DISCLAIMER: The usual stuff ... all the Star Trek characters belong to Paramount. The story belongs to me, copyright (c) 2006 by T'Erosl. Yada-yada-yada. You know the drill. Rated NC17 for sexual situations.



Chrysalis

T'Eros

Christine had barely had time to drop her things on the table when the door chimed, announcing a visitor. "Crap," she muttered. "What now?" She'd been on duty for 36 hours, snatching cat naps when she could, and she was beat. She'd been looking forward to a quick bite to eat, a long soak in the tub, then about 18 hours of straight sleep. This phase of residency sucked and she wondered again if she'd made a mistake by getting her M.D. after all these years.

"Who is it?" she asked through the intercom.

"Spock," came the familiar voice.

That stopped her short for a few seconds. What in the hell was he doing here? she wondered. She hadn't seen him for over a year, ever since the Enterprise had returned to Earth at the end of its mission and the crew was reassigned. She'd lost track of nearly everybody, with the exception of Len, Jan and Ny, as all her former crewmates scattered literally to the stars.

She'd heard on the news that Jim Kirk had been promoted to admiral and was now in charge of Starfleet Operations. But the last she'd heard, Spock was still working with the refit crew on updating the ship before it was sent out on a new assignment. She'd assumed that when it launched, Spock would be appointed captain. It was his due. He was the longest serving officer on board the starship and, as second in command, it was logical -- you should pardon the term -- that he take over the center seat.

"Christine?" the Vulcan's deep voice queried over the intercom.

"Oh, sorry!" She shook her head and quickly keyed the open code, allowing the door to slide back. "Hello."

Spock stood on her doorstep, wearing civilian attire and an inquisitive look on his face, and holding a large white sack in one hand and a bottle of wine in the other. "My apologies if I've come at a bad time," he said. "But I was wondering ... have you eaten?"

"No. I just got home," she answered. She was still wearing her green scrubs, her dark hair pulled back into a slightly unkempt French twist. She hadn't even bothered to change when she finally reached end of shift. All she wanted to do was get out of the medical center and get home.

"Good. I've brought supper." He hefted the sack a bit in explanation.

"How nice," she fumbled, at a loss for words. "Uh ... come in." She stepped aside and allowed him to enter, the door sliding closed and locking behind him. "How did you know when--"

"I checked your schedule," he answered before she could finish. "I surmised that you might be hungry but too fatigued to prepare food."

She laughed a little. "You're right about that. Well, it's good to see you. Come on into the kitchen." She led the way through her small living room into the compact kitchen of her apartment. "Just put it there on the counter while I clear the table. Sorry about the mess."

"A certain amount of clutter is to be expected, but your quarters looks quite neat to me."

"You're kind, but it really is a mess. I don't have much time clean lately."

"Understandable." He was unpacking squarish to-go cartons and setting them on the counter. "I hope you like Chinese food. I was not certain of your preference."

"I love Chinese," she replied, joining him and opening the cartons curiously. "What did you get?"

"Lo mein, steamed rice, vegetable stir fry. I hope that is satisfactory."

"It sounds wonderful. I'm starved!" She picked up the red labeled bottle. "And Shaoxing wine. Perfect! I'll get some cups." As he transferred the cartons to the table and laid out chopsticks and napkins, she returned with a couple of porcelain teacups. "Sorry I don't have the proper cups for drinking rice wine, but this will have to do."

"I believe they will suffice." He glanced up at her, his dark eyes alive with humor. "We should eat before the food becomes cold."

"Absolutely!"

They seated themselves at the small round table and dug in, eating right out of the cartons. Christine finally gave up on the chopsticks and retrieved a fork from a drawer, but Spock handled his deftly, used to Vulcan utensils that were similar in design.

"Oh, this is great," Christine said around a full mouth. "I didn't realize I was so hungry!" She sipped the sweet yellow wine and swallowed. "But, thinking about it, I haven't eaten anything since about 5:00 this morning. And that was a stale donut and a cup of coffee. I've been on the run ever since."

"You are enjoying your new career then?" the Vulcan asked, gracefully transferring lo mein noodles from carton to mouth.

"I am, although sometimes I wonder if I have the strength to keep going." She laughed. "I'm not as young as I used to be. When I went into medicine ten years ago, I was in my early twenties and could pull a double shift then still go out dancing afterwards!"

"You are still quite young," he commented, his eyes on the broccoli floret he was fishing out of his stir fry.

She paused for a second to gaze at him appraisingly. "Again, you're kind, but I'm 36 now. No spring chicken."

That made Spock look up. "Spring chicken?"

"Forget it. Just a saying. So, when does the 'E' launch? They still working on her?"

"The ship is still in refit, yes. There are problems with the new engine design. Mr. Scott has acquainted me with a number of new curse words."

Christine gave her throaty laugh again. "I can believe that! Engineering can be almost as ... um ... colorful a place as Sickbay sometimes."

"Moreso, in my experience," Spock replied.

"I read recently about Jim's promotion," Chapel said, forking up a heap of rice. "How's he doing?"

"Unknown. I believe the new regimen is a bit foreign to him as yet. He is used to being in command and now he has to contend with Starfleet bureaucracy."

"I can believe that! I've had to do my own battles with Starfleet Medical during the past year. This new program I've been through, the fast track med training, has been difficult for a lot of the old professors to handle. They're used to having two or three years to train their young doctors and us old fogies who've been out on the front line, battling Rigellian fever and umpty-dozen other xeno-diseases first hand, are a bit intimidating to them." Christine laid down her fork, stuffed to the gills, and lifted her teacup to take another sip of wine. "In most cases, we are lightyears ahead of them in our knowledge and it has ruffled a lot of feathers."

"I can imagine so." Spock was still poking his chopsticks around in one of his cartons.

Christine cradled both hands around her teacup and rested her elbows on the table, watching him appraisingly. "So, again, when does the ship launch? What's holding up your captain's stripes?"

Spock didn't look up and his face hardened almost imperceptibly. "The launch date is scheduled for approximately five months from now. And I will not be her captain."

"What?!" Christine almost dropped her cup. "But, I thought--"

"I was passed over for command of the ship," he said almost bitterly and laid down his chopsticks a little too forcefully on the table. "They have awarded command to William Decker."

Christine's mouth gaped open. "Are you shitting me? That kid? Why, he's -- he's--"

"The son of the late Commodore Matt Decker, who was highly regarded by the Powers That Be. He is also young, handsome, male and Human. The new Golden Boy." Spock got up from the table and went to look out the window, his stiff back to her, hands clenched behind him. "The new James T. Kirk."

"Oh, Spock, I'm so sorry!" She rose and went to him, tentatively laying a hand against the tensed muscles. "That is so ... unjust! It's heinous! How dare they?!"

He turned his head so that he could regard her out of the corner of one eye. "How dare they? They dare because they can. If you will recall, Christine, you warned me of this on Calabria Nu. Do you remember? When we were awaiting rescue when our speeder died? You said that I'd never sit in Kirk's chair for the simple reason that I am not Human." He turned back and gave what could only be called a snort. "You were right."

"But have you tried all the proper channels--"

"I have gone through every channel I know! My father even contacted the Starfleet Promotions Board to file a recommendation for me -- and, believe me, that was something I never expected from Sarek! It was to no avail. They smiled politely and said their decision was final." His teeth tightened for a moment. "They did, however, offer me command of a research vessel, the Challenger-D."

"A ten man scout? Oh, my God!" Christine let her hand slide to his shoulder as she moved to see his face better. "What did you do?"

"You will note that I am not in uniform," Spock replied laconically.

"You resigned?"

"I retired. My twenty years was up. I chose not to re-enlist." And he sighed almost in defeat.

"What now?" she queried in concern. "What will you do?"

"I'm going back to Vulcan," he answered softly. "I came tonight to say goodbye."

* * *

They retired to the living room, where Christine lit a fire in the small fireplace, turned on some soft background music, and brought them both brandy in a couple of snifters that had belonged to her grandfather. Then they settled back on the couch, staring glumly into the fire. After a while, Christine took a sip of the warm liquor and commented, "Well, this sucks!"

Spock looked at her quizzically. "The brandy?"

"No, the whole situation. It just stinks." She drank some more, gazing into the crackling flames. "I am flabbergasted that they would do something like this to you! It's so unfair!"

Spock grunted in apparent agreement and tasted his own potent drink. He didn't normally imbibe alcoholic beverages, but this occasion seemed to call for it. "I confess that I was caught off-guard as well. You were correct about something else -- I did want command of the Enterprise. I didn't realize how much I had casually expected to take over the captaincy in Jim's wake."

"Yeah, I mean ... twenty years!" Chapel was feeling a tiny little buzz starting, first from the rice wine and now the brandy on top of her fatigue. It simply made her more vocal in her opinions. "You know what you should have done? You should have gone down there and punched Admiral Cartwright right in the nose!"

The Vulcan turned his gaze on her once more. "That would hardly have been epi... efficacious." He blinked. The alcohol was affecting him a little bit as well. For a moment, he stared at the stemmed goblet in his hands, then deliberately took another drink. He didn't care, he realized. Tonight, for once in his life, he wanted to get drunk.

"Too bad!" Christine declared, missing the trip in his tongue. "It would serve him right! He's such a bigot. Earth First -- that's his feeling. Human or nothing." She drained her brandy and reached for the bottle to pour another measure into the glass. She refilled Spock's glass while she was at it.

"Thank you. I cannot even begin to express the emotions I have been feeling in the aftermath of this incident." His brows had pulled together into a frown and his mouth tightened.

"Let me help you find words," she answered, curling her legs up under her on the couch and moving closer to him. "How about betrayed?"

"Yes."

"Hurt."

"Definitely."

"Furious."

Spock didn't answer, but got up and began to pace. "And hatred. I have not felt hatred like this since we were manipulated by Parmen on Platonius."

"I know. I--"

"No. This was before you and Nyota were brought down. I was used like a puppet and made to do things I can barely stand to think about now." He took another swallow of brandy and continued his agitated pacing. "Had I been able, I would have killed them. I have never wanted to murder before, but I would gladly have torn Parmen apart with my bare hands! I had to get control of my emotions before I lost all control." He shook his head, a tortured expression on his face. "I almost felt that level of hatred again when facing the promotions board. I felt such ... such ... anger."

"Of course you did!" Christine agreed. "Anybody would."

"But I am a Vulcan!" he argued, almost to himself. "A Vulcan does not feel such things!"

"A Human does," she answered softly. "You do."

"I do not wish to feel it!"

"But you do... And it's tearing you apart, Spock."

He growled and shook his head in denial.

"Let it out, Spock," Chapel urged. "I think that's why you came here tonight. Because you don't have to pretend in front of me. Because you know I'll understand."

The Vulcan stopped pacing and hung his head, the goblet still clutched in his trembling hand. For a long moment, neither of them spoke then, without warning, he suddenly gave a roar and hurled the glass full force into the fireplace, where it exploded in a crash of splintered glass and flaring blue flames as the brandy ignited.

Christine lurched backwards in the couch in shock and wondered for a split second if she should dive over the back to safety, but Spock was standing stock still, legs braced apart and his face buried in his hands, his shoulders shaking almost uncontrollably. Cautiously, she set down her own glass and approached him.

"It's okay," she soothed him and gingerly touched him. He didn't move and she was encouraged to slip her arms around him. "It's okay..." Gently, she drew him into her arms and held him and he let her do it, his eyes still closed and his breath still coming fast. They stood that way for a long time, then she drew away a little.

"Let me help you," she whispered and he looked up at her finally, his dark eyes bleak with despair. Without further words, she took his hand and led him toward her bedroom.

* * *

As Spock realized her intention, he balked and halted them just inside the bedroom door. "You don't have to do this," he told her.

"I know I don't," Christine answered him seriously. "But for you, right now, it's the best medicine."

"Is this a medical procedure then?" His expression was still hard, angry.

Christine peered at him for a long few seconds. "No," she finally said. "It's an offer by a friend who loves you and cares about you."

"Is that what you are? Just a friend?"

Her head was beginning to hurt and spin a little bit from all that she'd drunk. "At the moment, I'm whatever you want me to be. The point is, you need a release from the tension you're under before you completely snap."

"Vulcans do not get tense," he argued automatically.

Christine closed her eyes for a moment. "You're wound tighter than Granddaddy's fiddle string, as Leonard would say."

"I am vine ... fine," he quickly corrected himself.

The slip didn't go past her this time. "You're also buzzed," she snapped back. "That wasn't synthehol you were drinking in there, you know. And I don't have any anti-tox tabs at the moment. So why don't you just stop arguing with me and do what's logical? You need this."

He was weaving ever-so-slightly. "And do you need this also?"

"I don't know any better tension reliever than a good hard fuck!" That sent his eyebrows shooting up into his bangs. "Oh, do what you want!" she said, exasperated. "I'm tired. I'm going to bed. Go sleep on the couch if you want to. I'm fed up with your pity party!"

So saying, Christine turned away and began to pull the pins out of her hair, letting her dark locks fall about her shoulders. Then she kicked off her shoes and methodically began to undress, haphazardly tossing her green scrubs at a chair but missing. She let them lie on the floor where they fell, uncaring, and peeled off her undershirt and then pushed down and stepped out of her panties, too. She seemed to have forgotten that Spock was watching her, for she turned back the covers on her bed and slipped between the sheets, her back to him.

He didn't do or say anything for several minutes, simply standing there. Finally, he asked, "You sleep in the nude?"

"Yes."

"You are doing this to provoke me," he accused.

"Vulcans don't get provoked," she retorted stiffly. "So, you're not mad about getting screwed by Starfleet, and you didn't just smash one of my heirloom glasses, and you're not man enough to admit it and get into this bed. Why should I care either? Go away."

"You believe I am not a man?" His anger was simmering near the surface again.

"I've heard you say it. You're not a man. You're a Vulcan. Vulcans don't need anything or anybody." She glared over her shoulder at him. "That's precisely why I refused to marry you, Spock. I want a man, not whatever you are." She turned away again, her back rigid.

He didn't answer for a moment, then abruptly yanked his shirt off over his head and let it fall to the floor. Quickly the rest of his clothing followed and he got into bed behind her, his body quivering with agitation. He reached for her shoulder and pulled her over flat of her back. Hovering over her, he ground out, "You wish me to prove my manhood to you. Very well!"

His mouth came down onto hers, hard, demanding, as he pulled her body against his. For a second, she was startled, then she responded, arms going around his neck. They wrestled back and forth, lips and tongues dueling for dominance, hands seeking and rough. As she fought to get him underneath her, his passion and anger flared, bringing all his male primacy to the forefront. He used his superior strength to slam her into her back and then he was above her, between her legs, his fully aroused masculinity pressed against her feminine portal.

At once, she submitted, breathing hard, and lay still as he thrust at her, seeking. But he was clumsy and that added to his frustration, fueling his ire. Without fuss, she reached between them and guided him in, quickly pulling her hand away once he'd found his goal, for he growled resonantly in his throat and plunged deep with one hard shove.

Christine gasped, then simply held him as he bucked above her, her fingers pressed into the rigid muscles of his shoulders back. He worked almost frantically then he hunched into her and froze. She barely had time to register it before he was thrusting again, harder than ever, all his anger and defeat pouring out in this one act of catharsis. She closed her eyes and hung on, her touch soothing and understanding, enduring the bruising collisions as his body battered into hers.

Finally, when she wondered how long he could possibly go on, he gave a final, shattering plunge and erupted in climax, his face pressed into her neck, a low groan that was almost a wail issuing from between his clenched teeth. And then he sagged against her and she heard him sob. Still within her, he clutched her to him and began to weep, all the tension within him finally breaking loose.

Holding him close, Christine rocked him and murmured comfort, stroking his hair, neither of them noticing when he slipped from her and rolled off her to one side. "I'm sorry," he said over and over again.

"Shhhh," she whispered. "It's okay. Sleep now, sweetheart. Everything is all right now."

Eventually he quieted and exhaustion took her as well. Both of them fell asleep folded into one another's arms.

* * *

Christine awoke to pearlescent morning light and the early birdsong that surrounded dawn, the quiet serenity of morning before traffic and bustle drowned out the sounds of such peace. And she did feel peace this morning, both within herself and emanating from the unnaturally warm body pressed along her length.

Spock was nestled against her, one arm draped across her waist, his easy respiration stirring her hair. He was holding her lightly, but with a possessiveness that let her know he wasn't asleep. Smiling, she took a deep breath and let it softly out, stirring in his arms. He didn't speak, but nuzzled gently into her hair and dropped a light kiss onto her neck.

"Mmmm..." she murmured. "What time is it?"

"Oh six fifty-three."

"Have you been awake long?"

"One hour, forty-three minutes," he answered. "I am still on ship's time."

She murmured again, this time incoherently, her eyes closing. He was so deliciously warm and lying here felt so good that she was in no hurry to wake up. For a little while, she simply dozed, then gradually became more alert as sunlight began to fill the bedroom through the gauzy curtains. Still she didn't make any move to leave his arms.

Sensing that she was once more awake, Spock said conversationally, "You have a butterfly on your shoulder."

"My tattoo? Yes."

"Have you always had that there?"

"No." She chuckled softly. "I got it during that last shore leave when everybody was getting the ship's insignia done. I started to get one, too, then changed my mind. This was something I'd thought about doing for a long time so I decided to just do it."

"But why a butterfly?" He drew his hand away from her waist and gently ran his fingertip over the brilliant blue marking on her left shoulder blade. The tattoo wasn't large, about two inches across, of an iridescent little creature, wings spread in flight.

"It's symbolic of my new life," she answered, a bit introspectively. "See ... I realized that I felt like a caterpillar. A little awkward, inching along, doing my job, but a job that wasn't really who I wanted to be. So I decided it was time to change. Spin a cocoon and metamorphose. I'm still in the chrysalis phase, but pretty soon I'm going to break out and be that butterfly."

"Poetic, if a bit metaphysical," he commented, then let his hand slip down her arm and take up its position once more at rest against her bare stomach.

"Maybe. But it's how I feel anyway," she shrugged lightly.

"Illogical," was his succinct comment.

"So what sort of tattoo would you get? Or do you already have one I don't know about?"

"Vulcans do not adorn themselves this way."

"Ha!" she laughed. "I've laid eyes on a few pieces of Vulcan hide in my day and I've seen a tat or two in inconspicuous places!"

"Then there must have been a reason for it. Spiritual or cultural."

"Like the middle-aged Vulcan I treated recently who had a naked woman tattooed on his tush? And you should have seen what he had done to his--"

"Christine, is this really something we want to talk about right now?" There was an unmistakably alarmed tenor to Spock's voice.

The woman laughed again. "I guess not. Not before breakfast anyway! And speaking of ... how about some? Breakfast, I mean."

"Soon. But at the moment I am rather enjoying simply lying here with you."

"Yeah... Me, too." She shifted over onto her back and gazed into his familiar, beloved face, noting the faint shadow of unshaven beard along his chin and cheeks. Unable to resist, she reached up to run her fingertips over the roughness. "So, how are you feeling this morning? Any better?"

He caught her hand. "Please, that tickles. Yes, you were correct about my need to relieve a certain level of tension. I apologize for my lack of control last night. It must have been the alcoholic beverages."

"Hmm. Maybe."

He quirked an eyebrow marginally at her skeptical tone. "In any case, I have a bit of a bone to pick with you, if I understand the idiom correctly."

"Oh? What's that?"

"You deliberately manipulated me into engaging in intercourse with you, did you not?" He had pinned her with an accusing stare.

"Did I? I don't remember," she said easily. "I was drunk last night." She met his half-serious glare without blinking and calmly answered his unspoken battle of wills.

He was the one who finally backed down. "I see that there is little use arguing with you. I have known you for too many years, Doctor. I have seen you employ psychology before."

"Oh, we're back to 'Doctor', are we? And yet here you are, lying in my bed, naked as a jaybird. Tut, tut. What would Leonard say about that?" She couldn't suppress a smirk.

"Let's leave him out of this," Spock replied, trying and failing to keep the corners of his mouth from twitching.

"You're right. I love Len to death but I definitely don't want him in bed with us!" That caused Spock's brows to rise and Christine dissolved into a throaty laugh, rolling over to bury her face in his chest.

Spock started to flinch away, but he was finding the whole situation much too delightful to bow to ingrained instinct. Anyway, after the previous evening, it was illogical to be sensitive to her intimacies now. Instead, he slipped his arms back around her and drew her against him. She raised her head and gazed up at him, her blue eyes full of adoration and mirth.

"So, now what?" she asked. "I mean, what are your plans for the future?"

"The immediate future or a bit farther along in time?" he countered.

"Whichever you want to talk about."

"Let us confine things to the immediate future," he answered softly, the faintest hint of suggestion in his voice. "And that depends entirely on you."

For a long moment, neither spoke, simply gazing into each other's eyes, the mood growing slowly more intense, then she stretched herself up slightly and lifted her face to his. In contrast to the bruising kiss of the night before, this one was soft and probing, a gentle exploration with lips and tongues. Their hands moved seekingly through hair and over warm, bare skin, learning the textures of the other's body, lightly feasting on the subtleties and sensations they were experiencing.

After a while, they switched positions, almost as if their thoughts had become of one accord, and he rolled her beneath him, his lips still on hers, exchanging the touch and tastes of one another's mouths. Scarcely breaking the cadence of their kisses, he moved above her, nudging her thighs apart, and she received him with a rapturous sigh.

As he pushed inside her, she opened her eyes to watch his face and marveled at the transcendent expression suffusing his features. There was no mistaking what she saw there -- the radiance of joy and the glimmer of wonder and the warm glow of pure adoration. And then the heat of need fed into it as well and she let her lashes flutter shut to concentrate on replying fully in kind.

Afterwards, as she lay basking in the immediate aftermath of their love, his body still pressing hers into the yielding mattress beneath them, Spock brushed her hair aside from one ear and whispered intently, "Come back to Vulcan with me."

That brought her up from the depths of her euphoria. "I can't," she answered sadly.

"Please. Please come," he murmured again, kissing the moisture from her cheek. "I need you there with me."

Christine sighed and pushed her hand against his shoulder, indicating that he should move. He complied, but propped himself on one elbow, peering down at her, waiting for her answer. She couldn't find her voice to reply and at last she could do nothing else but turn away and swing her legs out of bed. Finding her robe, she slipped it on and stood with her back to him as she tied it.

The silence between them lay as thick as the morning fog outside her bedroom window. "I can't, Spock," she finally responded. "We've talked about this before."

"Not for a year," he argued, but the gravity in his voice unmasked him. He already knew how this was going to end.

Christine turned back to face him, slipping her hands into the pockets of the white terry robe to hide their quaking. "It hasn't changed," she answered softly, heartbroken at what she had to say. "My life is here now, Spock. I meant what I said about that butterfly. I'm in the middle of my residency and then... Well, there's something I didn't tell you. About the Enterprise..." She paused then forced herself to go on. "I'm in line for the CMO position when she goes back out again." Spock's face had lost all expression and Christine began to tremble. "I already knew about Will Decker. He's the one who's considering me for that position."

Spock's expression had turned to stone, his dark eyes boring into her. For a long moment he was silent, then he said in a controlled voice, "I see." Without further word, he rolled to his side of the bed and got up, heedless of his nudity. Quickly he found his clothing and got dressed.

"I'm sorry, Spock," Christine fumbled, desperate to salvage the situation. "I was going to tell you, but last night didn't seem like the right time."

"No, of course not," he answered harshly, pulling on his boots, refusing to look at her. "The truth has very little business appearing in the midst of lies."

"I didn't lie to you!" she protested.

"Didn't you?" He stood up, tall and forbidding as he glared down at her. "What is deception but a lie?"

That struck her to the heart. "Spock, please! I know you're hurt, but I was trying to help you! I'm really, really sorry that you didn't get the captaincy! I don't blame you for feeling the way you do! But I had nothing to do with that! And my being considered for the med officer's position has nothing to do with it either!"

He didn't answer but exited the bedroom and marched angrily toward the front door. Christine hurried after him and caught his arm as he was reaching for the access panel. "Spock, wait! Don't leave like this! Let's have some breakfast and talk about this!"

He turned back to her, his face hard and expressionless. "There is nothing more to talk about, Dr. Chapel. I wish you the best in your career. And your new life."

And then he was gone, disappearing into the morning fog as if he'd never been there. Christine helplessly leaned against the doorframe and began to sob.

* * *

The new acolyte of Gol knelt before the Masters in his featureless white robe and bare feet, turning his angular face up to the harsh red Vulcan sun.

"What dost thee wish here?" asked the First Master in a ritual tone.

The disciple spared a final thought to the life and the people he had left behind him, and to the final betrayals he had suffered so recently on Earth. "I seek the Discipline of Kohlinar," he answered. "I seek to purge all emotion, all feeling. I reject the alien blood that pollutes my soul and will live, henceforth, in Logic and Truth. I am Spock, son of Gol, son of Vulcan."

THE END