Christine Chapel had just finished pouring herself a cup of tea when the door of her quarters chimed. "Come in," she said.
The door slid open to reveal Nyota Uhura, who held up the largest bar of chocolate that Christine had ever seen. "I come bearing gifts."
Christine gave her friend a puzzled smile. "You know you're always welcome here, Nyota; you don't have to bribe your way in." She gestured a welcome, and Uhura walked in and sat in her usual place at the small table where they frequently hung out.
Christine handed the just-poured cup of tea to Nyota, then poured another cup for herself, joining Nyota at the table. "What's up?"
Nyota ripped open the wrappings of the chocolate bar, depositing it in the center of the table. "This isn't a bribe, you know; it's medicinal."
"Every woman's favorite medicine!" Christine agreed. "But what's up? What's happened that you need that much chocolate?"
Uhura shook her head and looked sternly at her friend. "Nice try, but no dice. The chocolate is for you, and you know it. You've been moping since we left Sargon's planet. You smile in public, but I know you well enough by now to know when your smile is genuine and when it's professional, and you've definitely been giving us the Good Nurse smile. You push the food around on your plate quite convincingly, and I think no one's noticed except me and maybe McCoy, but you're not eating, and your eyes are red."
Christine looked down, embarrassed.
Nyota covered Christine's hand with her own, squeezing it lightly. "Hon, I'm not complaining, and I'm not judging. I'm worried about you, and so is McCoy. We talked to each other and guessed what the general issue might be, and the two of us decided that you'd rather tell me about it than him." She broke a piece off of the chocolate bar and nibbled at it. "Most women would rather discuss man trouble with another woman, and that's even without taking into account the weird relationship between McCoy and Spock."
Christine looked back up and saw only sympathy and a genuine desire to help on Uhura's face. She sighed, then broke off a chunk of chocolate. "It probably would do me good to talk about it, but my crush on Spock has always been embarrassing, and I have trouble talking about it, even to you." She sighed. "But I guess that problem has just become short term."
Uhura blinked. "Short term! That makes it sound like you're getting over your crush on Spock?"
Christine's eyes teared up. "Yes," she said hoarsely. She cleared her throat and continued. "Yes, I think that crush is dying a natural death. What you've seen for the past few days is mourning, I guess. Unrequited love is never fun, but love does warm you, fill you, even when it's unrequited." The tears spilled over. "I feel so empty now that it's gone."
Nyota stood up, moved around the table, then pulled Christine gently out of her chair, folding her into a hug. Christine clung to her, bending down to be able to tightly hug the shorter woman.
Nyota rubbed soothing circles on Christine's back. "I'm guessing that sharing consciousness with Spock wasn't everything you'd hoped for? He wasn't ..." She paused and looked up into Christine's face. "I can't imagine that he'd be mean to you, not Mr. Spock."
"No," Christine said and swallowed. "He was a perfect gentleman, just as you'd expect." She pulled away from the hug and sat back down, then picked up her teacup and drank half of it at once.
Uhura returned to her place and sat, sipping at her own tea and looking at Christine with concern.
Christine put her teacup back on the table and sighed. "He didn't do anything wrong. I didn't discover anything bad about him, nothing like that."
"You've carried a torch for him for a couple of years now. What's happened to make you not love him anymore?"
Christine looked down. "I'm afraid it'll sound stupid."
"You know me better than that, hon! McCoy's teased you about your crush on Spock, but I never have. He's a good man, and I've never blamed you for loving him."
Christine sighed. "I know. The whole thing is just awkward, that's all." Then she shook herself, straightened up in her chair and looked directly at Nyota. "All right, I'll tell you about it. Spock is the first officer, and I'm just a nurse. He's a Vulcan, and I'm human. I've always known that he was far above me in his position on the ship and superior to me in some ways because of the whole Vulcan thing. But I figured that wasn't my fault. Vulcans are born with more complex brains than humans have; it's no shame to be inferior to a Vulcan intellectually, and I'm smart for a human."
Uhura cocked her head to one side. "His father married a human, so we can't be that far beneath them. I never thought you had much of a chance with Spock, but not because of any lack of worth on your part."
Christine nodded. "That's what I thought, too. And I figured that if biology had handed Vulcans an advantage, it wasn't really all that important. I thought we were pretty much the same, underneath. At the level of personhood, of essence ... of souls, I guess you could say ... we were equal."
Nyota looked searchingly at Christine. "What are you saying?"
"While Spock was living in my head, he had to use my brain, because Henoch had his. He didn't have any of the Vulcan biological advantages, not the superior strength, not the complex brain, not the hearing or the reflexes or any of that stuff. They called it 'consciousness,' but really, it was essentially his soul that I carried."
"And his soul ... freaked you out?"
"Not exactly. His soul ..." Christine took a deep breath. "Nyota, Spock has an angel's soul! I shared ... not his immense Vulcan mind but his ... essence, and that essence was so far above me that I couldn't love it like a woman, I could only admire it like a follower."
Nyota blinked. "Spock's a good person, for sure, but so are you! I don't like to hear you putting yourself down."
Christine shook her head. "That's just it, Nyota. I'm not putting myself down. I am a good person, and I know it. It was brave and loyal of me to get a berth on the Enterprise to search for Roger. I'm a good nurse — competent, caring, and compassionate. I'm a nice person and a good friend. I'm really an excellent human being, and the thing is, I know that. I do, I know it. And it doesn't matter."
Nyota looked blankly at Christine. "Then what are you saying?"
Christine looked down for a moment, then back up again. She spoke crisply. "Good people have darkness in them. All humans have fears and weaknesses and pockets of evil, things we hide from each other — and sometimes even from ourselves — because they're ugly." She stared intently at Uhura and her voice changed and became reverent. "But Nyota, Spock doesn't. He doesn't. I saw his entire consciousness, his entire fucking SOUL, and it's good all the way through."
Uhura said, "But remember you shared consciousness. A lot of human weaknesses get buried in the UNconscious. Maybe all that stuff was back with Henoch."
Christine shook her head. "I actually asked Spock about the relative proportions of the conscious and unconscious mind in Vulcans vs. humans, not telling him why I wanted to know. He told me that Vulcans have almost no unconscious mind. One reason why suppressing emotions works for Vulcans, whereas it would make a human crazy, is because they have access to their whole minds, especially during meditation. They can evaluate, label, and discard emotions while meditating because there's no sink of unconscious muck; it's all right there, available to be worked with."
Uhura considered this. "Spock is half human, you know. Maybe he has an unconscious mind, even though most Vulcans don't."
Christine grimaced. "I thought of that, too. I asked him if being half human gave him the pluses and minuses of an unconscious mind. He said that the Captain had shown him what an asset intuition could be, which made him appreciate the value of having an unconscious mind. He said that for the first time in his life, he was rather sorry that he followed the Vulcan pattern and could only reason consciously and would never know the benefits of intuition first hand, because he lacked an unconscious mind."
Uhura leaned forward and spoke softly. "I've overheard the Captain and Doctor McCoy talking about what happened on Vulcan when the ship was diverted there, right before our trip to Altair. I won't tell you everything they said, but they made it very clear that they'd met some Vulcans who were definitely NOT good all the way through."
Christine bit her lip. "I know. I know about what happened on Vulcan, and I know that T'Pring and Stonn are definitely not angels. That's part of why I'm saying that it's not a human vs. Vulcan thing, it's just a Spock thing. Yeah, Vulcans have superior strength and more complex brains and all that stuff, but I don't feel morally inferior to Vulcans."
Christine teared up again. "Nyota, I've seen the man's soul, and it ... it shone so brightly that it blinded me." She wiped at her eyes with a finger and looked sadly at Uhura. "But that's just it, don't you see? I am a good person, and he's so far above me that I could never offer myself to him. So who can? Who can love an angel as an equal? I'm grieving for myself, for the love I've lost, but I'm also grieving for him. He'll ... he'll always be alone."
"He'll always be apart, but he'll never be alone." Uhura pointed at Christine. "We may not be on his level, but the crew of the Enterprise is his family, and we won't kick him out of the family, just because his halo casts a bit of a glare."
Christine smiled. "I guess angels don't quite need the same kind of love as the rest of us, anyway."
"Angels live to serve, Christine, and as long as Jim Kirk is our captain, Spock will have enough opportunity to serve to run even an angel ragged!"
The two women laughed and ate their chocolate and turned away from pondering the mysteries of an angel's soul.