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) 2023 by Djinn. This story is Rated PG-13.

Three's Company

by Djinn



Spock was unsure how he came to be on the ground of what seemed a very desolate planet. He realized T'Pring and Christine were also near him, slowly coming awake.


"Ah, the kids are finally rousing. Been waiting a while."


He knew that voice. Angel.


He turned to look at them, rose even as Angel pointed their weapon and said, "Slowly, Spock. Consider the odds."


Angel was not alone. Some of their crew stood around with weapons also trained. Other had carryalls and walked off toward what looked to be the kind of emergency cabin often found on small class-M planetoids situated on lightly travelled freight corridors.


"What are you doing?"


"Laying in some supplies. For you. And your two favorite girls. Get up, ladies."


T'Pring and Christine both rose slowly.


"So convenient your ship was on Denaria for shore leave. And that T'Pring was able to join you. I mean it would have happened eventually, you three together again, but that it happened so soon after our last encounter is just, well, thrilling." They gave a sarcastic smile as they kept their weapon trained on the three of them.


Ah, yes, Denaria. He and T'Pring had been settling in for the night when he'd received a text comm from Christine. She had been in trouble. He had rushed out without thinking. And been stunned as soon as he was halfway down the path to the main building. T'Pring must have been taken once he left her.


Spock tried to send a signal to her and Christine to separate, to make it easier for him to throw himself at Angel, but Angel just laughed and backed up. "Don't try it, Spock. Anyone moves, I kill whoever's closest, and then the next one, and then the next one. And that's not my plan—to kill you all. Especially not you, sweet little brother of my love."


They glanced at T'Pring. "You moved my love after our last encounter—I'm not going to forget that."


"I did. And I do not know which facility he is in. I asked for that freedom, knowing you would be back and might try to get it out of me. You are a slave to your emotions. You cannot let go of him."


"Coming from you that's rich. And why should I let him go? He's the love of my life and unjustly held. Simply because he would not conform?"


"You are neglecting to mention the five people he killed as he attempted to take away their pain. The seven others who have little to no cognitive function left. The twenty-three he selectively mind-wiped when he failed to convert them to your cause."


Spock stared at her aghast. "I ascertained Xaverius was Sybok. But I had no idea he was held for more than simply rejecting the way of logic."


T'Pring looked apologetic. "You worshipped him, Spock. I did not wish to burden you with what he had become."


Angel's crew returned, empty handed and laughing.


"Is it ready?"


"They'll be snug as a bug in a rug," an old woman said, then she pulled out a slim metal tube. "Or two of them will be anyway."


Almost too fast for him to track, she blew a dart into Christine's neck and then another into T'Pring's. They did not fall, in fact, they both yanked the darts out.


"Too late, dearies. Too late." The old woman moved behind Angel.


"You'll notice you don't get one, Spock," Angel said softly. They pulled a vial out of their pocket and tossed it to him. "You do get this. Enough antitoxin for one of them, not both. The other will die a slow, painful death. Which will you pick? The Vulcan beauty you pursued for so long or the fair human who's won your heart—underused as you might like to think it is."


Christine was the first to make a sound, to put her hand to her abdomen, to meet his eyes, a quiet panic in hers.


"Best get them to the nice little cabin I cleaned up for you. Everything you need is there. Except, of course, more of the antitoxin. But you and whoever you pick to live will be fine until someone happens by this outpost. Or maybe your clever captain on that big fancy ship will find you. I don't rule it out. Maybe he'll be the one to pick you up, but he'll never get here before one of these women dies in, oh, ten hours or so." They hit a button on their belt and said, "Beam us the fuck out of here."


And then they were gone with their crew.


Christine turned and headed to the house. "There may be something there that can help us. Something Angel wouldn't have thought of."


He started to follow, wanting to help her, but T'Pring stopped him with a touch on his arm—he could feel her frustration through the touch. "She clearly has no idea she was used to lure you away from me. You left me vulnerable."


"I know. I...I acted impulsively. My human side."


"How long will you blame every ill conceived act on that, Spock?" She walked away but then turned back. "Do you think she will find anything in the cabin? She seemed quite optimistic."


"She is an innovator. It is in her nature to believe she can conquer the problem."


"How much time will you give her to see if she is right?"


He met her eyes and knew his own were torn. "I...I do not know."


As they walked to the cabin, T'Pring seemed lost in thought—but in a problem-solving way, not in a dwelling on his shortcomings way—then asked gently, "Have you ever been in a healing coma? At the deepest level?"


"No. Low level, yes."


"I might survive using that method. You can give her the antitoxin."


"Angel would know you would try that. It will be a death sentence."


"Then give it to me for I am your mate." She watched him carefully as he tried to find a graceful way to deny her. "Forget I said that, Spock. I have known for some time it is not that clear cut. It is obvious you have feelings for both of us." She stopped him with a hand on his. "Have you ever performed a T'Nakra meld?"


"I have heard about them. My father has done them, I believe. But I have no experience being part of one, let alone initiating one."


"I use them frequently in my work. They can link two individuals at a depth that facilitates the sharing of trauma. But...they can go deeper. They can make of two, one."




"For the duration of the link."


"What are you thinking?"


"Give her three quarters of the antitoxin and me a quarter. Then let me link us. You will have to wake us if it works. It will require you to slap me."


He nodded because like all his peers, as a child, he was shown how to wake an adult who had gone into such a coma. "Have you ever done this meld to such a depth?"


"I have not. It is discouraged. It is difficult to...escape. And the level of sharing of the two melded is... Suffice it to say she and I will be drawn to each other in ways we will not fully understand until it is over. Or..."


She looked away.




"Or we will detest each other to the point where the death of the other is the only option. So you must observe us." She met his eyes. "If, that is, we survive. This may not work."


"We do not know this is even antitoxin. Angel has been deprived of her love. And it is partially my fault. It seems a greater vengeance to kill both of you than just one."


"I disagree. To make you live with the one you chose, knowing the other is dead because she was not the one you selected—that will eat at you. But, Spock, it might be the most logical way. Pick one of us and let the other die. The meld is—"


"A long shot," he said, mimicking Pike, wishing his captain were here to throw out the kind of ideas he often did, that appeared outlandish at first but inevitably worked.


Christine came back out. She looked pale—was the toxin working on her already? "I've got nothing. Have you two solved the logical conundrum part of this choice from fucking hell?"


T'Pring turned to her, appearing unperturbed at Christine's colorful language. "I have given him several options." She laid them out for Christine, who nodded as she listened.


"The meld sounds risky. You'll lose us both if it goes wrong, Spock."


"Or I might save you both. I will not—I cannot choose between you." He looked down. "That makes me weak. I should know which of you to choose."


"You wouldn't be the man I count a friend if you could choose."


T'Pring began to walk. "We must get to the cabin. Christine is hiding her pain from us."


He looked up quickly and saw Christine glare at T'Pring. "She is trained to see pain, Christine. Of many kinds." He hurried to her and took her arm.


She shook him off. "I can walk."


T'Pring shared a look with him, then strode ahead and left them alone.


"Is this the part where you tell me you're choosing her? Because I get it if it is." She looked up at him, her expression resigned. "She's your mate, Spock. She's what you want."


"You do not, I think, have any idea what I want, Christine." He stopped her for a moment. "But right now, I just want to save you both. I think the meld is something Angel would have no way of knowing about."


"But what if that's just saline in that vial? What if Angel is just torturing you?"


"It is possible. But there is no way to know. We must try to save you both."


She looked off into the distance. "Splitting the vial—if it is antitoxin—may be a bad idea. If the amount is carefully calibrated."


"A Vulcan would need less, do you not think?"


She frowned. "Maybe? I mean you're stronger, sure. But what if it's a toxin that hits Vulcans harder? What if I should get the quarter dose? There isn't any kind of scanner or tricorder in the cabin. I can't check to see."


"We must go." He got her moving again.


"It really hurts. Is she in pain? That could tell us if she's right. That she can do with less. But if she's just hiding how much pain she's in, then we won't know." She met his eyes. "Do a meld. With each of us. Feel for yourself how badly we hurt at this stage. Then adjust the amount based on that."


"The toxin may hit later for her."


"Or for me. We can't factor time in or we'll fail to act at all. This is what we have to go on. Do it." She opened the door to the cabin.


T'Pring turned around.


"He's going to meld with us. Determine who's being affected the most and adjust the dosage based on that."


T'Pring lifted an eyebrow. "So you wish to try the deeper meld once the dosage has been ascertained?"


"I don't want to die. I don't want you to die. I especially don't want Spock to have to live with one of us dying. So yeah, I do. But I don't want him giving us dosages based on your assumptions that Vulcans are stronger in all cases. Angel may have chosen this toxin specifically because it does hit Vulcans harder. And they'd know we'd try to share it."


"Logical. Sharing it without the meld no doubt would fail. But with it..." She nodded, as if considering. "Spock, you may meld with us."


He wasted no time, into her mind first, urging her to drop her guards and let him assess her true level of pain.


It was immense. He could not believe she was hiding such agony so easily.


Then he went to Christine. Comparatively, she was much better off. He eased out of her mind and said, "You are right."


"Yeah, I often am. The ratio: her pain to mine?" She was already taking the vial from him. "I used this kind of hypo in school. It's easy to calibrate the dosage." She smiled up at him.


"I would say five eights for her, three for you."


"You're the math genius." She began to make the adjustments. Then she glanced at T'Pring. "You are his mate. If you tell me to go, I'll walk out of this cabin and you can have the whole hypo's worth."


T'Pring walked over to her. "Why?"


"Because I never intended to be anything more than his friend. I had—I had someone I loved. He cheated on me—sort of. It's complicated, but it's...it's why I'm here. Not here on this planet, but here in space, on the ship, instead of back at the university I fought like hell to get into. I will not ruin your relationship."


"I believe your death would ruin our relationship, Christine. Just as mine might destroy any chance you two had for a successful relationship."


"At least this way we tried?"


"Yes. Whichever of us—if either—survive, he will know we chose this. He did not choose for us." She took a steadying breath Spock recognized from the meditations they often did together. "What, in your medical opinion, should come first? The meld or the medicine?"


She did not blurt out an answer. In fact, all trace of her usual buoyant confidence was gone. "I think the meld. If it can make us more like one person. But I've never..." She swallowed visibly. "Okay, no offense, but the last time you two melded, you ended up in the wrong bodies. Are you sure about this?"


"We were not ready to trust each other at that point. Now, we have no choice." He looked at T'Pring. "Is that not so?"


"I believe it is."


"Okay, then let's get it on." Christine rolled her eyes at the surprise Spock assumed both he and T'Pring were showing. "The meld, I mean. So literal..."


They lay on the bed facing each other and Spock stood ready with the antitoxin, under instructions from Christine to do T'Pring first and from T'Pring to do Christine first.


He respected both of them so much for their bravery and altruism.


He decided since T'Pring was the one initiating the meld, and the one most affected by the poison, that he would inoculate her first. But he kept this information to himself as T'Pring touched Christine's face and began the meld.




Chapel had never experienced anything so...intimate as T'Pring's mind hovering at the edge of her own. But before she could enjoy it, she realized how much pain T'Pring was in.


Far more than she was. Far more than five eights of a dose would take care of.


She slapped T'Pring's hands off her face before she became too entrenched in the meld and skittered away.


"Do not do that again," T'Pring said as she cradled her head in her hands.


Chapel could feel the sting of the broken meld in her mind too, but she got up and walked to Spock. "We're thinking about this the wrong way."


"You could have severely injured both of you by breaking a meld like that."


"Fuck the meld for now, Spock. Think—what is Angel getting out of all this?"


T'Pring sat up on the bed. "Revenge. Please, come back before I lack the strength to initiate the meld."


"Hear me out. Angel has studied us. Each of us. They know who we are, and I would bet they know our past. It's what I would do if I wanted revenge. You have to tailor it. You have to make it so personal it hurts even worse than it would otherwise."


"This is already highly personal," Spock said in an impatient tone.


"No, you're not getting it. In the labs I worked at, we were inoculated against so much shit. Chem toxins, bio toxins, viruses, bacteria, phage. When I reported for duty on the ship, it was the same." She turned to T'Pring. "Do they routinely inoculate you for weird shit."


"Weird shit lacks specificity." She almost frowned. "But no. Just the normal diseases and pathogens we would be exposed to from our patients."


"Exactly. Spock, which would hurt you more: having to choose one of us and the other dying, or thinking you had to choose one of us and having T'Pring die when she doesn't have to because Angel knows you'll try to save us both? When I don't need saving."


He took her hand. "I can feel your pain."


"Some of the vaccines don't protect against infection, just severe disease and death. Go hold her hand. I'm uncomfortable, but she's in agony."


He did as she said and surprise showed on his face. "She is much worse than before." He handed her the hypo, eyes wide. "You plan to give her all of it?"


T'Pring tried to get up but he eased her back. "No, you cannot. What if Angel is counting on you to do that?" She struggled under his hands. It was no doubt a testament to how hard the toxin was hitting her that she could not escape because normally Chapel thought she was probably the stronger being full Vulcan.


"They won't be counting on this. Because I want Spock and they know that. And if they've researched me, they know I fought dirty to keep the guy who cheated on me. I ruined a career or two until I realized he wasn't going to stop, that I had to be the one to leave." She glanced at Spock. "It's why I gave up on relationships. But given that history, Angel will think I want T'Pring to die."


"And if you are wrong? If you need some of the antitoxin to survive?" T'Pring asked.


"Then I'm out of your hair forever. And boy won't I feel stupid as I go?" She adjusted the hypo and then walked over to her. "Do I have your permission to give you all of this? I truly believe my logic is sound."


"Yes. I hope you are not wrong."


"Me, too." She touched T'Pring's face gently. "I want you to feel that I'm sure."


"Just because you are certain, does not mean you are right." But she leaned into Chapel's hand for a moment.


"I've never told you how gorgeous I think you are. Spock is a lucky boy." Then she let the whole of the hypo go into T'Pring's arm.


"Ohhhhh," T'Pring said, relief clear as the seconds passed. Her eyes fluttered and she went limp.


Chapel hurried to make sure she was sleeping and not dead, felt a weaker pulse than she liked—assuming she should feel like Spock—but otherwise seemed fine. Her color was better, her respiration unlabored. "I think it truly was the antitoxin, Spock."


"She is not in a coma. Merely resting." He turned her to face him. "And if you need it? What do we do?"


"I won't." She turned to check on T'Pring again. "I hope."


"Angel might have predicted this."


"How? The first time they saw me was when I couldn't get into the console in Engineering. I held up a hypo like it was a phaser—but they didn't know I'd knocked out two of their guys with it. It may have just seemed an asinine thing to do. And I bet those guys didn't tell their scary-ass captain that a helpless little nurse knocked them out."




"If Angel found their way to Earth, if they talked to Roger, he would have told them I was..." She stopped talking and closed her eyes.


"Are you in pain?"


"Yeah, but not the physical kind. He told me I was a quitter, that I was running away just because I couldn't share him. That I would never be a leader if I was this sensitive, never amount to anything more than support. Brilliant support but not an originator. This after I came up with her disguise protocols. This after I saved his ass so many times. But he'd never tell Angel that any of it was my accomplishment if, say, they posed as a reporter or a fellow prof at a conference. Why in hell would Angel ever assume I'd figure this out if two Vulcans weren't able to?"


He moved closer to her. "You do not talk about him."


"That's because he was my life and my soulmate—or so I thought. He was the first man I ever loved, the first man that sex ever meant anything with other than a good time. And he broke my fucking heart." She could feel tears starting and brushed them away. No. She was done crying over this asshole.


"So you are the X Factor here."


"Seems like."


He covered T'Pring with a blanket and then took Chapel's hand and led her to a sofa in front of a fire that Angel's crew must have started.


Their crew, who were in here, who no doubt built this place. She leaned in as if she was going to give Spock a kiss on the cheek but at the last minute moved to his ear. "Are we being watched or listened to?"


"Quite possibly," he murmured back touching her cheek.


"Then I've given it all away." She closed her eyes. So stupid.


He took her face in his hands the way she had done to him after the memorial. "I was not thinking about surveillance. Neither was T'Pring. As Angel no doubt intended, we were focused on the task at hand."


She nodded reluctantly, still feeling stupid that she hadn't stopped to think before she spoke. But he was right: none of them had even considered it.


"Moreover, if there were any way for them to watch us, then there might be a way for us to call out. I do not believe Angel would risk that." He touched her forehead gently. "You feel warmer than normal. And you are in pain. More than before."


"I am. But nothing like she was."


He reached for a throw that was over the back of the sofa and said, "Lie down, I will watch over you."


"You don't have to."




She got comfortable, her head in his lap, and then he covered her with the surprisingly soft throw. "I'm okay if I'm wrong, Spock. It was a good risk. T'Pring would have risked a lot to try to save us both."


"Yes. She would have. Counter to the needs of the many outweighing the needs of the few."


"Maybe she knew you'd be super pissed at her if she could have saved me but let me die."


"I would not have thought of the meld she wanted to try—I do not even know how to do it. It was her idea to use it."


"She really is nice."


"I have always thought so. I pursued her so ardently—"


"For a Vulcan."


"Yes, of course. But with great intensity. She was all I wanted."


She shifted to get more comfortable. "And now?"


He settled his hand on her hair, playing with it gently, relaxing her. "And now...things are far more complicated." He glanced over at T'Pring. "But for her as well, I think. There is another man, a boy we both grew up with. He has always wanted her."


"But she's with you."


"But she works with him. They are...close."


"Ahhhh." She cuddled into him more. "Her work husband. Am I your work wife?" She closed her eyes—she really did feel like someone had run her over with a shuttlecraft. "If I die, Spock..."


"You will not die."


"But if I do. I really, really am glad I met you."


"I am very glad I met you as well, Christine. But you will not die."


"I hope not. Life is fun with you in it. I want to go on living it."


He went back to playing with her hair; it was warm and comforting under the throw, with the heat of the fire. She let go and fell asleep.




T'Pring woke with a start. She was under the covers now instead of just the throw. They were unusually soft, such a strange indulgence from Angel. She would have expected something far harsher to the skin.


"It's okay," Christine said as she wiped her forehead with a cold cloth. "Your fever is down."


She grabbed Christine's hand and could not stop the frown. "You are still sick."


"I am. But I'm not more sick than I was. It's just going to take time for this thing to run its course."


She let her go and moved so there was room on the bed. "Share. Unless you prefer cuddling with my fiancé?"


"He is nice to cuddle with." Christine shook her head. "I mean when I'm sick. I've never cuddled with him before. But that couch is too short to stretch out on. You're sure I can share?"


"I suggested it. I meant it." She looked around the cabin. "Where is my fiancé?"


"Checking to see if there's any surveillance equipment. If Angel can watch us then maybe—"


"We can use the tech to communicate out."




T'Pring realized Christine was shivering so she pulled the covers back. "Get in. The covers are astoundingly nice."


Christine slipped in and made a face that T'Pring thought mirrored her own reaction perfectly. "Why give us bedding this nice? Angel's so fucking weird."


"Does that make you feel better? To use expletives?"


"It's fun. It's habit. It's me being a rebel. Does it bother you?"


"No." She touched her cheek to assess how she was feeling. "You are quite chilled. When Spock returns he can join us. The two of us should be able to warm you."




"I am not suggesting we have sexual relations. I am suggesting you make use of two beings with far higher core-body temperatures."


Christine laughed. "Okay. Sorry. It's just...this is just..."




"Yeah. Strange. How are you feeling? Your fever's broken and your color's back to goddess olive."


"Is it? My face itches slightly. I would have assumed it had broken out."


"Nope. Pretty much perfect." She closed her eyes. "I have rosacea that goes nuts when I'm sick. Is it bad?"


"You look as if you have been out in the cold. Just your cheeks. It is...attractive." T'Pring studied her, this woman she considered a rival even if she was sure Spock would not betray her. "Your hair color...?"


"Is not my real color. I'm a brunette. But I like changing it up. I've been all sorts of colors but I figured when I reported to the ship, I needed to make it sort of normal."


"It suits you."




T'Pring heard the door open and turned to look at Spock. "Did you find any surveillance equipment?"


"I did not." His expression lightened when he walked to her, his hand on her forehead letting her feel how relieved he was that she was awake. "You are better."


"I am. But Christine is very cold. If you are done, please get on the other side of her so we can warm her."


He hesitated and Christine laughed softly. "She's not saying we're going to have sex, Spock. We've already cleared that up. You two are just going to be my beautiful Vulcan heating pads."


"Yes. That."


"Do you need anything? Water?"


She nodded and he went to the chiller, brought several bottles back, then crawled into bed.


"You are cold," he said and he met T'Pring's eyes as he slid in behind Christine and put his arm around her.


"You have cause to know her normal body heat?" But she moved in closer and put her arm over his.


"Since it's the same as any human, he could infer. I'm usually a little lower, so it's more of a fever than he might think. Holy cow you two feel good." Christine shifted a little then said, "This feels so damn nice."


T'Pring stared at Spock as the woman between them slowly fell asleep. "She was at my side when I woke."


"She was at your side often during the time you were asleep."


"She is...interesting."


"For a human, you mean?"


"For anyone." She shifted and felt Christine push back into her, her body already warming. "Will you leave me for her?"


"You are my—"


"Answer the question."


He looked helpless. She refused to look away. Finally, he said, "I do not know."


"That is not a good answer."


"I agree. I am... I am weak. I should know."


Christine suddenly turned over, still asleep, and cuddled into T'Pring, her arm snaking around her waist.


"She fits perfectly against me, Spock." She touched the hair that so fascinated her—it was nothing like hers, so fine that it was like silk. "Does she fit perfectly against you?"


"I do not..." But she did not have to tell him to not lie to her. She had watched them kiss and he was bright enough to know that. "Yes. But other than the kiss for Angel's benefit, there was only one time, after a hard mission and several deaths, when she hugged me." He looked away. "When I hugged her back."


"You did not have sex?"


"I have never been unfaithful to you."


"Some might say falling in love with another is the definition of infidelity, Spock."


"Then what of Stonn? How many times has he answered your comm unit when I call?"


"We share an office."


"He wants me to know that. And that he feels free to answer for you."


"Spock, that was during a finite period when ostensibly routine computer upgrades broke our voicemail capability. I was answering his, as well, when he was not in the office. The problem was quickly resolved and he has not done it since—has he?"


"No. But you and he...I once thought..."


"Yes, I once thought I'd pick him also. But I did not. I picked you." She ran her hand over his forearm. "Should I have picked him instead?"


"No." Again he sounded helpless. And he pushed closer to Christine as he answered.


"She will certainly be warm enough now. I do not think we could all be any closer. Short of sexual activity, of course."


He closed his eyes. "It is what she needs. Medically."


"I am not begrudging her anything. Except you." She studied him. "Have you slept at all?"


He shook his head.


"Close your eyes. I will watch over the three of us for now."


"I should be the one to—"


"Please do not finish that sentence. The antitoxin worked. I am weak but otherwise fine. Rest. You are no good to us exhausted."


He nodded but seemed unsure if he should ease away from Christine.


T'Pring gave him an exasperated look no one at Ankeshtan K'til would probably believe her capable of making. "Hold her tightly, if you wish. She is certainly holding me that way." She knew her look was slightly mocking but did not attempt to mitigate it.


"Why did she turn to you?" He sounded almost...hurt.


"Perhaps because that is the side she prefers to sleep on." She found it comforting that he did not appear to know what side was her norm.


"Yes. Most logical." He closed his eyes and murmured, "Wake me if you need me."


Then he was gone.


T'Pring studied the two of them, this human she had once told him there was no way he would have feelings for and her betrothed. A man she did not wish to lose.


But one she might.




She touched Christine's face, wanting to meld with her but resisting the urge. It would be trespass of the highest order—all to satisfy one question: how much did this woman care for Spock?


She shifted to get comfortable, then began a very basic meditation, one designed to center but allow the practitioner to remain alert if needed.




Spock jerked awake when a crash sounded and the door flew open. He was resigned to seeing Angel and their crew, back to try some new scheme to punish him since this one had not worked.


But it was not Angel. It was some kind of special operations team. Only...not Starfleet.


He squinted at the insignia—were they...Vulcan? Since when did Vulcan have a special operations capability.


"Stay," one of them said to him as T'Pring started to sit up and he held her down.


Christine was not moving, other than deep breaths. T'Pring seemed to notice this at the same time he did, and checked on her then met his eyes. "I am unsure of her medical condition. Her temperature feels warm to me. Her breathing, however, is what it was last night." At his look she said softly, "I used it as a metronome for meditation."


"Ah. You cannot wake her?"


"I cannot." She looked around at the figures in tactical gear with weapons drawn. "Those are Vulcan?"


"So it would seem."


The first Vulcan came out of the bathroom and said loudly, "All clear."


Two people walked in. One Spock did not know. The other—the one clearly in command—he did.




He looked at T'Pring, who seemed as confused as he felt.


Stonn walked over and indicated for the other Vulcan who had come in with him to check on Christine. He was wearing a small pin with the insignia of the medical profession but otherwise appeared no different than the other members of Stonn's team.


He scanned all three of them. "Spock was given none of the toxin." He spent a moment more doing more detailed scans of T'Pring then asked her, "You were given antitoxin?"


Stonn immediately looked suspicious.


"She was not given it," Spock said. "We had to choose which of them was to get it—or how much to give to each. Christine—Nurse Chapel thought T'Pring was more affected and opted to give her all of it."


"A wise choice." The doctor nodded. "T'Pring, you would have died from the toxin given to you."


"But Christine—Nurse Chapel? She will not wake up."


"She is affected but unlike with a Vulcan, delayed administration of the antitoxin will not be detrimental. When we get back to Vulcan, we will give it to her. For now, we will monitor her."


"Back to Vulcan? My ship—"


"Your ship has been told to resume its mission, Spock." Stonn's voice was different than he remembered. Less...whining. More commanding. "The toxin is of Romulan origin and they will have nothing to counter it. We do, so you will all be taken to Vulcan."


"Why?" T'Pring stared up at him in a way Spock did not like.


"Why are you going to Vulcan? Or why am I here?" His voice was suddenly tender.




They did not look away from each other and Spock felt anger grow within him. Is this how T'Pring felt whenever he was with Christine?


"As soon as you chose Spock, it was clear you would be of interest to Angel. In addition to her obsession with freeing Xaverius"—Spock gave him credit; he didn't even stumble over the alias for his brother—"she is aligned with the Romulans. Has access not only to things like this toxin but also to tech. Tech we wish to acquire and study."


"On behalf of the Federation?" Spock waited for Stonn to turn to him, but he did not. He kept his eyes on T'Pring.


"We are founding members of the Federation, Spock. And surely we would not be doing this out of our own self-interest."


"That is a non-answer." T'Pring pushed back the covers and moved to get out of bed, but Stonn shook his head and murmured, "You will stay here until we beam you up."


"You realize the cabin may be bugged?" Spock asked, falling into human terms solely to annoy Stonn. He felt a need to separate himself from Vulcan.


"We, of course, checked that. There are no surveillance devices." Then he touched T'Pring's arm. "Other than this, of course."


"You put a tracker in me?"


"Had I not, I would not be here now to rescue you. And save your...what is Nurse Chapel's status now, T'Pring? Friend? I have heard you speak of her often enough as a rival."


She looked down.


Stonn glanced at Spock. "You have so many women, Spock. What is it about you that is so...tantalizing?"


"I am honest."


"I have never lied to T'Pring. She never asked me if I was anything but a counselor."


"That is true." T'Pring seemed relieved at the notion.


"You lied by omission."


"And you did, too, Spock." She glanced at him. "About her." She almost frowned. "We should attend to her. Stonn, can we not work out whatever grievance we have on your ship while your doctor takes care of her?"


Stonn actually looked surprised. "Or we could talk here until it is too late to save her."


"Why would we do that?" T'Pring sounded honestly uncertain.


"You wish to save her? The plot thickens." Stonn glanced at Spock. "You are not the only one who can fall back on human sayings, old friend." Then he pulled out a communicator and said, "We are ready for transport. Three in addition to our original party."


"Affirmative. Transporting now."


The cabin shimmered and then disappeared as the transporter took them.


Spock expected to continue the conversation with Stonn and T'Pring, but he was taken to medical with Christine and told to stay there as Stonn took T'Pring elsewhere. Several of Stonn's team remained behind, presumably to ensure Spock did as he was told.


He could do nothing about whatever was going to transpire between his fiancée and Stonn, but Christine was his other priority so he turned his attention to her and the doctor. "I do not even know your name, Doctor."


"Stonn prefers it that way." But his eyes were gentle as he looked at Spock. "I have studied your career with interest, Spock."




"Because you chose your own path. As I did, working here instead of taking a more traditional medical path." He injected Christine with something and said softly, "This should lower her fever. She may even awake." He pulled a stool over for Spock to sit on. "If she does wake, I imagine she will find comfort seeing you first and not my fine, if rather off-putting, teammates."


"I agree."


"I am curious. It is a typical Vulcan trait to assume superiority and yet T'Pring took the antitoxin. How did you convince her?"


"Christine—" He should refer to her by her title but he could not bring himself to. She was Christine to him and so he would call her, even if it lacked the formality he used to cling to. "Initially we proposed dividing the formula and trying a meld to unify a healing coma."


"They would have both died."


"Yes, Christine determined that when T'Pring started the meld. Or rather she determined that T'Pring's pain was far greater than her own. She had no opinion on the meld."


"How did she convey this to you if in a meld."


"She ended the meld."


The doctor's eyebrow went very high. "A human ended a meld with the most talented counselor at Ankeshtan K'til?"


He had not considered it that way. "It was painful for both."


"Your Nurse Chapel is a very strong personality."


"That is undebatable." He had to bite back a small smile.


The doctor did not seem to notice, was scanning Christine. "Her psi reading is human normal."


"Her force of will is not."


"Ah." He put the scanner in the pocket of his uniform and asked Spock, "May I offer you refreshment?"


He realized he was very hungry and thirsty. "Most kind."




"Whatever is convenient." He turned back to Christine.


She did not look as if she was in distress. It was a rare opportunity to study her features at rest, to analyze whether her beauty came from true attractiveness or from the light that she showed even when being serious.


He decided she was beautiful even when unconscious.


But he preferred her awake.


The doctor came back with a tray of food and a bottle of juice and pulled another stool over so Spock could set the tray and bottle down.


"Is the color of her hair common for humans?"


"No. Nothing about her is common for humans."


"I see." He took a deep breath. "Are you not engaged?"


"Yes, to the woman Stonn seems inclined to wish to monopolize." He did not look away from Christine.


"I find relationships—in all their permutations—fascinating. And you as well for again, you go your own way. Two women instead of just one."


"I do not have two women. Christine is simply a friend."


"Of course she is, Spock. Of course she is."




T'Pring turned on Stonn as soon as they were seated in some sort of small dining area. "Explain."


But she was unsure whether she wanted him to explain how he was involved in any of this or if the emotional support she had come to depend on from him since he transferred to Ankeshtan K'til had been feigned.


He held a hand up as one of his men brought food and drink to the table then retreated to the hall. "You are angry."


"Anger is an emotion."


"So is jealousy. Which you routinely display for the woman I found you in bed with."


"We were all fully clothed. She was chilled and we were able to warm her."


"You looked quite comfortable close to her. I watched through the body cameras on my team as they broke in."


"What is your point, Stonn?"


"I am trying to deflect your ire from me to your nemesis. But she appears to perhaps no longer be that since you show no concern that Spock is alone with her in our medical bay."


"You used me."


"I had to. Angel is a threat."


"You do not have them. So your capability seems...limited."


"I thought they would be with you. I underestimated their capacity to put self-interest above the need for witnessing their revenge in action. They are...logical, it seems. Ironic."


"Was everything I said to you... My disappointment with Spock and his..."


"Infatuation with Nurse Chapel?"


"Yes. Was that all transcribed and sent to whomever you report to."


"Of course not. And I made it seem as if I used you to get to Angel with Xaverius, not the other way around." He had the grace to look slightly sheepish. "I was not in favor after losing them. But at least we did not lose Xaverius."


"That was not because of you. It was because Spock and Christine kissed in their ruse to get me to sever the bond and take Xaverius back to Vulcan."


"Christine now, is it?"


She gave him her coldest look. If she wished to call the woman Christine, she would. She called Spock's captain by his first name. She called his parents by their first names as well. This was not unusual for her.


What bothered her more is how easy it was to call Sybok—to even think of him—as Xaverius. To strip him of all he had been because her future father-in-law wished it, wanted her to redeem him rather than see him sent into exile.


But she had long ago concluded that she could not redeem him. No one could. She had not, however, told Sarek that. Because exile was the wrong sentence. He was too dangerous to loose on the world.


But she kept that to herself because Sarek was her champion with Spock so long as she dangled the possibility of restoring his eldest child to him.


"You are...disappointed in me?" Stonn was staring at her intently.


"You are security and pretended to be a counselor." And a good one—or was she too blinded by his support to accurately judge?


"I am both. The two are not mutually exclusive." He gestured to her food. "Eat. You are still weak."


"I wish to be with Spock."


"I do not care. Eat." His tone was different. He had always deferred to her, but now he was not.


She had to admit she found it a little refreshing.


And he had assembled all her favorite foods. Would Spock have done as well? She did not think so.


"There is no logic in hunger," she said as she began to eat.


He began to eat too, but seemed to have little appetite.


"What troubles you?" she asked as gently as she could.


"That I have lost you."


"You never had me, Stonn."


"That is untrue. And we both know it."


"Spock was my choice."


"He has another. He sits by her so faithfully." He pulled out a padd and pushed it to her. What was obviously surveillance in the med bay showed her Spock slowly eating as he sat by an unconscious Christine.


"As he should watch over her. She gave me all of the antitoxin. Put her own self at risk for a woman who stood in her way if she wanted Spock for her own. Fidelity in this case is only just recompense."


"We shall see." He sounded strange.


"What does that mean?"


He did not answer, just continued eating.




Christine woke slowly, in more pain than she'd been in when she fell asleep cuddled in between Spock and T'Pring.


"Do not try to get up," Spock said gently and she turned to look at him.


He actually stroked her hair—in sickbay? But wait. This wasn't sickbay. "Where are we?"


"A Vulcan ship headed to Vulcan."




"We were rescued by them. The toxin is Romulan and while Starfleet would not have the antitoxin, it is not unknown on my planet."


"You are leaving so much out. 'Not unknown to...?'"


He leaned down and whispered. "It is possible that we are being held by the Vulcan secret police."


"I didn't know Vulcan had a secret police," she whispered back.


"I thought it had been disbanded. I obviously thought wrong." He touched her forehead. "Your fever is down. But you are in more pain than before."


"Waking up does that, though. We see it all the time in sickbay." She put her hand over his and saw him seem to relax. "So I was wrong? I would have died from that stuff?"




"Well, shit."


"But you were right that the immediate need was for T'Pring. She would not have survived to make it to Vulcan. The antitoxin was critical for her at the moment you gave it to her. Your system will tolerate waiting."


"Go me." She knew her smile was a weak one but it was hard to be ebullient when things hurt. "Is she okay?"


"She is. She is with..." He sighed. "It is very complicated and I am not sure worth explaining."


"Which means it totally is. But you can wait."


"Ah, our patient awakes." A new voice, and a very distinguished looking older Vulcan—kind of reminded her of Roger. "I have pain meds but I am not sure which are better in this case."


He held out three vials and she pointed to the one she thought most efficacious. "10 ccs."


"Thank you." He calibrated and loaded it into a hypospray. "You did well on the planet, with the antitoxin."


"Thank you back."


"This medicine will make you sleep, which I find a pity. I would enjoy exploring your mind."


Spock looked at him with what he feared was a very possessive look.


"I mean with conversation, not with a meld." He patted her gently on the sleeve. "And he says he does not have two women..." He scanned her quickly, seemed satisfied with what he saw, and left them alone.


"What was he talking about?"


"He sees the situation clearly."


"You're super tired or you would not answer that way." She looked to her other side and saw a med bay, and also two soldiers. "Uhhhh?"


"Ignore them."


"Only if you go lie down and rest. I'm fine. You've watched over me and now you can relax."


"I will not sleep."


"Spock, get in that bed. Now."


With a sigh, he rose and walked to the bed, hopping up and lying down in the way of a man who desperately needed to not be hovering on a stool.


"Close your eyes. Meditate if you can't sleep. I don't care, just give your body a break, okay?"


"Very well."


"Thank you for taking care of me."


"Thank you for putting T'Pring above yourself." He turned to look at her, his eyes incredibly soft. "I respect you even more than I did before."


She could feel her eyes closing. Heard him say, "Do not fight it, Christine. You need the rest."


And then she was gone.




Spock was resting when he heard footsteps coming into the medical bay. When they turned in his direction, he sat up and saw Stonn, watching him with a look he could not read.


The doctor soon joined them, but Stonn did not take his eyes off Spock. Spock refused to break the gaze.


"As much as these childish games fascinate me, sir, must they occur in here?" The doctor sounded very much like Sarek.


"We are nearing Vulcan. Can she walk?" He gestured to the sleeping Christine.


"I do not guess when it comes to my patients, as you well know. Give me a moment." He walked over to Christine and scanned her, then gently nudged her awake. "Nurse Chapel, we are close to the planet. Your condition has not worsened. Do you wish to try walking or would you prefer an antigravity gurney for transport to the planet?"


"I don't know. I just woke up." She gave him a look that was full of amused scorn. "But I'd rather walk if it's feasible."


"Either way, you will need Tri-ox on Vulcan. I have some here." He injected her and scanned her again. "All right. When you're ready."


She sat up and smiled. "So far, so good."


"Please go slowly." He even took her elbow to help her as she swung her legs over the bed.


Spock bit back a smile—was there no one she could not charm?


She slid down and stood, never taking her hands off the bed behind her. "How long a walk?"


"A short walk to the transporter room," Stonn said. "After that, not far to where the antitoxin will be administered."


"To which hospital are we taking her?" Spock asked.


He saw T'Pring escorted into the room by a member of the team. "Sir, we are ready for transport."


"You did not answer Spock's question, Stonn, and I, too, am curious. Where are you sending her?" She moved closer to Spock as if declaring her allegiance.


"Guys, can I sit down if you're going to argue over medical venues."


"There is no argument. Let us go and you will find out." He left, clearly expecting the rest of them to follow.


"We will help her," T'Pring said, surprising Spock as she hurried to Christine and took one arm.


Spock took her other arm.


"I'm not going to fall down."


"No, you are not. We will ensure that. Also, this way we go where you go. Or if they wish to take you, they must incapacitate us to accomplish that."


They started walking.


Christine turned to the doctor. "Thank you."


"You are quite welcome." As they headed out the door and to where Stonn was waiting, she asked, "Do you not trust the stern guy in charge."


"That man works for her."




"There is so much here I don't understand."


Stonn went into the transporter room and they followed him onto the pad. Spock expected the guards to follow but they all stayed off the pad.


Stonn looked at the guard who had been in charge on the planet. "You have your orders."


"Yes, sir. All will be as we discussed."


"Then transport us."


The beam took them but they did not materialize in a hospital, or even a city. They were in an estate surrounded by empty countryside.


"Where are we?" T'Pring asked.


"My family vacation house."


"Nonsense. That is in Tapreve. This is not Tapreve."


"You remember so much of what I tell you, T'Pring. It is charming." He glanced at Spock. "Although I doubt he finds it so."


He led them through the gates and into a large courtyard, then to the main doors to the entrance, which were quickly opened by a woman.


"Did they send the antitoxin?" he asked.


"They did. I am ready to administer it."


"I am oh so ready to receive it," Christine said and pulled away from them.


Stonn nodded and the woman held it to Christine's arm and let it go.


"It began to work quickly for me," T'Pring said, and Spock was surprised she seemed so eager to reassure her.


"I think coming this late, it might take a while. But it's good to know I have it working for me." She looked like she was about to fall down, but before Spock could get to her, T'Pring was there.


"Where are our rooms?" T'Pring glared at Stonn. "You are a terrible host."


Christine stumbled slightly. "I feel woozy."


"I did not say it was pleasant when it worked quickly. I hoped for you it might not make you dizzy."


"Just for the future, I'd rather know than be surprised."




The Vulcan woman took Christine's other arm. "I will show you to your rooms."


Spock stayed behind and followed Stonn into a salon, richly appointed. "You are V'Shar?" And if so, this must be some sort of safe house.


"I would never admit it if I were." He poured some wine and glanced at Spock in question, who nodded. "The wine here is usually exceptional."


"How are you explaining this to Starfleet?"


"There was nothing to explain. As soon as you were taken, we told your captain that we had located you and were on our way. I may have indicated that your father knew."


Spock took a sip of his wine. It was indeed exceptional. "And Captain Pike would have accepted that. Hence no one is looking for us. He thinks we are soon to be returned and I imagine the bulk of the Vulcan authorities has no idea we are here."


"You imagine correctly."


"So we are prisoners? Why?"


"Not prisoners. Bait." Stonn walked to a window with a gorgeous view of the valley beyond the estate walls. "Angel has lost Sybok and they have been deprived of their vengeance. But they have one last trick to play." He turned to study Spock. "One they think we do not know about."


"How will they find us?"


"When you were unconscious, they put a tracker under your skin, the same way I did to T'Pring. They will be on their way once they realize you are off the planetoid. Which I imagine they have already realized."


"So we will simply wait for them?"




"And if they do not come?"


"Then it will be a long wait. I did not indicate when we would return you to your ship. Or T'Pring to the facility. It will happen when it happens." He sat in one of the many comfortable looking chairs. "Angel will not stop and I take issue with T'Pring being a target. If it was just you and your other woman..."


"Understood." He considered joining T'Pring and Christine but thought the time to bond might be beneficial for them, so he sat across from Stonn. "You are in love with T'Pring."


"I did not say that."


"You also did not not say that." It was something Christine would have said to him, and he almost smiled.


Stonn seemed to follow it with little issue. "No, I did not. You know we have been rivals for some time now. I was...disappointed when she chose you."


"I am sure you were." He took another sip of the wine. "You were one of the few at school who did not torment me. Who would spend time with me. But was that because you were kind or because even then you wanted to be with T'Pring and she was fascinated with me?"


"I think a little of both. I did not like how others treated you. It was at odds with IDIC. Infinite diversity in infinite combinations seemed only to apply if one limited themselves to full Vulcans."


"It did not apply to my brother." He frowned. "But he hurt people?"


Stonn nodded. "He was not punished for believing in emotional freedom. He was punished for true crimes."


"By which I take it you do not view the V'tosh Ka'tur as true criminals. Are you a sympathizer?"


"I am a counselor of logic. But that does not mean I do not see a need for balance."


"Especially when it comes to T'Pring?" Spock sighed and leaned his head back.


"Yes. But now it is complicated. What exactly is going on with her and your nurse?"


"I am unsure."


"She seemed unusually solicitous."


"Agreed. But Christine did give her the full dosage of the antitoxin. She may feel obliged to be grateful."


"Or she may just be grateful. You underestimate her, Spock. She is a kind person. She never judged you, not ever."


"I know." He looked down. "I have been..." He took a deep breath. "Christine is important to me. Just as, I think, you are important to T'Pring."


"Then that means that she is second best and I pity her." He got up and walked to the window again. "My men will tell me when Angel's ship arrives. You may go."


"I do not work for you, Stonn. I will stay."


He turned to look at him. "Fine. Then I will go."


He walked out and left Spock alone in the salon with his wine.




T'Pring paced as Christine moaned softly. "Can you not give her something for this? It should not hurt to this extent."


"I am not a nurse. Only an aide." She pointed to a table in the corner. "There is water, some food that should be easy for a human in her condition to tolerate. If you need anything..." She left before she made it clear what exactly T'Pring was supposed to do if she did need anything.


She walked to the bed where Christine lay curled in a nearly fetal position.


"I wish the doctor were here. He'd give me some good juice." She groaned when T'Pring felt her forehead. "I don't have a fever. I just feel like shit."


"I am sensing your pain. I am sure Spock has told you that we are touch telepaths."


"That's pretty much common knowledge." But she leaned into T'Pring's hand.


Pain roared into her. "This is more than I experienced. It is possible, with a meld, I may be able to ease some of your pain. If you would like me to try?"


"Yes. Yes." She was already making room on the bed and T'Pring lay down facing her. "I won't snap it like last time."


"You should not have been able to do that. Had I not been in pain, I would have realized that."


"I'm pretty determined."


"So I found out." T'Pring touched the meld points. "Are you determined to steal Spock, Christine?"


"I'm not trying to do that." She closed her eyes and let T'Pring in—in a way T'Pring was not used to. So trusting, yet she sensed walls and barriers set up all over her persona. Pain from long ago and not that far away. "You have been hurt."


"You could say that. Don't look for how, okay?"


"All right." But it was hard not to. The woman was such a contradiction. So warm and appealing on the outside, but defended like a queen's treasure on the inside.


"I think you developed feelings for Spock because you did not think he would want anything from you."


"Shut up." But she moaned as T'Pring went to work on easing her pain. "Oh, shit. I did not know you could do that. Can Spock do that?"


"Probably. Not as well as I can, though. I am, after all, trained to help retrain minds, reroute negative patterns."


"I didn't mean to get close to him. I pick guys who would ask nothing of me. If they changed, I dumped them." She opened her eyes, and T'Pring was struck by how light they were, the shade of blue. Spock's mother had a favorite pendant. Aquamarine. That was the color of Christine's eyes. "He was just a friend. Someone to tease. But then he wanted help with you. And then Angel... And then the Gorn. I didn't mean to get too close."


"Shhh." She worked on soothing her with her mind, as if Christine was a child. "He is in love with you to some extent."


"Should I leave the ship?"


"I do not know." She felt as if she was being sucked deeper into Christine's mind, felt pain pressing against her but this time it was not from the toxin. "Oh." A man, a handsome man, his face loving at times, mocking at others.


"I loved him. He told me he loved me but I found out he told a lot of his students that. But still, there was something there—something so strong. When we worked together...it was like magic. But he used me. I was so young and he wasn't. And he was married but she didn't live with him—worked in London. All the time he was telling me lies about our future, he was married. And she was pregnant. He wasn't even unhappy. I never intended to be the other woman. Not then and not now." She was trying to pull away again, close to snapping the meld, so T'Pring sent mental restraints into her, stopping her as gently as she could.


"Shhh. It is all right. I know you did not intend to hurt me. I can feel your regret."


"But I do love him. I'm sorry. He loves you though." She reached up and stroked T'Pring's face. "And why wouldn't he? You're beautiful and intelligent and graceful and it's so clear you love him. And you let him be him."


She moved her hand to T'Pring's hair, stroking lightly, causing shivers to go up and down T'Pring's back. "You're so fucking pretty. Why would he even look at me?"


T'Pring eased the meld, feeling the pain from the toxin had been pushed back sufficiently. "You're pretty too. We are different. So different." She should get up. She should leave Christine to rest. She should go to Spock.


"We're not that different." Christine moved a little closer.


She should go. She should not be reaching out, stroking fine light hair, pulling her to her, kissing her.


Christine's lips were so soft. And they opened to her, and she followed her, until she heard the door open, and heard the intake of breath.


it was not the way Spock would have done that.


Christine peeked over her shoulder "It's that Stonn guy." She studied her. "You really like him."




"Is this approved therapy?"


"She was easing my pain with a meld."


"A meld is generally conducted via one's hands, not one's lips."


T'Pring moved slowly, as if he had caught them doing nothing wrong.


Was it wrong? It had not felt wrong. Would she have stopped kissing Christine if he had not walked in. "Where is Spock?"


"In the salon. Angel is on their way. They inserted a tracker into him when you were all unconscious. I thought you would want to know."


This Stonn perplexed her. He was so clearly in charge, so clearly willing to hide information from her and spool it out little by little. "You have confirmation of this? Their ship has been spotted, then?"


"Not yet. But we will wait here until they arrive. And then they may have the cell next to Sybok for all I care." He turned to leave.


"You are angry," Christine said. "That's not very Vulcan of you."


He turned to look at her. "I have no idea what you are talking about." Then he left.


"Should you go to him? He seemed hurt that you were kissing me." She smiled in a sensuous way. "I liked kissing you, if we're still sharing truths. Or I guess I was. You didn't really."


"Here is a truth. I care for Stonn. I always have. Both he and Spock are dear to me. I had to choose one. I chose Spock."


"Left Stonn pretty unhappy from the looks of it."




"You could have invited him to join us." She laughed in a way that charmed rather than annoyed T'Pring.


"I do not think that would improve the tension. And what of Spock?"


"Invite him too. It's a big bed." She grinned, and then she sighed. "You really helped me. Thank you. I think I can sleep now."


"Are you going to tell Spock that we kissed?"


"Wasn't planning on it. But you can, if you want. Or if you think you need to, before Stonn does."


"Good point." She closed her eyes. "It was a difficult choice, which of them to pick. Today, when he revealed he was not just my colleague, I thought he had used me to get to Angel. That I meant nothing more than a connection to capture them. But he did look...off just now, did he not?"


"He was not happy. He definitely cares."


"I should talk to him."


"I think you should talk to Spock. Who is sitting alone in the salon. And is bait."


"And my betrothed."


"And that."


T'Pring touched Christine's cheek, then moved her fingers to her lips for a moment. "I enjoyed kissing you. I have never kissed a woman before."


"I have. I love it. It's nice. It's different."


"Yes. Softer." She got up and took a deep breath. "I am going to talk to one of them. Whichever of them I see first."


"A valid way to choose." She grinned, then turned to her side.


"Get under the covers."


"Bossy and sexy. Mmmm." But she did as she said and let her tuck her in. "I think I like you. I preferred it when I hardly knew you. You were just...his woman. Not someone I might want to be with too." She smiled in a hazy way. "Oops, that was way too much honesty."


"Go to sleep."


She closed her eyes and was out in moments.


T'Pring left her and when she closed the door, she did not see Stonn in the hallway, so she headed toward the front of the house to find Spock.




Spock was standing by the window, a refilled glass of wine in his hand, when he heard T'Pring's step. He did not turn, but reached for her hand when she came to stand next to him.


She jerked away.


He glanced at her. "You only do that when you do not want me to read you. What emotion is it you do not want to share?"


She was silent so long he thought he would get no answer, but then she whispered, "Guilt. Confusion. Anger. Understanding. Desire."


"You love Stonn that much?"


"I was talking about Christine mostly."


He let an eyebrow rise and turned so he could see her face fully. "Explain."


"I was helping ease her pain with a meld."


An extraordinarily intimate thing to do with a woman she had once so casually dismissed as beneath his notice.


"And...we kissed. Stonn came in. He saw us. He will no doubt tell you."


"Ah. So this honesty is prompted only by that fact: that he might tell me before you could?"


"Perhaps. Would you rather I attempt to talk my way around it? I do not know why I kissed her except she is..."


"Remarkable. Generous. Charming. Intelligent."


"Yes. All of those things. You left off attractive."


"I did. That as well." He studied her. "You have never indicated you were drawn to women."


"Because I was not. Until..."


"Her. Yes, I commiserate. I was not drawn to anyone but you until I met her." He reached for her hand, felt only a level of understanding between them he had never felt. "You do not have to let it mean anything. You have both been through trauma. You have been sick. You have been medicated with substances that might have loosened your inhibitions."


"Those are wonderful excuses." She squeezed his hand tighter. "But untrue. I kissed her because I wanted to. And had Stonn not walked in, I would have kept on." She eased into him, curling her arm around his waist. "Do you kiss her on your ship?"


"Only the one time, that you witnessed."


"I said it was nothing. Feigned. But I knew it was real when I watched it. I saw the passion. The connection."


He pulled her closer. "Yes. But she will not interfere in our lives. She seems intent on that."


"But what if we want her to. Not just you wanting her this time. But I, as well?"


He could feel how serious she was through where he touched her skin. The thought—the thought both excited and calmed him. Could he have them both? "Ask me this again when Angel is captured and we are free of Stonn's safe house." He sighed. "He loves you still."


"I know. I cannot say I am unmoved by him. Perhaps he is my Christine?"


"Except that I have no desire to kiss him."


She actually laughed. A soft puff of air, but still, a laugh. "Decide nothing now?"


"Decide nothing."


"I will follow your counsel." She took his glass from him and sipped. "This is very good wine."


"Yes. Whoever owns this house provides well."


"I did not know, Spock. That Stonn was anything other than a counselor."


"I know. It is a surprise."


"An understatement."






Chapel sat in her room, staring out at the beautiful view. Thinking about the kiss last night. About how nice it was. About how much she'd like more. With T'Pring—and with Spock. That could work, the three of them. She could even see leaving the ship for a while, coming to Vulcan, building the relationship with T'Pring while Spock soared among the stars.


A soft knock sounded and she got up and opened the door, wanting to have at least that much agency in this place.


Stonn stood there with a breakfast tray. "I fear that your impression of me is a negative one. I wished to talk with you privately—perhaps remedy that."


"And you brought breakfast?"


"Even coffee."


"My impression of you is rapidly veering toward the positive. Please." She gestured for him to come in and then debated on whether to keep the door open or shut. This was sort of T'Pring's other guy, right?


"Shut it, please. I have things of a personal nature I wish to discuss. I believe you and I have much in common."


She thought so too. So she shut the door and walked over to the table and sat. "Won't T'Pring mind you being in here with me?"


"T'Pring and Spock appeared to have worn themselves out. They are still sleeping." He gave her a look she could only characterize as compassionate. "Together."


"Oh." She looked down.


"Drink your coffee. I have spent time with humans. I know how they get when they have not had their caffeine."


"You're not wrong." She sipped. The coffee was a little off but then it was Vulcan's attempt at the beverage—or possibly really stale real coffee. Still, it was the thought that counted. "Do you love her?"


She immediately blushed. Why was she asking him this? His opinion of her was going to dive bomb.


But instead he just answered, "I do. More than you could ever imagine. But I take the long view on this. I can wait. Until she tires of Spock and his absences." He reached out and touched her hair. "And his dalliances."


"He and I aren't having an affair."


"There are many different types of affairs. I apologize for touching your hair. It is just so different for a Vulcan. The color but also the texture."


"You should have asked first. But you're impulsive, aren't you?"


"I am not, actually. I am quite the planner." Something started to chime softly and he pulled out a communicator. "You will sit silently and not move."


She tried to say, "Excuse me?" but couldn't open her mouth. She tried to get up, but couldn't get her limbs to obey her. For a moment she thought she couldn't breathe, but that was silly. She knew what this was. Had tried one once with a more adventurous lover. A puppet drug. The coffee hadn't been off: it had been drugged. She could only do what he let her do.


Stonn gave her an actual smile, and it was full of what she thought was pity. Then he held the communicator to his mouth and said softly, "You have him?"


"I do."


Chapel knew that voice. Why was he talking to Angel?


"Good. He is free now. And you will leave Spock and T'Pring alone?"


"As we agreed. Everything all right on your end? You sound off."


"It is. I am in the clean-up stage."


"Really? Why? Aren't T'Pring and Chapel ready to tear each other to bits? Won't that play into your plan to steal her?"


"They are about to become lovers. The three of them."


That mocking laughter. Chapel remembered it too well. "Did not see that coming. And I see everything coming. Had to be the blonde's influence."


"She has appeal."


"I agree. If my brother-in-law weren't head over heels for her, I'd beam her up here for Sybok and me."


She wanted to make a face of disgust but could not move.


"She will destroy them. Once the clean-up is done."


"If you say so. She has ethics though. I've done my research, which I think maybe you have not. She may surprise you."




"Meaning stealing another woman's man may not be her style."


At least Angel understood her. But then that was their superpower. Finding out what made a person tick and using it against them.


"My husband is coming around from the drug your people gave him. Our communications are over."


"Indeed." He cut the connection. Then he looked at her. "I did not intend for you to hear that. But it did not, as you can see, matter. I plan ahead. And this is far easier than a shoulder pinch. Those ache for days."


Also puppet drugs were easily reversed and had a half life of minutes. Virtually undetectable by the next day.


"I truly thought you would be the thing that destroyed them. But instead you were in danger of cementing their union forever. With you in the mix. I could never have competed with that." He murmured, "You may speak but at this volume only."


"You're working with Angel?"


"I deduced they would try to hurt T'Pring. They did have plans to take her and you, but they would have killed you both to punish Spock. I convinced them to work with me. To trade Sybok for T'Pring. A worthy trade. My men are loyal to me and they will not tell."


Stonn did not appear to be the type of guy to leave things to chance. "Because they'll be dead?" Even the doctor? He was so nice. Maybe he didn't know? Maybe he'd be okay.


"You are quick. No wonder they are both so infatuated with you."


"You're obsessed with her."


He actually shrugged. "I thought Spock would give you the antitoxin. I was prepared to swoop in, to save her before she died."


"To be the hero."


He nodded. "But you already were. And she did gravitate toward that. So my instincts were not wrong. I just had not counted on you. Next time I will do my homework on all parties involved." He gently pushed the breakfast tray aside. "For what it is worth, I think the three of you would have been very happy." He reached for the meld points.


"No, no please."


"I have done this before. Many times. And it is what I will do to my men. I would never kill such loyal assets unless there was no other option."


"Please. Who will I be without my memories?"


"I will only take from the time you were taken by Angel to this moment. You will remember everything else of your life. I will not pry into your private thoughts. I will not hurt you as I do this. You will simply not remember any of this. Nor will T'Pring or Spock. Everything will be as it was. A do over, is that not the human word?"


"Stonn, no. Fight fair."


"Another human saying: All is fair in love and war. And this is both." He pushed into her mind. "I am sorry, Christine."


Then he pushed her consciousness gently away as he worked and she floated, unsure who was doing these strange things to her mind or even where she was until blackness claimed her.




T'Pring woke up in Ankeshtan K'til, in the medical bay. Stonn was at her side.


Why was she here? She was last on Denaria with Spock. Until he had heard that Christine was in danger and rushed out of their room. And someone else had come in. Someone in a mask with weapon that they fired.


She tried to remember anything after that but it was gone.


"Easy. You were mind-wiped." Stonn looked down. "Xaverius."


"What? No."


"Angel kidnapped you and Spock and the nurse you so often speak of. I am unsure what transpired. Except that you..." He was clearly upset.


She reached for him but then stopped herself. They were not alone in here. "I what?"


"You called. You were—for you—frantic. Angel had injected you and the nurse with a toxin and given Spock only one vial of antitoxin. He had to choose. And he chose..." He looked down.


"He chose her?"


"So you said. You did not want to die. I commend that desire, T'Pring. I would not thrive without you in the world. You traded Xaverius for your own vial of the antitoxin, and I was not conflicted when I told you the location and turned off the security grid when necessary so Angel could extract him."


"I am responsible for Sybok being loosed on the galaxy?"


"No. Spock is. For not choosing you. T'Pring, I would have chosen you. I would have died for you."


She did reach for him then, Let her hand settle on his cheek and felt only love beating gently above the barriers all counselors of logic erected to keep their privacy safe during the often deep sessions they conducted with patients. He never hid his love under those walls.


She wished Spock was as free.


Or that he had made the sacrifices this man had made and probably would continue to make for her.


But... She pulled her hand away and he sighed.


"I know he comes first. But, perhaps someday, he will not. And I am prepared to wait, T'Pring. As long as it takes."


Such constancy. It was a balm to her wounded heart.


"I assume Chapel survived the encounter?"


"She and Spock were returned to the Enterprise."


"Of course. Angel would enjoy that. Hurting me that way."


"Angel said you were even. I heard them say that. When Sybok was beamed up, when you were beamed down to me. I do not believe they will bother you ever again."


"That is scant consolation. I have committed treason. And I do not even remember it."


"I am sorry. I know it was trespass, but I tried to find your memories. I could not. Sybok was skilled."


"Of course he was. He had plenty of practice." She sighed. "I am thirsty."


"I will get you water." He rose but then leaned down and whispered in her ear. "I will get you anything, at any time. I am here for you, no matter what happens with Spock. We are...connected, you and I. In ways you and Spock may never be."


"Thank you, Stonn. I will treasure that."


As her heart—a heart she did bury under the walls she'd constructed long ago—broke again at Spock's hands.


Perhaps someday there would be nothing left of her for him to destroy.




Spock woke in sickbay. His first thought was of Christine.


"Easy, my friend." Pike. Pike holding him down and pointing gently to the bed next to him where Christine slept, as M'Benga scanned him. "You're safe now. Do you remember anything?"


"I was on Denaria with T'Pring. We had just come back from dinner. And then Christine commed. She was in trouble. Angel." He tried to reach for what had happened after that, but it was gone.


"We think someone mind-wiped you," M'Benga said gently. "We think it might have been the prisoner that Captain Angel wanted to free. Word from Vulcan is that he has escaped."


"Xaverius is free?" His brother was free. He was unsure how he felt about that. Then again, he had never understood why he was being held at Ankeshtan K'til in the first place. Simply for embracing emotions? The cause seemed insufficient.


He turned to look at Christine. "Did they hurt her?"


"We found evidence of a toxin and an antitoxin of some sort. Possibly black market, maybe to keep you subdued." M'Benga shrugged. "It was in her system and I checked with the docs on Vulcan, who said it was in T'Pring's as well. But not in yours."


"Would there be a reason it wasn't in yours, Spock?" Pike asked. "Captain Angel was especially interested in you. Did they want you?"


"No, not like that." He would not have helped them rescue his brother. Would he?


He tried to think back, to capture even a stray memory. But it was completely blank. He was hurrying to help Christine and then he was here. "I do not know why they would drug the women but not me. Unless..." He met Chris's eyes. "Angel enjoys games. Poisoning them both would be an incentive to get me to help. Providing an antitoxin would indicate..."


"That your help was successful."


"Yes. I am to blame. Captain, I surrender to Federation justice."


"Belay that, Spock. I've already got one officer in a Starfleet security holding facility. I don't intend to give them two. Especially when there is no evidence you were involved. And if you did it, to save Christine and T'Pring. Well, I'd make the same choice if it were Una."


"Thank you, sir." But he felt a deep sense of shame. Whatever Sybok did now that he was free—Spock had a hand in that.


"Oh, man, did someone get the number of the shuttle that ran me over?" Christine was sitting up, and M'Benga hurried toward her, scanning and then smiling. "I can help with the headache." He loaded up a hypo and let it go into her arm.


"Ah, yes. You are a god, boss."


"Do not spread that around. I wish no worship for my excellence." He laughed and touched her shoulder gently. "I was worried. I will not lie."


"Why? I was just..." She frowned. "I was just..."


"Do not try to remember. They have mind-wiped us, Christine." Spock sat up and swung his legs over the bed, watching her as she processed that. "Do you remember Angel?"


"No, I was in the bar with this guy..." She blushed. "Oh, man. He drugged me. I remember getting woozy and him helping me out and then a voice. Yeah, it could have been Angel's. What did they do to us?"


"And T'Pring," Chris added quickly. "You were all three caught up in this."


"Is she all right? Why isn't she here?"


"She was returned to Vulcan by your captors. We are unsure why, but Vulcan doctors are better equipped to handle her," M'Benga said gently.


"We did pretty good that one time." She grinned and Spock found himself relaxing. That she could still smile that way, so free, so open, after whatever they had been through. It meant she had not been hurt.


Or if she had, she would never remember it.


What had he done to ensure she would survive this? But not just her.


T'Pring too.


T'Pring who was not here.


Why would Angel separate them? Unless he had done something that showed he favored Christine? Had T'Pring severed their bond again? He reached for it and felt the answering ping—but from the bond itself, not directly from her because he did not reach that far in. Did not want to, not until he was more himself.


Not until he made sure Christine was all right.


He met her eyes. "I failed to protect you."


"It's not your job to protect me."


Chris coughed gently. "Maybe you want to contact T'Pring, Spock?"


Christine blushed and looked away, and Spock felt her embarrassment as if it was his own. How dare his captain decide how he conduct himself? T'Pring was on Vulcan, where she always was. He was here.


And so was Christine.


He slid off the biobed and pulled a stool over to sit next to her bed. "I believe I am exactly where I need to be, Captain."


He saw her lips flicker into a smile she quickly hid.


He heard his captain's sigh.


M'Benga scanned her one more time and said, "She can actually go so long as she rests."


Spock looked up at him in time to see Chris glare. Did M'Benga favor Christine for him? "Then I will escort her to her quarters."


"I'd like to debrief you, Spock. There's reports and—"


"Later," Spock actually said. To this man he...he loved. The captain who had only ever been good to him.


But this was about Christine. He heard her slide off the biobed behind him and walk to the door. He eased around M'Benga and a clearly unhappy Chris and joined her.


As the lift door closed behind them, she said, "Are you sure you know what you're doing? For either of us? The captain was a fan of me."


"He still will be. He will blame me for this." The lift was waiting and no one stopped it on the way to her deck. When they got to her door, he said, "Invite me in."




"Invite me in, Christine."


She palmed open her door and said, "Come in."


He did, and once the door closed, he slowly traced her cheek with his finger. "You were in danger. I left T'Pring. I did not stop to question that she, too, might be taken. It is no doubt why she is on Vulcan. Angry...again. No longer able to tell me that there is no reality where I would be interested in you."


"She said that?"


"Words to that effect." He eased his hand around her neck. "I do not know what the future brings. I do not know what I want ultimately. I just know you are important to me." He touched her lips gently with his, nothing like the kiss on the bridge.


He would not take her now, and she would not want him to. She would want him when he was free.


She stood so still, her eyes the same compassionate ones she showed him after their hug in the corridor, after his emotional outburst. When he was walking away from her. Walking away but wanting not to.


"You are crucial to me, Christine. Never forget that." He eased away. "And we are friends, yes? I treasure that as much as the other feelings. The certainty I have with you. That you will always be there for me."


"We're friends. But Spock, if you're with her..."


"I understand." But if that was true, why was he pulling her back to him? Why was she wrapping her arms around his neck? Why were their lips now pressed hard and fast and just like on the bridge only with no one watching?


This one was just for them. Perhaps a promise?


"Figure your shit out fast," she said as they pulled away. "I really like kissing you."


He smiled. A small one but a real one. He wanted to give her that. "I really like kissing you as well." He backed up. "But T'Pring and I..."


"Have unfinished business. And maybe she's your future." She sounded sad as she said it.


They stood gazing at each other, and he thought they were both unwilling for the moment to end.


Then her terminal began to buzz with a strange chime, and she ran to it, saying "It's just Stanford. No doubt with tweaks for the disguise stuff. Hang on." But then she answered the comm and her face changed. "Roger."


"Hello, Christine. I just wanted to let you know that I'll be on the ship for a few months. The school wants me to see first hand how our tech is being used."


Spock could not read her face. Was that dismay? Or longing?


"I know we didn't part on the best of terms. I know I made mistakes. I know I should have been... I should have been faithful. In so many ways."


She did not answer, just stared at the screen in what was rapidly becoming obviously longing and not dismay.


"But I'll also be using the time to get used to being a single man again. Beatrice left me for another man. The child was his. Rich, isn't it?" His voice was intimate in a way Spock did not like. "I...I look forward to working with you again. Closely."


"Okay." It was the most helpless sound he'd ever heard her make. Who was this man that he could reduce her to this? "When?"


"I'll be there in a week."


"Oh. Wow."


Again the helpless tone, the monosyllabic replies. And the look in her eyes. The shy smile, the downturned eyes. Was that look not for him alone?


She did not even cut the channel. Waited for this Roger to do it. Then she turned to him.


And he saw it. In her eyes.


This was going to change everything.


"He and I also have unfinished business. Shit to sort out." She looked down. "Only maybe it's not shit. Not if he's free. Not if he can be faithful."


"I see."


She moved toward him, regret clear. "We're friends, Spock. We'll always be that. Yes?"


"Yes." But would they? He had said that but if he could not have her, if her as his wife did not lie at the end of this journey, from friends to lovers to bondmates—did he want to venture down this road?


It would please his captain if he backed off. It would no doubt also please the woman who still held the role of his future wife.


"I am pleased you are unhurt by Angel's actions." He turned to go.




"No, Christine. It is fine. It is...it is perhaps quite fitting." And then he left her alone and went to apologize to his captain for his behavior.


And to ask for leave during the time this Roger would be on the ship. It had been months since he had visited Vulcan and T'Pring would no doubt appreciate the effort on his part.


Chris was only too happy to grant him leave, even if he was down a first officer. But La'an was serving in that capacity, not Spock. And the other science officers on the ship were skilled.


"She's worth the effort, Spock."




"You don't sound overly enthusiastic."


"When do I ever, sir? I am, as we both know, Vulcan." He took a deep breath. "Apologies."


"Spock, it's fine. You've been through God knows what. I'm just glad to have you back. Go rest. I'll see you at shift tomorrow, okay?"


"Yes." He went to his quarters and commed T'Pring. She answered immediately, her face like stone.


"I would like to come home. For a month, if that would work for you?"


"To Vulcan?" She sounded incredulous. "For a month?"


"Yes, if you can get the time off."


"I have excess leave. And Stonn will manage capably in my absence. I would...I would find that agreeable. Make your plans." She studied him. "You have not asked me how I am? If I was harmed during whatever happened—I assume you were also mind-wiped?"


"Yes." He closed his eyes. "I am not myself. I should have led with that query. Are you unharmed?"


"I am. How is your other woman?"


"Fine." And in love with someone else. An older claim, one he was not sure he had a chance of fighting. He would not, however, tell T'Pring that.


Let her think she had won. "I do not wish to speak of her. It is not, after all, her that I am planning leave with."


"No," she said, her voice finally lightening, "No, it is not."


She was called away and he signed off gratefully, tired of pretending that he was not torn, that he was not even now considering going back to Christine's quarters and trying to claim her before this Roger could return.


And ruin everything they had built.


But he did not. He settled in front of his terminal and made reservations at places that would please and surprise T'Pring. Expensive places. Places to be seen by others. To show how he valued her.


He would give her what she wanted for the month he was there. The attentive partner she craved. Who was proud of her. Who would never prefer blue eyes to her luminous brown ones, white-blond hair to her raven strands.


When he finished, he was exhausted and he went to bed, sleep claiming him quickly.


He dreamed of Christine, not T'Pring.