DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc and Viacom. The story contents are the creation and property of Djinn and are copyright (c) 2022 by Djinn. This story is Rated R.
Loyalty and New Lovers
Spock is back on the Peregrine, mist drifts lazily and he hears the clicking of the Gorn. He is in the cargo bay, and T'Pring stands at one end, Christine at the other. A juvenile Gorn makes its way toward each.
He might, if he moves now, be able to save one of them.
The mist swirls more violently around him, but the area around the two women remains clear. They both look at him, twin expressions of betrayal on their faces but they remain silent.
He is still deciding which to help when the Gorn attack.
The women he cares for do not die silently.
He wakes, covered in sweat, bedclothes that do not smell like his wrapped around him.
"Spock, it's all right."
Christine's voice, Christine's touch. Not the Gorn, not the Peregrine, not a choice that will take one or both of his women away from him.
But he made a choice last night, after the memorial, after his emotional outburst, after Christine's act of comfort, after his bitter conversation with T'Pring, after asking for hiatus during their betrothal.
He chose Christine.
"For now," some part of his mind whispers and he closes his eyes and tries to block it out—that part of his mind sounds like T'Pring.
"Hey," Christine says gently, "If I'd known you were going to tear my bed up this way, I wouldn't have let you sleep here." She strokes his cheek as she says it, the touch taking any condemnation out of her words. She is trying to get them to normal with humor, as she often does.
"I regret the state of the bed."
"I regret it was a nightmare and not sex that put the bed in this state." She smiles in a way both sensual and comforting. "You were having a nightmare, right?"
"I didn't know Vulcans had them."
"I am half human."
"Yes, you established that last night. There's a wall panel that will never forget it." She does not try to cuddle against him, just studies him. "Was it the Gorn? Your dream?"
He nods, but too fast. He sees her eyes narrow and a small, knowing smile appear.
"You may not be able to lie, but you'd be a terrible poker player with anyone who knew you. It wasn't just about the Gorn, was it?"
"I could not save you."
She strokes his hair and he closes his eyes, glad he has found the right words to satisfy her.
"See, if that were all it was, you'd have just said that. Because it would show how much you care for me, and I think you'd want to give me that."
She is far too intelligent.
"Tell me. Or tell me your dreams are off limits. But don't tell me half-truths, okay?"
He should simply tell her his dreams are things he prefers to keep to himself, but his mouth is not listening to his brain. "I had to choose, between you and T'Pring, who to save. I could not decide and you both died." He waits for her disapproval.
But instead she lies down next to him and snakes her arm over his stomach. "That totally makes sense. What we went through was traumatic. What you went through, what you let out, was also emotionally shattering. Then you put on pause a relationship that mattered. You reached for someone who is the antithesis of your former lover. Your mind was just trying to process. And you may be second-guessing." She sighs softly. "If you want to leave, if you want to go back to your quarters and comm her and tell her you're sorry, that it was the Gorn and the deaths and the emotional excess, I'll understand."
"Is that why you wanted to go slow?"
"Partially." She is no longer looking at him, no longer staring so bravely at him, the way he values—the way he loves. "Do you want to go back to her?" Her voice is very quiet; a human might not hear her. "Please don't answer quickly unless the answer is a no brainer."
She is willing to let him go, but her grip on his side tightens slightly, and he allows himself a slight smile in the half light.
"In my dream, I did not make a choice and then regretted it. I failed you both by my indecision."
She begins to nuzzle his neck. "Yeah, indecision is a bitch. And just how long do you think I'm going to let you string me along with vague hiatus promises?" Her breath is warm on his ear. "I will make you choose eventually."
As will T'Pring. His women are not the problem here. He is.
"But, since we just went through hell, and you lost a friend, let's table the idea of choices and endings, unless you want to leave me—leave this?"
"I do not want to go. I want to stay. I want..." No, she said she wanted to take this slowly.
Her hand drifts down his belly, lower and... He moans at the way she is holding him. "This? Is this what you want?"
He cannot speak, only nod, as she wraps her leg over his, pulling his toward her, her hand busy, her lips on his cheek until he turns and they are kissing. Before he can wonder where she wants him to finish, she lets go of him and moves, over and onto and...there.
A moan comes out of him he does not expect. A moan he has never made with T'Pring. Is it because this is better or because with Christine, he does not feel the need to modulate his response?
She is riding him in a way that slows him enough for her to catch up, and he touches her until he finds the right spot, feels her pleasure through telepathy and also by the way she is groaning and moving.
She finishes before he does, her cries making him more excited, the feel of her, the harsh sound of her breathing, the way her hands rest on his chest.
He pulls her down to him after he comes—again, not as quietly as he would have with T'Pring—and holds her tightly. "I should have nightmares every night."
"Mmmm," is all she says. Then, "Scratch my back?" in a voice so open that he wants to do that, do anything, to keep her so content. "Oh, yes," she says as he finds the right combination of speed and pressure. "God, I love this."
He wonders if she says that to all her lovers.
"You just tensed up in a really weird way. What I said—why would it bother you?"
"It—I am trying to ensure I do this well."
"No, you were doing it well. Until I said I loved it." She pulls away from him enough to meet his eyes, holding herself up. "How many lovers have you had, Spock?" When he does not answer, she smiles in a way that is both knowing and disappointed. "Gosh, is the answer 'Not as many as you'?"
She rolls off him and he feels bereft.
"I cannot help what thoughts occur to me. I did not expect you to notice."
"I notice a lot. Or have you missed that about me?" She rolls to her back and stares at the ceiling. "For what it's worth, sex is the thing I do with people I want to have sex with. Telling someone to scratch my back is something else."
She seems surprised at his insight and looks over at him and nods. "My MO is to get my pleasure but keep the pleasure givers at a distance."
"Yes, you said you avoid commitment."
"I do. But with you..." She sighs. "Is this going to be a problem? That I've had more lovers? Because frankly that's tired and not something I want to revisit."
"I think there is much I do not know about you. This is a piece of the unknown that is now mine. I will enjoy collecting other pieces of the you that you do not share with however many people you have slept with. And I do not care what the number is." He reaches over to stroke her hair. "But, if I do not please you, you must tell me."
"Can't you tell if you're pleasing me? Touch telepathy and all that."
"As I just proved, I can misinterpret simple statements of contentment, despite being able to sense how much you enjoyed my touch."
She starts to laugh. "I'm beginning to think that Vulcans never start small with their reactions."
He rolls so he is cuddled against her. "Why do you think we need logic so desperately?" He kisses her along her neck, enjoying the way it makes her shiver.
Soon she has him on top of her, kissing her deeply, moving until...there. The connection between them is...primal. He feels something darker than when he has been with T'Pring.
Then again it could just be the way she is scratching his back, sucking on his chest, leaving marks that he knows he will feel throughout the day.
But even as they lie quietly together, as her eyes start to close, and he murmurs, "Sleep," he still feels it. Something that is as much possession as it is affection.
It is what he is supposed to feel for T'Pring. What he has striven to feel for her.
And never has.
Chapel sees Number One come into sickbay and assumes she's going to head for M'Benga the way she normally does. But instead she indicates she wants to talk to her, in her office.
She does this without a word, with a point of her chin, with a disapproving air.
For fuck's sake, what now? La'an is gone. What else does this woman want to get up in her grill about?
Number One beats her to her office, is standing blocking her desk and Chapel thinks it's on purpose. Not giving her the opportunity to put that piece of furniture between them, to give her some buffer.
"What can I do for you?" She keeps her voice as professional as she can.
"I saw Spock coming out of your quarters this morning. Did La'an leave because you're with him instead of her?"
There is so much loaded in this question—so much disapproval—that Chapel isn't entirely sure how to answer. Finally she goes for the question part of the statement. "I don't think so. I think leaving was something she needed to do. To give Oriana the closure she never got."
"I took care of her when she needed care."
"But did you try to find her family?"
Number One glares at her. "Her family has a dicey background. I'm one to understand that. So no, when it was clear her immediate family line was gone, I did not seek out more distant—potentially augmented—relatives."
"Oh, right. I, uh, tend to forget her background."
"As a geneticist, I'd think that would be the first thing you'd consider."
"She's my friend, not a lab experiment." She studies Number One. "But I haven't lived my life in fear of discovery so I guess I might view it differently if I had."
Number One gives her the slightly annoyed look she always gets when Chapel has surprised her—and sidestepped a verbal takedown. "I didn't want her to go." She actually sits down.
Chapel finally has a path to her desk chair and takes it. "I didn't either. I loved spending time with her."
"You're one of the few."
"I know. But you don't know me. Not really. You have no idea how I might or might not feel a kinship with her." She tries to keep her voice both non-confrontational and non-pathetic. She thinks she succeeds.
"I accept that. What I don't accept is you going after Spock."
"So, what? He was changing a lightbulb for you?"
She laughs. "I can actually change my own lightbulbs." Which is a lie, no one who's not in engineering can change the bloody things. They're held in place by advanced physics and possibly magic.
"He's engaged, Nurse Chapel."
She meets her eyes, trying to keep hers calm—and not guilty. "If you're concerned about the nature of Spock's romantic connections, I think you need to take that up with him."
And she sees immediately that she won't. Something in her eyes.
"You're always trying to end-run protect people. Why not talk to the people you think you need to be such a mother hen for? I'm not the problem here."
"You're like an agent of chaos in a willowy blond body."
"Uhhhh." Seriously? How is she even supposed to answer that? "Why do I bother you so much?"
"Because I want to make sure the people I care about are all right before—" She looks down and swallows visibly. "I just want to make sure..."
She waits, for some indication Number One is going to tell her more, to ask for help in some way. Or even to lob more accusations. But she just sits quietly, staring at the floor, breathing in a way that says she is trying her hardest to find that calm center she's known for.
"I didn't—I didn't hurt La'an. And this thing with Spock, it's not what you think. He's not cheating."
"Yeah, but Vulcans have some really weird technicalities." She sees disbelief in her face. "Just...talk to him, if you want to know. I don't feel like this is my thing to share."
"If he's fucking you, I think it is." Anger is clear, anger and something else that she's channeling into anger.
"Why? I'm a free agent. He's the one you think is cheating. So go talk to the goddamned cheater." She can see she's getting nowhere, and frustration bubbles over—why's she being lectured when Spock's having dreams of choosing between her and T'Pring? She isn't even really with him. "I'm not Fleet. You're not the boss of me." Oh, shit. That is so the wrong thing to say to this woman.
"I can have you off this ship so fast it'll make your head spin." She's up, heading for the door. "Watch yourself, Chapel." And then she's gone before Chapel can get a word in.
Spock watches as Pike and Number One leave the bridge. The captain seems lighter—and after the things he said in his ready room, about others taking his fate, the seeming peace he has made with that fate, Spock can understand why.
But Number One's steps are heavy, and Spock can practically sense the dread in her. He starts to get up, but she gives him an imperceptible headshake, then points to the command chair.
The captain has not assigned the conn. It is unlike him. Spock moves to the command chair and feels as if the ground underneath him is shifting in ways he cannot comprehend.
He will lose the captain—in only a few years, especially in Vulcan terms. He has retreated from T'Pring and the future he once wanted beyond all things.
And now he may be losing the other human—Illyrian: it is still so foreign to think of her as that—if he read her expression correctly.
Surely, after all her years of exemplary service, Starfleet would not be so short sighted to arrest her. What she is should be less important than who she is—who she has become serving in Starfleet.
But the captain returns alone, his face...he is enraged. Spock recognizes the signs of that emotion being covered by a façade of control. Pike motions for him to join him and says, "Erica, you have the conn."
Spock follows him into his ready room and the door barely closes before he asks softly, "They took her?"
"They took her." Pike—Chris starts to pace, and Spock thinks it is a combination of rage and helplessness that moves him. "This isn't over."
"She will fight. There are attorneys on Vulcan who may be suitable."
"No offense, but I know who I'm going to get for her. But...we may lose, Spock." He sits down heavily. "And they won't let us see her."
"You have already checked?"
"Let's just say I know. The same way I know those other things we were just talking about."
He is thoroughly confused but he believes Chris is not. "All right."
"It occurs to me, Spock, that we have someone on board who can make us look like anyone. A guard, say, at the holding facility. If for example, I needed to talk to my first officer."
"Indeed we do."
"It also occurs to me that you are very close to her." His look holds no judgment. "I'm not asking anything about that. I trust that you know what you're doing."
Spock thinks that trust might be a bit misplaced but says nothing.
"But you could ask her for me? Off the record?"
"I could. I can. Now?"
"Now would be a good time. I need to get my options lined up. I need to know if she's in."
"I will be back shortly with her answer." He turns but then turns back. "I will attempt to sway her to our cause."
"This doesn't have to be your cause, Spock. This is likely to get me in tons of trouble."
"What is important to you is important to me. Moreover, Number One has always been a role model for me. I would be moved to help her even if it were not you asking."
"Thank you, Spock."
"Do not thank me until I have her answer. Christine does not always act as expected."
"Understood." He closes his eyes. "It's just so stupid. She's the best first office in the Fleet."
"It is indeed. I will be back shortly."
He leaves him and heads for sickbay but finds Christine with a patient so waits in her office. When she comes in, he points to the privacy button and she pushes it.
"Please tell me you're not here for a booty call, Spock." She is laughing as she says it but then her smile fades. "What's wrong?"
"They have arrested Number One."
He sees something cross her face. "I see."
"You are thinking something. Share."
"She came to me, the morning after our first night. She saw you leaving my quarters—did she ever ask you about that?"
"She did not." He is dismayed to hear that she knew—did she judge him? Disapprove? "What did you tell her?"
"I told her to talk to you if she was concerned about the state of your relationships. It was...unpleasant. But she was more than just miffed. She was...I think afraid. Did she know this was coming?"
"Yes, I believe she did. The captain will fight for her. Which is why I am here."
She sits, not on her chair but leaning on the desk, and crosses her arms over her chest. "Why you're in sickbay?"
"Why I'm with you...in sickbay." He takes a deep breath. "The captain believes he will not be allowed to see her. He wishes to help her plan a defense."
"So get her a lawyer."
He hears dislike in her voice and allows himself a small frown. "That was harshly said."
"It's just the truth. What's the captain going to do to help her defense? He just wants to see her because he wants to see her—he's worried about her."
It is logical. It is what T'Pring would say. He finds himself without an answer.
"How do I fit in?" But before he can answer, her expression changes and she says, "No fucking way."
"You can make the captain look like anyone. I can get the biodata not within your purview from Starfleet's records to allow him access."
"You're asking me to risk everything for a woman I barely know." Before he can answer, she holds up her hand. "A woman who's made it her mission to give me a hard time over La'an, over you. Her? You want me to commit crimes for her?"
"Committing crimes is such a..." He has to stop. She is correct. It is what he is asking her and he cannot lie to her. "Please? If not for her, for me. For the captain? I care for you and he has been good to you. Allowing you so much more than your original assignment entailed."
"Agreed. Are you going to break up with me if I say no?"
He has to think about that. "No. But I will have to rethink what I know of you."
She studies him for a very long time, then she pushes off the desk and paces. When he starts to say something, she lifts a hand and says, "Shut up. I'm thinking."
"Of how to help us without getting caught?"
"Of alternatives to what you've asked me to do. Now shut up."
He sits back and watches her, the way she is processing this, how she speeds up then slows, then speeds up again as if finding then discarding a solution.
Then she suddenly slaps the wall. "Yes."
"Yes, you will help?"
"Yes, I will help but in a different way and I want to present it to the captain. But you can be there. I'd like for you to be there." She is smiling widely. "Your precious Number One called me chaos. I'm going to prove her wrong. I'm going to bring order from analytical chaos. She is so going to owe me."
He feels buoyed by her good humor even if he does not particularly understand it. He is even more satisfied when she walks to him and gives him a long lingering kiss.
"Okay, let's go talk to the captain."
He can see she is processing her idea while they walk so he does not disturb her, merely rings for entrance when they get to the ready room.
"Come," he hears and they enter.
Chris looks surprised to see her with him. But he smiles, moves to the conference table, gestures for them to sit, and waits.
She takes the seat directly across from him, leaving Spock to figure out which seat makes the most sense strategically. If he sits with her, he will look supportive of her idea—an idea he has not yet heard. If he sits at the end of the table, he will be neutral—a fact that neither of them may appreciate. He decides to trust her and pulls out the chair next to her.
She gives him a small smile then turns to Chris. "I can't make disguises for you. I'm not putting my future on the line for this."
"Okayyyy. I hope there's a 'but' in there somewhere."
"Definitely a but. A big, huge, 'I bet they didn't think of this because Starfleet is pretty myopic at times' but. Trees, sure. Forest, not so much."
He leans back. "I'm listening."
"There's augmented and then there's augmented."
He's already grinning even though Spock does not know where she is going with this seemingly basic statement.
"How many years did she get through Federation and then Starfleet sensors and checks?"
"A lot of years." His grin is even wider.
"How many times has she been injured? Or sick?"
"Yeah, it's weird how much."
"You need a top-notch geneticist to compare her DNA to a variety of other augments. And humans. And species like Vulcans and Andorians and well, anything else that has any kind of superpower compared to humans. Because that's what this is about. Khan and the fear of another Eugenics War. And she's not a Khan. She's not augmented but maybe her grandparents were—but how different is that than a human who becomes a heavy worlder after a few generations? There are levels of augmentation and some are irrelevant and I believe I can prove it. And I know a whole lab full of people who might love to help."
Spock admires the way she is presenting this, the way she is cutting through the emotions both he and Chris have over the unfairness and going to the...to the logic of the situation.
His touchstone for human emotions is more logical than he is. Or than his captain. Or than Number One, since she clearly has never asked for anyone to run this sort of comparison even though he has always considered her a bastion of logic.
"So your argument would be that she's not augmented enough to fit the charges?" Chris asks quietly, as if it is too much to hope.
"That's what I'm saying. If Federation and Starfleet sensors couldn't see the difference, how will a court or tribunal or whatever Starfleet uses? Unless they intend to find her guilty—no matter how much science we give her attorney, we can't overcome dedicated malicious intent."
"And I don't know which it is at this point. But I'll find out. And in the meantime, you'll help?"
"I need your authorization to dig this deeply into her and other files. I don't mean just for this ship but all over Starfleet. I'd normally need her approval too but since she's not here and we're doing this for her. Unless you think she has something else to hide I might find doing this."
"That is an excellent point," Spock says, feeling hope deserting him. What if Number One did not take this path because she did, indeed, have more to hide?
"I don't care at this point about anything other than making her case. If you find something you think might be problematic, bring it to me. Off the record. We'll decide whether to proceed together." He turns to Spock. "Unless you want to help her?"
"I would welcome his help." Then she grins in the way Spock particularly enjoys. "So long as he answers to me and not the other way around."
Chris laughs out loud, the sound full of relief even Spock can fully understand. "Fine by me. That okay with you, Spock?"
"It is acceptable. I..." He looks at Christine, wonders how she will take what he is going to say, but decides he needs to say it. "It will be no hardship to work with her. I spend a great deal of time with her as it is. Both on and off duty."
There is a silence even he realizes is awkward. Christine is looking down and Chris is clearly confused.
"Tell him about the fucking hiatus," Christine says under her breath with a jab to his ribs with her elbow.
"Oh, yes, T'Pring and I are on hiatus."
"That's a thing?"
"Vulcans are really weird, Captain."
"Call me Chris, Christine. If you're going to be my partner in crime—without actually committing any crimes, I get that part loud and clear." He studies them. "Well, okay, I trust you two know what the hell you're doing."
"About genetics, yes. About us..." She laughs gently and smiles at him, then Spock. "We'll help you no matter how this works out."
Spock feels affection flood him for her. She does not have to say that and they both know it.
"He and I are friends and scientists—anything else is irrelevant to this project."
"Okay then. You have my approval."
"Just so you know, I'm going to make up a really weird abstract that you're going to need to approve. It'll have a very boring title and I will actually write a paper on this—the data will be aggregated for that so don't worry about outing her any more than she has been—but I need to do that to cover my ass. Well all of our asses really."
"It will no doubt be an excellent paper," Spock says, trying to be as supportive to her as she is being to him and Chris.
"I like you so much right now, Christine. You get the dinner of your choice. And you can bring him along if you want too."
"His pasta is excellent," Spock says, finding himself reveling in the way she is fitting into his life—into his Starfleet life, the one he wants to lead. Not a life that must be led on Vulcan.
"It's my choice, buster. I might go for steak."
"I'll still make you pasta, Spock." Chris leans back and closes his eyes. "Thank you. You've both just made this day so much better."
"I'm glad but I can't promise results, Chris."
"But you'll do your best, right?"
"She is a tempest when she is focused." Spock shares a look with her, giving her the credit for where they are now, how she motivated him with similar words to use rage, letting her know that it will be a shared moment they can call back to.
She gives him the gentle—almost shy—smile he likes the best. "I'll definitely do my best."