Disclaimer: Star Trek is the property of Paramount/Viacom. This story is the property of DebbieB and is copyright © by DebbieB. Rated PG.

 

Awful Truths

DebbieB

 

Spock pulled his jacket tight against the cold mountain air as he hiked the last few meters to the secluded cabin. Her note had simply said, "Meet me" with directions on a hand-scribbled map.

It had been almost two weeks since the incident with Henoch, Sargon, and Thalassa. In that time, he had made several attempts to speak with her. All had been summarily rejected.

And then, just before the crew's scheduled R&R began, she passed him in the hallway and handed him the note.

Spock breathed in the frigid air, taking a long look at the view from atop the mountain. The town of Mishkal sprawled out below him, rustic and well-suited to the task of soothing the crew's rattled nerves.

"Are you going to stand out there sight-seeing all day, or were you planning on knocking?" Christine Chapel stood in the doorway of the cabin. She wore a soft, faded jumper. Her hair was pulled back at the base of her neck in a simple, elegant fashion quite unlike the elaborate hairdos she sported aboard ship. She leaned against the door jamb, a small grin contradicting her serious eyes.

"I fail to understand the need for such…" Spock gestured around him at the acres of untouched land, the complete and utter lack of civilization around them. "…isolation."

She swung her body forward, hanging on the frame of the door slightly. "Did you really want to discuss this on board the Enterprise?"

He lifted a single eyebrow. "You have a point."

Another grin. "Come in. If I'm cold, you must be freezing your ass off."

Eyebrows straight into the bangs.

Chapel laughed. "I think the time for pretense is pretty much over, don't you, Mr. Spock?"

He nodded as he followed her into the cabin. "Indeed."

* * *

The tea felt good against the inside of his body. He had not wanted to admit his discomfort, but Chapel had immediately poured him a mug of darjeeling, shoved a plate of rice and grilled vegetables in his hands, and refused to discuss anything until he had consumed the entire contents of both.

As they sat there in the natural light of the cabin, he could not help staring at her. So much had changed in that moment their consciousness had joined. He would never see her in the same light again.

"You can ask now."

Even her voice seemed different.

"What have you done with Christine Chapel?"

Chapel, or the being he'd come to know as Chapel, began to laugh. "I haven't done anything to her at all." His look of skepticism and concern stilled her laughter. "Honestly, Spock. You know it's true. Christine Chapel, the woman who legitimately was Christine Chapel, who was born Christine Chapel, died almost thirty years ago." She shrugged, taking another bite of her apple. She'd dispensed with the formality she used aboard the ship and stretched one leg out on the overstuffed couch.

Spock took in her look of complete confidence, the comfortable way she held herself. He had to remind himself that she was, indeed, the same woman he'd known before the encounter with Henoch. All that had changed was his perception of her.

And that, apparently, made all the difference.

"You have maintained her body, all these years." It was more of an accusation than a question.

Chapel smiled softly. "Look, I know what a violation you think this is. I know that corporeal beings have ... issues with this sort of thing. But, believe me, when I first encountered Christine Chapel, she was the empty body of a little girl with a dead brain and very little chance of living out the day." She took another bite of apple. "I merely assumed the mortgage on her body, so to speak. And I've been making payments ever since."

"Her family..."

"Never knew the difference, Mr. Spock." Her complete lack of emotion shocked him. "To them, I was a miracle. The little girl they thought would die, suddenly, miraculously, recovers. Of course, she's changed. But that's to be expected." She put the husk of the apple down on a plate and wiped a bit of juice from her chin. "I never planned to take over anyone's body. I was just like you, an explorer checking out the far reaches of the galaxy. Just your basic, run-of-the-mill free-floating energy creature."

"Except that you presumed to live the life of a corporeal being. You have assumed her identity. You have taken her life."

"I didn't take her life. I just ... borrowed it." She pulled her outstretched leg in toward her, leaning on the knee as she continued. "I would never have harmed one of you. We have ... rules."

Spock watched her closely, looking for any sign of malice or duplicity. He'd felt none when their minds had been joined by Sargon and Thalassa. That mad instant when he had discovered her true nature, the sheer force of mental energy inhabiting the body of Christine Chapel. No, she wasn't evil. She was just practical. "Define 'we.'"

She lifted an eyebrow in a dead-on imitation of the Vulcan. "My kind. We're explorers, just like you. Only…" Here, she inserted an apologetic shrug. "Much more advanced."

"If you have an advanced culture, surely you have rules about interfering with the development of less-advanced civilizations."

"Well, it's not like I gave her superpowers." She rolled her eyes. "Jeesh, Spock. You mean to tell me a Federation scientist has never gone undercover to observe advancing races more closely?"

She had a point.

"Look. I've done my best to make Chapel as unobtrusive, unmemorable, and unexciting as possible. She's not going to change any worlds."

"But she is a healer. You, as Chapel, have saved many lives, assisted in finding cures for various diseases. You have affected the natural course of our development."

At this, the Chapel being laughed. "Hey, I never said we have the Prime Directive. I'm not going to sit around and let your kind die if I can help it. Would you stand by and let a puppy get run over if you had the chance to stop it?"

"So, compared to your kind, humanoid life forms are on the level of dogs?"

Chapel sighed. "You're putting words in my mouth."

"I am merely trying to ascertain your intentions and the standards by which you determine your interaction with our species."

"Well, that's fair." She pulled her other leg in, crossing both under her as she settled in. "Let me give you a few of the rules. One, I try not to hurt people. Two, I don't reveal information that could harm or seriously change your society. Three, I try to maintain as low a profile as possible, in order to more closely observe your people."

Spock nodded. "But, when Thalassa suggested hiding my consciousness from Henoch, you must have known I would have discovered the truth. Why did you allow her to do it?"

"Well, first of all, I wasn't going to let those three idiots destroy you simply to further their pathetic little agendas." Chapel rolled her eyes. "Ameteurs!"

"But anyone could have housed my consciousness. You volunteered."

"Well, yeah." Chapel's mouth quirked slightly to the side. "You see, free-floating energy-based creature or not, it gets old being the butt of the joke. I figured, if you knew my real nature and my real motivations..." She grinned. "We could become allies."

Spock raised an eyebrow. "I do not understand."

"Well, see, I've been sort of, well..." Again, she shrugged, a slight blush shooting to her cheeks. "Well, I've sort of been using you as a shield."

"A shield?"

"A shield. You know, a decoy." At his blank look, she laughed. "I guess I need to explain it better."

"Perhaps you should."

She grabbed a pillow and leaned onto it. "You see, I'm learning more about corporeal life forms than any of my species has ever done before. It's an incredible opportunity for me. Unfortunately, there are a couple of bothersome side effects to having a human body that I didn't anticipate."

"Such as?"

"Sex."

"Sex?"

Chapel blinked. "Sex. You've heard of it, I'm sure?"

Spock pulled himself up straight. "Of course, I've heard of it. I'm simply unsure as to why you would consider that a `bothersome side effect.'"

"Have you ever actually had sex, Mr. Spock?"

"I hardly believe that is an appropriate question, Nurse Chapel."

She lifted a single hand. "Sorry. Getting off topic, here. You see, when I was in a child's body, it was not a problem. But as my body developed, the pressure to become sexually active increased. It was interesting at first, but for the most part, corporeal reproductive activity is sweaty, boring, and intrusive into my research."

"I still do not understand how this involves me."

"Well, I learned early on that one of the best ways a reasonably attractive woman can attract a man is to let it be known that she is totally uninterested in sex. For some reason, the males in every corporeal species in this part of the quadrant seem to take female celibacy as a personal challenge. I had guys bothering me all the time."

"Finally, I stumbled on a way to get rid of them. If a celibate woman is a challenge, a needy, emotionally-hungry woman is a downright threat to most corporeal males. I found that, by actively pursuing unavailable men, I became a sexual pariah to the rest." She shrugged at his look of shock. "I know it's mean, but it got them to leave me alone. Roger Korby was perfect. I mean, he was a nice, interesting, fascinating man of above-average intelligence. He was very easily satisfied, sexually, and he was more interested in my brain than my body. When he finally got to be too much, I just used the old Fear of Commitment theorem. That is, I convinced him to get engaged. Of course, he followed up the engagement announcement with plans for a deep-space mission." She smiled sadly. "An elegant solution. He would indefinitely postpone the inevitable commitment, and I'd have a perfect excuse to remain celibate. But, I didn't want him to die."

"When Dr. Korby disappeared..."

"I found another excuse to expand my research. Christine Chapel, Grieving Fiancee, became Christine Chapel, Determined to Find Her Man."

Spock shook his head. "Is there any part of your character which is not a deception?"

"My affection for the people I've come to know. That isn't an act, Mr. Spock."

"And your avowal of love for me? Is this another ruse to avoid sexual entanglement?"

"You gotta admit," she said. "It's pretty brilliant. I mean, what sane woman would actually pursue a man from a species which only goes into heat once every seven years?"

"A woman who has no qualms about coldly manipulating those with whom she comes into contact with." Spock stood, a look of disgust spreading over his face. "I believe our conversation is at an end, Miss Chapel."

"Wait, Spock. Listen to me."

"I have heard enough."

She stood too, following him to the door. As his hand reached for the knob, she stopped him, placing a single hand on his shoulder. A rush of energy stirred between them. Spock hesitated, then turned.

"I'm sorry," she said earnestly. "I never meant to hurt you." She trailed her hand down his arm until she was grasping his wrist gently. "Please. Let me just explain to you what I have in mind."

Spock stared at her hand on his wrist, then coldly said, "You have five minutes."

"Fair enough." She led him back to the sofa, waiting until he stiffly sat down before starting again. "You and I are more alike than you might believe. I've watched you, studied you. Perhaps it's your mixed heritage, but you have the potential to transcend the achievements of both species."

"And why would this matter to you?"

"It matters, Spock. I know it's hard to believe, but I do care about you. I like you." Chapel allowed a moment of truth to shimmer in her blue eyes. "I think we could be good for each other."

"I do not understand. I thought you were not interested in a relationship."

"I'm not. And I'm certainly not interested in continuing to use you. Especially after touching your consciousness." She looked down guiltily. "You deserve better than that."

"What do you propose?"

"I propose we help each other. A partnership, if you will."

"And what would this partnership entail?"

"Simple. Spock and Chapel, after a life-changing experience with the energy-creatures Sargon, Henoch and Thalassa, retreat to a secluded mountain cabin to explore their feelings about said experience. During that retreat, they begin a romantic relationship (which, unknown to others, is actually deadly platonic). This relationship, having been carefully leaked to the proper sources, becomes one of the most well-known `secrets' on the Enterprise. To all intents and purposes, Spock and Chapel are no longer in circulation, but nobody is supposed to know about it."

"And why would I agree to such an arrangement?"

"Because of what I saw in your thoughts. Because of that insatiable lust for knowledge you possess. Because you may never admit it, but you are dying to have someone who can communicate with you on your level." With this, she lowered her gaze squarely at the Vulcan. "And let's face it, intellectually, I'm so far above your level that you could spend years trying to learn what I know."

"And in return you get?"

She reached out to him, caressing his cheek gently. "I get a lot, Spock. I get a friend. A confidant with whom I don't have to pretend. A kindred spirit. An inside track into the corporeal world." She smiled sadly. "I'm in this body for life, Spock. And I tell you what, it gets pretty lonely pretending."

"And when you go?"

"My essence will return to its natural state. Just like the story of the humanoid spirit."

He had to admit, it was an eloquent plan. He did not deny a certain fascination with this creature. And he knew the opportunity for learning was phenomenal, should he take her up on her offer. But to willingly participate in such a pretense...

"Spock, I'm not asking you to lie. Never, never do you ever have to tell one person that you love me. People will believe anything you want them to, if you point them in the right direction."

"But what if..."

"I know what you're thinking, and there's no need to worry. If you meet some little Vulcan girl who sweeps you off your feet, you can dump me with no fear of hurt on my part." She grinned. "I'll play the part, of course, in a dignified and unobtrusive way."

"You misunderstand my concern." Spock hesitated, but continued with his original thought. "I may be a Vulcan who only comes into heat, as you say, every seven years. But eventually, I will experience pon farr again. How am I to find a suitable mate if I am in this imaginary relationship with you?"

Chapel began to laugh. Actually, she began to choke. "Um, Spock, I hate to be the one to say this, but you shouldn't have kicked me out of your cabin so quickly that day I brought you the plomeek soup."

"I do not understand."

She leaned over on the couch, placing the palm of her hand flat against his temple. "You can say the words if you want to ... my mind to yours, your mind to mine. It doesn't really matter."

He gasped as a burst of energy swept through him. Not invasive, not frightening, but exhilarating. She maintained contact for several moments, then sat back on the couch, watching him.

"What did you do?" He gasped as it hit him, a feeling of complete sexual satiation.

"Pon farr is just a build-up of sexual energy in the brain. Who better than your resident free-floating energy-based head nurse to help you control that energy?"

Spock's eyebrows shot up into his bangs. "You could have..."

"If you'd given me the chance, Spock. Koon-ut-kalifee is hardly a substitute for a good energy realignment."

Spock nodded. He felt terrific.

"So, here's the deal, Spock. We team up. I can make sure you never suffer the pain of pon farr while I'm with you. We both avoid ugly little emotional entanglements. We have an intellectual meeting of the minds which could easily last a lifetime. What could possibly go wrong?"

Spock, still reeling from the touch of her energy, murmured, "I could develop an attachment to you."

At this, Chapel smiled softly and pressed her lips against his forehead. "Let's worry about that if and when it happens, Spock." She smoothed his bangs gently. "Do we have a deal?"

He paused. "I'll have to think about it." But his mind was already made up. It was, after all, an eloquent solution.

END