DISCLAIMER: The characters and setting do not belong to me. They belong, as always to Paramount and Viacom. I'm only playing with them for fun and giggles, as no money will be made from this endeavor, no copyright infringement is intended. Copyright 2003 by Kiristeen ke Alaya. Rated PG13.
Kiristeen ke Alaya
Spock sat over a half finished, half forgotten lunch, in the crowded officer's mess. His aborted mind meld with V'Ger had left him with not only a new perspective on life, but with some very confusing conflicts within himself. He had spent his entire life, up until now, living by the very strict Vulcan creed, only infrequently allowing himself small lapses from its constraints. The occasional half smile to show his friends he did appreciate their presence. The enjoyment he allowed himself, stemming from the gentle bickering between himself and McCoy, the chess games with the captain.
Logic had ruled his world, for the most part. If he was truly honest with himself, which he usually tried to be, there were occasions where he had been motivated to action by factors other than that logic. Before the meld with V'Ger that admission, he knew, would have been an ... uncomfortable one to make. Those very lapses were what had led him to seek Kohlinar in the first place. Over the years and his close association with his human friends, those 'lapses' had grown more frequent. As they did he'd felt like he was losing perspective of who and what he was.
When he'd returned to Vulcan, he'd been surprised to find his father disapproved of his decision to go to Gol. It had not stopped him, any more than it had stopped the youth he'd been from joining Starfleet. He supposed, as long as he was being painfully honest with himself, that there was some credence to the charges of his 'stubbornness'. He allowed himself that half smile as he realized just how much his acknowledgment of that fact would 'tickle the doctor's fancy'. He, however, would not be the one to apprize him.
Spock sighed as he took a mouthful of his lunch and realized he'd allowed it to grow cold while he mused on his current situation. He ate rather mechanically, while he continued assess his dilemma. The discovery that total logic was not his destiny, while welcome now, left him feeling somewhat adrift. He was treading a new path, one with no guidelines except those he set for himself. He was Vulcan, but he'd spent the vast majority of his adult life living and working among humans.
He'd actually gone through some small amount of culture shock when he'd gone to Gol. It had been ... odd, to feel so 'out of place' among his own people, but he'd kept illogically expecting someone around him to laugh or try and tease him. Of course that had passed quickly and he'd easily slipped into the strict routine.
He looked up as the door slid open. Dr. Chapel walked in and directly over to the replicator. Now there was another source of his current ... problem. He had always been ... uncomfortable, some would say nervous, around her. He had always maintained it was because of her feelings toward him. It wasn't until he'd woke up in Sickbay following the mind meld and his acceptance that emotion did indeed have a place in his life, that seeing her there had sparked a different recognition.
It was his own reaction to her that had made him uncomfortable, not hers to him. He unknowingly worried his lip as he covertly watched her progress across the dining hall. He did owe her some acknowledgment of that. He knew she'd spent her time aboard the Enterprise, avoiding him because she thought her feelings for him 'bothered' him.
Having spent so many years among emotional humans, he knew that had to have been ... painful for her, despite the dignity and reserve with which she had almost always carried herself. Only extreme situations had ever made her feelings obvious, and that was not something that, logically, one could hold against another. Vulcans even had a ritual phrase that covered such circumstances. 'The cause was sufficient.'
He sighed deeply, coming to an ... uneasy decision. He rose, picking up his tray as he did so. He easily navigated his way across the scattered chairs, tables and people, stopping next to the table Dr. Chapel had taken. He noted as he did so, that it was one that had been as far from his as had been possible. Obviously she was still, as the human saying went, 'giving him his space'.
"Doctor, do you mind if I join you?"
She looked up and if she was surprised to see him standing beside her table, or at his unusual request, she did not show it.
"Certainly," she answered, waving to the seat across the table from her.
He slipped into it easily.
"Was there something you needed?" she asked.
"Actually, yes, there is," he said softly, trying to gauge her reactions. It wasn't easy. Apparently, she had learned a lot, over the years, as well. There was something ... different about her now, something he couldn't quite place.
She remained silent, patiently waiting for him to continue.
"I wanted to speak with you, to--"
"Dr. Chapel to Sickbay."
"Was this something urgent, Mr. Spock, or can it wait until later?"
"It can wait, Doctor," Spock said calmly betraying neither the relief at his reprieve nor his irritation at the interruption.
"Very well, I'll see you later then."
"Acceptable," Spock answered, rising as she did. As she turned to leave, she stopped at the sound of his voice.
She looked over her shoulder, a question in her eyes. "Yes?"
"Do I still have permission to call you Christine?" He felt a surge of illogical satisfaction as surprise spread across her face and her eyes widened. He lifted an eyebrow to cover it.
"Of course," she said after a moment. "All of my friends do." With that, she turned and made her way across the still crowded room.
He watched her leave, thoughtfully, sitting back down only after she'd disappeared through the exit. It amazed him that she would call him friend, after all this time.
* * *
Well, that was odd, Christine thought as she made her way to Sickbay. She had to admit, her curiosity was eating her alive. What in the galaxy could induce Spock to seek her out, her of all people. He'd always avoided her like she had the plague. She shook her head. No sense trying to figure out what was on that Vulcan's mind. She'd never been able to figure him out and she doubted that she'd be able to do so now. She was just glad this was happening now, instead of back during the first five year mission. If it had happened then, she would have already come up with at least six different scenarios, most of them as far from the truth as was possible. Then she would end up disappointed.
Now, however, she'd moved on with her life. Now, she could see clearly. She knew she would always love him, but it would never again affect her the way it had back then. She was simply grateful he no longer seemed nervous around her. She fought back an inappropriate giggle, when she thought about what his automatic reaction to being accused of being nervous would be. Women of her years and education did not giggle.
She strode into Sickbay quickly searching the reason for the page. To her surprise, the main bay was empty. She frowned and crossed to Leonard's office. She peeked around the door jam. Sure enough, he was sitting at his desk, busily entering information into his computer terminal.
"You needed me, Leonard?"
"Yes," he answered, without looking up from his work. "We're going to be receiving the supplies we need to drop off at Sigma Four Charnasa in about half an hour. I'm going to need your help cataloguing and sorting it." He grabbed a computer disk and handed it to her. "Here, familiarize yourself with this part of the list of supplies. I want you to make sure we get everything on it."
She sighed as she took the disk. "Oh, joy," she said.
Leonard looked up quickly and broke into a crooked grin. "You mean sorting meds isn't your idea of a good time?"
Christine rolled her eyes and glared at him. "I thought I'd put this stuff behind me, when I got my MD." Her eyes narrowed. "I would be willing to swear, this is the job you always assigned me, back when I was head nurse."
He laughed. "Actually it was. However, this is too sensitive to assign to just anyone. Some of this stuff is dangerous. We're delivering both medical and nonmedical aid supplies. However, other department heads will be handling the nonmedical aspects."
"Thank God," she said, making it close to an actual prayer. She could just imagine the weeks of sorting through the supplies if it had been all assigned to the medical section. He chuckled, though he agreed with the sentiment wholeheartedly.
* * *
Spock strode off the bridge. He calculated it would take his team 62 hours, 26 minutes, 14 seconds to sort through the supplies, assuming of course that everyone worked at top efficiency.
He reached cargo bay 4 just as the last of the supplies were beamed in from Starbase 22. He was pleased to note that the rest of his team was already present. As he was assigning sections to two member teams, he noted that Dr. Chapel doing the same thing.
Even using the antigrav units, the sorting had been exhausting work. Almost three days of crawling under, over, and behind barrels and assorted containers to get to where she could see labels. Three days of shifting them onto the antigrav units to organize them in the best possible way. But, they were finally done. As she dropped onto her bed trying to relax tired, sore muscles, Christine couldn't help but feel very pleased with herself. Her team had finished ahead of Spock's. She knew she shouldn't feel that way, but it felt good. For some reason his team had been beset by problem after problem.
She had almost laughed several times, because it was such little minor things, that nonetheless, slowed their progress. Replicator parts had been mislabeled as blankets. The seeds as tools and the tools as replicator parts. At the time she'd left they hadn't yet been able to find the blankets. On the other hand the medical supplies had be sorted, stored and catalogued without a single hitch.
She looked around the stacks upon stacks of sealed containers. The only ones missing from her view were the potentially hazardous medicines. They had been stored in a specially designed quarantine field in Sickbay. She wasn't taking any chances with those, even though they had been stored in their own self-powered containment units.
Finally satisfied that everything was in order, she glanced across the bay to the other team, she'd been all too aware of for the last three days. Well, technically speaking, she'd only been highly aware of one member of that team, but there was no need to get technical, she thought.
She debated with herself a moment, trying to decide just how tired she was. With a sigh born of her sense of duty, she crossed over to Spock, who looked just about as harried as she'd ever seen him. It wasn't that obvious, but there was this muscle that twitched toward the back of his jaw whenever he was, she grinned, irritated. "Mr. Spock?"
"Would you like a couple of extra hands? We're finished and I would be willing to pitch in."
* * *
She laughed softly as she pulled herself up off the bed. He had stiffly informed her that assistance would not be necessary. She'd almost laughed right then and there. You'd have thought she'd told him he couldn't do it on his own. She sighed again and shook her head. He had certainly changed.
She hauled herself up and wary of sore muscles, slowly removed her clothing. Right now she wanted nothing more than a shower.
* * *
They'd finally found the blankets. They had been mixed in with the boxes labeled as 'perishable'. The job was finally completed, though the negligent packaging of these needed supplies had added 5 hours 47.6 minutes to his beginning estimate. When he found out who had been responsible for them before they hit the deck of the Enterprise, he suspected they would not be pleased with the reprimand he intended to send to their commander.
As the door to his quarters closed behind him he took a deep breath and allowed the days tensions to fade away. There was no sense in dwelling on that which he could not change. Thinking of changing things brought back to the surface that he had yet to hold that conversation with Christine. Time had not been available.
However, he did not have duty for the next 60.52 hours. If time could not be made during that period, he suspected that time could not be found. He took two steps toward his meditation alcove then stopped, turned and strode to his computer console.
"Computer, location of Dr. Chapel?"
"Doctor Chapel is in her quarters."
Spock turned and before he could change his mind strode out into the corridor.
* * *
Christine turned the sonics on full, once again wishing for a real water shower. That would feel so wonderful on her tired aching muscles. As it was, the sonics did begin to relax her. She slowly worked her hands over areas that were especially tender, gently massaging the knots out. Unfortunately she couldn't quite reach the worst one. Right between her shoulder blades was a mass of tangled knots that the sonics could not even dent.
With a sigh, she gave up and climbed out. Hopefully a good nights sleep would get rid of the rest of the kinks. Moments later she found herself staring at her closet of off duty clothing. She grinned to herself. Tonight she felt ... she felt ... aha! she thought and twirled away from her closet. What she wanted tonight, wasn't in there. It was folded carefully away in her dresser. She never wore it, but tonight she felt deliciously wicked.
She pulled out the red silk, letting it flow across her bare skin. She reveled in it. She always had loved the feel of silk against her. It did something deep inside, made her feel feminine and decadent. Smiling softly to herself, she rose, hung the negligee over the back of her chair, sat in front of her mirror and began brushing out her hair.
She eyed herself critically. She'd let it go back to its original brown. At this point in her life, she knew it looked better. She wasn't vain, but she was fully aware she was finally coming into her own. Gone was the too long limbed, gangly young woman and in her place was someone whose mature curves matched her height. Yes, she thought. She was very satisfied with how she looked. If only ... . Nope, she thought. She was not going down that path again. But, she thought with a whispery grin, she wasn't above the occasional fantasy.
She crossed to her collection of music discs. They were old fashioned and she could probably find every single song they contained, in the computer, but she preferred these. She didn't even need to look at the titles, she knew which one she wanted to listen to tonight. It was always the one she chose when she was feeling ... naughty.
She'd found it years ago, back when she was acting like a lovesick addled schoolgirl. Back then she couldn't even be in the same room with him without stammering her words and blushing. She shook her head. To this day, it still had the power to embarrass her. But, in her search to discover more about the reticent Vulcan, it had led her to this wonderful music, which she could only describe as ... erotic. It amazed her that it had been written by a Vulcan. On the surface, it didn't seem possible. But to her, it merely confirmed that which she'd already suspected. Beneath all the logic and control, lay passion.
She slipped it into the reader and soon heard the haunting strains of what she very privately referred to as the Vulcan love song. Allowing it to flow around and through her, she swayed to the rhythm, slowly working her way back to the sleeping alcove and fingered the material draped across the chair. Closing her eyes, she let herself be swept away by the sounds that seemed to call to her very soul. Never ceasing her loose swaying, she pulled the gown over her head and let it slip slowly down her body.
She enjoyed the feel of it. Palming her hands down her sides, she paused them at her hips, allowing the music to take over and guide her movements into a dance of seduction, a dance meant to be seen by only one other.
The beep of her door chime jolted her. It was almost painful being jarred back to reality. Nyota must not have gotten her message about the dinner cancellation, she thought with just a touch of irritation. A ragged breath and a hand to her throat allowed her to calm her breathing and reign in her thoughts.
"Come in," she called out, triggering the door's automatic opening. "Make yourself comfortable," she said, as she grabbed the matching peignoir and quickly buttoned it down the front. "I'll be right out."
She stepped through into the main cabin and gasped softly. She tried to stop the sound before it made it out of her throat, but her surprise at the identity of her guest prevented it. He turned before the sound was even complete.
And froze. When he'd sorted through the conversation he intended to have with Christine, it had never once entered his mind that she might be dressed so ... provocatively. Nor could he have remotely anticipated his reaction to it. The music; something about it was ... familiar, but he couldn't quite figure out where he knew it from. It seemed to be her, as if she were one with the music, as if, perhaps, the song had been composed with her in mind. She wasn't moving, but it was almost as if he could see her moving in time with its primal rhythms. He shook his thoughts from those irrational paths.
The sheer shiny material of her attire clung to her rounded curves, outlining in perfect clarity her physical charms. He took a moment to collect himself, it was not logical to be responding so strongly to mere optical stimulation, but he suddenly understood a reference Captain Kirk had made several years ago about, more being less. Until now, it hadn't made any sense.
"It seems I have arrived at an inconvenient time," he said. "I will..."
"Oh, don't be silly, Mr. Spock," Christine said, holding back the grin at his suddenly lifted eyebrow. She was delighted to find her surprise passing quickly and that despite her revealing attire could speak quite normally. She wasn't about to go change. That would only draw attention to it. Besides, she thought with a purely internal chuckle, he probably wouldn't notice the difference anyway. "I'm not doing anything other than relaxing for the night. Was there something I could help you with?" she said as she closed the distance between them. Conversing from across the room was ridiculous. She reached out, intending to turn off the music, but only turned it down instead.
That was what she wore when she 'relaxed'? He could not help very briefly wondering how she dressed when she was planning an ... He brought an abrupt halt to that line of thinking. "Yes," he said abruptly. "I ... owe you an apology."
"What?" Christine burst out in surprise. "Whatever for?"
He took a deep breath. "I unintentionally ... misled you, while we previous served aboard this ship."
Christine frowned thoughtfully. She couldn't think of a single time he could possibly have misled her. "I don't understand, Mr. Spock. I'm afraid you're going to have to be a little more specific." She stopped, thought about half a second then continued. "Or perhaps I should simply say I accept your apology, since I can't recall anything you've ever done that needs apologizing for."
"Perhaps you should sit down," Spock said.
"That bad?" Christine said with a nervous laugh, but did as he requested. "You as well?" she asked, waving to the chair next to hers.
"No," he said, hesitating only a moment before accepting her offer. "Just a little ... involved."
Christine's eyes widened, wondering what he could possibly be talking about, but didn't say anything. He was not usually this forthcoming about anything other than something relating to duty and she didn't want to say anything that would make him regret this revelation; whatever it turned out to be.
Spock watched her silently a moment wondering if this was as good an idea as it had seemed earlier. She was so ... calm, and self possessed. Perhaps the past was best left in the past. She seemed to have moved on. It was highly probable that she no longer felt the way she had previously. If so, he could be simply opening up a potentially awkward situation for them both. He would not have the 'excuse' she had. Her revelations had been forced from her by a virus. Did he have the right to risk the easy working relationship that seemed to be developing? He did not know. She had, however, indicated he need not elaborate, that she was willing to forgive without even knowing the 'offense'.
No, that would not be ... honorable. "I'm sure you're aware that after my mental contact with V'Ger, I have been ... reevaluating certain aspects of my life."
She nodded. She'd been there in Sickbay when he'd spoken with the captain.
"After the events of Psi-2000 ... "
Oh, God, Christine thought. How could he bring that up. It was the second most embarrassing moment in her life. She wanted to protest, but firmly sealed her lips around the words that desperately wanted to launch themselves out of her mouth.
" ... I let you believe that you were the reason I was ... uncomfortable around you."
This time she had to clamp her tongue between her teeth. It wasn't?
Spock paused and collected his thoughts. This was more difficult than he imagined it would be. He wondered if it would have been easier if he knew how she felt, but pushed that aside as irrelevant. Whether he knew or not, he had decided he needed to be honest with her. "Although I did not realize it at the time." Didn't you? Or were you merely unwilling to acknowledge it? " ... That was not the reason."
Was he saying what she thought he was saying?
"My ... discomfort, was caused by my reaction to your words," he said, then added almost too softly to hear, "and you."
Christine's eyes widened. He was saying what she thought he was saying. What was she supposed to say now? She didn't have a clue. Was he speaking strictly past tense? It had been a long time.
"And you bring this up now, because ... ?" she asked allowing her voice to deliberately trail off.
No help there, he thought. Her expression would have looked right on any Vulcan. He was not sure how to proceed. He had assumed that, having made it this far, he would have received some indication of her reaction to the information. Was she pleased by it? Did she simply want him to say what he had to say and leave? He didn't know. He discovered once again, he didn't like not knowing the answers to questions he held within him. He plunged ahead, feeling on shakier ground than he could ever remember being on. "I 'bring it up' now, for two reasons," he said carefully. "One, I thought you had a right to know and deserved an apology for the hurtful falsehood, however unintentional on my part."
"And the second," she asked, carefully controlling her reactions. It would never do to allow even the smallest spark of hope. She had long since moved past 'pining' for him, and wasn't about to let what ever else it was he needed to say, re-ignite something that would end, once again in pain. She may love him, but she was far cry from allowing herself to read more into his words than was actually there. She'd spent far too much time doing that during her first tenure aboard the Enterprise.
She had to admit however, it did make her feel better about the past. Perhaps now they could move beyond that ... unfortunate incident.
"I do not know if you will welcome this, after all that has passed. I do not consider it beyond the realm of probability that you will, in fact, feel quite the opposite." Get to the point. Right. How was the correct way to phrase this? He needed to get his point across in a way she would correctly interpret, with no possible misunderstanding, yet he did not have the words. That was a rare experience for him. "I am still ... interested," he said finally, hoping it was enough.
Christine's eyes widened for what felt the millionth time, but other than that she felt like she was frozen in place. Her mind was blank and her body refused any commands to move. He what?
"To be perfectly honest, Mr. Spock," Christine finally said, thrilled to hear a smooth crackless voice come out of her mouth. "I'm not sure how I feel about that. I'm in something of a state of shock."
Something in Spock's eyes flickered, but she couldn't quite read what it meant. Then a ghost of a smile crossed his lips. "I believe the cause is sufficient." He rose. "Perhaps I should leave and give you time to ... 'digest' this unexpected turn."
He nodded to her. "Good night, Christine," he said, walking toward the door. He should have left well enough alone, he thought.
He was almost to the door before the sound of her voice stopped him. "Wait," she said.
He caught his breath and an odd sensation tightened low in his chest. He turned and saw a variety of emotions flicker across Christine's face. They all plainly warred with indecision. "Have you eaten your evening meal?" she asked finally.
"No, I have not. I decided to speak with you first."
"Would you care to join me?"
Spock couldn't quite stop the leap of his heart at her question. "I would be honored."
Christine smiled for the first time tonight and stepped forward, then stopped. In the twist of events that had just happened she had totally forgotten what she was wearing. She blushed faintly as she remembered. The tone the evening had taken put her attire in a whole new perspective. "I'll just go change first," she said softly.
Amusement danced in his dark eyes a moment, before he replied quiet blandly. "That would be wise."
She laughed as she turned away, but did wonder if he liked it.
Just as she disappeared into the sleeping alcove the music ended on a crashing crescendo and Spock called to her.
"The music you were playing, it is vaguely familiar to me, but I cannot quite place it."
"I found it several years ago," she called back. "It's by the Vulcan composer T'Sana." She shook her head, it was strange talking with him while changing her clothing. It was strangely intimate.
Christine's words brought back a rush of memory. Before he'd left Vulcan, for the Academy, he'd gone to a concert featuring several of the 'up and coming', musicians and composers. This piece had been one of the songs performed. He remembered thinking, at the time, that it had seemed quite abandoned and filled with a nameless something he could not, then, define.
Now he knew exactly what that something was and he felt a flush travel the length of his body as he realized just how strongly he identified that music and its hidden meaning, with the woman changing clothes in the next room.
* * *
Sitting in the officer's lounge eating, Christine could not help but be painfully aware of the covert looks and whispered conversations. She ignored them as best she could, as she was sure he was doing. The dinner surprised her, but they both talked freely of events that had happened to both of them over the course of there lives, including before and after the time they had served together.
Christine learned more about Spock in that short time, than she had in the rest of the years she'd known him. It was wonderful, just getting the chance to really get to know him. It didn't surprise her that none of it was very personal, but it was comfortable. She hid a smile, when she realized he was trying to set her at ease. It was certainly a change of pace for the two of them.
By the time they had finished dinner, the talk had turned to music. Spock was surprised to learn that she played the Terran flute. She had never joined in the cooperative music sessions that the Enterprise officers had held.
Christine glanced around the room, startled to discover it was deserted but for them. "What time is it?"
"It is oh two thirty hours."
You're kidding, she thought, but managed not to say it. She hadn't been that caught up in a ... dare she think it ... date, in years! "I didn't realize it was that late," she said softly. "I lost track of time."
"I will ... take that as a compliment."
"Indeed," she replied with an impish grin and a raised eyebrow in obvious imitation. "It is."
He stood, an amused acknowledgment shining in his eyes. "Perhaps I should escort you back to your quarters."
"I would be honored," she said with a solemn nod, maintain as much of her assumed demeanor as she could, while fighting the desire to laugh.
* * *
They walked back to her quarters in companionable silence. She palmed open her door and walked directly inside. Stopping in the middle of the room, she turned and faced Spock. Now was the time and she was glad to see he followed her in.
"Spock," she said slowly, thoughtfully. "My ... feelings for you have never changed. I don't think they ever will and, although I had a lot of fun tonight, I have to question this sudden change of ... heart on your part."
He took a step toward her, relieved to hear her confession and surprised by the logic of the question that had followed. Though, why he was, he didn't know. With only a few exceptions, the cause of which, were all beyond her control. She had always been a very competent officer. The papers of hers, that he'd had occasion to read, were well thought out and complete.
"A ... legitimate concern," he said. "In answer to that, I can only say, it is not truly a 'change of heart' as you put it, but rather finally acknowledging that which has always been so." He took another step forward, amazed that he was going to say this. "There has never been a time I was unaffected by you. However, before now, I did not allow it even truly register, let alone accept it."
Spock paused. He had intended to say more, but if appearances were to be believed his words were having the opposite affect than the one he wanted. Coming to a sudden decision he closed the distance between them in three long strides. One hand snaked around her waist, the other grasped firmly behind neck, he pulled her roughly against him. He ducked his head and pressed his lips to hers in a bruising kiss allowing all the passion he could not put into words to be revealed through his actions and his touch.
His breath froze in his chest long enough he had to remind himself to breathe. Her lips parted under his and her tongue darted out to caress his lips, sending an electric shock through his body. He insistently invaded her mouth, reveling in the cool wetness there. What could have been seconds or minutes later, he reluctantly pulled his mouth from hers and looked deeply into her eyes. "Does that answer your question?" he asked with a voice that was a little shakier than he would have liked.
"Yes," she answered and his was gratified to note that her voice was none too stable either. "But I wouldn't mind another demonstration anyway."
The corners of his mouth twitched upwards as he traced the contours of her lips with his fingers. "And just what kind of demonstration do you think would be appropriate?"
Christine grinned. "That is up for negotiation," she said and pulled his head into a second soul searing kiss.