Twisted by Djinn

"Stand by for transport," the tech said.

Chapel looked over at her team. They'd done well in the disaster simulation. One in particular had done so well that Chapel intended to recommend to Cartwright that they keep her on the team permanently. She smiled at Valeris, saw the woman's eyes light up as they so often did. For a pure Vulcan, she was very open.

"Ma'am, we've got a lot of interference," the tech said with a frown, staring down at his station. He made a few adjustments. "I'm going to have to beam you up to the shuttle in pairs."

Chapel nodded, motioned for Lieutenants Corelli and Sullivan to go ahead. The two men disappeared, and Chapel and Valeris took their places on the pad.

"Energizing," Christine heard just before the world seemed to spin around her. She closed her eyes, felt a sickening lurch, then a feeling of nausea. The transporter room melted away and there was another lurch. When she opened her eyes, she was staring at the ceiling. "What happened?"

"Just lie still, Lieutenant," Corelli said softly.

"Lieutenant?" Chapel sat up, was immediately sorry. The room spun crazily. And the noises--why was everything so loud?

She looked over to her right, where Valeris had been standing. There was only the shuttle wall. Where was Valeris?

She looked to the other side and gasped. She lay there. Just where she should have been. Only it wasn't her. She was--

She held up her hand. It had a distinct greenish tinge. She felt her ear tips. They were pointed. Her hair felt thicker, coarser. She pulled a strand loose. Black. Not chestnut brown. Raven black.

She was in Valeris's body. Was Valeris in hers? Was she even alive? She reached out to touch herself, her other self. Her real self. And the room began to spin again. Everything went dark, and she fell back.

Correlli's hands easing her down were the last thing she knew before the world went black.

-----

She woke in Starfleet Medical, looked over and saw Spock sitting by her bed. She frowned, could feel her face protesting at the movement.

Then she remembered. She was in Valeris's body. And Valeris didn't frown. She realized Spock was staring at her, his face grave--and very tender.

"I am gratified to see you awake."

He was? She saw his eyes warm. Valeris. He meant he was happy that Valeris was awake.

"Spock, I--"

His touched her forehead, brushing the hair off her face so gently that she shut up. "Shhh. Rest. The doctors said you need to sleep."

"How is Commander Chapel?"

"She is in a coma." He did not look particularly broken up over that fact.

"She'll be all right?" Why was she referring to herself in third person? She should tell Spock what happened.

"I do not know." Not a flicker of emotion passed his face. But then he leaned forward, seemed to be studying her face. "I found myself quite incapable of concentrating, Lieutenant. The idea that you might be hurt. That I might have lost you..."

Chapel felt her face freeze. Spock seemed not to notice.

"I have kept many things to myself. But I believe the time for keeping secrets is past. I hold you in high esteem, Valeris."

Chapel just stared at him. Unsure what to say. Valeris had said that Spock was her sponsor at the Academy. She'd forgotten to mention that the man was in love with her.

Maybe she hadn't known?

She closed her eyes.

"You are tired. I will let you rest." Again his hand swept over her hair.

It should have felt good. But it left Chapel feeling emptier than she'd ever felt before.

She closed her eyes tightly. Valeris would never cry.

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

Chapel opened her--Valeris's eyes. Words were tricky. So was perspective. Something was off, different in her vision. She realized she could see more colors--or maybe the world was just more intensely colored. Vulcan super vision, she supposed.

"Lieutenant?"

She looked over to her side. Admiral Cartwright sat there. Staring down at her with concern.

He cared. Finally someone who cared about her.

But why had he called her Lieutenant?

"Sir?"

"I'm sorry, Lieutenant. I shouldn't have come in here. But I was just in Christine's--Commander Chapel's room."

"How is she?"

Cartwright smiled gently. "She'll pull through. She's strong. Tough. She'll wake up soon. You'll see." His smile faded a bit. "She has to. I need her."

A surge of relief filled Chapel. He needed her. He actually cared. About her. Not just Valeris.

"Admiral Cartwright," she said, ready to tell him it was her. Ready to let him know she was okay. He was her boss, her good friend. She could tell him anything. "Matt," she whispered.

He seemed not to hear her. Stood up. "I have to go."

Before she could get the truth out he was at the door.

He turned. "You're being released today. Spock will be by to collect you."

Spock would?

Cartwright seemed to shrink in on himself. "She'll be all right," he muttered. Then he was gone.

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

Chapel walked slowly around Spock's apartment. It was hot--Vulcan hot--but for once the heat didn't bother her. It felt good.

Spock walked up to her, handed her a cup of Vulcan tea.

"Most kind," she murmured in the way she'd heard Valeris do.

"It is not kindness. It is far more than that." He gently turned her, urged her to the sofa. "You must rest."

"I am not tired."

"No?"

She shook her head. Then she set the cup of tea down on the table and gently reached up and stroked the side of his face.

What in the hell was she doing?

His eyes closed. His breathing became ragged. He wanted her--Valeris. He wanted Valeris so much.

Chapel closed her eyes. Remembered how it had felt to hear that he was dead. How it had felt to hear a few days later that he lived. She'd called his father to Earth, stranding Sarek when the whale probe had come calling. She, who had never been able to touch the son's heart even a little, had watched as Spock stood with the rest of the crew. She'd nearly wept at the relief of seeing him alive again.

She wasn't a part of that crew anymore. Spock barely spoke to her when they ran into each other in the hallways. She was in Emergency Ops. She was happy. Christine Chapel was happy.

Christine Chapel was in Valeris's body. Her own body was lying in a hospital bed, with Valeris trapped inside. Was she awake but held hostage by that deep catatonia? Did she have any idea what was happening?

"Valeris," Spock murmured.

Chapel looked up at him. Saw the desire in his eyes. The love. He was in love with Valeris.

He had never been in love with her. Not ever. Although that one time, during his Pon Farr, he might have taken her then. She might have been an acceptable substitute for that elegant Vulcan woman he called his wife.

She might have done in a pinch. A stop gap measure until they'd reached the Vulcan sands and she'd been discarded like yesterday's garbage.

Now he was looking at her--at Valeris--as if she was the only thing in the world that mattered. His hands reached for the meld points and she shied away.

"No." She turned away. "Not that. Not yet."

He sat back, a frown on this face. "No meld."

"If you wish to know me, would it not be better to discover me little by little?" She slowly reached up and undid the top fastener on the robe he'd brought her to wear.

His eyes dilated as he watched her.

"Would you not like to learn how I think the same way you learn how I feel? By discovery, by conversation? By tactile experimentation?"

His mouth opened slightly.

Did she even sound like Valeris? How could he just watch her, his eyes filled with lust? Did he not know that his beloved was no longer inside this supple form?

Or did he only care for the supple form?

He crushed her to him, his hands roaming over her frantically. His lips pressed down on hers. Hard, too hard. He pushed her back, pulling the fasteners free, slipping the robe down and down and off.

Then he stopped and just stared at her. As if in awe. As if she was a goddess.

"Valeris," he said so softly it was barely more than a breath. "My Valeris."

She needed to stop this. It wasn't right.

Her arms reached out for him anyway. She pulled him down to her. His mouth was on her breast, his hands roaming lower. She moaned.

He pulled away long enough to pull off his own robe. Then he was back, his taller, lean body joining with hers almost effortlessly. She heard him whisper Valeris's name over and over and over until she thought she might go mad from the sound.

The weight of him made her suddenly claustrophobic and for a moment she felt a blind panic. Then he began to thrust into her repeatedly, his fingers moving against her, driving her Vulcan body mad. Even as she responded, crying out, she felt something die inside of her.

Had she really thought, even after all these years, that he might love her?

Was she really that stupid?

He loved Valeris. He would never love Christine Chapel.

She looked up at him. His eyes were soft. He seemed not to notice that hers were not. That hers were in fact staring at him with a hatred that seemed to be as overwhelming as the love she'd just had pounded out of her. That he had just pounded out of her to the litany of, "Valeris. Valeris. Valeris."

She wondered if Valeris knew what had just happened. Did she somehow feel this sharing, this dark violation? If she felt it, she could do nothing. She was locked away. Locked inside the shell that had been her boss, her mentor, her friend.

How could Chapel do this to a woman she considered a friend? A new one, but still a friend.

Spock rolled off her, got up, and she realized the comm unit was ringing. He hit the audio only. "Yes?"

"It's Admiral Cartwright. I thought Lieutenant Valeris would want to know that Commander Chapel died a short while ago."

Spock turned to look at her, pity in his eyes. Pity for Valeris. There was no emotion in his face for Christine Chapel.

She nodded. Her body was dead. Valeris was dead. She was alive. In Valeris's body.

The new love of a man she hated with every fiber of her being.

She got up, pulled her robe back on. "I need to be alone for a while. I am going to walk."

"But you need rest."

She could feel her eyebrow lifting in a way she'd never been able to do when she was human. "Did I need rest when we made love?"

He actually looked chagrined. "I could come with you?" His voice was tentative, off balance.

She shook her head. "I will go alone, Spock. But thank you for your concern." The words came out snide.

He didn't notice. Just nodded and went into his study.

She walked out of his apartment, hurried down the street to get away, far away from Spock, from what had just happened. She kept hearing Cartwright's voice on the comm unit. He'd sounded so empty.

She saw a public comm station, keyed in Cartwright's personal number.

He answered immediately.

"Are you home, sir?"

He had been crying. Had he been crying for her?

"I'm not in the mood for company, Lieutenant."

"Matt," she said softly, the way she used to when he'd worked himself into a stupor and had been in danger of falling off his chair. The way she used to when he would order her and her staff to go home but then forget to grab his own coat. The way she had done that one time when they'd both stayed up through too many shifts, when they'd ended up in his apartment, dead tired but pulling each others' clothes off anyway.

"Matt."

Valeris would never call him that. And she thought that he was smart enough to tell them apart.

He looked up, his eyes suspicious, shocked. Then horrified. "Christine?"

She nodded.

"But how? When?" Then his face fell. "Spock?"

"Spock doesn't know. I'll be there in a few minutes."

"Yes. Hurry."

She did hurry. Her new young Vulcan body making short work of the distance. She was strong. She was lithe. She was lovely.

She was never going to be Christine Chapel again.

He was in the lobby of his building, seemed to drink her in, as if he could see past the Vulcan facade to the human inside. "Lieutenant," he said formally, his tone at odds with the hunger in his eyes.

"Admiral." She followed him into the elevator, down the hall, into his apartment.

Then he was clutching her to him, his body shaking as he sobbed. "I lost you. I thought I lost you."

She kissed him. Wondered how it was he could see his lost woman, yet Spock could not detect the lack of his Valeris. "Matt, shhh. I'm all right. I'm here."

She kissed him again and he turned so that their lips met. Hungrily.

Then she pulled away. "I was with him."

"Spock?"

She nodded. He knew the story of her love for Spock. Hadn't lived it exactly, so he didn't know how pathetic she truly was, but he knew it.

He pulled away. "Oh."

"No. You don't understand. I just wanted you to know that because I hate him." She could feel a tear in her eye. She'd always wondered if Vulcans could cry. "I hate him."

She kissed him again, felt him respond. He pulled her to his bedroom, made love to her, his sweat and saliva and semen washing her clean, pushing Spock out of her.

As they lay quietly, she turned and studied him. He was looking at her, as if trying to find something familiar in the youthful Vulcan features.

"So different on the outside," he finally said. He set his hand where her heart would have been if she had still been human. "So much the same inside."

She resisted a smile. Her insides were jumbled up too. Vulcan now. But her soul--whatever it was that made her Christine Chapel--that was the same.

She turned over, faced him, the space between them almost nonexistent. "I know you're involved in something. You have been for some time. You've kept me out of it, haven't you?"

He shook his head.

"I know you, Matt. How long have we worked together? And I'm not stupid."

He smiled, ran his finger down her nose the way he had their first time together. "I know you're not."

"I want in."

His finger froze.

"I want in, Matt." She snuggled closer to him, kissing his neck. "I can be useful to you."

He took a deep breath. "Don't you want to know what we're doing?"

"It's got something to do with the Klingons, right?" It was always the Klingons with him.

He nodded. "Spock is reaching out to them."

"Is he?"

Cartwright nodded.

She could feel her lips turning up in a cold smile. "Then how fortunate that I am involved with him."

He nodded slowly. "You don't know what she knows. You aren't trained, you aren't a Vulcan."

"I am now. Like it or not." She stretched. Strong. She was Vulcan strong. And young again. "And I know enough. The rest, you'll have to teach me. Let's put this fine Vulcan brain to use." She thought of Lester, how she had never seemed to become Kirk. Could she have, given time?

Cartwright nodded. "We can schedule follow-up tests, just precautionary after the accident."

She smiled again. "A good cover for catch up learning."

He nodded, smiling. Then his smile faded. "You don't have to do this."

"I want to." She could feel the hatred solidifying inside her. For Spock. Maybe for herself. But not for Cartwright. Never for Cartwright. He would be her messiah. Her lover. She would follow him into hell if need be.

She could feel something tighten in her abdomen and parts lower. Realized it was anger, and her Vulcan body reacted to that anger in ways quite different than a human one might.

She reached down, began to rub against Cartwright. "Tell me what you need me to do."

"Stay close to him."

She looked down. Nodded.

He pulled her head up. "Stay close to me."

She smiled, moved onto him. That would be the easy part.

"Christine," he murmured as she rocked on top of him, reveling in the power of her new body.

She'd have to tell him to stop that. She was Valeris now. Only Valeris.

"Christine," he said again.

It was so good to hear her name on his lips.

She'd be Valeris later.

For the rest of her life.

FIN