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 PG-13.


by Djinn



Chapel slides onto the barstool next to La'an and pushes a glass of very nice scotch to her.


La'an doesn't even look over. "What's this?"


"An apology." She takes a sip of her own equally nice, if less smoky, whiskey. "Bartender told me this was your poison."


"Can you ever say something without trying to be funny?"


She considers that. "Probably not. Can you ever say anything without being hostile?"


La'an actually laughs. "Probably not." She takes a tiny sip of the drink as if it really might be poison. "Oh, this is much better than my usual."


"Yeah, well, apologies should be nice." She sips and lets them sit in silence.


La'an finally asks, "So what are you apologizing for? Calling me 'Sister,' perhaps?"


"Nope. I'll probably call you that again—or worse." She leans in so no one can hear her but La'an. "I should never have said I was going to mess with your genome. It was...insensitive of me."


La'an doesn't answer. Just rotates her glass and makes the amber liquid spin.


"I'm into genetics. Of course I know your family tree."


"Good for you. I'm a long way away from anyone of note, though, on that tree. Just a far-off leaf." She turns, her expression so placid it has to be controlled.


How much does that control cost her?


"Sure. Okay."


La'an's look becomes less placid. Chapel finds herself staring back as intently. Does this woman think she can unnerve her with some sort of stare down? Try working at her program at Stanford, at her age, then getting this slot on this ship.


But damn, does La'an never have to blink?


Eventually she mutters, "Fine, shit, you win," and looks away, blinking furiously. "Jesus, woman."


"You lasted longer than most." There's something almost light in La'an's voice.


"Yeah, well, I'm tougher than I look."


"That remains to be seen."




Chapel is working with her back to the door but hears it open. The footsteps are light. But there's a stomp she recognizes that imposes itself every so often.


Number One.


She turns. "Commander?"


"Nurse. Or is it Doctor?" She runs her finger down the cabinets as if doing some kind of old-time inspection.


"I guess it's both. But I'm slotted as a nurse so..." It doesn't matter to her what they call her. She'd have let them slot her as anything if it let her play on the Enterprise.


"Doctor M'Benga only has good things to say about you."


She's unsure what the proper military response to that is so she just smiles in what she hopes is a sufficiently—but not too—grateful way. This woman grates on her so damn much, but she's not sure why.


"La'an is my protégé."


She doesn't answer.


"I saw you with her in the bar. She doesn't need...complications right now."


Seriously? "How complicated is an apology?"


Number One is clearly surprised by her answer.


"I said something I regretted. I bought her a drink. We drank. She left." She doesn't cross her arms over her chest the way she really, really wants to. This woman will only see it as weakness. "I will, if I feel so inclined, buy her an apology drink—or any other kind—in the future. Unless there's some regulation I'm unaware of that precludes that?"


"Holy crap. Look at the balls on you." Number One is actually smiling in a way that doesn't creep her out. "Okay then." She pulls up her sleeve and there's a nasty rash. "While I'm here, can you give me something for this?"


"I can." She studies the patterns of redness, the bumps. "You've been scratching. Do you know how much bacteria are under someone's fingernails?"


"Assuming they have nails."


"Or fingers for that matter."


Number One actually laughs. "Can't you scan that instead of studying it?"


"I will. But I like to...hone my ability to diagnose. On an away mission, if instruments were down, it might be the difference between life and death." Then again she probably won't be on any away missions, so...  She reaches for the scanner and sees she was off in her assessment. But not far off. Same family of fungus.


"You've had this for a while."


"Yeah it started small. I thought I could contain it."


"That's sort of a metaphor for life. Better to come here in the future. Let us eliminate an uncomfortable variable or two." She gives her the most genuine smile she can as she applies a treatment and gives Number One a small amount to continue treatment on her own until it's gone. She likes people to trust her—to like her. Especially people who she could admire.


"I'll remember that."




A drink appears in front of her and La'an pushes in between her and the person next to her. There's not much room so she's standing very close.




"There's a lieutenant who's convinced he's in love with me."


"Just one?" She grins as she studies the drink. It's nothing she'd ever drink. Pink with fruit she doesn't like in it. "So you're giving me the drink he bought you?"


"I don't care if you drink it. Just...look interested."


"In the drink?"


"In me." She makes an impatient face followed by an even more impatient huff. "I told him I was involved with someone. It's the only thing that will get him to leave me alone."


"La'an, this is you. Just threaten to kill him and I'm sure he'll look for easier conquests."


"You think I didn't try that first?" She glances back and then forward so quickly Chapel knows he must be coming over.


"You owe me, sister."


"Fine. I owe you."


With a grin, she pulls La'an to her and kisses her gently, then not so. La'an is frozen.


And then she's not.


Her lips feel so nice.


Chapel pulls away with regret. Then turns to the lieutenant who is standing just behind them. "Hi, I'm Christine. And you are?"


"Uh, leaving. Have a good night, you two."


La'an is still leaning against her.


"It's okay. He's gone. Or have I left you completely dazed with the skill of these babies?" She touches her lips then whispers into La'an's ear. "Yours are really lovely too, if that's the case."


"And if it's not the case?" La'an seems both pissed off—in other words totally normal—and uncertain.


"Well, then you're a horrible kisser." She laughs and sees La'an relax. "Let's get a table."


"I don't want to be in here."


"Then let's walk. Show me the ship. I feel like I live in three rooms: sickbay, my quarters, and this lounge."


"Yeah. I could do that. That would be acceptable."


"Wow, acceptable. Way to make me feel special."


La'an laughs.


"I like your laugh. You don't laugh much though, do you?"




"Maybe I can change that."


La'an shrugs. "I'm not averse to you trying."




They're in La'an's quarters and Chapel can tell she's nervous. Like this is too intimate a space, like she's lost control in her own domain, so she eases La'an into a chair and circles around behind her.


"I used to do this for my roommate in undergrad," she says as she begins undoing the braids. "I'm glad we're done with that comet."


"Were you worried about me?" La'an's voice is so quiet Chapel realizes she's putting it out there in a way she can ignore if she wants.


She doesn't want to. "Yes. And no. Of any of them, you're the survivor."


"I am that. I didn't contribute a damn thing, though. Except monitoring Kirk."


"That's something."


"I was useless other than that."


She tries to be extra gentle with the braids. "Your particular set of skills was not required. There's a difference."


"Maybe." She seems to relax into her hands then says softly, "You're a survivor too, aren't you?"


"Not the same way as you, but yeah, I probably am."


"I bristle and you flirt."


"Excuse me?" She gently pulls on the braid.


"With Spock. 'Now you're just toying with me blah blah blah.'"


"I didn't realize you minded." She finishes one braid and moves to the other.


"I don't." But she's pushing back against Chapel's hands, sighing in a way Chapel thinks she's not even aware of. "Do you like him?"


"He's intriguing. Both as a man and as a genetic specimen."


La'an tenses under her hands.


"Oh, for God's sake, relax. I've spent years earning my way in this field. Genes are what I care about. When I say genetic, I'm not referring to you. Unless I am, and when I am, you'll know it."


"So genes make you hot?" The sarcasm is dripping off her.


"Same way weapons make you hot, toots." She laughs when La'an does and strokes her cheek. "I was flirting with you the first time we met. Or didn't you notice? Was my wink too subtle?"


"I'm not good at reading those types of things."


"I disagree. You noticed me doing it with Spock. You threw a phaser at him to get me to stop."


"That was unprofessional." La'an actually sounds guilty.


"He didn't notice. He seemed impressed with your aim."


"Maybe I was aiming for you."


"I seriously doubt that. You two don't get along, do you?"


"For a Vulcan, he's...unimpressive."


"Ouch. How many Vulcan-Human hybrids have you met? Who knows what he's put up with or how hard he's had to work to get here. Same as me. Same as you." She pulls the braid again.


"I can't wait until you run out of braid."


"Me either. Your hair's beautiful."


"That's not where I was going with that comment."


Chapel just laughs and continues. She finishes the last few bits of the second braid and then begins to finger comb out the waves. "Do you care?"


"That my hair is beautiful?"


"If I flirt with Spock?"


The tension is back, thicker than ever. "I'm not in a position...caring is..." She sighs and it's a ragged sound.


Chapel moves to crouch in front of her and puts her hands on her cheeks. "Hey, it's okay. My relationship status is beyond complicated. It's just nice to know if you do. But selfish too. Forget I asked." She starts to stand up.


La'an pulls her back down. "I do. And that's all I'm going to say or do about it right now, all right?"


"All right." Chapel stands but stays in front, arranging her hair, enjoying the feel of it over her hands.


"You know who was bothered by your flirting? The little cadet."


"For real?"


"Yeah, she made a point of telling him you were flirting with him."


"He knew that."


"Did he?"


"Trust me. He knew that. There's been a spicy human or two in his past. Even if he is probably engaged. Most Vulcans are."


"But he's only half Vulcan. And they're...selective. Maybe no one will have him."


"I doubt that." She starts to laugh, imagining the conversation between Uhura and Spock. "So our little songbird likes him? That's all right. I'm only flirting."


"With any of us."


She stops playing with her hair and tips her chin up so she has to look at her. "With him." She allows herself to really look, really enjoy the beauty that is La'an. "Not with everyone."


La'an visibly swallows. "How complicated is your relationship status? Exclusive complicated?"


She can feel her smile tightening into something bitter and wanting. "No. Sadly. And not so sadly if, say, someone like you wants to be a friend. Or be more than one." She lets go of her. "Either is fine. Friend. More. I mean that for real. No pressure. I just...enjoy you."


"Something might, in fact, be wrong with you if you do." But she looks touched. "Do you want me to braid yours?"


"It's kind of short for that."


"I know. But let me play"


Their eyes meet and Chapel feels a rush of protectiveness for this woman. She understands why Number One came into sickbay.


And she feels a rush of something else too. Something that maybe she will never get to explore. But it's there and she likes it.


She trades places with La'an and says, "Play away."