DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of SterJulie and is copyright (c) 2004 by SterJulie. Rated PG.
It was 02:00 hours and Nurse Christine Chapel was doing her rounds. At the moment, her only patient was Commander Spock. Three days after the fact, she was still so exhausted from the trauma they encountered on Platonius, and she really should be resting herself, but immersing herself in work kept her from having to deal with the memories.
Spock was in sickbay because he had an allergic reaction to the kironide that McCoy had injected into him. Kirk had hoped that the kironide would help them to defeat Parmen and the others and allow them to escape.
Instead of giving Spock psychokenetic abilities, it gave him hives and nausea, and it also took away his telepathic abilities. He was having difficulty sleeping, he couldn't control his emotions, and he was generally miserable. This night, Christine was able to relax him enough with an old-fashioned back rub. He was sleeping finally, albeit fitfully.
As Christine made her rounds, she noticed that Spock seemed agitated. Little twitches from side to side and furiously rapid eye movements told her that he was caught in another nightmare. She waited for the inevitable. It didn't take long.
"AAHHHH!!!" Spock screamed and leapt clean off the bed, throwing his blanket clear to the next bed. He moved to the wall and squeezed his head in both hands.
"It's over. You're awake now," Christine soothed, placing her hands gently on his shoulders.
Spock turned wide, wild eyes to her.
"It's over?" he asked. Spock shook his head. "It's not over. Why won't they go away? Why won't they get out of my head?"
"The kironide isn't out of your system yet," Christine said gently. "It's acting like a psychotropic drug. You can' t think straight. You can't control your emotions." Spock made a sad face. "It's a form of post-traumatic stress disorder," she added softly. "It's to be expected. You were raped."
Spock looked at her sharply.
"I hurt you," he grated. Christine shook her head.
"They used us, like marionettes," she explained. "They did the hurting, not you. You don't blame the stick that you are beaten with."
"I'm awake?" Spock realized. "Was I asleep?" Christine smiled and pushed sweaty bangs off his forehead.
"It took a long while, but you got to sleep," she said gently. "Look, let me give you something… "
Spock shook his head so vigorously that his whole body shook as well.
"No drugs!" he whined. He put his arms around Christine and buried his weary head on her shoulder. "No drugs," he whispered. She rubbed the back of his head.
"No drugs, I promise," she crooned. "I have something else, a device that will put you into beta sleep. The bad thing is it provides a rude awakening when you turn it off." Spock's arms tightened around her.
"Anything," he moaned. "Just let me sleep." Christine continued to rub his head.
"You will," she promised. "You'll sleep for as long as you need." Spock raised his head and looked at her sharply.
"No dreams!" he insisted. Christine smiled softly.
"No dreams," she repeated. Spock squeezed the nurse gently to himself before releasing her and climbing back onto the biobed.
Christine left the ward briefly to retrieve the item from the storage locker. Upon her return, she moved straight to Spock's side and place the device on his forehead.
"Mr. Spock," Christine asked, "have you ever had that dream where you feel like you are falling off a curb?" The Vulcan nodded. "People have said that using this sleep inducer feels just like that. When it is turned on, the wearer falls instantly, deeply asleep. People who have used it say that it felt like they fell off a curb. When the device is turned off, the wearer is instantly awakened, and people liken the abrupt wakening to that fall off the curb continuing to the point of landing on the pavement."
"So you are saying that it is uncomfortable," Spock observed. Christine nodded.
"Yes," she replied. "You awake refreshed, but jarred." Spock thought a moment.
"Being `jarred' is a small price to pay for a good night's sleep," he concluded, making himself more comfortable on the bed. "Proceed."
Christine flipped the small toggle on the sleep inducer, and, as promised, Spock fell right to sleep. She caressed the side of his face gently. "Sleep peacefully," she whispered. "I'll be here if you need me."
Christine turned down the lights and returned to her charting.
Forty minutes later, alarms rang at the nurses station.
Christine ran to Spock's side and saw that the Vulcan's breathing and heart rate were at critical levels. Working on instinct, Christine pulled the sleep inducer from Spock's forehead. As promised, he woke up immediately, gasping loudly, his eyes once again wild with fear. He jumped out of bed once more and cowered near the wall.
"I couldn't breathe!" Spock rasped. "They were smothering me." Christine put her hands out and gently caressed Spock's shoulders.
"Who was trying to smother you?" she asked quietly.
"They were," Spock whispered.
"The voices in my head," he explained, miserable. "The ones pulling my strings." Christine shook her head.
"We're nowhere near Platonius now," she soothed. She was surprised to see tears dampen Spock's lashes.
"I still hear them," he whimpered. Spock pressed his hands tightly to his head as if to squeeze out the voices. Christine continued to rub his back gently.
"We got away from them, Spock," she comforted. "They can't hurt us anymore."
"I still hear them," Spock repeated. "They are calling to me, all of them." He turned pleading eyes to her. "So many voices, Christine," he moaned. "Too many. Too many!"
Christine's own eyes filled with tears and she looked at Spock, so miserable. She felt helpless. How could she possibly relieve this kind of suffering?
"Perhaps I should go and call…"
"No!" Spock shouted. "Don't leave me!"
"I'll just be a moment…"
"NO!" Spock shouted as he pushed Christine to sit on his bed. He jumped in next to the nurse and curled against her side. "Don't leave me."
Christine enveloped Spock softly in her arms. She thought as she idly stroked his hair.
"Spock," she said at last, "what do you see when you hear the voices? Do you see faces?" Christine felt as Spock shook his head.
"I only see the blackness ahead of me," he replied. "I am too busy running to look back." Christine pulled Spock up to look at her.
"What would happen if you stopped running and faced down the voices?" she asked. Spock dove back to her side.
"No," he whimpered. "I don't want to see them. Too afraid!"
Christine looked down at the poor wreck of a man trying to hide from the bogeymen that pursued him. Part of her felt disgust at the Platonians. Another part of her felt embarrassed for Spock.
It's the drugs, Chris! she reminded herself. He'll be himself when the drugs are out of his system.
Will he? she wondered. Will Spock need a specialist? An analyst? A Healer?
They say that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing, but Christine thought that Spock could benefit from what she learned in her nurse pych classes.
"What if we faced them together?" Christine asked at last. Spock raised a wary eye at her.
Christine resumed her idle stroking of Spock's silky hair as she pondered what to do.
"You shouldn't have been able to dream while you were using the sleep inducer, but you did," Christine observed. "Let me put it back on you so you can go to sleep. I'll stay right here."
"Right here?" Spock asked in a small voice. "The whole time?"
"The whole time," Christine repeated.
Christine stretched and retrieved the sleep inducer. She placed it on Spock's head and soon the Vulcan was relaxing in her arms.
Again, Christine waited.
Fifty-six minutes later, Spock became agitated. His breathing became erratic, his pulse began to race, and his feet and legs twitched as if he were running.
"Spock!" Christine shouted. "They can't hurt you. Stop running. Do you hear me? They cannot hurt you. You're safe. Stop running."
Spock's legs moved faster than ever. Christine tried to stop them with a touch.
"Stop running!" she ordered. "You're safe. Turn and face them, Spock. Turn and face them."
The alarms started to ring again as Spock's body stiffened. Christine would have to bring him out of this soon.
"Turn and face them Spock," she repeated. "Stare them down. They can't hurt you." Fifteen more seconds, then I'll have to stop, she thought.
Suddenly, Spock went limp. The alarms stopped blaring as his life signs returned to normal. He even began to snore softly.
Christine gently eased him out of her arms and onto the bed. Passing a tricorder over Spock, Christine found that the kironide had completely left the Vulcan's system. She heaved a huge sigh of relief.
Christine adjusted Spock's bedding, pulled the blanket up to his chin and smoothed his rumpled hair.
"Sleep well," Christine murmured before leaving Spock's bedside. She heaved a great yawn as she returned to her desk. She made copious notes on what had just occurred with Spock and on her findings. Christine wished she could determine whether it was her coaching during Spock's last dream, or if it was just dumb luck that the effects of the kironide would dissipate at that same moment. She would never know. No matter, she thought. As long as he's well.
Christine finished her charting and looked around the nearly abandoned Sickbay. She checked in on Spock one last time, smiling to herself as she listened to his gentle snoring. Who knew that Vulcans snore? she thought. Another great yawn overtook her. Christine looked longingly at the diagnostic bed next to Spock and came to a decision. She would grab a cat-nap while she could.
"Lights at twenty percent," Christine ordered the computer as she pulled off her boots. The room dimmed as she slipped into the bed and pulled the covers over her.
You don't blame the stick that you were beat with, Christine remembered herself telling Spock.
"That's a good one," Christine mumbled to no one in particular. "I'll have to remember to write that down later..."
Soon the sounds of a snoring symphony filled the Sickbay ward. They were both healing.
* * *
McCoy walked into Sickbay early. He wanted to check on Spock before breakfast, hoping that the Vulcan was finally able to get some sleep.
To say McCoy was surprised at what he found in the ward would be a galactic understatement.
Christine was in one of the diagnostic beds, curled tightly on her side and fast asleep.
Spock was in the next bed, sleeping soundly, thanks to the sleep inducer he was sporting on his forehead. Taking a reading, McCoy noted that Spock was no longer plagued by the kironide and its terrible effects on his system. The doctor dialed down the sleep inducer so that Spock could waken more naturally.
McCoy turned back to Christine. He really should write her up for sleeping while on duty, but he didn't have the heart. The poor girl should have taken time off to recuperate from her ordeal on Platonius, but she decided to immerse herself in work instead. Sounds like half the crew, McCoy thought. Be honest, Leonard! It's something you would do!
McCoy left to pick up his breakfast from the Rec Room to bring back to his office.
* * *
The sound of the doors to Sickbay closing wakened Spock. No, it was another sound that wakened him, a sound in his head, one that resonated in his soul.
Spock looked over to the next bed and saw Nurse Chapel curled into a tight ball. She had been so good to him while he was recovering from the kironide reaction. What could be troubling her so?
Spock eased out of bed and moved to her side.
"Nurse Chapel?" he called softly. No answer. He tried again. "Christine?"
Christine mumbled something incoherent. She was asleep, Spock realized, having a nightmare, it seemed. It would be unethical for him to ease into her mind uninvited, but was it logical for him to let her suffer?
Spock also realized that Christine had worked extra hours. His drug-addled mind was still aware of her presence these past three days. She had been injured when the Platonians forced them together, Spock was sure of it. He was also sure that Christine had not taken any time off to heal, her body or her spirit.
Christine's sobs and mumbles were becoming louder. Spock decided that awakening her would be in her best interest. He caressed her head gently.
"Christine!" he whispered.
Christine awakened with a gasp. She cowered from Spock, not knowing at first who he was or where she was. Spock reached out and tenderly wiped away her tears. At one glance at the compassion in the Vulcan's eyes, Christine launched herself at Spock. He caught her easily and enfolded her in his arms.
"Were you dreaming of Platonius?" he asked into her hair. "Was it happening again?"
Christine trembled violently and finally answered by nodding her head. Spock responded by holding her more closely.
"I couldn't stop them from hurting you," Spock said in a small voice. "I wasn't strong enough."
Christine stopped trembling and pulled away from Spock, enough to look into his eyes.
"Do you still think I blame you?" she said in astonishment.
"You should," he answered. "I do." Christine reached up and caressed Spock's cheek.
"Oh, don't!" she breathed. "Don't blame yourself. They were just too strong."
Spock turned his head away, but Christine took him by the chin and gently turned his face back to her.
"Remember what I told you this morning?" she said tenderly. "I said, 'You don't blame the stick for beating you.'" Spock heaved a great sigh and looked up at Christine, a small twinkle in his eye.
"You didn't say that," he replied.
"Yes, I did," she answered, wondering if Spock was having a relapse.
"No, you didn't" Spock insisted, "not exactly."
"Well, what did I say, then, exactly?" she asked, indignant
"You said, 'You don't blame the stick that you were beat with,'" Spock answered smugly. Christine hauled back and playfully punched Spock on the arm. Spock put a hand to his offended arm.
"Striking a superior officer is a court-martial offense," he announced. Christine put her wrists forward as if to be handcuffed.
"Go ahead and court-martial me," she teased. "I'll say it was in self-defense from a smart-assed Vulcan." Both of Spock's eyebrows shot up as Christine burst into a fit of giggles.
Spock took Christine's hands and was truly serious.
"Christine," he began. "We need to talk." Spock looked deeply into her eyes. "How badly did I..." He began again. "How badly were you hurt? Tell me the whole truth."
Christine took a deep breath.
"There was bruising and tearing of vaginal tissue," she murmured. "It took less than twenty minutes to repair." Christine fell silent.
"What else?" Spock coaxed.
"Physically, that's it," she continued. Spock caressed the side of her blush-stained face.
"And psychologically?" he asked softly. Christine's lower lip began to tremble.
"I've never been raped before," she whispered. Her simple statement resonated through Spock.
"I've never been raped before, either," Spock rasped.
"I've never felt so helpless."
"They were manipulating me. I couldn't move except in the way they wanted."
"I was never so frightened."
"I was never so angry." Spock pounded his fist on the mattress. "So angry, angry, angry, ANGRY!" Christine pulled back from him in fright.
Spock hung his head and drew three deep breaths to calm himself.
"Forgive my display," he murmured. "I have yet to master these emotions. They still have a grip on me." He pulled dignity around him like a cloak. "I have to remember that the Platonians can do me no harm. They will not be permitted to leave their planet. They are powerless over us. They can no longer hurt or humiliate us ever again."
Christine looked at Spock warily.
"Who are you trying to convince?" she asked. "Me or you?"
Spock took some of her downy thistle hair between his fingers as he thought.
"It would behoove us both to repeat this to ourselves frequently," Spock responded.
Christine thought a moment, then punched Spock's arm again.
"What was that for?" he demanded.
"Who says 'behoove' anymore?" she asked.
"'Behoove is a perfectly acceptable word," Spock responded. "Many of my mother's books from Earth used the word."
"You're mother collects rare old books," Christine retorted. "How old were the books you read?" Spock hung his head, chagrined.
"Old enough," he replied. Spock waved a hand in the air, signifying a change of subjects. "Christine," he began. "We need to refresh our spirits. We need to finish healing."
"What do you suggest?" Christine asked. "Shore leave?"
"We are not scheduled for R and R for two months," Spock replied. He thought a moment. "When I lived on Vulcan, I used to climb the mountains outside our city."
"What does that have to do with…"Christine interrupted.
"I would climb these mountains whenever I was upset and felt that I was losing mastery over my emotions," Spock continued. "I found that pouring out my emotions on the mountains to be a more efficient way of controlling them. I would climb to the very top and scream out my frustrations until I passed out from exhaustion. When I awoke, I meditated until I was calm enough to return home. I used the beauty of dawn on the mountain to heal me and give me strength."
Christine considered what Spock revealed to her.
"So," she deduced, "you want to go mountain climbing on our next shore leave?" Spock shook his head, barely suppressing a smile.
"No," he replied. "No, our next shore leave is too far away. We'll have to find somewhere close by, someplace suitable." Spock studied Christine a long moment.
"What?" she asked, uncomfortable under Spock's scrutiny.
"When was the last time you went EV?" he asked.
Christine shuddered. The worst part of her Starfleet training was doing extra-vehicular activities. The thought that only a few layers of spacesuit stood between her and the cold, harsh vacuum of space frightened her. She looked for an excuse to change Spock's mind.
"Screaming inside our helmets could damage our hearing," she said. Spock permitted himself a small smile.
"We can use earplugs."
"We'll fog up our faceplates."
"The suit's systems can compensate."
"What if our suits tear on the way out?"
"I will check them myself."
"I don't want to go."
Spock took Christine's shoulders in his hands.
"I will be with you the whole time, Christine," he assured her. "I will not let anything happen to you."
Christine was still apprehensive. Spock quickly ran through the small number of star systems and stellar phenomena near their present location. "Slim pickin's," Spock's mother would say. Suddenly, it came to him.
"Give me a few hours to prepare everything," he said slipping off the bed.
"We're doing this today?" Christine asked incredulously.
"Yes," Spock nodded. "We are already in the perfect place." Spock squeezed Christine's hands. "I'll will notify you when everything is ready."
* * *
As promised, three hours later, Spock met Christine at the fore airlock. Both wore the silver EVA suits and carried their helmets under their arms.
Spock noticed a look of trepidation on Christine's face.
"I double checked the suits, the helmets, and the thrusters, as I promised," Spock reassured her. Christine smiled weakly in response.
"I don't suppose we could just go to the observation deck," she asked. Spock shook his head and leaned close.
"Remember," he whispered, "no one can hear you scream in space."
Christine watched as Spock stuffed his ears with plugs, pulled on and locked his gloves, and settled his helmet into place. The nurse sighed and did the same. They double-checked the closures on each other's EVA suits.
Spock opened the airlock door, took Christine's gloved hand in his and stepped into the hatch. Soon, the outer hatch opened to space. Spock had chosen to exit the ship at the forward edge of the saucer section.
Christine gasped at the sight before them.
A glowing ball of green gas was before them. Christine had never heard of a green star before and wondered if she was seeing things.
"I took the liberty to program a filter into the helmets," Spock explained through their communicators. Christine had to rely on reading Spock's lips due to the earplugs she wore.
"It's certainly different," she observed, "and very beautiful." Spock nodded.
Spock helped Christine to attach her magnetic boots to the skin of the ship. Then he took a long length of cable out of a cargo pocket and attached one end to the front of his suit.
"I am going to go out about 100 meters," Spock told Christine as he attached the other end of the tether to her suit, "to do what I need to do. I will have my communicator turned off, but if you need me, just pull on the tether. Will you be all right?"
Christine touched the cable that joined them with her gloved hand. She nodded. Spock used the thrusters in his suit to float away from the ship and the woman sitting on its prow.
Christine knew that she should not be watching Spock, that she should give him his privacy, but Spock was a sight to behold. There at the end of the umbilicus that united them, Spock's silver clad form moved gracefully through space, his movements as fluid as a seal through the ocean.
Christine knew when his "pouring out" ritual began because his movements took on new purpose. Spock's arms first reached out to the green-burning sun then flung wide open. He pulled imaginary strings from his body, rolled them together and flung them at the sun. His body curled in tightly then arced out in all directions.
Spock was screaming.
Christine couldn't hear him, but she knew through his body language that Spock was screaming as he danced at the end of the tether.
Hot tears sprang to Christine's eyes and fogged the inside of her helmet. She could feel the vibration of the EVA suit's environmental controls as it worked to compensate for the extra moisture.
"It isn't fair!" Christine screamed as she watched Spock. Parmen's face floated before her mind's eye. "We did nothing to you, and you raped us! You used us! You took away what could be possible between us and you perverted it! I'll never have him now, never!"
As Christine flung her arms out in anger, flailing at the sun that wore Parmen's face, she inadvertently tugged on the cable line that was stretched tight between herself and Spock. Within seconds, Spock was at her side.
Christine jumped at the sudden contact as Spock held her in her arms.
"What's wrong?" he said worriedly over the communicator. Christine was sobbing, trying to get a proper hold around Spock through the bulky suits.
"He took it away!" she sobbed. "He took it all away!"
"What did he take away, Christine?" Spock asked in confusion.
"Us!" Christine moaned. "There'll never be an us. This-- he will always be between us. He took away our power, our control, our freedom, our choice, our future!" Christine turned back to the star. "I want it back!" she screamed. "I want it all back!"
Spock didn't know what to say. Innocence. In a way, Parmen had taken their innocence. Spock knew that innocence could never be regained, and he should say Kaiidth, but, damn it, he wanted his innocence back, too. Parmen and his ilk had take so much from all of them. And there was no way to get it back.
Spock was spent, and, as Christine's sobs quieted, he presumed that she was nearing the point of no real answers as well. Spock turned Christine's face toward himself and tried to look into her eyes.
"Are you finished?" he asked gently. Christine shrugged.
"Are you?" she countered.
"I don't know if we'll ever be finished with this," Spock responded, "but I think the worst is passed. I know that when I start to think rationally again, I am ready for a time of healing. Will you join me in a period of meditation?" Christine nodded.
Spock turned them both to look at the star.
"When we came out here," he began in a gentle voice, "the star signified the negative emotions burning inside of us. Look as the anger is burned away, the powerlessness. The star is our symbol of healing now. It is burning away all that is negative, painful, hurtful. It is filling us with its strength. Looking back is pain. Looking forward is freedom. Parmen will always be part of our lives, but he is in the past. He can no longer hurt us. He no longer controls us. He has no power over us. Let the star empower us. We are strong. We will go on."
Spock's voice trailed off as Christine continued to look at the star in all of its emerald beauty. She stared at the star through the helmet's faceplate, glad that Spock had selected this filter. Otherwise, they'd both be blind by now! Ah, she thought, rational, mundane thoughts. I must be done meditating.
Christine turned to look at Spock. He was studying her intently.
"That didn't sound very Vulcan," Christine observed at last.
"It wasn't," Spock admitted. "It was my own invention. I needed some sort of defense mechanism as a child, so I developed this."
"You must have gotten into some of your mother's antique psychology books," Christine responded. "That was definitely 'guided imagery.'"
"A useful tool," Spock concluded. He sighed heavily. "Are you ready to go back inside?" It was Christine's turn to sigh.
"Not just yet," she begged. "Five minutes more." Spock pulled his knees up and circled them with his arms as he sat next to Christine on the surface of the ship. Christine looked over at Spock curiously. "How did you arrange all this so quickly?" she asked. Spock flicked an eyebrow.
"With Mr. Scott's assistance," Spock replied mysteriously. Christine looked over at Spock awaiting an explanation. "He told the captain that he absolutely must have two hours at station keeping to do some sensitive recalibrations." Christine giggled as she imagined the conversation. She soon sobered.
"So," she began, "are you feeling any better?" Spock paused as if to take inventory of his feelings.
"Yes, much better," he replied. "And you?" Christine took a deep breath.
"It's a good beginning," she responded cryptically. "I'll need a little more time." She detached the cable that still connected her to Spock, wondering if that was symbolic of anything between them. As soon as the tether was stowed once more in Spock's suit, the two moved back toward the hatch that would admit them to the ship.
Kirk and McCoy met them on the other side of the airlock.
"How was your little excursion?" Kirk asked gently as Spock and Christine removed their helmets. A meaningful look was exchanged.
"It was a time of healing," Spock replied.