only shut her eyes and wait, trembling in terror, bracing herself for the searing bite of the red-hot metal as it burned away her skin…
* * *
She jerked awake with a cry, sweat pouring down her face. Another bad one! And she hadn't had any bad dreams for over a month… She thought they'd finally gone away, that she could sleep in peace again. No such luck…
For a while she lay limply in her rumpled bed, willing her pounding heart to slow. It was all in the past, she told herself. The events on Platonius was weeks and weeks ago. The aliens had been thwarted just in time and they had all escaped with no harm done.
Christine snorted softly. No harm. Only being forced to perform like a puppet before sadistic psychopaths and to do it with the one man whose respect she had struggled painfully and seemingly in vain to earn. Over and over again she had made a fool of herself in front of him, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that she was not worthy of his regard. Now this… Platonius was the final straw. He had avoided her like the plague since then and she had done her best to avoid him. Spock, who took such pride in his Vulcan logic and emotional control, must loathe the very sight of her now. And she didn't blame him… After all, it didn't take a genius to figure out why the Platonians had picked her out of over a hundred women on board the ship to beam down for Spock's "mate".
Disgusted with herself, she said aloud, "Computer. Time."
"The time is … Oh Three One Four Two Six."
Three o'clock in the morning. Jesus.
Christine sighed heavily. She knew what had triggered the nightmare. She'd run into Spock today, literally. She'd been rounding a corner in the med labs and had collided with him, nearly knocking them both senseless. For a split second all she could feel was his heated body hard against hers and a startled spark deep in her head that attested to the drop of his telepathic shields and a flash of emotions that weren't hers. It was like she'd been caught in a solar flare -- then it shut off as quickly as it had burst.
But the brief telepathic contact was enough to trigger the memories and the shame again. Henoch and Parmen … both instances tied inexorably to Spock. Those and many more. It was like he was inside her brain again, inhabiting her body -- and she couldn't get him out! As if she were seeing it from his point of view and feeling his own fear and disgust. And it happened every time she was near him … touched him … smelled the distinct alien tang of his skin … roiled in his heat…
This had to stop. Now.
Suddenly resolved in her actions, Christine rose and went into her bathroom where she splashed water onto her face and toweled away the sticky sweat. There were dark circles under her eyes and her skin was pale. She looked terrible.
Angrily, she switched off the light and marched to her desk where she sat down heavily before the data terminal. "Computer," she said. "Begin memorandum to Starfleet Bureau of Personnel. Subject: Immediate transfer."
* * *
The buzzer to her quarters sounded like an angry hornet and she knew who it was as if no bulkhead stood between them. Somehow, irrationally, she'd hoped that her memo to BuPers would miraculously bypass his desk, but it was a dream as insubstantial as smoke. He was Executive Officer. Every personnel matter came to him for approval. How could she hope that he would miss this one? But why did he have to find it first thing in the morning? It was six frigging thirty, fergahdsake. She was barely awake, having finally managed to sleep an hour or two before her alarm went off.
"Come," she said resignedly and keyed the door open.
Spock stood stiffly in the opening, his visage like a storm on the horizon, looming and dangerous but tightly controlled, lightning yet to strike. He stepped inside and the door panel slid closed behind him, shutting off the light from the corridor.
"Lieutenant," he said without preamble. "Explain this." In his extended hand was a printout flimsy, official looking, cold.
She swallowed then turned away, deliberately nonchalant. "What is there to explain, Mr. Spock? I think it's clear enough."
"I disagree," he responded in the same hard tone. "I require your reasons for requesting a transfer."
"I don't have to give you reasons … sir," she shot back, her voice beginning to shake. "There's nothing in regulations that--"
"Then your request is denied!" he snapped, his brows lowering over eyes like onyx. He spun and started for the door.
"I'll go to the Captain with it!" she retorted desperately.
That made him stop and turn to face her. She quailed before the look he gave her. It took Spock a long moment to reply and, when he did, the warning in his voice took her breath away. "That would be decidedly unwise, Miss Chapel. He would just send you back to me and I would find it extremely annoying that a crewmember attempted to circumvent my authority in this matter."
"Dr. McCoy would circumvent you."
"Not in personnel matters. That is my purview."
"Not Medical personnel!"
"All personnel barring the Captain himself." The dark eyes were boring into her. It was getting too much for her.
"Are you threatening me, Commander?" she responded in a desperate attempt at bravura.
He stepped close to her, hands behind his back, and she was suddenly painfully aware that she was barefoot and in her robe, and that he towered over her in his tall-heeled service boots -- though he didn't need the weight of his uniform to overwhelm her. His sheer masculinity and power, his menacing alienness, did that very well. In a soft, deliberate voice, he asked, "Are you being insubordinate, Lieutenant?"
It was more than she could take. She cracked. "Why are you doing this?" she cried, her will power crumbling and tears coming to her eyes.
Spock backed off minutely. "I want to know why you want off the ship," he answered.
"I just do! I have that right!"
The change from military to personal broke her completely. "I can't stand it any longer, Spock! I have to get away from you!"
"Why? What have I done?"
"It's not you! It's me!"
"What have you done then?"
"You know!" She seized a tissue and blew her nose. Here she was, humiliating herself again in front of him. Was it all she knew how to do anymore?
There was a moment of silence, then he answered in a puzzled voice. "I'm afraid I do not know, Miss Chapel. Kindly explain this uncharacteristic and illogical behavior."
She almost laughed. Was he serious? "Well … this, for instance!" She waved her hand vaguely in the air and grabbed another tissue to wipe her eyes.
She heard him sigh softly and glanced around to find that he had folded his arms across his chest and was watching her with a decidedly perplexed expression. "I will never understand how the mind of a Human female works! Are you ill? Should I call Dr. McCoy?"
"No! God, that's all I need -- Leonard fussing over me like an old hen! No, just give me a minute. I'm sorry." She blew her nose again and made herself regain control. "No, what I mean is … I can't seem to … work with you anymore, Mr. Spock. I think it would be better all around if I transferred out."
"I do not follow your reasoning, Miss Chapel. We work quite well together. Was not my last personnel review of you sufficiently detailed in my evaluation of your medical and research skills?"
Christine gave a pain-filled laugh. "Oh, yes, you praised me to high heaven. But I mean … we … don't … I mean, it's hard for me to be around you."
"Indeed?" Something vaguely akin to hurt crept into his eyes. "I have always found you a remarkably easy working companion. Do you find something about me personally offensive? If so, please tell me and I will attempt to eliminate that aspect of our relationship."
"We don't have a relationship!" she responded angrily.
"I did not mean to imply--"
"No, of course you didn't. I apologize." She sniffed and wiped her nose again.
He had stiffened somewhat at her outburst and stepped closer to her again. "Christine, this conversation is making no progress and no sense. You will explain to me what has upset you so much that you have requested this transfer!"
She sighed heavily and her shoulders slumped in defeat. There it was. She'd just have to flat out tell him and let the chips fall where they may. She had no dignity left. What did it matter anyway?
"I'm going to get some tea," she said softly. "Do you want any?"
"Thank you, no." He was waiting, the air of impatience hovering around him almost visibly. If a Vulcan could said to be impatient…
She retrieved a cup of steaming brew and sat down on the edge of her bed. She didn't invite him to sit. He would if he wanted to.
"The fact of the matter is … I should have transferred out right after Exo III," Christine said in a dull voice, not looking at him, cupping the mug of tea between her hands. The steam curled like an oracle up before her and the past came pouring out of her. "The fact is … I should have run like hell after Psi 2000. Practically knocking you down and tearing your clothes off there in sick bay… Of all the idiotic things I've ever done…"
"You were not responsible for your actions, Miss Chapel," Spock answered softly, distress evident in his voice, unprepared for this turn of events. "We were all affected by the virus. We all did and said things we regret."
"But what I did got broadcast on the ship's gossip line and the other nurses in sick bay knew that I was in love with you. It was a big joke … and it just got bigger and bigger…"
"I was unaware of this."
"Oh, how could you have missed it? It was practically carved in the bulkhead doors!" She looked up at him then, her blue eyes flashing with anger.
"All right…" he admitted finally. "Yes, I was aware of what people were saying. I chose to ignore it as inconsequential."
She glanced back down at her tea. "I tried to, as well," she said. "I worked hard at making it a lie. I tried to be as professional as I could."
"You succeeded admirably," he told her.
"Oh, yes … until the soup thing, that is."
Spock squirmed visibly and turned his back, walking to the other side of her cabin where it was dark. "I am fully to blame for that," he answered in a small voice. "I shamed you. I was … not myself."
"I know." She looked up again and pinned him with a serious gaze. His spine was stiff and his hands were still clenched behind his back, his right gripping his left wrist so hard that it appeared to be shutting off the circulation. "I know why now."
"Oh, come on, Spock. I'm not stupid. And I have access to the medical records. I know why you had to go home! But I made a fool out of myself running back and forth to see about you. Good God, if you'd asked me, I would have jumped you before you got the words out of your mouth! And, for a minute there, I thought you might…"
He didn't answer, but his hands trembled slightly and his body was as rigid as stone.
She sighed again and got up, going into the bathroom to pour the cooling tea down the drain. Angrily she dashed the cup into the disposal and returned to the main cabin. "You might have told me you were married, though!" she snapped. "You might have spared me that!"
Again he was silent, but he hung his head and his left hand clenched as tightly as the right. It dawned on her that he was no longer holding the transfer order but she didn't know what he'd done with it. It didn't matter…
Christine wiped her eyes with the sodden tissue and flung it into the waste bin. Folding her arms, she paced. "No, what business was it of mine if you were married? I didn't care! I was too busy running after you, making an idiot of myself! 'Oh, look! There goes Nurse Chapel chasing Mr. Spock again!' How funny! How pathetic!"
Spock straightened and turned to face her, his eyes eloquent with pain. "You do yourself an injustice," he said in a soft, rough voice. "It was never like that."
"Oh, please, Spock! I'm shameless, not blind and deaf. I could see and hear what was going on around me."
He approached her slowly, hands still behind his back. Gently he shook his head. "Christine, I am not blind or deaf, either. If any of this had come to my attention -- and very little misses my attention! -- I would have dealt with it." He studied her closely. "There is more to this than mere ship's gossip." He cocked his head slightly and peered at her more intently. "Isn't there?"
Her chin quivered suddenly and a fresh sob caught in her throat. She buried her face in her hands. "He raped me!" she burst out.
Startled, Spock drew up sharply. "Who?!" he demanded.
The Vulcan was speechless for a moment, then asked, "Did you report this? Have you sought treatment?"
"I couldn't! It was you, Spock! Or rather -- it was Henoch using your body!" She turned a tear-streaked face up to him, anguished. "I was afraid of what they'd do to you! Because it wasn't really you! I knew that-- I…"
Concern etching his features, the Vulcan caught her gaze and held it. "But that was months ago, Christine. Why haven't you sought trauma counseling? Why didn't you tell me? Or the Captain … or the Doctor …? Someone?"
"I was too ashamed," Christine said, turning away from him. "It was my fault, anyway. If I hadn't been hovering over you in sick bay--"
Abruptly he seized her upper arms and whipped her back to face him. "Stop it!" he ordered her, outrage and fury unconcealed on his features. "Nothing that happened with Henoch was your fault! He was a monstrous being who used us all! You are not to blame!"
She cried some more then and he let her, not quite releasing her, though not going so far as to pull her into an embrace. But she felt better, all the same. "I'm sorry," she said at last, wiping her face with her hand. He reached for the tissue box and quietly handed her one. "Thanks. I really am sorry that I'm such a wreck. I haven't been sleeping well. Nightmares…"
"About Henoch?" he asked quietly.
She nodded. "Sometimes. Other times it's Platonius. That's what it was last night. They sort of overlap sometimes. I was dreaming about you being forced to kiss me and how humiliating it was for you and how ashamed I was … and everything that happened after it…" She sniffed and again refused to look up at him. "It was like it was Henoch on top of me again … sometimes it's like I'm having a flashback."
"And this was what triggered your decision to request a transfer?"
She nodded, ashamed. "When I ran into you yesterday … I must have startled you because, for a second, you … you were inside my head. I could feel what you were feeling and … it was like when Henoch was there … when I couldn't control…"
"I see." Spock sighed heavily and nodded as if to himself. "Yes … I understand now. I believe we may have formed a low-level bond when my consciousness was placed into your mind by Thalassa. I thought my shields were slipping when we were close because I have experienced your emotions, too, at times. Little wonder that you were having nightmares. It can be a very frightening experience for one unused to telepathic contact."
"Then what do we do about it?" she asked.
"The link can be broken by a Vulcan healer," he answered, then he hesitated. "If you wish it…"
"Why wouldn't I?" she whispered, her heart suddenly pounding, for she was feeling a hint of something from him so unexpected that she felt weak. Care. Concern. Affection. Maybe even need. For her.
"Christine … I have not been unaware of your … feelings toward me the past few years," he said. "And … I have not been as … uninterested as I have led you to believe. I simply did not know how to respond. And my position here on the ship precluded my pursuing it. However, it will not be very long before our mission will end. I have not decided what I will do once that happens. Perhaps … we might … discuss the path our futures will take."
She had forgotten how to breathe. "We could talk," she conceded finally. "I still want off the ship, though, Spock. I still want to transfer."
"Will you wait, though?" he asked. "Until mission end? Will you stay?"
Gulping, she nodded mutely. "Until then."
"Good." He reached up to trail a fingertip down her cheek. "I will mark the order for indefinite hold. Meantime, please arrange for trauma counseling with Dr. Hicks. Lack of sleep is not conducive to efficiency or productivity." He was serious, but there was still a flicker of gentle humor deep within his dark eyes.
She nodded and glanced at the chrono. "Oh, Lord, I'm going to be late for shift."
"I will notify Dr. McCoy that you are excused from duty today," Spock answered and reached to retrieve the crumpled transfer printout from her desk where it had been all along. "I want you to see the counselor and then get some rest. You are not aesthetically pleasing with circles under your eyes or blotchy skin from crying."
Her mouth dropped open but then she saw the little smile pulling at the corners of his lips. She couldn't help smiling back.
"And, Miss Chapel…" he added just before he went out the door. "If you would like, I would be pleased to share evening meal with you in my quarters tonight. 1800? I believe there is much we need to discuss and resolve about our … relationship."
Then the door panel slid closed behind him and he was gone.