DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of T'Kuht and is copyright (c) 2002 by T'Kuht. This one is set right after the last scene in "The Enterprise Incident".
The Enterprise streaked back to Federation territory fairly crowing its victory over the Romulans. The cloaking device was working well, but Mr. Scott had called to say that it was an awful power drain on his 'wee bairns'. Jim Kirk headed back to sickbay to have his ears returned to normal, and Spock, Spock sat in the center seat. Just minutes earlier he had been a traitor to the Federation, to Vulcan, to everyone who had ever meant anything to him. He had been instructed that this would be one of those situations that would require any and all of his ability to deceive. He had found it distasteful and at the same time exhilarating. Now as he sat in the command chair of the ship he had nearly helped blow up in enemy territory, he pondered the little problem that waited five decks below.
There was no possible way he could give her a proper tour of the ship. She was not a spy, but she was the enemy. The computer access from her terminal was already limited to strictly need commands. If she needed food or drink or assistance in any form that would be fulfilled, otherwise she was a prisoner in a starship stateroom. She had requested to be sent to the brig. For some reason, Jim Kirk had granted her more liberty than he had been given. It was probably the smug assurance of a victor over his opponent that prompted the magnanimous gesture. If Spock knew anything of Romulan culture and tradition, it was not appreciated. He also knew that her crime of being duped into the situation that occurred would mean her certain death when she returned to the Empire. If she did not commit ritual suicide when she returned, she would be allowed to have her honor returned by a 'merciful' death. Spock inwardly shuddered at that. She deserved a better fate. If he had not been the one that had plunged the knife into her Achilles heel it would not have been so bad.
The communication panel at the command chair beeped. "Spock here."
"I'll have to take the new toy off line Mr. Spock," Scotty said.
"We are safely within Federation space Mr. Scott, do so," he said feeling more like the old executive officer than he had a few minutes ago. None of the bridge crew looked at him as if he should have traitor tattooed across his forehead. Why did he feel even more like one now than he had earlier?
Spock kept to himself throughout the shift. He assumed that Kirk would take the chair again when his surgery was finished. But, as 1800 approached, he received a message from Sickbay. Nurse Chapel informed him that the Captain was a little queasy from this set of anesthesia no doubt due to a double dose in such a short period of time. Spock acknowledged the information and settled back against the cushions of the center seat. He had hoped to at least be able to show their guest some amount of the hospitality that she had shown him. An idea suddenly came to mind. He was allowed time off the bridge for meals, especially if he was pulling a double. "Mr. Sulu, you have the conn. I will be in sickbay if I am needed," he said, and with a nod, Sulu assumed the center seat controls from the navigation station.
The turbo-lift deposited him on the deck that was primarily occupied by the medical departments and labs. He was not interested in an experiment however. Sickbay was quiet. The nurse's station was unoccupied so he went into the next room. Kirk was not in the recovery area so he assumed he had been sent to his room to recuperate. Just as he was about to leave, the person he was looking for came in.
"He's not here. He wanted to die in his own bed." Christine Chapel's tone was one of mock seriousness. The smile behind her eyes always betrayed her.
"I take it his stomach is not coping well with the anesthetic," Spock concluded.
"As well as the ears. They throb. Welcome back," she smiled genuinely. She'd known he couldn't have betrayed them all. No matter what she'd ever heard about Spock, disloyalty was not one of them.
"It is a relief to return," he said honestly. Chapel assumed he was done with his purpose in her area and started to go back to the surgical ward.
"Miss Chapel," he interrupted.
"Yes, is there something else?" she asked.
"I wished to ask something of you, a favor," he began not certain how to phrase what he wanted. He disliked using her affection for him. It was a disadvantage. He knew that she would not refuse.
"Yes," she said completely shocked. Her blue eyes narrowed in curiosity but her expression never changed.
"The plomeek soup that you made for me, do you remember?" he asked.
She nodded; how could she forget.
"I would like you to prepare some of it. Our 'guest' on board is Romulan. I wish to extend some amount of courtesy," he tried to explain.
"Oh, and you want to send her some soup? I am just getting ready to go off shift. It will take an hour to prepare. Will that be okay?" she asked a little uncomfortable. It was one thing to make soup as a favor. But, it was completely different when you were making soup for the man of your dreams' newest girlfriend. She did not think about the fact that her heart was beginning to ache.
"That will be perfect."
"Enough for two?" she asked slyly.
"No. She will be dining alone," Spock declared. "I shall be on the Bridge until the Captain is able to resume his duties."
Christine chuckled, "It might be a while, but I'll keep that in mind. Don't worry I'll make sure the soup is good."
"I have no fear of that," he answered and with a firm step, turned to leave.
"No, you never have a fear of that," Chapel muttered as he left.
* * *
The soup bubbled as it remained on low heat for fifteen minutes. It was necessary to thoroughly cook the plomeek so that it could be coarsely pureed and sieved. Chunks were good; seeds were not. Christine hummed to herself a little as she plopped the napkin with the spoon on the tray. Since the 'guest' was considered a prisoner, she could not provide her with a knife unsupervised. The soup did not require a knife anyway. Unsure as to whether Romulans preferred their food as spicy as the Vulcan first officer did, she made the dish mild but included a shaker of the spice that went with it. The timer went off and as efficiently as she could, the nurse poured the steaming liquid into the bowl through a mesh strainer. Adding a small amount of garnish to the side, she placed the tray over it and headed to the VIP quarters. At least this way she'd get to see the Romulan Commander.
* * *
The luxury of this ship was a waste, she thought as she sat at the desk chair. Romulan ships were not equipped in such a manner. They were warships, not tour liners, and that is what this so-called starship resembled. "No wonder humans are so soft," she said to herself. She'd been in this room now for ten hours. The dress that she was wearing when she'd been brought aboard was still clinging to her and in a small way she was glad. It was one of her favorite lounging gowns and far more comfortable in this space than her uniform would have been. Still, she knew that she would no longer be able to wear that uniform. It saddened her, but it was her own fault. Her blindness caused her own problems. She knew several members of the Military Council that would cheer her mishap even if it did mean losing one of their greatest military secrets.
The door chime sounded, and she fully expected either Captain Kirk or Spock. When a tall, pale, blonde woman appeared with a smile and a tray, she was taken aback. "I have not ordered any meals."
"No, but some has been requested for you," Christine said and placed the tray on the desk. Lifting the lid, the smell of the fresh, real soup filled the room. The Commander sniffed appreciatively. "Plomeek. A favorite. I take it this is from Spo-- Mr. Spock."
Christine swallowed nervously, "I've prepared it before. He wished to show you some courtesy as he put it."
"If he'd wanted to show true courtesy, he would never have come aboard my vessel," she answered a little bitterly. Christine had never been in the presence of Romulans up close. She had to remind herself that Romulans were not simply evil Vulcans. They had split from Vulcan before the Reformation of Surak. They had all the emotions and none of the controls.
"It is best if eaten hot," Christine tried cajoling the shorter woman with the soup. It wasn't working. For a second she thought she'd have to run for it like another incident with the Plomeek.
The woman stood with clenched fists resting on the desk. A scowl marred the features that were so exotically beautiful. Chapel studied her as well as she could while standing there. She had long dark hair, hazel green eyes, and delicate but strong features. She was petite and probably had a perfect figure. With a sigh, the woman sat in front of the soup and picking up the napkin, removed the spoon. Chapel waited to see if it was suitable or needed something before she left.
"Excuse me?" the nurse asked.
"Sit. I do not eat with people standing watching me," she said authoritatively.
"I was not going to intrude on your meal," Christine replied not really wanting to stay.
"You humans have a word, we do not use it in my line of work, but ... please," the Romulan turned her gaze to look into Chapel's unwavering eyes. It was a staring contest. Chapel lost. She sat at the chair on the other side of the desk.
Satisfied, the Commander took a sip of the dish. It was excellent. She nodded. "You are an exceptional cook. I take it you have prepared this for Spock."
"Yes, on an occasion," she answered not wishing to divulge too much.
"What is your name?" the Commander asked allowing the soup to cool a few more moments before eating the rest of it.
"That is your first name, Nurse?"
"No, but it feels like it sometimes," Christine admitted suddenly not so uneasy with the alien woman. "My first name is Christine. My middle name is Elizabeth."
"Christine Elizabeth Chapel. That is a substantial name. What does it mean?" the woman asked.
"Uh ... well Christine means Christian or one who is devoted to Christ. Elizabeth means something like consecrated to God, and Chapel literally translated means church or place of religious worship."
"You have a heavy burden with a name such as that," the Commander decided after a few spoons of plomeek.
"How do you see that?" Christine asked.
"Your name precludes that you will be expected to be a good person. Is that not what humans would say. We do know of your God."
"I suppose. You mean that by the association of the meaning of my name with me, it is assumed that I am automatically good. I guess that is a fair statement. You are what you are named?" Christine tried reasoning.
"On Romulus it would be so and Vulcan. A child is named for what is expected of them. Your Spock ... he is so named. Do you know what his name means?" the Commander had her eyes diverted. She had a feeling that this woman knew everything about the Vulcan that was on the records. But only she knew his deepest secrets.
"Uniter, I believe. At least that's what his mother said," Christine supplied.
"Yes, it suits him. He unites the logic of Vulcan and the emotions of human. However, he is not a united individual," she said mystically but went no further. The two women sat in silence for a time. Christine became a little antsy. She was getting tired and needed to get some sleep. Out of curiosity she asked, "So, what is your name?"
"My name is for me to know," the Romulan ship commander replied with a surly undertone.
"I told you mine. It is only a fair exchange of information after all," Christine reasoned.
"So it is. You humans are not as ... two dimensional as are often portrayed by our people. I have never had the opportunity to speak to a female human in this type of atmosphere."
"As a prisoner aboard a starship, I would think not."
"No, as two individuals simply talking without anything to gain from what the other says. You do not wish to gain anything do you?" The hazel eyes seemed to turn more icy green by the moment.
"No, what could I possibly gain. I simply wished to know your name."
"My name." The Commander placed the spoon in the now empty bowl, covered it with her napkin. "That was delicious. Tell your Mr. Spock that I am grateful."
Chapel moved to stand and take the tray. It was time for her to go. Just as she got to the door, the Commander stopped her," Christine Elizabeth Chapel, my name is J'z'Bel."
"How pretty and appropriate," Christine smiled quizzically before she left.