DISCLAIMER: The characters and events in this story are based on Star Trek. I do not own them or Star Trek, they belong to the estate and heirs of Gene Roddenberry. This story is rated PG.
It was becoming more dangerous to remain on the planet's surface as the minutes progressed. The flares from the system's decaying sun were already reaching its fifth satellite. Soon it would be impossible to transport through the bombardment of deep space radiation. Most of the small landing party that the Enterprise had sent down to oversee the evacuation had already beamed back up to the ship, and Mr. Scott had relayed that even that had been difficult. Dr. McCoy was busy treating some cases of radiation poisoning in sickbay, and the captain was anxious to warp as far away from the impending supernova as possible. Below, however, there was still much to be done.
The only two members of the small group of Federation personnel still left behind were the Enterprise's first officer, Mr. Spock, who had been supervising operations; and its head nurse Christine Chapel. She had volunteered to remain at the outpost's medical facilities to care for some of the planet's most critical patients. These two officers shared a history which ordinarily would have created at least tension between them. Today however, there was far too much to be done and the situation too dire, to even consider personal reactions.
"Miss Chapel," Spock announced as he strode through the door of the intensive care unit. "We must get the patients ready to transport now. It is imperative that we leave immediately."
"Moving them could make their conditions worse," she replied, barely looking up from some charts she was reading.
"There is no choice. That's an order," he nearly yelled.
"We'll have to get them on stretchers and have them beamed back to the ship first," she answered. Neither noticed that the sky was turning from a mass of orange streaks to blinding white as the sun was beginning to burn up the planet's atmosphere.
"Very well. We shall have to hurry. Time is of the essence." His tricorder readings of the climate changes were off the chart and the ground was beginning to shake. The planet was disintegrating under the pressure and pull of the sun's gravity.
Christine made some last minute adjustments to the medical equipment and switched the monitors and life support mechanisms attached the patients to automatic control. She hoped they would survive the trip. As the last button had been pressed, she heard Spock's communicator flip open.
"Spock to Enterprise," he spoke into the small box, his voice raised over the din of the destruction occurring around them. "Prepare to transport."
"We do no' have the power to transport all of ya at one time through the radiation," Mr. Scott's brogue sounded over the channel.
"Tranport the patients first," Spock commanded.
"Aye. Sir. On your mark," Scotty agreed.
"Energize," Spock gave the word.
The six figures on the gurneys flickered and began to disappear. It took longer than usual and it was obvious that the ship's power supply was being affected by the solar flares. They would have to hurry. "We got 'em. Ready to beam you and Miss Chapel up. Mr. Spock," the Scotsman announced.
The Vulcan and the human both assumed a rigid stance, preparing to be beamed out to the safety of the orbiting starship. It seemed to take forever, but finally the strange sensation of not quite being began to overcome them. Their essences disappeared into the void, as a huge burst from the sun struck the planet.
Aboard the ship in the transporter room quickly fell into confusion. The Captain, who had come directly from the bridge for a full report from his first officer hung on Mr. Scott's every move. It was clear there was a very big problem.
"Engine Room. Divert power from impulse engines to the transporter. We're losing them," Scotty called frantically.
He energized again, pushing the levers to maximum. Two figures shadowed in sparkles began to form on the pads across the room. The images faltered, faded, and started to materialize again. A flash of blue uniform, a hint of blond hair then black, the outline of a face then another. Mr. Scott worked the controls for all he was worth, trying everything he knew and some things he improvised. Aided by the captain he was determined not to fail.
Again, he shoved the levers to the top of the work station. He was not going to stop. The choice would not be his to make that day. The figures vanished, and a horrid silence filled the room.
Scott could barely control his shaking, his voice was almost inaudible. "They're gone Captain."
* * *
She had yet to open her eyes although she was slowly returning to consciousness. The first sensation that entered her awareness was the dull thudding ache in her head. Certainly she wasn't dead, nowhere in all of her childhood learning about the afterlife could she remember any mention of headaches. She lifted her eyelids carefully. The light that met her pupils burned her senses even though it was dim. If she had not known better she would have sworn she was hung over.
Christine Chapel watched outlined shapes begin to form in her vision. They were strange but somehow, something very old in her recognized them. Something nearly forgotten in the memory of human past told her she knew what these things were. That would have to be contemplated later as more recent memories flooded her mind. She remembered watching the planet fall apart around her, felt the rush of anxiety not knowing if she would get back to ship in time. Christine remembered vanishing and then not forming again. She remembered something else as well. Spock.
Christine bolted upright from where she had been lying on the hard wooden plank floor. She fought the urge to faint as the circulation rushed to her brain. Her eyes focused a bit more and she saw Spock sitting a few feet from her. He was also assessing their situation. Christine noticed that he was not as dazed as she was and that he had already begun tricorder readings. Wherever they were, she was glad they were together, at least he could be the calm one. She also gave up a silent prayer of thanks that he was well.
"Are we dead?" she asked him rubbing her temple.
"Highly unlikely," Spock answered without looking up from his work.
Christine stood and went over to join him, trying to take note of their surroundings. They seemed to be in some sort of cargo hold. There were boxes and wooden crates stacked higher than she could even reach. Large burlap bags slouched across themselves and old style luggage was assembled neatly by what seemed to be a door. The light that filled the room was coming from a few tiny round windows. There was no covering of dust over the items indicating that they had not been stored long, but she coughed from the stuffy air. Reaching Spock she knelt and looked over his shoulder at the tricorder.
"Where are we?" she whispered, for some reason feeling as though she needed to keep her voice down.
"It appears that the more appropriate question would be when are we?" he corrected her.
"What?" She looked at him quizically.
"From what I can deduce through the tricorder readings, a large solar flare struck the outpost exactly at our time of beam out. Its affect, along with the process of beaming, seems to have created some sort of space time continuum," Spock explained, standing as he finished.
"You mean we've gone back in time?" Christine asked a bit shocked as she followed Spock to an upright position.
"Yes, Miss Chapel. Not only time, but place as well. A temporary worm hole seems to also have been formed," he continued.
"Can you tell where ... and when we've ended up?" Christine looked around her, hoping the place was at least friendly.
"I have scanned the pollution content of the atmosphere, ratio of water to land of the planet, population, technilogical development ... " Spock began trying to be thorough.
"Alright, I get the picture. Just tell me where?" She was getting a little annoyed.
"It appears that we are on Earth, circa early twentieth century," Spock said plainly.
"Can you be a little more specific?" Christine wondered aloud.
"Yes. The calendar placement seems to be in the year 1912, early spring," he said.
"Do you know where?" Christine looked at him.
"It appears that we are somewhere in the North Atlantic," Spock told her.
"In the middle of the ocean? Then we're on a ship?" Christine looked around. She realized suddenly that the floor was swaying. She ran to one of the windows. Steadying herself, she climbed upon a small stack of crates to reach the porthole. A vast blanket of rolling blue waves stretched out beyond. For a moment she felt comforted and almost smiled. Then she remembered their situation. "Can we get back?" she asked, her face turning dire.
"I am endeavoring discover a way to do just that as we speak," Spock said, still working the tricorder.
Climbing down from the boxes Christine pushed a large coil of rope from the top of a crate and prepared to take a seat. The sight that struck her eyes stopped her dead in her tracks. The breath left her lungs, and she could barely think. "Oh, my God," she sighed heavily trying to ward off panic.
"What is it, Miss Chapel?" Spock asked remembering her presence.
She stood staring down at the crate lid for a moment longer as he moved over to join her. "Look." She pointed, all of the color having drained from her face.
An uncustomary sense of dread filled Spock as he read the words that were formed in black paint on the top boards.
* * *
"The flare hit them just as they were beaming back to us," Scotty said. He and the other senior officers were seated around the large table in the Enterprise's conference room. "The interference disrupted their transporter signals."
"We've had transporter disruptions before and never lost anybody," Kirk acknowledged.
"Aye, but never coupled with an extreme radiation and changes in gravity that were caused by the disentegration of the system's sun," Mr. Scott answered.
"Don't remind me." The Captain grimaced. It was that failing sun that had forced them to leave the system before truly discovering what had happened to their friends. For all he knew they were still down on that planet's surface. No. He tried to comfort himself. The scans had shown no signs of life. They had worked the transporter controls for hours trying to reform them, to no avail. It was true, they were gone.
McCoy sat watching Jim fall apart. He was taking it hard, as he had every right to. It was always tough for a captain to lose crewmember, they were like his family, his children. For Jim this was worse, they were friends. Spock was his best friend, like a brother. They had been through a lot together and there were times that the big stubborn Vulcan was almost human, when it came to his friendship with Jim Kirk. McCoy was certain the Kirk would have rather been the one lost in that transporter accident. McCoy himself could hardly stand the loss. Spock was his friend as well.
The old doctor swallowed hard, thinking of Christine. She was like a daughter to him. She had deserved far better than what she had always been dealt. Losing her life in such an accident seemed the final injustice. She was so young and beautiful and vibrant. He would have gladly changed places with her. It was ironic that she had died with Spock. Almost as if the fates were allowing her finally to be with him after all. McCoy inwardly cursed the cruel order of things.
"I want a full investigation. Tear apart every piece of machinery on this ship if you have to." Kirk's tone brought McCoy out of his dark thoughts.
"Aye, sir. Already underway," Scotty reported.
"Good. Let me know anything you find out," Kirk ordered. "Dismissed."
Scotty, Uhura, Sulu, and Chekov filed out grimly, each mourning their friends in their own ways. The past few days aboard the Enterprise had been sad and cheerless. Everyone tried to celebrate the lives of their missing comrades, instead of grieving their loss. However, it had been extremely difficult. There seemed to be to voids left on the ship, ones which could not be filled.
As so often occurred, McCoy and Kirk remained behind in the conference room deep in their over conversation. The old doctor and the young captain barely needed words, which was fortunate because few would come.
"I should have been down there," Kirk lamented.
"Don't beat yourself up, Jim. You know procedure. You needed to be up here on the ship incase something happened," McCoy clamped his shoulder.
"It doesn't make it any easier." Kirk shook his head.
"Nothing could make it easier," Leonard agreed. "It's gonna hurt for a long time."
"How are you holding up so well?" Kirk wondered, a slight smile passing over his eyes.
"Maybe it's because I've seen a lot of death in my line of work. Maybe I'm just used to it." McCoy shrugged his shoulders.
Kirk knew his old friend would never be so glib about the loss of two such cherished friends if he wasn't also hurting badly. Sometimes the doctor was more like a Vulcan than he would ever stand to admit. McCoy had two forms of communication -- laughter and yelling. Whenever something really got to him, he would hide behind of wall of humor, and Kirk suspected not just a little bourbon.
For some reason McCoy felt a chuckle escape his throat. "Well, one thing's for sure. I can't think of anyone Chris would rather be lost in eternity with."
Kirk smiled a little. "Who knows, maybe she'll finally get his attention."
"Now wouldn't that be something," McCoy nodded thoughtfully.
* * *
Christine had watched Spock for hours. He had immediately begun making modifications to the tricorder. He mentioned something to her about a theory he had that he wished to test, but that was all the insight he had provided. She assumed that he was either too preoccupied to elaborate, or he did not think that she would understand. It was that last thought that infuriated her.
"I can't stand it anymore," she finally said, exasperated. "Would you please tell me what you're doing?"
"As I stated before, I am testing a theory," the Vulcan said without looking up.
"What's your theory?" she begged.
"It is quite complicated. I do not think you would comprehend the specific details," Spock answered finally eying her.
At that Christine sat back and crossed her arms, with her jaw set and her eyes narrowed, she announced, "Try me."
Spock could see that he had inadvertently insulted her and decided that it would be best, at least under the circumstances, to humor her. She did have a right to know what was happening even if she could not fathom the principles behind it. He attempted to make amends.
"It is quite possible that the temporal distortion which threw us backward in time is still in existence," he answered.
"You mean we could get back home?" Her eyes widened with hope.
"Potentially, yes. Our transporter signatures may still be on board the Enterprise," he informed her. "The captain and Mr. Scott should have contained the transporter equipment until it can be properly inspected at the nearest Star Fleet facility." It was procedure not to use a transporter that has malfunctioned until it had been completely overhauled. "If no one has used it since the time of our accident, our patterns should still be registering on the monitors."
"I'd be willing to bet they had it torn apart about two seconds after we disappeared." Christine now felt a little more assured about their prospects of return to their own time and place.
"I do not gamble, by nature," Spock told her, missing the meaning of her slang. "However, I am quite certain you are correct." He knew that Jim was nothing if not thorough.
He continued, "If that is the case, then the mechanism will still contain our statistics."
"You mean that the transporter is still locked onto us?" Christine clarified.
"Precisely," Spock nodded.
"There is only one problem with that. We are over three and half centuries in the past and clear across the galaxy. Maybe if we were a few kilometers away, they could just scan for us, but now..." She broke off.
"It is possible that the wormhole is still surrounding us," Spock told her.
Christine's eyes suddenly sparkled as realization struck. "Of course. The Carelli Principle. We could be the locus of the distortion."
Spock looked shocked at her knowledge. "You are familiar with the physics of transportation?"
She rolled her eyes at him. "There are a lot of things you don't know about me, Mr. Spock," Christine smiled satisfied with herself.
Spock raised an eyebrow and pondered what other secrets she could possibly be hiding. "Indeed," he answered. They looked at each for a moment until Christine once again broke the silence.
"Your theory would make sense," she agreed.
"Yes. The radiation caused by the solar flare has somehow extended and bent the beams on which we were materializing, causing us to end up here," he said.
"Then, in effect, we could still be connected to the Enterprise?" Christine asked.
"Yes. Most probably our data is scrambled somewhere within the ships computer system. All that need be done is for someone to reorganize it, and feed it back into the transporter mechanism. Then they would have the capability to bring us back from this time and reform us aboard the Enterprise," he said.
"How can you know for sure if the computer has our patterns?" she asked.
"I will need to set up a containment field to test my theory. I will try to duplicate the conditions of our beam out. I should then be able to signal the Enterprise."
"I rather doubt you will find what you need to set up the containment field in this day and age," Christine said a bit disappointed.
"It is possible. The equipment necessary for the endeavor is surprisingly simple and can be made from rudimentary materials. I should be able to construct an adequate device with items found on board this ship. If it works then they ..." he said.
"Then they could pull us back," Christine interrupted, her eyes far away. "That is if they have come up with the same theory."
Spock nodded his head. "As you humans say. I would lay money on Mr. Scott beginning precisely those actions."
Christine looked at him. This time it was her brow that rose in surprise. Perhaps there was much she had to learn about him as well.
* * *
"What is it Mr. Scott?" Captain Kirk came rushing into the transporter room having run all the way from bridge after being summoned by his acting second on command. At first he was shocked to see the mechanism lying in pieces all over the floor. However this momentary reaction was soon replaced by pride in his crew, who still had not given up trying to find Mr. Spock and Miss Chapel. They might not be able to get them back, but at least they would know why.
"Captain," Scotty said. His voice muffled.
Kirk looked down at the legs of his chief engineer which were now sticking out from under the transporter platform. Scotty quickly crawled from the confined space and stiffly rose to his feet.
"I think we've found something, sir," the Scotsman said.
"What is it?" Kirk looked excited.
"There is a dissimilarity in the transporter configuration. When we compare it to the memory banks of the computer, they do not coincide," Scott said. Kirk did not understand why his friend had a twinkle in his eye.
"Elaborate, please," Kirk frowned.
"The transporter is still holding Mr. Spock's and Miss Chapel's beaming patterns," Scott grinned.
"You mean they're still in there?" Kirk smiled hopefully.
"Physically, no," Scott corrected him. "However, it may be possible to find out where they did go and get them back."
"Then they could still be alive." The Captain wanted to shout for joy.
"There's a chance. It's slim, but there is a chance," Scotty smiled.
"What do you need to do next?" Kirk asked.
"I have to run a few more diagnostics on the equipment. Then I want to try scanning and reorganizing the computer banks. Information from the transporter is channeled directly into the main system after it's used. It may give us a more definite clue about their current coordinates," Scotty asked.
Kirk liked the way his chief engineer was still talking about Spock and Christine in the present tense. "Whatever it takes, Mr. Scott. You have full run of the ship. Bring them back," he smiled.
"Aye, sir!" Scotty grinned.
* * *
"Miss Chapel. I fear I may have been overly optimistic about our chances of returning to our own time," Spock called. Christine had hidden herself away behind a pile of crates some time ago and he not seen her since. He assumed she needed time to herself and did not wish to interrupt her. He had continued working quietly on his project.
"Why is that, Mr. Spock?" she answered him, her disembodied voice questioning.
"For one thing it will be exceedingly difficult for us to leave this cargo hold. We are not attired for the time period, we are quite unfamiliar with their customs and mores, and I am certain to provoke at least moderate curiosity," Spock said.
"Well, I suppose that would present a problem. I know a little about this time from movies, but they were all made years after and I'm sure there are differences," she said, still not appearing back into his line of sight.
"You are most probably correct," he acknowledged. "Therefore we should keep as low a profile as possible while we are here."
"I agree," she said.
"There again, a problem in acquiring equipment presents itself," he thought aloud turning his back to the crates.
"I don't think that will be too difficult. Just tell me what you need," her voice rang softly behind him.
Spock turned and could scarcely believe his eyes. Before him stood the most beautiful vision of perfection he had ever seen. Christine's uniform had been replaced by what in their own time could have only been described as a gown. Light lavender silk cascaded down her slender form. The color accentuated her eyes and her flawless creamy skin. A ring of lace framed her graceful neck and her tiny waist was emphasized with a wide cream colored sash. The skirt of the dress was long and full and trailed to the floor. For some reason he found it very alluring. Although her golden hair was swept up as she wore it on the ship, she had loosened a few small tendrils around her face, softening the edges and casting shadows around her temples. She looked like a fragile porcelain doll, something to be cherished.
She moved closer to him. The long dress concealed the small shuffling of her feet and she almost seemed to float. The seductive rustle of the silk played in his ears and he could not find his voice. Feelings which he had never experienced rushed at him and to a degree he could have never thought possible. He did his best to control them but they were easily winning. Her face was like that of an angel. Had he truly once compared another woman to a work of art? Had he actually described another as more than any dream of beauty he had ever known? Was there really a time when he had been ready to abandon everything he was for someone else, not her? Shame consumed him. How could he have ever imagined anyone but her, and why had it taken him so long to realize? Spock watched Christine, suddenly seeing her for the first time. Her beauty was indescribable. She captivated him. This must be what humans called love at first sight and it was for someone he had known for years. His best defenses were useless. All the barriers he had placed in her way crumbled and he let them. This was not some trick brought about by a mind altering substance. It was not the result of an effect of history. They had not gone back to a time when his people were ruled by their emotions. This reaction to her was coming from him and it was long overdue. He had fought it for years, now he could no longer struggle against it. Spock's heart wrenched to remember his treatment of her. At times he had been hateful and condescending, once even physically violent. However most of the time he merely cruelly ignored her. Certainly there was no love left in her for him anymore, nothing to build on. She had made no intimation of her feelings in a very long time. Surely she no longer loved him. He was convinced he had killed that one sweet chance. His spirit sank with that thought.
Christine was completely entranced in the costume parade she was creating and did notice how his expression changed as he watched her. She had given up hoping for it long ago anyway. She smiled a little mischievously as she looked down at the finery, then spun around and laughed. Her brilliant blue eyes sparkled at him like diamonds, so intense they nearly blinded him. "What do you think?" she asked.
He wanted to tell her she was breathtaking. He wanted to tell her he thought he loved her, but he only answered, "Your choice of apparel seems appropriate for the time period." It was all he could do not to let his voice falter, but any tremor there may have been was undetectable to human ears.
"Thanks. I think," Christine answered. She supposed she had expected a slightly more elaborate comment, but then she remembered to whom she was speaking.
"May I asked where you acquired this outfit?" Spock questioned.
"There are several in those suitcases over there." She pointed to some old style leather trunks.
"You have stolen it?" Spock was a bit shocked. Was this one of those things he did not know about her?
"Borrowed." Christine looked offended. "I'll put it back when I'm done." She looked on it as a necessary part of their mission.
"There is the possibility that someone will recognize their own clothing," he reminded her.
"Well, it's a big ship. I'll just hope for the best," Christine nodded. She tugged a little at her waist and looked uncomfortable. "I could do without the corset though."
Spock looked a bit embarrassed as the conversation turned to mention of her undergarments. He was however, strangely curious. "It was my understanding that those particular garments were fastened by pulling the back laces. How did you manage to secure it?"
Now Christine looked shocked. Spock did not notice that it was purely pretend. "A lady never reveals her secrets, Mr. Spock. " She was enjoying teasing him.
"Forgive me," he hastily countered. "I was merely curious."
Christine thought for a moment. "Alright," she agreed in a playfully teasing tone and then changed the subject. "Now, what is it you need for the containment field?"
Spock led her to where the tricorder lay in neat piles. "The first thing I require are four long pieces of metal to act as conductors. There are no adequate samples in this area of the ship."
Christine studied his request for a moment. Suddenly an idea struck. "Would knives do?" She asked.
"Yes, quite well," Spock answered surprised at her suggestion, it was very practical and ... logical.
"That should be easy. If this is like any of our modern day star liners, there should be food and utensils everywhere. I'll go find the main dining room and see what I can ... procure." She winked at him, again giving him cause for surprise.
She started for the door, but was stopped. This time it was Christine who was shocked. Spock's hand caught her arm and held her there for a moment. He had never willingly touched her before. "Christine. Please be careful. I would be greatly distressed if anything were to happen to you," he said in a low voice.
Christine stared at him as he drew closer to her. She could not believe what was happening and she understood it even less. Perhaps he had been injured during their transporter accident, maybe he was ill. The Spock she knew would never act this way toward her. He held her in his gaze for so long that she felt her cheeks redden in spite of herself. Their breath mingled for a moment, it was sweet and warm and exciting. The promise of long denied passion filled the air and so many possibilities lingered secretly in their minds. Neither could guess at what the other was imagining.
Almost as if she were afraid of the very thing for which she had longed for so many years, Christine broke away. "I'd better go, we don't have much time," she whispered, trying to will her voice not to tremble. Before he could protest she disappeared through the doorway and into the afternoon sunshine.
Spock wanted to follow her, but dared not. Instead he went back to dismantling and reassembling the tricorder to create the containment field. He worked more intently than before, faster and with greater purpose. He was now certain of one thing. No matter what happened, he had to get her off this ship.
* * *
Christine spent the better part of the next day circling the decks of the great vessel running errands for Spock. No sooner would she return to the cargo hold with a required item than he would send her for something else. She had ransacked the area in which they were staying as well as a few other storage spaces at his request. Before mid afternoon she had pirated materials from nearly every area of the ship including the kitchen, the telegraph room, the laundry, even the engine room where she was forced to feign being lost. She had then surveyed a few of the first class staterooms, to which she had gained entry with the use a handy old fashioned hair pin, for their useful contents. Christine had never realized she was so adept at the covert arts. She supposed that a person was capable of just about anything in a life or death situation, and tried not to think of what her mother would say.
Time after time Christine would return to the cargo hold to find Spock's creation had grown to encompass more and more of the floor. Finally the makeshift amalgamation of wires, metal, glass, and other items threatened to take over the entire large room. Spock worked diligently and unceasingly, his purpose clear. He would not rest until Christine was safe. It was all he could do to control his worry as she went about searching the ship, but there was no other way. Her eagerness to assist his venture, and the complete lack of fear with which she presented herself impressed him, and at the same time shamed him. He had never imagined the depths of the strength and courage she possessed, nor the heights of her resourcefulness. He had always thought of her, when he thought of her, as superficial and monotonous. There had been times when he had looked upon her as an annoyance. How could he have been so wrong? He did not know her at all. It was pure joy now to discover Christine's dynamic personality and her clever and creative nature. He hoped it was not too late. Spock had now spent more time with Christine in the last day than he had in the last few years aboard the Enterprise and he was utterly entranced by her. Even as he adjusted, constructed, and calibrated the containment mechanism he was creating her face danced in his mind, spurring him on. At last he knew what it was to truly love someone, and there was no way he would let harm befall her.
It was almost evening when Christine returned from the latest trip on which Spock had sent her. She was exhausted and her feet ached. He could not help but notice the determination that shone on her beautiful face as she entered the cargo compartment. She had also gotten some sun on her cheeks and seemed to be glowing with exhilaration. He understood that in her mind they were as good as safe on their own ship. She had never even entertained the thought that Spock would not get them both safely home. She trusted him implicitly, and that knowledge made him nervous. What if he failed.
"Oh, these high buttoned shoes," Christine declared as she shut the hold door with her foot. Her arms were filled with several bales of wire. Spock did not ask where she got them. "I don't have big feet, but..." She stopped when she saw her companion. He was now dressed in long woolen pants, a cotton shirt buttoned at the neck, and a dark jacket. He wore a knit woolen cap to cover his more outstanding Vulcan features and looked every bit the sailor.
Christine laughed in amazement. "Well, look at you," she smiled.
Spock peered down at his clothing, wondering what she found humorous. "Is there something wrong with my attire?" he asked.
"No," she snickered. "You just look so ... so nautical. I thought you didn't agree with borrowing these extra clothes."
"Don't you agree that it would most ... awkward to explain my uniform, should someone discover us here?" His eyebrow shot up in jestful hurt.
"Of course. That is very ... logical," she nodded, pretending to ponder his words. She hid her merriment as his other eyebrow met its twin at her use of his favorite word.
Christine shifted her attention to the mass of circuits that surrounded Spock. "How's it going?" she asked seriously.
"The containment field should be ready to test soon. There is only one item which I lack," he answered.
"What's that?" Christine was eager to help.
"I need a small gold disk," he replied eying the void in his masterpiece where the final element would fit.
Christine thought a moment. "Does it have to be gold?" she asked.
"Unfortunately, yes, and in the purest form you can find," he said.
"I'll see what I can do," Christine said laying the wires down on a nearby crate and then turning toward the door. "I'll be back in a little while." She did not tell him that she had no idea how she was going fill that request. For a moment she feared his great plan might all be ruined.
"Christine." Spock stopped her. "You should rest for a moment. You have been at this all day."
His concern touched her but she waved away his worry. "I'll rest when we're back on the Enterprise." Christine smiled at him bravely. "Besides, I found out today is April tenth. Do you know what that means?"
Spock understood her words. "If I am not mistaken, we have approximately two days."
"Right. We don't have any time to waste," Christine said a bit nervously. She tried to hide the fear in her voice, but she was not as practiced at that particular skill as Spock and he noticed it immediately.
He stepped over one of the wire configurations and took her hand while she stared in disbelief. He held her fingers in his palm as if they were glass, while he held her eyes in his gaze. "I do not want you to worry. I will not let anything happen to you," he vowed. Almost as quickly as he had met her he withdrew from her. "Hurry. It will be dark soon." He turned silently and went back to his work. Christine stood for a while shocked. She did not see the expression of both love and self mockery on his face. Why could he not bring himself to tell her what was in his heart? His Vulcan heritage was too firmly ingrained in him, and he wondered if he would ever be able to declare himself to her. She slipped quietly out of the door and left him to his thoughts.
Christine allowed herself one brief moment on deck to take in the beauty of the magnificent sunset. She had been so busy gathering materials for the containment field and focused on getting off of the ship, she had forgotten that most of the people with whom she was sharing the great ocean liner would never depart from it. The thought brought a tear to her eye as she watched the passengers going on about their lives so blissfully unaware of what was about to happen to them. She forced herself not to cry as she studied the people whose fate rested on an iceberg still miles away. An elderly man smiled at her and she knew he would probably not be alive in a few days. A happy young couple walked arm in arm along the deck and she prayed they would be among the survivors. A mother with her new baby in a straw buggy stood proudly by the rails. Christine hoped they would not be separated. It was all so unfair and there was nothing she could do. She could not warn them, could not even give them a prophetic hint. This ship was doomed, and in some strange way she felt guilty that at least she had a chance of surviving it. The Enterprise's head nurse pushed that thought to the back of her mind. She could not afford to be sentimental, not now. She would think of it all later, perhaps as she compiled her report to the captain. There was not only herself to think of, there was also Spock. It was simply an accident that had brought them to impending disaster and she would do whatever it took to see he was safe.
As she walked Christine let her mind wander to Spock. Even in the midst of their race against time, it was so good to have these few days with him. She still loved him as much as when she had cornered him in sickbay a few years before. The thought of that day always embarrassed her. She had tried to pass it off as the affects of the Psi 2000 disease, but she knew he knew. Then when they were both trapped on Platonius, it was obvious to them both that there was more between them than just a professional relationship. However, that time it had been Spock who had made no further mention of it. Now, here on the Titanic, when they spoke, things had been so good between them. She wondered why they could not be that way on the Enterprise. She wished he could love her too. Christine thought of him working so tirelessly to finish their only hope of rescue. There were times she thought he did not even realize she was in the room.
"Oh, well. That's not much different than on the Enterprise," she thought to herself. "He probably can't wait to be away from me."
Even as she spoke those words in her mind, there were unanswered questions. Why had he been so gentle and tender with her? A few times she thought he might even kiss her. She was worried about him. Certainly he was either ill, or feeling the effects of overwork. Both cases she knew he would never admit. Surely there was no other explanation.
Her thoughts were interrupted by a large wooden hoop careening across her path and slamming against the wall beside her. She had to jump back to miss being knocked down. Looking around in wonder she saw a small boy running toward her carrying a long stick and looking very worried.
"Oh, I'm so sorry, ma'am," the boy said in a Irish accent. Christine noticed his worn clothes and dirty face and realized that most of his day must have been spent below, in steerage. "Are ya alright?" he asked, afraid she would be angry.
Christine recovered her composure and smiled down at the innocent face which looked up at her. "Yes, I'm just fine." She smiled and reached out to recovered the toy for the youngster. "Here. This must be yours." She handed it to him. He grinned widely at her.
"Oh. Thank ya, lady. Thank ya," the little boy said.
Just then, their conversation was interrupted by a nearly frantic woman who Christine surmised had been searching for her wayward son. "Shamus O'Connor!" the woman yelled in an accent to match the boy's. "What do ya think ya're doin'?"
Christine looked up saw not only the older lady, who was extremely angry with her son, but that she also had four other young children in tow and was close to issuing another. Christine's heart wrenched when she realized that the woman must be very close to delivering her sixth child. She hoped it would not be before they all could manage to be safely rescued from the disaster about to strike.
The Irish lady struggled her way over to Christine and her eyes suddenly went to the deck boards. Christine realized that she herself must have been dressed in the attire of a first class passenger and that this woman was quite used to being downtrodden by those more fortunate than she.
"Oh, please forgive him, Miss," Mrs. O'Connor said. "He's just a little boy and sometimes he gets carried away."
Christine smiled and touched the woman's arm, willing her look up. "There's no harm done. I'm sure I did much worse than that as a child."
Mrs. O'Connor's fear was replaced by shock and surprise. This beautiful rich lady was kind and understanding, much different than those she had left behind in Ireland. "Then you won't punish him?" she asked.
"Certainly not," Christine assured her, reaching down to smooth the smiling boy's hair. Shamus was smiling at her as though he had found a new secret friend. She motioned the woman over to a chair. "Here please sit down," she asked innocently.
The woman's eye's grew wide and fearful. "Oh, no, I can't do that. This is first class. It wouldn't do."
Christine looked at her with eyes traveling downward. "If you don't mind my asking, how long?" The woman hesitated. She had heard stories in the old country of rich woman buying the babies of the poor.
"It's alright. I'm a nurse. My name's Christine." The woman from the twenty-third century smiled.
Mrs. O'Connor relaxed in amazement. "Truly? You are educated and have a career? You are from America?"
"Yes. What is your name?" Christine left out any embellishments.
Mrs. O'Connor eyed her three daughters wistfully. "Perhaps ... ?" She trailed off talking to herself. She brought trusting eyes back to Christine. "Any day, and my name is Colleen." She smiled proudly.
"Then please, Colleen, let me help you take the other children to your cabin so you can get some rest. Surely your husband can watch the children for while." Christine's medical instincts were never far from her, however she was unfamiliar with just how different the role of a woman was in this past society.
The Irish mother looked sad. "My Fergus is gone. He was lost in a farm accident only two months ago. We are quite alone in the world. I know we'll have much better luck in America." She gave a brave smile.
"I'm so sorry. I didn't mean to pry." Christine's eyes nearly overflowed with tears. "But I hope you will take care of yourself." She tried to make her voice sound the unspoken urgency of what she could not express, but she was certain the other woman did not understand.
Mrs. O'Connor smiled. "I will. Thank you." She gathered her children and turned to go. "May the Lord watch over you and keep you." She smiled. Shamus winked at Christine in thanks as though they held a secret.
Christine sat watching the family return to the lower decks, hearing the mother scold Shamus for his carelessness. She closed her eyes and gave up a short prayer. "May He watch over and keep you. I think you may need it more."
Christine forced herself from her mournful thoughts and was once again on her way to search for the gold that Spock needed. Any thoughts of fear or regret for the other passengers were swallowed to the pit of her stomach. If she had been less sympathetic she would simply have reminded herself that they were supposed to meet this fate, she and Spock were not. However, she could not accept that easy answer and knew that she would have to hide tears once she returned to the cargo hold. She had not ventured ten feet down the deck when a deep voice caught her off guard.
"That was a very nice thing you just did for that little boy," a man said from behind her.
Christine whirled around in surprise. She was amazed to come face to face with a distinguished white haired gentleman who was eying her kindly and without a hint of suspicion. He sported a thick well groomed beard and was dressed in an almost regal uniform. Christine was certain he was the captain.
"Forgive me," he said. "I did not mean to startle you," the kind man smiled.
"Not at all. It's just been a rather trying day," Christine assured him.
"Please allow me to introduce myself. I am Captain Edward Smith," the man announced.
Christine's eyes must have betrayed her shock and she saw a glimmer in the captain's eyes. "I am honored," she answered him.
"It is I who am humbled to be in the presence of such a lovely and kind hearted person as yourself," he said.
"Sir?" He hoped her use of the word did not hint to him that she too was quite familiar with using it.
"Many of our first class passengers would have had that young man severely reprimanded by one of the stewards to say the least," Captain Smith told her.
"He's just child, and it was just an accident after all. No harm done." Christine smiled, worried that he might go searching for the boy.
"I thank you for your kindness to him," Captain Smith smiled. Christine nodded happily.
"Are you on the decks alone today, without a chaperone?" The captain seemed a bit shocked.
"Oh, ummm. My chaperone." Christine's brain raced for an excuse after being surprised at the expectation. "My chaperone is ... is ... is indisposed at the moment." She hoped he would accept her answer.
Captain Smith laughed. "Yes. I suppose sea voyages do tend to do that to people."
"Yes." She joined in laughter, although a bit nervously.
"Well. It is nearly dark and I simply will not stand for a beautiful woman dining alone on my ship. Would you please accept my invitation to join me at the captain's table tonight?" She knew he was simply being a kind old gentlemen, and she was about to decline when she noticed something. A small, round, medal gleamed proudly on his chest. It was yellow bright and well polished. The gold that Spock needed. She would simply have to take the risk.
"I'd be delighted," she said, falling back into her costume drama pretense. She wondered what Spock would say when she announced where she would be enjoying evening.
* * *
It was dark by the time Christine returned to the cargo hold. As expected she found Spock bent over one of his circuits adjusting some wires. The device was humming now and a few jury rigged lights were blinking, although she had to admit she did not know why. Upon hearing the door open Spock looked up and was glad to see it was Christine. There had been a close call that afternoon while she was away. Several of the Titanic's crew members had stopped just outside the door. From their conversation it was clear they had every intention of entering. Luckily they were called away before he had been discovered.
"Did you get it?" he asked, letting out an audible sigh of relief.
Christine grinned evasively. "No. But I will."
Spock did not understand. "When?"
"Tonight." Christine sashayed over to the pile of luggage to pick out a suitable evening gown. A few seconds later, happy with her choice, she turned around and held a black beaded dress up to her front for his perusal. "I have a date." She knew the captain had not intended the invitation to be such, but she enjoyed teasing Spock on that account.
For some reason that he could not name, Spock felt a pit open up in his stomach. Then he fought anger, first at whomever it was that had propositioned Christine, and then at her for accepting. He was jealous. He could not let her know. He veiled his resentment in concern for their escape.
"May I remind you, Nurse, that we neither have the time nor the right to allow ourselves such close contact with the passengers," he berated her.
Christine stepped behind the large pile of boxes she was using for a dressing room to change. He continued to scold her. "It is beyond my understanding why you would choose this time and situation to advance you social calendar." He did not see that she was chuckling at him.
She did not see his jaw set stonily with anger and continued to taunt him. "Oh, come on. I've had a hard day and a little dancing will do me good."
"Again. I cannot believe you are taking this so lightly." He was nearly at a loss for words over her seeming change in attitude.
Hurt overcame his anger when Christine stepped from behind the crates. The long beaded black dress was elegantly shaped to her form and she looked exquisite. The sight of her took his breath away. He wanted to be the one for whom she was dressing. He did not know that he was.
Christine could see that her joke had not gone over as intended so she retreated into explanation. "Look, Spock. It's not like that. I ran into the captain on deck and he invited me to have dinner at his table along with probably a dozen other people." She hoped he was calming down. "As I'm sure your book like knowledge of history will tell you, he is a married man. He's just being nice to a passenger. Besides, I noticed that he wears a medal. If I can manage to ... take it ... well, problem solved."
"Christine, that is too risky. If you are caught stealing from the captain..." Spock tried to dissuade her.
"Stealing from the captain, breaking and entering, what's the difference?" Christine smiled comfortingly at him, although she was nervous too.
"I cannot allow you to do this." He shook his head. "We will find some other way."
"We don't have the time to find another way and an opportunity has presented itself," she said searching for shoes to match her gown.
"What will you do if you are caught?" he asked her.
"I'll think of something," she smirked as she slid on a pair of dancing slippers. "I'll tell him I need it for my extraterrestrial traveling companion who is building a large machine down in his cargo hold so we can beam back to the future. They'll think I'm so crazy they'll let me go just to be rid of me."
"I hardly think this is a laughing matter," Spock reminded her.
Christine was tired and in no mood to argue, especially with her superior officer who could easily order to abandon her plan. She needed to be gone before he thought of doing that. "No, it is not a laughing matter, and all those people I saw today who are going to be dead in two days are no laughing matter either."
Spock's tone softened. "Christine. Try not to think of it that way. These people all died centuries before either of us were born. We have nothing to do with what will happen."
"But we could change it." Tears began to glisten in Christine's eyes. "We could warn them."
"You know we cannot do that," He reminded her. "Just your being on the deck is contamination enough. We cannot change history." He knew it would sound cold, but he must speak the truth. "These people are supposed to die when this ship goes down."
Christine could no longer hold her tears, they slid down her cheeks and Spock ached to wipe them away. She thought of all the innocent beings she had seen that day. She thought of little Shamus and wondered if he would even get the chance to grow up. She thought of Colleen and her baby, who might be doomed to death even before it tasted its first bit of air. She thought of the waste of life and the terror that was about to happen. It was all so unfair, none of them deserved this. Why did she have the right to live, when they were supposed to die, and how could Spock say that?
Christine glared at him. "You weren't up there. You didn't see all those people and know what's going to happen to them. You didn't hear them, planning and laughing and living. You didn't have this terrible secret that you couldn't tell any of them. The old people, and couples, and the chil...." Her voice faltered and she buried her face in her hands. " ... the children," came her muffled voice.
Spock moved to comfort her, instantly regretting having put her through that. He laid his hand on her shoulder. "Christine," he whispered.
She lurched backward and shook free of his grasp, years of torment swelling within her. "No. You're right. They are supposed to die. Whatever they did, or didn't do, or haven't done, or will never do, they are all supposed to die." She sniffed and straightened opening the hatchway door. As she left Christine's voice was scornful. "I'll go get your gold, you stay here with your wires and gizmos. They make great company for you. They don't feel anything either."
* * *
The bulkhead door shut with a heavy clank. It was the loneliest, most forlorn sound Spock had ever heard. He rested his head against the cold metal frame, knowing Christine was hurt and angry on the other side. He could barely understand the emotions that tore at his heart. Regret reminded him of his harsh words to her. Loneliness told him of how empty his world now was each time she left him. Love spoke to him of how much he needed her. For a moment Spock was grateful that he was alone so he could battle those feelings in private. However, it was fear which motivated him to act. Christine was risking everything, and he could not bare to think of what might happen if she were caught. He had to go to her, to be somewhere close by in case something happened and she needed him. At the very least he would watch over her and protect her.
Carefully, he opened the door and stepped out into the cool night . It was the first time he had felt fresh air since he and Christine had been on the doomed planet a few days before. There the breeze had been filled with choking dust and clouds of debris. Here in the middle of the Atlantic ocean, breathing in this crisp salty air was somehow worse. In it he sensed an ominous warning of things to come. Spock pulled his collar closer around him and moved toward the upper decks, lost in the shadows.
Christine's anger had cooled by the time she reached the main dining room. Any regret she felt at her accusation toward Spock did not show on her face as she surveyed the crowd for the white haired gentleman she had met that afternoon. More than a few passengers stared speechless at the elegant and beautiful woman who strode self consciously past their tables. The woman who would not be born for over three hundred years looked every bit as though she belonged in this century. However, Christine had never felt so conspicuous in her life. She marked every step and tried to tell her heart to stop racing. The thought of what she was about to do set her nerves on edge, and for some strange reason she wished Spock was there with her.
"Miss Chapel." A familiar voice called to her from a table a few feet away. "I am so happy you could make it." Captain Smith stood as she reached her destination. She was surprised when he took her hand and pressed his lips to the long glove she wore. She had almost forgotten women were once greeted in that fashion. Something in her thrilled to it.
He then addressed the others seated at his table. "Ladies and Gentlemen, may introduce Miss Christine Chapel."
"Captain Smith," Christine smiled in return. "Thank you again for your generous invitation."
"Like I said, I cannot stand that thought of a beautiful woman alone on an evening like this. I must say you are even more lovely than you were on the deck this afternoon." He smiled.
Christine blushed. "Do all you passengers get such special treatment?" she asked innocently.
"Just the pretty ones, honey!" A rather shrill female voice laughed to her from one of the chairs around the table. Christine turned to see a rather heavy set woman with bright shining eyes, dressed in feathers and diamonds.
"Now, Mrs. Brown," Captain Smith chuckled. "You make me sound very insincere. Miss Chapel will think me a cad," he said as he gallantly helped Christine to her seat.
"Just tryin' to keep you honest, Edward," the woman called and then extended her hand across the table to Christine. "The name's Molly, Molly Brown."
Christine took the woman's hand and shook it, much more used to that type of greeting. "It's very nice to meet you," she smiled.
The captain then announced the names of the others honored guests in turn. "... Mr. Benjamin Guggenheim, Mr. and Mrs. John Astor, and Mr. Bruce Ismay." These were names recorded in the annuls of history.
Christine tried not to let the shock register on her face and was glad to see that her discomfort was taken as shyness, rather than apprehension and terror. She tried to join in the dinner conversation but found herself lacking in knowledge of several current events. This was ancient history to her, and she wished she had paid more attention when her former fiancé Roger Korby had tried to get her interested in her own planet's past. There was talk of political upheaval beginning in Germany. She knew that was going to lead to World War I. Astonishment went up from those at the table over the new automobiles that were already popular in Paris and London, and laughter rang at the thought of the air flight that had occurred almost a decade earlier in North Carolina.
"Well, it's a novel idea, but honestly I really don't think it will ever reach monumental proportions," Mr. Guggenheim said, laughing as dessert was served. "It really is rather silly."
"Especially when we have these new unsinkable steamers, right, Mr. Ismay?" Molly Brown agreed, lifting a glass.
"I'll drink to that," the captain said, and everyone including Christine toasted the R.M.S. Titanic. She did not say that she thought them all fools for believing such nonsense.
"Yes," Mrs. Astor commented. "To hear the newspapers tell it, we'll all soon be flying around out in space somewhere." Everyone laughed. Everyone except Christine who looked thoughtful.
"What is you opinion on the subject, Miss Chapel? You look as though you might have a thought on the matter," a Mrs. Rothschild asked her politely.
Christine swallowed hard but continued to smile. "I don't see why space flight would be so farfetched. I don't think we'll be warp ... flying around the stars anytime soon, but one can never tell where the future will lead us." She smiled sweetly and sipped her champagne, hoping her thoughts would be taken as just idle speculation. In the time in which she now found herself, a woman's thoughts were usually always taken as just that. Everyone found her hopefulnessly refreshing, but nothing more.
"Well, one thing's for certain. If we ever do make it out there, I hope there's nobody waiting for us, ready to make pets of us all," Bruce Ismay chortled.
Suddenly Christine remembered Spock and choked involuntarily on the wine she was in the process of swallowing. What was she doing? This was not a dress up game. Here she sat among the elite, while he toiled away in the hold below. He was trying to save her and she had just treated him like garbage. Now she was enjoying herself like Cinderella at the ball. She felt ill to think of the sumptuous dinner she had just enjoyed when the only thing he had eaten in days was some bread and fruit she had managed to find for him. She had nearly forgotten what she had come for, the shiny medal hanging from the Captain's chest. The part she was playing was becoming a hindrance to her task and she was ashamed.
As she coughed the captain stood and came over to her with concern. "Are you alright, Miss Chapel?" She had started to stand and he helped her.
"Yes. Thank you. I think I'm just tired." She tried to smile.
"Well, perhaps some fresh air would do you good. May I escort you out on deck? The moon is lovely tonight," he asked.
This could be her chance. "Yes. I think that would be fine. Thank you." She smiled. The other men stood as she begged the guests' pardons and took her leave with the captain.
Christine did not see Spock as he watched her and Captain Smith from the safety of the railing above them. He had tried to observe her through the dining room windows but had been forced to move on by one of the stewards. He realized that the items he had chosen to wear were those of a third class passenger. There were many such people on the upper decks this night regarding those of more expensive fares as if they were from two different worlds. Spock had little time to contemplate the inequities aboard the Titanic. All of his attentions were focused on Christine.
She stood below him with the captain. Her smile was bright and gregarious, but her motions were stiff and planned. He could see that she was trying to find a way to take the medal. Even as her anxiety mounted her beauty engulfed him. The moon shone on her blond hair, turning it to brilliant platinum. He wished he were close enough to see her eyes, for he was certain they must have sparkled like jewels rivaling the stars on the water. It was a cold night and Christine had neglected to take a wrap. Spock saw her shiver against the cold. He also saw the captain remove his own jacket and place it around her nearly bare shoulders. Once again jealousy flared up within him. He had no time to ponder his reaction.
"Ay, buddy. Ya got a light?" a thick cockney accent asked from behind him.
Spock turned to see a small, filthy man with at least three days growth of beard and half a hand rolled cigarette questioning him. "I do not," he said and turned away.
" 'Ere naw. Ya got no cause to be so rude. I only asked yee..." He stepped up beside the Vulcan. A glimmer of realization finding his face, as he saw the image Spock was watching.
"Ah. Naw ain't she a fine figur'?" the man smiled. "Can'ts recall the last time I saw a better lookin' dandy as that one." He looked Spock up and down. "You can fergit it though. She ain't never gonna take to the likes o' yoo. That one's real classy." He smiled a toothless grin and leered at Christine. "I'll give ya one thing though. A man'd have be downright insane not ta want that pretty little piece of ..."
Spock could stand the man's babbling no longer, nor could he tolerate his innuendoes directed at Christine. He turned to the vulgar reprobate and brought his hand to the stranger's shoulder. As he gripped, he remembered a rebuke he had once received from his mother when he had spoken back to her as a child. "Watch your mouth," he uttered at the man fell to the deck, unconscious. Spock then hurried off toward the stairway and closer to Christine.
"Thank you. Really you don't have to," Christine smiled at Captain Smith as he warmed her with his jacket.
"There will be no pneumonia on my ship," the old man smiled.
Christine grinned and turned toward the ocean. She made sure that the medals on the jacket were opposite the captain's view as her fingers began working at the largest gold medallion. They spoke politely about the weather and the journey and she found him a very amiable person. She wanted to cry to think of him going down with his ship in just a matter of days. She knew she must have seemed preoccupied as she secretly tugged and tore at the stitching, and she hoped her trembling would be attributed to the cold. Finally the ribbon from which the treasure hung pulled free and she hid it in her hand. She wanted to smile in victory, but she still had to get away with her triumph. Removing the captain's jacket and folding it over where the medal should have been, she looked at him demurely.
"I really must be going. My ... chaperone will be getting very worried about me."
The captain nodded and accepted his outer garment back. "I do hope you found dinner to your liking. It was a true pleasure to enjoy your company this evening," he said. "There's just one more thing."
Before she could think he grabbed her hand and forced it open. In her palm shone the ill gotten award. Christine stared up at him in shock and fear. Her eyes told him what her tongue could not. It was obvious that the object was of great necessity to her. Unseen to either of them, Spock nearly flung himself over the stair railing to get to Christine when he saw the captain discover her theft. Then he froze, watching, he would wait to see what would happen. His interference would only cause more problems, and he was certain she could take care of herself. However, he was relieved to be only a few yards away.
"Do you mind telling me why you needed this?" He held up the gold circle. The moon glinted off of the polished patina.
Christine forced her breath to come and forced herself not to be afraid. "I can't. Please believe me. If I would, I could. It has nothing to do with you. I just need it, that's all."
The urgency with which she spoke touched him. He inspected his prized ornament for a moment and then pressed it back into the hand. "I believe you. Take it, for whatever you need it for." His face held no hurt, just concern for the thing that worried her so.
Christine looked up at him, knowing that in only hours a small piece of gold would mean nothing at all to him. "Thank you. You will never know what this means. Thank you." She turned and hurried away, leaving Captain Edward Smith to wonder after the beautiful lady whose secrets he truly would never know.
* * *
Christine had not gone far when the voice she cherished above all others called for her.
"Christine!" Spock whispered from beneath an iron stairwell.
She stopped short, her breath coming in spurts, and peered into the darkness. His hand reached for her arm and pulled her into the shadows beside him. "Were you able to obtain the medallion?" he asked, enjoying her closeness at last.
Christine opened her palm and handed the small piece of gold to Spock. She could not will herself to look him in the face. Instead she turned away in shame, her eyes scanning the far black waves. She stood shivering once again, now it was more from the thought of what his reaction to her would be than from the cold. Her last words to him echoed in her mind and stung her ears.
"What is wrong?" he asked softly.
Still she could not look at him. Slowly she found her voice. "I'm sorry..." Christine whispered. " ... for what I said. You know I don't think of you like that."
"I know," Spock answered her. His voice understanding and tender.
For a moment they stood in silence Spock staring over Christine's shoulder. She did not see him move closer to her. "I had no right to say those things to you. All you've done is try to save us," she apologized.
"It is I who must apologize. I had not realized how this was affecting you. You feel so deeply and care so abundantly. It is only natural for you to react the way you did."
"That doesn't excuse hurting you." She fought back tears.
"You could never hurt me," he told her.
She wanted to answer but no words would form. There were so many things she wanted to tell him that she was sure he already knew, but she could not. For an instant she thought she felt his breath ruffle her hair. No, surely that was just the breeze. For a moment it seemed that warm lips brushed against the nape of her neck. It certainly must have been her imagination. Was that the shadow of his hand around her waist? It must have been only her nerves reacting to the cold. He would never do those things, would he?
It was Spock who broke the silence. "We should be returning to the hold. There is much to do." There was torment in his voice, almost as if there was something he needed to tell her, but could not. Christine nodded in agreement, and followed him back to their hiding place.
It took most of the night for Spock to finish the containment field. He was forced to bypass several circuits that had already burned out, and the device looked as though it would not be useful for very long. Christine proved an eager and competent assistant. Spock was grateful for the extra pair of hands.
By late morning the twenty-third century had gained a little foothold in the early twentieth. The field that would once again allow the two Star Fleet officers to contact their ship was functioning as designed. Spock and Christine stood back for a moment to survey their handiwork. It was crude and would certainly burn itself out if it were used for any length of time, but it was capable of sending a signal to the Enterprise. The captain and Mr. Scott could take it from there. They felt certain that they would be back at their respective stations by nightfall.
Spock pressed a makeshift button and the dingy room filled with rays of orange light. The illuminated lines flashed for a time, gathered together at a focal point and then created a large sphere in the center of the room. Spock motioned for Christine to join him as he stepped into the center of the orb. She walked through the lines of energy, feeling a slight tingle in her muscles as she did. It was almost like the beginning of a transporter effect, but it did not complete itself. Almost as soon as she entered the containment field the lines disappeared and the cargo hold returned to normal.
"That's it?" she asked Spock.
"Yes," he reported. "The device is only strong enough for both of us to use for a few second. However, the Enterprise should be registering our life signs now. They will be able to get a fix on our coordinates, both physically and temporally."
"I hope it works." Christine closed her eyes in a silent prayer.
Spock nodded. "Perhaps it is time to, as you humans say, keep our fingers crossed."
Christine smiled widely. "Now what?"
"We wait. It will take a while for the ship to contact us for beam out. This will register their scans." He held up a small piece of the tricorder which he had salvaged. "It will give us some notice so we can prepare."
"I'm sure it won't be long," Christine said to Spock trying to reassure herself.
Before he could answer there came a frantic knock at the bulkhead door. Christine and Spock turned in shock. No one knew they were there and why would someone bother to knock? Before they could secret themselves out of sight or even cover the mechanism a tiny frightened voice yelled through the metal.
"Miss Christine. Please let me in!" the boy yelled.
"Shamus?" Christine eyes grew wide as she looked over at Spock in disbelief.
She ran to the door and flung open, pulling the young boy inside before he could attract attention.
"Shamus. How did you know where to find me?" she asked, noticing the disapproving glare Spock sent her way.
"I followed you. Mama didn't know," he said on the verge of tears. "Please you must come right away!"
"Is it your mother?" Christine questioned bending down so that her face was level with his.
"Yes. It started late last night. Something's wrong. She can't do it. Please you have to help her," the child pleaded unable to hold back his tears.
Christine touched his little wet cheek comfortingly. "Of course." She stood and took his hand. He was pulling her through the door as she glanced backward at Spock. The Vulcan had no time to think, but followed Christine out into the bright sunlight, and down toward the steerage decks.
* * *
"Captain to the transporter room!" Scotty's voice echoed through the ship.
Jim Kirk, who had been seated in his usual place on the bride, had been lost in thought. the bridge just was not the same without Spock seated to his right. He was sure Bones was going through the same kind of withdrawal trying to get used to Chapel's absence in sickbay. He was nearly jolted back to awareness at the glee in Mr. Scott's voice. Kirk looked around at the hopeful eyes surrounding him. He prayed it would be good news, and practically ran to the turbo lift. Grabbing the handle he called out his destination. "Transporter Room," he ordered.
Moments later he was sailing into the newly reconstructed transporter room to the accompanying swish of the doors. The entire mechanism had been completely overhauled and half of the engineering crew had worked non stop to recover Spock and Nurse Chapel. "This better be good, Mr. Scott."
Scotty turned to face him and for a moment the captain almost thought his chief engineer was in tears. "Captain, we've found them. We just received two life signs on the control panel."
Kirk wanted to jump for joy, but his years of service had taught not to count his chickens. Nothing was ever certain. "Are you sure it was them?"
"There were two signatures. One was a Vulcan/Human male, and the other was a Human female."
"That sounds close enough, Mr. Scott," Kirk smiled. "How long before we can bring them back?"
"A couple of hours, sir. We need to refine their readings in the computer and enhance their patterns so there will no' be any problems this time," Scotty said.
"Whatever you need to do, but hurry. Wherever our friends are they may not have much time,"Kirk reminded the Scotsman.
"Aye, sir. Nothing will go wrong this time, if I have anything to say about it," Scotty beamed.
* * *
They heard Colleen O'Connor even before the reached the tiny cubical that passed for a stateroom on the steerage decks. A gut wrenching, anguished scream echoed off the metal walls. Little Shamus led Christine to the last door. It was surrounded by the children whom she recognized from that afternoon as his younger brothers and sisters. Spock followed nervously behind them, not knowing what to expect.
"Mama!" Shamus cried throwing the door open.
Colleen did not hear him. She was deep in shock and was barely even aware of the two older immigrant woman who were fighting a losing battle to save both the Irish lady and her baby. Even Christine gasped in horror. Never in all of her years of practicing medicine under the thoroughly modern twenty-third century conditions to which she was accustomed had she seen such a horrendous image of suffering. The sheets were soaked with blood, and although she was struggling valiantly it was obvious that Colleen was very near losing her battle. Without a thought Christine sprang into action, her medical skills automatic. Spock hung back by nearly clinging to the door frame. Not only was his own stomach turning at the sight, but the moment was an extremely private one and he had never felt so out of place in his life. For a moment he watched in awe as Christine took charge.
Christine hurried to the side of the bed to survey the patient's condition. She stroked Colleen's sweat soaked hair and whispered soothing words. "Colleen. Do you remember me?" The woman could only nod and moan gutturally.
"I'm going to help you," Christine assured her, stripping off her long black evening gloves.
"My baby," Colleen pleaded.
"I'm going to do everything I can to save you and your baby," Christine assured her, and the woman seemed to calm a bit.
Christine moved to the foot of the bed to determine her course of action. Feeling and probing she did not see her companion inching his way out of the door, fleeing for the safety of the hallway.
"Spock!" she called without looking up. "Get over here, help me!" Christine ordered.
Not only was Spock not used to being addressed in such terms, he had no idea of what use he could be. "I do not think it would be appropriate for me..."
"Forget your Vulcan modesty and get over here," she yelled. "Shamus, you too." The males in the room complied hesitantly.
Christine looked up urgently. "I need you to bring me a knife, a needle and heavy thread, and all the liquor you can find." She turned toward the two cowaring women and bellowed orders at them as well. "Water and linens. Hurry!"
Shamus ran for his mother's sewing box and brought back the needle and thread at once. He was then ushered out of the room by one of the women who had found several buckets of fresh water. The other lady was busy tearing a cotton blanket into strips. Somehow Spock was able to procure a pocket knife and two bottles of whiskey. It seemed to take forever before everyone was back from their assigned tasks. Christine had comforted the terrified Colleen as best she could, encouraging her and cursing the others for taking so long. Finally they were ready.
Spock had nearly thrown the knife and bottles at Christine, eager to be out of the room. As he backed away she stopped him. "Where do you think you're going?" she questioned harshly.
"I will wait for you in the passageway," he answered.
"Oh, no. I need someone to assist. Looks like you're going to be the nurse this time," she said matter of factly. There was nothing he could say to argue. He tried to position himself in as least awkward a place as possible to avoid anyone embarrassment. He never suspected that no one else cared at that moment.
Christine hardly noticed him. He was there only to hand her what she asked for at this point. It was up to her. She spoke soothingly, but honestly to the fading mother. "Colleen, it's a breech. Do you know what that means?" The woman nodded through her tears.
"The feet are out, but I'm going to have to cut you to make more room for the rest of the body. I want you to swallow as much of that whiskey as you can. It will help deaden the pain," Christine explained and then motioned for one of the other woman to give Colleen a drink from the bottle.
"Is it not dangerous for a pregnant woman to ingest alcohol?" Spock reminded Christine.
"It won't harm the baby's development now and she needs it," was her curt answer.
Mrs. O'Connor tried to swallow the foul tasting liquid but spit most of it back up. "Pour it down her throat if you have to," Christine screamed in disgust at the immigrant ladies.
To Spock she gave her first order. "Use the other bottle to sterilize the knife." He did as he was told, pouring the amber brew over the metal blade. He ignored the splashing puddle that accumulated on the floor and then handed the instrument to Christine. She waited a moment while several more mouthfuls were poured into Colleen's system. Finally, the already beleaguered woman began to show signs that the liquor was taking affect.
Christine's trained hands, now bloodied up to her elbows, moved deftly over her patient. Colleen still groaned in pain, but much less than she would have without the aid of the makeshift anesthesia. Spock marveled at how calm Christine was. Where only moments ago she had been terrified for their own safety, she now spent every ounce of her energy on saving the lives of two strangers who but for chance she would have never known. Nothing else mattered to her. She was unmovingly focused and stubbornly refused to give up. Where panic would have seized most beings, Christine took command of the situation. She astonished him.
Again Christine yelled an order at the top of her lungs, bringing Spock out of his veil of thoughts. One of the ladies handed her a fresh piece of cloth, and he watched as she began to smile.
"Here he comes," Christine announced, in near amazement herself. Mere seconds later she lifted a healthy, screaming, newborn boy up to meet his mother. Colleen smiled weakly in sedated elation, taking her child in her arm as she fell back against the rumpled mattress. Christine and the other ladies quickly finished the delivery and tended to mother and child.
"Thank you," Colleen gasped through happy tears. "Thank you. You are an angel sent from God."
Christine smiled, washing her hands in a bucket of fresh water. "There's your angel," she nodded toward the baby. She chuckled as the boy's little arms stretched out trying to grab anything near. "What will you call him?"
Colleen looked thoughtful then announced. "Fergus, for his father, and Christopher for you."
Walking over to the side of the bed Christine played with the baby's fingers. "Welcome to the world, Fergus Christopher O'Connor," she smiled widely.
It was then that Christine finally remembered Spock. She looked over to find him, not watching the tender scene of new life, but completely fixed upon her. She let a slight grin cross her face and blushed a little, wondering why he held her in his gaze for so long. It felt good, but she quickly looked away. After checking the patients one last time she gave some final orders to the women who had assisted her and walked toward the door. It was then that the recollection of where they were hit her. She looked once more at the happy mother and tiny baby and prayed that they would be safe. Christine knew she could not afford to stay any longer. She motioned for Spock to follow her.
"God bless you," Colleen called after her.
Christine looked thoughtfully at her new friend and then at her old one. "He already has."
Closing the door behind them, the two time travelers were met by an exhausted and worried Shamus, his eyes wide with questions. "You have a new little brother," Christine smiled and mussed his hair. "Your mother's going to need a lot of rest so I'm counting on you to take care of them both."
The boy smiled, happy with the new responsibility. "You can count on me, Miss Christine!" he declared.
"I knew I could. Now go on in and see if they need anything," she nodded. Shamus was gone nearly before she could get the sentence out, and Christine turned to notice Spock still staring at her.
"What?" she asked, amused.
He hesitated a moment then found his voice. "You are amazing," he said moving closer to her.
"No, Colleen was amazing. I hope that if I ever have children, I'm as brave as she was." Christine suddenly reddened at the image she had painted. Spock's eyes did not move from hers. She could not have known that he was hoping her future children would be his as well.
"I have no doubt you will be," he whispered.
He was standing so close to her that his lips were only inches from hers. Christine looked up into his deep warm eyes and lost herself for a moment surprised that he did not look away. There was no breeze inside the passageway, it was his breath she felt against her skin. No cold chilled her here. That was his hand that rested upon her waist, and those were his lips beginning to brush against hers. Slowly they surrendered, carefully they closed the distance between them. It was so right. All the world, in both centuries, had disappear and there was nothing between them now.
"BEEP!" The tiny tricorder sensor sprang to life inside the pocket of Spock's jacket. The Enterprise had received their signal and was ready to beam them back to their own time.
They stood for one moment longer staring at each other, each wishing the intrusion could have been delayed just a moment. "We'd better go," Christine finally said, her voice hoarse with ungratified passion.
"Yes. They are waiting," Spock answered his tone disappointed and reluctant.
The two quickly made their way back to the cargo hold. Neither knowing if life would be the same once they returned to the ship, or changed forever.
* * *
When Spock and Christine returned to the cargo hold the containment field had already activated itself, triggered by the influx of energy from the Enterprise's transporter as the starship searched through space and time for the familiar life science of its science officer and head nurse. Christine had not noticed when Spock had grabbed her hand. He could run much faster than she could, do in large part to not only his Vulcan stamina but also to her turn tight pointed shoes. He was nearly dragging her as she tried to catch her breath.
"Hurry!" he shouted to her as he slammed the door. "They're scanning."
He pulled her once again into the middle of the glowing ball of light and they stood ready for transport. Spock looked over at Christine, her face stricken with undeniable fear. He wanted to comfort her, to hold her, but could not. If only they had been given one more minute together in the steerage passageway. He would have kissed her and she would have been certain of his intentions, he would made sure of that. Now she looked at him as if he would not even recognize her once they were back on the ship, as though everything they had experienced together would be unmentionable like so often in the past. He could not bear the hurt and anxiety in her eyes. Spock had to tell her that he truly loved her and things would not be like they were before. As he opened his mouth to begin his voice was lost in the bombardment of the transporter beam. He could see the last shadowing curves of her face calling his name and then all was dark.
In all the times he had beamed back and forth from the Enterprise Spock could not remembering actually feeling the effect. Many of his human shipmates tended to complain about headaches, or tingling, or other strange sensation. He had always disregarded their afflictions to the overactive imaginations to which those of his mother's race tended to be prone. This time however as his molecules had been pulled from one time to another through millions of miles of space, transporting had hurt. His entire body stung, as if his nerves had all been simultaneously slapped. He steeled his jaw against the pain and watched the welcome and familiar forms of the Enterprise begin to take shape before him.
Slowly, even more so than usual, reality began to appear. Mister Scott worked furiously over the controls at the console across the room. Doctor McCoy stood ready with his medical equipment for which Spock was glad. He could take a great deal of punishment and would most probably not need his friend's help. However, if Christine was feeling the same sensation he had noticed she could very well be in shock. He appealed to his ancestors that she would be alright and vowed that if she needed him he would go to her no matter what the appearance.
The Captain was standing tense in the middle of the room, willing the device to work and studying every last detail of the process. Spock could hear the echo of voices as he began to emerge from the shroud of the beam.
"BOOST ... POWER! " came in slow motion and in a Scottish accent.
"HOLD ... ON!" Jim shouted.
McCoy inched forward in horror.
Finally everything was normal again. Spock blinked and tugged at the wool jacket he had borrowed from an unknown passenger of the Titanic. It took a moment for the world around him to register. The light was normal, the air was dry and to his liking. The faces were familiar and all seemed well. Just as he was assuring himself that they had made it, Doctor McCoy rushed forward in hysterics.
"Where's Christine?" he demanded.
Spock turned in dread to look beside him. Where he should have seen brilliant blue eyes, golden blonde hair, and a dazzling smile he saw only the cold gray metal of the bulkhead. He took a step in the direction she had been almost expecting to retrieve her from some unknown region. Shocked and terrified he glared at Scotty.
"Her signature just ... vanished," the Chief Engineer choked, still working the dials and button trying to get her back. "There's nothing."
"What do you mean vanished?" Kirk bellowed, his eyes wide and disbelieving.
"I think we lost her," Scotty's tone was stricken.
Spock stared numbly into the emptiness. *Christine!* his mind cried. He wanted to reach out, just to touch the place she had been, but could not will himself motion of any kind. Even his own breath was reluctant to find his lungs. How could this have happened? It should have been him. For an instant he tried to bargain with fate. *Bring her back and take me instead! Please!* However, it was no good. His hope for what could have been, his first real taste of beauty and freedom, everything he wanted had disappeared. The woman he only just realized that he loved, was gone.
* * *
Spock sat in the conference room, his chin resting on steepled fingers. He listened impassively while the other senior officers reported on the events through which he had lived. There was the usual technical terminology as to what may have happened with the ship's equipment. Mister Scott adamantly declared that everything was working fine on his end and whatever had occurred to cause Nurse Chapel's disappearance, it had not happened within the transporter itself. Spock was afraid that his colleague was correct. He had already stated the possibility of one of his makeshift circuits blowing out at the last second, which of course there was no way to verify. However, he feared there could be more to the situation than something that simple. He reached over and started the computer banks searching through information, only vaguely becoming aware of the conversation around him.
"We had no subspace interference at the time," Lieutenant Uhura confirmed.
"The radiation surrounding the ship was at normal and acceptable levels for beaming," Chekov noted.
"So what you are all telling me is that she just simply disappeared," Kirk questioned. "That she was in the beam and then was gone." The silence of the others signaled their confirmation.
McCoy bristled at the suggestion. Chapel was like a daughter to him, and he was nearly out of his mind with worry. "What if she's still back there on the Titanic?" he broached. "She's undoubtedly terrified."
Spock swallowed hard at the thought. He needed to be with Christine, where ever she was. His mind searched in vain for answers other than the one that plagued his mind, but he kept drawing the same conclusion. The computer confirmed his analysis, and it almost seemed as if the captain had come to the same conclusion.
"Surely there was no time line contamination," he said, certain his capable first officer would never allow that.
It was then that Spock broke his self imposed silence. "That is a distinct possibility," he uttered hoarsely.
"What? How?" Kirk looked angry.
Spock took a deep breath and brought his hands to his lap. His eyes distant, he seemed to stare right through the wall above the heads of the others. "She delivered a baby," Spock explained. "The mother and child would have most probably died without Chri ... without Nurse Chapel's assistance."
"Then are we to assume the fact that child or the mother lived somehow changed the historical time line where Miss Chapel is concerned?" Kirk questioned.
"It appears so," Spock answered pressing a button on the console. "Computer! List genealogical information on Enterprise personnel, Nurse Christine Chapel," he ordered
"Working," the digital voice sounded. A few seconds later came the dreaded reply. "There is no information on Nurse Christine Chapel."
"Specify lack of information," Kirk interrupted.
"Christine Chapel is not an entity recognized by memory banks. There is no one by that name listed as a Federation citizen," the computer confirmed.
The senior staff looked at each other in horror. Spock forced his grief down and continued to test his speculation, hoping that he was wrong. "List genealogical information starting person Fergus Christopher O'Connor, male, born April 1912, planet Earth."
The computer began a list of names and cross referenced people starting with the baby Christine had helped to bring into the world. It seemed to take forever, and none of the names meant anything to those seated around the table.
" ... Fergus Christopher O'Connor, married Emily Shaw, 1932 ... Stuart O'Connor, married Gloria Wheeling, 1959 ... Virginia O'Connor, married Albert Forsythe 1988 ... Kelly Forsythe, married Robert MacIntosh, 2020 ... Kyle MacIntosh, married ... " None of the beings listed had affected history to a great degree. Then as the years grew closer to their own time, McCoy recognized one.
" ... Edward Stevens, married Elizabeth King, 2236."
"That's Christine's mother," McCoy said horrified.
"But that's certainly not her father," Kirk said. "It seems that Nurse Chapel's selfless actions, her instinct to heal, has condemned her own life. I think we can assume that in our time as it is now, Nurse Chapel's mother married one of the descendants of the child she helped deliver and not the person who would become her father." He did not want to say it, but the facts were indisputable. Kirk looked around gravely. "Christine Chapel has never existed."
Shock resonated throughout the conference room. "Then why do we remember her?" Uhura asked, tears for her friend in her eyes.
"The Enterprise is acting as a conduit of displaced time. We remember Nurse Chapel because we are a point in an intersection of two parallel frames of reference. A point created by the solar flare that sent us through time and space, and also by her actions," Spock explained.
"Do you mean we're still holding onto her? There is a chance we can go back and fix everything, to get Chris back?" McCoy eyes were wide with hope.
"I believe so, Doctor," Spock answered, hiding that same hopefulness. Perhaps she was not lost to him after all.
"By going back to the Titanic before the child was born, and..." Kirk began.
"Preventing Christine from attending the woman," Spock finished.
McCoy shook his head. "No. It won't work. Even if Christine had known what would happen there's no way she could stand by and watch someone suffer. She'd do it anyway."
"Not if I can stop her, or take some sort of action," Spock volunteered.
"Are talking about killing the baby?" Kirk asked horrified.
"No. As things were just a few days ago, the child had never lived or at least had not lived long enough to affect Nurse Chapel's personal time line," Spock told him. "I am simply talking about stopping her from becoming involved in an event that she originally had no part in, thereby correcting the time continuum."
" ... And getting her back," McCoy smiled.
"Yes, Doctor," Spock concurred.
"How do you propose to accomplish this fete?" Kirk asked his Vulcan friend.
"I shall return through the space/time portal to a moment prior to the child's birth and somehow prevent Nurse Chapel from rendering aid," Spock clarified.
"You mean go back through that rattle trap containment field of yours?" the captain asked.
Spock was too concerned about Christine to take offense at his superiors officer's comment on his invention. "Yes. I shall have to return the way I came."
"I don't know Spock, it's too risky," Kirk pondered.
Spock looked at his friend with more earnest distress than Kirk could ever remember seeing from him. "Jim ... Please," The Vulcan asked quietly. If he were lost as well it was no matter, he now did not want to face a future without Christine.
Kirk watched Spock's expression change to a silent plea. It was clear that there was more going on than just a superior's concern for his crew member. He thought about history his science officer and head nurse shared. Something had happened between them on that doomed ship from long ago. He owed it to both of them to allow this one small chance.
"Very well. Get together what you will need," the captain agreed.
"I need nothing," Spock said, realizing he was still wearing the borrowed outfit. "I will transmit my computations into the computer banks through the console in the transporter room. That should be sufficient to return through both time and space. If I may, I would like to attempt to return now," Spock said.
"Certainly. This meeting is adjourned." Kirk barely had the words out of his mouth before Spock was out of his seat and heading through the door.
A few minutes later in the transporter room Scotty consulted with Spock one last time before the latter stepped onto the metal pad. "It is impossible for the same entity to exist in different forms within the same time period. You will be returning into you own body, but your memories of the past few hours will be intact. You will remember why you are there and what you need to do, although you are returning to a time you have already experienced."
"I understand. Prepare for transport. The same coordinates as the ones from which you retrieved me," Spock ordered.
"Aye, Sir," Scotty acknowledged, beginning to work the controls.
Kirk stepped up to Spock and handed him a communicator. "Remember. We'll beam you out at 2100 hours. You have to find Christine and be back in the containment field by then."
"That's cutting it awfully close, Jim. If memory serves, that ship went down in the early morning," McCoy interjected.
"It's the best we can do. We have to give him enough time to find her," Kirk answered.
"The time should be sufficient. The child was born in the middle of the day. That will give us the necessary window of opportunity. Thank you," Spock said impatiently.
"Ready to transport," Scotty announced.
McCoy looked at his friend. "Bring her back, Spock," he said, worry pulling at his face.
"I intend to, Doctor," the Vulcan agreed, and looking ahead of him ordered, "Energize." In a sparkle of light, he was gone.
* * *
The force of transporting back into his own body nearly hurled Spock off his feet. He stumbled for a moment, unaware of his surroundings. The familiar stinging pain of transporting through time racked his nerves once again, but he shoved it to edges of his thoughts as he slowly realized where he was. There was Christine, beautiful and dedicated. There was still a chance to save her, or at least to be with her now whatever happened.
Voices and panic filled the room, there were others with them. Spock recognized the faces and the event. He felt a deep pit open in his stomach as he realized the time to which he had been returned. This would not be easy. Christine stood bent over at the foot of a bed, a terrified woman struggled bravely within it. He had seen this before ...
"Spock!" Christine called without looking up. "Get over here, help me!" she ordered.
"I do not think it would be appropriate for me..." he heard himself say against his will.
"Forget your Vulcan modesty and get over here," she yelled. "Shamus, you too." Shamus complied hesitantly. Spock hung back, unsure of what to do, but certain that some action must be undertaken quickly.
Christine looked up urgently. "I need you to bring me a knife, a needle and heavy thread, and all the liquor you can find." She turned toward the two cowering women and bellowed orders at them as well. "Water and linens. Hurry!"
Everything that Spock believed in cried out to him not to do it, to let Christine help. However there was something in him far stronger than ideology, his love for her. He had lost her once, it would not happen again. Without a word Spock rushed to Christine's side and grabbed her arms forcibly. In shock she whirled around to question him, but he had her nearly off her feet and was dragging her toward the door before she realized what was happening.
"Spock? What are you doing?" Christine cried. "Let me go!"
Her anger and concern for her patient flaring, Christine did not see the pain and regret in his eyes as he allowed himself one final look at the stunned faces of the two immigrant ladies and the desperate and terrified form of Colleen O'Connor still writhing in agony. He knew he would carry the image with him forever.
"Forgive me," he whispered to them.
Pulling Christine out into the hallway, Spock barely noticed the O'Connor children as they blinked at him in bewilderment. He could feel Christine's anger and confusion through the contact she made with his skin each time she beat against his unyielding arms. He hoped that she would forgive him as well.
"Let me go. She needs my help!" Christine demanded.
"I am sorry. I cannot do that," Spock protested.
Her strength surprised him as she twisted and wriggled trying to free herself. He fended off her fists as best he could, but several times she made contact with a jaw or a shoulder. It did not hurt and he knew it was an instinctive reaction from her need to help. The sickening screams continued from inside the stateroom, in which he knew Colleen and her unborn son lay dying. If he could get Christine away from there fast enough, perhaps he could explain to her.
"Spock! Please!" Christine begged, his vice-like arms still locked around her waist.
"It is not my choice. I do not wish to let them die, but I must save you," he yelled over her objections.
"Save me from what?" She fought as he dragged her to the end of the long hallway. Several other passengers watched the spectacle, reluctant to get involved. They came from the old country where this obstinate woman would have been lucky to be treated with even this delicacy.
Suddenly, the screaming stopped. Then Christine's fighting stopped. Her eyes peered questioningly and horrified down the corridor they had just traveled. Spock froze, unable to will himself to move. He let Christine slide to the floor bracing her as she caught her her balance. Something within him needed to know as well. The two older women emerged slowly from the room, their faces streaming with tears. They looked sympathetically at the stares of the children gathered around their feet. One of them bent down and whispered something solemnly in Shamus' ear. The young boy straightened in shock, his eyes followed the path on which Spock had taken the woman who could have helped his mother. Suddenly he broke into a run, fists flailing. He reached the tall, dark haired stranger in seconds and unleashed the brunt of his grief and rage on the Vulcan. His tiny fists pounding as far up the tall rigid body as he could reach. Spock did not try to stop him.
"She's dead! They're both dead!" he screamed. "Miss Christine could have saved them and you took her away! You killed them!"
Christine was overwhelmed with the need to comfort the bereaved boy. She pulled him off of Spock and gathered the frightened youth in her arms. Shamus' hands instantly halted and he collapsed against her wrapping his arms around her neck, his sobs muffled on her shoulder. Her tears matched his and she stared at Spock with nothing less than contempt. It tore through him like a knife.
If there had been any other way, he would have chosen it without hesitation. As it was they lacked the time to grieve with mourners. He reached down and took Christine by the shoulders. "We must go," he said softly.
She wrenched free and glared at him. "Get your hands off me," she seethed.
With one last embrace of her young friend Christine whispered the only words of comfort that would come. "You made her proud. She loved you very much. Now go back to your brothers and sisters, they need you."
Christine stood up, shoved past Spock, and tore through the door out onto the deck. The bright afternoon sun glared over the tears in her eyes and she squinted them away. There was no one around and Spock had to nearly run to catch up with her.
"Christine, please let me explain." He could not bear her hatred. He reached out and touched her shoulder trying to stop her.
His restraint coupled with her momentum only spun her around to face him. Without warning she lashed out with her open palm and struck him hard across the face. The physical pain did not register as he stood dazed. He was focused on the anguish in his soul and in hers.
"How could you? What kind of a monster are you?" she screamed, her eyes searching his face for anything she might recognize.
"Please, let me explain," he repeated.
"Explain? What is there to explain?" she sobbed.
Spock looked at her, unable to find words. Then he took a breath trying to calm the situation. "You know as well as I that we cannot get involved."
"This isn't about the Prime Directive," Christine shot back. "It's about lives. Real lives, and real deaths." She turned from him so he could not see her tears. She did not want his pity.
"There is more than you realize," he began. "If I allowed you to deliver that child, you would be in effect killing yourself."
"That's ridiculous," she countered.
"You do not understand," he reasoned. "I have been back to the Enterprise. We both transported back only a few minutes after the O'Connor baby was born. Only you did not make it. Your existence vanished. In the future, our future, your mother would have married an offspring of that child instead of your father, and you would have never been born."
Christine's mind reeled for a moment trying to take it all in. She tried to imagine a world in which she had never lived, but all she could think of were the lives that had been affected by the deaths of two innocent human beings. She turned back to him, her face more understanding, her temper calmer.
"Don't you see? It doesn't matter." Her eyes were compassionate. What he had done, he had done to save her.
"Christine..." He tried to stop the direction of her argument.
"Think of my life," she continued. "I have nothing. Roger's gone. I couldn't get you to look at me if I was on fire. What do I have? That baby would have had a chance. What does it matter if I never lived. It wouldn't make any difference, it just wouldn't matter to anyone." Christine began to cry.
Spock took hold of her shoulders gently and pulled her to him. To a great extent, it had been his actions in the past that had caused her to think so little of herself. He silently berated himself for hurting her so deeply and vowed to make it up to her somehow. He bent his neck trying to see her eyes, but she hid them from him.
"It matters to me," he said softly. "What you just said about me not looking at you..." he began. "I was a fool. I have only now come to realize just how much you mean to me and that I cannot bear to lose you."
Christine looked up at him shocked. Her eyes again searching his. For a moment she thought this might be some cruel trick to distract her from thoughts of the deaths they had just allowed. However, she knew deep in her heart that he would never do that, not with this. He would never treat emotions so lightly. There was no maliciousness in his gesture. All she saw was honesty and ... love. Christine could not find her breath, nor her voice. She could only stare at him with uncertainty. She had dreamed of this for so long and had never expected it would occur. She relaxed in his hands and he brought her close to him, closer than she had ever been before. Even on Platonius they had tried to maintain as much distance as their wills would allow. Now, here on this ill-fated vessel centuries before either of them were to draw breath, there was nothing between them. No space, no distance, no custom, nor regulation separated them.
The warmth of Spock's body so close thrilled Christine and the coolness of her skin upon his flesh excited him. Both stood in the crisp April air trembling not from cold but from passion and mutual desire. Their breath mingled in a sweet cloud of anticipation as each lost themselves in the other's eyes. Slowly, Spock brought Christine's face to meet his. His lips lingered over hers for a time enjoying the sweet perfume of their breathing. Then with hearts pounding nearly to a deafening scream in their ears, their mouths reached hungrily for each other. The kiss they shared was not their first, but it was the most passionate either had ever known. Now it came from both of them and their love set it on fire.
Spock held Christine's lips with his for a long while, reluctant to let them go. She had long since allowed herself to float freely in his arms. The contact sent both of them soaring with desire as he felt her longing and returned it to her. For a moment there was no Titanic, no Enterprise, no deadline, no one else in the universe, only them, and sweet freedom.
When their need had been for a time sufficiently satisfied, Spock wrapped Christine in his arms and she sank happily onto chest, forcing her legs to hold her upright. He stroked her hair and kissed her temple, whispering. "I'm in love with you, Nurse Chapel," Spock murmured. "Oh, I love you. I don't know why, but I do." There was almost a grin on his face as he spoke the words.
Christine smiled, understanding his joke. Those were the very words she had spoken to him a few years before when she declared her love to him. He had remembered them. She brought her happy eyes up to meet his and her hand stoked his face. "I cherish thee, my beloved," she whispered. Again, their lips met and again they knew bliss.
* * *
Spock and Christine stood at the railing in each other's arms for a long time. Even through her joy he could sense her sadness. "You are troubled, my T'hy'la," he said quietly.
"Did they really have to die?" Christine questioned, already knowing the answer. She turned to him, a single tear sliding down her cheek.
He wiped it away with a soft touch. "They had already died," he told her. "Three and a half centuries ago."
"There must have been something we could have done," she said solemnly.
"That is what happened. It is not for us to decide how to rewrite history," he comforted her.
"I still hate it and I'll never forget it," she wept.
"Nor will I, T'hy'la. Nor will I ever forget that the sacrifice they made was done so that you might live. That I will most certainly never take for granted." He held her tight and they were silent for a long while, grieving the passing of two souls who had known nothing of the future.
"When can we go back?" Christine asked. All she wanted was to be gone from there.
"We will be beamed back to the Enterprise at 2100 hours," Spock told her.
"That's almost nine hours from now." She was shocked at the risk he was taking.
"I wanted to ensure that there would be sufficient time to find you," he answered, his breath tossing a few tendrils near her forehead.
"But what if something happens in the meantime? We'd better get back to the cargo hold, and wait." She pulled at his arm in alarm.
"Very well beloved." He wanted to spend the interim with her in the warm sunshine, but he understood that it would mean disaster should they be found out. He would not take that chance with her newly restored life.
Together they ventured cautiously back toward the hidden confines of the storage area they had made their temporary home. The woman in evening clothes and the man who looked as though he had just come from a long day of work in the ship's engine room received quite a few stares as they walked arm in arm along the promenade. They kept their eyes lowered, darting to and from covered passageways where the staterooms of the more wealthy passengers were located. Finally they reached the familiar dark chamber and relaxed a bit.
They had quite a long wait ahead of them, but they were certain it would pass easily in each other's arms. Once the door was safely closed and locked Spock gathered Christine in his arms and kissed her with all the passion in his soul that he had long denied. She melted happily into the sensation and felt her own spirit, which had for too many years been mired in doubt and unrequited adoration, soar to heights she had never dreamed possible. How could she be so happy, in this place, knowing what was about to unfold? How could her life, their lives, be so wonderful now?
"It is best not to question, simply experience," Spock told her.
Christine jumped a little. "How did you know what I was thinking?" She smiled happy that he did.
"I have a degree of contact with your mind through touching your skin," he told her. "I did not mean to invade your privacy. If you wish I will stop touching you," he offered, although it was the last thing he wanted.
"Oh, no." She smiled seductively. "Don't you ever stop touching me."
"I was hoping you would say that," he admitted, once more thrilling her with a kiss.
The afternoon passed in quiet conversation and caresses. Both longed for more, however this was not the time nor the place. "When we are back on the Enterprise, I will show you the depth and strength of my feelings for you," Spock promised Christine.
"Feelings? Then you admit, you do have them," she teased, her heart bursting with anticipation.
"Only to you, my love," he told her, as she favored him again with the flavor of her lips.
As evening approached Christine could not control the shiver that ran along her spine. "You are cold?" Spock asked her, peering around for a blanket in which to wrap her.
Christine shook her head softly. "No, not really. Just nervous. What if something goes wrong?"
Spock too had been fearing that same possibility, but would not think of troubling her with it. "There should be no problem, but hear me now, I will get you off this ship. Somehow," he vowed to her.
"No." She grabbed his hand. "We will get off this ship somehow. I'm not going to lose you now." She hid her tension with a loving smile and they sat quietly together watching the last rays of the sun disappear through the round windows. Spock then noticed Christine's eyes getting heavy and she laid her head on his shoulder.
"Are you tired, my T'hy'la? Rest and I will keep watch. I will wake you when they signal," he offered.
"I'm too anxious to sleep. I think I'm just a little hungry. I always get drowsy when I'm hungry." She smiled, a little embarrassed.
"Forgive me," he begged. "I should have remembered, you do not have the Vulcan ability to go without nourishment for extended periods of time. I will go and find you something to sustain yourself."
"No. Please don't go. I'm alright and I can certainly wait until we are back on the ship," she protested, but Spock was already standing.
"I will not be long. Take every precaution while I am gone." He kissed her hand and was out the door before she could stop him.
Christine's worry consumed her in Spock's absence. Every possible scenario plagued her thoughts. It was taking forever for him to return. Perhaps he needed her, maybe something was amiss. She knew he would be displeased, but she could not stand it anymore. She slipped out of the cargo hold and along the deck. The night was bitterly cold and her nerves made her tremble even more. She had to find him. They had to be together in the containment field in a short time.
Christine had not gone far before she found Spock. The shock of the scene caused her to gasp audibly. At the end of a corridor, her love was being forcibly detained by two large pursers and was being questioned by someone she could only guess was a senior officer. Spock saw her and threw a warning glance in her direction, telling her without words not to be detected. She flattened herself against the wall. Although she was quite a distance from the group, Christine could still hear what was being said.
A short, greasy looking being with a harsh accent stepped from the shadows, pointed his finger at Spock, and nodded to the other men. "That's 'im gov'na. That's the one that attacked me. Can't say what 'e 'it me wif. I never fel' a thing. But I was out cold."
"Is this true?" The officer glared at Spock.
"I did not strike this ... gentleman," Spock told the uniformed authority. His educated and refined manner was a sharp contrast to that of his accuser, but only made those who were detaining more suspicious."
"Have you ever met this person before?" the regal looking man asked Spock.
"Formally? No," he answered, cryptically.
"You know what I mean. Have you ever talked with him before?" The Titanic's crew members were becoming annoyed.
"Yes. I have spoken with him on one occasion in the past," Spock remember with disgusted the way the little man had leered at Christine and comment about her suggestively. He also remember rendering immobile with a quick and effective neck pinch.
"Was that one time here on board?" the first officer asked.
"It was," Spock answered.
"Let me see your ticket," the crewman ordered.
Christine caught her breath. This could not actually be happening.
Spock hesitated for a moment. "I do not have passage," he answered honestly.
"Oh, and a stowaway too," the officer mocked. Then he turned to his subordinates. "Take him below and lock him up. We'll let the authorities in New York deal with him."
"Sir. You are mistaken," the Vulcan began to protest, but the man would hear no more.
Christine watched in horror as Spock was dragged away. Luckily, the officer and the rough hewn Englishman had both vacated the passageway in the opposite direction and she was able to follow the two men who had her companion firmly in their grips. Stealing through the corridors at a safe distance, she traced their steps down to the lowest decks of the Titanic, even farther below the waterline than the steerage rooms. It was stifling hot and the air smelled of coal, sweat, and salt water. It was dark and there was a mist of steam in the air. They were somewhere near the engine room, but how far they were from the cargo hold and the containment field she had no way of knowing. Their hope for escape seemed to be vanishing, and it appeared to Christine that it was now all up to her. Spock had traveled back to the Titanic to save her. She prayed she could now save him, save them both.
* * *
The Titanic's first officer William Murdoch interrogated Spock for over an hour. He had told the Vulcan that he had been sent on the captain's behalf, but his superior had far more important things to do than spend his evening questioning criminals. It was clear from his probing however, that this perceived threat to the safety and security of the passengers was being taken very seriously. Christine crouched in the shadowed hallway and strained to hear the voices coming from the closed cabin in which Spock was being held. She noticed with pride and yet some alarm that his voice was the least seldom heard. He was obviously saying nothing and that seemed to be aggravating his questioners since their voices were nearly at fever pitch.
Inside, Spock sat handcuffed to a small uncomfortable chair. He did his best to reassure Murdoch and the others that they had no cause for alarm and that no one was in danger because of him, although he could answer none of their other inquiries. Their suspicions only grew at his evasiveness. He wanted to tell them everything, especially about the deadly iceberg he knew loomed in the darkness ahead of them. This desire stemmed from his concern for Christine. He was of no use to her tied below decks. On the table in front of him lay his communicator. He had been frisked and the device unceremoniously confiscated. He berated himself for not having left the small box with Christine. At least she would have had a chance to escape, even if he could not. He could face his own death, but not hers.
It was nearing the time for beam out. Spock's internal clock counted each precious minute. As the moments passed he was filled with a greater sense of dread. Fervently he hoped that Christine was still in the cargo hold, but somehow he knew she was not. Something told him she was nearby. He then realized that their mutual feelings for each other, their history, and the contact which they had shared earlier that day had created an elementary bond between them. This was the first step in what Spock hoped would become something much greater, if they were given the chance. Even as he willed her to be near the containment field, he knew she would not step into it without him, just he would not go without her. Although they were apart at the moment, they were in this together.
Almost as if reading his thoughts, the small metal communicator sounded its alarm. *Please. Christine. Go. Save yourself.* He tried to send to her, knowing that it would not be fully understood.
From somewhere deep in his awareness, Spock thought he heard her answer. *No. I'm not leaving you,* he could hear Christine's melodious voice call to him. Was it real, or was it only what he expected she would say? He could not be sure. The fact still remained, that there was no more time and there was no way of him reaching the Enterprise.
In the dark, Christine jumped at the electronic beep that sounded from behind the closed door. She imagined Captain Kirk and Mr. Scott standing at the transporter controls searching the scans for their life signs. She knew that Leonard would be there as well. She could almost feel the sinking feeling that must be growing in them as they realized she and Spock were not in the containment field. Christine could almost hear Spock pleading with her. *Please. Christine. Go. Save yourself.* It sounded in her ears as if he were standing right in front of her. The clarity with which it came to her was astonishing. There was no doubt in her mind, that was an action she would never take. Almost as if speaking directly to him she heard her own thoughts answer. *No. I'm not leaving you.* She shook the image of her running from her mind. Their hope for rescue was gone. They would simply have to find some other solution.
Suddenly the door opened and the man that Christine had seen with Spock earlier stepped out into the corridor. He was distinguished and polished even through his anger. He ordered the crewman in the cabin to keep his eye on the prisoner and assured him he would return after briefing the captain. This was her chance. Somehow she had to create a diversion. Christine looked around almost wildly forcing clarity into her panicked mind. Along the passage a few yards away she could barely discern the outline of a large box. She was certain it was metal. What little light that shone in these depths of the ship glinted off its sides. Christine rushed to it and threw the lid open.
It would seem that not all the Titanic's crew members were as conscientious as her first officer. Someone had left a large cache of tools unsecured. In Star Fleet this could get a person put on report, but she was thankful for the careless person who had left them. She searched quickly through the display of antiques that would have left Scotty drooling, finding several useful implements. If only she had seen them a few minutes earlier.
There were times when his ability to remain calm in nearly any situation amazed even Spock. He sat, still shackled, watching the young sailor watch him. There was no reason to talk, there was nothing to say. Each knew, or thought they knew, why the other was there. He only wished he could reach Christine. Perhaps they could signal the Enterprise again, possibly strengthen the containment field. He had to try. Before he could finish his planning, something loud and metallic struck against the door and clattered along the passageway outside. The guard went immediately to the hatchway and threw open the heavy door. He rushed outside only to be met with a large heavy wrench against the back of his head. There was no time to react and he did not see the slender, demure woman who had been his attacker. He probably would not have believed it to be true if he had. The world dimmed and with one huge crash the man went to the floor and stayed there.
Christine rushed in to the room and dropping to her knees threw her arms around Spock's neck. Their greeting was warm and romantic as if they had not seen each other for centuries.
"T'hy'la. You should have gone. The Enterprise has signaled already. There may not be another chance," he lamented, his lips moving against her cheek as she buried her face in his neck.
"I will not leave this ship without you," she cried. "Either we both go or we don't go!" Determination burned in her brilliant blue eyes as she promised to stay with him whatever happened.
Christine pulled herself from Spock and moved around to the back of the chair where the handcuffs that constrained his arms were fastened. She examined the lock and smiled a little. "This should be no problem," she told him, hopefully.
"What are you doing, Beloved?" Spock asked her.
"Getting you out of these things," Christine mused.
She reached into the one pocket that had thankfully been sewn into the black beaded gown she was still wearing and pulled out an assortment of tiny metal picks, awls, and blades. Quickly, she set to work. Spock could not see her, but he could feel her gentle hands working above his. Her touch was exciting and soothing. His sensitive ears could hear metal scraping against metal as well as the tumblers of the locking device turning and separating. In almost no time the handcuffs snapped loose and he was free.
"You certainly do show an alacrity for clandestine activities." He looked at her with surprise.
"Oh that? It's just a little something my brother taught me," she smiled innocently.
Spock's eyebrow rose toward the ceiling. "Is this a family practice of which I should be aware?" he questioned.
"Let's just say that we always knew what we were getting for Christmas in the Chapel household," she grinned. Spock seemed satisfied with the answer, and intrigued.
They had no time to discuss the matter further. He took her hand and together they raced back toward the cargo hold. As they turned the corner of the deck that would lead them to safety, Spock halted abruptly and nearly threw Christine against the wall hiding her from view with his own form. For a moment she stood shocked, but then she became aware of the same voices he had heard.
"Get rid of all this junk!" someone shouted.
"I'd like to question our prisoner and see if he knows anything about this," another voice called. At that several men appeared from the interior of the cargo hold. They were carrying bits and pieces of the device Spock had created to signal the Enterprise. Their only hope. With looks of disgust, the sailors walked quickly to the railing and without a thought tossed the wires, dials, and other materials overboard.
"Well, well. Look at this. The Captain'll be glad to have this back, no doubt. Add theft to his other crimes." One of them laughed holding up the gold medallion Christine had taken from Captain Smith.
The two time traveler looked on in horror. "Spock. No," Christine whispered in desperation.
Spock pulled Christine close to him and held her tightly. For a moment he said nothing, concentrating on the fear she was trying to hide and the comfort he was trying to give her. Finally he let out a long sigh. "We are on our own now. T'hy'la," he said gravely.
Through the beginnings of their partial bond Spock could feel Christine's terror at being trapped on the doomed ocean liner begin to overwhelm her. He marveled at the valiant effort she was putting forth to control her panic and longed to be able to calm her. She clutched onto him and her breathing was beginning to come in short frightened bursts. Spock forced down his own fear to ease Christine's. Slowly he led her to a small bench that rested along a partially hidden portion of the deck. He gently lowered her onto the wooden seat and sat down beside her. With concerned eyes he stroked her hair and tried to whisper comforting words, as he sent soothing images into her mind.
"Do not worry, my love. I have promised that I would get you through this," he reaffirmed.
Christine looked at him with love and desperation. "You can't fight an entire ocean, Spock," she said.
He pulled her to him. "I would for you," he told her.
A slight giggle emerged from her trembling lips. "I've never known you become so highly illogical in times of crisis," she tried to tease him.
He understood and attempted to lighten the mood. "This is no time for insults, T'hy'la," he said.
"We have to face it now." Christine swallowed hard. "There is a very real possibility that we will die tonight."
Spock looked at her trying to be so brave. She was amazing. How could he have never seen it before? Perhaps he had and was too much of a coward to admit, or to even acknowledge how truly remarkable and worthy she was or how much Christine had come to mean to him. For whatever reason he had kept himself from her he was now certain of one thing, nothing would keep them from each other any longer. Not his heritage, not his stubbornness, not even death would come between them. It was time to complete what had begun.
Spock brought Christine's hands to his lips and kissed them softly. He then tasted her lips, enjoying their sweetness through her quivering. She was terrified and cold. Quickly he removed the wool jacket he was wearing and wrapped it around her shoulders, ignoring the chill that found his skin. Taking her hands once more he tried to explain his intentions.
"I do not wish to die apart from you," he said, his eye never leaving her beautiful face.
Christine caressed his jaw line with her fingers. "We won't be separated. We'll stay together no matter what occurs."
"That is not what I mean." He searched for the words in earnest.
"Then I don't understand." She looked at him in confusion.
Spock breathed deeply and continued. "What am I thinking right now?" he asked her. "Don't ponder it, just tell me what comes into your mind."
"I see..." She began. "I see ... Your quarters on the Enterprise. We're both there." She watched herself through his eyes for a moment. "It's the time ... I came to you, when ... " She trailed off unable to finish and knowing she did not have to.
His words echoed in her mind. " ... protest against our natures."
"Oh, Spock," Christine whispered, a tear falling from her lashes.
"Deep within us lies a fusion. One that I now see was begun some time ago. It is me you have heard in your mind these past hours, as you have been in mine. We have created the beginnings of a joining. One I wish to complete, fully, if you are willing." His eyes pleaded to her.
"Are you saying you want to bond with me?" She had heard of the Vulcan marriage ritual, but had never dreamed she would be hearing these words from him. An astonished smile lit her face.
"Yes. That is my deepest wish. That you would become my bond mate." Spock shook his head, that term seemed so cold. "No, more than that. I wish for you to become my Aduna T'hy'la, my wife and eternal soul partner. My very self." He tightened his palms around her hands. "Please tell me you will consent. Make everything as it should be."
Christine listened to his heartfelt plea. Her own heart wanted to burst with love and happiness. "Of course. It's all I ever wanted."
"I have been such a fool. I have hurt you more than I can ever atone for and will spend forever trying to make it up to you," he grieved. "You have given me my very soul. I swear to you, I will give joy, and ... love," he pledged.
"You already have. All I want is you," Christine told him. "... and there is nothing, nothing for you to atone for. One moment watching you from a distance would have sustained me forever."
"We will never be that far apart again," he promised.
With that he brought her hands to his face and positioned her slim fingers above the necessary points. He then took her face gently in his hands. "Open yourself to me, T'hy'la. You have all of me."
Christine sighed with ecstasy as Spock's essence poured softly into her mind. Willingly she allowed everything that was her to flow back to him. For a time that neither could measure, they were free of everything which inhibited them. Everything that had gone before seemed to pass away as their souls floated somewhere beyond time and space. Neither had ever known such pleasure or fulfillment. Nothing existed except them as they slowly and joyfully gave themselves up to one another, savoring each level of their strengthening bond. Memories fused, thoughts cohered, experiences converged, even synapses seemed to unite. Their separate existences merged into one and the being that was created eclipsed anything they had been separately. They were truly one, for all time. Whatever they were to face, be it death or discovery, they would face together.
Slowly the night stars began to focus once more in their vision. Awareness of their own bodies came to them again, this time heightened by the perception through the other's consciousness. It was as if they were being born and experiencing the world for the first time. The air that filled their lungs was sweeter, the movement of their muscles was more satisfying, their thoughts more beautiful to their minds. Spock and Christine melted into each other's arms. The promise of the future was so intense that they could almost forget where they were.
It was then that the chatter of a group of passengers traveling the deck near them brought them back to the horrible reality they faced. Christine shuddered and Spock felt every shiver in her muscles. She drew closer to him in the darkness and his arms enwrapped her protectively.
"It isn't fair," she wept. "Not now."
He moved her shoulders around and willed her eyes to face him. "Listen to me," he vowed. "Somehow, I will get us both safely to land. We will see our future."
"I can almost believe you," she said sadly, knowing that it was not his promise to make. She dropped her head and treasured the sounds of his breathing while her tears fell upon his chest.
*My love,* he whispered to her in his mind. *I cherish thee, always.*
Christine felt the flood of emotion that he sent her and reveled in them. This was the first of what she prayed would be many things to remain only between them. She basked in the warmth of his body against hers and breathed in his intoxicating scent. Even over her terror, her body ached with desire for him. Through their bond she felt his need for her. They wanted this, they needed this. This was their wedding night, their joining time and their bond screamed to be consummated. This might be the only gift they could ever give to each other. It would be so.
*Oh Spock* Christine began, bringing her face to his and touching his lips softly with her own. *Make love to me.*
He looked at her for a moment, craving her. Slowly rising to his feet, he entreated her wordlessly to follow. With her hands securely in his, she too found her feet. Together they passed beneath the stars toward the lower decks of the ship. As they reached the stairway that would lead them down into secrecy, Christine halted.
*No. Not there,* she thought.
*Where, T'hy'la? There is nowhere else for us to find privacy.* Spock questioned.
*I know a place. I've been there before.* She smiled seductively, taking his wrist. He followed without apprehension.
They tried to hurry, but neither wanted the precious time to pass too quickly. Finally Spock realized that Christine had taken him to the deck that housed the first class passenger cabins. He eyed her with intrigue.
*Why have we come here?* he asked her.
*You'll see.* She could barely hide the smiled that played on her face.
They walked quietly past a few closed cabin doors and then stopped in front of one that seemed like all the others. Spock was alarmed when Christine knocked brazenly on the door. He held his breath, but there was no answer. Having found the situation exactly as she had hoped, Christine took a thin metal pin from her hair and inserted it in the lock.
*We really must discuss this penchant you have for breaking the law,* Spock mused.
*I think you'll be glad I did in a little while,* she answered. With that there was a barely audible clicking sound from the lock and Christine forced the door open. She began to enter but from the way Spock was studying her it was obvious she needed to explain.
*This cabin belongs to an old gentleman who is traveling alone. It seems that he is very accustomed to keeping late hours and is most probably in the bar right now. Unless I miss my guess he will be there for quite some time,* she told her husband.
*Are you certain, my wife?* Spock asked.
*No,* Christine said, enjoying the sound of her new title. *But doesn't that make it all the more provocative?*
*You are provoking me, and in ways I find extremely exciting.* He nearly smiled and did not wait until they were safely behind closed doors before finding her waiting lips. Still deep in the throws of their kiss he lifted her into his arms and crossed the threshold. The door closed noiselessly, as if no one at all had disturbed the silence of the cabin.
Although his every thought and action was focused on Christine the luxury and grandeur of the stateroom did not escape Spock's notice. *This is where you should be my treasure. Not in some dirty cargo hold,* he told her.
*Anywhere is paradise as long as I'm with you,* she said reaching to kiss him.
Spock's and Christine's thoughts thundered with each other. Their passion took on a life of its own as their lips and hands explored thrilling new frontiers. Without breaking free of their embrace, Spock found the buttons of Christine's gown and loosened them slowly one by one with a seamless motion. The dress fell to the floor. She worked the fasteners of his shirt, freeing his chest and arms and pulling the fabric from his hot body. Without distancing himself from her, his trousers soon lay beside the silk she had worn.
How they reached the bed neither knew. Together they descended as if falling onto a cloud. Spock ripped the ties from the corset that bound Christine's figure from him and freed her from the alluring undergarments she wore. He discarded the items without a thought, relishing the feel of her smooth soft skin against his fingers. Gently but feverishly he traced the form of the body with his mouth, as her grip tightened around him. Their arousal grew to an insatiable hunger and their bodies reacted simultaneously.
Christine sighed loudly with desire as she welcomed him to her. Spock echoed her ecstasy as he lost himself in the woman he cherished. Together their need exploded. The sharing of their minds heightened every move, every desire, every sensation. Spock and Christine rode the surges of their passion like the waves of the ocean upon which they ventured. No part of themselves were withheld from the other and all was adored. Again and again they searched and beckoned and met and were satisfied. The depths, and heights, and strength of their love shattered even the sweetest dream either had ever known, and they were left with better things. Their joy overwhelmed them and for the first time both truly knew happiness.
They lay together in the darkness, their skin radiating heat from their lovemaking. Spock's head rested contentedly on Christine's breast, his arm lounging possessively across her waist. Christine's cheek nestled against his dark satiny hair, her fingers tracing waves through it just above the point of his ear. They did not talk, there was no need. Their minds charmed each other with their thoughts. It seemed as though time were standing still. They could almost make themselves believe that perhaps, because they were so happy that history would not repeat, and they would be safe. Both knew they were wrong and in the darkness, encircled in their love, a part of them waited for what they knew would be inevitable.
Then almost as if some malevolent and unseen enemy had risen up from the deep bent of destroying them, Spock and Christine were shaken by a sharp thud and a sickening scraping sound. They arose and still holding on to each other, peered into the darkness. The shaking and noise ended as suddenly as it had begun, however the two soul mates knew what the remainder of the night would bring. The time had come.
* * *
Everything Christine had heard about the sinking of the Titanic, which she readily admitted was not much, had made it seem that the great ship had gone down swiftly and far too rapidly for the victims to take refuge. She had seen an old vid movie once based on the event, and even in that the vessel had not taken long to disappear under the water. She quickly forced the image from her mind remembering suddenly how that particular story had ended with the death of the young male lead. She closed her fingers tighter around Spock's hand as he led her through the upper decks which were now beginning to teem with terrified passengers. As the night wore on they both discovered that in actuality the demise of the legendary ocean liner had been agonizingly slow and sickeningly arduous.
Spock and Christine had dressed quickly and departed from their borrowed cabin, the site of their first night of passion. The two reached the outer walkway to find simple confusion turning to fear. Several people had been on deck and had narrowly missed being hit by chunks of ice that had crashed down at the ship from the white mountain with which it had collided. They wasted little time in relaying the calamity to the rest of those aboard. Now as the ship's bow rode low in the water, panic was seizing its inhabitants. The captain had ordered the lifeboats into the water and the first and second class passengers were nearly fighting each other for space within them. Spock could sense Christine's anger as her mind floated to those souls locked below the decks in the steerage compartments. He could not tell whether the rage that rose to his throat came from her or from him. He cursed silently into the darkness knowing that he could not even attempt to get Christine onto one of the half-full lifeboats. The place she would take had already been destined for someone else, and they could not afford any further time line contamination.
*I would not go even if I could. I would not leave you. You know that.* He heard her voice echo in his mind, as her fingers squeezed his. Spock could not overlook the way she trembled. Finding an empty corner, he pulled her to his into his arms.
*I am frightened too, my beloved.* He spoke to her without words.
Christine buried her face next to his chest and wept. "It's my fault. You'd be safe if not for me," she chastised herself.
Spock brought her eyes up to meet his and held her face in his fingers. "I would be nothing if not for you," he told her. "When I thought of you alone here, frightened and dyin..." He trailed off, the image too painful to bare. "Nothing could have kept me from coming back to you."
"Now you're going to die with me," Christine sobbed. The light from the Titanic's flares which exploded overhead shone in her eyes, glittering off the tears that rolled down her cheeks.
"I would rather die with you, than live without you, T'hy'la," he whispered against her temple.
Almost as if fate had heard him and was willing to oblige, the ship suddenly lurched and the couple was slammed against the nearby bulkhead. The downward motion of the deck was unmistakable. Spock braced himself against the wall and held Christine firmly by the waist as she grabbed hold of his strong arms. For an instant it seemed that the entire world was sinking. Spock looked up at the sky, his thoughts beckoning Christine's gaze to follow. The universe all around them seemed calm, almost peaceful. The distant stars sparkled with a brilliance that mocked the struggle around them. Even the water was silent, waiting. This was not right. There should be a tempest raging around them, an angry beast swallowing everything in its path. How could the night be so beautiful and tranquil? The paradox gave Spock a new determination. If it took the last of his breath and blood, he would save Christine somehow.
"Come," he ordered, grabbing her hand.
Together they raced up the deck toward the aft sections of the ship. The vessel had already taken on an sharp incline and they struggled just to stay upright. The bedlam around them turned the once pleasant promenade into a gruesome chamber of horrors. Hysterical ladies, crying children, terrified men swirled in their path, blocking their way at every turn. One by one the lifeboats were launched into the freezing waters, leaving screaming passengers still crushed against the railing awaiting their turns. For many, those chances would never come. From within the ship came the bleak sounds of crashing as the contents of the interior were thrown about, reducing once precious object to rubble. The mournful sound of the ship's band accompanying the disaster with haunting strains could be detected over the maelstrom. It seemed as though the world were ending.
As she raced up the now towering behemoth with her husband, Christine turned to look over her shoulder and was suddenly frozen with fear. Where she and Spock had stood only moments before was now completely engulfed by the waters of the North Atlantic. Her eyes widened with dread. It was almost as if the sea was chasing them. Feeling her arm go limp Spock peered behind him at his wife's stricken face. Over her shoulder he could see the sight that had stopped her in her tracks. He forced his own fear down, anxious to get Christine to some kind of safety all the while knowing the desire was futile.
"Do not stop!" he called out to her, pulling her toward him.
No sooner had the words left his mouth, than the ship lunged again toward the sky, her bow forced further into the ocean. Christine stumbled and was thrown to the deck. The force of the blow knocked the wind from her lungs and Spock could feel her momentary confusion and pain. Another lurch and he as well lost his footing, only to find them both sliding down toward the black wet abyss. Suddenly finding her voice, Christine screamed with horror. The crashing of one of the Titanic's massive smoke stacks resounded her plaintive cry. Spock's free hand flailed wildly trying to grab hold of anything that would keep them from falling further. His feet skidded along the planks, failing to break their plunge. At last his grip found the bottom of one of the railings just as the angle of the deck rose even steeper. Christine, however, had only his hand to prevent her descent. For a moment she swung in the air like a rag doll. Spock clamped her hand so tightly that he nearly cut off the circulation, however neither noticed. The terror he sensed from her was overwhelming and matched his own. He struggled to pull her to him. With his Vulcan strength, normally pulling her the short distance would not present a problem. However, this night his fear for Christine's safety and shock at seeing her dangling so near to disaster won over his superior abilities. He was a husband terrified for his wife. Finally Christine's foot caught another inverted post and she was able to steady herself. As she looked up at him, the courage Spock found in her eyes gave him hope. He hoisted her to him with ease and again secured his arm around her waist.
*It's hopeless!* she called out to his mind, too breathless to speak.
*We have been through worse,* he tried comfort her.
*Right now, the Klingons and the Romulans don't look so bad,* Christine tried to joke.
*I shall tell them you said that the next time we encounter one,* Spock answered her, glad to give her a temporary diversion from their situation.
Her eyes softened with tears. *There won't be a n..." she began.
Spock would not let her finish, wanting instead to give her some shred of hope. *This will be an epic to tell our children.* He did not wait for her to protest but pulled her even tighter to him and began climbing the shaking railing posts toward the sky.
They had nearly reached the back observation deck when the sound of twisting tearing metal wrenched their ears. Far too suddenly for them to react, the stern rose even further over the water and then a sharp jolt pressed them against the deck as the mighty ship was torn in two. It took only moments. Lying together on the deck, Spock and Christine watched the waves advance toward them as the back part of the vessel came to rest again atop the water with a powerful crash. The remains of the Titanic hit the surface of the ocean with the force of a photon torpedo and the couple was again jarred nearly from consciousness.
For a moment there was an eerie silence. Not even the wind blew. It was then that Spock heard Christine's unspoken question. He saw the terrible image that plagued her mind. He watched her seeing them trapped in the ship's suction, being pulled to the bottom. She was right. When a vessel that large sank, anything caught in its wake was sucked down with it. He realized they stood a better a chance in the water. Knowing that she trusted him implicitly he quickly found an unstable footing and dragged Christine up to his side. She had seen his agreement through their bond and understood. Spock gather her in his arms and swung her out over the railing. She grabbed hold of the wooden bar and dug her feet into the outer part of the deck as he swung over to join her.
"When we hit the water, swim as hard as you can away from the ship," he ordered.
Christine nodded and pulled their clenched hands up into view. "Whatever happens!" He knew what she meant and affirmed his understanding. No matter what, their hands had to stay together. They could not lose each other.
Christine hesitated for a moment, staring deep into his eyes. "I love you," she cried.
Spock looked at her, his soul tearing itself apart over what they were about to face. He would gladly give his life for Christine and hoped desperately that morning light would find them safe and together. Whatever was to become of them, he had been allowed this time with her which was more than he had ever dreamed and their future was something he had no intention of relinquishing without a fight. He pulled her to him and kissed her passionately. When his breath was gone, he reluctantly tore his lips from hers and looked again into her brilliant brave eyes. "I love you too!" he yelled.
Taking one breath, each silently confirmed to the other that they were ready. They did not notice chill of the air and they steeled themselves against the anguished cries of those they left behind. Now their true test awaited them. Hands held fast, uncertain of what lay beneath, Spock and Christine stepped off into the darkness and fell toward the vast deep water below.
* * *
Jim Kirk fingered the rim of his second shot of bourbon as he sat alone in his quarters. The whiskey had been a Christmas present from Bones and he had greedily downed the first glass, barely recognizing the quality or the burn of the liquor on the back of his throat. Normally he would have invited the good doctor to partake in a few ounces with him, but not tonight. It had been over five hours since Spock and Christine had missed the beam out. He knew enough about the legend of the Titanic to know that they were either fighting for lives in the frigid waters of the North Atlantic circa 1912 or they were both dead. He was certain that neither would have accepted safe passage in a life boat. That would have meant condemning those who would have otherwise lived. Both Spock and Christine were far too ethical to allow that.
Still Kirk could not help but wonder as he leaned forward and rested his weary forehead on his thumbs. What if they somehow survived the sinking? What was it that had compelled Spock to return to the Titanic in an attempt to save Christine? His first officer's plaintive pleading look appeared in front of his closed eyes. Never in all the years he had known the Vulcan had Kirk ever seen such an appeal from him. There had also been something in his voice. The "Jim ... please." That had struck the captain. Kirk had always suspected that Spock felt more for Christine than he ever let on, but there had been much more in his voice than simple concern for a fellow officer. Something had happened on that long ago ship between his two crew members, something for which Spock was willing to risk his life.
Before Kirk could finish his thoughts, he was interrupted by the buzzer of his entry door. For a moment he was tempted to ignore it, however he tried to make it a policy to be available to his crew at any time.
"Come." Kirk looked up and was relieved to see McCoy stride across his threshold.
"Looks like you can stand the bridge without Spock about as much as I can stand sickbay without Christine." The doctor tried to grin as he took a shot glass from the cabinet and sat down beside his friend. Somehow his teeth did not show as much in his smile as usual.
"It's almost eerie looking at that station," Kirk agreed, trying to force the image of Spock's empty chair from his mind. "Chekov's acting science officer and he won't go near it."
"Yeah. I keep expecting to hear Chris' voice or turn around and see her standing there." McCoy's glum face matched Kirk's.
The two old friends sat in stony silence for a while. Each took a few sips from their respective glasses. However, finding no pleasure in the sensation, they chose to concentrate on their thoughts. It was McCoy who voiced the question on both of their minds.
"I just don't understand it," he said, slamming his fist against his thigh. "What could have happened to make them miss that beam out?"
Kirk took a deep breath. "Any number of things, doctor." His eyes were far away.
"You think they were caught?" Bones asked.
"I have no idea and it's driving me crazy," Kirk answered. "They could have been caught. They could have been injured. They could have ended up someplace else entirely. They could still be sitting on that ship waiting for us."
"If I know Spock, they're not just sitting around," McCoy ventured. "He seemed pretty anxious to go back for Christine. I doubt he'd let anything happen to her if he could help it."
"He was insistent." Kirk thought again how his friend had nearly begged to return.
"Yeah. I've never seen him like that before," McCoy continued. "You don't suppose he started to return her affections, do you?" The old southerner almost smiled.
"There are too many unanswered questions and that's one we may never know," Kirk said regretfully.
McCoy thought a moment. "Yeah. Here's another one for you. What if they survive?"
"What?" Kirk looked at his friend. It was as if McCoy were reading his thoughts of a few minutes before.
"What if Spock and Christine live through the sinking of that ship? What then?" the doctor elaborated. "I mean what's going to happen to them? A lady medical professional and an extraterrestrial probably couldn't exactly just set up housekeeping in those days. They will be completely out of their element. They'll have to run and hide for the rest of their lives."
Kirk slammed back the whiskey with a new determination. "Not if I have anything to say about it." He stood and started for the door.
"Are you going back there, to the plan ... I mean to the nebula." The sun had gone nova a few hours after Spock and Christine had failed to respond to the ship's signal, just as the Enterprise had reached the safety zone. They had narrowly missed being destroyed. It was all Kirk could do to pull himself away from the search but he had to think of the ship and the rest of his crew.
"There must be something we can still do." The captain looked hopeful. "You know how anomalous nebulae are. Maybe we can pick up a signal or lock onto them again, or something. We have to try."
McCoy shook his head happily. "Now you're talking. What can I do?"
"Cross you fingers and pray," Kirk answered as he punched the comm button to the bridge.
"Kirk to Bridge!" he nearly yelled.
"Sulu here," the helmsman and reluctantly acting first officer answered.
"Set course back to the nebula. We have a couple of friends who might just be waiting there for us."
"Aye, sir," Sulu answered. It was obvious he was smiling. From his quarters Kirk could not see the huge and hopeful grins that painted the faces of his bridge crew. They too were happily willing to do whatever they could to find Spock and Christine.
* * *
The icy water tore at their skin like a million razor sharp knives. It seemed that they had fallen forever, although their actual descent took only seconds. With his keen night vision Spock could see the surface of the water advancing toward them as they plummeted through the darkness. Christine could not. She had trusted in her husband's perceptions through their bond, but had lost her breath on the way down as her stomach leapt into her throat and was not prepared to enter the water. What little air that remained in her chest reflexively exploded from her lungs upon hitting the waves. The impact from the height they had tumbled was like striking a concrete wall.
The first sensation that entered Spock's awareness was intense and paralyzing pain in his legs. He thrashed and kicked at the formless water around him trying to swim, an action for which he realized he had very little practice. He was surprised to find that his limbs were unharmed and worked as intended. That could only mean one thing. The agony he felt was coming from Christine. It was with that realization that he discovered something else, something that sent terror racing through him. He had let go.
There was nowhere, nothing but an empty void. Which direction was correct? There was no way of telling for certain. Alone beneath the waves Christine struggled against her failing body to reach the surface. Her legs were useless and she was sure they were broken. The pain she felt in them nearly immobilized her. The only thing she could do was flail her arms wildly trying to pull herself upward. She fought the coughing in her throat and knew that the salt water had entered her lungs. She had no oxygen. The briny water stung her eyes. The gown she wore was saturated and seemed bent on pulling her down. Where was Spock? They had sworn that nothing could separate their fingers, but they had underestimated the power of the sea. Upon impact they had been torn apart. It would be so easy to give up and float lifeless to the bottom. She shook the thought from her mind. No. She had to find him.
Fresh, sweet air poured into Spock's lungs as he finally reached the surface. There was no time to enjoy the feel of breath in his body. Taking a huge gulp of air he dove under once more. Ignoring the burning of his eyes in the salt water he peered into the blackness for his wife. She had to be near. Surely he could find her. His arms searched for her hand, her hair, her dress, anything to pull her to him. Over and over he went under, clawing at items nearby, each time discarding them with haste. He forced himself deeper and deeper as he swam out in concentric circles from where he had emerged. She was still alive, he could sense her. Why could he not find her? At last it became obvious that he was not going to reach her, perhaps she too had surfaced. He rose quickly to the top once more. Barely free of the ocean's hold, he roared for her.
"CHRISTINE!" his primal scream echoed into the night.
Christine's fingers ripped at the water. Her oxygen starved blood beat a death chant inside her ears. Her heart screamed for rest, but she could not. Gritting her teeth with determination, she rose slowly toward the surface. Finally, miraculously, the air washed cold and clear over her face. There was barely time for a gasp. Instinctively she tried to kick herself upward over the waves but her shattered legs would not heed her command and she slipped once more beneath glassy sheen of the Atlantic. Spurred by the knowledge that she was so close to the top and the fresh swallow of air she had taken into her lungs, Christine groped again in the darkness. There was something else now, the sweet sound of a voice that radiated in her mind and drove her to survive. With a near frantic energy she hauled her limp body toward the sky once more.
Emerging from the monstrous ocean that would drag her down, Christine answered the unseen cry. "SPOCK!" she screamed.
In that instant she heard Spock's voice in her mind, instructing her, trying to save her from wherever he was. *Swim, T'hy'la. Swim!*
"I can't!" Christine answered wearily, voicing her words to the frigid night air to calm herself.
*You must!* Spock replied frantically. *Get as far from the ship as you can before she sinks. You will be pulled down with her.*
"It's too hard. My legs are broken. It hurts too much," she cried. "Save yourself!"
*I know. If I were with you I would swim for you, but I cannot. Please!* he begged her. *You must use all the strength you have left!*
"How will I find you?" Christine's quivering lips whispered.
*Your mind will guide you to me through our thoughts. Hurry!* Spock pleaded.
"I'll try. Keep talking to me!" Christine needed to hear him with her.
Using all the force of her arms and all the might of her will, Christine dragged herself through the waves. It seemed that she was making no progress. Ahead of her lay a field of debris in the water that seemed impassable. Her heart felt as though it would explode from the effort and her muscles had never revolted against her so violently as they did now. She tried to ignore the pain in her legs, but it worsened as they were bombarded by the unseen remnants of the once great ocean liner that now floated near the surface. Her direction was unclear. She was not controlling her path. Christine gave herself up the still new and unexplainable bond which led her toward her husband.
*Yes. That is it, beloved. I can feel you coming nearer,* Spock assured her.
Spock's own course away from the Titanic was no less treacherous. The water magnified a thousand minds crying out in agony and horror toward him. He could barely stand the death that surrounded him. His body was even less accustomed to the extreme cold than was Christine's and less able to deal with it. Fortunately, he possessed the ability to control his reaction to the harsh environment and ignore the bone chilling ice, at least for a while. Spock could tell that even as he beckoned Christine toward him, his own system was beginning to shut down. However, he could not abandon her and would not allow her to give up. Intent on their own struggle, neither saw the great ship slip beneath the waves behind them as they continued to press on.
Blinded by salt, fear, and the beginnings of hypothermia, Christine hit something in the water in front of her. It did not give way, but was soft and pliable. A moment's hand stroke swept enough water from her face so that she could begin to discern the outline of the impediment. Horror washed over her as the stared into the dead face of one of the Titanic's officers. She screamed in terror. All around her floated the frozen remains of the doomed passengers.
*It is alright, T'hy'la. They cannot hurt you, and you cannot help them,* Spock comforted her. *Come to me.*
Christine slid past the corpse, fighting the retching in her stomach, and swam on. All the while Spock continued to ease her struggle with words of hope. *When you are safe by my side, I shall never again let go of you,* he whispered to her. *This will be but one bad memory in our lifetime of happiness,* he sent her, hiding the fact that he feared they would die here.
*Our life will be beautiful, won't it?* Christine answered him. She knew they had little hope but the dream he was painting for her was so wonderful she wanted to lose herself in it.
*I shall tell our children of how brave you have been this night,* he promised.
*And I will tell them how strong you have been for both of us,* she smiled to him.
*You have honored me more than you can ever know by your love for me,* he told her.
*Oh, Spock,* Christine sobbed. *Where are you?*
"I am right here, T'hy'la." His voice floated to her ears as he brought her into his arms and wrapped then tightly around her, his legs now swimming weakly for her.
Christine collapsed exhausted against him, turning her face toward his. *My love,* she sighed inwardly.
In the darkness, their lips met and with the last ounces of their energies they greeted each other with a silent kiss. Christine felt Spock move her further in the water. Slowly and with great care he took her arms one at a time and placed them over something hard and sturdy. She did not see that it was a piece of wooden clapboarding which had once been the interior of a first class cabin. He pressed his body against hers and held her close. All they could do was cling to each other. Words and thoughts would not come, only feelings. Love, security, futility, hopelessness all swirled in their shared consciousness as awareness left them. Floating frozen and helpless in the middle of the Atlantic, they gave themselves up to the inevitable. The still night invaded their happy dream and enveloped them. A few shouts rang out over the endless lifeless water which had churned only minutes before. It was all given up. They would meet each other in another place.
No one noticed the glow of the strange lights which shimmered above the water.
* * *
"Boost Power! Divert all secondary systems to the transporter, primary systems to bare minimum! We've got to pull them through that worm hole and we're not going to lose them again," Captain Kirk shouted his orders through the intercom. He had taken position behind the console in the transporter room and his fingers were working furiously over the controls. There had been a blip on the scanner screen readout of the nebula only a few moments before. It was slight, and almost imperceptible, but parts of it matched the signatures of Mr. Spock and Nurse Chapel. It was the slightest chance he had ever seen, but Jim Kirk knew he had to try. The captain trusted only himself with this action. He also did not want a potential failure on anyone else's hands but his own.
Scotty reached over the captain's shoulders and pressed several buttons below the main positioning globe. "We're getting something. It's becoming clearer," he announced.
Doctor McCoy stood outside of the struggle taking place before him. His forehead creased into folds of apprehension and worry, he was frozen in place. The stunning blue eyes that usually softened his expression darted from the captain, to Scotty, and on toward the transporter pad almost willing the forms of his two lost friends to appear.
"It's them!" Mr. Scott bellowed, too occupied with his duty to show the joy he felt. "Their life signs are weak. It looks like they'll need your services, Doctor," he announced without looking up.
At that McCoy backed closer to the wall and punched the intercom button near his shoulder. "Medical team to the transporter room, stat!" he ordered.
"Look!" Scotty's shouted pointing to the transporter pad.
Up on the raised platform a few yards in front of them, two forms began to appear. They were bodies, pressed so close together that for a moment the men were sure they had only retrieved one. With one final shove of levers and a twist of a dial, the lights that had enveloped the figures disappeared and the two beings lay motionless on the floor of of the unit. It was Spock and Christine.
Kirk and McCoy rushed to the transporter module, each taking the few steps to the machine in one giant stride. Reaching their friends, they traded a quick look at he scene. Spock's arms were wrapped so tightly around Christine that it took quite an amount of force on Kirk's part to separate them. Neither onlooker noticed the Vulcan visibly flinch at being removed from his mate. McCoy pulled the mediscanner he always carried, almost as a good luck charm, from his pocket and ran it over the two nearly frozen time travelers. His expression immediately turned even more grim as the medical team arrived with gurneys and equipment.
Hastily he reported their friends' conditions to the captain upon his initial assessment. "They're both suffering from hypothermia and exposure. Body temperatures dangerously low. Internal functions practically nonexistent." The doctor then motioned for his staff to begin preparing the patients for treatment. All Kirk could do was watch as Spock and Christine were lifted onto gurneys and injected with hypos of all sorts. A few minutes later they were wheeled out of the room on their way to sickbay.
McCoy had already shifted into full gear and barely noticed the captain as he now stood watching the scene unfold. Kirk reached for the doctor's arm just before the surgeon disappeared through the door. "Bones!"
"I've got to go Jim, we'll talk later." McCoy looked somewhat annoyed.
Captain Kirk would not be deterred. "Are they going to be alright?" Something in his stricken expression stopped the doctor in his tracks.
"I don't know, Jim," he answered honestly. "I need to determine how long the oxygen flow to their brains have been restricted. Spock has a better chance, he's stronger. I think he's already started one of those Vulcan healing trances. Christine's another story. Her legs are shattered and there are traces of fluid in her lungs. She's in deep shock. They're both touch and go right now."
"Go on!" Kirk let go. "Do everything you can," he implored.
"You know I will," McCoy assured him plainly, but the hush in his old friend's voice gave Kirk little hope.
* * *
"Now Doctor!" Spock called hoarsely. He had been in a state of trance for days. Regulating his body temperature and repairing the internal damage caused by the exposure to the deadly waters of the North Atlantic had taken all his abilities and concentration. Now he needed to be brought back to awareness. Now, he needed to find Christine.
McCoy was certain that given the proper time, and due to his superior physical state that Spock would pull through unscathed from the ordeal. Knowing that he was basically useless to assist in Spock's healing, McCoy had assigned Doctor M'Benga to monitor the Vulcan's care.
"Dr. McCoy!" M'Benga shouted and bounded across the room at the summons. He had already administered several sharp slaps to Spock's jaw when the Enterprise's Chief Medical Officer came bursting through the doorway from the depths of sickbay.
Leonard McCoy had not slept in days and his appearance attested to that fact. While Spock's injuries and trauma had apparently healed, Christine was far from out of the woods. Her human body could not so easily repair the organ and tissue damage she suffered when her system had begun to fail. Although the hypothermia had saved her from severe brain damage, her other organs had suffered greatly. Her heart muscle had weakened from lack of oxygen, her kidney function was reduced due to the build up of toxins in her blood, and she had ingested enough salt water into her lungs that pneumonia had developed shortly after she had been rescued. There were also her shattered legs, which had required several hours of surgery to repair. She had been kept alive with injections of stimulants and drugs, her temperature had been elevated using blankets and warm water. For some reason, which McCoy was unable to explain she just did not seem to be getting any better.
Captain Kirk who had been on his way to Sickbay also entered to find M'Benga administering the necessary blows. Without warning, Spock's hand shot upward and caught the tall African's wrist. "That will be sufficient. Thank you," he said. Doctor M'Benga nodded and backed off, sensing that the first officer would probably want to speak to the Captain and Doctor McCoy alone.
"I will be in my office if you need me," M'Benga said to McCoy who signaled his understanding with an appreciative smile.
Spock look at Kirk and McCoy and instantly began to stand. The two men were by his side at once, each trying to take an arm and urge him to rest, to be still.
"Lie down you stubborn, Vulcan," McCoy said through his struggle.
"Where is Christine?" Spock answered.
"Spock," Kirk tried. "You just almost died, give yourself some time."
"Where is she?" Spock nearly screamed.
"She's in ICU. There's nothing you can do for her, now get back in bed," McCoy ordered.
"No. You do not understand," Spock said.
"Understand what, Spock?" Kirk asked. "Why is it so important that you get to Christine?"
"Because," the Vulcan said in a pained tone, "she is my wife."
Kirk and McCoy released their respective grips on Spock's arms almost immediately, both nearly in shock from the announcement. "She's your what?" Jim Kirk asked, astounded.
"There is no time to explain. Please I must go to her. She needs me." Spock could sense Christine's failing state through their bond. He knew it was urgent that he reach her.
McCoy relented, eager for anything that might help Christine. "This way." He motioned for Spock to follow him, and Kirk fell in quietly behind them. If this were true, he wondered what his first officer's reaction would be upon seeing his wife. Kirk himself had spend several hours keeping vigil by Christine's bedside and found the scene very hard to bear.
The somber group walked quickly down the dim hall to the intensive care cubicles. The facilities were all empty save for one. Light streamed through the doorway of the largest and most heavily equipped room, from which a faint hum could be heard. McCoy stopped at the door and motioned for Spock to enter. The Vulcan's stoic exterior nearly cracked when he saw Christine for the first time since they had nearly died in each other's arms and no one would have blamed him. She lay motionless in a bed which appeared twice its normal size due to the heavy blankets that had been wrapped around her still chilled body. She looked so tiny and frail. Her pale skin nearly the same ghostly white as the pillow on which she lay. Tubes ran from large flasks of medicine into the veins in her arms, several disappeared under the sheets toward her legs, and one ran directly into her neck. Even under the bedding the rectangular box of the sterile field which would heal her legs could be seen. The hum that Kirk and Spock had heard from outside the room was coming from a ventilator to which Christine was connected. Two large tubes joined to a regulator had been inserted into her lungs through her mouth, one assisted her breathing while the other suctioned the fluid that was slowly choking her to death.
Spock slowly crossed the floor to his wife's bedside. His pain at seeing Christine that way was overwhelming. Never in his life had he felt so many emotions welling up within him. Love, worry, anger, fear, guilt, and so many others all threatened his Vulcan control. Never had he cared so little if it was breached. Upon seeing his distress the team of nurses that McCoy had assigned to constantly watch over Christine thoughtfully left the room. The only people who would see Spock fall apart now, were his two closest friends, and he knew they would understand. Even they respectfully stepped into the hall, wanting to give him some privacy.
To Spock it seemed to take forever to reach Christine's side. He took her hand in his and it felt so cold that he shivered. He touched her gaunt face and his soul cried. Her once brilliant blue eyes were now closed and sunken in dark circles and her coloring appeared to be that of a cadaver. What frightened him most was that he could not sense her vibrant essence in his mind. Her presence was still there, but it was so weak and he feared it was fading.
Gently he sat on the bed beside her. "Christine. T'hy'la. Please ... wake up," he whispered gravely, trying to will her back to consciousness. There was no response.
He brought her hand to his mouth and closed his eyes at her nearness. "Don't leave me," he begged.
It was then that he heard a tiny weak voice somewhere in the back of his mind. It was her. *Spock,* she said, but there was no more.
A tear ran from his eyes and down her wrist. For a moment he could not think, unsure what to do. Then his stricken mind was certain. *I will bring you back to me,* he vowed and felt Christine's soft and powerless fingers close around his strong hand only for a moment.
Carefully Spock maneuvered around the tubes and wire's keeping his mate alive and pulled Christine into his arms. Gently he lay down beside her in the bed, careful not to disturb her injured legs. He reveled in her for an all too brief moment. Then his hand moved toward her face, finding the precious places. He would save her. It could be done. It had been done for centuries. He would heal for her.
Slowly he turned back the layers of her consciousness, searching for her. She met him as though they had been parted for centuries, both realizing how eerily true the sentiment was. Their joy, for a moment, overcame worry and fear and it was enough just to be together. Then Christine's spirit began to grow weak.
*I'm so tired,* she sent to him. *I'm so afraid.*
Through their bond Spock tried to give Christine as much strength and hope as he could. Waves of courage and peace washed over her as he nurtured her weary soul. *Rest, beloved. I will watch over you,* he told her.
Her mind slowly drifted off into a blissful sleep as he gave her dreams of their future. He, however, did not rest. All his efforts were used to conduct the energies of Christine's body toward healing itself. He regulated her breathing, increasing the oxygen intake. His heartbeat slowed to match and adjust hers. Natural and chemical antibodies present in her bloodstream were forced to the areas they were needed most. Platelet and bone cell production were increased to mend her legs and her lungs. The toxins which threatened her kidneys were recycled into useful agents to aid in her healing. Every possible approach he could imagine was undertaken as he even searched her mind for the medical knowledge he needed.
McCoy monitored the conditions of both his patients and was amazed to find that Christine was improving. Slowly, it was working. On the fourth day since Spock had undertaken healing her, the doctor found that her legs were completely mended and she no longer needed the assistance of a respirator to breath. The next day, alone together, Spock withdrew from Christine's mind to find her beautiful eyes watching him.
"Thank you," she said drowsily, her voice barely a whisper from the irritation of the tubes. That too would mend in short order.
"There is no need to thank me, T'hy'la. My act was purely selfish." He looked lovingly at her and softly stroked her face now returning to its healthy color. Christine's eyes never left his own, she seemed almost apprehensive.
"What is it, my treasure?" Spock asked, sensing questioning in her mind.
"I ... I just..." Christine did not know where to start and Spock took her hand to comfort her. It seemed to give her a bit of encouragement. "I thought that maybe, now that things are back to normal, that you ... you wouldn't..." She could not finish as tears filled her eyes.
Realization came to him through her thoughts. She was afraid that now, since they were back on the ship and in their own time that he would not love her anymore and not wish to maintain their bond. He admonished himself that his actions toward her in the past had put such a fear in to her heart now. Would their always be doubt between them?
"Christine. A bond between a couple cannot simply be discontinued. It is not like a divorce on Earth," Spock told her.
"Then you are trapped," she confirmed, tears sliding down her face.
"To say that I'm am trapped would indicate that I were in a position I did not wish to be," he explained.
"Then you really do want to be joined with me?" she asked.
"I did not take my proposal to you nor our bonding lightly. I would never have asked you if I did not want to be with you forever, if I did not care deeply..." He halted. Making her understand the depth of his commitment and feelings for her would require complete honesty, total revelation. "...if I did not love you with everything that I am," he said plainly, his eyes making the declaration more substantially than his tone would allow. "My only regret is that it took me so long to realize how much you mean to me."
Christine caught her breath for a moment. "Then you still ... want me to be your wife?" Her voice happy and hopeful.
He bent down and took her face in his hands, laying his forehead next to hers he showed her the very moment he realized that there would never be anyone else for him but her, there never had been all along. He admitted how he hated himself for rejecting her for so long. Together they relived their bonding, the passion they had shared, and the terror of their ordeal and separation. His soul cried out to remember the emptiness of feeling her gone from him, the desperation of searching for her when he had beckoned to her across the water, and the joy of having her back in his arms. He also allowed her to seethe grief that tore him apart upon finding her dying in sickbay and how he could not sustain his control even in front of the captain and the doctor. He never imagined he could love someone so much. That it was her made it all the more sweet, for he knew she loved him as strongly. He finally felt complete, accepted, and at peace.
He opened his eyes to her joyful face, and was not surprise when she wiped tears from his cheeks. *Now, can you ask me that same question?* he inquired.
*I will never doubt again,* Christine smiled.
*There will never be a need,* Spock vowed.
At last their lips met, sweetly and passionately. Each promising the other a lifetime together. *I cherish thee,* they shared.
* * *
Christine sighed as she stepped out onto the deck of the rented day cruiser Spock had procured at her request. Actually, it was more at her insistence, as he had no desire to bring on such an outing this day. She had nearly been forced to beg and had shed a few tearful pleas. Finally, not wishing to upset her, he gave in and after a few hours of searching the previous afternoon had found an adequately spacious and comfortable vehicle in which to travel. She laughed to herself a little as she remembered how worried and anxious he had been over her. She had, however, assured him that she was fine and that nothing would occur to harm her, especially as long as he was there with her.
They had arrived at their intended destination a little before noon. It was a beautiful day. The sun shone brightly and there was not a hint of chill in the air. Christine breathed in the cool wind, thick with salt spray as she stepped to the railing and peered out over the now calm waters of the North Atlantic. Had it really been four years since she and her husband had braved those frigid waves of so long ago? It seemed like only a moment ago Spock had called to her through their bond from across the death-filled water. She tried not to think of that terrible nightmare, however that was the reason she had come.
Looking down into the depths, Christine could not help but think of the more than a thousand souls who had met their ends while she and Spock had been miraculously spared when the Titanic went down. The sunlight off the waves glared in the tears forming in her eyes and she lowered her gaze to the rose which Spock had bought her before they left their home in San Fransisco. It was a beautiful pink old fashioned variety with one blossom in full bloom and a tiny bud just ready to open. Its meaning and irony did not escape her as she cradled it in her palm.
The final landing procedures complete and the craft resting weightlessly on the water a few meters from the memorial buoy to the ill-fated ocean liner, Spock stepped out onto the platform to join his wife. Without words, Christine sensed him before she felt his arms wrap around her protectively.
"Our son is active today," he whispered into her ear as his hand caressed her large rounded abdomen.
Christine smiled and brought her free hand to rest atop his just as the little life she carried within her, so ready to be born, kicked her hard in the side. "He's always like that when you're near," she beamed. "He knows his father's presence."
"It will not be long now?" Spock stated questioningly, almost as if Christine could give him an exact day and time.
She smiled and nestled close to him. "A few days maybe, but I don't think much more than that."
"You should not have come today. It is too dangerous for both of you," he reminded her.
"I had to come here," Christine said quietly. "There is something I have to do."
"What is that, my T'hy'la?" Spock asked her.
"To say goodbye, once and for all." Spock could not argue. He was glad Christine was finally ready to put the ordeal behind her. More than once over the years they had been married she had awakened screaming in the middle of the night, reliving their struggle in her dreams.
"Very well, then. Do what you must," he allowed, somberly giving her the time and respect she needed and deserved.
She smiled lovingly at him and moved a little closer to the rail. Taking a deep breath she spoke to the unseen beings she knew lay beneath the waves and to one in particular. "Colleen. It is so very inadequate what I have to tell you. To say 'thank you' seems wrongs and so does 'I'm sorry'. How can you thank someone for this?" Christine choked on a sob, and she felt Spock's hand tighten around hers. She slowly continued. "You and your baby died so that ... my baby could live." Christine stroked her wide waistline adoringly. "Bless you," she whispered.
She then studied the rose, a symbol not only of herself and her child but of the two people she had once known for too short a time. Bringing it to her lips she lightly placed a kiss on the petals. Then she slowly extended her hand out over the water and let the flower fall, watching it float away to its new recipient.
A strange feeling of release washed over Christine, as if now she could face what was to come unburdened by what had been. She had a joyous new life of her own to look forward to. She would not regret nor tarnish her happiness with the guilt of something she could not control. She smiled widely as a sudden breeze brushed the tendrils from her face. Was it Colleen saying goodbye as well? Christine looked up at Spock who had been standing beside her in awe.
"I am proud of you, my wife," he said. Then he kissed deeply and tenderly.
She reveled in his compliment and pride for a moment, her eyes sparkling. Christine then took his arm and led him toward the cabin door, as their child once more asserted his presence against her side. "Come," she grinned. "We have much to do, and a short time in which to do it."
Spock wasted no time in securing Christine into the passenger seat which he had been sure to make more comfortable by the addition of a few of her favorite cushions. Then, with her left hand clasped in his right, he brought the small vessel up from the water and turned it toward North America, toward their home, and toward their future.