Disclaimer: Star Trek is the property of Paramount/Viacom. This story is the property of SterJulie and is copyright 2005 by SterJulie. Rated PG.





It was Saint Valentine's Day by the old Earth calendar and love was in the air. Well, more for some than for others.


"Whose lame brained idea was it to serve heart-shaped pancakes?" Christine Chapel groused over her tray. Her tablemate glanced up from her assorted cards.


"Someone get up on the wrong side of the bunk today, Sugah?" Uhura cooed. "Now, what's the matter with the Sickbay Sweetheart? No Valentines?" Uhura looked down at the nurse's tray and gasped in embarrassment. "I'm sorry, honey..."


"Don't apologize," Chapel said. "I did so get a Valentine. I just don't flaunt it like you do."


"Chris, baby, a Valentine from me doesn't count," Uhura said gently. "Now, what's really the matter?"


Chapel got very quiet. It took her a long time to finally speak.


"It's just that..." she began in a soft whisper, "at the funniest times, the whole incident with the Platonians comes back to me. They ruined what could have been something beautiful between ... us. I feel like I'm in mourning for what could have been."


Uhura covered Chapel's hand with her own as tears filled the nurse's eyes. Behind Chapel's head, two tables away, Uhura saw Spock's dark head lift and turn their way. Uhura kept her eyes on Spock's as she said to Chapel, "Have you ever said anything to him, Chris?"


"I should have gone to him right away," Chapel said, wiping her nose, "but the moment has passed."


Uhura shook her head minutely at Spock who had raised his brow as if to say, "Can I help?"


"This is all so silly. I'm just overtired from treating all those Rigellian fever cases" Chapel continued. "I just wish we could find some ryetalyn." As she wiped her face, Spock rose and approached the table, despite Uhura's warning. "It's over, it's done," Chapel continued. "There was never anything there. There can never be anything ..."


"My mother is fond of saying, 'Never say never,'" Spock said as he sat next to Chapel.


Uhura patted Chapel's hand, picked up her tray and left.


"We should talk, Christine," Spock said in a low voice.


Chapel gathered the scattered pieces of her flustered self and pulled herself together with great effort.


"About what?" she asked coolly.


Spock tipped his head to the side, smiling with his eyes.


"About the pachyderm standing between us," he teased.


Chapel was confused. "You mean the elephant in the room?"


"I believe I said that," Spock continued.


They both rose, Chapel with her untouched tray, and left the mess hall. Chapel pushed the uneaten heart-shaped pancakes at Doctor McCoy as she passed him at the door.


"Here." Chapel said. "Bon apetit."


* * *


Spock led the way to a nearby conference room.


"Neutral territory," Chapel commented.


"It's also very private," Spock said as he activated the door lock and switched off the security cameras. Spock sat adjacent to the nurse and studied her. "You look tired," he observed in a gentle voice.


Christine self-consciously patted and fluffed her hair.


"I mean to say that your eyes look tired," Spock continued.


"It's been a tough week," Chapel said unsteadily. "I've pulled four doubles in a row.


Spock nodded. "I understand," he said. "The disease has struck a large number of the crew. It is good that you have taken time off to replenish yourself."


Christine quietly studied her hands as they rested in her lap.


Spock took a deep breath as if to fortify himself. "About that pachyderm," he began. "Why didn't you tell me that you were still plagued by the incidents that occurred on Platonius?"


Chapel raised miserable eyes to Spock. "Why should I trouble you? It wasn't your fault." Her eyes fell to her hands again. "I sure my troubles are all my own making."


Spock raised her chin with one finger.


"Please don't," Chapel begged. "I've already been so humiliated by this."


"We were all humiliated," Spock reminded.


"It's just that, for these past years," Chapel said through her tears, "all I've ever dreamed of was holding you, kissing you. Now, the only memory I have is how hard we fought that kiss, that embrace." She turned away.


"Do you wish me to help you?" Spock asked gently.


Christine turned back. "How?" she asked. "Are you going to take away my memories?"


"Do you want me to?" Spock asked seriously.


Chapel shook her head. Spock breathed a little sigh of relief. He did not particularly want to relive those memories.


"Then we shall make new memories," Spock said as he rose, pulling the nurse to her feet with him.


"What kind of memories?" she asked fearfully, hopefully.


"These kind," Spock said as he tenderly took her face in his two strong hands and kissed her, sweetly, yet not too chastely.


After Spock pulled back, Chapel fell into his arms as they held each other gently.


"I am not actively searching for a mate until after this mission is finished," Spock informed Chapel. "My family has drawn up a slate of suitable candidates that I need to look over when I take leave."


Chapel pulled back abruptly. "So then, all this was done in pity?" she said angrily.


Spock took the nurse gently, yet firmly, by the arms. "No," he stated adamantly. "I told you this as a courtesy. I have a responsibility to look over the slate of candidates my family has assembled." Spock raised Chapel's eyes to meet his. "But I am not required to pick one of them."


"So, in the meantime," Chapel started.


"In the meantime," Spock answered, "I am performing my duties, seeing to my experiments and other interests, and ..."


"And abstaining," Chapel finished. She sighed in frustration. The nurse paced away and thought a moment. This whole scenario was becoming ludicrous.


"Well," she started, "I think I need a change of scenery."


"Do you wish to move to another location?" Spock asked.


Chapel chuckled softly. Spock could be so wonderfully nave when it came to idioms. "No, I mean -I- need a change of scenery, a radical change, a fresh start."


"What do you have in mind?" Spock asked warily.


"I put some things on the back burner when I joined Starfleet," she explained. "I think I want to revisit those options." Chapel looked at Spock. "While you are living your life, looking over your candidates, I think I'll try living my life. If God or Fate or whatever should cause our paths to cross again, then so be it." Chapel wiped her face dry, stood tall before her XO and mock saluted. "Thanks for the new memories, sir. Happy abstaining. I am heading for bed." As she moved to the door and it opened onto the corridor, she pointed at their imaginary elephant and said, "Boy, that little pachyderm sure can run."


Spock didn't have time to decipher that non sequitur before he was called to the bridge about a possible source of ryetalin in the Omega system.


* * *


Spock wearily dragged himself to his cabin. Not only had the visit to Mr. Flynt's planet been trying, he was also fatigued from the mindmeld he had performed on Captain Kirk.


Kirk had fallen hopelessly, completely head over heels for Flynt's perfect woman, the android Reyna. Spock couldn't bear to see his friend suffer so, and an illegal, highly unethical, unsanctioned mindmeld to dampen Kirk's pain seemed the only logical answer for Spock.


McCoy's treatise on love echoed in his mind.


"You'll never know the things that love can drive a man to: the ecstasies, the miseries, the broken rules, the desperate chances, the glorious failures, the glorious victories. All of these things you'll never know ... simply because the word 'love' isn't written into your book."


Spock knew love. He knew the disappointments of familial love, always striving to be good enough, yet never succeeding; the pain of separation from a brother so dear; the anguish of watching a beloved pet die because of your own foolishness; the pain in a friend's eyes because you implied that she was not good enough for you.


All these thoughts tripped over themselves in Spock's mind as he walked down the corridor. He entered his cabin, finding a slim book of blank pages -- a journal. A piece of lace, no more than braided hair, marked the first page where it was written in a woman's handwriting, "On Valentine's Day."


"Christine," Spock breathed, shaking his head. He opened the note that fell out of the journal.


I have made some decisions about my future while you were on the landing party. I have decided to go back to school, medical school to be exact. And with all of the credits I already have, I could be a doctor in just a few years.


I have you to thank for that. You encouraged me, by your example, to begin living my life. I joined Starfleet to look for Roger. I stayed on the Enterprise because of my infatuation with you. This will be the first time I do something for Christine.


And so, I wanted to reciprocate for what you did for me earlier today. You left me with new memories, a bit of yourself. So, I am giving you a part of me.


The last time I was on shore leave, I went to get my hair done. An old woman asked for a few strands of hair. She had amazing samples of her work all around her. I was game, so she combed through my hair with her fingers, removing just a little. By the time I came out of the beauty parlor, she had produced this bookmark.


You had the opportunity to stomp all over my heart today, but you were gracious and gentlemanly. My very raw wound has finally healed. "'Thank you" seems so inadequate, so I will say this instead: Peace to you, dear friend.





P.S. I don't miss that damn pachyderm one bit!


Spock ran the lacy bit through his fingers, bemused. Christine Chapel was a good woman. It was good that she was going to fulfill her best destiny, and do it for herself.


Spock had no use for the journal, but her knew exactly where he would put this fragile memento.


End story 10



Author's Note: The series concludes with the stories "Spock's Treasures" and "The Treasured Box," which I linked in story #1 "Teething on Rocks."