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) 2001 by T'Kuht. If you will remember some of my first entries here ... "A Fine Romance" and the sequel "The Gay Divorcee", this is the third and final section of the series. So, it goes after The Gay Divorcee... .Thanks, T'Kuht As usual, I don't own this song, the people or the rights to collect any money out of it. The sighs and giggles are free.
Night and Day
Starfleet Headquarters was a madhouse. With the signing of the peace treaty at Khitomer and the incoming USS Enterprise to be decommissioned, the usually carefully controlled chaos was let loose. There were demands for receptions, restitutions, requisitions, inquisitions, and the general melee of activity when an old adversary suddenly becomes a bosom companion. There were relief ships already being sent to Praxus and the Klingon home worlds. Dr. Christine Chapel, Chief Emergency Medical Officer for Starfleet, was trying to keep from going insane. She was getting down to sending ore ships to rendezvous medical supplies and personnel. Pushing the shorter brown curls away from her face, she closed her eyes against the onslaught and tried counting slowly to ten. She didn't hear Admiral Cavecci come from behind her. "Dr. Chapel?"
She tried not to jump. "Yes, just trying to get the red out of these eyes."
"Blue and red don't go very well together. You should get some rest. I wanted to set up an appointment with you at your earliest convenience. I have some important news to discuss with you," the greying Italian-born, Martian-raised Admiral said.
Straightening in her chair she nodded, "I have an hour free tomorrow after 1400 hours. Will that be satisfactory?"
"Yes. Now for the fun part. Are you attending the party when the Enterprise gets in?" he asked, knowing she had been a member of its crew for nearly ten years.
"I've already got the bells on for this one. I wouldn't miss it for anything. You know, it's odd. I have been stationed here at HQ for almost eight years and haven't been a member of the crew since 2281, but I still feel like I'm one of them. I guess I always will," she said wistfully. There was a hint of silver in the hair and mature laugh lines around the eyes, but she was still the prettiest and most sought after commanders in the building.
"I understand the feeling. I still miss my crews and my ships. But, we've got to make room for the young, you know," he reminded.
1400 hours arrived and Christine was glad for the relief. She handed her duties over gratefully to her second in command and went to Admiral Cavecci's office. "Come in please," he said and showed her to a seat. Christine nodded and sat in the comfortable leather chair. The view of San Francisco Bay was magnificent from his office. "I wanted to discuss a few things with you. According to your records, you have been serving as Chief Emergency Medical Officer now for five years. Have you found the post satisfactory?"
Christine was a little confused. She held her breath. "Yes, I enjoy the work immensely. Is there a problem with my performance, sir?"
"No, no. On the contrary," he began and then restated his remarks. "You are aware that Dr. John C. Everett is retiring at the end of this month." Christine nodded. Dr. Everett was the current Surgeon General. "I am recommending you for the position."
Her mouth had to be open. She had to be slumped forward in the chair. She had to be drooling, her ... Surgeon General. "I ... don't know what to say, sir!"
"Well, yes would be nice. In fact I might as well let you in. If you want it, you've got it no questions asked," he said not able to hide his grin.
She just nodded. "Want it? Yes, I want it. When do I start?"
"Well, you'll have to be approved, that's a moot point really. But you'll have to get your second in command up to speed and be ready to spend intensive training with Everett until he leaves. I'll let you have a couple days off for the party and then you've got work to do."
Her blue eyes were nearly fluorescent with glee. Her heart was pounding so hard she figured she'd die before getting to step foot in her office. Her office. She realized she would get the same view that Cavecci had. "Wow..."
"I know the office is a great perk," he answered, not needing to know what she was thinking. The way she looked around the room was enough.
"Well, unless there are other questions, I would like to get ready for this reception. I had hoped you could see me before then. I'm sure you'll want to let your old friends know."
"Old friends, yes, it will be such a surprise," she was smiling so much she had to remember to relax her muscles. Cloud 9 was some twenty clouds down. Rising from the chair, she gave a smart salute, "Admiral."
"And the same to you. Remember the position of Surgeon General also comes with an upgrade. You are, well, unofficially, Rear Admiral Christine Chapel."
Christine just shook her head and exited. Things were picking up so fast. But she had a reception to prepare for and had to keep from hyperventilating to get ready.
It seemed like everyone who had anything to do with the Enterprise past or future was at the reception held for its decommissioning. Buffet tables were set up at the four corners of the huge cargo holds that had been opened, scrubbed and polished for the event. People milled about in one section, an impromptu dance floor was set up in the middle, but there were no dancers yet. The music wouldn't start for another hour. Christine found her way easily through the ship. It was like a high school reunion. She found Uhura first, the communications officer was enjoying the company of several of the older crew and welcomed Christine with glee. "You made it!"
"I'd have to be dead to miss it," Christine grinned widely. It was so good to see her. Janice Rand was on the Excelsior with Hikaru Sulu, they wouldn't be able to attend, but they were there in spirit.
"I have something I have to tell you, but I want to wait till later when I can get more of the old gang together for the news," Christine hinted, wanting to see all their faces at once.
"Yes, Rear Admiral Chapel," Uhura said stonily.
The doctor was shocked and downcast. "How..."
"I'm in gossip central, silly goose. Don't worry, I didn't get the blurb till today and I haven't told a soul. You deserve it, honey. I am so proud of you. I'll be down the hall, you know. I got my commission to Secret Intelligence."
"Oh, no, the two of us together with the commissary here. We'll be so heavy we won't be able to get through the doors," the doctor laughed. On the Enterprise, they'd spent many a nights eating their way through helpings of ice cream.
"Then they'll just have to build them bigger won't they. Ambassador Sarek is even here. I had thought he would be still at Khitomer, but for some reason he decided to ride back with us instead. I don't think he is in the best of health. He seemed to be tired all the time," Nyota noted as the dignified Vulcan made his way through the crowd. Christine could see the slowness in his gait. He was considered just beyond middle aged for a Vulcan, but Uhura's summation was correct. He didn't look well. Following a little further behind than she preferred was Lady Amanda. She was so frail and fragile she looked almost like a piece of antique glass. The white hair was gorgeous and Christine couldn't help but smile. "Spock's mother is here as well. Let's go say hello. I haven't seen her in a few years."
The last time Uhura had been able to speak to Amanda at length had been when Spock's body had been en route to Vulcan for his fal-tor-pan. She had enjoyed the time immensely even though the circumstances were not pleasant.
Sarek and Amanda had headed for the buffet table that Kirk, Spock, and McCoy were hovering around. The two women approached and was greeted with warm hugs and smiles from the humans. The two Vulcans nodded their pleasure at seeing them. Spock seemed a bit preoccupied. But from what Christine had heard of the goings on at Khitomer he had good reason to be. Her blue eyes caught his for a moment, and they gleamed with an inner light. He responded with an upswept eyebrow. The group chatted happily until finally Uhura couldn't stand it anymore. "Tell them, Christine."
"Uhura, not now," the tall brunette said, not wanting call attention to herself.
"Fine, I'll tell them. Christine has news..." she began before Christine stopped her.
"I'll tell them," and she hesitated which caused the four that were in the dark to nearly lean forward in anticipation. "Admiral Cavecci informed me that, unofficially, I am taking over the duties of Dr. Everett when he retires."
It took about fifteen seconds for them to realize who Dr. Everett was. McCoy had her in a strangle hold. "That's my girl!"
Jim Kirk was pumping one hand up and down like a thirsty man looking for water and Amanda was clapping softly. "Brava."
Captain Spock's eyebrow went up even further. "Congratulations, Admiral Chapel."
"Rear..." she corrected. Ambassador Sarek gave her his congratulatory speech and even offered his hand to shake, but she didn't take it and offered the Vulcan salute instead.
The atmosphere was decidedly giddy. The group stayed together for a long time before mixing with the other members of the crew and admiralty and reporters. Spock found himself looking through the crowd and following the doctor's trail. It was not hard to find her. She was tall and regal in her dress uniform and the relaxed regulation hairstyle. She was so much more lovely than she had ever appeared to him. He was seeing her for perhaps the first time and he'd known her for nearly thirty-five years. Perhaps it was the new position she was in and the one that he had just left.
At 2100 the dance was to formally begin and the houselights were turned down except to illuminate the dance floor and leave the buffet tables and surrounding lounge areas in near twilight. Spock found himself over with his parents near the set of punch bowls that took up one whole buffet. The conversation was of his upcoming retirement. He had already agreed to becoming a junior Ambassador under his father's tutelage. He had found the negotiations with the Klingons to be fascinating. Now, he hoped to be of further use to the Federation. He was not ready to sit and garden for the rest of his life. His father was actually pleased with his son and his mother was happy that she had lived long enough to witness this historic occasion. The music starting threw a sort of quiet air over the crowd and after a few numbers, an earnest group of people were on the floor.
Spock found Christine Chapel at his elbow trying to get to the bowl of punch that he was standing in front of. Her smile brightened the area. Her eyes glistened in the light and her voice was so sweet and soft. "Captain Spock, I did not get a chance to congratulate you on your new posting at the Vulcan Embassy. I hope you find it rewarding."
Spock nodded his thanks. "I believe I am now ready to try new avenues in my life."
"That's good. I'm pleased," she said as she took a sip of punch. "Will you be staying at the Vulcan Embassy?"
She nearly winced at the question she asked. Good grief, that was nosey. Spock, however, did not seem to take it as such. "I will be taking up residence outside the Embassy. I find that I wish to taste freedom in certain forms."
Again she smiled, he was so relaxed now. She was relaxed as well in his presence. The nerves she always seemed to have had melted away somewhere. They stood in silence for a time. Amanda and Sarek conversed with her further about her upcoming change of duties. The atmosphere was so congenial and easy going. Spock found himself only half listening to what was being said. He paid apt attention to the physician's face and manner. Why did it feel as if he'd never met her before? His hearing picked out the opening strains of a familiar tune. He reacted before he thought about it. Grasping Christine's elbow, he was careful not to jostle the hand with the punch. "Shall we dance?" he suggested.
Christine nearly dropped her cup. She hadn't danced with him in twenty years and those two times had been dismal failures. Well, there was the night they danced till 10 in the morning, but still it didn't start out well. Giving a slight smile to a plainly shocked Amanda and slightly abashed Sarek, she allowed the Vulcan to lead the startled doctor out onto the floor.
Spock pulled her close. She was nearly nose to nose with him. He had her right hand pulled between them at his breast and the other hand was slipped snugly around her waist. They were almost dancing ballroom regulation close, there was no light between them. They didn't realize they were being watched practically opened mouthed by nearly every other person in the room. Basically the dance floor stopped and allowed them to take center stage. Christine was strangely aware that there was something different about this dance. She could feel something strange. It was not a physical thing that she could pinpoint. It was an aura about him. He held her as if he wanted to dance not out of politeness or because he owed her a dance, but because he actually wanted to hold her close and sway to the music. He had improved as well. His flow and rhythm were easy and gentle. The music had not really registered with her. But she found that he was humming the melody and she tried hard to place the words but couldn't. It was a standard that was played at nearly every dance.
Finally, as they maneuvered around the floor again, his voice in a low baritone filled in the words... "Night and day, you are the one. Only you beneath the moon and under the sun.. " and then his words stopped, and Christine was afraid she might faint in his arms. Pulling slightly back from him she peered into the dark brown eyes that were usually inscrutable and found there was a spark there. He meant what he had sung and meant it for her. Her heart froze and for a moment she feared it had seized up completely. If he knew what he was doing... but if he didn't she'd be certain to kill him when they finished.
The song came to a winding conclusion and Spock did something else she never, ever in her wildest dreams and scenarios imagined him doing. He allowed her to whirl out away from him, pulled her back and dipped her low and passionately toward the floor. With the ease of a father carrying a child, he straightened her back up onto legs that didn't want to stand steady. She was so flabbergasted she was certain it was all a dream, a hoax, a cruel thing to her already heartsick brain.
The applause and the whistles from the surrounding crowd filtered into them and Christine was a little embarrassed. Spock held her hand tightly, a sign he had no intention of letting her go. She stayed put. He seemed to be warring between himself and someone or something else. With brows knit closely together, he almost spat, "Oh, Hell," and pulled her forward into a kiss so passionate that she knew she was going to faint or at least be lightheaded for the duration of the evening.
The room was in pandemonium. Over to the side, his mother was genuinely crying she was so happy. She had always known Christine was a perfect choice for Spock. She just hadn't thought she'd see the day Spock would realize it. Sarek even seemed to approve, even if he did disapprove of the public display. Uhura was pondering what color dress Christine would pick for her to wear and crying as well. It had taken 35 years to bring this romance together. When Spock released her, he seemed to realize what he had done. Quickly they left the dance floor to be surrounded by people. Christine wanted to ask what was going on. She was confused and a little disoriented as well. This was definitely not what she had expected.
"Spock," she tried to stammer but the din of the crowd was almost too much for her.
"Come with me," he stated and led her out into the corridor to leave a crew wishing they all had glasses they could put against the bulkhead to listen in. Half tripping, half skipping, she followed him out, still being held by that powerful yet gentle hand.
Out in the corridor there wasn't that much privacy either. Her expression was one of disbelief and complete shock, "Spock, what ... have you been at the Altair Spring Water again?"
He shook his head emphatically. "No, I have not. However, I can only tell you that the sensations I am feeling are almost as strong as if I had."
Christine thought it might be a medical problem. "I'll get Leonard. Maybe he can figure out..."
"Woman," he nearly growled. How dense could she be or how blind? But somewhere his mind was saying that she'd been rejected by him so many times how could he explain fully, and she believe him. His eyes were determined and but had a soft haze to them. "This is not the place to discuss this."
"No?" she half asked and half agreed.
He thought of somewhere close that would be private for his needs. His cabin was still unlocked although all of his things had been removed and shipped already. "Come with me," he said and started down the hall. He practically pulled her five feet before he realized she wasn't following. He turned back, the most hurt look in his eyes. "You reject me?"
She allowed the possible meanings of his words to sink in. "No, I guess I just don't understand, that's all."
"I will explain. But not here," he answered and let go of her hand. She followed this time without hesitation.
The corridors were quiet after they got so far away from the cargo hold. The ship seemed ... lonely. There were no crewmen hustling along, no sounds of engine noises or other activities. Christine didn't like it very well. Spock ushered her into what had been his home for the last 4 years. It was once again back to standard issue with no sign he had been its occupant. It was still a comfortable room even without his fire pots and candles.
Christine allowed the door to close behind her before asking, "Okay, what was that about?"
Spock didn't face her, he went to where the traditional teapot had stood and wished it had been there. He needed a drink of something. How to tell her, where to begin? "Christine, I have been a fool," he began after a long moment.
"How so, Spock? I don't believe I would have ever placed you in that category," she reassured and tried to figure out what was going on.
"I have known you for 34 years. Perhaps I should rephrase that. I have known your name for 34 years, but I did not know you until this evening. Perhaps that is not correct either," he stumbled and found himself falling all over himself. Perhaps being straightforward would be best. "I wish to marry you."
Christine sat down. The problem was there was no chair for her to sit on and she ended up on the floor. Spock held out his hand, but she did not take it.
She decided that the floor was a really good place to stay for awhile. "Spock, there's got to be something wrong... You've barely been able to be around me for the 34 years we've known each other. I realize I didn't help the situation..."
He gestured for her to stop. "I am not drunk, nor am I delusional, or ill. How to explain when I am not certain myself? You know of Valeris?"
Christine nodded. Everyone knew about Valeris, the pride of Starfleet and the horror of the Federation. Spock continued slowly, "She sought out my company, first as a student and then as a companion. I was blinded by her pure logic and credentials. I was, to coin an Earth phrase, viewing her through rose-colored glasses. I was closer to her than anyone else, I thought, and I did not have a clue what she was up to. I made her privy to information, personal and official that I should not have. I made a tremendous error in judgment. I judged her as superior because she was Vulcan. Can you understand that?"
Christine nodded. Most everyone considered her above reproach due to her Vulcan heritage. How wrong they had been. "Spock, you can't blame yourself for the turn of events."
"But I can. I, me, I led my closest and oldest friends into a situation that almost cost them their lives and the Federation its security. But that is not what I wish to speak to you about. Valeris' betrayal was more than that of a teacher and student."
Christine's eyes widened at the revelation. "You loved her didn't you?"
Spock protested at the word love. "I would use the term smitten. I found that she was acceptable and attractive for her beliefs and background."
"I'm sorry, truly. You know, I understand what it's like to be jilted."
Spock nodded and squatted down to her level on the floor. "I have been seeking someone who would be as loyal to me as I to them. She's been before me for 34 years. That is why I am such a fool."
Christine regarded the carpet. This was so unreal. "Spock, did you ever think that I'm not loyal? I've not precisely been alone all these years," she suggested.
"But you are not married, have never married. You have always been available. Is that an error in my reasoning? You have not married because you still loved me?"
"Yes," the simple three letter word was the most joyous sound he had heard in a very long time. "But Spock, like you said, you don't know me. How do you know I am the one you seek?"
"You forget that we once shared consciousness. I shielded myself as best I could from your mind, but I remember what it was like. You hold no secret desires or treachery. At least you did not at one time. Perhaps I have waited too long. Perhaps I can not have what I finally found." His face was downtrodden and questioning. When he had seen her that evening, and she was her own woman, accomplished, beautiful, and strong, he had known what he should have decades ago.
Christine looked at the almost mournful Vulcan and with a tender smile, picked his chin up from its floorward position. Looking him straight in the eye and without hesitation, "It is never too late."
Spock was almost afraid to say the next words. "Then you will marry me?"
"Yes, how can I say no?" They stayed in those positions for a long time, Spock on his haunches, Christine cross legged. Now that he had gotten what he had wanted out, it was as if there was nothing left to say. Finally she laughed, a delighted easy laugh, "What a day, first an Admiralty and now a marriage proposal."
"I'm marrying you for your office view," he teased and found her rolling on the floor in tears of hysterics. He had never teased her and she loved it. She loved every moment of it.
"So, does Uhura know about this too?" she asked. Spock shook his head. No one knew. How could they have when he did not know it himself until just an hour ago? "Perhaps we should return to the dance. They will wonder where we have gone."
Christine nodded. "I'll just bet they will and they'll have a lot of questions too. I hope you have more answers than I do."
Spock took her hand to help her up. They stood facing each other and for the first time Spock was holding onto someone who would not refuse him, never betray him, never hurt him. He found the feelings in him almost too powerful to handle. He took a half step forward and hesitantly kissed her. He was almost afraid to. What if she said no.... Her answer was to pull him closer and drape her arms around his neck. With her height, she had no trouble keeping contact with him. She was finally in his arms and he was hers. Letting the kiss linger a moment, she smiled and as they parted brushed her nose against his playfully. "So are these the new avenues you wished to explore?" she asked remembering the statement earlier.
"Yes, one of them. I think you might be right up my alley."
"Well, it's a one way street, you know. Once I am your wife, there is no going back," she promised.
"I don't intend to," he promised as well and took her in his arms. "Computer, dance selection 9-a."
"It's very clear, our love is here to stay. Not for a year, but ever and a day... The radio and the telephone and the movies that we know may just be passing fancies and in time may go. But oh, my dear, our love is here to stay..."
They never returned to the dance.