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Anchor in the Deep

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Christine Chapel had had A Day.

It had started out pleasantly enough. Roger was elbow deep in analysing the artifacts they had picked up on the last planet, and so hadn't come to bed. But Christine didn't particularly mind. It allowed her the rare luxury of setting the alarm for when she needed it. And since she was doing her residency in the Enterprise's Sickbay, her schedule was more erratic than most.

It wasn't until Commander Spock had come on the PA system later in the day to announce that the ship was going to be entering a dense cloud of ionized gas and all stations should prepare for turbulence and possible sporadic system failures that things started to go down hill. Dr. McCoy was on duty in Sickbay at the time as well, so she and he spent a frantic fifteen minutes securing all people and things that might go flying around, should the ship's stability be compromised. Only to feel exactly nothing. Not a bump or a jostle.

This, of course, put Dr. McCoy in a truly charming mood. Christine put up with her friend's grumbling and grousing for a good twenty minutes before politely telling him to either hide in his office or stuff it.

McCoy looked longingly at the door of his office for a good thirty seconds before turning back to Christine with a glare. "Dammit, Chris," he growled, "you know I have these slides to finish and then Henderson's exam."

"Oh do you? Fancy that," she said innocently, and turned to saunter off to her own workstation.

Of course, her exit was somewhat marred, as the ship chose that particular moment to lurch to one side.

Slides went clattering to the floor as McCoy recovered his own balance and jumped to catch her before she could go careening into the bulkhead.

Christine had just enough time to register the warmth of his hands on her before the whole universe seemed to wobble and then it righted itself again.

"Ugh," Christine said articulately, shaking her head, trying to clear it.

"Did you hit your head?" McCoy asked in concern, reaching for his ever-present tricorder.

"No, I don't think so. Nice catch. Thank you."

McCoy grunted in acknowledgement. "Your readings are clear."

Christine moved to check on the rest of the staff and patients, and heard McCoy on the comm calling for the bridge, asking what the hell had just happened and if it was going to happen again, and could they have some warning next time?

"Spock says it happened just as we were exiting the ion cloud and he swears on his pointy ears that it won't happen again now that we're clear of the cloud," McCoy announced a few minutes later. "Is everyone okay?"

"Just a few bumps and bruises from around the ship. Nothing major. The nurses are handling most of it."

"Good." He looked down mournfully at his ruined slides that Christine had collected onto a tray. "Guess I know what I'm doing for the next few hours."

Christine patted his shoulder in sympathy. "I should go check on mine. Hey, are you and Jocelyn free for dinner tomorrow? I promised Roger that I'd drag him away from his artifacts for a few hours."

"I'll have to check, but I think so. That would be nice."

"Great," Christine said brightly, and headed off to check on her own slides.

She thought nothing more of the incident - because really, as a day on the Enterprise went, a little turbulence and distortion from an ion cloud was nothing - until she headed back to her quarters that evening. And nearly walked into the door when it wouldn't open for her.

Wondering why Roger had changed the access code, she tried again to open the door. With the same non-result. With a frown, she tapped the nearby computer panel on the wall.

"Computer, override door lock on Deck 8, Section 3, Room 4B 324, authorization Christine Chapel-Korby, alpha-2-theta."

"Override failed. No such authorization recognized."

Now that was odd.

"Computers, location of quarters for Christine Chapel-Korby."

"No such person on this ship."

"Computer, location of quarters for Christine Chapel," she tried. Maybe there was a clerical error and her married name hadn't been properly inputted.

"Christine Chapel's quarters are located on Deck 9, Section 2, Room 3F 127."

Now that was really odd. Those were the CMO's quarters.

On a hunch, she tried, "Computer, location of quarters for Roger Korby."

"No such person on this ship."


"Computer, location of quarters for Leonard McCoy."

"Leonard McCoy's quarters are located on Deck 9, Section 2, Room 3F 127."

Christine pinched the bridge of her nose. This was not what she wanted to deal with. Nyota and Scotty were going to have a fit if the personnel files in the computer had become corrupted. Not to mention what Janice would say. Time for one more try.

"Computer, location of quarters for Jocelyn McCoy."

"No such person on this ship."


Christine slumped against the wall. She could go find Janice or Nyota or even the captain and find out what the hell was going on. But that would make the problem official, and she was exhausted and really wanted nothing more than to sit down with a hot bowl of soup. She could just go back to Sickbay and bunk there for the night and deal with it in the morning. But unfortunately, her curiosity had been piqued.

With a heart-felt sigh, Christine shoved herself upright and made her way to the turbolift. A few minutes later, she was standing at the door to the quarters that the computer said were hers.

The polite thing to do would be to knock. But the mischievous little devil that sometimes lived on her shoulder quietly, but insistently, asked if she wanted to find out if the computer was right? Reluctantly, Christine keyed in her usual access code to the pad next to the door, and was sadly unsurprised when the door slid open.

"Joss?" McCoy's voice came floating across the room.

"No, Len. It's me."

"Chris?" McCoy appeared, holding a glass in one hand. "But how -"

"I didn't use my override, I promise," Christine said, holding up her hands. "It's complicated."

McCoy looked at her critically. "Have you eaten since you got off shift? Never mind, that's a damned fool question. I know you. You didn't get off when you were supposed to, you kept working and probably have only been out of there for half an hour," he grumbled as he ushered her towards the table, sat her down, and produced a plate of food. He sat down opposite her and glared at her until she picked up the fork and started eating.

"Now," he said when she had polished off half the plate, "what in god's name is going on here? How did you get in here?"

Christine sighed, and slid her chair over to the work terminal in the room. "Computer, location of quarters for Christine Chapel."

"Christine Chapel's quarters are located on Deck 9, Section 2, Room 3F 127."

Christine turned back to McCoy. "That's what is going on. I tried to get into our rooms and nearly broke my nose when the door didn't open. Even my override didn't work - the computer said it wasn't valid."

"Aw hell. Personnel files got corrupted?"

"I don't know. It gets worse. Listen. Computer, location of quarters for Roger Korby."

"No such person on this ship."

McCoy frowned deeply. "Computer," he barked, "location of quarters for Jocelyn McCoy."

"No such person on this ship."

"Computer, location of quarters for Jocelyn Darnell McCoy," he tried again.

"No such person on this ship."

"The hell? Chris, we've got to tell the captain."

"I know. But, Len - why did my access code - my normal, everyday access code - work on your door? Corrupt personnel files wouldn't do that. You know what a pain it is to program the doors. If the files got corrupted, it's more likely that we'd all be locked out of our rooms. Len?" Christine asked in alarm, as McCoy stared at her with a look of horror on his face. Suddenly, he bolted from his chair and dashed towards the bedroom. He returned a moment later holding a woman's nightgown.

"Would this be yours?" he asked in a choked voice, and threw the fabric at her.

Christine felt her cheeks heating up and knew she was turning bright red. She fingered the green fabric. "Yeah," she mumbled. "It's mine. But how?"

"I noticed it on the bed when I got in, and didn't recognize it. But this wouldn't be the first time that Joss had dug something out of the back of the closet. I don't even know half of what she brought with her."

They looked at each other for a moment in shock. As one, the moved to the bedroom.

"Left side," McCoy said, motioning to the closet and dresser on that side.

Reluctantly, Christine pulled open one of the drawers. Jocelyn was a good friend, but if they were wrong, going through her friend's underwear drawer was not an experience she really wanted.

"Yeah, that looks like my stuff." She sat down heavily on the bed. Then she noticed the PADD on the bed stand. She grabbed it and looked at what was open on it.

She cleared her throat. "Unless I managed to talk you or Joss into reading historical romance, this is mine too." Christine's love of - some might say obsession with - historical romances was a running joke among her friends. She had converted both Janice and Scotty to them, but both McCoys held firm in their resistance.

Then another thought struck her, and she tapped at the PADD for a minute.

"Len," she said in a tight voice, "go check your personnel file. First make sure your passwords are what you think they are, and then read it."

"Chris?" He could hear the tension in her voice.

"Please, Len, just do it. I want to know what yours says first, then we can talk about it."

They moved back into the living area and McCoy sat down at the workstation. Christine paced back and forth, clutching the PADD like a lifeline. When she heard him start swearing under his breath, she knew he had found the same thing she had.

"Either this is the most extensive practical joke in all of human history," McCoy said eventually, "or we're, I don't know, in an alternate dimension where the last ten years of history happened very differently. Now, I know which I think is more likely, but I also think that three years on the Enterprise has warped my sense of what is and isn't possible."

"You think the ion cloud threw us into an alternate universe?"

"Do I look like a theoretical physicist? I have no idea. But I can't see this being a joke - changing the access codes, putting your stuff in here? Maybe. I can even see Scotty tweaking the ship's computer so that it would say Roger and Joss aren't aboard. But the personnel files? Rewriting both our histories and experiences so that it would look like we were married? They'd have to hack into Starfleet Command's systems to do all that. Even if Jim were talked into it, Uhura wouldn't let him - and she's a better hacker than he is."

"So what do we do?"

"First, you finish eating," McCoy said sternly, pointing to the half-empty plate on the table. "And I will see if I can get Jim over here so we can maybe get some answers."

One cleaned off plate and a quick comm conversation later, the captain of the Enterprise was seated on the couch, bowl of ice cream in hand.

"So how are my two favorite doctors this evening?" Jim asked expansively.

Christine, having done a quick check of the ship's logs while eating, was ready with an answer. "We're well. Partially, we wanted to find out if there were any lingering effects from that ion cloud we passed through earlier. But mostly we just wanted to see you. It's been too long since we just sat down and chatted."

"Business first, then. Scotty and Mr. Spock are running every diagnostic known to man to reassure themselves that the ship is fine. As far as we can tell, it is. So aside from the expected cuts and bruises among the crew, I think we should be fine."

"Good," McCoy grunted.

"So how are you?" Christine asked with a smile. "You'd think being on the same ship, we'd see more of each other, but no."

Fortunately, Jim Kirk had never been accused of being taciturn, and that was all it took to set him going on a only-slightly-exaggerated tale of how he prevented a diplomatic incident with a napkin, a communicator and a wedge of cheese.

"Oh, have you guys figured out where you're going for your anniversary this year?" Jim asked eventually, around another mouthful of ice cream. "I've already approved the time off for both of you, so don't try to argue with me. And you're not allowed to just stay on the ship, either. I'll throw you onto a shuttle myself, if I have to."

"Jim. . ."

"No, Bones. It's your fifth wedding anniversary. Even a dolt like me knows that you're supposed to do something special that doesn't involve more work."

Christine tried not to shift uncomfortably in her chair. "We'll think about it," she promised.

They chatted pleasantly for a little while longer, until Kirk excused himself to finish up another stack of paperwork. After the door closed behind him, Christine and McCoy stared at each other until the silence became uncomfortable.

"Well, I suppose that answers that question," McCoy said.

Christine drew her feet up onto the chair and rested her chin on her knees. "What do we do?"

"We should tell Jim and Spock."

"And have us both relieved of duty while they ran us through every psych eval known to the Federation? No thank you."

"You think they wouldn't believe us?"

Christine shrugged. "Even if they did, they'd have to pull us off duty and run the tests. They've got an entire starship full of people who will swear we are happily married. They've got their own memories of our wedding, not to mention half of Starfleet Medical willing to swear that they were there. Even if they believed us, they'd still be obligated to try to find out why we suddenly have different memories of the last ten years. Do you really want to go through that?"

McCoy simply glared at her.

She snorted. "Didn't think so. But that leaves us with what options?"

"Pretend everything is normal, show them what they expect to see?"

"You want us to - to - pretend we are and have been married?" The last word came out as kind of a squeak.

"Only until we come up with something better. Or things miraculously fix themselves. Or, not," he added hastily when Christine continued to stare at him in shock.

"No, no," she reassured him. "It's just - a lot to take in, I guess. That sounds like the best idea, at least for now." She forced a smile onto her face. "So, can I crash here for the night - I mean, it'll save me a trip in the morning, since most of my clothes seem to be here."

McCoy gave her a tight half-smile. "Sure, I'll bunk on the couch."

"Len, I'm not going to kick you out of your own bed. The couch is fine for me."

"And I'm too much of a gentleman to make you sleep on the couch."

They glared at each other for a minute before something snapped in Christine and she started laughing, teetering on the edge of hysterics. McCoy joined her a moment later.

"Share?" she offered when they had calmed down. "We're both adults, and well, as we suddenly find ourselves maintaining the fiction of being married, it would probably seem odd if we weren't sharing the bed. Since we apparently have been this whole time."

"Good point," McCoy agreed. Then he did something he had rarely done before. He stepped forward and pulled her into a hug. They didn't go out of their way to avoid the casual touches between friends, but they had only hugged a few times; each time they did, there seemed to be a spark of something between them, and by unspoken agreement they avoided it whenever possible.

The spark was there in full force, now, and Christine felt like electricity was fizzing all around her. She stiffened in his arms.

"Shhh," he soothed. "Just relax, Chris. We're going to have to get used to touching each other, too."

She took a deep breath and let it out with a slow sigh. "I know," she mumbled into his chest. "It's just -" She stopped, not really sure how to finish the sentence.

"I know. Believe me, I know. I'm gonna wake up in the middle of the night and quietly freak out because - sorry - the wrong person is next to me."

Christine looked up and gave him a wobbly smile. "So you won't take it personally if I burst into tears at some point?"

"I won't, if you won't."


"C'mon, let's go to bed. Maybe we'll wake up in our own beds and find this has all been some horrible shared dream."

"We wouldn't be so lucky," Christine retorted and started for the bedroom.

Maybe things would be back to normal in the morning. Maybe they wouldn't. But either way, a full night's sleep couldn't do anything but help the situation. Well, hopefully. This was the Enterprise, after all.