Standard Disclaimer: No copyright infringements are intended with this story. I make no profit. It was written solely for the love of writing and sharing my imagination.

Part One

Christine sat staring at the computer screen, tears streaming down her face. Somewhere in the back of her mind she was very glad she had waited to view this message until after she'd finished studying for the night. There was no way she would be able to do it now. She couldn't believe it!

She had to reread Spock's message just to make sure she'd read it right. Then she got angry. That selfish son of a... He didn't even have the decency to... She couldn't even finish complete thoughts, let alone speak. Sections of the letter kept repeating themselves in her mind. 'I could not live with myself if something were to happen to you because of me.' 'I am losing who I am.' 'I am sure you will understand that this is something I have to do.'

Well, she didn't understand! He should have come and talked to her about it, not gone slinking off into the night without so much as a by your leave! If he'd just let her, she might have been able to help him through whatever had spooked him. She gasped. That was why he hadn't talked to her. He was afraid she would have been able to do just that.

She should have known better than to get involved with a Vulcan! No matter how she felt about him. She sighed as all her anger melted away, wondering just what had driven him back to running; this time for good. She knew what Kholinar meant, what it involved. He wouldn't be the same person when he finished that.

She looked at the date and sighed. Even if she sent an immediate reply, it wouldn't reach Vulcan until it was way too late. The speed with which this seemed to have been accomplished suggested he would head straight to Gol and that this had been planned for some time.

The tears started again at the thought that he felt he had to run so hard and so fast, that he couldn't even give her the chance of closure. Maybe she should write a reply anyway, there was always the chance he might change his mind.

Fat chance! mocked an inner voice.

It's possible, she protested.


I should give him every chance..

No you shouldn't!


Wait a few days, you'll figure out I'm right.

But by then...

What? It'll be too late? If that's the case it would be anyway, and if he changes his mind it'll still be time enough.

Christine sighed, wondering where this internal dialogue was leading. She was confusing herself. She'd given up so much of her life hoping; first with Roger then with Spock. She'd finally gotten her priorities straighten out and suddenly Spock did a turn around and she was hooked again. Now he went and pulled something like this, well no more! She was through waiting for anybody! She'd come full circle and was back to being angry.

Good for you.

Oh shut up!

She needed someone besides herself to talk to. Then it dawned on her that there was one other person who would be deeply affected by this. Someone else she could worry about and allow her to shove her own problems to the back of her mind. He had been a lost soul since his grounding, and this would hit him pretty hard. She placed a call to Jim Kirk.

She had been right. He'd taken it hard. He, Spock and McCoy had been an inseparable trio for as long as she could remember. That was shattered. Even if he managed to get a command back, nothing would be the same. Without Spock, they were missing a vital part of the dynamic team. She checked the time on her chronometer again. Damn! She was going to be late if she didn't hurry. She would just have to shower when she got home from her classes.

He hadn't been home when she called, so she'd met him as he left Command compound. From the look on his face, it had been obvious to her that he'd already received a similar message from Spock. He had taken one look at her and known the same thing, in reverse, instantly. That shared moment of misery had been the start.

They'd gone to dinner and talked. Then they'd walked and talked. Then they'd gone back to his quarters; he drank and they talked some more. She hadn't ever before realized they would have that much to talk about. They'd both been startled when the first wisps of dawn began lighting the skyline.

It was then she had to leave. He asked if she wanted to have dinner again the following evening and she'd agreed. They could get through this together. You could survive anything if you have the right friends.

Christine's classes dragged by. She was having difficulty keeping her thoughts where they should be. Not to mention the fact that she had trouble keeping her eyes properly open. She could just see trying to explain to her professor why she fell asleep in class. At times it was all they kept her awake. Most of this first year stuff she'd learned over the years on her own anyway. Not all of it, she reminded herself harshly. Now pay attention.

Normally she relaxed in between classes, but today, fearing that the evening would probably follow a path similar to last night's, she transcribed as many of her notes as she could in between classes. That is what took the longest of any one night's study and getting it done early would help cut short the study time required tonight.

She did finally manage to get through all of them without embarrassing herself, and headed home with a profound sense of relief. She had a good four hours of study time before she was due to meet Admiral Kirk.

She reached home, dropped her books on the table and sank wearily into a chair. Well, she thought to herself, she'd study for two hours. Right now she was going to take a quick sonic shower and catch a couple of hours sleep.

Christine startled awake. She'd slept through her alarm. She had only an hour before dinner. Oh well, there was nothing she could do about it. She could study for half an hour and then cut the evening short. She could study more when she got back.

That decided, she set to work studying the day's notes. She didn't remember school, or even the academy being this bad. Sometimes it seemed all she did was attend class or study. She had to remind herself that this was what she had chosen, what she wanted. Somehow it all seemed so mundane now. What was she doing it for anyway? She could take her time and graduate in the normal length of time. There wasn't any hurry anymore. There wasn't anyone waiting for her after all.

"Stop it!" she told herself. "You already decided your life was NEVER going to put on hold again. You WILL continue with the goal you set yourself, and you WILL succeed." Keeping that firmly in mind, she once again bent to her studies.

Part 2

Christine stared down at her dinner plate. This was the fourth time this week that she and the admiral had, had dinner together. It was comforting for both of them. It made it seem like some things really didn't change. But tonight they'd been eating in a silence that had been totally absent before now. It was as if they were both lost inside their own thoughts.

She looked up suddenly, needing to break the silence. "I dreamt about Spock last night."

Kirk looked up with surprise. "So did I."

She laughed lightly, bit her lip and looked quickly back down at her plate.

He laughed ruefully. "Not the kind of dream you had, evidently."

She blushed lightly, grinned, then looked back up at him. "Well, I have to admit it did bring an...uh...interesting picture to mind."

He gave her a crooked look, but didn't comment.

"I have to say that the dream made me angry."

"Angry?" he asked in surprise. "Why angry?"

"Because he's there at Gol, training for that damn Kohlinar. He's going to push everything out. Before too long, he'll barely even remember what it felt like to care. He certainly isn't going to be dreaming about us."

Kirk stared pensively down at his plate a moment before he answered her. "Well,...I guess you're right about that."

Christine was instantly sorry she'd said anything. She didn't want to do anything to sadden him further. "I'm sorry Admiral."

One corner of his mouth lifted in a lopsided smile. "Don't be. That's what friends are for, right?"

"You're right, Admiral," she said firmly, nodding once.

He shook his head slowly. "Something isn't right."


"One, you're not under my command anymore. Two, I think we've managed to build the start of a friendship here. Please, call me Jim."

She smiled broadly. "All right...Jim, on one condition."

"What's that?"

"You'll call me Christine."

"It's a deal."

The silence broken, they chatted amiably through the rest of their meal. Sticking to mundane, everyday topics, they spoke of how their day had gone and the little odd happenings they had found amusing. Only after they were outside did they fall back into silence. This time, however, it was the easy silence of knowing they didn't have to talk just to entertain the other person.

Jim turned to Christine just before they reached the corner where they would head in opposite directions. "Do you play chess?"

She chuckled humorlessly. "Spock tried to teach me, but I'm afraid I'm not any good at it."

"You know, he tried to teach me how he played chess once."


"Yeah, it didn't take." He grinned mischievously. "Maybe I could teach you my illogical method."

She returned the grin before answering. "I'd be delighted, Jim."


"See," Christine said laughing. "I told you I'm not any good at this."

Jim reached across and laid a hand across hers, smiling mischievously. "You're not as bad as you led me to believe. With a little time, and a lot of playing, I think you could be quite...adequate."

Christine laughed, just as he had intended. "You've been teaching me for two weeks now. You'd think, if I was going to learn anything, it would have at least started to sink in by now."

"Actually," Jim said as he rose. "You're better than you think. I received my grandmaster certificate 3 years ago." He grinned at her while pouring himself a Romulan Ale. "You want one."

"No, I'm not that adventurous tonight. I have an exam in the morning."

"Oh, I forgot! You're going to want to make an early evening then; to study?"

Christine laughed. "No, I've done all the studying I'm going to. It's in biochemistry."

Kirk's drink stopped halfway to his lips. "Isn't your Ph.D. in biochemical research?"

"Yes," she said drily.

"Then why in heavens name are they making you take biochemistry?"

She shook her head and pulled herself up to sit ramrod straight in a pefect imitation of Dean Gant. "You've been in the nursing field for several years," she said with a roll of her eyes. "And I'm quoting here mind you." She raised her hands miming quotes. "And we need to make sure that your knowledge has not atrophied for lack of use." She slumped back into her chair with a sigh and a disgusted shake of her head.

Jim laughed loudly. "Whoever said that didn't look over your service record very well, did they?"

"Bureaucracy." They said at the same time.

"Anyway, as I was saying," Jim said, coming back to sit at the small table. "I'd be playing pretty badly if you could win this quickly. I may not be playing to my full ability here, but I'll never "let" you win. When you do, it'll be because you won fair and square, not because I let you."

Christine grinned. "It's a deal then." She leaned forward and looked him square in the eyes. "And there will come a day when I do beat you!"

"Promises, promises." Jim said with a charming smile.

Christine's jaw dropped, but she recovered quickly. "It's more than a promise." She paused and eyed him evilly. "It's a threat."

Jim Kirk laughed. He laughed until tears streamed down his cheeks. When he managed to regain control, he leaned forward and once again laid a hand on Christine's. "It's been a very long time since I laughed like this. Thank you."

"My pleasure," Christine answered, returning the gesture with her free hand.

The look in Jim's eyes changed, and Christine held her breath. Why hadn't she ever noticed before what a beautiful smile he had?

Why hadn't he ever before noticed just how blue her eyes were, and just how extraordinary a woman she was? He knew why. She'd been unavailable from day one; for one reason or another. Now she wasn't. He pulled back with a discreet cough, uncomfortable with where his thoughts were taking him.

She did too, letting her hands fall into her lap.

"How about another game?" he asked, ready to suggest anything to break the awkward silence it seemed he'd caused.

"I think maybe I should go." Christine said. She wasn't sure why she was suddenly thinking these thoughts, but she needed to leave before she made a fool of herself. She'd done that one too many times in the past.

They rose simultaneously, bringing them mere inches from one another. They froze. After long moments Jim leaned forward, then paused.

Christine's eyes widened, but she didn't pull back.

He continued forward, without fully realizing he was moving.

At first they both kissed tentatively, as if testing the boundaries. That tender seductive exploration deepened and Christine's arms found their way around Jim's neck. He reached out and pulled her close against him.

Christine moaned softly against his lips, and they both pulled back, just far enough to see into the other's eyes. Both needed to see what was reflected there.

Uncertainty; desire; fear.

"No strings," Christine whispered huskily.

"No strings," Jim echoed just as softly, before they both gave themselves back to a hungry kiss, and a wild abandon neither had suspected they were still capable of.

Part Three

The weeks turned into months and while the two of them never repeated that one night, they settled into an easy friendship. They'd both needed the release and the reassurance of being cared for, but both knew they were much better off not being lovers.

Christine sat at the computer terminal in her quarters. She had only this final report to finish, and then she was done for the semester. She'd thought briefly about continuing her studies through the summer, but had changed her mind. She wanted to take the time to sort through all she was feeling.

The past year and a half had been a long roller coaster ride of highs and lows. She needed to slow down for just a bit and let it all sink in. There, she thought, hitting the save key. All done. Now all she had to do was turn it in to Professor Canthrop. After that she was free to begin her vacation.

Jim had offered her the use of his mountain cabin when she'd mentioned she wanted solitude and she'd gratefully accepted. She was definitely looking forward to the peace and quiet she knew she would find there. With no classes, work, or studying to think about, she would finally be forced to confront the hurt and anger she knew was always just below the surface.

It even angered her that it was still present. She shook her head as she stood and gathered what she needed. She wasn't yet ready to face that, and the need to turn in her paper was as good an excuse as any not to.

The door to her quarters slid open. "Christine!" Jim shouted, joy radiating from every movement. He bounded over to her and swung her up and around in a tight bear hug. Setting her down he moved his hands to her shoulders. "Guess what?"

Christine grinned. His mood was infectious. "Don't tell me. I know, you've suddenly reverted to being 17."

He chuckled. "No, even better."

"No way. What could be better..." Christine's eyes widened, and she felt tears of joy for him. "OH!"

"Yes, they've given her back to me!"

"Oh, Jim! That's wonderful!" she said, pulling him into another hug. "When do you leave?"

"We're set to leave in 48 hours." Jim said, then gazed at her a moment before continuing. "I know you've got your heart set on Mountain vistas, but I'd really like it if you'd join us on this cruise."


He grinned sheepishly. "I've drafted Bones."

"You've what?!" Christine asked in astonishment.

He shrugged. "I had him drafted. He should be getting notification anytime now."

Christine shook her head and chuckled. "He's gonna love that."

"I know, but...I want...I need some friendly faces around. There are those that won't like this."

Christine's eyes narrowed as she continued to stare at him. "They didn't give her back did they. You took her."

Kirk raised his hands palm up, then shrugged again. "What's the difference? I've got her back, and that's what matters."

"In what capacity?"

"I contacted your school and I've arranged for you to receive clinical credits for serving as a P.A." At the look on her face, he continued quickly. "Assuming you accept the posting."

With a heavy sigh that was half chuckle, half exasperation, she answered him. "I will."

"Good," he said, grinning. "Now I've got to be running. There's so much to do before I transport up to the ship." He leaned over and gave her a quick kiss on the cheek. "See you on board." Then he was gone before she could form a reply.


Spock was on board. She'd heard it through the ship grapevine. She wasn't sure just how she felt about that. It was odd, thinking of him up on the bridge, just like old times. She shook her head regretfully. It probably was just like old times in some ways. Well, she'd just have to get used to it she supposed. She was only on board for 3 months, she could deal with just about anything that long. She was, however, wishing she chosen that vacation instead.

She hadn't yet dealt with all the jumbled emotions she was feeling inside, and she wasn't real sure how the anger part might show itself. Well, for now, the only thing she could do was stay out of the way. These things seemed to have a way of working themselves out. She'd learned that long ago.

Once again pushing all of it to the back of her mind, she returned her attention to her duties at hand. As always, that could wait.


Christine rushed about Sickbay, steadfastly directing the flow of nurses and technicians. DR McCoy was at the airlock awaiting the return of Spock and Kirk. The Admiral had informed them over the comlink that Spock had been injured in some way and McCoy had gone rushing out to meet them; medical bag in hand.

It didn't take them long to get set up and they were ready when Spock's litter was brought in. All had jobs to do, and soon, after a couple of touch and go moments, Spock's condition was stabilized. He'd taken quite a bit of damage however, and it would be some time before anyone was sure he'd make a complete recovery.

Christine went about her duties with a calm that surprised her. He could have been any patient. She was glad of it, but a little saddened by it too. An era had passed and she felt a freedom she hadn't felt in a very long time. At the same time it left her feeling at loose ends.

A sound from Spock brought her out of her contemplation, and she returned to the room in time to see him smile and grasp Jim's arm. 'Simple feeling,' he'd said then. She hadn't heard it all, she was too caught up in the picture before her. Why shouldn't he react that way to Jim? It wasn't Jim he'd run from.

As the tears began to blur her vision, she realized she'd been fooling herself again. She was far from over him. She'd kept her feelings to herself before, and she could do it again. With that thought in mind she headed away from the incredible scene between the two men. She could find work that needed done elsewhere in Sickbay. Being a P.A. was that much different from being Head Nurse in that there was always something she could be doing, regardless of whether there was crisis.


Commander Spock's personal log:

"The V'ger probe incident, now known to be Earth's own lost Voyager probe, has been completed satisfactorily, with a minimum loss of life. It was the Voyager probe that allowed me to realize the error of trying to wipe out the emotions within myself. Everything seemed to fall into place in that single moment of the meld with it. However I now find myself in a...distressful situation.

"I know that my actions in going to Gol, hurt Christine. It is obvious in the cool, unemotional manner in which she dealt with me in Sickbay. I find myself unsure, exactly, how to ameliorate that. I tried to explain myself to her in Sickbay but she would not allow any conversation of a personal nature."

With a single syllable, humorless chuckle, he was forced to acknowledge the irony of that. Well, to use a human aphorism, since Mohammed would not come to the Mt, this mountain was going to Mohammed. She should be off duty now.

"Computer end log." Spock said, rising from his chair. "Location of Miss Chapel."

"Lieutenant Chapel is in her quarters."

Part Four

Christine puttered around her quarters, unsure what she wanted to do. She wasn't hungry and she wasn't in the mood for company, so going to the officer's lounge was out of the question. She was tired, but knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that if she were to lie down, her mind would begin to race. That left sleep out of the question.

She sighed and collapsed into a chair. If this kept up she just might go join McCoy for that drink he'd offered earlier. She didn't understand why she was so restless. She shook her head sharply. Yes, she did know why, she just didn't want to admit it. Some things were better left buried. This was one of those things.

It had been both easier and harder than she'd thought it would be to keep up that facade with Spock in Sickbay. Old habits died hard she guessed, but all of it had left her with a cold ache inside and left her remembering the easy camaraderie they'd established toward the end of the original five-year mission.

She was happy for Jim and McCoy, they would get back the Vulcan friend they'd had all along. The question was, where did that leave her? She knew it was selfish to think like that, but if she couldn't be selfish here by herself, then when could she be?

With Spock's return, literally and figuratively, the old trio was back together, and she was happy for them, she really was. It was just that it seemed now, not only had old wounds been reopened, she'd probably lose a friend too.

The door chime startled her. Who could that be?

"Come in," she said, not bothering to rise. Whoever it was, would have to see her just as she was, bare feet and all. The door slid open.

"Admiral!" she said, rising to her feet.

"We're off duty," he said with a grin. "Don't stand on formality now."

"You want something to drink?"

"Sure," he said, dropping into the chair across from hers.

"By the way," she said as she reached for the glasses. "If we're not standing on formality, Jim, why did you bother ringing? You stopped doing that on Earth, a long time ago," she asked with an impish grin.

"Well," he drawled with a crooked grin and a quick glance around her quarters. "Considering the openness of shipboard quarters, I didn't want to walk in unannounced to find you, say, just coming out of the shower."

Christine laughed delightedly. He was good for the soul. "It's nothing you haven't seen before," she said over her shoulder.

"Well then, next time I won't knock," he said challenging her assertion.

"Now I only need to know one thing." She said grinning at him as she set the drinks down on the table.

"What's that?"

"Was that a promise or a threat?"

Jim paused to take a drink and appeared to think about that for a moment. "Considered it a threat."

"I consider myself duly warned."

"On that note, would you care to join me for dinner tonight?"

"I'd love to. What time?"

Both looked up at each other in surprise as the door chimed again.

"Are you expecting company."

"No." Christine said, then raised her voice slightly. "Come in."

As the doors slid open Spock took one step into the room and stopped. "Jim. I did not expect to find you here."

"Nor I, you, my friend," Jim said, rising from his chair. "I was just leaving anyway."

"What time?" Christine asked again.

"1900 okay?" he asked, wanting very much to simply be gone. Spock and Christine were two of his three closest friends, but he really didn't want to be here right now.

"Sounds great. See you then."

Spock remained silent until Jim had left. "1900?"

Christine eyed Spock coolly. "You had something you wished to discuss with me?"

Spock sighed. Obviously she was still angry. "Yes, I wished to speak with you regarding my actions. I wanted to-"

"I thought you explained yourself quite clearly in your little memo. Why should anything be different now?" She turned away and picked up the glasses, more for something to do than because she really wanted to put them up.

"I made a...mistake, Christine."

Christine spun around and for a moment her eyes blazed her anger. It had taken him so long to begin using her given name, and now his use of it only served to fuel her anger. She stomped on it, pushing the anger to the back of her mind. She shrugged. "We all make them. I'm glad you discovered yours before it was too late to change your mind."

"Is it too late?"

"You're here on board the Enterprise." Christine answered coolly. "You've shown emotion, obviously it wasn't too late." She paused a moment then continued. "Was there anything else, Mr. Spock?"

"That wasn't what I meant, and you well know it." Spock answered her, his own patience wearing a little thin. "Is it too late"

Christine sighed. He'd never been the one to push before. She didn't know if her resolve could withstand a concerted effort on his part. "It should be."

"Then it isn't?"

She turned her back on him and struggled against tears. She had promised herself she wouldn't cry anymore. She'd cried more than enough already.

She remained silent for so long that Spock began to wonder if she was going to answer him. He stepped forward and rested his hands on her shoulders. "Christine?"

Christine closed her eyes and tilted her head back. It took every ounce of will power she had, not to lean back against Spock. "How can I trust you again?"

"Trust me?" Spock asked dropping his hands woodenly back to his sides.

Christine turned to face him, her tears firmly under her control once again. "Yes, Spock. Give me one good reason why I should risk being hurt like that again."

Her stared at her silently a moment. He knew he had to say this right. "Have you ever done something and then later regretted it with every fiber of your being?"

"Yes," Christine whispered.

"So have I, once." He reached out with one finger to catch the single tear that trailed down Christine's cheek. "Give me the chance to change that one regret...please."

She stared into his eyes and for the first time she saw past her own hurt and anger to see the true regret and sincerity staring back at her. "A chance," she agreed with a nod.

"That is all I ask," he said and reached out to touch her cheek.

She stepped back. "A slow chance."

A corner of his mouth twitched up in acknowledgment. "Agreed."

Christine took a slow deep breath to calm her nerves. This scared her more than anything ever had. "In the meantime, I have somewhere to be in..." she looked at her chronometer. "15 minutes, if you will excuse me?"

"Certainly, until tomorrow then?"


Spock turned and strode out her quarters.


Kiristeen ke Alaya

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