DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Sharron Powell and is copyright (c) 1999 by Sharron Powell. This story is rated PG.



Reflections and Visits

Sharron Powell



After all that time on the Enterprise, you'd think she'd have gotten used to it. The no sleep part of the job. But a week into her three year residency at HQ's main hospital in Frisco, she was tired as hell.

Easing herself into the nearest chair in exhaustion, she thought to herself, Well, Christine. You asked for it.

And really, most of the time, she was very fulfilled; happier professionally than she'd ever been. She just hadn't realized that Fleeters planetside could have more emergencies than a bunch of crew on a starship that always took on the galaxy's bullies and fanatics.

Of course, the crew on the Enterprise had been kept in top shape by McCoy, M'Benga, and herself. She couldn't say the same for the steady stream of Admirals trying to regain their youth or the young cadets who hadn't learned of their own limitations that coursed through the ER doors at any hour of the day or night.

The more that she thought about it, the more she realized ... she'd gotten more sleep on board ship. They followed a day/night schedule, after all. HQ and the Academy never slept completely.

She supposed she should be grateful. She was off duty for the next 48 hours. That was the shift ... two days on duty or on call and then two days off for yourself. No calls unless WWIV was about to start.

And besides, she was having this little sleep problem for a very good reason; she'd made it over the first hurdle: medical school. Of course, she had done it once before, so the Powers That Be had graciously lopped two years off the usual four year time in acknowledgment of her credentials as a researcher and her years on the Enterprise. Christine Chapel, M.D. She guessed that made up for some sleepless nights. Yes. Definitely.

Sighing heavily anyway despite her cheerful thoughts, she forced herself out of the chair, her body quickly telling her that just thinking was way too much work right now. She needed a shower ... no, a long bath (she couldn't have had one aboard ship), a long silk nightgown (she wouldn't have worn one aboard ship), and her favorite book at the moment -- An Analysis of Contagion: Rigellian Fever and the Worlds of the Federation -- (some things never changed). She shook her head. She definitely needed to get out more.

Walking through the bedroom into the master bath, she started the faucets then peeled off her uniform top and pants (another welcome change ... no more mini-skirts) and deposited them into the recycle chute as she waited for the water to rise.

Half an hour later, she was ensconced on the couch, book in hand, guava juice at her side and tension receding. Ah, Paradise.

As if to mock her thoughts, her door chime sounded. Christine groaned in protest as she stood to face the door. Who would be cruel enough to call her on her day off? Wondering which fellow resident was calling on her, she didn't bother to ask for time to change. She slipped on her companion silk robe and called enter. And as the doors slid open, she promptly wished that she'd thought to ask who was at the door.

She had to stare for a second before realizing that she couldn't be dreaming. A tall, lithe man stood in her door opening, hands behind his back, one eyebrow starting to climb at her state. Though she couldn't be sure whether it was her state of dress or her facial expression that gave him pause.

"Mr. Spock?"

He leaned his body back, half starting to turn to leave. "Dr. Chapel. I seem to have ... caught you at a bad time... I can return later..."

"No!" Christine held up her hand. Embarrassed at her outburst, she tried again. Calmly this time. "No, that's quite all right. You're fine. Come in, please." And at that, she stepped back and to the side, giving him room to enter. He looked unsure and a bit puzzled. She knew why. Why was she in her nightgown at 10 in the morning...

"You'll have to forgive me, Mr. Spock. I just got off duty at 0930 and wasn't expecting visitors today." His eyebrow lowered somewhat as she gestured to the couch she had been sitting on, though he still looked as if he'd rather leave while he still could. "Please make yourself at home. I'll go change."

And as she left the living room with as much dignity as a woman in a silk nightgown can muster who'd just seen the man of her dreams appear at her door as if by magic, two thoughts ran through her mind ... one, why was he here? She'd have heard if the Enterprise was docked topside. And two: the look on his face when she'd opened the doors had been priceless...

* * *

Her initial shock at Spock's appearance at her door had been short-lived. Shedding the nightgown and robe she'd been wearing when he arrived as soon as the bedroom doors had closed behind her, Christine took thirty seconds to look into her closet before she shrugged and picked out a clean uniform. After dressing quickly, she pulled her now dark hair back into a bun and stared into the nearby mirror while her mind churned out questions.

Why was he here? He would only have come to see her because of a medical concern; that she was pretty sure of. But if that was so, than why hadn't he just spoken to one of the hospital doctors on call or better yet, the sickbay personnel on whatever ship he was on? And speaking of ships, where was the Enterprise and why wasn't he on it?

Rolling her eyes at herself in the mirror, she turned quickly and strode purposefully back into the living room. Only Spock could answer her questions...

"Mr. Spock, can I get you anything?" she called out briskly as she entered, half expecting him not to be there to answer her question.

Spock stood as she entered. "No, thank you Doctor." He had her copy of T'Val's analysis of Rigellian Fever in his hand; obviously he'd been perusing it while he waited.

"All right." She seated herself on the couch since he'd elected to sit in the wingback chair opposite her. "So, what brings you to this neck of the woods?"

"I find myself in need of a physician."

"A physician?" Sitting forward to the edge of the couch, Christine switched into clinician mode. "Are you feeling unwell?" Studying his features, she puzzled at his outward appearance. He didn't look ill...

Spock shook his head slightly. "I am quite well."

Christine sat back, her face reflecting her mounting confusion. "Then I don't understand. Maybe you had better start at the beginning, Spock."

He nodded his head, expecting the question. After taking a moment to collect his thoughts, he started his explanation. "I have been for some time engaged in an undertaking at the request of the Vulcan Ambassador. In this capacity, a situation has arisen that I would seek your medical assistance with."

Christine's face grew more quizzical still. "What type of assistance?"

"Treatment of a patient."

Now she was truly confused. "A patient. What not just take this 'patient' to the hospital? Or if it's a condition limited to Vulcans, why not to the healers at the Vulcan Embassy?"

"I require it to be a confidential consultation in a non-official capacity," Spock replied as he leaned forward slightly in his chair, folding his hands upon his lap.

What in the world? His little speech had not clarified the situation at all; it had made it worse.

"Non-official?"

Spock's eyes showed consternation for a split second. Surely he hadn't expected her to blindly agree to his request without knowing the facts of the case? Her eyes narrowed slightly as she gauged his mood. Yes ... she saw that he had. Well, she couldn't help that. She was a doctor now. She had her Oath to consider. Personal feelings didn't enter into it.

When it became apparent that he didn't plan on answering her question, she sailed on with her next one. "And what if the patient should need care that I cannot provide? Would I be obligated to leave them without treatment?" Her displeasure rang in her voice.

Spock looked slightly less pained at her second question. "Of course not, Dr. Chapel. If your medical judgment calls for assistance, I will see to it, but I do not believe that outside intervention beyond your care will be required."

"How can you be so sure? Who is the patient, Spock? What's the illness?" Christine asked in concern.

"It would be better if you saw for yourself, Doctor." He stared at her, his eyes compelling her.

Christine sighed softly as she stood from her place on the couch. "All right, Spock. I'll come with you. But if I ultimately decide that the patient, whoever he or she may be," she said pointedly, "needs treatment in an 'official' setting, then they go. And I will brook no arguments. Deal?"

Spock rose as well, his face smoothing out in as close to an expression of relief as she had ever seen on his face. He nodded in acknowledgment. "Agreed, Doctor."

* * *

Christine was still wondering where they were going when she felt the familiar sensation of a transport beam seize her. But when it had released her, she quickly saw they were on a vessel, and that vessel was not a starship. After glancing around the cavernous room they'd materialized in, she surmised that they were on a freighter. The kind that transported people as a side line to their cargo runs.

Why was Spock taking passage on a freighter? She just couldn't understand it. If he was on a mission from Sarek, surely his own father could have come up with better transport. Then again, maybe this had been the most clandestine route he could find. That would have made it the logical choice in Spock's eyes.

She watched warily as Spock was greeted by the transport officer, a shady looking character if ever there was one.

"Back so soon, Vulcan? Didn't take you long to find a woman to share your journey. That seven year thing must be a lie." He eyed Christine appraisingly, like an Orion slave trader eyeing flesh for sale.

Christine pointedly ignored the prurient comment as Spock positioned himself between her and the officer and led her away with haste, though from haste to be away from the foul transport chief or in haste to reach her yet to be seen patient, she couldn't be sure. What type of place was Spock taking her into? She glanced at Spock in apprehension as they departed with due speed from the transport room.

"My apologies, Dr. Chapel." Spock didn't look at her as they walked briskly down a dimly lit corridor to what she assumed would be his cabin.

"It's all right. Crassness seems to be a universal trait with that sort," she replied as they reached a bend in the hallway.

"Indeed." And as he led her down another hallway into what seemed to be the passengers' section of the ship, she could just see his mind pushing the unpleasantness away as irrelevant to their mission. She had to will herself not to ask him why he was on the freighter in the first place. She knew he would tell her no more until she'd seen the patient.

Coming up to the door that must be Spock's room, she looked on with puzzlement as he rang the door chime to his own quarters. A calm voice granted entry and Spock nodded his head to Christine to enter before him as the doors opened on what appeared to be an ordinary sitting room. A small, silver-haired woman, maybe in her 60's, stood up from a plain brown sofa as they entered. Stopping just inside the door, Christine watched with barely concealed impatience as the woman started to converse with Spock.

"You have returned sooner than I expected, son of Vulcan," the woman spoke softly, her gaze moving past him to rest on Christine. "Is this the doctor of whom you went in search?" Spock inclined his head. "Then come." The woman indicated that they should follow her into what looked like a sleeping chamber, "We should not delay her from her task. Your charge is waiting."

Christine followed them both into the room and as she looked for the first time on her patient, she could not conceal her surprise. No part of her consciousness which had been churning up possible scenarios involving Spock's patient since he'd arrived at her door had prepared her for what was revealed before her.

A child perhaps eight or nine years of age, she couldn't be certain, lay on a narrow bed, her long dark hair spilling onto a pillow in crinkled waves. The child's chest heaved as if she was having difficulty breathing and her hands were restless as if clutching for something. Christine quickly shunted her questions aside as she whipped out her tricorder, her mind only half registering the woman who continued to update Spock on the child's condition.

"The little one is still asleep. She has not stirred since you departed. But neither has her fever risen. We shall take that as an encouraging sign."

Christine suddenly focused on the woman, interrupted the woman's report as her eyebrows rose at the readings she was getting. "What was her temperature when you last checked on her?" she asked briskly, not bothering with pleasantries.

The woman's placidly responded, "I am not certain, daughter of Earth. I could not understand the machine the son of Vulcan left with me." And she pointed to a tricorder much like Christine's own that lay unused to a bedside table, "But I have felt her brow and have given her fluids at regular intervals since her guardian left to find you. There has been no change." She finished with certainty, looking up into Christine's businesslike face with quiet assurance.

Christine felt a sudden need to validate the woman's effort, feeling a kindness about her, a sense of goodwill that emanated from the small woman in almost palpable waves. "That was exactly what you should have done. Thank you."

"Indeed. I am grateful for your assistance, Yessiba of Llanar. I could not have left her here alone." Spock, who had stood quietly to the side as Christine examined the child, spoke with grateful inflection, bowing his head in deference to her service.

"There is no need of thanks. I have children of my own. I would not watch her suffer unaided." She paused and gazed at Christine who had turned her attention back to the sick child. "I will leave you now so that your healer may work in peace. Peace to you, son of Vulcan." And with a nod to Christine, she left, having received Spock's ritualized farewell in return.

As soon as the doors closed behind her, Christine turned to Spock. She could not contain her questions any longer.

"Spock, who is this child? The readings show that she is half-Romulan." Christine's eyes bored into his, daring him to deny what her readings had told her.

Spock sighed almost imperceptibly instead. "It is a long story, Doctor. One I would prefer to postpone until after your diagnosis and treatment."

"Very well, Spock." Christine acquiesced coolly, not wanting to spare precious time cajoling him into answering, "At least tell me her name. I can't continue to call her 'patient'." And her expression left no doubt that she would return to the earlier topic when her work was completed.

"Her name is Saavik."

* * *

Christine shooed Spock out of the room soon after their talk; she could not focus on Saavik and be attentive to his concerns as well. After tailoring an anti-fever medication suitable to Saavik's hybrid blood and small years and administering similarly tailored medication to make it easier for the little girl to breathe, Christine turned her mind to the real problem: the cause of the symptoms.

The girl's dual heritage made Christine's job more difficult; it had increased by nearly a third the number of possibly responsible maladies which could have befallen her small patient. She'd had to remote into Medical's database for help in tracking down some particularly illusive clues, but after many hours of taking readings and analyzing possibilities, she was fairly positive that she had found the culprit. All that remained was to tell Spock.

When she entered the living area, she found him sitting on the sofa facing away from her direction, staring a few feet in front of him, his hand folded in his lap as if in meditation. But he wasn't meditating, she could tell that. His carriage was stiff and tense. Her heart went out to him. She could tell that he was worried, even though he would have denied it had she voiced the thought.

"Mr. Spock?"

His bearing became more circumspect as she walked further into the room. He came right to the point. "Your diagnosis, Doctor?"

Christine hesitated a split second before replying. "She has Menarian Flu." She smiled as Spock's shoulders lowered slightly. He did not turn to look at her.

"Not..."

"Rigellian Fever?" she guessed, coming up to stand in back of the sofa on which he sat. "No, Spock. The symptoms are nearly identical; it took a number of tests to be sure, but no. It isn't Rigellian Fever. Menarian Flu employs a similarly invasive virus but the results of the two diseases are quite different. Fortunately, Menarian flu, caught promptly as you have done, presents little serious danger." Unlike the Fever, which often caused death; she didn't need to verbalize Rigellian Fever's dangerous effects. They were well known.

Spock sat straighter on the sofa as Christine put a tentative hand on his shoulder. "You must have been frightened for her," she said softly. He said nothing, but surprisingly, he did not dispute her words or pull away from her hand. That little girl must have thoroughly stolen her way into his heart. She was not surprised.

Spock had a great capacity to care for others. She'd seen it whenever Jim had been hurt. Even she had been the beneficiary of his sense of caring once; when they had been stuck on Platonius with Len, Nyota, and Jim and she'd been ashamed at being forced to caress him against her will, he had professed regret, not for his own shame, but for his perceived failure to protect her. Of course, his Vulcan nature could not permit him to admit to such a feeling.

Christine removed her hand, standing to full height as she gave her expectations for the next few days. "Her fever has broken, for now, but it may return along with chills before the flu runs its course which should be completed by two days time, at the most. She may be up much earlier than that. There's no way to predict. All we can do is to help her ride it out with as few symptoms as possible..."

She hesitated, knowing that she was coming to the point where she thought he might have problems. "Now, any touch of flu can become a bout with pneumonia if left unmonitored. And since there is limited medical equipment here, I'd like to stay with her for the next few days...."

Spock turned his head to look at her. "That will not be necessary, Doctor. I am quite capable of monitoring her..." She cut him off before he could list his myriad reasons for why she didn't need to stay.

"Spock, I am not going to argue about it. I'm staying. Or she goes with me to the hospital." Christine tried to sound stern, but it was hard to keep the smile from her voice; she knew that the not so subtle threat would decide the matter.

He nodded his head resignedly. "Very well, Doctor. I bow to your expertise."

"Good, then it's settled." She looked down at her uniform. "I'd better return home for some casual clothes such as yours. I don't think that wearing my Star Fleet medical uniform for two days would be conducive to your secrecy requirement."

His eyebrow rose again. "The transporter chief has already seen your uniform, Dr. Chapel. I fail to see the reason for you changing attire."

"Well, besides not wanting to sleep in this thing," she plucked at her sleeve, "I assume you don't it widely known that you have a truly sick child here, or you would have let the freighter's medical staff take a look at her. Besides, if someone sees me with you two while in casual clothes, it could be interpreted that I was your friend, come to visit with you for awhile..." Christine trailed off as he turned the full strength of his countenance on her, rising from the sofa to look directly on her, the sofa giving them a respectable distance apart.

"That would not be an erroneous interpretation, Doctor," Spock said quietly.

"I know," she prevaricated, speaking even more softly than he had spoken, inwardly rejoicing at his words.

"Dr. Chapel... Christine," Spock amended when she tilted her head in reminder of what he'd just said, "I am grateful for your help in this matter."

"There's no need for thanks," Christine replied, echoing that kindly woman who had stayed with Saavik when Spock had gone to find her. "I would not see her suffer unaided."

Spock inclined his head, much as he had to the silver-haired woman.

After this good start, Christine didn't want to push her luck, but she had to know... "Spock?"

"Yes, Doctor," he said with equanimity.

"Would you tell me more about Saavik?" she hurried to finish her statement when she saw his face lose its relaxed demeanor. "I don't care about how you found her, if you found her. I don't want any classified information. She is going to awaken soon and I don't want to frighten her." She'd seen the extent of the child's old scars during her examination. She shuddered to think of what could have been done to her to produce such injuries.

She could tell that Spock realized that she spoke of Saavik's injuries. He nodded again in resigned agreement. "Very well, Doctor. I shall speak to you of Saavik when you return from the surface."

Christine smiled faintly in relief at his response. "Thank you, Spock."

* * *

When Christine returned to Spock's quarters aboard the freighter, she was breathing heavily. Unfortunately it wasn't in response to some daydream about Spock, but in her haste to dodge the transporter chief who'd again commented crassly to her when she'd beamed back aboard. Taking a moment to center herself before pushing the door chime, she thought about how funny this was.

She was going to Spock's quarters with a bag filled with casual clothes, sleep items, and toiletries dressed in a pretty, if still demure, dress... Nyota would certainly have found it 'fascinating' as well as hilariously funny and would never have let her live it down. Christine shook her head ruefully; she missed her friends on the Enterprise terribly sometimes.

Finally signaling the chime, she entered his room to find Spock in roughly the same spot where she'd left him: sitting on the couch with his hands folded in his lap. But this time his shoulders held none of the tense stiffness of earlier in the day. Saavik would be well and he could meditate again as he obviously had been before she'd arrived.

Christine held up her hand to Spock who had stirred from his meditation and was about to stand to help her with her bag.

"You don't have to stop your meditation on my account, Spock. I'll just go see how Saavik is progressing..."

Spock rose anyway. "I was just completing the exercise, Doctor." Reaching for her bag, he led her into the bedroom where Saavik lay. "Saavik is still asleep."

Christine nodded as she felt Saavik's forehead and then ran the tricorder above the child's body. "She will probably sleep for a few more hours before waking up for the first time when she'll be very hungry. I'd better prepare some light food for her for when she wakes up. Then it's back to bed. The more sleep she gets in the early stages, the faster she'll recover." She reached for her bag. "I'll sleep in here in a chair, if possible. I'd would like to be close by in case she develops symptoms."

"I will move the smaller chaise from the sitting room, Doctor." Christine nodded an affirmative as she indicated with a hand motion that they should leave the room lest their voice wake up the weary girl. She asked the obvious question. "Do you have a replicator?"

* * *

After preparing the one and only Vulcan recipe she knew, Vulcan Plomeek soup, at the handily located replicator ... actually she'd been surprised and relieved to find a replicator in his room, she hadn't relished the idea of finding the mess hall, she returned to the main area to have that promised talk with Spock.

She smiled as she remembered the last Vulcan to try her soup ... that had felt like a major victory to her at the time. She shook her head at her own need for Spock's approval as she sat down on the couch that still remained in the sitting room while Spock assumed the one lone straight-back chair in the room.

"All right, Spock," she began non-threateningly, "may we have that talk about Saavik now?" She looked at him in calm hopefulness, a look that he returned with a slight trepidation. Centering himself, he began.

"Saavik comes from a violent world, Doctor, and has the scars to prove that fact, as you have seen." He paused and looked toward the door behind which Saavik lay out of the corner of his eye. "She is intensely curious about the world; her life was quite deprived till last year."

Christine interrupted, "When you started to take care of her... Spock, that was a fine thing to do." She smiled at him, trying to control her urge to hug him in pride at his deed.

Spock looked disconcerted at her praise. He shook his head slightly as if to say that it hadn't been his idea. "My father felt that I would be the logical choice to acclimate her to normal society." He did not elaborate but Christine thought she knew why ... one hybrid personality helping another.

"She is extremely intelligent but perhaps because of that she is often belligerent and stubborn, resistant to authority, unless that authority is strict and steady. And even that is not always sufficient..." He paused again, looking momentarily exhausted. "Her past, understandably, has left her with a fount of anger which I have been trying to teach her to control."

Christine knew that he meant more than the usual ideas of thinking before retaliating, of not lashing out.

"Must she learn control so soon, Spock?"

Her heart went out to the girl; thrust into a life of rigid order after years of wild neglect. It wasn't going to be easy for Saavik. She remembered how hard it was for Spock to suppress his emotions and he was an adult. How much more difficult would it be for a child... She glanced at him in apprehension, hoping that she hadn't offended him.

He looked at her with no sense of annoyance in his eyes. "It is necessary, Doctor..." Spock began before Christine interrupted him softly.

"Spock, we are speaking off the record here. Please, call me Christine?" She didn't know why she always wanted him to use her real name and not a title ... no, she was lying to herself again ... she did know. Because it would make her feel as if he was speaking to her as a friend instead of a faceless medical technician. It was irrationally important to her, perhaps, but she couldn't help the impulse. "It may help to refer to me as 'Christine Chapel' in front of Saavik instead of 'Dr. Chapel', Spock. If she is as resistant to authority as you say, another figure of authority besides yourself may be threatening."

He nodded in acquiescence though he looked at her as if he was humoring her as he would the child of whom he was speaking. "Your point has merit, Christine." He then returned to the topic at hand.

"Saavik must learn control. If she had been born on Vulcan, the training would have already begun." He saw her look of concern. "The need for control is not simply a convention as humans may surmise. The Vulcan temperament is inherently one filled with extremes. Without the bounds of logic and order, we would again be the violent race from the days before Surak."

"I know, Spock." She sighed in reluctant agreement. "It's just that she's so young and has had such a hard life... Is it realistic to expect her to be able to conform so quickly?"

"It is not a question of expectation, realistic or otherwise; it is a question of survival. Saavik's anger must be controlled. Her hybrid nature makes her volatile. She has become violent in the past when she has felt threatened. She could hurt others and herself if she is not taught."

Christine sighed again. "Then she is condemned to a life of struggle..." As you have been, Spock, she thought to herself.

"Indeed." His face grew solemn. He must have been thinking along the same lines. "But we hope that in the end, the benefits will outweigh the hardships."

Christine impulsively reached for his hand. "I believe that it will, Spock ... truly I do."

He didn't pull away, but neither did his respond. She knew that she should pull away ... she would pull away... She could feel the familiar pull of connection on her heart. She had never been able to escape his hold over her, even when she'd desperately wanted release from her love for him. Now she barely tried.... She would pull away, in a little while...

What was he saying?... Mentally focusing, she forced her attention back to what he was saying ... she still had not released his fingers ... she irrationally hoped that he would let them stay like that...

"...unfortunately, I can no longer stay to help her in her struggle. I have been away from the Enterprise for far longer than I had originally intended... I must return. This freighter is on route to Vulcan where I will be placing her in the care of my parents."

Christine eyes softened at his obvious sense of being torn by two responsibilities. "Then she could be in no better hands while you are away, Spock." She wanted to say more but before she could, a thin sharp voice broke their communion.

"Spock?"

She hastily removed her hand as they both turned their hands to see the object of their thoughts walk somewhat warily into the room, her eyes darting from Spock to Christine.

Spock straightened his demeanor to what Christine had always mentally referred to as his lecturing mode. "Yes, Saavik-kam? Do you require nourishment?" He was obviously trying to deflect Saavik's interest in Christine whom she was still staring at. But the little lady would have none of that. Saavik spoke sharply, her voice reflecting what could only be described as jealous self-interest as she eyed Christine.

"Who is she?"

* * *

"My name is Christine." Christine said as calmly and as authoritatively as she could.

Spock jumped in quickly. "Miss Chapel has been kind enough to help you conquer your illness, Saavik."

The child would have none of it. "Why?" she said sharply.

Christine spoke before Spock could continue. "Because your guardian summoned me to help him care for you." That seemed to mollify Saavik not one iota.

Hurrying to react before Spock could interrupt again, Christine walked quickly to the table where she had placed the bowl of soup she'd prepared, lifting the lid to let the pleasant, pungent aroma of Plomeek soup fill the room. Then she spoke, as coolly logical as Spock on one of his worst days. "Your food is ready. You are hungry. Eat."

Saavik looked suspicious, not knowing whether to continue her line of questioning or to dart for the food. Her hunger won out. In her short life, she had learned many things, but one paramount over all of the others ... never pass up food. Walking down to the rough-hewn table and chairs of the dining area, she picked up the conveniently placed spoon and began to eat steadily, not stopping until she had finished the bowl.

"More," Saavik said perfunctorily. Spock looked as if he was about to launch into a lecture on manners, but Christine stopped him with a subtle shake of her head. It was more important for Saavik to eat than for her to be polite in asking for her food.

Besides, it was an effective distraction to Christine's presence. Christine knew that the respite was temporary, but it gave her time to plan her next strategy to circumvent Saavik's still obvious hostility.

Bringing Saavik a glass of water to go with the soup, Christine sat down in a chair directly across from the little girl while Spock sat back down in his original seat next to the sofa a few feet away from the table. In this arrangement, Christine hoped that Saavik would have to look at her and talk to her before demanding anything from Spock. She had to establish her own relationship with Saavik in order to expect the child to accept her treatment.

When Christine saw that Saavik was almost finished with her second bowl of soup, she sallied forth with her next statement.

"Now it is time for you to return to bed, Saavik," Christine stated calmly.

Saavik threw down the spoon causing a small splash of what was left of her soup to fly upon the table. "No sleep!" She looked at Christine with an expression that said, 'I don't know you ... why should I mind you?' Spock, hearing this, made to stand to intercede but Christine again shook her head once to signal 'stay out of it'. He complied, clearly worried. Christine got the impression that bedtime was a fight every night.

Responding to Saavik's reaction as if it was a matter of course, Christine replied coolly, "If you don't sleep, you won't get well. And if you are unwell, you cannot leave this room. Mr. Spock told me that you wished see the rest of the ship," Christine lied blithely. "Perhaps he was mistaken."

"Spock never say that we leave room anyway," Saavik replied, clearly disbelieving her (which was clever since Christine was making up her statements as she went along). Then she subsided in thought, an act which Christine eagerly pinned her hopes upon.

Finally, Saavik looked at her shrewdly, "If I did sleep, got well, where would we go?"

Christine thought a moment; she knew that she was letting herself and Spock in for a rough tomorrow in exchange for Saavik going to sleep now. "There is a human tradition that I would like to share with you both. It's called 'the ice cream sundae'." Christine tried to make it sound as exciting and mysterious as she could.

Saavik's face changed from her current belligerent state to a state of questioning, her eyes burning with the intense curiosity that Spock had described. "Ice cream sundae? What is this ice cream sundae?"

"That is no concern of yours. When you are better, you will have the right to ask me. And for that you need sleep." Christine pushed back her own chair as she stood. Walking a few feet toward the bedroom, she looked back to find Saavik still sitting at the table, looking at her appraisingly. Then Saavik turned to Spock.

"What is this ice cream sundae?" Saavik clearly hoped to circumvent Christine's conditions on answering her question.

Spock answered her serenely. "I do not know, Saavik. I have no experience with 'ice cream sundaes'," he replied, saying the words 'ice cream sundae' as if they were truly foreign to him. "You will have to deal with Miss Chapel about that."

Saavik scowled her frustration, still not moving from the chair in which she was sitting. Her scowl turned to a frown as she sat there, weighing her options. Finally, she looked at Christine in rebellious defeat. "Chris..." She verbally stumbled over Christine's name.

"Christine," Christine supplied, not showing any emotion one way or the other.

"Chris ... tine... I will sleep." And with that, Saavik rose from her chair and walked toward the bedroom, stopping when she neared Spock who had raised one eyebrow at the exchange between the two females. "Good night, Spock."

"Good night, Saavik-kam," Spock replied quietly as if he couldn't believe that she was acquiescing so quickly and didn't want to jinx it.

And with that the little girl walked reluctantly toward the bedroom, not waiting for anyone to walk with her to tuck her in. Christine followed her as far as the door, peaked in to make sure that Saavik had lain down, and then moved back from the door so that they would close in front of her. When she turned around to face Spock, her eyes shining in triumph, she saw Spock looking at her, an expression of disguised envy on his face. His eyebrow rose again.

"I commend you, Christine," he spoke quietly, in case Saavik was still listened near the door, "an interesting approach."

She smiled at him before schooling her expression into a more sedate demeanor. "A time-honored approach, Mr. Spock, that my mother used with success with me on many an occasion. It's called a bribe." Her smile returned.

"Indeed."

* * *

At 6 am, Christine awoke from her perch on the borrowed living room chaise to find Saavik still asleep. Thanking that unknown guardian angel that listened to fledgling doctors, she reached for her tricorder. After finding the fever in retreat and Saavik's other vitals close to normal, Christine rose and stretched, her eyes scanning for her bag of belongings, then picking up said bag, she quietly exited the room.

She'd taken two steps toward the small bathroom when she stopped. Spock lay on the sofa, his legs extending past the sofa edge, his hands folded serenely over his chest, eyes closed. She looked upon him fondly. He was still the most handsome man she'd ever known. Her hand itched to touch him but she resisted the urge. No sense disturbing his sleep ... not to mention embarrassing them both. She sighed softly. Time to start the day...

When she returned to the main living area, she found Spock at the table in the dining area, sipping a glass of what looked like green sludge.

"Good morning, Christine. I trust you slept well," he said in greeting as he placed a plate of rolls on her side of the table.

"I did." She inclined her head at him as she reached for a roll. "I've checked Saavik. The traces of Menarian flu are almost gone. She'll be up and about by 1100 at the latest, I would say."

Spock nodded in response as he drank his green sludge. Half of Christine really wanted to know what he was drinking; the other half said 'never mind'. The cautious half won out.

Returning to her last statement, she continued. "That gives me enough time to arrange Saavik's sundaes as part of lunch." She paused, "Tell me, Spock ... you've really never had ice cream before?"

"Ice cream itself, yes; in sundae form, no."

Christine smiled. She wanted to ask who had given him ice cream, but then decided against it. "I could have one made for you as well, Spock."

"That will not be necessary," he said tolerantly. "Vulcan's do not eat lunch."

Christine was puzzled by his statement and said so. "But you always ate lunch with the Captain and Leonard."

"The Captain often speaks of ship business during lunch," he said simply as if that explained everything, which in fact it did when you stopped to think about it.

"I'll buy that," Christine replied as she pushed away from the table.

* * *

By the time Saavik finally woke and was ready to join them, Christine was ready with her reward. She'd spoken to an officer, who'd told her when the mess hall was in use, and then called her favorite ice cream shop to have two hot fudge sundaes delivered there.

Spock had questioned the necessity of her actions, but Christine had patiently explained that one didn't eat replicated ice cream when there was a means to get the real thing. It just wasn't done. He'd chalked it up to human eccentricity, and then pulled out a journal to read. They spent the morning in companionable silence.

After checking Saavik's condition one last time and watching Spock reason with the child about the necessity of wearing shoes while traversing ships' hallways with great amusement, Christine had the great pleasure of escorting her charges to lunch. Of course, they could have eaten lunch in their room, but that was part of the bargain.

She couldn't decide what was more enjoyable, watching Saavik dig into hot fudge with abandon, her eyes alight with satisfaction, or watching Spock watch Saavik. The choice was too close to call, she ultimately decided as she finished off her own sundae.

After lunch, she endured a grilling session from Saavik who, at learning she was truly a doctor, spent the next hour alternately asking her questions about her work or demanding that she demonstrate the described techniques on Saavik herself. Christine obliged, showing the tall child the workings of the tricorder and the hypospray while Spock watched bemusedly at the whole proceeding.

Finally, Saavik turned to Spock. "Mr. Spock. It is time for our lesson."

Spock looked briefly at Christine, who couldn't decipher the look on his face, then replied to Saavik, "You are quite correct, Saavik-kam."

He then launched into lecture mode, with Saavik (and Christine, who was watching with amusement) only half-listening to his topic for the day. Finally, Saavik perked up as Spock finished his lecture. Christine surmised that a ritual had developed between the two at such times. She was not disappointed. After receiving another indecipherable look from Spock, she sat back to see a surprising sight: Spock telling stories of the Enterprise and its missions. She couldn't help her grin as Saavik questioned every moment of the story, injecting her own comments to Christine's fond amusement.

Finally as the day came to a close, Christine stood. She had to get ready for her next shift at the hospital. And as much as she wanted to stay with them a little while longer, she couldn't... residency supervisors brooked no lateness or absences, especially from a doctor who had only been in their employ a week.

With a strong sense of regret, Christine left the now familiar quarters for the dreaded transporter room, Spock and Saavik escorting her.

As they walked down the perennially dark corridors, she thought back to the last time she'd said goodbye to Spock. He had been escorting her to a transporter room then as well. It was strange how life changed. For the better most times, as in this case, though she'd had the less wanted experiences as well. She decided as she looked down at Saavik, meeting Spock's glance occasionally over the child's head, that she wouldn't trade this experience for all of the stars in space...

Inevitably, they arrived at the transporter room and ascending upon the pad with reluctance, Christine raised her hand in the Vulcan salute, watching Spock and Saavik return her gesture with ones of differing quality; Spock's salute as perfect as Saavik's was wobbly.

"It was a pleasure meeting you, Saavik. I'm glad that you are better." Saavik stood uncharacteristically silent, not sure as to what to say to such an illogically phrased farewell. Christine smiled at her before turning her attention to her favorite Vulcan. She smiled at him as well.

"Peace and long life, Mr. Spock. I hope that your trip to Vulcan is uneventful." She wanted to say so much more ... but what could she say that would sound remotely logical? Nothing came to mind but her customarily thought 'I love you'...

"Live long and prosper, Christine. Saavik and I are in your debt." And with that he fell silent.

And as the familiar feeling of a transporter tugged at her, she fixed a memory of Spock and Saavik into her mind, knowing that this might be the last time that she might see either of them again; hoping against hope that she would soon...

It was four years till V'ger pulled their lives into the same orbit.

THE END

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