Extreme Unction

"Aren't you going to wish me happy Mother's Day, Christine?" Bitter laughter echoed into the small room.

Christine Chapel, sitting on the bathroom floor, didn't seem to hear it.

"I guess not. Well, no great surprise." An older woman moved out of the doorway, wandered into the connecting bedroom. "I'm sure Fiona Mercer Chapel is the last person you want to see right about now."

Fiona tried to pick up a small holo, but her hand went through it. "Damn. You'd think after all this time I'd have figured this out." She concentrated and reached out again. For a second her fingers seemed to grasp the frame then her hand again fell through. In disgust, she crouched down to better study the picture. It was of her daughter, only much younger, and an older man. Both were smiling.

"The love of your life, Christine?" Fiona glanced back at the woman on the floor. "Or just the prettily tragic story you present to the world?"

Christine shifted a bit, as if thinking about getting up. Her hand reached for the sink, held for a second, then dropped. A tear fell down her cheek, joining the traces of many others.

Fiona sniffed derisively. "You never cried like that for Roger Korby. Not ever. Your beloved fiancé never rated such emotion." She went to stand in the doorway.

Her movement caught her daughter's attention. Christine tried to focus on the door but it was clear she could not see anyone standing there. Her eyes moved across the room, searching.

"Oh and I do know how you mourned him. They let us come back, you know. To see how you're doing. And I was actually worried about you. Thought you might be hurting. Ever the fool. I should have known better than to fret over a girl that has ice water instead of blood running through her."

Fiona bent over and waved a hand in front of Christine's face. The eyes, staring dully, did not react. "It'll be a while, love. What shall we talk about in the meantime? We could talk about him, the other one? Or not." She turned suddenly and strode back into the bedroom. "Any trace of him in here?" The stark spotless room yielded no secrets.

"No. Don't see him." She walked back angrily to her daughter. "He's in here though, isn't he?" She tapped Christine's chest. Her finger made contact. Fiona smiled. "Strong emotion on my part makes me more tangible." She studied her daughter's slack face. "Or maybe that's not it at all."

For the first time Christine's mouth moved. "Spock," she moaned.

"Oh you're making progress, child." Fiona settled herself on the floor across from Christine. "You really should have stayed with him."

"Couldn't," the other woman whispered.

"Wouldn't," her mother corrected. "Too damn scared." She shook her head in sadness. "He would have loved you. You could have loved him."

"I'm not like you." Christine's voice seemed stronger even as her body awkwardly slid sideways.

"More like me than you know," her mother noted as she watched her daughter slump closer to the floor. "It can't have been easy, running away from him then having him turn up again on your ship. To have to interact with him. To know again in your dreams the way his mind felt when it touched yours. Don't deny it, daughter. You were happy to see him. Happier than you expected."

"Just surprised to see him." Christine's voice echoed forcefully.

"Surprised, my ass. You were excited, elated, all those hearty emotions you used to despise so much in me." Fiona's expression darkened. "Not that you didn't have reason. Your father and I took our passion for each other to extremes."

"Noisy fighting all the time."

"Yes. Or noisy making up. I never knew which you hated more."

"Hated them both. Hated you." Christine's voice trailed off as her eyes closed. She lay quietly on the cold floor.

"I'm well aware of that, Christine." Fiona closed her own eyes in pain. "But you didn't hate Spock. Not for long."

"He invaded my privacy." Christine's eyes opened suddenly. They were clear and focused as she pushed herself off of the floor.

Fiona watched as her daughter walked into the bedroom. "Sure he did," she agreed. "But afterward, after you ran. You regretted it."

"Not often. I had my studies."

"Yes and you did well." Fiona rose and joined her daughter in the bedroom. "I watched you graduate. I was very proud."

For a moment Christine's eyes softened. Then she turned away. "I didn't really love him."

Again the bitter laughter. "Now that I might believe. I've never been sure you were even capable of love."

"I can love. I just didn't love him."

"Ah. So it didn't bother you in the least that when he came back he ignored you completely?"

"I never noticed."

Her mother laughed. "Of course not."

"I didn't. And even if I had. He didn't ignore me forever."

"No he didn't. Things changed."

Christine expression grew wistful. "Yes. At the end. He came around."

"He loved you."

"We made plans. It could have worked." Christine's voice was defiant.

"Probably."

"I learned to love him."

Fiona nodded. "Most definitely."

Christine fell silent. She sat slowly on the bed. "It could have worked."

"If not for his untimely death."

Christine closed her eyes, lost in the pain.

"He came back though," her mother prompted gently.

"Not the same."

"He might have remembered."

"He does not want to." Despair was clear in Christine's voice. "I saw him after the whale probe. He didn't know me."

"You gave him no time."

Christine hugged her arms tightly around herself. "I saw him later that day. In the hall. Alone. No others to distract him. He did not wish to speak to me."

Fiona shrugged. "Perhaps he was on his way somewhere else."

Christine's smile was ugly. "Oh yes. To her. The young Vulcan woman who met us at his door."

"His protégé."

"His lover."

"You are jumping to conclusions."

Christine rose and paced in agitation. "It is the only logical conclusion."

"Irony, daughter?"

"Truth." Christine's voice rose.

Her mother smiled. "Witness the passion now. So strong. So out of control. So dangerous."

"Dangerous how?"

"You are your mother's child, Christine. You try to deny it, try to control it. But we are passionate people. And passion makes us do stupid things. Fatally stupid things." Her voice dropped at the last.

Christine sat back down, looked her mother in the eye. "What do you mean?"

"The aircar accident. The one that killed your father and me. It wasn't an accident."

"I don't understand? Of course it was an accident."

"As much as we are alike, you are also your father's daughter. You hated the fighting and the yelling. So did he...eventually. It wore on him, tore him up, until all that was left was a desperate need to escape, to find some sort of peace. He was leaving me."

"What?" Christine's voice held horror.

"That day we had our last fight. At the end he said, 'No more,' and he told me he was leaving. On the way home we were silent. And in the quiet my anger turned to hatred and my passion to suspicion. I couldn't believe he'd just leave me. There had to be someone else. I couldn't bear the thought of losing him to another woman. I panicked. I went for the controls...caused the car to crash. I killed us both."

Christine sat stunned. Finally she looked at her mother. Saw the person she had always and never really known. She turned away. "Fatally stupid," she repeated.

"Yes, my dearest child."

Something in her mother's voice caused Christine to follow the other woman's gaze back to the bathroom floor.

A body lay there.

"Oh my god. We've got to get help." Her medical training kicked in as she rushed over. She stopped cold as the face came into view. Her face. "No."

Fiona was behind her. "You loved him."

"No." Christine fell to her knees, tried to shake the body but could not make contact. "No, no, no, no!" She hit her own thighs on the body she now wore, felt her hands make contact. She hit again. And again. Harder. "No! So stupid. So damn stupid."

Her mother's hands stopped the pummeling, pulled Christine around to look at her. "Stop it! It's over. It's done. Stop it."

"No. I want another chance."

"There aren't any. Not for that body. You're a doctor, Christine. You knew exactly what to take."

"Spock got another chance."

"You both did. And you threw it away." Her voice held no condemnation, just infinite compassion.

"No." Christine's moan was pitiful. She tried again to touch the body.

"Leave it, child." Fiona pulled her daughter up. "It's time to go home."

"Home?" Christine was suddenly filled with longing for a place she was starting to remember. "I really killed myself?" She shook her head as if trying to clear it. "I remember wanting to do it, but now all I feel is regret that I wasted a life."

"It's done now. You'll have plenty of time to reassess. Just as I did."

"I don't want to go."

"You can't stay here."

"Not here, no. I want to be with Spock."

"You can't touch him. He won't see or hear you."

Christine smiled bitterly. "There was a time when that would have been our normal interaction."

Her mother frowned. "You'll be happier with me. Back there where we come from. Staying here will only hurt."

Christine took her mother in her arms. "Maybe that's exactly what I need...to let myself feel something." She hugged Fiona close. "I ran away rather than let anyone hurt me. I think it's time to lower my shields." She smiled gently at her joke.

Her mother nodded finally. "I won't try to change your mind. But if you need help, all you have to do is think of me and I'll come. And if you get tired of being here, just concentrate very hard on coming home and you'll be there."

Fiona wrapped her arms more tightly around her daughter. "I know I made your childhood miserable, Christine. And I can't tell you how sorry I am about that. I just want you to know that I love you. It may not have been very apparent but I always have loved you. And I always will."

Christine let herself sink into her mother's embrace. Felt a safety she had never known as a child. "I love you, Mom." The words were new and sweet to her lips.

They stayed like that for a long time. Finally Fiona pulled away. She took several steps back and smiled. "Just think of where you want to be, Christine, and you'll get there."

Christine nodded. "I will. Thank you for coming to me."

"Of course I came. You think I'd leave this for someone else?" She began to fade.

Christine grinned. "Oh and Mom?"

Fiona raised her eyebrows.

"Happy Mother's Day."

She was treated to a dazzling smile just before the woman disappeared. Christine realized that she could still feel her mother's love around her. Always and never alone, she thought. That's how it might have been with him...with Spock.

She knew where she wanted to be. This wouldn't be easy nor would it be free of pain. But somehow it felt like the right thing to do.

Surrendering to her lonely fate, she filled her mind with thoughts of him and spoke his name with a love she had never shown him while alive, "Spock."

FIN