Amicus Usque ad Aras
Disclaimer: All hail ParaBorg, who own every damn thing. But verily I say unto thee: they do not own the original content of this story.
Author's Note: This is my somewhat different take on the much-maligned Spock/Chapel relationship. Hope you like it….the Latin is "a friend throughout all differences," which I shamelessly borrowed from "Dwellers in the Crucible."
Rating: PG, TOS, S, Cha, 1/1
Summary: A late-night encounter on the Observation Deck, shortly after "What Are Little Girls Made Of?"
Starlight. It was what I wanted.
I am in the aft observation deck, little more than a room, really, but quiet and dark and full of stars. I couldn't face anyone, not Uhura, not the captain, and certainly not Dr McCoy. They would have been kindness itself, especially after the captain told them of Roger's "untimely death" on the planet below. But I couldn’t face the kindness and the pity. Not now.
Here, Roger, maybe I can grieve for you now. You died long ago, you were dead from the moment you decided that human souls were best imprisoned in android bodies. What happened to the good and decent man I had loved, I can't say. But now I grieve twice, both for the lover I had lost and for the man I thought he had been.
The slight movement behind me makes me jump. Starlight catches the gleam of a pointed ear. Of all the people on this ship, why did it have to be Spock? I am ashamed of the tears that track unheeded down my face .
There is a sudden, abortive turn of his head, as if he wants to say something but isn't quite sure how to say it. Finally, he speaks."Why shame?"
I wish for a handkerchief, anything, but there isn't one to hand. "I'm sorry," I say. "I don't understand."
"Why shame?" he says again. "There is no shame in grief."
It's such an unusual statement coming from him that my breath stops for a bare seconds while my mind tries to decide if I have gone mad. But no, gravity is still in force, the Enterprise is still sound, and I am still breathing. Spock really has admitted that there is no shame in an emotion.
"It is only logical," he continues softly. "A loss must be acknowledged." Spock pauses, and looks at me with eyes the exact color of the space around us. "I grieve with thee."
I blink rapidly. Oh, he doesn't know how much that simple phrase means to me. "I grieve for the manner of his death, " I say. "The man I knew was nearly a stranger." And I am surprised to realize myself how true that is. We were engaged to be married, but over the years of his absence, he had become strangely less real in my mind. There was the Roger I remembered, and then there was the man I did not know, the man he had become.
There is a look of surprise on those angular features. "I was given to understand," he says carefully, "that Dr Korby had been dead for sometime."
Spock, protecting the secret of Roger's death because the captain asked him to….though he must surely know it was no recording that had greeted me when we hailed the planet. It's touching, in an odd sort of way; neither by word nor by deed will Spock ever reveal what he suspects. "There are other kinds of death," I say, just as carefully, not sure how much I truly want to say.
Spock acknowledges this with a nod that somehow manages to speak volumes for his understanding of all that I'm not saying. "Whatever the manner of his death, you have suffered a loss. I regret…disturbing you, Nurse." He turns as if to leave, but I raise a hand to stop him. He is close enough that I can feel the heat of his body, surely no more than a foot away from me.
He halts and turns to face me. "Yes?"
"My name," I say slowly, "is Christine. And you did not disturb me." I wonder, suddenly, if it had been anyone else, would I have let them go? Why is it Spock, normally so taciturn and impassive, who reaches out to me in my grief?
And why does it matter?
"Christine," he says now, "I am unfamiliar with many human emotions. If I have not disturbed you, as you say, do you wish me to stay?"
I recall the tattered threads of Vulcan from my memory. "Your presence gives me honor."
There is no shock on his face, which is good; I have not, apparently, accidentally insulted his parentage. "If you wish it, I will stay," Spock replies in the same language.
And he does just that. We sit for a time, among the stars and the endless night. He does not demand words from me, does not ask if I am "okay," does not ask if there is anything he can do. Spock is doing all that he can, and it is more than enough.
I wrap my arms around my drawn-up knees. "I barely knew him," I say finally.
With that Vulcan hearing, there is no way he did not hear what I said. "Yet you
were betrothed." His voice catches on the last word; I wonder if he is even aware of it.
I hear the echo of my words to him earlier on the bridge: Have you ever been engaged, Mr Spock? It all sounds so futile now, all that hope and longing. Roger had created an android as his companion whereas I had left everything and everyone behind to follow him. Somehow, it doesn't quite seem a fair trade. "Being betrothed didn't put us in stasis. You think, when you get engaged, that the person you love will always be the same. I didn't realize."
Though I can't quite see him, I can almost hear an eyebrow raising. "What should you have realized?"
I clasp my hands, feeling the dead space where my engagement ring once was. I took it off when I returned to the ship. Its significance had been, after all, long forgotten by Roger. And now Roger was dead. "I should have realized that he was not going to be the same person. Too much time had passed."
There is a strange fluidness to his expression now, his face clouded by brief emotions I cannot even begin to identify. Something I said struck a nerve. But what? "Yet you still felt yourself bound?" he asks, slowly.
"I had promised to marry him. And I thought I could still love him, in spite of all the years that had gone between us." The fact that I can't decide what bothers me the most about Roger's death should stop me from speaking, but it doesn't. Not to this man, who listens with that rarest of gifts, a Vulcan silence. Neither judging my words nor assessing blame, he is simply there.
Spock is, I realize quite suddenly, what Roger never was. He is my friend. He may not know it yet himself, or believe himself incapable of the emotion, but he is. The gift of his presence, whole and entire, is proof enough of that. And I find the words to speak what is the hardest about all of this. "Roger had placed himself inside an android body, created others to serve him. In the end, they were what killed him." The vision of Roger's android body, finally dying, is such a drastic contrast with the vital man I knew that I cannot help which was the fantasy, the android or the man I had once loved.
Spock acknowledges all of this with a brief nod. "There is something you have not considered. You have a doctorate in medical research, yet you took a position as a Head Nurse to find your betrothed. What will you do now?"
It's not like I hadn't thought of it, in the hours since Roger's final death. "I had thought of returning to Earth," I say.
"You should reconsider," he says with that peculiar and utterly alien gentleness. "As a scientist, the opportunites for research are far better here. And your expertise in the laboratories has been most useful."
"In spite of Psi 2000?" I say lightly, remembering our brief uneasiness with each other, an uneasiness that had faded with our work in the labs.
Unexpectedly, he raises an eyebrow. Wryly, he says, "Even under the effects of the virus, you were most…thorough in your approach. It would be a shame to lose a scientist who is so thorough."
Does he know that the only reason I can laugh about that whole dreadful experience is because of his equanimity now? Probably not, and yet I am curiously relieved. There is still a place for me here. I stand up, pulling the gods-be-damned skirt down. "Where are you going?" he asks softly.
I fold my hands. "I need to speak with Dr McCoy about arranging my permanent assignment to this ship, if he'll have me."
"If Medical does not, Science Division will. As I said, your expertise has been most helpful."
I nod, and I walk slowly to the brightness of the corridor outside. The light, where my friends and my home are now.
I am home.