DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of Wendy and is copyright (c) 1999 by Wendy. This story is Rated PG.
A Time for Vulcan Tears
Christine surveyed the landing site with thinly veiled excitement. She always loved the chance to be on a landing party, but especially when the purpose was research. One of her favorite areas of study was the use of certain plants in medicines and this planet's scans had proved very interesting. Completely uninhabited it had a Vulcan similar climate and gravity, and a wide variety of plant life. Many of the plants seemed completely earth-like while others very similar to Vulcan plants. The combination was what had originally intrigued Spock, and McCoy had stated emphatically that the planet must have further study. The Captain had a agreed since the Enterprise would need to remain in the area awhile longer to complete the stellar mapping. Spock and the Captain finally agreed on a small party of two, Spock and someone of McCoy's choosing from medical. Security was not necessary since repeated scans had all shown the planet to be uninhabited.
Spock never more than raised an eyebrow at McCoy's choice. After all the nurse was a researcher. It was just an added benefit for McCoy that he thought the chose would 'get Spock's goat'.
Spock and Christine had been planet side for several hours when his communicator sounded.
"Spock." Kirk's voice was punctuated by static. "Ion storm is brewing. Scotty doesn't think it would be wise to try to beam you up just yet. It will probably take about 24 hours. Will you two be all right for that length of time?"
"Of course, Captain. We are quite prepared for any emergency, and I suspect Nurse Chapel will find the extra time useful."
"Good. I'll hail you as soon as we can. Kirk o--", his words lost in static as the storm approached.
Spock turned to survey the area for the nurse so he could appraise her of the situation.
* * *
Christine landed hard on her right arm as her left leg was snagged by one of the vines that seemed to have started to crawl across the ground near her feet. She had been sure that the path was wider when she had started across, but she assumed that the near Vulcan heat must just be playing tricks on her. Christine rose only to find the vine that had tripped her wrapped around her leg up to the knee. Christine finally allowed herself to admit fear as she realized that this vine was alive, but it was nothing to the sensation that coursed through her as she felt the piercing pain in her calf as the vine seemed to "bite" into her.
"Spock", she called loudly as the blood ran down her leg and the vine seemed to strengthen its hold. "Help me!"
Spock heard Christine's call and ran quickly over the rise to take in the sight of Christine's leg wrapped in a very Vulcan appearing plant. Pulling his phaser, Spock took aim and fired on the vine at the point closest to her leg. He then scooped her up in his arms and headed back to the "camp".
"Thank you, Spock",Christine panted as he sat her down to examine her leg. Christine expected some type of response from his bent head but the only sound was silence. Christine supposed he was upset with her apparent clumsiness, but she couldn't bring herself to broach that topic. She simply sat in silence and endured the painful attempts Spock was making to pull the vine from within her leg.
Spock did not hear Christine's words of thanks as he bent to his task. He was simply to focused on the task at hand. He knew Christine did not know what she had tangled with and he did not think it logical to tell her at this time. He simply knew that he would not let her die from this if he could do anything to stop it.
Spock heard Christine gasp in pain as he continued to try to remove the vine from her leg.
"I'm sorry," he murmured softly. "I have completed that part of the treatment and the discomfort should begin to ease."
"It's okay, Mr. Spock. I should have been more careful, but it will be okay. I have had worse injuries in the past you know."
Spock merely nodded and continued to dress the wound. When he was finished with the task, he rocked back on his heels to observe Christine. "The Captain informed me of an ion storm in our area of space. It will be 24 hours before we can return to the ship. You must rest and I will set up our camp."
"Spock, I'm not mortally wounded. I can help you know," Christine protested as she started to rise.
"No, Christine," he said quickly, almost too quickly. "The plant may contain unknown properties. We should be cautious."
Christine sank back to the ground slowly. She suspected that there was something Spock was not telling her, but she would have to work it out of the stubborn Vulcan. She had known Spock for years and loved him for nearly as long. He was not one to worry needlessly.
Spock returned to her side almost half an hour later, having set up perimeter alarms as per protocol. He had little to say as he set about starting a fire for the cool evening ahead. It was often surprising how cool it could get at night after the heat of the day, but the temperature extreme was tolerable.
*** 4 hours later***
"Spock, what is on your mind? You have hardly said a word in the last several hours."
"I find it illogical to speak when there is nothing that needs to be said."
"Conversation, Spock, I know you know how."
"That is true. Do you require conversation at this time?"
"Never mind, Mr. Spock. You can go back to fire gazing." Christine was disappointed. She had thought they had left this awkwardness behind years ago. She remembered well the early days of their 5 year mission. Spock had been uncomfortable around her for any length of time, but that had changed after his experiences with pon farr.
They had started to talk and had become friends, or at least much more comfortable with each other. Christine sighed to herself as she stated to rise.
"Where are you going, nurse?" Spock asked as he rose gracefully to his feet, catching her just in time as her left leg buckled.
"I was going to the little girl's tree, but my leg feels a little numb. Maybe I've just been sitting too long," she said as she began to shake the leg out a little.
"That may be, I'll walk with you," he said as he escorted her to a secluded, but nearby, tree.
"I can manage from here Spock," she said softly as he propped her against the tree.
Spock helped her back to her place by the fire when she was done, his concern for her condition rising. The plant had a good hold. The numbness had begun rapidly.
"Spock, what do you know about this plant? I know there is something you're not telling me."
"Yes, Christine. The plant can cause numbness for a limited amount of time. It eventually ends. However, it is important that you remain quiet."
"Oh! Is the effect localized to the area of the wound?"
"That response varies based on the individual," Spock responded softly. It was against his nature to lie to anyone, even by omission, but he cared for Christine and could not bear to frighten her about what was to come. McCoy would argue that she had a right to know what to expect, but she would discover soon enough. He didn't want her to spend this night afraid.
"Christine, I would like to make conversation now."
Christine recognized his efforts to distract her and shook her head, but she would allow it , for now. This would work in her favor because there was something she had always wanted to ask him, and he just might answer if he thought it would keep her from the topic at hand.
"Alright, Spock, conversation. Would you tell me about Vulcan myths?"
"There are many myths, Christine. Is there one in particular?"
"Yes, Spock. The legend of Vulcan tears."
"I suspect that you have heard this myth before, or you would not be asking."
"I have heard bits and pieces, but never the whole story. It sounds fascinating Spock."
"Indeed. I will tell it, but this occurred many years ago and I can not vouch for its voracity."
"I understand, Spock, and I still want to hear it."
"Very well than. The legend begins many moons ago with a young Vulcan male that cared deeply for an offworlder. Many frowned upon their association, but it did not dissuade them. Legend assumes that they may have been secretly bonded, but it is not a necessary part of the tale. The young lady in question remained on Vulcan for several years and their relationship remained strong.It was unfortunate chance that the young lady fell quite ill. The healers had all seen her and a cure was not found, nor was the cause. Days passed and the young lady grew progressively weaker. The young Vulcan remained at her side. He was struck with grief when her breathing became ragged, and it was apparent that she would die.This moved the young man to an expression of grief seldom seen among Vulcans. He began to cry. It is here that the tale may have departed from reality over the years. It is said that the tears appeared as crystal as they dropped to the young lady's skin and that she gasped deeply as they touched. I do not know the truth of this, but I do know the young lady recovered. It was considered by all involved to be nothing short of miraculous. It became a tale for retelling by the off-worlders on Vulcan. They did not understand our need for privacy, and they contributed this young man's tears for healing the young lady. Thus the story became a legend that it was soon illogical to fight. It is not known whether his tears healed his lover, but it is accepted among Vulcans that they may have appeared as crystal. Tears are rare among Vulcans and never taken lightly."
"Oh, Spock! That is a beautiful legend. Thank you for sharing it with me."
"You are welcome Christine. Now you must rest."
Christine sighed to herself as she scooted down to find a comfortable spot near the fire. She was tired and she relished the quite so that she may replay his words in her head.
*** Next Morning***
Christine woke and began to stretch slowly. She felt stiff in most of her upper body. It was as she accomplished this that she realized she had no sensation at all from the waist down. A sense of panic like she had never known coursed through her.
"Spock," she called, her voice clipped. "Spock!"
"I am here, Christine."
"Spock, what didn't you tell me? Why can't I feel my legs? What is the matter with me?"
She threw the questions out rapidly, her voice becoming progressively more high-pitched in her panic.
"Calm yourself, nurse. Your panic will not help the situation. I realize this is frightening, but I believe we can reverse this aboard the Enterprise."
"You think this will get better?"
"I believe so. I will need to do some research once on board, but I believe that we can treat this."
Spock spoke softly as he answered her questions. He was aware that his tone as much as his words would help alleviate her panic.
"I want you to be calm and remain quiet, Christine. It is important that you do so."
"Is this as far as the paralysis will go, Spock?"
"It may progress more before the Enterprise arrives. Your remaining quiet will help."
"Spock, I'm sorry but I'm frightened. Will you stay with me?"
"Christine, do not apologize. It would be illogical not to be afraid. I will stay with you. I will not let anything happen to you. Now rest."
Spock held her hand in his as she drifted to sleep. He hoped he had not misinformed her, but he had to believe he could beat this. Christine was important to him, no matter how often, or hard, he tried to deny it. His biggest fear was that the poison would spread too fast, that she would be unable to breathe before the Enterprise arrived.
Spock set about double checking the samples they had collected and getting ready for a departure he hoped was not delayed. Once he was certain of their readiness, he allowed himself to sit down near where Christine slept. It had been nearly three hours since she had dozed off and he knew that her sleep was another symptom of the poison that coursed through her body. It was certainly not the symptom that he feared. No, sleep would not destroy her. The symptom that set his heart to racing would be the very one that slowed hers, robbing her of movement as quickly as it robbed her of life.
He had seen this work one other time on an animal in the wild. The numbness had spread rapidly and he was forced to watch as muscles slackened and the animal ceased its frantic thrashing. Worse than that was watching as breathing slowed, muscles became unable to move enough to draw in air, and the animal began to suffocate. Spock had been young, and he had vowed then to never again watch a living creature die in that fashion. He hoped that was not a vow he would have to break as he watched the vibrant nurse slowly lose her ability to move. Vulcans could withstand the poison and that would be the secret to her survival, he hoped.
Christine blinked her eyes open. The sun was high in the sky and she knew she had slept several hours. She also knew, no matter what his reasons, that Spock had lied to her. She didn't think it was in his Vulcan nature to lie, but she didn't need to be a nurse to know she was going to die. She couldn't move at all now, and she was beyond frightened. Breathing was becoming increasingly difficult and she knew a moment of panic. Panic, her enemy she knew, it might rob her of her last chance to speak with Spock. She would not let the fear rule, she would die with dignity.
"Spock," she said softly. "You didn't have to lie to me."
"I did not lie nurse. I am Vulcan. We do not lie."
"Spock, I can barely breathe. I know I'm going to die," she gasped.
"I still believe there is a cure."
"I know you do."
Christine tried to smile but her muscles refused to move. She knew her time with words was running out.
"Spock," she gasped. "So ... much ... I want ... to say ... to you."
Spock could clearly see the effort it took for her to form words and felt a flash of anger at the injustice. He controlled himself quickly. She did not need to see this now.
"I know, Christine. I have always known," he murmured as her eyes fluttered closed.
Spock opened his communicator quickly and activated an automated signal. Jim Kirk would know to beam them directly to sickbay when he picked up the repeating distress call. The Enterprise would be there soon, but Spock feared it would not be soon enough as Christine took a last ragged breath.
* * *
Spock repeated the goal over and over in his mind as he forced more air into Christine's lungs.
//Must keep alive until the Enterprise gets here. Must breath. //
Spock spent a matter of minutes that felt like a lifetime before he felt the familiar tingle of the transporter. Help had arrived and the nurse was still alive. Her heart was still beating, but that would not last for long.
"She needs life-support ," he gasped out as soon as he saw McCoy. "She won't last much longer."
Few words were wasted as the sickbay staff hummed into action and set about to stabilize their Head Nurse. Spock was aware that Jim stood beside him, but he found himself unable to turn from the action before him. He would explain to them both once Chapel was settled.
*** 1 hour later***
"Okay Spock. Can you tell me what I'm dealing with? What happened to my nurse?"
"Jim, Doctor, Nurse Chapel was bitten by a poisonous Vulcan plant. It wraps itself into the muscles of its victim and begins to release a paralytic agent. Victims die of suffocation . Nurse Chapel reached that point only moments before you arrived."
"Alright Spock, what is the treatment?" McCoy asked.
"There is no known treatment, Doctor, but I believe we can find one. Vulcans are immune to this, so I believe the cure will lie there. I will begin work at once."
Spock turned to leave the room, but stopped before reaching the door. "Please call me if she worsens." His words were spoken softly and without turning around.
"Bones, you ever heard of this before?" Jim asked softly, after watching Spock leave.
"I've heard references, but I really don't know much about it."
"Can he really find a cure, Bones?"
"I hope so, Jim, for his sake, I certainly hope so."
"Keep me posted, Bones, I'll be on the bridge." Jim left quietly. He knew Spock was hurting, and he knew how hard it would be for him if Christine died. Jim knew how much Spock loved Christine, even if Spock couldn't admit it to himself.
*** 24 hours later***
Jim Kirk entered the dark of McCoy's office with a sense of dread. It was never good news when he found Bones in the dark with a bottle of Saurian Brandy. He grabbed a glass for himself as he approached his friend. He could tell by looking that they would both need the brandy. "What happened, Bones?"
"Nothing yet, Jim," McCoy mumbled as he pushed a stack of papers towards his Captain.
Jim looked down at them briefly before speaking. "What are they, Bones?"
"It's Christine's Living Will. She doesn't want to be kept alive this way."
"But Spock is working on the cure. Surely we can give him time?"
"How much time, Jim? He hasn't shown his face in over 24 hours. When is it too long? When do I call it quits? I just don't know. Christine is my friend, a fine lady, and one of the best nurses I've ever worked with. I don't want to lose her. But the person on that bed in there is just the shell," Bones broke off and reached for another gulp of his brandy.
"I always hated these decisions, Jim. I'm a doctor, I'm supposed to save lives, not take them."
"I know, Bones, and I don't know what to tell you. Go talk to Spock. I know he cares for her, and I believe in the end he will make the right decision."
"Damn it, Jim, he's not the CMO. He isn't the one who has to make the decision."
"Bones, if there is one thing that command has taught me, it's to utilize the people around you. Spock cares for her in a way you and I do not. He knows the poison you're dealing with. I believe he is in a very good position to help you, and I believe he needs to help you."
"I'm sure you're right, Jim, but it's still hard."
"I know, Bones, I know."
* * *
Spock looked up as he heard the doors open behind him, he knew Dr. McCoy had given him as long as he could.
"I believe I have the answer, Doctor. At least the best one we're going to get. Thank you for giving me the time, I know it was difficult."
"You know about her living will, don't you?"
"Not really, Doctor, but it seems logical that she would have one."
"It always come down to logic for you, doesn't it?"
"Not always." Spock's response was almost too soft to hear and McCoy didn't press it. Now was not the time.
McCoy took a deep breath and approached the work-bench, he had a feeling he would not especially like the answers that Spock had found. Like them or not, he knew he would try them. He couldn't stand by and watch her die, not if there was any hope of stopping it.
"What did you find Spock?"
"I found what kills the plant Dr. McCoy. It is my hope that we can destroy the plant that is in her and flush her system of the toxin already affecting her."
"Spock, that's wonderful. I think it could work. What kills the plant?"
"Vulcan blood," Spock stated flatly.
"Vulcan blood? How do you suppose we do this? A transfusion of Vulcan blood would kill her!"
"We do not transfuse her, Doctor, we put the blood in the wound. That should be sufficient to kill the plant. The resulting wound infection would be difficult to treat, but I believe it could be done."
"Do you really think this will work, Spock?"
"It is a calculated risk, Doctor. I could quote you odds, but I do not believe it would be at all productive. We simply have no other avenues open to us."
"Alright, Spock, I will get some of the Vulcan blood from the storage unit and meet you in sickbay."
Spock tried to center himself as he watched McCoy leave the room. Emotions he thought he had successfully controlled rushed to the surface and threatened to rip his logic away from him. He knew what caused these thoughts, but that knowledge did little to help him with control. He had been forced to admit something to himself in the past 48 hours, something he had denied for almost 5 years. He loved Christine Chapel, and the knowledge that she could die was not something he cared to face. He was determined that they would succeed in saving her. Failure simply was not an option to him.
*** 16 hours later***
McCoy knew they had lost the battle, and it killed him. He simply could not believe that the nurse would die. Spock's plan had worked ... to a point. The plant had been destroyed, toxins flushed, but still she did not move. It would appear that the effects of the toxin were permanent. It was a variable that they had not allowed themselves to face. They simply didn't want to admit that failure was a possibility, but Bones knew that they must admit that now.
"Spock," McCoy said as he approached. "It is time."
"Yes, Doctor. It is. I wish to sit with her, after you are done."
"Of course, Spock," McCoy murmured softly as he set about removing the life support.
"I will be right outside, Spock. It will not take long. If you have something you need to say to her, you had better do it quickly," McCoy spoke compassionately, and turned to leave Spock alone with her.
Spock gently picked up Christine's hand as McCoy left the room. He had truly believed it would not come to this. He understood now that he had allowed himself to be blinded by emotion, not something he would allow to happen again. The pain was too great.
"Christine," he spoke softly. "I have failed you again. I am sorry. You asked about Vulcan tears. Well, I must tell you that this, my love, is truly a time for Vulcan tears." It was as he murmured these few quiet words that the first drops fell. If anyone had been present, they would have seen that they did indeed appear as crystal, but that is not what startled the solemn Vulcan. Spock's surprise came when the first crystal tear touched Christine's skin, for it was at that moment she began to gasp for air. Her lungs began to fill and her heartrate returned to normal as Dr. McCoy rushed into the room.
"Spock! What happened?" McCoy sputtered as he checked his patient. "It's a miracle, Spock! She's alive. The paralysis is gone. What did you do?"
"I did nothing," he responded, not really bothering to hide his smile. "I can not account for the change, but I will accept it."
"I've got to tell Jim she's stable and going to recover. I still wish I knew what did the trick. It could save people." McCoy rejoiced, even as he left to find the Captain.
"Vulcan Tears," Christine mumbled, her stiff lips barely moving and her words too soft to be heard. Too soft for anyone other than a Vulcan.
"Indeed, Christine, we agreed that was simply a legend."
"Yes, Spock. It's our legend," she agreed as she drifted into a natural sleep.