DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Mimi Curry and is copyright (c) 2003 by Mimi Curry.

Consolation Prize

Mimi Curry

Christine watched as the sun began to set over Denos V. A cool breeze rippled her shoulder length hair. She ran her hands through it. She remembered the different shades she had experimented with -- the blonde to differentiate herself from her sister, the brunette and red, now it was silver and white. It looked better on her than the blonde ever had. She felt good for a woman leaving middle age, she looked good -- Starfleet life and its rigors had keept her in top shape. She smiled remembering the original blue uniform. What an incentive to stay in form.

She wondered how Nyota was. Her friend had chosen to keep the star traveling life. Christine was happy to keep her feet firmly planted on soil. Denos V was not her homeworld but it was wonderful in its own way. Teaching at the local medical school kept her busy, then there was the rest of her life...

"Madam," a voice behind her interrupted her reverie. She looked over her shoulder to see her assistant Ch'ara.

"Yes Ch'ara,"

"I have come to inform you that the shuttle landed and your guest should be here shortly." The young woman was a vital part of the Chapel household. Christine hoped that she could encourage her to pursue higher ambitions although it would mean her loss. She had definite potential for more than a doctor's personal assistant.

Christine was reluctant to leave the beautiful view on the open balcony but turned to leave nonetheless. She found Ch'ara standing behind her still. It was only by the way she clasped her hands behind her that Christine could sense her unease.

"Was there more?" she asked hiding a smile.

The young woman looked down for a moment then asked, "I only wondered, should I tell the others you do not want to be disturbed?"

Christine smiled then and replied, "No, let everyone behave as they normally would. There is no reason to change our schedules. T'pei has completed the evening meal?"

"Yes, M'lady, she has stated that it should well meet all of your requirements."

"I'm very certain that it will be lovely."

"Shall I lay out a new outfit for you Madam?" Ch'ara asked. Christine once again hid a smile. Her young assistant was of human origin, but her bloodlines were thoroughly mixed. She had never seen Earth. Her parents had been diplomats and they had trained their daughter well. Ch'ara could be tenacious in her own subtle way. She was excellent at anticipating situations. Christine was grateful she had encountered the young woman in her travels.

She looked down at the jumpsuit she normally wore while traveling from the school to home. It was white and close fitting, very similar to the second set of uniforms Starfleet had issued. She still had the figure for such an outfit -- no, no need to change. She would indulge in an actual water bath this evening. After the house had settled down and her visitor left.

She placed a hand on Ch'ara's shoulder guiding her from the dining room that had been set for dinner. "I will not be changing. Please gather my materials for class tomorrow and recheck my schedule at the clinic," Christine requested.

"Yes, Madam," Chara answered leaving to attend her duties. Christine surveyed the room. The large table had been set with an extra place. The furniture was hand-carved from the native wood. It was inexpensive on this colony planet -- on Earth it would have been a luxury. The room was decorated in soft hues of blue, the walls white tinged with the same color. Some of the artwork she had collected in her travels, a few pieces were given to her by Uhura for safekeeping. She felt strangely at peace despite the events of the past weeks, despite what she knew was to come.

"Madam," she heard Ch'ara call. She knew by her tone her guest had arrived. "Ambassador Spock is here."

Christine smiled and turned to greet her old ship mate. Spock was much older than her and the other Enterprise crewmates. Time had been kind in its own way to him. His face bore line and age, yet retained its attractiveness. He wore his ambassador's robe with less flair than his father, but the cool elegant lines better suited him. She felt his gaze sweep her and noted the brief arch of his eyebrow.

"Thank you, Ch'ara," she said motioning for her to wait. "Ambassador, may I offer you evening meal?"

Spock's mouth became a thin line. "I'm not certain food would be ideal knowing the news I have to relay," he stated.

She looked at him and the shadows under his eyes. Certainly he didn't think she was unaware of the tragedy. This had probably been much harder on him than her. Christine gestured towards the table. "Somehow I think this news can wait until you are refreshed."

Spock sat at the place she had made for him. Christine sat down at the head of the table. Jordan, her housekeeper, came out at Ch'ara's signal bearing plomeek soup. Once again Spock's eyebrow crept up. The laugh lines that had just begun to etch themselves on her face crinkled. "I can trust this bowl will stay on the table."

Spock's spoon paused in its path to the bowl. She saw a slight tinge of green color his face. "Certainly the circumstances are different," he answered. Christine thought she could see the first spark of life in him since he had arrived. They finished the soup in silence. He laid his spoon down with the remark, "It was not as I had remembered."

Christine bit back a laugh. "Perhaps that is because I did not make it. I'm certain there was room for improvement," she said.

Spock looked into her deep blue eyes answering, "The soup was fine the way you prepared it." Christine looked down finding herself off guard for the first time that evening. Spock waited until Jordan cleared the dishes before speaking again. "Christine, I am sad to tell you--"

"Jim has died," she said. Tears welled in her eyes sparkling like diamonds. Funny, she thought she wouldn't react that way when he told her. Perhaps it was because she knew how much this encounter was costing Spock. Perhaps. She composed herself saying, "Denos V is not deep space, but I think the news has traveled much further than this." Spock was silent. "Funny, I always pictured you bringing me news about McCoy." Spock regarded her closely. The Vulcan's grief hung over him like a cloud of gray. "Don't worry," she said smiling. "You know Bones is too stubborn to die."

She felt Spock relax for a moment. "I am sorry you were unable to attend services. I did not think I would be giving you this news, either. I am here at Jim's request. It is not that I mind visiting you, Doctor," he stated in a rush. Christine gave him an intense look "Jim was quite insistent in his last wishes that I find you wherever you were and give you the news in person..."

Christine sensed the inquiry Spock was too polite to make. She began to speak when she heard footsteps approaching....

Spock heard at least two people approaching the dining room long before Christine did. The Ambassador was still absorbing his surroundings. He had not expected to make this journey. At the reading of Jim's will he had been at first astonished, then amused at his friend's request. Of all of the things that his comrade could ask of him, this had been the most unexpected. If anything, it had startled him out of the well he had crawled into. Sarek had, of course, been concerned for him. Everyone had been concerned for him. Although he had resolved much of his internal conflict with his human half -- Spock chose not to grieve outwardly. He retreated and brooded as McCoy had termed it. The elderly doctor had threatened to bash his Vulcan skull in if he didn't start responding to Scott, Uhura and the other crewmembers who had gathered to support him. James Kirk's death had left a gaping hole in his life. Although their duties carried them to separate corners of the universe, their friendship had remained solid.

The fact was he had barely recovered from the betrayal of Valeris. Spock had heard, through McCoy and Uhura that Chapel had settled on one of the outer rim worlds and was living life contentedly. He knew their paths might cross at anytime but certainly the circumstances were unusual. He knew that Kirk's request had to have more at heart than a simple message. McCoy, as Chapel had said, would have been the logical choice. At least to Spock's logic. Something inside him wondered if Jim wasn't trying to play matchmaker albeit posthumously. The idea simply lacked founding unless the request had been added very recently. Kirk had never tried to push Spock in Christine's direction before, nor had McCoy either for the matter. Spock had written off their misadventures on the Enterprise to youth as Christine had behaved with reserved respect for him since. He as well had learned and matured. Christine Chapel had actually prepared him well for life as a senior officer and Ambassador.

Though it surprised him, he acquired a number of female admirers during his Captaincy and even into his years as an ambassador. What he learned from his mistakes with Chapel was that they did not all have be treated like the Orion plague. There was room for friendship, and redirection and graceful acceptance of being the object of affection. If there was one thing he could change it would have been his reaction to the doctor. He wished that they could have been closer friends. He was certain that Chapel would have been as good a friend to him as McCoy.

He wondered what tricks the fates were playing with him -- with Valeris gone he was once again alone. He had never considered Christine before -- it was more than possible that she was no longer available. He shook his head, the tragedies of the past year had left him vulnerable. One thing was certain, he wanted the company of someone who truly cared for him.

Spock turned slightly in his chair to see the approaching people. The young woman paused in the doorway when she saw Christine and Spock. She was tall, willowy, blonde and beautiful. Breathtaking was the word. Her waist length blond hair was restrained by violet colored ties. They matched the color of her eyes. Her skin was porcelain and perfect. Her cheekbones were high, her nose aquiline and her mouth sensual. She was the picture of grace in her flowing gown in shades of purple and rose. There was something so hauntingly familiar about her. Spock was unsure whether to rise to greet her when he felt Chapel lean toward him. He sensed her desire he remained seated.

"Forgive me, Mother, we were unaware you had a guest," she said remaining in the entry way. Spock paled as his eyebrows arched. He took a different assessment of her and discovered, yes, she did seem familiar. There was still something missing from the puzzle. It wasn't just Christine that seemed familiar about this beauty.

"Samantha, I think Skelar would like to come inside as well," the doctor told her daughter.

Spock ceased calculating with Christine's admonishment. Samantha? Skelar? 22 years was what echoed over both names. The Vulcan could not control the shaking of his head. Samantha stepped forward to permit a Vulcan man slightly her senior to enter. Spock rose in greeting but sat before he had managed to exchange the Vulcan greeting. Skelar, he knew of a young man named Skelar.

"Long live and prosper, Ambassador Spock," the young Vulcan said. He was tall and lean and favored his father entirely. His black hair was worn longer than Spock. Sometime in the future it was certain that he would become broader in the chest. There was a quietness about him.

"Peace and long life, Skelar," he replied. He was curious as to how the Vulcan had come here but there was certainly other things to learn. He turned back to Christine.

"Samantha, please let me introduce you to Ambassador Spock."

The young woman who had been observing him silently smiled. "Ah, yes, you served aboard the Enterprise together. Long live and prosper," she said to Spock in perfect Vulcan.

That smile, how many times had he seen that particular smile? "Peace and long life, Samantha," he said looking at Christine.

"You are obviously familiar with her bondmate and husband Skelar."

Spock looked Christine in the eye. "I am no longer quite certain at what I should or should not be familiar with."

Samantha stepped into his line of view asking, "What brings you to Denos V, Ambassador?"

Spock looked at the sparkle in her eye and the challenge on her face. "I came to inform your mother of the death of our former Captain."

He was still unprepared for the look on Samantha's face though he knew it was coming. Grief, tears that sparkled like gemstones masked her beautiful face. "Father."

Christine rose to console her daughter, although she regained her composure only slightly before Spock regained his. Christine looked at Spock and stated, "I was unable to attend services for Jim because Samantha was about to give birth. Samantha," she said to her daughter, "why don't you bring down Skonn?"

Samantha departed silently, leaving Christine and Spock alone with Skelar. Christine poured two glasses of Saurian brandy and handed Spock a glass. Skelar was taken aback when Spock began to sip on the drink. Christine laughed raggedly at her son-in-law's surprise. "Alcohol can have sedative effects even on Vulcans, Skelar. It was a component of many different medications in the past."

"Medicinal purposes, Mother?" Skelar said with a look of bemusement. The warmth of the brandy compensated for the cooler human comfortable climate of the house.

Spock delayed one set of questions for another. "There are those who wondered of thy whereabouts, son of Stonn," he said to Skelar in Vulcan.

"T'Pau has known of my residence for some time. Perhaps the fact was not relayed to thee. As for she who bore me, the distance has been satisfactory."

Spock looked appraisingly at Skelar. "Thou are not alone in thy assessment," he replied The two men relaxed for the first time since they met each other. Christine breathed deep and said to Skelar, "Perhaps the Ambassador would like to meet your sister, T'Pei. I'm certain she has completed dinner by now." Skelar took the cue to leave without protest. He would delay his return slightly. He knew that the pair were about to have a private discussion. Spock turned to Christine when they were alone and said simply, "Samantha?"

Christine took a long drink before she met the Vulcan's eyes. She said nothing, simply watched him as he continued to absorb everything he learned thus far. Spock steepled his fingers. The black ambassador's robes settling was the only sound for a moment. "She is Jim's daughter..."

Silence from the doctor greeted him again. "She was born after the first mission." Christine inhaled deeply.

"She was conceived during the last year ... before you transferred." Spock sat forward. "That was why you transferred." Christine looked away. "I shared McCoy's consciousness -- he did not know then..."

"M'Benga signed my transfer papers. Leonard would not have understood."

"Frankly ... Christine, I do not understand," Spock said.

"It was after Platonious," Christine began. "I had just begun to feel good again after the virus, and your trip to Vulcan. I did not expect Platonious, the incident -- it was devastating to me. Then my aunt died -- she had been the last of my family. She was caring for Elizabeth's son." At Spock's look of shock, Christine said, "You didn't know about Christian--"

"There seems to be a lot I do not know about."

"Number One was never very revealing. McCoy was concerned."

"He must have told Jim."

"You know how the Captain was -- he cared about all of us, every last one. He felt bad for me, after my sister, and Roger-- He came to my quarters with Romulan ale and some vids of his brother. I think he only meant to console me, to share a story of mutual loss. We ran out of ale and switched to brandy... Well, I'm sure you can gather the rest," she said red tinting her cheeks."

"Aren't Starfleet personnel required to have contraceptive injections?" Spock asked.

Christine turned redder. "So I missed one, it wasn't as if I was cruising around the ship. We decided to move quickly before McCoy got wind of the situation. He assumed you were the reason I wanted to leave and signed my psych papers. M'Benga..." She paused. "It was very kind of him to be involved. Samantha was born at my new post and Christian cared for her during the second mission," she said, running a hand through her hair as she finished.

"McCoy still does not know," Spock said.

"Jim made me promise not to tell him before you. I haven't enjoyed the deception. It's not easy keeping anything from Leonard. I'm sure it wasn't easy for him to keep this from you either -- I think he expected to tell you about the time of the Genesis project."

"But he found out about David's existence first..." Spock concluded. Looking at Chapel's face, he said, "There's more..."

Samantha, Skelar, T'Pei and the baby returned to the dining room en masse. T'Pei was T'Pring's daughter in appearance. Spock soon discovered that was where the similarities ended. She was everything that her mother was not, an open book. Samantha placed the 4 month old Vulcan-human hybrid in Spock's arms without a second thought. The baby stilled and looked at Spock with wide hazel-colored eyes. He was Vulcan in all other appearances, olive skinned, pointed ears. He stared at Spock and looked back to his grandmother and parents. His eyes grew wider -- and then he broke out in a familiar grin.

Skelar regarded Spock, waiting to see the Vulcan's reaction to the human behavior. "So it seems that the Houses of Kirk and Surak are joined," Spock said to Skelar in Vulcan. Stonn was his kinsman.

"There are some things that are right in the universe," Christine stated.

Spock raised an eyebrow "I should expect that you would understand Vulcan. Do you speak it as well?"

At the tinkling sound of Samantha's laughter he felt his ear tips burning green. "Skonn is the only one who appreciates Mother's Vulcan," Samantha said.

"Christa, we should serve the next course of dinner," T'Pei interjected.

Christine flustered a bit and then summoned Jordan. The baby was reluctant to leave Spock's lap. As they ate Spock felt not only Christine's eyes upon him but sensed her increasing anxiety. The younger people had descended into their own conversation. He heard running behind him. He turned to see and found himself in the path of a girl of about 7 years. She fell into his arms before he realized she had tripped. Her face had been hidden by tawny blond hair. It fell in long thick waves. She looked first at the hands that held her and then the person. Hazel green eyes met brown ones and turned a shade greener. In his shock Spock's shields dropped. He felt the young mind touch his.

Too much, this was all too much. By Surak! What was this child's Psi rating? Her gasp barely reached his ears. Christine was at his side immediately. She saw his pallor and unsteadiness with a doctor's eye.

"Children, I think the Ambassador has been overtaxed, please..."

Skelar stood with his family and said, "Mother, if you would let us take our leave." Samantha looked at the younger girl but Christine was still trying to detangle her from Spock.

"Mommy, no," the young girl protested.

"Jamie please! Just let go. Ambassador Spock has been through a lot."

"Make him better!" Jamie pleaded, holding on with the tenacity only children seemed to possess. Christine gave the battle momentarily to snatch up a tricorder. It was only meant for display and outdated -- still it was functional and useful for Spock -- it was a souvenir from the original mission. Spock became aware of warm green eyes -- empath? Telepath? Healer? She was much too young to be healing.

He gathered himself and sat up properly in the chair. He set Jamie away from him gently guiding her toward Christine. The doctor looked at the tricorder quizzically but put it aside quickly when her youngest daughter began to cry silently. She drew the child in her arms and sat breathing hard.

"Spock...?" she called.

"I am alright now." Jamie buried her face in her mother's arms and became silent. "When I died?" He was unsure as to her age--

"When David died -- I supposed you would have expected Jim to turn to Carol -- but I believe their relationship had already begun to disintegrate. I had been there at the trial, I only stopped by to check in on the Captain," Christine explained. "McCoy was still recovering, you were still recovering -- Uhura was tired." Spock uncharacteristically folded his arms over his chest and gave Christine a hard look She smiled as she rocked Jamie in her arms-- "Have I ever told you that Romulan ale and Saurian brandy should not be mixed." Her smile was chagrined and apologetic.

"It seems you and the Captain were very good at consoling each other if nothing else."

"I believe your MD and RN should be revoked, Christine," Spock stated with a wry look-- "You obviously were not paying attention during your Human Physiology classes."

"Actually, Spock, it's a wonderful joke Mother Nature plays on women who believe they have passed the age of childbearing. I guess you might say one last chance try for survival of the species."

Spock stood and drew himself up in a manner heavy with dignity. Christine looked at him expectantly. He gathered his robes about him. "My dear Doctor, this has been quite any evening and certainly full of both surprises and ..." He silenced Christine's next comment with a brief touch to her cheek "...definitely pleasant company. I must however leave and rest before the Endeavor departs tomorrow. Promise me..." he said as he turned to leave.

"Anything Spock..." she said, her heart heavy.

"Promise to let me be the one to tell McCoy."

"With pleasure," she smiled. She could have sworn she heard laughter carry back from the hall after he walked away. Jamie stirred in her arms and woke up grinning. "What are you dreaming of, my Angel?"

Jamie smiled up at her mother and said "Tomorrow."