The Lost Years: Chaos By Djinn

Part 2 of 2

Christine waited by the door impatiently. She and Jim had slept much later than she'd expected. Then he'd insisted they eat. "Come on."

Jim hurried over to her, the weapon slung over his shoulder, safe in its case. "Calm down."

She took a deep breath. "I'm calm. Now, come on."

She glanced over at the couch; the throw that had covered her was pushed to the side. Somehow, while they'd slept, Jim had managed to turn them so that he had been lying down and she'd been nearly on top of him. It had been an interesting way to wake up.

He shot her a look, seemed to be thinking the same thing as he looked over at the couch. "Not the best place for two to sleep."

She smiled. "The bed would have been less ummm intimate."

He laughed. "I'm so glad you're not the kind to say 'I told you so.'"

"Me too. Now can we go?"

"It won't be dark for a while."

"I know." She pulled her crossbow over her shoulder, shoved the phaser into her pants' pocket. "No good for beheading, by the way."


"Takes too long."

He nodded thoughtfully. "Good to know."

They stopped for coffee on the way--his idea, and she chafed a bit at the delay as he bought their drinks.

"Chris. He's a vampire. Even if he's in the sewers right under her house. He can't come out until it's dark."

"I know." She sipped at the foamy coffee.

He'd splurged and bought the good stuff. He saw her expression and smiled. "Life is too short to drink boring coffee." He sipped at his. "Besides, I could use the caffeine." He grinned at her. "Not so sure you need to be any more wound up than you already are."

"I'm all right." She watched a young woman as she walked toward them. After they passed each other, she said, "She's one of them."

He turned and looked at the woman, then turned back to her with a frown. "One of whom?"

"The slayers."

He shook his head. "You're seeing shadows everywhere, Chris. She's not."

"You saw them all last night?"

He laughed. "Actually I did. There wasn't a lot else to do since we weren't fighting. They were all so different. I mean other than the same basic age. And female."

"And you know she's not a slayer."

He shrugged, shot her a long-suffering glance. "Maybe she is. But she wasn't there last night. And what difference does it make?" His attention was caught by something ahead.

Christine looked away from him. She saw Carol Marcus standing with her son, staring at the two of them as if trying to make up her mind whether it was safe to go by. She finally turned and walked across the street. David was telling her something and didn't seem to notice the delay.

Jim sighed. "I think it's harder now when I see them every now and then, than it was when I knew they were safely offworld."

She nodded, touched his arm. "I'm sorry." She smiled softly. "Maybe if I hadn't been here, she would have come this way? Maybe she was just worried for her hand?"

He shook his head, but smiled at her. "I doubt it, Chris. It's a nice thought in a way, but I can't let myself think that way. I can't get my hopes up."

"You prefer to live in this misery where he's concerned?"

"You have a better idea?" His smile faded as he looked at her.

She held up a hand. "I'm sorry. I didn't mean what I said as condemnation. It's just not the way I've lived my life, you know that. I'm more impulsive than you."

He nodded. "I know." He gestured to the place they'd hidden out before, down from Emma's townhouse. He looked up. "The sun will be down in about forty five minutes."

She felt out with her slayer sense, could feel the sun's passage as if it was marked in her body. He was right. "How do you know that?"

He looked guilty. "I feel it."

"Do you feel the dawn too?"

He nodded. Then he looked down. "Have ever since we got back."

"So it's something you could always do?" She could hear the doubt in her voice and smiled gently to show him she was just curious.

"Only since Anacost." He moved closer to her. "Some things are different."

"Like the way you like your meat?"

"That's a big one. But not just that." He leaned in, sniffed her neck. "You smell different. People do."

"Like food?" She laughed.

"No." He grinned at her. "You just smell good."

She smiled. "Then different how?"

He thought about it for a moment. "More intense. Like I can smell the life in them? It's not obvious...I didn't even realize things were different until one day in the gym. I realized that everything was more intense."

"You're stronger too." She nodded. "Somehow, his blood is making you a little stronger than you were."

"It'll dilute, right? Like a transfusion would eventually."

She shrugged. "There's not a lot of data on this. I'm not sure vampire blood does dissipate over time. Maybe it'll always stay separate and strong."

"But it won't take over?"

She shook her head. "It would have by now. It would have that night, after he bit you. If it was going to." She ruffled his hair gently, at the neck, where he seemed to like it. "You're just going to have to live with being a little bit vampire. I don't think that's a bad thing."

"Yes, I know how fond you get of them." He smiled. "It's slayer not lay--"

She put a hand over his mouth, felt him laugh under her touch. "For the record, I've only been with one of them. And that's an old joke. Ever since Buffy."

"Does everything start and end with her?" He shook his head. "Seems like you should date things BB and AB."

She laughed. "Maybe we should." She thought about those other worlds Spike had seen, the ones where Buffy's life had gone so differently. Certainly his world revolved around the woman.

"Was it different with a vampire?" he asked.

"Sex, you mean?"

He nodded.

"The basic mechanics are the same. Their bodies aren't warm. That takes some getting used to." She touched his hand. "You don't have that characteristic. You're very warm."

He nodded. "Alma used to say I had lots of fire in me. Speaking of which." He opened the case and took the weapon out. He flipped it on. "Might as well get it ready."

"Do you miss her?"

He nodded. "I do. Not as much as I did at first. So much has happened since she left."

She nodded.

"And there's you now." His look was open, not trying to hide what he felt for her.

She smiled. "She was good for you."

He nodded. "Yes. I think she was." He smiled. "Like Spike was for you. Do you miss him?"

She laughed. "I do. He brought a lightness to my life I'd never had." She smiled fondly. "You'd like him. He's fun."

"I'd probably be too busy wondering if you were still sleeping with him." He made a funny face. "Not that I have any right to be territorial."

She shrugged. "I like it that you are."

He grinned at her. "Well, that's good. Because I doubt I'll change any time soon."

She watched him as he loaded a rocket into the gun, then she looked down the street, checking the tops of buildings, and other hidey holes for watchers and the other slayers. The block appeared empty of life. Unnaturally empty. It was as if the watchers had chosen this street for its very isolation. Less questions, she supposed, but lonely for Emma. And scary at night when a vampire was gunning for you and a little human company would have been welcome, even if was a distant company. Even if the humans around didn't have the least idea what was happening.

The hum of the machine changed to the low whine that signaled it was ready. She watched the street again, waiting for something--anything--to happen. "David said he didn't love Emma." She looked at Jim. "Do you believe that?"

"You know him better than I do."

"I don't know him at all. Maybe I don't know her either." She shook her head. "So many lies, Jim. When does it stop?" She felt him grasp her hand.

"Lies do seem to be the norm around here, don't they?"

She nodded. He squeezed her hand, then took out the box holding the orb and checked it. Seemingly satisfied, he put the orb in his pocket, and stuffed the box into his other pocket.

At her look, he said, "I think it'll be tonight too. I can feel it in the air." He looked up, closed his eyes for a moment and said, "Sun will be down soon."

She nodded. They waited in an easy silence, watching the sky as it changed from blue to orange to dark indigo. As the sun set, she could feel her senses coming alive. She looked over at Jim. He looked more alert too.

An hour passed as they stood in silence. Every nerve inside of Christine seemed to be screaming danger. She wanted to fight, was ready to fight.

She heard footsteps sounding down the walk, from the opposite direction.

"He's not going to just walk up to her door," Jim said, his words barely more than breathed air.

But that was exactly what David did. He bounded up the steps and rang Emma's door chime.

Emma must have been waiting by the door for it opened instantly. She stood aside, let David in.

"No!" Christine was already moving but Emma didn't seem to hear her. The door shut.

Jim was right behind her. "Why would she do that? Why would she let him in?"

"What if he made her the same offer he did me?"

"Her life for yours?"

Christine nodded, felt her stomach sink into a pit somewhere near her knees. "Emma, no."

They rushed up the stairs and she tried the door, but it was locked.

"To hell with this," she said, as she stepped over to the scanner. "Medical Emergency override. Protocol EMT five-zero-alpha. Doctor Christine Chapel."

The door clicked and she pushed through it, running upstairs. There was no one in sight.

"Chris, down here," Jim called from the lower level.

She ran down the stairs, her feet barely touching the ground. The training room was empty, but the back door stood open.

She ran out into the night, knew he was right behind her. David and Emma were nowhere to be seen. She stopped running. Stood trying to get some kind of fix on her watcher.

"Where would he take her?"

She looked up at him. "I don't know."

"The cemetery?"

She nodded. "Maybe." But they'd been there before. David wasn't that predictable. Where was he headed?

"Chris. She doesn't have much time."

"I know." She could feel panic pushing at her. Where? Where would they have gone? She was breathing too hard, forced herself to slow down. "I have an idea." A really bad idea. Before she could think better of it, she grabbed his hand. "We're going to need your magic, Jim."

With her other hand she reached up for Laura's ring, jammed her little finger into it. Pictured Emma's face...and David's.

A portal started to form.

"Chris, what are you doing?" But he followed her into the portal.

"We're going to borrow this." She turned to him. "Just give me a boost, I can do the rest." She hoped.

He nodded, closed his eyes. As the portal closed around them, she felt a rush of raw power fill her, pouring through Jim's hand into hers. She focused on Emma. "Find her," she ordered the portal.

The portal shook. They could probably feel it all the way back in Kirsu. There'd be hell to pay with LaVelle if this worked.

The portal opened in a small room. Christine jumped out, pulling Jim with her.

"Where are we?" he whispered as the portal closed.

"I don't know." She moved silently into the next room, a big room, warehouselike.

She saw Silver and his fellow watchers. And slayers, but only a few. Silver was sitting at a small table, slayers and watchers huddled around him, looking at something.

"David has Emma," she managed to get out. Not sure why she thought he could help.

Silver whirled. His face went white, then he glared at them. "I told you what would happen if you got in our way."

"Did you hear what she just said?" Jim said. "Where are the other slayers?"

Silver stared hard at him, then said, "We had a report of David being seen in Berkeley. A very good source."

"It's not him," Christine said. "He's in town. And he has Emma."

One of the other watchers said, "How the hell did you get in here? We have slayers on the entrance. Are they sleeping?" He motioned for two of the slayers to follow him to the entrance, but stopped as Lynda and another slayer slowly walked backwards into the warehouse. Both had stakes raised.

David, holding Emma close with a phaser to her throat, emerged from the shadows and followed them in.

"You promised, David," Emma said softly. "You said it would be quick. In the cemetery."

"How can he watch if it's in the cemetery? How can he suffer if it's quick?" David's grip on Emma tightened. "Sorry, lover. I lied."

Christine backed up slowly. Maybe he hadn't seen them yet.

"Stay where I can see you, Christine."

She froze.

David shot her a puzzled look. "I could have sworn I saw you outside Emma's house."

"Guess you were wrong."

"I can't take the shot as long as he's holding her as a shield," Jim said softly.

David did not appear to be worried about the gun. She looked over at Jim. He had the gun pressed against his leg. It shimmered slightly, and her eyes seemed unable to focus when she tried to look at it.

Good thing he had the protection spell down pat.

Silver stood up. "David. It's me you want to hurt. We both know this." He held out his hand. "Let her go."

"Nice try, old man." David moved back, pulling Emma with him. "The slayers go. All except Christine. Send them out now."

Silver didn't hesitate. "Lynda, take them out."

She looked at him uncertainly.


She led the others out. David waited until they were clear, then he pulled Emma to the door switch. He hit it, waited until the door closed firmly, then shot it with his phaser, fusing the lock. He never let go of Emma. "See what he'll do for you, lover? I told you how important you were to him."

Christine moved closer, could feel Jim behind her.

"If you could get that phaser away from him," he said softly.

She nodded. "We just need a little distraction."

"I think I have that covered. Just get us a little closer."

"What are you and your paramour muttering about, Christine?" David pulled Emma toward him; he had her arm at an odd angle. If he pulled her any closer, he'd break her arm. "That's close enough."

Christine stopped. "Emma, why?"

Emma looked over at her. "He made me an offer I found too good to refuse. I thought he was a man of his word." She wrenched her head back so that she could look up at him and spit in his face. "My life for hers. That was the deal."

He rubbed the spittle off against her hair. "I intend to keep up my end of the bargain. But I didn't say anything about our fellow watchers."

Christine took another step forward.

David yanked up on Emma's arm. The cracking sound seemed to fill the room. Emma didn't cry out, but tears came and she was breathing hard.

"Behave yourself, Christine. Or I'll hurt her some more." David looked down at Emma.

Sweat was pouring down her forehead. "Hurts, does it?" He glanced at Kevin. "So brave. Isn't she brave, Kevin?"

"David, for god's sake, let her go." Silver took a step toward him. "How many years are you going to hold this against me?"

"That you took a little boy who only wanted to study science, maybe join Starfleet, and turned him into a monster? That I had no choice in the matter? Why, I think I'll hold it against you forever. And for me, that's going to be a nice long time."

"You could have quit," Emma said.

"And have my fellow special ops brothers track me down?" He looked over at Christine. "How easy was it to quit?"

"No one tried to hurt me when I did, David. You could have quit."

"You don't know that. I had access to everything. Horrors you have not heard about yet. Things that make the Cruciamentum seem kind." He looked at Silver. "Would you have let me live, Uncle?"

"You could have left," Silver said.

Christine could hear the lie in his voice.

Jim inched closer to her, the movement so fluid that David didn't notice. "We're running out of time. Silver's too stubborn to save this situation. I think it's time for a distraction."

"Agreed." She didn't look at him when she whispered, "On three?"

"One, two, three," Jim said, throwing the orb to the side of David. "Laura," he whispered.

Smoke gushed from the broken crystal, rising up, making a wispy dark curtain. The watchers moved back.

David pulled Emma away from it; he looked at Jim as if he'd gone mad. "What the hell do you think you're doing?"

"David?" A voice that Christine had thought she'd never hear again rang through the room. "David?"

Both he and Emma turned to the smoke, twin looks of amazement on their faces.

Laura walked out of the smoke. She smiled at David.

"Chris, go. She'll only hold form for a few minutes."

Christine was already moving, slowly covering ground, trying not to spook David.

"David?" Laura walked toward him.

He dragged Emma with him, his eyes locked on his lost slayer. "Laura?"

Emma looked over at Christine, a strange suspicion on her face, then she looked back at the girl. "Laura?"

Suddenly Laura fell, the smiling young girl giving way to the girl who'd died on Vega Hydra. Bloody and hurt, she held her hand up to David. "Help me."

He backed away. "No." Then he seemed to realize Christine was coming up fast. He turned, lifting the phaser again.

"No!" she said, knew it was too far, that she wouldn't get to him. Then she felt a familiar energy pushing her, getting her close enough fast enough.


Her hand was out, slapping the phaser away from David, her other hand pushing Emma away from him. She kicked David back, saw Jim out of the corner of her eye pulling Emma away.

David frowned. "What is that?" He suddenly moved so Christine was between them. "A weapon?"

She kicked him away from her. Saw that Jim had raised the gun. It no longer shimmered.

"I told you. We're not just whittling stakes anymore."

He laughed as he moved around her. "He can't get a shot as long as you're in front of me." He traded blows with her, never hitting her hard enough to lose her as a shield. "Do you think he can fire before I get to him? Before I rip his head off?"

She smiled. "Yes. I do." She saw that he was working them closer to Jim. "But you're not going to get the chance."

"We'll see."

He moved back and she followed him, then he suddenly lunged at her, kicking her hard, back toward Jim. He followed, keeping her between them, and leapt up, kicking her again as she tried to give Jim a shot.

She went careening into him, knocking the weapon out of his hands. It clattered to the ground.

Next to Emma.

As Christine went after David again, she heard Emma say, "Which one do I shoot?"

Jim yelled at her, "David. Shoot David."

Emma seemed to sob. "I know. But which one?"

Christine moved between David and her watcher. He rushed her and she caught him up, threw him away from her, into some of the other watchers. He was up quickly and back at her.

"You knew it would come to this," she said. "You and me. The old- fashioned way."

He shook his head. "I've still got body armor. You don't." He laughed, then rushed her for real.

She lost track of what Emma or Jim or anyone but David was doing. Their movements were like poetry, strike, strike, kick. Back and forth, neither of them giving ground.

She remembered that Rosa had danced like this with Anacost. Finally, understood why she'd been smiling.

It was what she had been born to do.

They closed, fought closer in. Her hands were sore from hitting his armor; her legs were staring to tire. But she laughed. She could feel a strange darkness fill her. They would finish this. Finally.

And it would not be her that would go down. She grabbed him, pulled him to the side. Gave Emma a shot. Knew her watcher wouldn't miss. Even with a broken arm. She was the best shot Christine had ever seen. "Emma, now!"

Emma fired.

And the rocket flew dead on target--if she'd been aiming for Christine.

"No!" Jim yelled.

Christine made a helpless noise. Time slowed strangely and she knew it was over. It would be her lying on the ground.

It would be her who died.

Then David pushed her away.

She fell back, landed hard on her butt, felt the shock as her tailbone protested.

David was smiling, turning toward the rocket as it tore through his chest. He flew back, as if the rocket was still traveling and carrying him with it. He finally fell, and she could see fire burning through the gaping hole in his body armor.

She rushed to him. Could hear Jim behind her.

David looked up at Jim. "You made this?"

Jim nodded.

Christine was trying to put the fire out. She tried to smother it with her jacket but it wouldn't go out.

"It's chemical, love. I can feel that. Not normal fire." It began to spread out from this chest, his skin bubbling up around the hole, then turning into something that looked like coals, fire glowing from behind the cracks in his skin.

She leaned forward and he caught her around the neck. His hands tightened painfully on either side of her head. She froze.

He looked up at Jim. "You need to make it burn faster. If it were anyone but her...I'd snap her neck." He let go of her.

She started to breathe again. "David."

"It hurts." He reached out, touched her jacket where she'd dropped it. Pulling out her stake, he handed it to her. "End it, Christine. The old- fashioned way." He groaned in pain as the fire spread again.

She tried to blink back tears, but they fell onto his face.

"You cry for me." He smiled. A shy, uncertain smile. He was Thompson again. Just for a moment. "That's nice."

"I'll fight for them. I promise."

"I know you will." The fire spread again. So slowly. Too slowly.

Why didn't it burn faster?

She looked at the stake. It was what she was made for. To slay him.

He smiled, grabbed her hand. "Here. I'll do it for you."

She put her other hand over his. "No. I can do it."

He nodded, relaxed his grip on her hand, but didn't let go of the stake.

"Goodbye, David."

He smiled up at her. This time his own cocky grin. She slammed the stake into his chest, felt his hand clench on hers, then it turned to dust. She looked up at Jim.

He was watching her with concern. He gently set his hand on her shoulder. "I'll help you. You know that. Whatever I can do for the slayers, I'll do."

She pushed herself to her feet and moved close to him, touching his cheek, then leaning in and kissing him softly on the mouth before she pulled away. "I know you will." She looked down at where Silver was sitting with Emma. "We need to get her to the hospital."

He pulled out his communicator. She could hear him calling for emergency transport as she walked to her watcher. She pushed past Silver, knelt down next to Emma.

"I didn't think you'd be able to do it," Silver said softly. "I may have misjudged you."

She gave him a hard look. "Don't talk to me right now. I had to kill him because you couldn't let a little boy live the life he wanted. And I thought it was only girls you destroyed."

He looked down. "I don't expect you to understand my position."

Emma reached out, touched his arm. "Don't, Kevin. Just let her hurt. She loved him." Emma's eyes met hers. "We both did." She looked down. "Even if he only loved one of us." Her smile was tremulous, a little bit startling coming from such a normally stalwart woman. As Christine watched, the starch came back into her expression. She smiled firmly up at her. "My arm's in pain, dear. Perhaps a hospital?"

"Jim's got that covered." Christine helped her up. And led her away from Silver and the other watchers.

She left Emma with Jim, then gathered up her jacket, touching the pile of dust. "I won't forget," she promised David. Then she sighed and straightened up. "Get us out of here, Jim."

She didn't look away from the dust until the transporter took them.


Kirk watched Christine as she worked on Emma's arm. He'd used his flag privileges to get his "cousin" Emma Drake seen at Starfleet Medical. Christine had used a few dark looks to get the doctors on duty in the emergency clinic to back off. Nobody seemed to want to argue with her.

He could suddenly see her as CMO.

She was running some scans over Emma's head.

"Still trying to get to the bottom of those migraines?" Emma asked. She had a strange look on her face. Off somehow, but Kirk wasn't sure how.

"You shouldn't have to be in pain all the time," Christine said, glancing over at him.

He smiled at her, and she smiled back. He and Emma were the only ones getting smiles out of her tonight.

He felt a hand on his arm, turned and saw Uhura. She was in civilian clothes.

"Nyota, what are you going here?"

She smiled grimly. "I have my comm system set up to notify me if certain people are admitted into the local hospitals." She shook her head. "I can't do much, but I can do that."

He smiled. "Good thinking."

She nodded distractedly. "What happened?"

"Big battle." He looked down. He felt surprisingly bad about how things had turned out. He wished they could have wooed David over to their side. He thought he could have liked the man.

"Is Christine okay?" Uhura was watching her with concern.

"She's all right. Emma has a broken arm."

"And David?"

Kirk shook his head.

Uhura looked down. "I'll pray for him."

He smiled. "That'd be a good thing." He thought David might need the prayers.

Christine finished her scans of Emma's brain, moved down to check her arm. She moved aside to let the nurse in with the regenerator. "One more pass, I think," she said, and the nurse nodded.

She walked over to Kirk and Uhura, let Uhura pull her into a hug.

"I'm sorry, Christine."

She nodded, then she looked over at him. "There was no other way."

"There wasn't." He'd been working it over and over. It had ended the only way it could if no one would bend. He was just glad she'd come out unharmed.

She turned back to check Emma's arm, and he said softly to Uhura, "You should have seen her fight, Nyota. It was beautiful."

Uhura smiled. "I take it Chekov's little toy worked?"

He smiled. Patted the violin case he still had slung over his shoulder. "I'll have to tell him that."

"He'll be thrilled."

"He needs to work on the chemical mix. It burns too slowly." But was it smart to make it burn any faster? What if it had hit Chris? If it had been too fast, he'd have never been able to extinguish it. Not that he could have extinguished it on his own. Why hadn't he thought to ask them for an extinguisher? She would have burned to death and it would have been his fault.

"Wherever you've gone," Uhura said softly. "Leave it." She touched his hand. "She's fine."

He shot her a puzzled look, unsure how she knew what he was thinking. "How...?"

She smiled. "You get a certain look where she's concerned." She looked at Chris. "She looks all in."

"She needs sleep." He could hold her tonight, hold her in his bed. Then he realized there was no need. David was dead and she could sleep in her own bed. He felt a bit bereft at the thought.

Uhura walked over to Emma, who was sliding off the exam table, her arm in a sling.

"How long do I have to wear this, Christine?" Emma asked.

"A few days." Christine smiled. "Don't you like the color?"

"It's fine. Just unwieldy."

Christine nodded. "Let's get you home."

"I can do that," Uhura said, moving gently between Chris and Emma. "You need to get some sleep."

Emma nodded. "I'll see you tomorrow, my dear. You do look very tired." She touched Chris's arm. "It's been a hard night for all of us."

Chris nodded, let Uhura lead Emma away.

"You can use the transporter to get her home," Kirk said. "Just tell the tech I've authorized it."

Uhura nodded and led Emma out.

He watched Chris as she cleaned up.

"I should leave this for the nurse. Old habits die hard." She looked over at him. There was something lost in her expression and he moved toward her.

She shied away. "I'm okay."

"I know you are." When she turned around, an angry look on her face as if he was humoring her, he said softly. "Chris, I'm not worried about you. I'm just feeling bad for David. And for us. For having to be the ones who did it. You did what you had to do. Like I knew you would."

She moved closer. "You have such faith in me."

He nodded. "I do." He smiled, pulled her to him and she didn't resist.

Her arms wrapped around him. "I didn't want him to die."

"I know."

They stood in silence, warm in the cocoon of their embrace.

"You can go home tonight," he said, his voice sounding more forlorn than he meant it to.

"I don't want to." She pulled away. "But I probably should. Safer."

He touched her hair. "We'll be okay. Come home with me. I don't want to be alone tonight either."

She nodded, grabbed up her stuff and led him out of Starfleet Medical. As she turned for the exit, he touched her hand.

She took it. Squeezed hard.

"I'm sorry, Chris."

"Me too, Jim. Me too."

They didn't talk the rest of the way home.


Christine hurried down the street to Emma's townhouse. She didn't understand why Emma wasn't answering her comms. She had visions of her watcher hurt, perhaps when Emma had reached for something and had wrenched her healing arm. She ran up the steps, hit the chime. "Come on, come on."

She looked down at the padd she carried. McCoy had once told her that the hardest part of being a doctor was delivering bad news. Medicine had come a long way, but there were still times when there was nothing anyone could do. How did you tell someone they had virtually no time left? She should have seen the symptoms. The sensitivity to light, the headaches. Even during the fight, it must have been double vision that made Emma misaim the weapon as she had.

How cruel would it be for her watcher to have fought so hard for her life and then find out that it was for nothing? If someone had caught it sooner, maybe then they could have done something--

Christine pushed the thought away. Chorealpaneic Encephalitis was not something you caught sooner. In Christine's infectious disease course, the professor had called it a sleeping killer, lying hidden for years after exposure, slowly weaving itself into the body's vital systems. By the time the first symptom was seen, it was long past too late. Emma had probably been carrying it for years unaware that her body harbored a time bomb. A time bomb that no one would think to look for. It wasn't the kind of disease that flared into epidemics. It wasn't airborne, didn't spread through casual contact. You had to be exposed to infected brain or spinal tissue. Christine smiled grimly. The demons they routinely fought often tore their victims apart, exposing every kind of tissue. Emma had probably been infected by a corpse she'd examined. She'd probably never realized that the victim had been doomed long before the big bad monster got to him.

Christine rang the chime again, then keyed in her medical emergency override, pushing the door open when the lock clicked. She thought she heard movement upstairs, and yelled out, "Emma?"

The movement stopped.

"Damn it." Something was in this house. Something that didn't want her to know it was there. Well, that something was in for a rude awakening.

She crept down the hallway. The noise had come from Emma's bedroom.

She kicked the door in, poised to attack. There was no one in the bedroom but Emma, standing by the bed, holding a jacket.

Christine dropped her hands, letting her fists unclench, feeling foolish. "Emma, for God's sake, I called. Didn't you hear me?"

She suddenly realized there was a suitcase on the bed, half filled with clothes. Another small bag sat on the floor, full of books and weapons.

Christine turned to her watcher. "You're going somewhere?"

Emma seemed unable to look at her.

Christine realized she wasn't wearing the sling; it was lying on the dresser. Emma followed her gaze, then looked away.

Christine saw a smaller case, full of hypos sitting on the bed. Walking over to it, she checked out the contents. Painkillers, sedatives, anti- anxiety meds. Enough to put down a small elephant--permanently. She dropped her padd on the bed, turned and stared at Emma. "You already know, don't you?"

Emma was clutching the jacket to her, as if it were a lifeline. She backed up, sat down quickly in the chair against the wall.

"How long have you known?" Christine asked.

"Quite a while."

"My god. It's why you took David up on his offer. You knew you'd be dead soon anyway."

"I told you. It was a good offer." Emma smiled sadly.

Christine held up the meds. "And these?"

Emma met her eyes, her expression bleakly determined. "I like to think of those as dignity."

Christine blinked back angry tears. "Dignity? You're running away. All those damn lectures to me, and you're running away?"

"Really, dear. You're being overdramatic." Emma's voice was lacking its normal starch. She cleared her throat, seemed to draw herself up as if in an attempt to look like the watcher that Christine had first met. "This is a private matter."

Christine fought the urge to hurl the medicines against the wall. Emma would just get more; it was easy to do if one had the resources and the will.

She walked over to Emma, looked down at her. "It's not a private matter anymore. I'm involved."

"Oh, for god's sake, Christine. I'm your watcher. One who you didn't even want. I don't expect anything from you." She stood up, pushed past her and folded the jacket carefully, sticking it in the suitcase.

"It doesn't matter what you expect, because you're stuck with me."

Emma walked to the closet, reaching for a handful of clothes and carrying them back to the suitcase. She didn't look at Christine, kept her head down. As she folded a skirt on the top of the pile, she said, "Go away, Christine. I don't need you here. And you've proven you don't need a watcher. You had to rescue me, after all."

When Christine didn't say anything, Emma sighed. "I should think that you'd be happy to be rid of me. I'm certainly happy to be done with this assignment."

Her voice broke on the last word.

Christine moved closer, reached out and turned Emma's face to her. Her watcher's eyes were filled with tears. Emma's chin trembled as she tried but failed to hold back a small sob.

Christine let her go. "Where will you go?"

Emma shrugged.

Christine let her hand rest on Emma's upper back, rubbed it gently, the way Jim always did for her when she was upset.

There was no fire left in Emma's voice as she whispered, "I have so little time left, Christine."

"I know." Christine took a deep breath. "Why would you run?"

Emma turned to her, almost violently. "How could I not? I didn't want you to have to see me die. Not after you've made so much progress. Not when you have a chance to find some happiness."

"You think I'm not strong enough?" Christine shook her head, could feel tears fill her eyes and didn't try to fight them as they fell. "Well, you're wrong. Because of you, I am strong enough." She took a deep breath. "I won't let you die alone. And fortunately for you, I happen to be a doctor now." She nudged the bag of meds away. "I can take care of you much better than these can."

"Why?" Emma shook her head; tears ran down her face. "Why put yourself through this?"

"Because a watcher I know told me that I shouldn't run away from things. I should stay. I should fight."

"There is no more fighting to do. There's nothing you can do. I'm going to die."

"Yes, you are. But not alone, Emma. You won't die alone." Christine took another deep breath, the sound raspy, full of pain. "Please don't go. I can't bear thinking of you alone."

Emma turned, pulled her into a fierce hug. "Sweet, sweet child."

Christine held her friend tightly. "I'm older than you, Emma."

Emma pulled away, smoothed back Christine's hair. She shook her head, as if in defeat. "I know you are. And soon you'll have to be the watcher."

Christine took a deep breath, forced herself to stop crying. She stood straight. She'd won. Emma would stay. Christine had to be strong. "You think that any of that tweed will fit me?"

Emma laughed, then pulled out a linen handkerchief and blew her nose.

"Do you have any idea how unsanitary that is?" Christine reached for the cloth. "Tissues, disposable."

Emma pulled it away from her. "In a few weeks, it won't matter."

Christine dropped her hand, nodded. Such blunt acceptance. But, Emma was right. In a few weeks, it wouldn't matter.

"Promise me, we'll be honest. None of this sparing my feelings, or sugarcoating the truth. And no more tears. I don't want to cry anymore, and I don't want you to."

"I promise." She tried to push Emma away from the suitcase. "Let me do this. You rest."

Emma scowled at her. "That's what I mean. I can still do this now. Let me. Soon enough I'll be resting." She looked down. "I'll be resting forever."

Christine nodded, hurt at the tone.

"Oh, Christine, go make us some tea or something. We're not on deathwatch yet."

She tried to smile. "Right. Tea. Good idea."

"Christine?" Emma called out as Christine walked toward the door. "I love you. Thank you."

Christine turned to look at her. "You have only yourself to blame." She tried to grin, almost made it. "You had to go and help me get well."

Emma smiled at her, so much fondness beaming out of her eyes that Christine nearly choked on the lump in her throat. Turning quickly to hide the tears Emma didn't want to see, she fled to the kitchen to make tea. Tea that she suspected neither of them really wanted.


Kirk walked up the stairs to the townhouse door. He knocked gently, afraid that the chime might disturb Emma if she was sleeping.

After a few moments, Uhura opened the door. "Hi." She slipped aside, giving him room to come in.

"How is she?"

Uhura shook her head. "Depends on which she you mean. At this point, I think Emma's doing better than Christine."

"Where is Chris?"

Uhura pointed down the stairs. As he started to head down, she touched his arm.

"Emma asked to see you."

He frowned. "Me? Why?"

"I'm not sure. But she asked me to let you know if I saw you. Do you want me to take you up?"

He shot a glance down the stairs, then nodded, following Uhura up to the main level and down the long hallway to one of the bedrooms.

Uhura gently pushed the door open. She smiled softly. "Emma? Admiral Kirk is here."

Kirk suddenly wondered if he'd ever told Uhura to call him Jim. He'd have to do that. It was long past time.

She turned to him. "Go on in."

He stepped into the room, the shades were drawn, the lamp on low. Emma smiled at him, a shaky smile as if the expression was one of great effort.

He walked over, took her hands. "Nyota said you wanted to talk to me?"

She nodded, pushed herself to a sitting position. He reached behind her and rearranged the pillows.

She smiled at him. "Thank you."

He shrugged slightly. "It's not much."

"Kindness is never not much." She took a raspy breath, seemed to be trying not to cough.

"Do you need something?"

She shook her head, held up her hand as if asking him to wait. He sat down in the chair next to the bed.

Emma leaned back, took a tentative breath. "Sorry, moving does that to me. I'll be fine in a minute. If you don't mind, some water would be most welcome."

He poured her a glass from the bottle by the bed. She sipped at it carefully. He waited.

She smiled. "Most people find moments like this excruciating. Start making small talk. Asking inane questions, or breaking into tears. I watched it happen with my mother when I was young." She took another drink. "But you just sit and wait. It's a gift, Jim."

He smiled, was unsure what else to say.

"I'm worried about Christine. It's why I wanted to see you."

He leaned forward. "She's stronger than she was. She owes that to you."

Emma shot him a half smile. "Oh and to you too, I think."

"Maybe." He shook his head. "This is hard for her. Brings back memories of losing Marcus, and Roger, and Spock."

Emma nodded. "Yes, I know." She sipped, her expression pensive. "Would I have liked Spock, do you think?"

Kirk thought about that. "There was a time when I would have given you an unqualified yes." He looked down. "He was my best friend. But he's gone now. I know you are aware of what happened, so I won't bore you with the details." He shifted, tried to get comfortable in the chair. "I'm not sure how much of the Spock I knew is left."

"Christine believes she drove him to this Gol place."

Kirk nodded. "I had a hand in that too."

Emma smiled.


She shook her head. "You're both so good at punishing yourselves. I wish you were half as good at forgiving."

"I can't speak for Chris, but it's difficult to forgive myself when I know that I would do it again. That I can't see a way not to hurt him."

"I think Christine feels the same." Emma surprised him by taking his hand. "This Spock, this best friend of yours. He's probably never coming back. You do realize that?"

It wasn't something he liked to think about. He sighed.

Her hand tightened on his. "It's a waste of your life to live as if he were going to reappear at any moment."

"I don't think I'm doing that. I know Chris isn't. She's made plans. Has a future all plotted out." He smiled. "The Enterprise is the one place she was happy."

Emma rolled her eyes. "Happy? She was in hiding. That's not happiness, it's numbness."

"Well, she's not hiding anymore. Maybe she can find happiness there this time."

Emma's eyes seemed to flash. "Maybe it's already standing right in front of her. Maybe it's just too afraid to reach out for her."

"I'm not afraid." He tried to pull his hand free, but she held it fast. He'd forgotten how strong she was.

She sighed, it was a frustrated sound. "I believe that you're in love with her. I know she's in love with you. Yet here you both are, too damned stupid to reach for what you want."

"What we want? There are more important things than what we want. There's loyalty, and trying not to hurt someone any more than we already have."

"I don't have much time, so I'm not going to mince words, Jim. If you walk away from her, you'll regret it the rest of your life." Emma leaned forward, seemed like she was about to say more when a coughing fit came over her.

Kirk helped her lean back against the pillows. He rubbed her back, high up, wishing with all his heart that he could take her pain away.

She looked up at him. "There's magic in those hands. And I do mean that literally." She closed her eyes, took what seemed like an easier breath. "Oh, yes. Thank you."

"I'm sorry I upset you," he said softly.

"I'm not upset. I just want her to be happy. You've been kind to me; I'd like to see you happy too. As it just so happens, I think the two of you would be happy together. I'd like to help that along." She shook her head. "But I guess I should know better than to do that. If it's meant to be, it'll be."

He met her eyes, let her see how much he wished that it could be, then raised the shutters that he hoped kept his feelings for Chris locked away most of the time. "I don't think it is meant to be. How can it be? To have someone, and to always feel guilty for the having? Is that happiness? Is that even right?"

"Only with his blessing? Is that it?"

He shrugged. "Sounds old-fashioned. And pretty stupid when you say it. But maybe that's it. If he weren't my friend, but he is. Was." He frowned.

"I'll leave it alone then. I haven't said anything to her. She's going through enough." She looked at him intently. "Will you promise me you'll be her friend?"

He smiled. "That's an easy one. I'd die for her."

She shook her head. "The two of you are some team. I think you'll keep each other alive."

He looked down. "She'll be gone soon. We won't be a team anymore."

"If you'd take my suggestion to heart--" She smiled at the look he shot her. "My mother always told me I never knew when to stop pushing."

"She was right." He smiled though, knew she only had Chris's best interest at heart.

There was a soft knock on the door. Kirk turned to see who it was.

Silver stood at the door. "If this is a bad time?"

Emma held out her hand, her features softening. "Kevin. Of course not. Come in."

Kirk stood up. "I'll leave you two alone." He smiled down at Emma. "I need to check on Chris."

She nodded. "Yes, you do that." She sighed. "Take care of her for me? Don't let her go back to the dark place."

He wasn't sure he was the best one to keep her out of any dark places, but he nodded solemnly. He'd keep her from succumbing to the crushing despair, or he'd follow her down into whatever black place she wanted to call home. And he'd stay with her until she was ready to walk out again--on her own.


Uhura watched Christine pummel the punching bag, and sighed, snuggling deeper into the chair in the corner of the basement. It was going to be a long wait before she could try again to talk Christine into eating or getting some sleep. Her friend was barely taking a moment between blows and kicks, her grunts getting louder as she hit the bag increasingly hard.

Kirk came down the stairs and stood in the doorway, watching Christine for a long time, his face unreadable, before he walked over and sat down on the padded bench across the room. He looked over at Uhura, the slight lift of his eyebrows asking her for a status report, the way he used to on the bridge, when he didn't want the others to hear how bad it was. She shook her head very slightly, the old answer that said, "It's bad." He nodded, the gesture barely more than a slight tilt of his head, a slight dip of his eyelids.

She missed this interaction, the easy way she could read him and what he needed from her. Saw by his expression that he did too. She would have it back soon, or its replacement--whatever system Decker implemented to find out what he needed to know from her without words. But what would Kirk have to replace it?

Christine kicked hard, then stopped the bag. She turned to look at Kirk. "You saw her?"

He nodded.

They stared at each other for a long moment. Uhura couldn't see Christine's expression, but Kirk's seemed to soften, compassion for the watcher and Christine evident.

Christine turned away abruptly, whacked the ball hard with the back of her hand, followed up with another fierce chop. She kept up the routine. Smack, smack, smack.

Uhura rubbed her eyes. She had a fierce headache, born more out of worry for Christine than anything else. She looked over at Kirk. "Is Emma alone?"

"Silver is with her."

There was a slight break in Christine's tempo, but she didn't say anything.

Kirk and Uhura shared a look. He leaned back against the wall, watched Christine silently.

Suddenly, Christine reached out and stopped the bag again. She didn't look at either of them, just stood breathing hard. "I wish you two would stop staring at me."

"We're just worried about you," Uhura said softly.

"Uh huh. And have you reserved the padded cell yet, or will that come later?"

Uhura didn't recognize the bite in her friend's tone. This must be what Len had been telling her Christine was like just before she ran away. Brittle, sharp. Ready to explode.

Kirk laughed. "Because you're working off a little steam? How many times do you think I went down to the gym alone and punched the hell out of the bag? You think I don't know what you're doing? You think I don't know the frustration you feel trying to keep it together for Emma while inside you just want to fall apart?"

Christine turned to look at him. The sharp tenseness of her shoulders seemed to relax. "How did you do it? How did you hold it together?"

"The same way you are. One moment at a time."

Christine stepped closer to him, held out her hand and he took it. "I'm sorry." She turned to include Uhura in the apology. "I'm just so..."

"Tired," Uhura finished for her. "You need to rest." She knew it was a losing argument. But the Uhura women were nothing if not stubborn.

The Chapel women outdid them though. "I'm fine."

"You're not fine," Kirk said. "You're overtired and you probably haven't eaten. Do you know what Bones would be saying to me right now? What you would be saying to me, if our places were reversed?"

Christine sighed, throwing her head back and rolling her neck as if trying to work out far too many kinks.

"Come here." Kirk let go of her, patted the seat next to him.

She didn't move right away, seemed poised to jump away if he reached for her. But he didn't reach for her, just sat quietly. Waiting.

With a sigh, Christine sat down next to him.

He shifted slightly, began to knead her neck. "You'll be no good to Emma if you can't function. And you need rest to function. And what if you have to go out on patrol one of these nights? You could get hurt because you're too tired to pay attention. How will that help Emma?" His voice was gentle, not chiding, just reminding her of the facts.

"The other slayers are patrolling," Christine said softly.

"They're not gone yet?"

Christine shook her head.


Uhura smiled softly, put her head down on her arm and watched as Christine's expression slowly relaxed. Lie down, she sent her friend, thinking her love ought to count for at least a sleep spell.

Christine groaned. Kirk let go of her, shifted a bit so that he was in a more comfortable position, then said softly, "You need to sleep."

Christine's eyes were drooping.

Yes, you need to sleep, Uhura silently tried to reinforce Kirk's suggestion.

Christine swung her legs up on the bench, slowly stretched out, her head in Kirk's lap. She seemed tense, her body held tightly, as if she was about to jump back up.

Kirk didn't say anything, but he moved his hand to her hair, began to stroke it gently.

Uhura felt her own eyes closing as she watched the rhythmic movement of his hand. Christine moaned, and she shifted on the bench, her body relaxing, her eyes slowly falling shut. In a moment, she was out.

Kirk smiled, looked over at Uhura and shook his head. "Stubborn," he said softly.

Uhura nodded.

"You could use some sleep too."

"I'm fine, sir."


She frowned.

"Call me Jim. I should have told you that a long time ago, Nyota."

Uhura smiled tiredly. "Jim." She yawned. "I'm not that tired."

He smiled at the fib. "I'll wake you if Emma needs anything."

Sleep was so tempting. She watched as Jim's hand slid down Christine's hair. He was such a good man. And good for Christine. He'd look out for her. He'd look out for them all.

"Sleep," he said again.

"All right." She lay her head back down, let her eyes close. She opened them a second later, saw that he had turned back to watch Christine. The look on his face was unguarded, tired. And full of such tenderness that Uhura felt as if she was intruding on the two of them.

She shifted in the chair to get more comfortable, closed her eyes and allowed herself to relax, secure in the knowledge that she was safe as long as he was watching over them.


The slow rise and fall of the monitors lulled Christine into a nearly hypnotic state. Emma's breathing was labored; she was sleeping more and more. A sleep made accessible by the heavy painkillers she increasingly needed.

Christine shifted in the chair. She looked over at Emma, saw that she was awake and watching her.

"Are you in pain?" Christine asked softly.

Emma smiled. "No."

Christine had mixed in some other meds, meds designed to relax Emma, remove her slightly from any fear.

"What happens to us?" Emma asked, her voice barely more than a croak.

"When we die?"

Emma nodded.

"I don't know."

Emma frowned slightly. "But you died. What happened?"

Christine shrugged. "I don't remember very much. It was dark and peaceful. No one wanted to hurt me and I didn't have to hunt anyone anymore." She sighed. "I didn't get very far before they brought me back."

"Well, I'm glad for that." Emma smiled, then held her hand out.

Christine took it and held on tightly. She tried not to react to how little strength Emma had when she squeezed back.

"I'm glad I killed the bolus demons. I'm glad Kevin made me your watcher."

Christine fought the tears. Emma didn't want them, and Christine could cry when this was over. "I am too."

"It's getting dark. Is it night?"

The light hadn't changed in the room. "Yes, it's very late."

"You knew Laura, didn't you?" Emma asked. "That's how Jim made her come alive for us."

"I knew her."

"You watched her die. At the Gotterdammerung?"

"Yes." Christine closed her eyes. "I wanted to tell you. I wanted to tell David too. But I couldn't."

"I understand. He would too." Emma smiled. "Don't give Kirsu to Kevin. I'm not sure he'll share it. Keep it for the slayers." She smiled. "It's what David would have wanted."

Emma's gaze was suddenly drawn to something above the foot of the bed. She shifted her gaze from one spot to another and back again.


"They're here. How wonderful." She seemed to be talking to herself, her hand loosened on Christine's. "I wasn't sure...but he did care for me." She smiled, a beautiful smile. "And Laura. They came."

Christine looked at the spots that drew Emma's attention. She imagined two people standing there, could picture how soft David's eyes might be if he were free of the hatred that had warped him, how Laura's smile would light up the dark for Emma. Take care of her, she tried to tell these ghosts only Emma could see. Please take care of her.

She looked back at Emma. Her watcher's eyes were closed. The monitors chimed softly once and then went still as the level indicators all went black. Christine had missed the moment; she had missed Emma's death.

She could almost hear Emma correcting her. Death was more than just a moment. Christine had been there for all of it. She didn't need to see a last breath to have been a witness.

She busied herself with the things that needed to be done after death. The times and numbers recorded, the medicine drips removed. She leaned down, kissed Emma's cheek.

"Safe journey, Emma. I'll never forget you." She bit back a sob. "Don't forget me."

She straightened back up.


She looked up. Jim was at the door.

"How long have you been there?"

"Long enough." He stepped into the room, held his arms out to her.

She didn't hesitate, hurried to him, almost threw herself at him.

His arms closed around her tightly, and he said, "Let it out. It's all right to let go now." He rubbed her neck, his mouth on her hair, near her ear, whispering, "Let it out."

The control she'd maintained for Emma's sake shattered and she heard a strange wailing sound coming from somewhere. Then she realized the broken animal-like cry was coming from her. She tried to pull away, afraid that she was breaking apart. The terrible cry sounded again.

"Oh, sweetheart. I'm sorry." He eased his hold on her, letting his arms drop to her waist, making it easy for her to pull away if she wanted to.

She looked up at him. "What do I do?"

He smiled gently. "Whatever you have to."

She felt the panic recede. His hands on her waist rested lightly, supporting her but not holding her. His eyes were so calm, so concerned. She moved back against him, relaxed and felt his arms tighten around her.

"You're safe," he whispered.

She let go then. Let the tears that felt as if they were a pounding tidal wave inside her head, finally burst free. He didn't say anything, just held her while she wept.

She felt a slight tingle, and then it was as if a heavy cloak had fallen around them, blocking out the light and the outside world. Keeping everything out but them. The darkness seemed to settle around her, protecting her, keeping her safe. As she gave herself over to the pain inside her, she heard his words echoing softly all around her, as if the blackness was saying, "It's all right. You're safe. It's all right."

She didn't now how long she wept. She only stopped when she couldn't breathe anymore. He handed her a tissue, wiped her face with his thumbs, the pressure gentle across her cheeks.

Her head throbbed and she couldn't stop the half-sobs that kept escaping.

He gently drew her out of the bedroom. She saw Uhura waiting in the hallway, concern and pain evident on her face. She walked to Christine's other side, wrapped her arms around her and said, "I'm so sorry."

Christine realized someone else stood in the hallway. She blinked hard, not sure what she wanted to say to Silver.

He stepped forward, his face void of any of his normal unpleasant expressions. She realized he was blinking hard.

She stretched out her hand, and he took it, held on to her tightly for a long moment then let go.

"She wanted to be buried with the other watchers," he said.

Christine realized he was asking for her permission; she nodded.

"I'll make arrangements for transportation then."

As he turned to head down the stairs, Christine whispered, "Thank you for sending her to me."

He turned slowly. Unshed tears were bright in his eyes. "I didn't do it just for you." He smiled slightly. "I never cared a whit about those damned bolus demons." He blinked rapidly, turning and fleeing down the stairs but not before the tears he'd worked loose fell.

Christine sobbed, felt Jim's arm tighten around her.

"What now?" Uhura asked quietly.

Christine glanced back into the room, saw Emma lying serenely. No pain, no effort to breathe. Just peace.

"I'll make some tea," Christine said softly.

It was what Emma would have done.