Remembered by Djinn

The halls of Starfleet Medical are crowded. So many people. Christine swallows, fighting down panic. She is not used to crowds anymore, didn't have to deal with this many people when she and Jim and Spock were stranded on the icy world they eventually dubbed Thule.

Living on that world, focused only on survival, she nearly forgot what a crowd felt like. She settled in and accepted the harsh life that faced them. And then they were rescued--Starfleet finally found them. Pure accident as it turned out, but the end result was the same. They were at last free of the frozen planet that had been their entire world. Taken away in a small ship to be examined by Starfleet medical: she was released, Jim and Spock held for observation for radiation and exposure, respectively. She never expected to turn out to be the hardy one. She also never expected to wind up here, starting med school after giving up on her dream once they crash landed on Thule. But against all odds she was rescued in time to start classes just a few weeks behind her classmates. Rescued after months alone with two men--the two men she loved.

The two men she thought loved her. Christine sighs. They did love her. On Thule. But now? She would be a fool to think the relationship they forged could continue. She laughs, afraid that if she looks under "third wheel" in the dictionary, it will say, "See Christine Chapel."

She has not heard from either of them.

"Lieutenant Chapel?"

The rank still throws her. She didn't expect to be promoted. She suspects that Jim or Spock or possibly both of them have put in a good word for her. She can't decide if it pleases her they might have thought of her, or disturbs her that they might have done it to buy her silence.

Which is unnecessary. She won't betray them; she loves them.

"Lieutenant Chapel?" the man repeats.

She turns to him. "Yes?"

He is a younger man, also a lieutenant. "Is it true you were marooned with Captain Kirk?" His eyes shine.

She can't decide if he's suffering from a bad case of hero worship or more garden-variety lust. "I'm sorry, I can't talk. I'm late." She's not sorry, but she is in danger of being late.

She hurries on, hears him run to catch up.

"I'll walk with you."

She checks her schedule, sees she's walked past her classroom. She doubles back, ignoring the young man. Mercifully, he doesn't follow her into the room. She chooses a desk near the middle, hopes the instructor has not assigned seats, hopes that she won't be asked to move.

It's odd. On Thule, she was an equal partner, brought her own set of skills to the mix. Here, she again feels like the awkward nurse, the one who dreams that she won't know the answer to the most basic question, that the instructor will make her leave when he realizes that she doesn't belong.

She wishes Jim were here. He would make her laugh, get her confidence up with a pep talk. Or Spock would be good to have nearby. He would simply rest his hand on her cheek and say, "You will be fine. I have faith in you."

But they are not here. Or at least she hopes they are not on Earth. She can't bear the thought they might be here and not want to see her.

Even if she knows it is exactly what will happen eventually. She'll run into them, walking down the hall, or maybe in the cafeteria. They'll be circumspect. She can't imagine Jim allowing them to be anything else. But they'll be together.

Without her.

When she is especially sad, she wonders if they were just including her because they were too kind to leave her out when there was no one else. Back among the living, they obviously have no such compunction.

She almost laughs and one of the students filing in gives her an odd look. She smiles brightly, her best friendly expression and he seems to relax.

"I'm new. Are the seats assigned?" she asks.

"No, you're fine," he says.

If he only knew how not fine she is. She will be fine...in time. But now? Now it just hurts.

Like it hurts every time she walks into her bedroom and sees the huge bed she bought when she first got back. She was so sure they would need it.

They never came by.

They don't want her anymore.

But they wanted her then, on Thule. If they only ever made love as three, she wouldn't think so. But it wasn't like that. She made love to Jim, and he made love to Spock, and Spock made love to her. Alone, just two of them taking pleasure as they wanted, not worrying if the other saw.

She remembers how Jim walked into the cave one day, back from another check on the markers he left near the site where their shuttle had exploded. He had fresh kill slung over his shoulder so he only came as far as the cave entrance. Christine was sitting astride Spock, and they moved slowly, sensuously together, taking their time. Jim's long exhale as he watched them made her turn, made Spock look over.

"You're back," she said with a smile, never stopping her slow movement.

Spock did not stop either, his hands moving over her back. "You did not stay too long?" The area was still full of radiation.

"Long enough to know that no one has been by," Jim said.

Neither she nor Spock said anything. There was nothing to say.

Jim finally said, "I just worried when I didn't see you out front, Christine. Silly of me." His expression lightened and he winked at them both. "Carry on."

Spock's expression was almost amused as he did just that, pulling her closer to him for a kiss.

Days later, she walked in on the two of them sleeping, limbs tangled, Jim's hair still sweaty from their sex. She pulled the blanket up around them, let them sleep as she tested the new tubers she'd found while foraging.

Some time after that, Spock watched from the entrance as a snowball fight between Jim and her turned into wild impromptu sex against an ice boulder. It was a game for them to see how little skin they could expose and still do it. They were getting very adept at sex with their clothes on. Spock shook his head in fond exasperation at their foolishness and went back inside to get warm.

That was how it was with them. Closeness. Tenderness. Sometimes all together. Other times not.

Love. It was love. She never expects to know love again. Not like that.

The instructor walks in and she gets up. "Lieutenant Chapel, sir."

"Oh, yes. I was told you'd be joining us late." He looks up at her, smiles. "Done all the reading, have you?"

"Yes, sir. I'm all caught up."

"Then I'm not going to worry about the labs you missed. You have more practical experience than anyone in here anyway." He seems unusually gentle to Christine. Everyone does since Thule. She thinks that she became so used to that harsh planet that the simplest kindness is a jolt.

It shouldn't be. Jim and Spock were kind. Always kind to her and to each other. Always looking out for the other guy. Or girl.

She sighs. It is time to forget about how they were. They--as much as she loves them--are in her past. Med school and the instructor who even now stands up to begin class are her future.

And she better pay attention to it.

-----------------

Christine hurries down the hall, she is just going to make it to her final. She rounds the corner too fast, careens into someone. Hands reach out to steady her and she feels a shock of contact, a sense of the familiar.

She looks up. It is Spock.

"Christine." He seems at a loss for what else to say.

"You're on Earth," she says stupidly.

He almost frowns, as if he did not expect her to say that. Finally, he nods. "I have one last physical. In order to be certified free of complications from our time on the planet."

She wonders how many of them make up that "our" in his mind. "Jim is here?"

He nods. Again he seems unsure how to act. Looks at her as if she provides the key to what he will say next.

"Give him my best," she says, turning away. Not wanting Spock to see her cry.

"You prosper, Christine?" His voice is soft, gentle. The Spock she remembers loving.

She nods but still does not turn.

"Christine--"

"--I'm late for a final, Spock." She rushes down the hall. Angry that she is crying, angry that she cannot just let go.

They were rescued months ago. Months that she has been in class and they have been together. She learned shortly after starting med school that they were back on the Enterprise. The new captain and his first officer were moved to another ship so that Jim could have the Enterprise back, could have Spock with him. In all the ways he could be with him.

She gets to the classroom just as the instructor is closing the door.

"Playing with fire, Lieutenant," he says with a smile, looking at the chrono.

She thinks that sums up her life exactly.

The final is easier than she expects--one of life's few blessings. She finishes, heads home for the evening. She has a week of leave before the next term starts. She is not sure what she will do with the time.

She putters around her apartment, putting things away, ready to start catching up on the long queue of messages she did not open while she was studying for finals.

The chime at her door is unexpected; no one is due by.

She pads to the door, opens it. Is stunned to see them there, at her door, after all these months. She wants to be angry. She wants to slam the door in their faces. But Spock is looking at her with an intensity she thought never to see again.

And Jim is grinning, a grin that hides something tentative, as if he is not sure they are welcome. "Miss us?" he asks softly.

She feels something inside her crumble, realizes it is her resolve to forget and move on. To pretend to not want them as badly as she does.

"Christine? Will you let us in?" Spock's eyes are gently concerned.

She stands aside, lets them pass. Jim goes first, his walk easy, unhurried. Spock follows him. She closes the door, turns to watch them. They stand united, facing her. Jim's smile has faded, Spock merely stares.

"Aren't you going to say something," Jim says.

"You're together," she states rather than asks.

Neither of them asks her what she means. Jim nods. Spock is still watching her carefully.

She turns. "Can I offer you a drink?" She is desperate for a task, something she can focus on instead of her wildly-beating heart.

"We don't need a drink." Jim walks toward her.

She wants nothing more than to run to him. But instead she takes a step back. "Is it good?" she asks, wondering why she can't leave well enough alone. Why does she have to torture herself?

"It is," Spock answers.

She does not understand the look he gives her. "How nice for you," she says, the words sarcastic, her tone sharper than she ever used with them on Thule.

"It is nice for us," Jim says as he reaches for her.

Spock comes up on the other side.

They touch her and she is lost. The feeling so sweet, so welcome after the months apart. The months that they were apart from her.

She draws away.

"It's good. But it's not the same. Not by a long shot." Jim tries to pull her to him, but she moves out of his reach. "We haven't forgotten."

"And you think I have?"

They don't answer her. But Spock comes up to her, holds her, nuzzling her neck as Jim closes the gap between them and kisses her.

She moans, tries to pull away. Spock strokes her arms as Jim slowly kisses his way down her throat and chest, his touch sure and strong. He knows what she likes.

She lets herself sink into Spock's arms, sobs.

Spock whispers, "What is it, Christine?" His hands continue to roam across her body.

"I can't just be a diversion," she says.

Jim pulls away and studies her. "Neither of us ever said you were that." He slowly removes her uniform.

When she stands before them naked, Jim stares at her as if reacquainting himself with her body. Spock kisses her neck again, then pulls her face gently toward him so he can kiss her on the mouth. Jim's hands are moving over her even as Spock deepens the kiss. She can hear Jim taking his uniform off, then he is pressed close, his skin soft against hers.

Spock holds her more firmly as Jim begins to kiss and lick and stroke all over. She moans, feels as if her legs will give out, feels Spock's grip on her tighten. She leans back against him gratefully as Jim kneels in front of her, tasting her, teasing her.

"We have missed you, Christine," Spock says, his voice low, sensual.

"We have more than missed you," Jim says, looking up at her before returning to what he was doing.

She knows she should stop them. For whatever reason, they are here now. But soon the Enterprise will leave and they will be gone too, leaving her alone. Leaving her to learn how to live without them all over again.

She should tell them to go. Make them leave.

She does nothing except lean more tightly against Spock.

"Christine," he says as he kisses her neck. The way he says her name sounds so sweet.

She gives up, lets go. Surrenders to what she feels, to what they are doing to her, to what she knows she will soon be doing to them.

Jim stands up, kisses her, his arms going round her, his hands ending up on Spock's arms. She can feel Spock reach around to touch him too. She is locked safe between them.

For the moment.

"In case I didn't say it before. Hello," Jim says with the self-satisfied grin he always gets after he has pleasured her.

"Hello," she says, unable to resist his grin.

He kisses her again, then her turns her toward Spock. "Our Vulcan friend is terribly overdressed, don't you think?"

"Yes, I think so." She can feel Jim's warm body pressed against her, can tell how aroused he is.

"Undress him," Jim tells her.

She does, stopping to kiss Spock repeatedly as she slowly draws off his uniform.

"You missed us then?" Jim asks, his hand starting to roam across her body. He reaches with his other hand to touch Spock's cheek, then leans in to kiss her under her ear where he knows she is just the slightest bit ticklish.

"Of course I missed you." Her tone is finally that of the woman he must remember playing in the snow with.

When he laughs, she can hear the relief in his voice.

"I missed you both, so much," she says, not holding back, not cheating them of the emotion they evoke. "You have no idea."

"You might be surprised how much we do understand that, love," Jim says, surprising her with the endearment. "Sweet, sweet love."

"Love," Spock echoes as he moves into her.

She nearly weeps at the feeling of it. She does moan loudly.

"Love," Jim says again.

Spock reaches for the meld points. Hers first, then past her to Jim's. The world gets fuzzy; everything is warm and safe and full of heavy velvety emotions that fill her with comfort.

They love her. She was not a diversion.

She was not a third wheel.

They love her.

And she loves them.

And they are relieved at that. Did they really all think that the others could forget?

In the meld, she feels her reactions and Jim's and Spock's as he finishes, as he cries out and holds her close. They hug and kiss and somehow get to her bedroom.

"Nice bed," Jim says, and a rumble of amusement from all of them rolls through the meld.

"Most considerate of you to plan ahead, Christine," Spock tells her. There is only approval in his voice and in the sentiment that spreads along the meld after he speaks.

Suddenly she loves her foolishly enormous bed.

Jim pushes her down, crawls after her. Spock follows him, a hand on each of them, deepening the meld, taking them farther than they've ever gone before.

She can no longer tell where her body ends and theirs begin. It is heaven. A heaven of hands and lips. Of touching and being touched, and of pleasure so intense she nearly passes out.

When she finally comes to herself, it is morning. She is nestled between them, Jim's arm thrown possessively across her waist; Spock nestled more lightly against her, one hand lying on top of Jim's arm. She lets herself imagine what life might be like if they were always like this. Together. In love.

She knows it cannot be like this. But for this moment--this one blissfully drowsy moment--she will believe it can be.

Jim's hold on her tightens and she looks over to see him watching her, a tender smile playing on his face as he asks, "Aren't you glad we're back?"

She knows he doesn't mean the words to hurt her, but they do. She blinks back tears, tries to find a graceful way to get out of the bed, but only succeeds in waking Spock.

"Christine? What is wrong?"

She is trapped, covers and arms and legs keeping her in a place she wants never to leave but needs to get away from.

"Christine?" Jim touches her face. "What is it?"

She tries once more to get away but they are holding her next to them now. The tears come before she can stop them. Angry and hurt and lonely tears. She cannot find a safe place in her own bed to cry so she covers her face with her hands and weeps.

"Talk to us," Jim says.

She only sobs.

They wait. As she cries out everything inside her, they wait and they hold her, their arms tight around her, pressed against each other.

Not two, three. She is part of them.

"For how long?" she finally manages to say. "You're back for how long?" She opens her eyes so she can see their expressions.

They both look confused.

Anger fills her. "You come here and make me feel this. Remind me of everything I've lost, everything I'll never have. You give me this love knowing you'll just leave."

They share a bemused look.

Finally, Jim says, "Christine, what are you talking about?"

She pushes at him. "You're going back to the ship. Without me. When?"

Jim starts to smile. "Are you maybe a little behind on your messages?" He looks at Spock and his grin grows.

"Perhaps you were otherwise engaged," Spock suggests gently. "Studying for finals?"

She frowns.

Jim kisses her, then pulls Spock to him so he can kiss him too. "Good morning."

"Okay, wait," she says, as the two men pull away from each other.

Spock pulls her to him, kisses her deeply.

"The Enterprise is in for refits. The mission is over," Jim whispers in her ear as Spock continues to kiss her. "I'm at Command. Spock accepted a teaching position at the Academy."

Spock pulls away from her. "And you are also here, Christine."

"The three of us," Jim says with a smile as she turns to look at him. "If we want this?" His smile grows. "I, for one, want this."

"I as well," Spock says.

"The three of us?" She can feel a smile beginning. "Together?"

"I have a very large apartment," Jim says. "You'll like it."

Spock presses up against her. "We should use your bed, Christine. It is an excellent size for the three of us."

"Spoken like someone who got to sleep on the outside," she pretends to grumble.

"I'll take middle next time," Jim says with a laugh.

"Yes, we can alternate," Spock says.

"That's fair." She closes her eyes, then is afraid that she will open them and Jim and Spock will be gone. She opens her eyes. The two men are still there. "You're really here to stay?"

Spock pulls her astride him. She moves onto him effortlessly. Jim watches them, a gentle smile on his face. A smile that grows as Spock reaches out to grasp him firmly. Soon there are three voices moaning, three voices calling out as they each find completion.

"I love you," Christine says to them both. "I love us."

"I love us too." Jim reaches out to her, takes her hand. "Then you'll come? You'll move in?"

"What will Command say?"

"If we don't flaunt it, why should they say anything?" Jim's look defies her to argue with him.

"But--"

"They took my ship, Christine. They aren't going to take this too."

Spock smiles slightly. "It is not wise to argue with him, Christine. Logic will not work."

She decides he is right. "All of us together?"

They both nod.

"I need a room where I can study," she says finally.

Jim pulls her off Spock, pushes her to her back and looms over her. "What part of 'very large apartment' do you not get, kiddo? Four bedrooms. Your study, my office, his meditation room, and our bedroom." He begins to tickle her. "With this wonderful bed in it."

She squeals, tries to appeal to Spock for help but he just watches with the same fond exasperation he showed them on Thule.

Finally, she has to give. Signaling her surrender by pulling Jim to her for a kiss, she looks over at Spock. He moves toward them, kissing Jim long and hard, then pulling her to him.

"The three of us," Jim says as he lies back, arms crossed under his head. "Now this should be an adventure."

"Worth giving up the Enterprise for," she asks gently, finally understanding that he traded her for the ship. Finally, realizing that if she was the one onboard and Spock somewhere else, Jim would have traded Spock for the ship too.

"No," he says. "Not worth that."

She loves that he doesn't lie to them.

"But it will certainly make life interesting from here on out," he says.

She realizes that he probably fears boredom the way most people fear danger. "It will never be dull," she agrees, as she pushed the covers off Spock, slides down until she finds the perfect position to pleasure him.

Spock moans, and she pulls Jim toward her. He joins in the effort, their lips and tongues touching as they focus on making Spock feel good. She knows they are succeeding as he moves in a most un-Vulcan like way, his hands reaching down to tangle in their hair as first Jim, then Christine take turns with him. He finally makes a half-growling, half-moaning noise, as he gives in, lets go. Jim is there to ease him down. Spock's moans fill her bedroom, and Christine smiles as she watches the two of them. She can almost see the flames flickering as they did that night in the cave when the three of them first came together. She is glad they aren't on Thule anymore, but she never wants to lose what that night brought them. The new place it took them. That it still takes them.

The three of them. Then. And now.

Hopefully forever.

FIN