Title: Dark Before the Dawn
Author: Kiristeen ke Alaya
Series: yes. Follows: 'When Having is Not So Pleasing a Thing'
Genre: TOS Spock/Christine, Christine/OMC
Rated: R (might be raised later)
Beta: Unbetad, (currently looking for a beta who's willing to truly
do an indepth beta)
Feedback: Yes, oh yes! Onlist or at Kiristeen @ Kiristeen.com
Archive: Where posted, and eventually Kiristeen's Lair, all others please ask, I'll probably say yes.

Warnings: Not a happy fic, unknown if things will end well. Possible
graphic depictions of sex.

Disclaimers: I own nothing you recognize, paramount et al are the gods here. Only the plot, such as it is, belongs to me. No infringements of any rights are intended, nor will I make any money from this.

Summary: After finally moving on with her life, circumstances find Christine bonded with Spock. ("When Having is Not So Pleasing a Thing") Christine must somehow explain how it all happened to the man she's currently engaged to, then, with unfinished business rife, tension palpable between the newly bonded couple, fate steps in,
complicating an already messy situation.


Christine leaned back against the couch cushions, feeling alternately hot and cold. If she didn't know better, she'd swear she was coming down with something -- the flu maybe. She shook her head. Unfortunately, she did know better, and she really wasn't sure that she might prefer that -- given the circumstances. A good, old
fashioned case of influenza would at least give her something else to worry about.

The nearer they got to Earth, the more moody she became. It was like she felt two sizes too big for her skin -- and the bond she now could feel, wasn't helping matters at all. Every once in a while, when Spock's control faltered, she would be rushed with desire so intense it made her head swim and her knees buckle beneath her.

The first time it had happened, they'd still been planet bound. She'd panicked and gone running to him, certain she'd messed up big time, by running off. But no, he'd told her he could control it now. That, although it was still there, burning beneath the surface, the . . . danger had passed. She'd nodded briskly, turned on one
heel, and left as quickly as she could -- all the while, her nerves taut with incredible frustration.

That had been almost two weeks ago. They'd been retrieved the following day, and since then it had only happened three times more. She was grateful for small mercies, but did wonder if she was being fair to Spock. He was dealing with it on a daily, never-ending, basis. Every time it happened she nearly went to him, but every time she stopped herself. She couldn't go to him, knowing what would happen if she did -- she just couldn't. It wouldn't be fair to her, to Matthew -- or even to Spock. She would not knowingly, premeditatedly, sleep with Spock before she talked with Matthew.

Her feelings of self worth, her feelings of her own integrity, were in shattered remains, but she had that much left at least -- no matter the cost in sleepless nights lost inside a losing battle against lust. She sighed deeply, closing her eyes against the world. She hadn't even figured out how she was going to tell Matthew. This wasn't something she could simply shrug off. It wasn't something she could bury deep inside her and keep secret.

Gods, she really wished it was as simple as that. She wished she was merely guilty of having cheated on her fiance. That, she would have buried so deep no one would ever discover it, and held Spock to that nearly unbreakable, Vulcan code of silence. That kind of secret may eat at her, but it was better than breaking the heart of the man she loved.

But, no, life couldn't possibly be that simple for her. No, not only had she slept with Spock--

You weren't yourself at the time. Almost as soon as-- Christine cut off her thoughts angrily. She didn't want to be exonerated. She'd known the risks when she'd walked into that room -- or she sure as hell should have. There were no excuses big enough to cover what she'd done. She should have found a different way to deal with the problem. It was her fault it had happened. She knew that as surely as she knew the sun would rise over San Francisco tomorrow.

Maybe you really wanted it to happen, a tiny, insidious voice inside taunted her. After all--

"No!" she shouted angrily, using a clenched fist to wipe away the tears that threatened to fall -- again. "I didn't!"

That didn't silence the traitorous voice, it just made it laugh -- a taunting, knowing sound.

She jumped up, striding across the room in three angry steps. Palming open the door, perhaps a little harder than she'd intended, she left the dubious sanctuary of her tiny room. Maybe, just maybe, if she wasn't alone, she could silence that voice. Lord knew, it wasn't making it easier to think.


Spock knew the very moment Christine stopped outside the door to the mess hall. He knew why she'd stopped, as well. He'd only come here to fetch himself something to eat. If she'd waited just a few precious moments longer, their paths would not have crossed. He stifled an illogical, frustrated sigh.

Almost as soon as they'd shuttled aboard, she'd began avoiding him. They had not been in the same room with each other for more than two minutes, since then. On the planet, he'd assured her the danger had passed. How could he not, when she'd stood there before him, trembling, equal parts fear and hate rolling off of her in waves. And, indeed, the danger had passed. He would not die from the fever. He knew that for certain. What he didn't know, was why it had passed so quickly.

He also knew, the pon far itself was far from over. He did not understand why Christine insisted on drawing it out. Surely she knew of his burning. How could she not? Through the bond, she had to. His weakened controls could not keep it from her completely -- even such a weak bond as the betrothal bond.

On the planet, he'd deduced she simply needed time. It had been something of a . . . shock for both of them, and her being human, she couldn't accept that what was done was done. So, he'd given her time. But now, thirteen days later, she still had not come to him, and it was testing controls in him that were already stretched just short of the breaking point.

Slamming the tray of uneaten food into the recycler, Spock came to a sudden decision. It was not a decision based entirely in logic, he knew that, but he could no more have stopped himself from following through on it, than he could have stopped the pon far.

Striding to the door, he felt her panic at his approach, but even that did not stop him. The door wooshed open in front of him, in time for him to see her spin away. Two quick strides forward and he grabbed her arm, aborting her attempted escape.

"Let me go," she hissed, her teeth tightly clenched.

"We have to talk," he replied quietly, though not nearly as calmly as he would have wished. His own jaw was sore from the tension he held there, and he knew the muscle along the jawline twitched with his efforts at control.

She tried to jerk away, but he refused to let her, not loosening his grip. He did, however, manage to not tighten it, either.

"Do not make a scene, Christine," he whispered hoarsely. "I beg of you."

An emotion he could not identify flashed through her eyes; it was gone too quickly. Then she simply -- wilted, was the only description Spock could come up with -- and stopped fighting him.

He dropped his hold on her the very moment the door to his temporary quarters closed behind them. Maintaining physical contact with her was impossible if he wished to maintain control. He sought to put at least a little distance between them, crossing to the far side of the room. Unfortunately, the quarters he'd been given were smaller even than the ones he'd had aboard the original Enterprise.

He stood with his back to her, trying for some sort of illusory distance. It really wasn't helping much, considering he could feel her nearness deep inside mind and body.

"What?" she asked, finally, her voice sharp with exasperation.

Spock started, her voice at once both soothing and like razer blades that cut at him. It was his fault she was in this . . . predicament. Unfortunately, there wasn't anything he could do about it.

"I wanted to say, among other things," he began hesitantly, "I'm . . . sorry."

"You're sorry," she echoed flatly.

He turned to face her, uncertain what her tone implied. It didn't help, her normally expressive face was shuttered -- utterly neutral. He could read nothing there.

"Yes," he replied, glancing down before continuing. Why was this so difficult? It was logical that they speak. This tension between them needed to be addressed.

"I thought being 'sorry' for something wasn't logical," she snapped.

Spock's eyebrow raised, surprise at her retort stinging him sharply. He felt a frown tug his lips downward, but he quickly tightened his jaw further to prevent it. "Well, I'm not exactly at my most logical at the moment," he replied, flushing at the admission. All he wanted was his life back. He wanted this . . . time . . . over with.

"No, I'm the one who's sorry, Spock," she said, the hard look in her eyes softening -- slightly. "That was uncalled for."

Spock nodded, acknowledging her words, but was reluctant to reply, concerned that his words might again be misinterpreted. His initial foray into this needed conversation had not been well received. "I realize this is . . . difficult for you," he began, holding up a hand to forstall Christine's interruption. "However, I do not understand why you avoid me so assiduously. If you cannot stand to be in the same room with me, it will make things exceedingly . . .problematic in the future."

Christine let out a harsh laugh, but to Spock -- who fully admitted he still did not completely understand humans and their humor at times -- it sounded completely void of amusement. She sobered quickly, however, for which he was grateful.

"It's not that I can't 'stand to be in the same room with you'," Christine replied, miming quotes. "In fact, it's quite the opposite. Sometimes I--"

Spock waited for her to complete her thought, hoping it would make sense of her previous statement. When she did, he pondered her words carefully, unconsciously pulling his lower lip between his teeth as he thought. What she said made no sense. Her claim was illogical, given the evidence he had to the contrary. Perhaps, he should try a different approach.

Squaring his shoulders, he began again, hoping this time to receive an answer he understood. "Then why have you spent this entire voyage avoiding me?" Surprise shot through him as he watched . . . guilt? . . . flash through her eyes before she looked down.

"I'm sorry, Spock. I just can't," she replied, before slumping at looking back up at him, her voice dropping to an embarrassed whisper. "Surely you know what will happen if we spend much time together."

Well, yes, he thought, that much is obvious. It was the logical outcome of an illogical situation. He nodded, however, not speaking his thoughts aloud. "Surely you realize, such avoidance is merely prolonging this."

"Yes, Spock I do realize that . . . well, I suspected it might. It's just--" Christine cut off her own words, spinning away from him to face the wall. "I can't allow that to happen until I speak with Matthew."

Spock gasped as a shocking way of . . . jealously swept through him at the mention of Christine's fiance -- ex-fiance. He clamped down on it firmly, locking it away with everything else he was just barely mastering.

Christine continued, apparently not aware of his lapse. "It isn't fair to him. I already. . . . but not again." She turned back around her eyes brimming with unshed tears, begging him to understand. "Please, Spock, don't push this."

She thought he would...? he thought incredulously, not even able to finish the thought. "It will be difficult -- for both of us," he said carefully. "But, I do understand." And he did. He found himself with mixed emotions regarding her decision, however. Part of him angry that she still considered Matthew's needs above his . . . theirs, but part of him respected the integrity it took for her to make that decision.

"Thank you," Christine replied quietly, dropping her gaze again, and dashed out of his quarters before he could say anything more.

He watched her leave, fighting with himself to keep from going after her. Woodenly, he turned toward his bed, and began yet another night of what was sure to be fruitless meditation.

Part Two

A stomach clenching mixture of both relief and dread churned inside Christine as she stepped onto the transport pad. They were here. The moment was at hand, and while she was happy the journey was over, the upcoming meeting it heralded was something she wished she could put off for . . . well, ever.

As the ship had drawn closer and closer to Earth, her stomach had begun twisting in knots -- and then stayed that way. The last couple of days she'd barely managed to keep any food down. Every time she'd tried to eat, she ended up on her knees in the head, sending most of it right back up. The increasing tension, and improper diet, had even begun to affect her cycle. She tried to think back to the last time she'd had one, but right now, she couldn't remember. If she hadn't known, with absolute certainty, that it was impossible -- both she and Matthew were regularly taking the shots -- she would have been concerned about pregnancy. As it was, the mere thought made her shudder, and her stomach rumble alarmingly in protest.

Swallowing hastily, she nodded to the transport operator that she was ready. She had no idea when Spock was planning on transporting down, and she really didn't want to be in that close proximity to him -- not right now. She shook her head as the transport beam captured her. She had not seen Spock once since their talk in his cabin, but that hadn't stopped her from feeling him. Gods above, how I've felt him! she thought as a shiver ran down her spine and an altogether different tightness formed low in her belly.

Mostly, it happened late at night -- usually just as she was drifting off to sleep. It was as if as they let go of the conscious world, the shields that held the two of them apart disappeared, leaving her completely open to the affects of the pon far. And the dreams! The dreams she'd been having were so painfully erotic, she'd risen each morning more restless and tired than when she'd gone to bed. She always awoke from them just on the edge of orgasm, sweating, tired, and . . . and . . .

Oh, for heaven's sake! You're an adult, Christine Chapel. You can think the word, her inner voice snapped in disgust.

Oh, alright! she thought. Horny. I wake up horny.

Christine almost laughed. It was a ridiculous conversation to be having -- even if it was just with herself. She was simply grateful no one else could hear it -- then she froze. At least she really hoped no one else could. Worrying her lower lip nervously, she wondered. Could he? Just how deeply did this 'betrothal bond' allow Spock to see inside her mind?

Pausing half-way down the steps of the transport pad, she thought back over the last three weeks. She could remember not one instance of anything from him except the slowly lessening emotions of the pon far. Sighing in heart-felt relief, she hoped the reverse was just as true. Just knowing that he could feel that she was--

"Hello, Commander Chapel, welcome back to Earth."

With a start, Christine abruptly brought her attention back to the present. "Thank you, Lieutenant," she murmured and stepped over to the controls. "Any messages for me?"

"Just a moment, and I'll check," he replied, smiling cheerfully.

What's there to smile about? she thought vindictively, but refrained from commenting. No sense ruining someone else's day. As she waited, her fingers drummed the edge of the console, beating out a staccato rhythm backed by the hum of the transporters.

"No, Commander. No messages."

Surprised, disappointed, but also a little relieved that Matthew hadn't been there to meet her as she'd half expected, Christine nodded and left. The doors closing behind her nearly soundlessly, she paused a moment then merged herself into the flow of people in the corridor -- all of them hurrying somewhere. Normally, she'd have let herself wonder where each person was going. Were they going home? Were they headed away from home and loved ones -- as she had such a short . . . long . . . time ago? Or were they simply going.

People watching was one of her favorite traveling pastimes. Today, however, she had no thoughts to spare for anything except the coming meeting with Matthew. She had gone over and over it, rehearsing it in her mind many times, but she still had no clue how to tell him what had happened. She just didn't know how to break someone's heart. She didn't do things like that -- she was usually the one on the receiving end.

Part of her wanted it over with as quickly as possible -- anything to stop the constant twisting and churning of her stomach. A larger part of her, however, wanted to hold it off as long as possible. Hold it off? No, she wanted the whole thing to simply go away. She wanted to run into Matthew's arms and stay there.


Spock knew the moment Christine beamed off the ship. He just wasn't sure exactly how he knew. It certainly wasn't because of what she was feeling. He still felt the same curious mixture of emotions from her that he had since their conversation in his cabin. There was simply a . . . difference. He felt differently, the sudden change urging him to follow. A thread of panic fluttered inside, clenching low in his chest. Surprise from the sudden burst of emotion tore a slight gasp from him.She is getting away.

Spock drew in a slow, deep breath, forcing himself to relax. Logically, he knew his thought was patently untrue. From what little he knew of Christine Chapel's personality, he was relatively certain she was not fleeing him -- well, he amended, not permanently. That last thought left him feeling unsettled and even more restless, making him want to follow after her once again. Spock frowned, and closed his eyes. Control. I must control. It had been 4.67 days since he'd last felt this . . . out of control. It had all seemed to be passing -- far too slowly for his comfort, but passing. He had hoped, in vain in seemed, that the effects of the madness were wearing off. Admittedly, information -- even to insiders -- about the progression of the madness was severely repressed, but everything he had been given to understand was that it should have ended by now.

He could only assume that his human ancestry, or that of Christine's, was affecting the path of the fever.

Or the fact that you haven't had intercourse with her beyond that first night, came the unbidden thought.

Spock arched an eyebrow. That, too, was a distinct possibility. He simply had no reference points to work from, so had no way of knowing for certain.

A wave of mental anguish washed over him, leaving him weak kneed, and not altogether certain he would remain standing. Christine! The moment he was certain he knees would not buckle, he was out of his cabin and striding toward the transport bay.


Christine grabbed the door frame, afraid that she was going to fall. A cut-off sob of anguish tore through her as the tears she swore she wasn't going to shed flowed down her cheeks. Matthew, asleep on the couch, bolted upright. As he first lay eyes on her, he smiled, broadly. Then, as if someone had flipped a switch inside him, the smile disappeared. Frowning, worried; he jumped to his feet and raced toward her.

"What's wrong?" he asked gently. "What happened?"

Christine couldn't reply immediately; the tears simply came faster. Shaking her head, not knowing whether she was answering him, or simply denying it all, she reached out, but stopped her hand just short of his cheek and dropped her hand back down to her side. She couldn't touch him -- not anymore. After what she'd done, he wasn't hers to touch, to take comfort in, or even give comfort to. Someone else would get to do that.

She tried to tell him. She opened her mouth to do it as quickly as she could -- to get it over with, but, "I'm s.s.sor.rry. I'm s.so s.s.orry," was all that came out. Over and over she said it, sliding to the ground as she sobbed it out.

Through her tears and unintelligible rambling, Christine could see she was really scaring Matthew, but she couldn't stop. Right at this moment it seemed her entire world was falling apart, and she was here to do it to another person. She didn't want to, and it was killing her.

He reached out, tried to pull her into his arms, but she jerked back with a scream. "No, don't touch me."

Scrambling backwards, hurt and surprise passed over his face in a wave, but quickly changed to horror. Clasping his hands behind his back, Matthew backed up a few more precious inches. "What happened, Chris?" he asked, his voice still gentle, but firming, becoming authoritative. "Did. . . ." He paused, took a deep breath. "Did someone rape you?"

Christine's head snapped up, surprise momentarily shocking her out of her grief. "No," she denied, shaking her head, covering her face with her hands. "Not really," she added, unable to stop herself.

Matthew blinked, thrown by her words. "What do you mean, not really?" he demanded. It was then his eyes fell to her hands. His eyes widened as his chest clenched painfully. "Why aren't you wearing my ring?"

In front of him, Christine swallowed. He could see it as she slowly lowered her shaking hands. Her eyes wide, frightened, and sad, stared at him. Then, she began to talk. The words she said, though, made his heart freeze. Jumbled one on top of the other, they were difficult to understand, but several of them jumped out at him. Spock. Pon far. Only one. Bonded. BONDED?!

He stood slowly, shaking. Rage, hatred, and grief all swamped him one after the other, leaving him alternately hot and cold. NO! he thought rebelliously. "You can't mean that!" he cried out, hoping he really had mis-heard her. She wasn't making a whole lot of sense, after all.

The flow of Christine's words stopped abruptly at his outburst. One more sob escaped her. Her mouth opened and closed -- then again. On the third try all the came out was a short squeak, then, before he could process what her response might mean, she toppled to the ground in a dead faint.

Matthew stood there, shocked, frozen to his very soul for all of three seconds. Hurrying forward, he quickly checked her pulse. It was fast, unbelievably fast, but fine. Jumping up, he hit the intercom switch in a dive. "Matthew Devalar requesting emergency Medical assistance."

"Emergency assistance is en route, Mr. Devalar," came the cool, disembodied voice. "Please explain the nature of your emergency."

Time passed in a blur for Matthew. He followed the voice's instructions, stepped aside when the emergency team arrived, watched, and waited; pensively trying to figure out exactly what had happened to his ordered, happy little world.

"Will you be coming to the hospital, Mr Devalar?"

Matthew nodded mechanically to the technician, feeling oddly numb to everything -- numb and cold. Everything had happened so quickly and it seemed there was absolutely nothing he could do about it.

Watching as they wheeled Christine out of their quarters, Matthew took a step forward, fully intending on following them. He stopped suddenly as a new form filled the doorway. "Commander," he greeted automatically. Then his thought processes kicked back in full swing and the raw anger was back. "You!" he sneered, striding forward.

Part Three

Spock hurried down the base's corridor as quickly as Vulcan dignity would allow. He knew nothing about what had happened except that Christine had been hurting, then suddenly lost consciousness. Rounding the corner, Spock's step faltered; Christine was being taken out of her quarters on a stretcher. What did he do to her?

Eyes narrowing, Spock strode forward, not stopping until he'd reached the still open doorway. Matthew Devalar was striding toward him, obviously intent on following Christine.

"Commander," he acknowledged, then froze, his stunned, shocky expression turning to one of pure anger.

Spock frowned. This human was Christine's. Spock shook off the illogical surge of dislike he felt toward the human. He understood its source, and would not be controlled by it.

"You!" Devalar sneered.

"What happened he--"

Spock's words were cut off as the human's fist connected with his jaw. He jerked back reeling at the surprising blow. Sudden, raw, rage boiling to the surface, Spock surged forward -- reason, logic, reality, all taking a back seat to an overpowering need to strike out.

One hand shot out, grabbing Devalar by his collar, and Spock used that hold to jerk the human male toward him.

Right now, he wasn't Commander Spock. He wasn't even Spock 'cha Sarek. He was primal Vulcan. He was the heat of the Vulcan Forge.

His hand raised, fingers clenched tightly into a fist.

This man held claim to what was his. That was unacceptable.

Time slowed to a painful crawl, his senses skewed beyond reasoning.

Images suddenly passed through his mind, his fist moving forward at an impossibly slow speed. They came unbidden, from outside him. He knew not from where, knew only that they were important.

He stood on the desert sands of his home world. It took him a moment to orient himself inside the image. He watched from a distance as a man -- a human -- approached an achingly familiar edifice. He gasped, shock coursing through him as he recognized not only the place, but the human who was now picking up the heavy mallet.

A small part of him questioned why he would be seeing Matthew here, of all places. It made no sense. Unable to move or speak, however; most of his attention was taken up by simply watching the scene unfold in front of him.

The gong sounded, ringing its loud, low rumbling across the desert sands. He knew, from experience, the sound could be heard for kilometers. The design had been crafted in far ancient times for exactly that purpose, calling all those within hearing to the event it heralded.

Then, he heard the softly answering chimes of the bridal party -- which he also knew would not be heard by the waiting groom for several more minutes. He began moving forward, though he tried not to. It seemed, he still had no control over his body.

A giggle, so utterly unexpected sounded behind him. He turned, horror at what he expected to see flooding through him. He couldn't control it, it was as though it wasn't him. What he saw, however, was as far removed from what he'd expected to see, as the rim of the galaxy was from its center.

To find himself here again, in this 'vision' of sorts, he'd truly expected to see T'Pring, the Vulcan woman who'd rejected him. He did not. He saw, instead, Christine.

Confusion joined the maelstrom inside him.

What logic penetrated his clouded mind asked him why? If some part of him was putting Christine in the bridal role of this, shouldn't he be the one at the gong? Why he was not, however, continued to elude him.

He tried to speak, but could not form the words. His mouth moved, but no sound emerged.

He gave up trying, logic telling him it was useless to continue.

Suddenly, with the illogical jump of dreaming, the scene progressed, and he found himself standing behind Christine, watching her approach the human male. He could not remove his eyes from her as she moved away from him -- toward him.

He seethed inside. She is mine!

He blinked as Devalar raised the mallet again, clenching his eyes tightly shut -- though he knew it would not drown out the sound he would shortly hear. He wanted to storm forward. He wanted to rip Christine from the dias upon which she now stood. He wanted to reach out and use his bare hands to strangle the man who dared believe Christine belonged to him.

He couldn't. He was as frozen in place as the stone pillars that surrounded them.

"Kali Fe!"

Shock flooded him, and his eyes shot open. Eyes wide with utter disbelief, he watched Devalar drop the mallet. He watched Christine slowly, step down from the dias, back onto the heated sands -- back toward him.

No! Gods of my ancestors, no!

It was with a sickening wrench that Spock was thrown out of the images of his homeland, back to the reality of his death grip on Devalar. It was only using every ounce of willpower he possessed that Spock was able to abort the swing he had begun eons ago. He gasped, stumbling backwards, the sickening similarities of his present situation to that long ago divorce, horrifying in the extreme.

He fought the darkness greying his vision, taking slow, deep breaths. He risked a glance at his erstwhile opponent, and found the human wearing an expression that matched what was coiling through himself. He had no name for half the morass of emotion -- didn't really want to name most of it. He simply wanted it gone.

"I'm sorry. I--"

Swallowing before trusting himself to speak, Spock straightened slowly. He sought to find words the human might understand, might relate to, but could find none. Finally, he settled on the only thing that seemed appropriate. "The cause was sufficient."

Devalar let out a bark of laughter that held no trace of humor. "Yeah, well, maybe so, but that still doesn't make it right."

"No," Spock conceded, "it doesn't." He paused here, uncertain exactly what course to take with the man standing so forlornly. "However, some things are simply too . . . private to be shared with the authorities."

Devalar gaped at him for several moments, his eyes wide and disbelieving.

The silence stretched out between them, heavy and oppressive, but Spock had no ideas how to ease them past the violence of their re-introduction.

"I love her," Devalar finally said, quietly, unashamedly, catching Spock's gaze with his own. "Can you say the same?" he challenged.

Spock dropped his gaze from the penetrating, seemingly all-too-knowing eyes of the human, but braced himself and met the man's eyes before finally whispering, "No, I can not."

"Damn you!" Devalar hissed.

"I can, however," Spock interrupted, "assure you, that, given the opportunity -- and the freedom -- to do so. It is possible for that 'condition' to develop between Christine and myself. The bond--"

Devalar turned away abruptly, and Spock allowed his words to stop.

Just as suddenly Devalar turned back. "What did you mean 'given the freedom'?"

Spock sighed, ever-so-slightly, worrying his lower lip between his teeth. This was not a subject he broached lightly, and he wasn't certain how the human would take it. "As a Vulcan, the logic of the situation is enough for me to move past what has already happened -- eventually. Christine, however, as a human, needs more."

"Oh, and you're an expert at what she needs?"

Spock winced at the hurt sarcasm in Devalar's voice, but simply shook his head. "No, I do not claim that honor. I do know, however, that she needs your forgiveness to move on -- to heal."

Devalar let out a single, choked sob. "How?" he asked brokenly. "How am I supposed to forgive her for what she's done? My -- our world has just been ripped apart, shredded as if it had absolutely no meaning?"

Spock closed his eyes against the pain so etched on Devalar's face and in his words. "It wasn't her fault," Spock said softly, almost unable to say the words, knowing full well that questions would follow -- questions he wasn't sure he was capable of answering -- questions this one human most certainly had the right to answers to.


He turned away from the human, unable to face him. He'd thought, at the time, that speaking of this to his captain, his friend, had been difficult, this was more so. But as he began, he was surprised to discover, it was also easier.

"What do you know about Vulcans and how they choose their mates?" he asked hoarsely.

Silence greeted his question and Spock almost turned before he heard a halting reply.

"I guess, I just assumed it was done logically."

Spock felt the unaccustomed urge to laugh at the hauntingly familiar words. He controlled it. "No, it is not," he replied, and began a slow, somewhat abbreviated explanation, half-expecting to be interrupted several times. He went as far as giving a very brief -- and heavily edited -- synopsis of what had led up to that final night where everything had gone so terribly wrong. When he finished, his final words leaving a deafening silence for several long moments, he waited.

"Oh, God," Devalar breathed. "You mean-- Oh, God! That would be-- I can't--"

Spock turned then, and saw several conflicting emotions flicker across Devalar face. There was still anger there, and hurt, neither of which emotion, Spock could condemn. He remembered them all-too-well. Respect grew for the human who stood, letting those feelings wash through him without giving in to them.

"I can't promise anything," Devalar replied finally.

Spock nodded, having expected nothing else. He still had not forgiven T'Pring -- not really. He hadn't even realized it until just now, but, as irrational as it was, he still felt . . . conflicted toward her.

"Perhaps. . ." both men began, only to halt in favor of the other.

"I want to check on Christine," Devalar continued after a moment.

"As do I," Spock concurred, nodding once.

Both men headed toward the door, neither speaking further, nor even looking at each other. For now, for their mutual concern for Christine, they could set aside their differences. As they headed out into the corridor Spock shuddered as he suddenly had the most illogical feeling that today's surprises had not yet ended, and that what lay ahead was worse than what had gone before.

He shook off the sentiment, knowing it for the absurdity it was.

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