DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc and Viacom. The story contents are the creation and property of Djinn and are copyright (c) 2022 by Djinn. This story is Rated R.
It's in the Spaces Between That We Fall in Love
Part 1: How We Began
He knows he should stay away from Christine. After the kiss, after renewing the bond with T'Pring, after Christine's statement in sickbay that she knew there were no feelings between them.
He should stay away from her.
Because for him, it is not true. He is unsure if he is able to hide his true feelings for Christine from T'Pring, or if T'Pring knows but thinks he will not act on them if she pretends he could never want such a thing.
Such a human thing.
But he finds himself again in sickbay, the next day, and Christine is in the small office M'Benga has given her to use for her Stanford work. She is biting her lip the way she does when she concentrates. She is tapping her finger on the desk in her normal rapid, impatient manner.
And then she sees him and her demeanor shifts into warmth, into welcome, into a bright smile.
That she immediately restrains. "Hi."
"Good morning." He tries to make his voice as good humored as he can, tries to get them back to where they were before the kiss. "I brought you breakfast."
He has brought nothing, but she usually does not eat breakfast, so it is a joke.
A weak one, no doubt.
But still, he is trying.
She rolls her eyes but her smile returns.
A smile he finds beautiful and warm and welcoming.
"Actually, I come with a request. But you must say no if you do not wish to do it. I know it is a breach, that what I am asking is something I should leave alone."
She cocks her head the way she does when she just wants him to continue and get to the actual question.
"I would like to know if Xaverius—Sybok—has been logged into any Federation transporters. I am trying to chart his movement since the time that he was removed from our house." He sees her lift her hand to stop him but does not take a breath. "I wish to know if he has been held there the entire time. Or if he was at one time free, where he met Angel, where he lived a life. Before they took him back to that place."
He is out of breath so he stops.
She smiles gently at him. "I did it last night. Once you told me it was your brother. I looked for anyone related to you. You have a lot of cousins, by the way. Human ones, as well as a few Vulcan."
"I am aware." And he is not close to any of them.
"Your father and mother, obviously, are well represented in the logs. As are you. But I could find no evidence of a half-sibling." She reaches out and he takes her hand. "I'm sorry."
He can feel her compassion.
And her love. If she could feel his, he knows she would never let him stay with T'Pring, never let him go—her love feels that enduring.
But she does not know. And he will not tell her.
She is holding him, her arms so strong around him, care for him fairly pulsing through him after her touch on his face.
She has no idea that he allowed his rage out because she was on the mission. Because the idea of losing her to the Gorn was too much to bear.
He was indeed a tempest, and now he cannot control it.
So he walks away.
He gets halfway down the corridor and then he stops, knowing she is there, knowing she is watching him walk away.
He stops and without turning around, he holds out his hand.
And she runs to him, she takes it, she does not ask him why or where or for how long.
She follows him to his quarters but once inside, she lets go of his hand and walks around the space.
She is giving him this. A moment to reconsider. To talk himself out of what he has wanted for so long.
She inspects each shelf, each thing on the wall. She does not open drawers, but she is seeing everything he is willing to put on display.
"You have no pictures of her."
"I have no pictures of anyone." He knows Christine has pictures. Many of them scattered around her office, from shore leaves, of her and Ortegas and M'Benga and others. Having fun. Smiling in strange ways for the camera. She frames none of them, just slaps them up in seemingly random ways.
"Surrounded by the memory of good times," she once told him when he asked why there were even some on the ceiling.
"Is it because that is a Vulcan thing—to not have pictures? Or because you fear it is too human a thing to have them?"
"Could it not be both?" He is feeling his rage abate just talking to her. She soothes him even from a distance.
"Would you have a picture of me if we were together?"
He knows it is ill advised to share this with her, but he goes to a drawer and pulls out a box that is buried under several layers of pads. It holds photos she has given him from parties that took place on the ship.
Shots of them together and her alone.
"You kept these?"
"Do you look at them often?"
She turns away. "Are you hiding them from T'Pring?"
"Why are you with her, Spock?" She walks to the mirror and studies him from that vantage point.
He moves slowly, easing behind her, slowly wrapping his arms around her waist, watching her watching him in the mirror.
"We look so pretty together. But you also look beautiful with her." She leans into him, her head pushed against his chest.
"I feel for you in ways I do not for her."
"But is that something you want? To feel that strongly?"
"I do not know." He wants more than anything to lean in and kiss her neck, to hear her moan, to have her turn in his arms so she is facing him, so they can kiss with her mouth on his once again.
But he does not. He stands and waits, but tightens his arms around her slightly so she knows he is there, he wants this—as much or as little as this is.
"I love you," she mouths, staring at him unrelentingly in the mirror. Then she closes her eyes and says, "Let me go."
He does not want to. He does it anyway.
She turns and moves so they are standing shoulder to shoulder, facing opposite directions. "I know you can't choose me. I know why you're with her even if you don't seem to."
And then, before he can answer, she is gone.
He does not go after her.
He is sitting in a bar, far from the main area of this planet's tourism sector. He has followed Christine who has come with a man who is handsome and seems to be charming her.
He does not like this man. Even if he knows he is not really charming her, even if Spock is here not because he is behaving inappropriately and following her surreptitiously, but because she asked him to help her—and to come ready to use his neck pinch.
He would rather kill this man for looking at his wom—her in this manner.
The rage, ever present now no matter how much he pushes it down, urges him to go, to take her away from him.
But he sits, he watches as she turns away as if something on the other side of the bar has caught her attention, as the man slips some powder into her drink.
As she turns back to the man, her eyes lock with Spock's and he nods.
She does not drink, just leans in and laughs, as the man looks more and more impatient. He finally picks up the glass and puts it in her hand, then holds his own up as if to toast.
Spock stands and moves closer, and hears her say, "I have an idea. You take my drink and I'll take yours."
The man laughs in a way that sounds far from amused and begins to get up but she has motioned for Spock to move, so he does.
He is behind the man, he is forcing his hands to where his neck meets his shoulder rather than locking both around his throat and squeezing. The man is out and Christine says loudly, no doubt for the benefit of the rest of the patrons, "I hate a man who can't hold his liquor."
She carefully pours the contents of the glass into a container and scans the contents. "This is a new one. My friend at Stanford will want to add it to her database and what this detector"—she wiggles her purple polished fingers at him—"will pick up. God, I hate these guys."
He is staring at the man in such a way that she says, "I guess you do too, huh?"
"He would have hurt you. But this world is outside our jurisdiction."
"Outside any and sadly has no justice system of its own to turn this guy into. Still..." She scans him for a moment, and smiles. "Yep, should work great. This was my contribution to the oh-so-off-the-books project." She injects the man with something, then takes what looks like a stylus and nearly carves words into his face even though it leaves no detectable mark, and then says, "Can you reverse the neck pinch?"
"No, he must wake on his own. The timing is variable according to how hard the pinch is."
"I told you light."
"And I followed your orders."
"Well, let's drag him to a booth then. Free up some chairs for people."
He does what she says and it is a testament to the seediness of the place they are in that no one cares they are pulling an unconscious man to a secluded booth.
Once the man is settled between them, his head on the table, hands outstretched so they can see movements that will indicate he is waking, she pours out some of the liquid and dips her nail into it. The purple gets darker.
"Well, it sort of works."
"What is it supposed to do?"
"Turn green if it detects a drug used in these situations. Roofies they used to be called after Rohypnol the drug that first came to attention, when people started to care that this was happening." She sits back. "You look angry.
"Yep. Royally pissed. Are you mad at me for dragging you into this?"
"No. I am enraged that this man believes it is all right to drug someone and then abuse them." He reaches for her hand and pulls it closer so he can study the polish. "An ingenious idea."
"I wish there was no need for it. I wish people didn't prey on other people."
"But at least you are doing something. You heard this was going on here and you wanted to help. Stop this man and add this drug he uses to your associate's detector range." He frowns. "I am unsure what you injected him with, though."
"Oh, you'll see. Once he wakes up. I'm going to get a little flirty with him. It won't mean anything. I just need him to be aroused to see if my code changes are working."
"You changed his genetic code? For how long?"
"I don't know how long it will last—it's a bit like your neck pinch. But does it matter? How long do you think it would take for me to be all right after he did what he wanted to?" Her eyes are very hard. "Hopefully it'll last forever. Hopefully he never hurts anyone else."
The man starts to wake and she turns him to her and rubs up against him and says, "Baby, I thought you were passed out for good. Just when we were having fun." And then she kisses him.
And abruptly pulls back when he responds. "Oh yeah." She grins at Spock, who the man turns to look at.
On his face, where she wrote on him, his skin has filled in bright red. It forms letters. The message: "I WILL HURT YOU."
"Have fun finding a date now, asshole." And she's up and when the man tries to reach for her, Spock pinches his neck again, hard this time, although he would rather hit him.
He hurries to catch up with her and says, "You realize not everyone will be able to read Standard."
"I know. But it's the best I can do." She seems a little lost so he touches her shoulder and eases her closer to him.
"I believe it will help many."
"Thank you for saying that—and for the assist."
"I will always help you."
"We could get in trouble."
"On this planet? Highly doubtful." But he increases their speed to get them to the safer part of town just in case the man has friends.
He sits in his quarters, fingers clenched around his tube of incense.
They have taken Number One. They have taken her and his captain has done nothing.
The part of him that values logic, that desires nothing more than to be a true Vulcan, asks what Chris logically could have done.
He does not like that part of himself at this moment.
La'an is gone. He almost wishes she were here. That together they could plan a way to get Number One free.
Even if she would probably tell them not to. She has no doubt lived her entire Starfleet life expecting this.
A chime sounds and he says, "Come," even though he wants no company.
Christine stands just inside the door, letting it close behind her, her face full of compassion. "I just heard. I thought you might need to talk."
About his feelings. The way he said that to her, after they kissed. Only she had not needed to.
He should turn her away. He should ask her to go.
Instead he holds his hand out and she rushes to him and crouches in front of him, until he pulls her up to sit next to him on the sofa.
She gently takes the incense tube, which is crushed now—when did he do that?—and puts it on the table. "I'm so sorry. I know she's important to you."
He pulls her closer, burying his head in her hair, and she says, "You're shaking."
"I do not like emotions." But that is a lie because he likes having her close to say that to. He wants her close, and she could be even closer if it were not so important for him to be a good Vulcan and someday undergo Kolinahr.
"I know. I don't always like them either." She runs her fingers along his cheek. "Can I do anything?"
He shakes his head. "Just be here with me."
"Of course." She kicks off her shoes and tucks her feet up, cuddling into him. "What can we do to get her back?"
He admires the practicality she can show. She is comforting him and wanting to know what they can do. Not feel, but do.
To be human is to be more than just emotions. It is action, too.
"I thought she was human—I am normally able to tell the difference."
"Yeah, ditto for the gazillion scanners and sensors she went through over the years. And now I get why she never wanted to wear a disguise. She acted like she didn't trust me, but she just didn't want me seeing what was right there in her genes if you go as deep as I go for the disguise creation."
He nods. "It was odd how often she dodged landing parties that required disguises. But the captain indulges her."
"The captain is in love with her."
"Yes, I think he might be. He will try to help her and we must let him for there is nothing you and I can do. This is in the hands of the authorities and the military justice system."
"Her home world can't fight for her?" She seems to read his expression. "Her home world is the problem. Being Illyrian is the problem." She sighs, and leans back, against his arm, her head against his shoulder.
It feels right to sit like this. Together. Quiet. Feeling so much.
She eventually falls asleep, and he does not move because he does not wish to wake her—he knows she will leave if she wakes. He reaches for a padd and uses the internal camera to take a picture of the two of them, then studies it.
He should erase it. T'Pring might see this. Will she still assume he is incapable of having feelings for this woman if she sees it?
He does not erase it. He files it in a folder he gives an innocuous name and password protection. Biometric protection can be engaged while a person sleeps. His mother told him this once when he was young and keeping a diary in which he often put his thoughts about his father and his siblings. She told him to skip biometrics and use a password no one else will ever guess.
It is the first time Christine teased him overtly. NowYouAreJustToyingWithMe linked to his favorite sequence of random numbers.
He should delete the file and the folder. But he does not want to. She shifts and he decides to take another picture but realizes she is awake.
She says, "What are you doing?"
When he does not answer, she whispers, "Will you hide these too?"
"Yes," he says as he takes the picture of them, neither of them smiling, her looking at him with an expression he cannot read. Hurt? Satisfaction? Some mixture of the two? He moves it to the folder.
"I think I should go."
"I think I must go."
He nods because he knew she would.
"Send me copies of those?" She gets up and stands in front of him, hands on her hips, a strange smile on her face. "I mean if you get to keep them, I should get a copy, right?"
"Do you have copies of the ones you gave me?"
"The ones you keep in your super-duper secret hiding place? Of course." She smiles and this time it's a more natural one. "They're on my ceiling. I look up and see us among the memories."
"I am but a memory." It is maudlin and self indulgent to say such a thing.
"Oh, Spock. Get some sleep, okay?"
He nods and once she is gone, does what she says because he is tired—he has been tired since the Peregrine—and goes to bed.
But not before sending her copies of the two pictures.
His chime is ringing incessantly. He thinks it is the door and says, "Come," even though he is still in his pajamas.
But it is not his door and the computer makes the strange series of clicks that mean essentially: "Command Unnecessary."
He realizes it is his personal padd sounding, the one he used last night to photograph Christine and himself.
It is T'Pring's name on the caller identification screen. He does not want to talk to her, but he answers anyway.
"I woke you." There is no actual dismay in her voice—she is merely stating a fact.
"Yes." There is no point in lying. She has seen him when he is just waking. She knows how his hair will mess.
"I would apologize, Spock, but it has been some time since we have talked."
"I regret that. We have had a series of difficult missions."
"Should I not be your port in the storm? The storm of emotions that these difficult missions might cause?" She sounds sincere, but he cannot help but feel he is walking into a trap.
So he says, "We should both be buttresses for each other against the hardness of life."
"Yes. I agree. In that spirit, I would like you to meet me on Risa."
"Next week. I am planning leave and would like to take it with you. On territory that is neither yours nor mine."
"Are we at war that we need neutral ground?" The question is out before he can stop it so he works hard to hide the fact that he regrets it. Let him just appear rude, not out of control.
"Do you wish to go to Risa or not, Spock? I hear they offer many sensual experiences for those romantically involved."
"I cannot go next week."
"Then the week after? I can be flexible." Her almost-smile is false, her eyebrow lift exaggerated. "Or is that also a bad time for you?"
"I am very busy here, T'Pring. We have been extremely fortunate in how much time we have found so far to spend together."
"I am not sure I would call a few days fortunate. But if you would, that is interesting." She picks up something and studies it—a print-out of some kind. "Perhaps this is why you can no longer make time for me?"
She turns the paper around. She has printed the photos he took last night. He can feel himself freeze. Has she placed some sort of surveillance on his devices?
"I am relatively certain I was not the intended recipient. Was I, Spock, parted from me and never parted?"
He sent them to her and not to Christine? An accident—or was it? Had his subconscious made the choice for him? He decides to go on the attack. "What does it matter? You said there could be no feelings between myself and Nurse Chapel."
"And if only she were simply Nurse Chapel, it would be true. But she is Christine to you. You wrote it in the note. 'Christine, as you requested. Thank you as always for the comfort.' A pretty enough note. Not terribly romantic but perhaps the form of comfort you two are practicing does not require romance, only copulation?"
"I have not had sex with her." He shakes his head, unsure how to explain this. "Number One was arrested."
"For being Illyrian and pretending to be human. For lying to get into Starfleet."
"I see. And you are upset that she is paying what I would say is the expected price?"
"You have no sympathy for her?"
She studies him, her eyes and mouth actually turning down into a frown. "Sympathy? For someone who lies and hides the truth? No, Spock. No, I do not."
He can tell this is no longer about Number One. "Then begin the severing ritual and we can both seek more suitable mates."
"More suitable. You would say that to me? I who have overlooked faults and allowed indulgences? I who took the blame for you punching a patient of mine?" Her face hardens in a way he has never seen, becomes so still it is like a statue. "Either you will come home and marry me immediately, or you will be called home when the burning hits. It is overdue as it is, Spock. So either way, she will not have you."
"No. I will start the words of dissolution now."
"I do not wish dissolution and I am the injured party. If I push this, you will be with me here in Ankeshtan K'Til as my prisoner instead of free on your ship as my betrothed."
He freezes because he can imagine her doing this, can see the path of decisions he has made that would damn him. "And if the burning does not come?"
"Then you will never be free." She cuts the connection before he can think of a reply.
He is like a man in a trance during his shift. Fortunately nothing of import happens.
He weighs options in between blaming himself not only for sending the photos to the wrong person but taking them in the first place.
It was improper for Christine to be in his quarters at all, let alone so close to him on his sofa.
His shift finally ends and he goes to sickbay, but Christine has already left. He hurries to her quarters, and she answers and takes one look at him and says, "What's wrong?" as she touches his arm and leads him into a room he has never been in.
"I did not send you the photos as you asked."
"I know. Kind of miffed about it but your call." She sits on the bed, arms crossed across her chest.
"I sent them instead to T'Pring. Accidentally."
"Oh, shit, Spock. Can you recall them before she opens the note?"
"She was the one who informed me she had received them." He sits next to her.
"I would say I'm sorry, but this is on you, not me. I wasn't the one taking pics of me sleeping."
"Yes, you are right." He wants to turn to her, to bury his head in her shoulder and ask her for advice. What should he do? "She has given me an ultimatum."
She just waits. He appreciates that.
"There is a biological event Vulcans go through. It is similar to salmon spawning—an irrepressible desire to mate with their bond partner. Mine should have happened already, but it is delayed. I often hope that since I am half human, it will never come." He turns to her. "I will be drawn to her. Whether I want her or not."
"I don't understand. She did a little hand-wavy thing and broke up with you after our kiss."
"Yes, because it was by mutual accord. But now she is refusing. I must come to Vulcan immediately and marry her or she will wait until the burning calls me home."
"What if it never does?"
"Then we will have a very, very long engagement." He looks down. "I believe I must go to Vulcan and marry—"
"No!" She turns bright red. "No, marry her because you love her. Not because she's not going to let you go. And can't someone intervene on your behalf."
"Christine, she could build a quite creditable case for why I should join Sybok at her facility—and has threatened to do just that if I fight this."
"So no matter what, she wins?"
"It would appear so."
She falls backward on the bed, and he turns to look at her. "If you marry her, then you're stuck."
"She will not allow a divorce—unless it is something she initiates. I imagine Ankeshtan K'Til lies at the end for me if I try to divorce her."
"And if you wait for the—what is it called?"
"The Pon Farr. The burning."
"Will you love her then. After that?"
"I do not believe so. It does not change base feelings. It just draws Vulcans home to our mates, to rut until the burning dies down. Then we are free to go. It should happen every seven years after full maturity. For Vulcans with pure blood, that is."
"Why are you telling me all this?"
"Because I believe it was not seeing us together but the picture of me watching you while you slept against me. The care on my face. T'Pring could no longer deny the truth." He reaches for her gently and strokes her cheek. "That I care for you deeply." Then he lets her go. "But I can offer you nothing."
"Technically, not true. You could offer me the time between the burnings. You could offer me yourself in a way that maybe you've never done for her."
"But there can be no bond between us."
"Humans live without one. I'll adjust. Besides, you know me. Commitment phobic—a bond sounds kind of intrusive."
"You are saying you want to?" He feels such a surge of hope, he has to stop himself from grabbing her, from kissing her.
"I am saying that you are not without options here. I'm not sure what I want to do. Are you? Really?" She sits up. "I've got Captain's Dinner for some incoming crew. I'm sorry I can't stay and talk."
"But you will think about this? What we might have if we dared to reach for it?"
She nods, but it's a considering move. "I'll think about it."
"I will let you get ready then." He touches her face again, wanting to do more but not wanting to make her late.
And also not sure she wants more right now.
Then he leaves her in peace as he seeks to know his own desires for his future through meditation.