A/N: Update. The final instalment of this story for your reading pleasure. I would like to take this opportunity to say thank you to everyone who has read this story. Particular thanks go to those who have either it or me on an alert/favourite list. I would thank you all individually, but there are hundreds so that isn't very practical. Special thanks to those of you who took the time to review, as reviews mean a great deal to any writer. It is instant feedback, either positive or negative and inspiration to write more.
I have thoroughly enjoyed writing this story, and am toying with idea of a sequel. I'll let you know if I decide to go ahead with it. Thanks again for reading, and if you're checking this epilogue out, please leave me a review.
I disclaim. Read and review!
"That's the last of the supplies, Nurse Chapel."
Christine nodded at the junior Lieutenant, who leaned on a crate of medical equipment, running the back of his over his perspiring forehead. Tapping a few details into the electronic pad, she handed it over to him and began on her way to the exit of the cargo bay.
Since returning to the Enterprise, Leonard McCoy had more than come through on his promise to instate her as the head of life sciences aboard the ship. She was given responsibility for all scientific areas on the vessel, an act unheard of considering she had only recently been promoted to a Lieutenant. Leonard had assured her that it was a gracious offer; promising that it would help her in her quest to become a fully qualified doctor in her own right. Christine suspected in reality it was just a way to get himself out of the numerous administrative tasks that came along with the position, but she accepted it all the same.
If only the same could be said about her promotion to Lieutenant. She'd barely finished her third year as a Cadet, and suddenly she'd leap –frogged her way into a commissioned rank. Christine hadn't been sure she could accept it, although James had been insistent to put her forward for it. The Starfleet command officials had agreed, praising her for her clear headed thinking and exceptional dedication to duty whilst on their mission to stop the Nerada, and had made her, along with several other students from her year, full officers.
James had naturally selected them as his crew, and they had all been present at his own promotion ceremony, when he had relieved Captain Pike and had taken over the Enterprise as his own. Sat up in what felt like the rafters, she had watched it with a smile on her face, certain her heart would burst with pride at seeing him being given command.
That felt like a lifetime ago now though, and the crew had been preparing themselves for their first mission. Having taken time to stop at a Starbase to refit the Enterprise and update all their supplies, all senior members of staff had been ordered to report to the bridge at thirteen hundred hours. As the new head of Life Sciences on board the ship, that meant Christine was expected to attend as well. Supervising the last delivery of medical equipment, she now made her way out of the cargo bay to be at the bridge in good time.
She reached the doors, and came to a sudden halt as they parted in front of her. Glancing up, her eyes widened slightly as she recognised the passive but imposing figure of Commander Spock. A dark eyebrow had been cocked as he studied her, his hands clasped loosely behind her back. Christine couldn't help her reaction, sucking in a sudden breath and taking a step back. Spock relaxed his stance, taking a step forward towards her.
Christine couldn't fathom why he was here now. Ever since that incident in the medical bay, the pair had barely seen one another, and she was certain she wasn't the only one two be avoiding the other. She couldn't understand why he would be here now. Christine glanced slightly over her should, realising that her fellow officers were on the other side of the cargo bay cataloguing supplies at not really paying attention to her or Spock. And why would they? What could possibly go wrong in the presence of a Superior Officer?
Placing her feet firmly together, Christine tilted her head upwards, refusing to be intimidated. Her thighs ached from the pressure she was putting on her legs, but it was necessary. Without it, she was certain they would tremble uncontrollably.
"Nurse Chapel," Spock began in that impassionate, almost bored tone of voice. "May I have a moment of your time?"
"Uh, of course Commander. W-what can I do for you?" Squeezing her fists together at her sides, Christine felt betrayed by the tremble in her voice. She should not be showing weakness in front of him, even after what had happened.
"I wish to address the course of events in the Medical Bay that led to the Captain's expulsion from the Enterprise." He let his piercing gaze rest on her. "More specifically, I wish to apologise for my actions toward you."
She blinked rapidly in abject shock. Apologise? Had she heard him correctly? Christine had never expected such a revelation from Spock even though a part of her still felt aggrieved at what had happened. She'd been content enough to let the whole incident fade into the past, yet apparently Spock did not share in that wish. An apology had never occurred to her, and she found herself trying to stop him from delivering it.
"But Commander Spock," she nearly shrieked, nerves and surprise making a potent cocktail that affected even her ability to speak normally. "That isn't necessary at all. You shouldn't have to apologise. In fact, if anyone should feel obligated to say sorry, it should be me because..."
A simple lifting of his hand forced Christine back into silence, and gratitude flooded her. Her nerves were running away with her and she was trying to apologise for something which she knew she did not want to, nor did she feel she needed to. Struggling to compose herself, Christine watched as Spock resumed his stance of hands clasped behind his back.
"You have no need to apologise, Nurse Chapel. Nor do I feel obligated to apologise to you. I wish to make amends because in hindsight I see that my actions were not only illogical, but grossly unfair. I should not have tried to order you into doing something that your conscious told you was wrong, and I wholeheartedly agree with the praise others have given you for your standing your ground when everyone else shrank into the background."
A flicker of emotion trembled on the surface of Spock's face, but was swallowed by the impassive Vulcan mask almost as quickly. "Furthermore, there is no excuse for attempting to use a mind meld to forcibly take the information I requested. That is unacceptable behaviour on my part, and I would fully support you if you wish to take the matter further to a Starfleet tribunal. A court martial would be the most appropriate method of discipline, and..."
"Spock," Christine interjected. "There is no need to say anymore. If you could come here and apologise for what happened, then I can certainly forgive you for it." She placed a reassuring hand on his upper arm. "You are incredibly brave and loyal, and to have held it together to command this ship after what happened, well it speaks volumes of your character. You're a good man, Spock. I know it."
He appeared as surprised as a Vulcan could at Christine's words, and she smiled, lowering her arm and winking softly. "Besides, with you off the ship, who is going to keep the Captain reigned in?" She looked a little more serious at the thought. "He needs you, Spock. You have to teach him wisdom and temperance, and hopefully prevent him from making too many rash decisions."
She chuckled, and Spock inclined his head slightly toward her. "You are wise, Nurse Chapel, more so than I realised. I see now why Nyota speaks so highly of you." Christine blushed under the praise, turning her head slightly to avoid his gaze. "It will be an honour to serve with you."
Christine looked back to see Spock holding his hand out toward her. Without any hesitation, she reached out and took it, shaking it gently. A ghost of a smile on his lips, Spock turned and headed out of the cargo bay, Christine taking a step forward to watch him disappear around a corner.
Just as the doors were about to close back together again, they held themselves open as the approaching presence of another kept them apart. Glancing in the other direction, a beaming smile lit up Christine's face as she noted the Captain striding toward her. She took a moment to appraise him, the Starfleet uniform and colours of the commanding officer bringing out the icy crystalline blue of his eyes that shone at her. She took a step forward to meet him, and the doors finally closed behind her.
He stopped just in front of her, and Christine suspected by the twitch of his arms he was restraining from reaching out to her. She stepped forward anyway, tilting her head back to look up into his handsome face, just as she felt the warm firm grip of his hand softly brush her waist.
"Nurse Chapel." He said softly, his voice low and dangerously seductive. The tips of his fingers squeezed her flesh gently as he said her name, his pupils dilating just a fraction.
"Captain Kirk." She whispered back, blue eyes trained on the full lips of his mouth. Memories of those lips pressed against hers clouded her thoughts, and for a moment Christine felt as though she would reach for him to make it a reality.
The sound of approaching footsteps held her in place, and she pulled back, licking her lips as Kirk looked at her somewhat disappointed. Folding her hands in front of her, she feigned propriety as a yeoman walked down the corridor, nodding his head at Chapel and the Captain. Kirk turned his head, offering the man a smile a curt nod of his head. Christine studied the lines of his face as James watched the other officer leave, silently thrilled at the square cut of his jaw.
Satisfied they were alone again, in one swift movement James turned back to face her and lowered his head to press his lips against hers. Taken by surprise, Christine had little time to react as he pulled back once more, a smug grin on his face as she was left trying to recapture her breath. They were probably breaking a dozen or so Starfleet rules, but neither one was particularly bothered. The evening James had come to persuade her to join his crew at her parent's house, they had talked all night through to the first light of morning about their future.
Both had agreed that there had to be a certain level of distance maintained between them, particularly in these early days when Kirk was assuming command of the vessel. The crew had to look up to him as their leader, and to be seen romancing a member of his crew could jeopardise his ability to control the ship and it's crew. Whilst they weren't going to sneak around to be with one another, they certainly weren't going to flaunt themselves either. The last thing either of them wanted was for Christine's promotion to be seen as an act of favouritism on James' part. She was definitely heading into territories that no Nurse had ever gone before, although Christine knew she couldn't be the first person to be involved with their commanding officer. Most definitely she knew she wouldn't be the last, either.
Perhaps their most important rule had been no fraternizing whilst either one was on duty. And within a day of being on board, James had already broken that rule. Well, only because he beat me too it, Christine realised with a knowing smile.
"What brings you down here, Captain?" Christine finally asked, the picture of innocence of a member of the command crew. She leaned slightly on one leg, her hip jutting ever so slightly outward and she saw the way his eyes widened for a moment as he took in the new curves and valleys her uniform left on her body.
Licking his own lips hungrily, Kirk met Christine's gaze with a blazing stare. "I thought I might escort you to the bridge for our departure, Nurse Chapel."
"How thoughtful," Christine smirked, giggling as Kirk stepped to her side an offered her his arm. She took it softly, gracefully sliding her arm through his. They fell into step side by side, heading along the corridor toward the turbolift at the end. "How're you doing sir? Are the crew falling into line for you?"
"It's tough," he admitted, brow furrowing softly. "A lot of the commissioned officers have found the transition quite hard and why wouldn't they? What Lieutenant Commander would like to see a third year Cadet skip about ten years of his career to be given a ship, especially when it's the flagship. It has to be a bitter pill to swallow."
Christine squeezed his arm in support. "But they'll come around, surely? They have to. You were given this ship for a reason James, and people will either have to accept it or request a transfer."
"I'm glad someone believes in me." He smiled, although Christine knew there was a deeper truth to his words. He reached for the button to call the lift, and she turned to face him as they waited.
"The whole of Starfleet Command believes in you. There is no higher vote of confidence." Christine insisted. "Just give the crew some time and they'll recognise you for the man that you are, not the title you've been given. I think you'll be pleasantly surprised and they will follow you willingly."
He grinned, leading the way into the carriage as it opened next to them. "I shall defer to your better judgement, Christine."
She chuckled as the lift propelled them to the first deck of the ship. Standing at his side, Christine felt James' fingers daringly creep their way up her arm to slip beneath the hem of the sleeve on her uniform. Her hand caught his, extracting it from where it had ventured, a look of amusement of Kirk's face. She shook her head in a playful reproach, though in reality her skin burned where he had touched her. "Really Captain, whilst we're on duty? At least wait until after we've left the Starbase."
"Once we've left the Starbase, huh?" The doors opened onto the Bridge, and Kirk strode forward, his lips coming dangerously close to her as he whispered into her ear. "I'll hold you to that, Nurse Chapel."
Colour rushed her cheeks as Kirk led the way onto the Bridge. She hung back a moment, trying to calm her senses from the haywire he'd thrown them into. Straightening her uniform and running a hand over her hair, Christine stepped out onto the bridge.
They were the last ones to arrive. Sulu and Chekov were at their stations, busily preparing the Enterprise for departure. Uhura manned the communications terminal, busily recording orders that were spoken into her ear piece. Spock and the Chief Engineer Scott were in heavy conversation, Scott becoming quite animated about something. And next to the Captain's chair stood a rather bemused looked Leonard McCoy. She softly waved her fingers at him, and he scowled all the more.
"All right ladies and gentleman," Kirk announced as he stood on the opposite side of the chair to McCoy. "It's time to begin our mission. Uhura, have our orders come through from Starfleet Command."
"Yes, Captain." She replied, all eyes on the bridge turned to her station. Christine was certain her friend glowed with pride at her position, and she was secretly thrilled for her. "We are to proceed to sector 22239 and rendezvous with the USS Hathor and Captain Ramirez, assisting them with their ecological studies and to pick up the remaining members of the crew."
"Perfect. Clear us from the Starbase Mister Sulu, and set in a course for the USS Hathor. Warp Factor six." With a relaxed smile, Kirk took his seat on the Captain's chair, and Christine exhaled a breath she hadn't realised she'd been holding onto for so long. McCoy mumbled something to Kirk, who grinned and shook his head.
Shuffling up to where Christine stood, he folded his arms across his chest. "Is it too late to get the hell off this death trap, you think?"
Christine smiled at him. "You'll be fine Doctor McCoy. The Captain knows what he's doing, there really isn't a safer place you could be."
McCoy snorted, digging around in the medical bag strapped over his shoulders. "I'm sure I stuck a little whiskey in here somewhere. You mark my words missy, if we don't keep an eye on that kid we're going to end up flying straight into the jaws of danger. I for one did not volunteer for an early death. There it is!"
Just as the doctor produced a small flask of whiskey from his bag, Christine took it from him, slipping it into her pocket. He scowled at her, and she just stared ahead, smiling. "That's not going to help Leonard. If James is as bad as you suggest, we may need your expertise before the day is through."
He grunted, but smiled all the same. "Don't think sucking up is going to get you anywhere Chapel. I already gave you Life Sciences, what more could you possibly want?" Christine chuckled, nudging him in the sides. "Seriously though Christine, I'm glad you're here. I think that hot headed fool is going to need you more than he will me out there."
Christine opened her mouth to object at the description of Kirk, but McCoy was in full flow and couldn't be interrupted. "Anyway, Starfleet command must be out of their minds giving him control of a ship. I wouldn't even trust him with a pair of scissors!"
She shook her head, ocean blue eyes alive with excitement for the mission ahead. "Oh admit it Leonard, you're as excited as I am to be a part of this crew. And you know he will make an excellent Captain."
McCoy pursed his lips for a moment, obviously knowing Christine could see beyond his grumpy exterior. "Fine. But you tell anyone and I'll have you scrubbing the Medical Bay for a month."
"Your secret is safe with me," Christine mock whispered, before moving to lean her hands on the barrier that separated the Captain's chair from the rest of the bridge. This was an exciting moment, and the wait for the Enterprise to leave the Starbase seemed painfully slow.
"We are clear of the Starbase, Captain." Chekov finally announced in his own Russian way, his youthful face obviously unable to contain his excitement of what was going to come next.
"The ship prepared for Warp Speed, sir." Sulu held his hand over the warp drive, ready to take them faster than light to their first mission as a crew. It may have been Christine's imagination, but his hand trembled slightly, and it suddenly dawned on her that they were a group of Academy Cadets let loose on the most advanced ship in the entire fleet. What didn't they have to be excited about?
Kirk stood up from his seat, eyes focused on the now polarized view screen that displayed the vastness of space before them. All eyes were upon him, and he seemed to Christine to be more at home here than anywhere else. If anyone had been born to Captain a Starship, she thought, it had to be James Tiberius Kirk. A smile broke his lips, and he indicated toward the black distance. "Mister Sulu, take us out."
"May God have mercy on us all." McCoy grumbled, and Christine chuckled softly.
She was a part of something special here, she knew it to the core of her being. And whatever lay ahead for the Enterprise and her crew, she knew there was no better place to be than under the Command of James Kirk. The ship hummed softly as the warp drive engaged itself, the faintest of vibrations tickling beneath her feet. On the view screen, the stars began to blur into streaks of light as they were propelled forward, that familiar stomach rush hitting Christine as they hit warp speed.
With the eyes of Starfleet upon them, and like everyone else on the bridge and actually on board the ship, Christine Chapel couldn't wait to see what happened next.