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I.

Love makes fools of us all.

2266

Brown, such a bland, uninteresting color. Christine had never cared for her natural hair color and promptly changed it in her teenage years. Her hair had been auburn, black, even purple, before she finally settled on blonde. Blonde she had remained until the day she had received her acceptance letter from Starfleet academy, welcoming her to the doctorate program in xenobiology. The dyed hair didn't feel right for a doctor or Christine's current state of mind.

Christine turned away from her reflection in the mirror and made her way towards the bed, where one lonely suitcase lay. Strange, how she had been on the Enterpirse for three years and all her possessions fit into one piece of luggage. Nurse Chapel looked around the room one last time. Stripped of Christine's belongings, the quarters were empty and barren. Soon another crew member would come and take these quarters and it would be as if Christine had never been there to begin with.

The intercom chirped.

“Nurse Chapel, please report to the hangar deck, your shuttle is waiting.”

Christine smiled at the sound of Uhura's voice.

“On my way.”

With that, Christine Chapel picked up her suitcase and headed towards the shuttle bay...and her future.

….

For so long I've wanted to be close to you. Now all I want to do is crawl away and die.

 

Christine had already said her goodbyes to her fellow crew mates at her going away party the night before. Nyota had cried and Scotty had gifted her with a fifty-year old bottle of scotch. Even Dr. McCoy, who had been grumbling for days on how he was going to find some decent help in sickbay, had hugged her and wished her luck. Afterwards, she and Nyota had snuck off to drink Scotty's present in the starboard observatory.

“I'm going to miss you Christine,” Uhura said as they watched the stars go by, “but I understand why you have to do it. Just promise you'll write me every chance you get.”

“I will,” Christine replied, “but my messages will be quite boring next to yours.”

The two women had laughed and clinked their glasses.

Nyota was the only other woman who had experienced first-hand their humiliation at the hands of the Platonians. Nurse Chapel, who had survived alien attacks, deadly viruses, and the loss of her fiance, had finally crumbled after being forced to kiss her unrequited crush. She needed time to recover, return to the career she had abandoned, then consider her options from there.

 

Christine ducked into the shuttlecraft's entrance, trying to lug her suitcase behind her. Who would have guessed a few changes of clothes and some photos could be so heavy?

A familiar voice echoed from the transport's interior.

“Allow me, Miss Chapel.”

Christine gave a double take, before regaining her professional composure.

“Why Mr. Spock, what are you doing here?”

The Vulcan directed Christine to the passenger's seat and easily moved her suitcase to the luggage compartment.

“Yeoman Sanchez fell ill and was unable to fulfill his duties. I volunteered to take you to Starbase 9 myself.”

“And deprive the ship of its first officer,? That sounds rather illogical, Mr. Spock.”

Spock raised an eyebrow in response. That face Christine had once found so beautiful now seemed so strange and alien to her.

“Our flight will only last ninety of your Earth minutes. The captain has stated that he can “spare me” for three hours. He wished to make certain you had the best pilot available for your journey.”

Christine relaxed. So it had been Kirk's idea all along. The nurse in her had been tempted to pull out her tricorder at the word “volunteer” to be sure the Vulcan wasn't ill.

The rest of the trip continued in awkward silence. Awkward for Christine, that is. Just a few months ago, she would have ecstatic to be alone with Spock. Now she stared at the gray walls of the shuttlecraft, waiting for their trip to end. All her past imaginations of Spock declaring his love for her were nothing more than schoolgirl fantasies.

Finally they arrived. Spock easily maneuvered the shuttle into the starbase's airlock.

“Galileo 7, docking at airlock 2C, one passenger for transport,” Spock transmitted to the base in his calm Vulcan voice.”

“Affirmative, tell Christine Chapel that she is welcome aboard.”

The airlock doors opened and the two left the shuttle in silence with Spock carrying Christine's suitcase.

“I can take it from here, Mr. Spock,” Christine announced as they reached the entrance way.

“Very well,” Spock replied, “I would like to take the opportunity to tell you that you have performed admirably in your duties aboard the Enterprise. As Dr. McCoy has remarked, Sickbay will not be the same without you.”

Christine blushed.

“Why thank you, Mr. Spock. It's been a pleasure serving with you.”

Spock made the familiar hand gesture of his people.

“Farewell, Christine. Live long and propser.”

It was only the second time he had uttered her name, but it would not be the last.

II

Vulcans do not love.

2273

It was 02:13 hours and Christine sat in sickbay nursing a glass of brandy. She had already shed her tears for Ilia and Decker earlier that day in private. Ilia, she had barely known, but Decker had been a such a fine man. Despite the Captain's assertion that they were missing, not dead, and traveling with V'Ger for all eternity, she still considered it to be a waste.

Leonard had gone off with the rest of the crew to celebrate their victory, leaving Christine with the paperwork. She didn't mind, she would get him back for it later.

“Dr Chapel, may I speak with you?” said a familiar voice.

Christine nearly jumped out of her skin.

She turned around and saw the tall figure of the Vulcan science officer.

“Why, Mr. Spock, you scared me half to death.”

“That was not my intention, Doctor.”

Christine smiled nervously, hoping the Vulcan hadn't noticed the alcohol. Over the years, her feelings for Spock had faded into a friendly affection. She had been glad to see Spock arrive on the Enterprise and greeted him warmly. He had privately congratulated her on completing her doctorate. They would never be close, but the old awkwardness was gone.

“What can I do for you, Mr. Spock?”

“I was wondering if I may have a word with you in private, Doctor?”

“Sure,” Christine motioned to the chair next to her, “I'm all ears.”

Spock glanced over at the far side of Sickbay, where the night nurse tended to her remaining patients.

“I would prefer we speak somewhere in private.”

Well, that was new.

“Of course, I'm sure Dr. McCoy won't mind if we use his office.”

Spock followed her into what had been her office just a few days before. Christine was grateful she had gotten a chance to remove her things before McCoy had made of mess of everything. Sighing, Christine pulled Leonard's chair out from behind his cluttered desk so she and Spock could sit face to face.

“Dr. Chapel,” Spock began, “it has come to my attention that you have requested a transfer.”

“Well yes,” Christine answered in puzzlement, “I was personally assigned by Starfleet Command as Chief Medical Officer two days after I finished my MD. Dr. McCoy has thankfully taken over that position. Now that I'm no longer needed here, I'm going back to my original plans.”

“Christine, if I may call you that?,” Spock asked, continuing when Christine nodded and granted him permission, “I would like to propose an alternative path. Am I correct in my belief that you are still unattached?”

“Why yes,” Christine replied, barely believing what she was hearing. “I'm rather married to my work at the moment.”

“Christine,” Spock said, his voice barely above a whisper, “allow me to confide in you something I have never told another. I returned to Vulcan to complete the rite of Kolinahr, but it was not to be. V'ger has shown me that I am half-human and will always retain some measure of emotion. As such, a Vulcan woman would never suit me. As such, I have decided to pursue a course of action I have considered for years. Christine, I would like to declare koon-ut so-lik. In human terms, I am asking you to marry me.”

Christine stared at Spock, stunned.

“Why Mr. Spock...I-I'm flattered, but why me?”

“In the years we have served together, you have displayed several qualities I find ideal in a mate. Intelligence, compassion, and unwavering composure in the face of danger. In addition, you have already expressed interest in me on previous occasions. You are the logical choice, Christine.”

Once she would have accepted his bizarre, unromantic proposal without a second thought. It was the word logic that did it for Christine. She had been with several men during her recent tenure at the Academy. None of them had lasted, but Christine now knew what she needed; affection, comfort, a warm body beside her at night. All things Spock would never be able to give her.

“I'm sorry, Spock, but I'm not interested in marriage. I've already made my decision. I'm leaving the Enterprise next week.”

A human might have begged and pleaded with her to change her mind, but Spock was a Vulcan. He simply nodded and left.

 

III.

They say the men on Vulcan treat their women strangely.

2275

Daedalus IX, a barely habitable planet on the edge of the Romulan neutral zone. The world’s long dead inhabitants had polluted the air, leaving an atmosphere heavy with carbon monoxide. Many of Daedalus’ residents found it difficult to breathe without the use of gas masks.

Still, the planet’s location made it an ideal spot for commerce, of both the legal and illegal kind. Starfleet had recently opened an embassy there and, given the planet’s racially diverse population, they welcomed a doctor with a background in xenobiology.

Christine Chapel made her way through the local marketplace towards the medical facility on the other side. Even with the recent outbreak of Andorian Flu, traders still swarmed around the area, trying to make what profit they could. She noticed a Ferengi selling vials of “the cure,” and considered giving the merchant a piece of her mind. Instead, she continued walking. This was no time for a confrontation, she had patients waiting for her. She would deal with the false cure later.

She had barely made it through the door when her Tellarite assistant came running towards her.

“Christine, you’re just in time. Our patients, three of them came of their comas last night. The fever, it might be breaking.”

“That’s wonderful news, Sketh,” Christine said as she carefully removed her gas mask. There was no known cure for the Andorian flu. Containment was their only hope until the virus simply disappeared on its own.

“Oh my,” Christine said as she pulled up the previous night’s report, “we also lost five patients last night.”

“Still!” her assistant exclaimed, barely able to maintain his enthusiasm, “this is the first sign of progress since the plague started.”

Christine knew better to argue with a Tellarite, even one as mild-mannared as Sketh.

“By the way,” he mumbled, “there’s some Vulcan here looking for you. He said he was name was Spick.. Spuff…something like that.

Sketh snorted in derision.

“He’s probably up to no good.”

Good to know the animosity between Tellarites and Vulcans was still alive and well.

“Tell him I’ll speak to him, briefly. Meanwhile, I need you to check on those three patients, make sure they’re actually recovering.”

Christine returned to the hardest part of her work, writing letters to the families of the patients who died. Two of them were Klingon, one was Ferengi, and the remaining were human. Not surprisingly, the three patients that had convalesced were Romulan. Given that their cousins, the Vulcans were immune to the Andorian Flu, Romulans had a higher rate of survival.

A gentle knock on the door announced the arrival of her Vulcan visitor.

“Hello, Dr. Chapel,” said a familiar voice.

Christine nearly fell out of her chair in surprise. There he was, standing in the doorway, as if not a day had gone by since she rejected his bizarre marriage proposal.

“Mr. Spock,” Chapel said, trying to regain her composure. “This planet is under quarantine, how did you get here?”

“The quarantine is poorly maintained, my shipmates and I did not realize this planet had a plague until we had arrived on the planet’s surface. Fortunately, I arrived on a Vulcan ship, but a young child under my care has fallen ill.”

Damn Ambassador Nechev and his complete lack of efficiency.

“I’m so sorry to hear that, Mr. Spock. The traders have been sabotaging the quarantine since it began. They’re more concerned with profit than the safety of others. On the bright side, I have a highly skilled team of doctors and nurses to look after your charge.”

“Actually, Dr. Chapel, I would like to request that you examine the patient yourself. There are some anomalies in her DNA that require the care of an expert.”

It was good to see Spock again, even after the awkward circumstances of their last meeting, but Christine was still annoyed to be pulled away from her work. Curiosity got the better of her. How could a Vulcan, even a child, have come down with the Andorian flu?”

Christine led Spock down the sterile white corridors of the medical facility she took so much pride in. A couple of the beds were occupied by patients with minor injuries, but the majority lay in an isolated area to prevent the contagion from spreading further.

She and Spock changed into environment suits and entered the pressure-sealed chamber. On the far side of the room, a Vulcan child lay on a bed much too large for her. (The facility had run out of children’s beds several months ago.) Her short dark hair only accentuated her pale skin. It was obvious to the doctor, even without looking at the readings, that the child was frail and malnourished.

Christine looked at Spock quizzically, but he merely raised an eyebrow in response. She pulled out her tricorder and scanned the patient.

“Well Spock, for someone who’s just come down with the Andorian Flu, she’s doing remarkably well. She has a high fever, but there’s no sign of lesions on the feet, and her liver….”

Christine stared at her instrument in complete bafflement. Whoever this child was, she was not a full-blooded Vulcan. Her liver was in the wrong place, her hypothalamus was too small, and there was something completely off about her right frontal lobe. She stared at Spock accusingly, waiting for an explanation.

“Her name is Saavik.” Spock uttered softly, “She is of both Vulcan and Romulan heritage. As you can see, she has led a difficult life.

Saavik, Romulan for little cat. Vulcans and Romulans were theoretically not able to procreate. Neither could Humans and Vulcans for that matter, at least not without the aid of medical technology. How had this child come to be? Where were her parents?

Christine mentally shook her head. She had more important things to attend to; her curiosity could wait until another day.

“Well, Mr. Spock, we can only hope that Saavik’s Vulcan side will prevail. I’ll update her chart to reflect what you’ve told me about her species. In the meantime, if you’ll excuse me, I need to return to my work.”

“Actually, doctor, I have been studying the virus since my arrival on this planet. I have some theories on a possible way to combat its deadly effects. I would like to offer you the use of my services, Dr. Chapel, until the quarantine is lifted.”

The answer was a no-brainer, but Christine was still hesitant. A person of Spock’s genius was hard to come by on this backwater planet, but she felt…uncomfortable in his presence. Perhaps she wasn't over his odd marriage proposal after all. Still, Christine was a professional and knew how to act like one.

“Of course, Mr. Spock, we would be happy to have you around.”

….

She was tired, so tired. Was the disease finally breaking? For every patient that recovered, two more died in their place. Thankfully, Saavik had recovered quickly from her illness, the one bright spot in this endless cycle of death and misery. Spock, who had set up his research in the embassy, was convinced the cure lay in Saavik’s hybrid DNA.

Stories circulated around the building of the child’s wild, feral behavior. Spock was the only person she would let come near her. Christine was still curious about Saavik, but she had plenty of other things to keep her occupied.

It had been fourteen days since Spock’s arrival on Daedalus and the Vulcan had finally found a cure, but only for the Romulans. He was trying to create a similar antidote for the other species, with little success.

Christine was exhausted that night as she made her way through the embassy’s corridors. The Romulan patients were gone, but not before several of her staff were infected, nearly doubling everyone's workload. She longed for a hot meal and the comfort of her bed.

It was warm, ridiculously warm. Beads of sweat formed on Christine's forehead. There was obviously another glitch in the building's life support systems.

A clashing sound from overhead pulled Christine out of her reverie. She looked up to see a familiar, impish face staring down at her from the rafters.

“Saavik,” Christine whispered softly, “what are you doing up there?”

The child hissed at her and slowly moved away.

“I go. Spock mean,” she said in Romulan. The universal translator was apparently down as well. Fortunately, Christine had picked up a variety of alien languages during her time on Daedalus.

“Saavik,” she said in her most soothing tone, “you need to come down. It's not safe for you up there.”

The child was crawling dangerously close to the ventilation system. Spock had mentioned that his ward was highly intelligent. If Saavik figured out how to open the hatch, she would expose herself and the rest of the building's residents to the planet's poisonous air.

Christine considered calling Spock, but given Saavik's apparent animosity towards the Vulcan, she decided a more nurturing approach was needed. An old Romulan lullaby one of her patients had taught her came to mind.

She sang. Her voice was rough uneven, but it would have to do. Saavik stopped moving and listened in rapt attention. The song was about a Romulan queen who escaped her captors after her husband's death. It was hardly appropriate for a child, but Romulans were different.

Saavik came closer and closer until she was once again just above Christine's head. She offered no resistance when Christine reached up and gently pulled her down from the rafters.

“Fascinating.”

Christine turned around, still holding Saavik in her arms. Of course it was Spock, gazing at them curiously.

“I was meditating in my quarters. Saavik has apparently found a way to breach our security system. I thank you for your timely intervention, doctor.”

At that, Saavik pulled herself away from Christine's embrace, backing away from both adults.

“Saavikam, to me,” Spock commanded.

Saavik spewed a stream of Romulan curses at her mentor, but she obeyed and trotted over to Spock's side.

“You're welcome,” Christine replied, slightly embarrassed. Exactly how much had Spock seen, (and heard), before she realized he was there? And why did she care?

“If you'll excuse me, Mr. Spock, it's been a long day and I was just on my way to dinner.”

“Actually,” Spock interjected just as Christine was about to continue down the hallway, “I have some medical findings I wish to discuss with you, doctor. Would you care to join Saavik and I for a meal?”

Tired as she was, Christine couldn't think of a reason to refuse.

….

Christine quietly placed the dishes in the replicator, trying not to wake the, (hopefully), sleeping child in the other room. How ironic that Spock had chosen to serve her Plomeek soup. Not that his logical mind would have understood the connection.

She heard the sound of Spock's footsteps from the bedroom.

“That will not be necessary doctor, I have been told that on Earth it is the host's responsibility to dispose of the remnants of a meal."

Christine met Spock's gaze with a mischievous grin.

“And what do they do on Vulcan, Mr. Spock?”

“Chores are done by whoever is best suited to the task.”

“Then I suppose that would be me.”

With that, Christine gathered the remaining dishes and placed them in the replicator's disposal unit.

Spock raised an eyebrow, but did not object. Instead, he returned to his seat at the table.

“Please, come sit with me doctor. I imagine you are curious about Saavik's presence on this planet.”

Christine sat down across from the Vulcan. Despite her curiosity, she hoped Spock's story would be short. The heat was becoming unbearable for her. Spook and Saavik had shown no reaction to the increase in temperature, but their bodies were designed for a warmer climate than Earth.

“Over the past ten of your earth years, several Vulcan ships have disappeared in this sector. After my encounter with a dying Vulcan woman from one of those vessels, I conducted an investigation into this matter. I discovered the planet Hellguard and its only residents, thirty-two children of mixed Vulcan and Romulan heritage. They are all descendents of the missing Vulcan crewmen. We do not know the Romulans' purpose behind the abductions and forced breeding, or why they chose to abandon the children. My father has arranged for the young ones to be raised by their Vulcan families, but Saavik elected to stay with me.”

'Forced breedings', Christine mused. Rape was nearly as taboo a subject on Vulcan as the pon farr. She was touched that Spock had chosen to confide such a thing to her.

“She has led a hard life,” Spock continued, “but she demonstrates a keen intelligence and determination. However, you are the only person besides myself that she has not met with deep hostility. I can only attribute this to your skills as a nurturer, Christine.”

Her given name sounded so strange coming from his lips. For a moment they stared at each from across the table, brown eyes meeting blue. Christine felt a tiny spark, almost an echo of her old feelings for Spock, reach in and pierce her heart.

“Sometimes all it takes is a healing touch, Mr. Spock. I believe you had some research to share with me?”

“Ah yes. I believe I may have discovered a possible cure for the Orions. Allow me to show you my findings.”

Christine got up from her chair, only to be hit by a wave of dizziness.

“Are you alright, Dr. Chapel?”

Spock looked almost concerned.

“Oh, it's just the heat, Mr. Spock. This building only has one technician left and he's obviously not up for the job.”

“Strange, I have observed no change in temperature.”

Christine made the connection and stared at Spock in horror.

“Excuse me, Mr. Spock, but I need -”

Spock caught her as she fell.

….

She drifted in and out of consciousness for what felt like an eternity. Light and dark, pain and bliss; it was all the same to her. Once she woke to find Sketh weeping by her bedside. Christine reached out a hand to comfort him...and the world faded to black. Visitors came and went. Christine could no longer differentiate between reality and hallucination. Spock, Nyota, Saavik, Leonard McCoy and Roger Korby all appeared before her. Even her long dead parents came to visit, beckoning her to join them.

In the darkness, a voice whispered her name.

“Please Christine, I could not bear to lose you.”

It was Spock.

Finally, she woke. It was dim and depressingly silent. As her eyes adjusted to the light, Christine realized she was in the isolation unit. Only, something was off. Most of the beds lay empty.

She tried to sit up, but her body was too weak.

“Hello, is anyone there?”

Her voice was weak and hoarse from lack of use, but it was enough. A nurse scurried over to her bedside. She was Vulcan.

“Doctor,” the woman said over her comm link, “she's regained consciousness.”

A few minutes later, a man entered the chamber, clad in an environmental suit.

“Dr. Chapel, you're awake!”

The helmet couldn't disguise the excitement in his voice.

“Who are you?” Christine asked in puzzlement.

“Well, I'm Dr. William Reilly from the U.S.S. Amos. We arrived last week when we got the distress signal. I must say, Dr. Chapel, it's an honor to finally meet you. Your work on this planet has been remarkable.”

“How long?,” she croaked, her voice barely above a whisper.

“According to my records, you've been out for nearly four weeks. You were one of the lucky ones.”

“W-where is everyone else?” she sputtered. Her voice was growing weaker and weaker.

“I'm afraid that's a question for another day, Dr. Chapel. Nurse T'may will look after you until you're stronger, then we'll talk.

Christine heard the hiss of a hypospray and the world faded away.

With the exception of the Romulans, the majority of Daedalus' population had been wiped out, including Christine's entire staff. Even the ambassador was gone.

“It's not your fault, Christine,” Reilly had told her as he gently broke the news to her. “The Andorian Flu's this century's version of the Bubonic plague. I'm surprised Daedalus lasted as long as it did.”

She had lost patients before, but never on this scale. Christine had done everything she could, but she had been fighting a ticking time bomb.

The door chimed.

“Come in,” Christine shouted absentmindedly. She was in the middle of packing, debating which items were worth putting through decontamination and which needed to be thrown out.

The door swished open, revealing a familiar Vulcan face.

“Mr Spock,” Christine exclaimed in surprise, “I thought you had already left.”

“That was my intention,” Spock replied in his rich, baritone tone, “but with the death of the ambassador and most of his staff, I have found myself overseeing many of the planet's operations. I understand you are returning to Earth, Dr. Chapel?”

“Why yes,” Christine indicated the suitcase, “Starfleet Medical has insisted I take a year off before they give me another assignment. I'll be taking classes at the Academy until I'm cleared for duty.”

“If I may, Dr. Chapel, I would like to present you with an alternative option.”

Christine sat herself down on the bed, arms crossed, wondering what Spock had in mind.

“Saavik is not ready to be integrated into Vulcan society. Therefore, I have requested to take a year's leave of absence from Starfleet in order to continue her teachings. However, I have found that raising Saavik alone is a far from easy task. Given your calming influence on the child, I am inviting you to accompany me to my new residence on Dantria IV.”

Christine stared at Spock in disbelief.

“Spock, is it not against the customs of your people for an unwed male and female to live together?”

“We are colleagues, Christine, not lovers. Besides, as many have felt the need to point out, I am not a full Vulcan.”

If Spock had asked to come with him alone, she would have said no. The child though...she couldn't leave her to be raised by Spock's cold logic. Saavik needed warmth and comfort, things that Spock could never give her. Besides, Christine could leave anytime if things became too awkward.

“Give me a day to think about it and you'll have my answer, Spock.”

IV

"I’m in love with you Mr. Spock. You. The Human Mr. Spock.

Of course, Christine accepted. She was already in love with the child. Saavik, with her wild behavior and endless curiosity, had touched a place in Christine's heart she hadn't known existed.

Spock had chosen a house situated away from the planet's main population. It was peaceful, relaxing; the perfect place for Christine to recover from her illness.

The Andorian flu had weakened her. During her days on the Enterprise, Christine had been full of boundless energy. Now, she found herself sleeping twelve hours a day. Her energy was very low. On one embarrassing occasion, Christine had ventured out for a walk into the woods, only to collapse against a tree barely a quarter of a kilometer from the house. Spock had found her panting and out of breath. and carried her home. After that, Christine decided to stay indoors, except for an occasional foray into the garden.

Those were just the physiological effects. Sometimes the nightmares would come, faces of the friends she had lost on Daedalus; bodies stacked upon bodies.

On one of those nights, she awoke to see the vague outline of a face peering at her. She nearly cried out, but a simple flick of the light revealed it was only Saavik.

The young girl reached out with her slim fingers and traced the tears that fell down Christine's cheeks.

“Why your face wet?”

Christine gathered the child in her arms and held her close.

“When humans are sad or unhappy, Saavik, their eyes become wet. We call it crying. It can happen to you too, Saavik.”

The child shook her head defiantly.

“I never cry. Why you sad, Christine?”

Christine sighed, Saavik was the last person who needed to hear about her worries. Tomorrow, she would send a request for trimamine to the planet's supply ship. The powerful sedative would place her in a peaceful, dreamless sleep.

“Saavik,” Christine released the girl from her arms and tried to coax her off the bed. “It's time to go back to your room.”

“Don't wanna,” Saavik mumbled. “Stay here, Christine nice.”

She knew better, but there was something soothing about the child's presence. It had been so long since she had shared an emotional connection with anyone. Maybe this was a sign that Christine needed to leave this planet. (once she had regained her full strength.) Spock would manage fine without her.

“Okay Saavik, you can stay just this once.”

The young hybrid had already fallen asleep and Christine soon joined her. The nightmares did not return that night.

I can't believe that you're holed up in the middle of nowhere with that green-blooded hobgoblin, Chris. Come back to Earth, I've got an extra room in my cabin and a bottle of whiskey with your name on it. I'll even let you win a round of five-card stud for -

“Dr. Chapel, the soup is overflowing!”

Spock's voice pulled Christine away from McCoy's letter and back to reality.

The soup was running down the sides of the pot and spattering onto the floor.

“Oh my gosh,” Christine exclaimed in panic, her cheeks read with embarrassment.

She hurried to clean up the mess, trying to sabotage what was left of their dinner.

To her surprise, Spock placed a gentle hand on her shoulder and steered her away from the stove.

“I will take care of this, Christine. Besides, there is something I wish to discuss with you.”

Christine silently took a seat at the table and watched as Spock quickly and efficiently disposed of her mess and served them what Plomeek soup was left.

“Where's Saavik,” she asked.

“The child became lethargic after today's lessons. She is currently resting. Strange, Saavik agreed to sleep in her bed for the first time. She normally gathers her bed coverings and lies on the floor.”

“Well, it seems she's finally come around. Congratulations, Spock.”

The Vulcan merely raised an eyebrow at her quizzically.

“Christine, I failed to consider the ramifications the plague on Daedalus IX would have on a human psyche, even one as strong as yours. I propose that I meld with you and share a small measure of my own control. Together, I believe we can work to overcome your current emotional ordeal.”

Christine nearly slammed her bowl against the table. Of course Saavik had told Spock that she had found her friend crying. Part of her was touched that Spock cared about her unhappiness, in his own Vulcan way. On the other hand..

“Spock, I appreciate your concern, but humans are private. I would prefer to keep my thoughts to myself.

“If it would be of any consolation, doctor, I will do my best to respect your privacy, just as I did when we briefly shared consciousness.”

Christine remembered that time all too well. Sauron had placed Spock's mind in her body to protect the Vulcan from Henoch. At the time, she had been ecstatic; secretly hoping their telepathic encounter would finally bring them together as a couple. Of course, nothing had changed.

She shook off the memory.

“I'm sorry Spock, but your best isn't good enough.”

Christine could swear she saw a flicker of disappointment in Spock's eyes.

“I respect your decision Dr. Chapel, but I cannot let this matter go completely. I would like to train you in a series of meditative exercises that will help you regain a state of emotional balance.”

Spock had always been too stubborn for his own good.

“Alright,” she conceded, “I suppose it's worth a try.”

“Very well, I wish to start as start as possible. Will tomorrow morning at 08:00 hours be sufficient?”

“I'll see you, then.”

Christine got up from the table and headed towards the door, grateful to be done with this awkward conversation.

“Christine?”

She turned around. What did he want now?

“I would advise you to keep your door locked at night. Saavik has taken to wandering through the house at night. I do not want her to disturb your sleep.”

She and Spock met every morning to meditate. The first three sessions were fruitless, Christine was too annoyed with Spock to concentrate. However, as the days passed, she began to feel like her old self again.

There were times she would open her eyes, after connecting with her inner consciousness, to find Spock staring at her. Again, there was that faint hint of disappointment on his face, as if the meditation was not enough for him.

….

For the first three months of her stay on Dantria IV, Christine had cautiously kept her distance from Saavik while she recovered from her illness. Now, with her body and, (with Spock's help), her soul at ease, she happily took the young girl under her wing.

Christine was delighted to discover the soil on Dantria IV was very similar to that of Earth's With Saavik's help, she planted sunflowers, violets, pansies, even roses. Spock balked at the illogicality of planting flowers they would never see, but Christine merely laughed him off.

“It's the beauty of creating life, Spock. You said it yourself, I'm a nurturer. This is what I do.”

Spock merely raised an eyebrow and returned to the house.

Christine couldn't help but laugh. In that very moment, under the Dantrian sun, she had never felt more alive.

“Who is this?”

Saavik, having gone through everything else Christine owned, had finally hacked into her personal tablet.

Christine looked up from the medical newsletter she was reading and inwardly groaned. Saavik had found a picture of Christine and Roger Korby, their engagement photo to be exact. There she was with her dyed hair and youthful smile. Roger was smiling back at her with a look of absolute devotion. The two of them had their whole lives planned out for themselves when they posed for that picture, without an inkling of the tragedy that lay ahead.

“That was Roger, Saavik, we were engaged to be married before he died.”

She told Saavik the whole story, beginning to end.

“He was a robot?”

“Apparently,” Christine said wistfully.

“Is this why you don't have a mate, Christine?”

“That's part of the reason, Saavik. Humans are allowed to find new “mates.” I just haven't met the right person yet.”

“Spock doesn't have a mate, either.”

“No, Saavik, he doesn't.”

Christine wondered about that at times. It had been well over seven years since T'Pring. Surely he would have been forced to find someone. Perhaps his human physiology had played a factor, slowing the mating cycle down. She had treated a young Vulcan on Daedalus experiencing his first Pon Farr. He couldn't hace been more than twenty-five. Spock had been thirty-nine at the time of his first cycle.

“You should marry Spock. He's lonely too.”

“Don't be silly, Saavik.”

“I'm not being silly, Christine. You love him and he loves you.”

Christine opened her mouth to object, but Saavik had already fallen asleep in her bed...again.

….

The roses had miraculously come into bloom….or were they roses? The strange, honey-colored flowers bore no resemblance to the blossoms that grew on Earth. She scanned them with her tricorder in puzzlement.

Spock emerged from the woods and Christine waved him over.

“Fascinating,” he said, when she showed him the flowers. “I believe I have a theory as to how this new species of flora came into being.”

Spock walked over to another corner of the yard and plucked a common Danatrian phoselbloom from the ground. They were ugly little weeds that Christine and Saavik regularly stripped from the garden.

“These two species of plant life, completely different in form and structure have merged together to create a new life form I shall submit a report to Starfleet.”

“Well,” Christine pulled herself up from the ground and wiped the dirt off her trousers, “it's getting late. I need to start dinner before we find ourselves munching on energy bars….Spock, are you coming? What's wrong?”

He was standing with his back to her gazing into the distance.

“Saavik did not need to tell me you were in pain, Christine. I felt it even before we left Daedalus IX. I have always been able to sense your emotions. Your pain. Your fear. Your happiness. Your love.”

Spock turned towards her, all traces of Vulcan stoicism gone from his expression.

“Spock,” Christine said, “that's not possible. We would have to be….”

“Bonded,” Spock echoed. “Yes, I am aware.”

“Did Sauron have something to do with this?” she accused. If Spock had been lying to her all this time….

“No, Sauron and Henoch had nothing to do with our connection. I have been able to feel your presence since the day you declared your love for me. Strange, that it took the words of a child for me to admit the truth. I have watched you walk away from me twice now, Christine Chapel, and I cannot bear to lose you again.”

With that, he took her face in his hands and pressed his lips to hers. It was a chaste kiss, far from romantic, but Christine felt her body tingle from head to toe. And she knew, at that moment, that her love for Spock had never faded, only changed and matured into something new.

She slipped into his bedroom that night, clad in her sheerest nightgown. He was waiting for her, lying naked under the sheets.

Without a thought, she dropped her single garment on the floor, allowing Spock a moment to gaze upon her naked body before she joined him on the bed.

She was the more experienced of the two, but he seemed to know what she wanted before she even asked. Slowly, they explored each other's bodies, riding the seas of passion until he finally entered her in one smooth thrust.

They moved together in perfect unison, it was like nothing Christine had ever experienced before. Just when she felt she could take no more, Spock looked into her eyes and placed a hand to her cheek. She nodded her assent and the meld began.

His mind slipped into hers just as easily as his body had, begging and pleading for her to open herself to him. And she did, her feelings and memories mingling with his. Every single part of her, pain and joy and ecstasy, joined with him. Christine was no longer alone.

2390

Saavik remembered her parents. Christine Chapel, so kind and caring. Spock, stern yet patient. She had lived with them on Vulcan for six years before entering Starfleet Academy. Spock and Sarek had raised her in the Vulcan way. Her mother had taught her the value of compassion and the joy of laughter. Logic was not Saavik's only tool.

They were long gone now. Christine had died of old age and Spock had disappeared on a mission to Romulus. They left Saavik their most treasured possession, a single yellow flower. Preserved by Tellarite handicraft, it was an enduring symbol of their love for each other. Saavik kept it with her always.