Drowning in Shadows

She lies against the crook of Spock's arm, staring at the ceiling of his quarters as he watches her. She is intimately familiar with this room and this bed, has come to understand the needs of the man who lies on top of the covers holding her in his arms. Since the Pon Farr brought their bodies crashing together, she has learned the small marks on his skin by memory--moles and freckles and greenish-dark raised scars from some childhood mishap or other. He has not told her how he came to have so many scars, and she has not asked. They do not talk much. This room is for other things.

She can tell by the way he kisses her what kind of sex he will want. Gentle and tender or fierce and mindblowing--literally, he has become an expert on enhancing their pleasure with the meld. There are times when he says her name, and the whispered, "Christine" echoes in their minds through the silky channels of the meld. She thinks at those times that perhaps he loves her.

She doesn't know for sure that he doesn't.

And there isn't time in the nights that pass so quickly to ask. Or perhaps it is just that she lacks the courage. There are times she almost resolves to ask, only to have the alarm go off and start the day, signaling that it is time for him to go his way and for her to head to sickbay. They do not come together again until the clock has wound down on their hours on duty.

Until the clock has more than wound down. She comes to him after dinner, after whatever recreation he or she wishes to take. The few times she has had dinner with him have been in the shelter of his quarters. In the prison of his quarters.

She has never sat with Spock in the mess at breakfast, never watched as he plays chess with Kirk. She has never walked through the darkened observation lounge with him, never shared a shore leave with him under a strange sun.

He has told her she is his. And she is. She is just not sure what she is. His lover? His slut? His convenience?

And while it may be true that she is his, he has never been hers.

She does not think he ever will be.

"You are upset," he says softly.

She shakes her head. But if she were to look away from the ceiling, she would cry.

He sighs. It is a sound she did not think he ever made. But she has heard him sigh. She seems to bring it out of him.

But then how would she know if he sighs normally or not? She does not know him normally, just in this extraordinarily intimate fashion. Intimacy without access. She can touch him, but she cannot know him.

She turns on her side, away from him. He moves closer, his body warm against her. His hand moves down her side, his touch gentle. Even loving. He moves her hair away from her neck, touches his lips to her back, moving up to her neck.

She shivers. He can move her. He can move her more than any man she has ever known.

She wishes she could move him.

Or that they could just move from this room. Even out into the corridor. She would accept even that. To stand in front of his door talking. Not to be held captive inside this hot, breathless room.


She closes her eyes. She is broadcasting her distress to him again. It is happening with more frequency. They can read each other without him actively holding the meld in place. It should make her happy.

It should thrill her.

It should be enough.

He sighs again. She pretends to sleep. He does not call her on the lie.


Spock watches Christine as she takes another reading of the vegetation. She does not have to do that; there are others in the landing party who are capable. She has moved away from the main group. She glances over at him, her face a neutral mask. It occurs to him that she is learning that from him. Will she end up more Vulcan than he is?

She looks away. No one but he can feel how miserable she is. How angry she is.

She was not supposed to have been on the landing party. Spock did not ask for her. McCoy was his first choice, but he was unwilling to leave a sick patient. He sent his deputy. He sent Christine.

Jim sighs. "Something's damned odd here." He looks over at Christine. "Better call her back. She's too exposed."

There is no danger here. Or so their tricorders tell them. But Jim has been anxious since they beamed down, and Spock has learned to trust his friend's instincts.

He turns to Christine, almost calls her by that name before realizing his mistake. "Doctor. Please rejoin the group."

She shoots him a look that is not friendly. But she begins to move back to their position. She does not see the creature behind her, does not see it strike, moving at a deadly speed toward her like some bizarre hybrid of a snake and a tiger. Its striped body flashes once and she cries out. Its fangs are buried in her, wicked claws reaching out. Spock sees blood well down her sides, as the beast grabs hold. She screams in pain.

Jim's phaser blasts past Spock. Two other beams catch the beast as the security officers fire too. It screams, letting go of Christine and rushing toward them. It falls before it reaches them, dying as it hits the ground, convulsing in a dizzying pattern of yellow and black.

Beyond it, Christine is trying to rise, manages to push herself to her feet and sways dangerously. She looks at him, pain and fear so clearly written that he aches for her. He thinks she will reach out for him, and he is already moving toward her. But then she seems to force her eyes away from him, looking at the others.

Jim is the first to reach her. He catches her as she begins to convulse like the beast that savaged her.

"Poison," she says.

As Jim calls for emergency beam out, she looks over at Spock. There is fear, and pain, and naked longing in her face. Then there is nothing as she passes out.

He wants to take her from Jim, but the transporter is ready, and his friend does not know that Spock should be the one to hold her, to help her.

He has never told his best friend that Christine is his.

Why has he never told his best friend that?

Jim gives Christine over to the emergency medical team that runs into the transporter room. He looks back at Spock, his face set in an odd expression. It seems almost like...distaste.

"I will make sure she is all right," Spock says, unwilling to be subjected any longer than is necessary to his friend's strangely hostile look.

Jim nods, turns and heads to the bridge. Spock watches him, then follows the med techs to sickbay.

McCoy looks up at him as he comes in. Christine is convulsing again. Spock feels apprehension rise like bile in his gorge, making it difficult to swallow, to breathe.

She cannot die. She is his.

He...enjoys her.

He realizes she is awake, is looking at him. Her eyes lock with his as McCoy works on her. She does not look away from him, not when McCoy fills her with something from a hypo, not when the nurses put her in stasis restraints to control the convulsions. She looks at him until the life seems to fade from her face, and she falls into an exhausted sleep.

She looks at him but never says a word.

McCoy turns to look at him. "She's not contagious, Spock. You can come into the room."

Spock realizes with a shock that he is still standing in the entrance to sickbay, hands clutching the doorframe as the door bumps gently against his hip, trying to close. He moves slowly to her side, hears the door ease shut behind him.

He watches her as she sleeps. "Will she be all right?"

"Yes." McCoy begins to work on the long gashes. "Nothing vital hit. But she's going to be sore. She'll need time to heal. She'll need to take it easy."

Spock does not answer, just watches her.

McCoy waits until the nurse leaves the room, then he turns and says in a low voice. "Just to make myself clear, she will need rest. No strenuous activity."

Spock forces himself not to react. Has Christine told McCoy? Would she do that?

McCoy is looking at him with the same expression that Spock saw earlier on Jim's face. He finally recognizes it for what it is.

Disapproval. His friends disapprove.

He pushes past McCoy, touches Christine on the cheek, his finger resting lightly on the psi point. It is all that is necessary between them now, just the barest of touches and he is in her mind and he can feel her, strong and alive, but tired. Tired and hurt and afraid. The fear lingers even as she sleeps. He pulls his hand away, lets her rest.

McCoy's jaw is set, a tight line that is made more foreboding by the silence that accompanies it. McCoy always has something to say, some goad to apply, something caustic or flip to share. But now he is silent. Just stares angrily at Spock.

Spock feels an unaccustomed anger fill him. How dare this man judge him? "This is a private matter, Doctor," he finally says.

"Private? Our quarters share a wall, Spock. And it's a thin one." McCoy's smile is bitter and sharp. It would cut Spock to the bone if the doctor's words weren't already making him look away in sudden embarrassment.

Spock waits for McCoy to leave, but the doctor settles into the chair next to Christine's bed. He shows no sign of moving, his face set in a stubborn line.

Spock turns and leaves. He must get to the bridge. Work. Work will calm this fierce anger he feels.

But when he gets there, Jim spends the shift glancing back at him. He finally gets up, walks back. "She's all right?"

Spock nods tightly.

"Your equanimity is astounding, Spock."

"Jim, I--"

"--Truly astounding." Jim leans down, his breath warm on Spock's ear. Warm and dangerous. "Do you even care that she was hurt?" Then he straightens up, his expression unreadable. "I'll be in sickbay."

Spock sits at his station, fingers hovering over the panel. He is unsure what to do, how to occupy himself. He sets his fingers down on his legs, drumming a pattern that he suddenly realizes would be a perfect twin to Christine's heartbeat as it sounds when she sleeps in his arms.

Every night she sleeps in his arms. Every night.

She is his. Is that wrong?

Is it wrong that they touch and share their bodies?

Is it wrong that he can bring her pleasure?

She is not quiet when he brings her pleasure...and the walls are thin.

She broadcasts her pleasure loudly. But her misery has been silent. How is it that his friends seem to have heard it long before he did?


She wakes and is conscious of fire in her veins. Her sides hurt when she breathes, and she can't feel her limbs.

She hears a murmur of voices, then soft hands fiddling with something near her arms and legs. There is a familiar whine, and she realizes she has been in stasis restraints. Her mind accepts that, remembers convulsions-- dangerously strong ones. They did right.

She hears McCoy talking to her and opens her eyes. Everything is blurry and a nurse puts drops in her eyes and her vision clears.

"Rest," McCoy says, shooting her with another hypo. Something to reduce the fire inside her, no doubt.

"Thirsty," she says.

An ice stick is held close and she sucks on it greedily, taking as much liquid as they will allow. She is always thirsty these days. When she is with Spock in his quarters, she is always thirsty. It is hot in that room, hot like the venom that is raging a fiery path through her body.

She does not need to look to know that Spock is not with her. Not sitting by her bed in anxious vigil.

But then she hears Spock's voice from the doorway, sees McCoy's face freeze, his hand tightens on her arm almost convulsively. She can feel her face redden. How does he know? She has told no one.

"I sensed she was awake," Spock says, as if daring McCoy to contradict him.

"Bully for you," McCoy says.

"Len," she says, her voice making a gravelly mess of his name. "Please."

McCoy just shakes his head, but he leaves them alone.

Spock moves to her bed. "You did not think I would be here."

"You weren't here. You just got here."

He frowns, but he does not correct her. He stands by the bed, touches her hand--a fleeting glance of a touch. As if he cannot resist the touch, but considers it ill conceived.

She wonders if that is what he thinks of them. Irresistible but ill conceived?

She tries to turn away from him, but it hurts too much. So she closes her eyes. She can't see him. And he can't see how much she wants from him.

And she won't have to watch how uncomfortable that will make him.

She has learned to shield, better than he probably even realizes. But she is hurt, and the pain is keeping her emotions near the surface. She wants him, and he'll never be hers.

It doesn't matter that she is his. It never has mattered.

She was a fool to think that things would change.

She opens her eyes, blinks the dryness away. He is staring down at her, his face the same blank mask that so often troubles her.

"I can't do this anymore." Her voice is barely more than a whisper, but she knows he can hear her. He always hears her.

He frowns.

"Us. I mean. Us."

He blinks then. Her words are a surprise.

Finally, he says, "You are mine."

She shrugs.

He looks away. "It will be difficult to stay away." He seems suddenly complacent. As if he knows she will not be able to keep her distance from him, so he does not have to take her words seriously.

He is right. She will not be able to stay away from him...not on this ship.

"The Exeter's CMO was called away for a family emergency. Starfleet Medical asked if I'd fill in. I wasn't going to, but now..." She can't bring herself to look at him. "It's only a temporary assignment. But it will give us time. To get used to sleeping apart."

Being apart at any other time will require no such adjustment.

He stares at her. He did not expect her to leave? There is a sudden look in his eyes that she cannot bear. As if he is a small boy being abandoned. Will he ask her not to go? Will he try to convince her to stay?

"How long will you be gone?" he asks.

"A few weeks. Maybe a month."

"But you are hurt."

She feels her face twist painfully, into an expression that she doubts could ever be called a smile. "Were you planning on taking care of me?"

He nods.

She laughs then. It is a laugh made of pain and disappointment. "Go away, Spock. I can take care of myself."

McCoy comes out of his office, stares at them. "Don't tire her out, Spock."

Spock's face tightens into an unreadable mask again, then he turns and leaves.

She closes her eyes. She has done it. She has broken free.

Why does she feel even more miserable than before? And why can she feel Spock's pain too? She just wishes she knew what exactly has hurt him.

She is fairly certain it isn't her.


Spock studies the chessboard. Jim sits across from him, smiling. He is winning. Again.

Spock finds it difficult to focus on the board. Christine has been gone for two weeks. She has not contacted him. She is light years away.

Yet he can feel her. He is aware of her. She is sad. She is lonely.

And she is not alone.

His hand hovers over the queen. Finally he moves her, a safe move, his usual style--to protect the king. He will sacrifice the queen if he has to...to protect his king.

He wonders if Christine plays chess. He has never asked her. She has never said one way or the other.

There are so many things he does not know about her.

Spock wonders if the man she is with knows more.

"You seem distracted," Jim says quietly as he moves his knight.

His friend no longer glares at him, no longer rebukes him for his lack of concern. Jim has let go of his role of Christine's defender. But Spock imagines that he is glad she is off the ship. For everyone's sake.

"Do you miss her?" Jim asks.

The question is unexpected. Spock looks up, meets Jim's eyes. Bright, quick eyes that see everything. Why did he think he could keep the truth from him?

He does not answer, pretends to study the board. Finally, he looks up, sees that Jim's eyes are still on him. Spock nods.

Jim sighs. "It may not be the best thing. You and she..."

Spock nods. His friend is wise. It is not the best thing. But that does not keep Spock from wanting her back in his bed. From lying awake at the end of his shift, staring at the ceiling that used to so fascinate her.

He knows she is making love with another man. He does not know how he knows, but the knowledge is katra deep. She is his and she is with someone else. It is elemental.

"Do you love her?" Jim asks. At Spock's look, he shakes his head. "Forget I asked that."

He would like to forget. Does he love Christine? He is not sure. He is not sure if what calls to him is anything close to love.

He only knows that he wants her. That he wants her back.

He studies the board. The queen is in danger. He moves her back, to where she was, next to the king.

She is no safer there.

Jim frowns. "Not a very smart move."

A rush of stubbornness comes over him and he lifts his fingers. The play is done, he has moved her stupidly. Jim has called it.

He has put her back where she started.

"What does love feel like?" It takes him a moment to realize what he has asked.

Jim is staring at him. "Spock?"

"The question is not difficult to comprehend. What is your answer?"

Jim shrugs. "Love feels...good. It makes you feel more secure, happy and light." He smiles. "It's hard to explain."

Spock shakes his head. What he feels for Christine does none of those things. But then he is a Vulcan. Why should love--if that is what he feels for Christine--make him feel any of that? Why should any strong emotion make him anything but wary?

"If you don't love her," Jim says quietly, "you should let her go." He glances up at Spock. "She's a good woman."

Spock nods. He knows all this. She was willing to sacrifice herself so that he might live. He is aware that she is good, that she deserves better.

That does not mean he wants to let her go.

He thinks about the sense he has that she is moving on. Maybe she will elect to stay on the Exeter with her new lover and never come back to the Enterprise. Perhaps he will have no choice but to give her up...to let her go.

Perhaps that will be best.


Christine can feel the difference in the air as soon as she beams back to the Enterprise. Her past is written in the bulkheads, the corridors, sickbay, her old quarters, her new ones.

And Spock's.

They asked her to stay on the Exeter. She almost did.

Why didn't she? She wants to turn around and climb back on the pad. Tell the tech to send her back to the nice safe ship that is probably already speeding away.

She is back. By her own choice, she is back.

And there is only one reason. She picks up her bag, walks to the door.

It opens before she can get there. Spock stares at her from the corridor.

"I'm back."

"I know."

They stare at each other like ancient enemies. Eyes wary. He takes her bag, walks her to her quarters. She is surprised at the gesture.

She thanks him at her door, but he gently pushes her inside. She takes the bag from him, busies herself with putting her things away. He watches her from near the door, does not try to touch her. Says nothing.

"You're making me nervous." She turns to look at him.

He is staring at her. His eyes intense. She knows that look.

He wants her.

And every cell in her body wants him back.

She turns away. She is about to ask him to leave when he says, "You were with another man."

It is not a question; he is not asking her to say he's wrong or right. He knows.

She nods, does not look at him.

She can hear him moving toward her. His hands on her arms are rough. He pulls her to him, her back coming up hard against his chest. He begins to touch her.

She moans.

"Was he good?"

She nods. He was good, her young officer. Good and nothing at all that she wanted.

"Yet you came back."

She knows they can both hear the unsaid "to me."


He stops moving; his hands are warm where they rest on her arm, on her waist.

She does not move, closes her eyes against the tears that are threatening. She does not want to love him. She wishes she could have loved that other man. Wishes he could have touched her in some way that mattered.

"You are mine."

She sighs. The words are truth. She turns in his arms, stares up at him.

He touches her face, his fingers settling over the meld points. She lets him in, does not hide anything from him.

His hand tightens on her as he finds the memories, relives with her the way the man touched her, what she felt. What she didn't feel.

She realizes he is trembling. His eyes are open and he is watching her, a strange look on his face.

"Do you still love me?" he asks.

She might lie, but he is inside her mind. He can see the truth for himself. He just wants to hear her say it.

She doesn't give him that; he has to settle for a nod. It seems to be sufficient, for his mouth turns up slightly.

She sighs, and his smile fades.

Reaching up, she touches his face gently. "This relationship...it is what it is." She smiles at him, a sad smile she thinks.

He pulls her closer. His lips are extraordinarily gentle on hers. Tender. Sweet.


"It is what it is," he says, as he brushes her hair back from her face. "But it is not what it was."

She shakes her head slightly. She does not understand.

"I have missed you." His fingers tighten on her face.

She gasps in pain. He is going deep, too deep.

Then he stops. And opens to her. For the first time, he is exposed, and she tastes his pain when he felt her with her new lover. He shows her that he was lonely without her.

That he had ample time to reflect on how things were between them. To regret how things were between them.

To want to fix the things that were between them.

"I love you," he whispers, mind to mind.

She forgets how to breathe until he says it again. And again.

She sees that he was frightened for her when she was injured. That he did care.

She was never sure.

"Of course I was affected. You might have been killed." He is pushing her down on the bed, and she realizes that he has removed her clothes and his own.

He leaves them at this strange, deep level of meld as he moves into her. It is more intense than she remembers--so good, so unbelievably good. No man can touch her now. Not without leaving her hungrier for Spock.

She feels his satisfaction at her thought. He moves hard and fast and she holds him and cries out as he pushes the meld deeper and deeper. She begins to lose consciousness and he pulls back a bit, just enough to keep her safe.

"I love you," he says again, this time in words.

She murmurs the words back, can barely think for the sensations that are bombarding her. The sensations...and the emotion. His emotion. Love. He loves her. He missed her.

She begins to cry. Weeks of trying to forget him seem to disappear, and there is nothing but Spock and her and their bodies touching and moving and merging.

He kisses her tears away, rolls and lets her ride him. He watches her as she moves, finally taking his hand off her face. The meld pulses between them like a living thing. She can feel it beating; it has its own heart, its own soul. It is more than them.

He pulls her down to kiss him. Their lips and tongues move desperately, his hands are frantic, as if he must touch her everywhere or die.

He rolls her, covers her with his body. "I love you," he says as he pounds her.

She cries out, unsure if she has used her voice or her mind. She hears his harsh cry echo in her mind as he comes, pulling her closer, his body pushing at her like he will disappear inside her if she lets him.

He kisses her, stares at her. It's as if he is seeing her for the first time, as if he is memorizing her face.

She is uncomfortable, afraid that she will do something that will end this closeness. She looks away.

He gently pulls her back so she is looking at him. He smiles, and the miniscule upturn of his lips is such a strange thing. She reaches out, touches the sides of his mouth, the tiny curve of his smile.

"I wanted to forget you," she says.

"I know."

She does not realize she is crying until he brushes her tears away.

"I am sorry that I hurt you." His voice is so tender it makes her cry harder.

She buries her head against him, does not want to think about how he will hurt her again. And again.

It is wonderful now. But morning will come. And nothing will change.

She tries to pull away from him, but he holds her.

"Let me go, Spock."

He smiles again, and she believes that she could fall in love with just that tiny lift of his lips.

He kisses her, his mouth lazy on hers, not pressing her so much as just touching, just connecting. Light--the kisses are light. And happy.

She laughs. Such whimsy. It is why she is so easy to hurt.

Yet as he kisses her she doesn't feel as if she is in danger. She feels safe. She feels good.

He pulls away from her enough to ask, "Would you like to have breakfast together in the morning?"

She stares at him.

"Should I restate the question?"

She laughs. The sound is odd, hangs between them. She does not laugh very often with him.

She would like to laugh with him. And she would love to have breakfast with him.

She tells him so.

"We will have to wake up earlier then; the mess is crowded in the morning," he says. Then he reaches over and calmly sets her alarm.

She laughs again and he pulls her to him, kissing her fiercely. She is lost, lost in his touch and his kiss. In the meld, which he deepens after each act of pleasure. She is drowning, feels as if she will split apart and be consumed in the connection between them--the love.

It does not sound like a bad way to go.