Down to the Bone By Djinn

What this love has brought me.
What this love has taught me.
Patience in battle, who's in the saddle.
Joy and despair, that I really do care.
Uncertain desire, the risk in going higher.
Oh this love has been hard on my bones.
On My Bones, Kendall Payne

*You had no right!* Her mind-scream was feral and shrill. It woke Spock up from his exhausted sleep. She saw his body react, felt his mind react, to her distress.

He looked around for the threat, then, as awareness slowly came to him, realized she was screaming at him. *Wife?*

She let all the anger she felt at that word well up and travel through the newly forged link. *Wife?! You had no right, you bastard!* She felt a moment of satisfaction as he cringed at the impact of her emotions. She scrambled from the bed, grabbing clothes that lay strewn in her path.

*Christine?* He sat up, confused at her behavior.

She turned on him. "Use words, Spock. I'm human, use some goddamn words."

"If you wish." He watched her as she hurriedly started dressing. "Where are you going?"

She felt her heart sink. Maybe it wasn't over. "I assumed we were through here." She stopped, her bra half fastened, "Do I have to stay?"

He got up slowly and approached her. He reached out for her but she shied away. His confusion only grew. "Christine, you do not ever *have* to stay. But we are one. We bonded last night. Do you not wish to stay?"

She frantically finished hooking her bra. "That wasn't part of the deal, Spock. I never gave my permission."

"You said you would do whatever it took to save me. A full bonding is a natural part of the Pon Farr."

"But it doesn't have to be, does it?" she spat at him, almost viciously.

"I do not understand your question."

"You didn't have to bond with me, Spock. You chose to do it. And why?"

"We were together, we were close. It seemed logical."

"I'm sure it did. What better way to ensure that the next time this happens there are no problems for you." She grabbed her panties. They were ripped nearly in half. She pulled them on anyway.

"Given the things you have said in the past, the level of affection you said you held for me, I assumed you would find this a satisfactory outcome?"

Her pants and shirt and one shoe on, Christine looked for the other shoe, which she found poking out from under a chair. "Satisfactory? Spock, I love you, that's why I came here in the first place. How could you do this to me."

"It does not have to be unpleasant." He reached out for her again.

She grabbed his hand and with a skill that surprised them both followed the bond to the core of him. A black wall met her. *Let me in, Spock. I can't stay if you won't let me in.*

There was no response. He blocked her utterly.

Sighing, she pulled out. "I won't live without love."

He sounded incredulous. "You cannot leave me. You are my wife."

She gave him a bitter and angry smile. "See you in seven years, Spock."

As the door closed behind her, a stunned Spock slowly sank to the floor. "Christine?" he whispered.

**************************

The shuttle ride back to Earth was hell. Every few minutes Christine felt Spock's mind calling her back to him. She wondered if he was even aware that he was doing it.

How could this happen? She had gone to him as soon as she heard from Uhura that he had closed himself up in his quarters. She and her friend had discussed this many years ago. Christine had extracted the other woman's promise that she would call her if the situation arose.

It was ironic really. She had wanted to save him, of course. But she had always assumed the experience would open them up to each other. That it would make him want her as his beloved wife.

Well, she thought bitterly, I got part of that wish. She wondered if beloved was even in Spock's vocabulary.

"Dr. Chapel?" The attendant was smiling at her. "You have a priority transmission from an Ambassador Spock. You can take it in the privacy station."

Christine shook her head. "Tell him I'm indisposed."

"Excuse me?"

Christine snapped at her. "What part of 'tell him I'm indisposed' did you not understand?"

The woman straightened up, stung by Christine's tone. "I'm sorry to have disturbed you." She spun on her heel and walked away.

Nice, Chapel, she berated herself. Take it out on innocent bystanders. She sighed heavily. Her head throbbed from the constant barrage of Spock's calls. It was like a migraine, only she had feeling that no medicine was going to make it better.

*Leave me alone!* She felt his mental cries stop. Then just a word came across.

*Wife?*

She refused to let the sound of that long desired word sway her determination. Again her mind screamed across the distance. *Leave me alone, Spock. You are hurting me. You will impair me permanently if you don't let me be. Is that what you want?*

Silence met her. Minutes passed and the blessed quiet continued. Thank god, she thought. She lay her head back against the cushion and instantly fell asleep.

******************

Once she was back on Earth, Christine's life fell back into its old pattern. She told only two people about the incident: Uhura and Demora Sulu, who the two women treated as a surrogate daughter. Much to Christine's relief, Spock did not again try to contact her. So she was surprised when several months after their encounter, he sent her a message.

He was at his most formal. "Greetings wife. I accept that you have chosen to live apart. However, you are still my bondmate and as such you are entitled by Vulcan law to a share of my holdings. I have listed them in an attached file that you will need to open and sign. You will find that you are suddenly a very wealthy woman, although I do not anticipate this will interest you as it might a more mercenary woman. I only wish I could offer you what you desire as easily as I share my material goods. I cannot change my nature, Christine. If this situation is truly abhorrent to you, I will not protest a divorce. I did not bond with you, however, with the intention of merely dissolving the union, so it is my wish that we remain wed. I will await either your acceptance of our union or your decision to petition for divorce. Spock out."

Christine started to laugh. Those were the most words he had ever exchanged with her. Without her realizing it her laughter turned to sobs. Tears streamed down her face as she opened the file he had sent. She was indeed a rich woman. She stared at the button she would have to touch to accept that she was, in the eyes of Vulcan anyway, Spock's wife. Finally she reached out, the brush of her finger closing the file and sending her acquiescence back to Spock.

So I'm your wife, she thought. I still won't live with you. Not without love.

********************

Several months later, Christine was at her desk when it hit her. Grief.overwhelming, paralyzing grief. And not hers. Spock!

She could barely rise from her chair. The anger and denial and sadness and loss threatened to overcome her. Must focus, she commanded frantically. I can't help him if I am incapacitated too.

The video monitor seemed a long way off. Finally she reached it, hit a Starfleet channel. The cause of Spock's distress was immediately apparent in the breaking newsflash that played continuously. "Captain Kirk dies a hero's death on the Enterprise-B."

Oh god, no. She had spent half her life jealous of the closeness that Kirk had managed to forge with Spock. She had wept for the Captain when Spock had given his life to save the Enterprise. She would have to do better than that if she was to help her.she hesitated over the word.her husband.

It took three hours to get through to Demora Sulu to discover what had happened and find out that Spock had made his way to the ship as soon as he heard of Kirk's death. Demora told her how Spock had spent hours searching with the sensors, not believing that his friend was truly dead. But finally even he had to give up. He had staggered off the bridge and to his cabin. Nobody had seen him since. He did not open the door, nor would he answer hails.

"You're coming to get him, aren't you?" Demora guessed. "You're the only one that can help him now, I think. We can't reach him.".

"I'm leaving on the first shuttle in the morning," Christine assured her.

The next day she was on her way to the Gourami Sector to rendezvous with the Enterprise-B.

**************************

The closer she got to the Enterprise the more intense the pain she was feeling from Spock grew. It got to the point that she wondered if she would be able to leave the shuttle, much less help him. Intertwined with his grief was the terrible feeling of being abandoned. Once again she felt a surge of jealousy at the closeness that Kirk and Spock had shared. Then instantly felt guilty for the emotion. She too had loved the Captain. And if he and Spock had known the bond of true and utter friendship, who was she to begrudge them that?

*Spock?* She reached out for his mind tentatively. There was no break in the pain. She tried more forcefully, using their as yet untested bond. *Spock!*

*Who?* she sensed his confusion as he felt her voice call him from his suffering.

*Husband.*

*Christine?* Pure shock and then relief coursed through the link. His lack of control was a disturbing indication of the level of his grief.

*Yes, Spock. I'm coming for you.*

*Soon?*

*Right now, Spock.* It was like talking to a child. *I'll be there soon.*

She felt hope burst from him then just as suddenly it was enveloped by despair. *I am alone. My friend is gone.*

*You are not alone, Spock. You will come home with me and we will be together until you are well again.*

*I will never be well.*

She sent encouragement and faith back to him. *Yes, yes you will, husband. I will see to it. I will be there in a few hours. Hold on for me.*

*Yes, I will hold on for you.* She felt him wrap up the worst of his grief in a cocoon of control. *Hurry, wife. Hurry.*

**************

Several hours later, Christine beamed over to the Enterprise. Demora met her in the transporter room. "Christine, thank god you are here. We've all been so worried about him. Scotty and Chekov tried to get through to him but he wouldn't let them in. He won't let any of us in."

"He'll let me in," Christine assured her. "Take me to him."

Demora nodded and led her to the guest quarters that Spock was using. The privacy lock was engaged.

*Spock.* She sensed a stirring from the cabin. *I am at the door. Let me in.*

The door opened and he stood before her. Both she and Demora gasped involuntarily at the sight of him. He was gaunt, his hair dirty, his eyes red from no sleep. He stood hunched over as if in pain. His skin was flat and grayish. But it was his expression that broke Christine's heart. She had never realized how much life, even merriment, was contained in his eyes. Now they were dead as they looked back at her.

"Spock."

He moved away from the door and let her in. She turned back to Demora. "Do not let anyone disturb us." The other woman nodded, and Christine reengaged the privacy lock.

She turned back to Spock. Again the shock of his appearance hit her full force. It didn't matter if he never loved her, she realized. She could not stand seeing him this way. She had to help him. But she was unsure how to begin. She was afraid to touch him, afraid to crumble his hard won control.

"Spock?"

*No words. Words can be misinterpreted. Give me your mind, Christine.*

She felt a frisson of fear at the thought of her mind and soul in his damaged hands. She steeled herself and moved to him until she was nearly touching his chest. His hand reached out for her face. She felt the pain of earlier, only magnified. Gasping with the force of his grief, her legs collapsed and he pulled her to him. He supported her weight for a moment then let them both collapse gently to the floor as he went even deeper.

She felt him rifle through her emotions. His mind touch was not gentle as he looked for something only he knew would save him. Her fear rose up again and she had to fight the urge to resist him. Then she was overwhelmed with memories of all the times she and Spock had interacted, his first Pon Farr, the time on Platonius, sharing consciousness to help Sargon, all the little times she had run into him or worked with him. It was as if he were milking the memories of her emotions. Then he focused on their bonding, the Pon Farr that had led up to it. She felt him amplify the pictures in her mind. *Yes,* his mind hissed to her. *Love me. Help me.*

Again she felt the urge to resist, but her love for him wouldn't let her abandon him. She found the core of him buried deep inside her and let go of every barrier she had ever erected to hide her feelings. She wrapped him so tightly in her love that she thought for sure he would reject the experience. But he did not run, he did not struggle against the emotional onslaught. Instead he just kept whispering, *Help me, Christine. Help me.*

**********************

Hours later, he released her and gently helped her up. He appeared ready to collapse but Christine could sense that he was ashamed of his unkempt appearance. She led him gently into the bathroom, stripped off his somewhat ripe uniform, and then stripped off her own clothes. She turned the shower to a temperature they could both tolerate and pulled him into the chamber with her. Moving him into the water stream she began to massage his neck. She kept her feelings very tender, almost professional. This was not about sex, this was about healing.

She felt Spock relax under her ministrations. He sighed heavily as she continued down his back. She pumped some shampoo from the shower container, began to rub it into his hair and scalp. As she used her fingers to massage his head she heard him groan. "Feels so good, Christine."

She was suddenly overwhelmed by tenderness for this man. She felt tears begin to fall. Feeling her emotion he turned to face her. His expression was uncertain as he touched her face.

"I'm so sorry you lost him, Spock." She sobbed unwillingly as her own grief hit her. "I'm so sorry."

He pulled her into his arms. He shed no tears but he shuddered as he held her now weeping body, again letting his mind enter hers. She felt his surprise as he realized that she had loved Kirk too. *I am not alone?*

*You are not alone, Spock.*

His hands brushed away her tears as she got control of herself. She finished rinsing the shampoo out of his hair. Took up the soap and began to cleanse his body. She did not avoid any spots and as she neared his genitals she could sense his discomfort. *Husband?* she sent to him, *May I not do this?*

He dropped the hand he had been raising to fend her off. *Wife, you may.*

She kept her motions as non-sensual as she could. She was reaching to put the soap back when he surprised her by taking it from her. *What.*

*Wife? May I not do this?*

She felt only a momentary hesitation before she replied, *Husband, you may.*

He soaped her gently, rubbing off the grime of the shuttle voyage and the sweat of their time on the floor. As he rinsed her off, she wondered if he found her body appealing.

*I find you beautiful,* he said. *So beautiful.*

He reached back and turned off the water. Leading her out of the chamber he took his towel and dried her off then used it on himself quickly. Ignoring the clothes scattered all over the floor, he pulled her unresisting to the bed. She followed him under the covers and he pulled her in close to him as his fingers again found the meld site. His mind was again in hers, though infinitely more gentle than before. *I regret if I hurt you.*

*You did not.* She felt his mind reach for the place it had been so well loved before. She made room for him and when he had settled among her memories she again wrapped her love around him, keeping him safe while he mourned.

As she felt his consciousness fading into sleep, tenderness suffused her being. *I love you, Spock.*

She felt his contented mental sigh. Her own exhaustion caught her and she soon followed her husband into slumber.

**************************

They left the Enterprise the next day. Spock was still a long way from recovery, but he was strong enough to say goodbye to his former shipmates and Sulu's daughter, and to follow Christine onto the shuttle that had diverted to pick them up. They sat together on the little ship, not touching, looking for all the world like two strangers.

But inside their minds they were anything but strangers. Bridges were appearing between them. Thoughts were starting to flow freely. Spock opened himself to receive her love and she was unafraid to send it.

By the time they had arrived back on Earth and she was showing him to a guestroom in her apartment touching his mind had become second nature. She felt a new emotion from him as he looked at the guest bed.consternation. *Spock, what is it?*

He looked at her, sent her images of them wrapped in each other's arms. Then he turned away and opened his travel case to unpack his things.

"Do you want to sleep with me?" He turned at her words.

*Christine.*

"Use words, Spock. Do you want to sleep in my bed?"

She felt his resistance to even this small concession. She turned away, sorry that she had pushed him.

"Yes." Then she felt his mind caress hers. *Please do not leave me alone.*

She walked over to the bed, grabbed his case and smiled at him. "Come, husband, come see our bed."

She felt a strong feeling of satisfaction from him as he followed her. She had to stifle a laugh, which quickly turned into a yawn.

"You are tired."

She nodded. Then she laid her hand on his chest and let her mind find his. She felt his exhaustion. *So are you, Spock. We will sleep now.*

He nodded and before she had time to think about it he was stripping her clothes off her, then taking his own off. He folded both sets of clothes neatly on the dresser. As he turned around, he noticed her expression and stopped mid-stride. *Have I done something wrong.*

She laughed outright. Then sent him a picture of herself in her nightgown and him wearing pajamas. He just as quickly sent back a picture of them both lying naked in the bed. He pushed her into the bed and followed her down. Wrapping himself around her, he sent her a soft thought, *I prefer skin on skin.*

She cuddled closer to him, *Honestly, so do I.*

*Then we do not need to discuss this again, my wife. Sleep.* His hands pulled her even closer as his mind sank deep into her consciousness. She felt that she was wrapped completely in him, no space left untouched. As his mind relaxed it pulled her own into sleep.

**************

*Jim!* Spock's mental scream woke her violently. *Jim!*

She reached for his mind, followed the stream of the nightmare. Found herself in the middle of it. Spock stood near a cliff, trying to hold Kirk up but his grip was not firm and the captain slipped, fell down, down, down. *Jim!*

*Spock!* She made her voice firm, the tone of teacher, of a mentor, of a friend. *Spock!*

He turned to her, shocked to see her there. *He is gone.*

*You couldn't have saved him.*

*I should have been with him. I could have prevented this.*

She could feel his guilt. He would never believe her. Please, she thought, please if you are anywhere out there, reach out to him now, now while he can hear you.

Suddenly a familiar voice rang out. *I doubt that old friend.*

Spock spun around, his emotions wild in her mind. *Jim!*

Kirk stood before them both, looking happy and very much alive. He nodded at Christine but most of his attention was for his friend. *I was grandstanding, Spock. You know how you hated that. I only would have succeeded in taking you with me.*

She could feel Spock's despair, *That would have been acceptable.*

Kirk reached over and shook the Vulcan. *No dammit, it would not have been acceptable! One of us dead by my vanity is quite enough. Besides,* he threw Christine a cocky grin, *I saved the ship, I'm a hero, who wants to share that?*

She walked up to stand behind Spock. He sensed her and turned to look at her.

Kirk laughed, *Personally I can't think of a better reason to live than what is standing right there. She loves you, Spock. Love her. Remember me, but let me go. I'm fine. You'd be surprised what it's like here.* He faded out and for a moment Christine thought she saw a cabin in the woods and a woman waiting for him.

*Spock?* She held her hand out to him.

He turned to her, took her hand in his own. *I can go on?* he asked her seriously.

*Yes.*

He frowned. *We can go on? Together?*

*Yes.*

She pulled him out of the nightmare, back to their safe place. She knew the grief was not gone, would perhaps never completely leave, but Spock was safe now. He could go on. As if in answer, he pulled her in to him, touched her face gently. Then she felt his mind again pull her down into unconsciousness.

********************

Christine woke several hours later to find Spock watching her. His gaze was unfathomable. Suddenly uncertain, she reached for him through the bond. Blackness met her. The barrier she had tried to get through the first time was up again. Instant sorrow filled her. The communion with Spock, so fresh in her mind, was gone.

"Would you like to see what is behind it?" Spock's voice was gentle.

She wanted only to run away, run from him. Her heart was breaking.

His hand reached for the meld points. "Wife, may I not do this?"

She sobbed in fear and in hope, as his fingers hovered just above her face. "Husband, you may."

His mental touch was feather light, gently caressing her. *I have found solace in your mind, within your love. But you have only found a nightmare within my mind. It is time you went deeper.*

She followed his touch to a distant part of him, to the barrier that she had not been able to break through.

*Behold your power now. Touch it, Christine.*

She reached out. At the first tiny contact the blockade shivered. She touched it a little more firmly and the structure collapsed at her feet. Suddenly all around her was warmth. Utter safety. Spock.

*Come see what lies beyond.*

She moved slowly, feeling as though she were drowning in him. The deeper she went, the more surrounded she felt. Love, she realized, this is love.

*Yes, beloved, this is love.*

She felt him wrap her in tenderness, in contrition, in passion, in gratitude.in love. She was also dimly aware that their bodies were joining, mirroring the closeness that their minds were experiencing.

*How?*

His tone was richly amused and affectionate. *It was always there. But I was afraid to let it out. It escaped that moment during our Pon Farr when I sought to keep you with me always by bonding with you. Later I was afraid; I locked up my feelings. But they were always there. I have been drawn to you from the first moment I saw you. But circumstances were not in our favor. So I pushed my feelings behind this wall.*

She felt her body responding to his, finding blissful pleasure in his arms. His mind caressed her as well. *I lost Jim. I will not lose you, Christine. Not if you will have me as your husband, in truth.*

She laughed in joyful delight. Before she took off like a child to explore his waiting emotions, she asked, *Husband, may I not do this?*

*Wife, you may.* His chuckle was the most beautiful sound she had ever heard.

FIN