Standard disclaimer: Don't own. Never have, never will, except in my dreams. I do have a TOS Calendar from the 1990s, but I bet that doesn't count.
No Human Beta, only electronic. As always available for and encouraging towards Constructive feedback - i.e. this doesn't work. This is why. This is a way that you might fix it and maybe avoid it in the future. I am even interested grammatical and spelling corrections.
***Additions to the story arc now available. There's Busman's Holiday Outtake 1" in the Star Trek 2009 movie section and Busman's Holiday Prelude in the Star Trek The Original Series section. There's a 'Sequel in Process,' but it's only available on my computer and my brain. ***
"Busman's holiday, eh, Dr. Chapel?" the young, reddish-haired scientist assigned to her as an aide, and probably a babysitter as well, asked. He made a couple of adjustments on the equipment in front of him. His screens flashed, and then settled down, a crisp and steady display of numbers and lines rolling across the monitors.
Christine Chapel shrugged, smiled, and checked the readings on the device in front of her. "Not really," she answered.
"What else would bring the powerhouse of 'Fleet Medical Ops to this forlorn place, then?" Christine's companion gestured out at the sandy brown ruins that surrounded the pristine, gray Federation Quik-Up buildings and black racks of equipment.
"I wanted to see the Guardian. I missed it the other times we were here." She let a small frown darken her features for just a moment. Even though she'd been head nurse, she'd never been part of the inner circle. Tweaking another couple of settings, she smiled. "But now, rank and position do offer me some privileges"
The young man furrowed his brows. They nestled together like a pair of ginger-colored caterpillars. "Other times, Doctor Chapel? You've been here before?" he asked, then his face filled with bright comprehension and he answered his own question. "Of course, you have. You were on Kirk's Enterprise!"
Christine resisted the temptation to roll her ice blue eyes. The Legend impressed just about everyone, even his closest friends. Instead, she just nodded and returned her attention to her devices.
"The Guardian offers us a fantastic learning opportunity, Mr. Eccles," she said. "We can rediscover lost knowledge; better understand who we are and where we came from. We can rewrite our history books."
"And history, ma'am?" he asked, "Can we rewrite history?"
Christine looked back up at the young man. So much for him to learn. A warm, dusty breeze ruffled his hair. Hers, too, she supposed.
'No, Mr. Eccles. We can't rewrite history. We don't rewrite history." She paused for a moment, considering those things that she would like to make, but knew better. "Changing the past changes the future. Changing the past changes the present and we will never be wise enough to know what to change. Anyway," she added lightly, "it's a violation of the Temporal Prime Directive and the Time Police will come and take you away if you do." She laughed gently.
Maybe three days later, she never could remember for sure, Christine did the unscientific. Late at night, stars sparkling and cracking across the sky, Christine Chapel stood in front of the Guardian in her fuzzy white slippers, wearing a midnight blue peignoir and negligee modestly hidden under nondescript, ankle-length terry robe. It was chilly at night in the Guardian's city, but she was loath to give up the set, even in this environment. They were a gift from someone very special to her.
She flipped on the power to the monitoring equipment. She might be moody, but she wasn't going to not follow protocols. The electricity crackled. Had she been just slightly less moody, she might have noticed the noises coming from the power unit. But she was and she didn't.
She folded her arms across her breasts, closed her eyes for a moment, then opened them and stared at the emptiness inside the Guardian.
"Guardian, could you show me the Enterprise, Kirk's first mission as captain," Wistful. That was what she was feeling. Wistful and nostalgic. Her mother, Lauren, called it melancholia. Her dad, Patterson, insisted it was just a bad case of existential angst.
"A question," the Guardian rumbled, "Which timeline do you seek?"
"Pardon?" Christine said, startled, "Timeline?" There should only be one timeline, she thought. "What do you mean, 'which timeline do I seek?'"
"You have two timelines - the original and the new. Select one and I may show you the past." The Guardian flashed soft, multicolored lights in time with its words.
Chris glanced over at the device that recorded all interactions with the Guardian. She knew it was running, but she just wanted to make sure. She took a deep breath.
"Show me the new timeline from its beginning," she said and watched as a white hole bloomed outwards expelling a ship that reminded her of a sea urchin crossbred with an octopus to a very different sort of Enterprise launching. She stepped forward, leaned forward, her dark hair falling in ripples around her face. She stared, fascinated, as a world she never knew unfolded in front of her.
While time moved quickly, she saw the horror as the world the whl'q'n called their home imploded and urchin-octopus ship collapsed. She didn't hear the explosion behind her in the explosion that threw the very different Enterprise free of the black hole, but she felt the shattering forces as she tripped forward and through the Guardian's gate, space, and time.
And straight into a bulkhead.
"You okay, there, ma'am?" a voice she knew as well as her own asked in its trademark drawl, "I didn't know we'd rescued any humans when Vulcan collapsed." She let him pull her up and she turned to face a Doctor McCoy much younger than she'd known in years.
She finished righting herself. "I just lost my balance. That's all," she said, half-afraid that he'd somehow recognize her. He wouldn't have, of course. He was younger, she was older and maybe this Doctor McCoy didn't know a Christine Chapel.
"Why don't you come along to sickbay and get yourself checked out, Ms. . . ." McCoy grasped her elbow, gently, but with obvious insistence, as he let the request for her name trail off.
"Patterson. Lauren Patterson," she said, "Honestly, Doctor. I just slipped. You don't need to check me out." Secretly, Christine was afraid that there might be something in whatever readings the doctor made that would reveal that she didn't belong.
"Nonsense," he said, "You've just been through a traumatic experience. It's best to let us take a look at you, Ms. Patterson, just to make sure you're okay." Christine surrendered, letting herself be led to sickbay. Maybe it wasn't her first choice, but it was better than fighting with him. Her Leonard McCoy could be a stubborn man. This one probably could, too.
She laid on a bio-bed, pulling her tatty dressing gown tighter over her elegant peignoir. She had pushed her fuzzy slippers up against the edge of the bed, to keep them out of McCoy's way.
He ran his scanning devices up and down her body, checked the readings on the monitors, then abandoned his technology in typical McCoy style, poking and prodding at her with expert fingers. He sat her up, pushed into her shoulders, neck and spine before tapping her back the same way doctors had been doing for centuries.
"You're alright. You can go," McCoy said, pronouncing her fit.
"Thank you," she said, with only a faint 'I told you so' in her voice. Christine slid off the bio-bed and into her slippers. "I have medical training, Doctor McCoy. Perhaps I could assist . . ."
McCoy looked skeptical. She could easily see herself relegated to bandaging cuts and handing out over the counter painkillers. "I have an MD and Ph.D.s in biochemistry and xenophysiology. I did eight months managing a Vulcan medical ward on an Earth colony. I can help you," she said before he could tell her 'no.' To prove her knowledge, she rattled off a list of Vulcan blood types, ending in "and the rarest is T-negative," followed by a quick description of Vulcan anatomy and treatments for a couple of the less well known medical conditions.
McCoy relented. "I'd appreciate the help, Ms., or Doctor, that is, Patterson. We'll need to get you something to wear besides your, uh, current outfit." He motioned towards the nightgown. "I'll have one of the nurses help you find something else."
"Nurse," McCoy called to the young woman who hurried past them.
She stopped and turned, "Yes, Doctor McCoy?" The girl's eyes were as blue as ice in the sky. A halo of gold surrounded her face. Christine barely contained a gasp. Was I really ever so young? she thought. Was I ever really so young?
"This is Nurse Christine Chapel, Doctor Patterson. Christine, this is Doctor Lauren Patterson. She's volunteered to help with the Vulcans," McCoy said by way of introductions. "Nurse Chapel will find you something besides that nightgown to wear and get you started. You can leave your things in my office on the desk. They'll be safe there."
Christine nodded her thanks then turned back to herself. The younger woman was staring at her, as if she should know who she was, but just couldn't place her.
Finally, she just said, "This way, Doctor Patterson." Christine followed Chapel out of sickbay and into one of the medical dressing rooms.
Young Chapel moved efficiently, with a clear and solid knowledge of what was located where, as any good nurse-in-charge would. She drew out a set of soft, blue scrubs.
"These should fit," she told Christine, "You look like you wear about the same size as my mom." Her voice drifted off. "Her name is Lauren, too. " Chapel tilted her head and drew her eyebrows together slightly. "You even look a little bit like her." The girl laughed.
"You must have one good-looking mom, Miss Chapel," Christine smiled. She'd pulled off her dressing gown already and folded it. Her silken robe followed, and then Christine paused. "I 'm severely lacking in undergarments," she explained. She looked at the fuzzy slippers. "And shoes."
"Oh. Let me see what I can find," Chapel said. She shuffled through the shelves again, pulled out a package, and handed it to Christine.
"Not great support, Doctor Patterson. They're for patients in bed. The bottoms are really comfortable, though. I have a set for sleeping." The girl was still staring at her again.
Christine turned around as she dropped her gown from her shoulders, slid on the bra and top, the pulled on the panties and bottoms before losing her gown completely.
"Good moves, Doctor," Chapel laughed. "Y'know, my dad's first name is Patterson, so you have both of my parent's names. Maybe we're related."
Christine pulled her hair out from the top. "You never know, Miss Chapel. It's a small universe. So, let's get me started, Nurse."
Christine Chapel moved deliberately through the makeshift medical ward, checking on each of the lost katras in her charge. The majority of the Vulcans with whom she interacted were fine – physically. The few that were injured required minimal intervention, though she reserved those physical interactions for herself, certain that the young nurses in her charge would not know, or understand, how to block their uncontrolled thoughts and emotions. She kept the touches to a minimum and shielded her thoughts the way she'd learned years back. She was glad for the work. It kept her mind occupied and away from the fact she had no idea as to how to get home. The Guardian had brought her shipmates back when they'd restored time, but who knew what was the right thing in this alternate time stream.
She hoped desperately that there were Healers among the remaining whl'q'n. She could heal their bodies but did not have the skills to help heal their minds. That would take specialized skills she could never hope to possess. She only knew that there was indescribable pain. Even someone psi-null like Christine could feel the mental pain shared by each of the Vulcans present on the ship. Their family bonds ripped from their minds, the extended connectedness they shared as a telepathic species gone from them as their planet all vanished into a singularity too small to sustain itself, and which, in turn, disappeared from reality.
She remembered how the death of nearly 400 Vulcans on the Intrepid affected Mr. Spock in her universe. She could only imagine the impact of the death of his planet on the young Vulcan officer on this USS Enterprise. She would see him occasionally reconnoitering through the ship assessing damage, seeing what people needed, moving about at his daily tasks. Usually he was with Kirk. It fascinated Christine to watch the development of what would become finest command team in Starfleet history. Though, on rare occasions the younger version of Nyota Uhura accompanied him in his tours. She not seen such a thing in her universe, but was obvious, even to her, that these two were a couple in this universe.
They never really touched. It was more like the way that they looked each other during the ballet that Spock and Uhura performed in which there was no physical contact, no matter how closely they stood. Their easy familiarity in the way they interacted screamed that each knew the other better than they'd knew themselves. Even though she hadn't officially met him or even spoken with him, Christine knew that this younger Spock had come to a higher level of comfort about his relationships much earlier than the Spock that she knew during her years on the Enterprise. It would have been easier for the Spock of her universe had he achieved it sooner, easier, but it would not have made him the Vulcan she knew.
She spent most of her free time during her second shift one day in the ward sitting by the bed of a young woman. Christine was not sure if woman was mind-sick or in an extended healing trance. A child, no more than three or four, played quietly next to the bed. Christine thought the girl was the woman's daughter. One of the nurses, in a well-meaning gesture, had tried to move the dark-haired girl from the woman's bedside a few hours before. The little one's wails set the entire ward to screaming in unison with the girl. The nurse swiftly returned the child to her mother's bedside, and instead brought her a cushion, a snack and a pad full of recently downloaded Vulcan children's literature.
The lights were down. There weren't nearly enough medical screens to provide the kind of privacy that the Vulcans craved and needed. Mr. Scott, at her urgings and requests, freed up a couple of his people to build and replicate folding walls for the refugees. Christine made sure that several small, quiet spaces with artificially lit asenoi were scattered through the chamber. She wished she could do more. As it was, she knew that there was more she could do if she had the resources, though at this moment she was just trying to do her best for the child and her mother.
The child rubbed her eyes. Her little head nodded up and down and then jerked up. Like children of all worlds, she fought it, wanting to stay awake with her mother for as long as possible. Chris pulled out the thick, green sleep mat that she'd rolled up and put under the mother's cot hours ago. Once she laid it out on the deck next to the bed and the pillow, the little girl crawled onto it, pulling the floor pillow with her. Christine laid a blanket over the little form, and softly sang the only Vulcan lullaby she knew.
The footsteps stopped behind her as she finished the lullaby. Christine could feel the person watching her every movement. She ignored them as she tucked the blanket carefully around the sleeping child. Unconsciously, she reached out to stroke the soft, black hair, but caught herself and pulled her hand back. She didn't know the child's sensitivity distance and didn't want to risk waking her from a much-needed sleep.
"Hakausu." The voice that owned the footsteps said in a deep cultured, very Vulcan voice. "Nirsh-esta."
Christine Chapel rose and turned. "Ambassador Sarek! I had heard you'd survived. I am very pleased to meet you."
If Vulcans expressed it, Sarek would have looked more obviously nonplussed. Christine read the Vulcan expression of surprise in his face that vanished as quickly as it appeared. She would have preferred to shake his hand and perhaps get a hint of his thoughts, but took the better part of valor and raised her right hand in the ta'al. "I come to serve."
"You honor us with your service, Doctor Patterson," Sarek gave the ritual response. "I come to meet the one my people are calling Nirsh-esta Hakausu.No Touch Healer."
It was Christine's turn to be nonplussed. "No touch?"
"You treat my people while respecting the Vulcan ways. You do not push at fragile shields with emotions that they cannot handle. Like the child." He indicated the still sleeping girl.
"I have worked with Vulcans before, she explained. "I am familiar enough with the culture to understand the limits. I just wish we had a Vulcan mind healer here."
"Soon enough," Sarek said, "I've contacted the Vulcan embassy on Earth and we will have the appropriate medical personnel waiting for our people."
"How about you, Ambassador? Have you gotten yourself checked out?"
"There has not been time," Sarek responded. She believed him. It had been a frantic couple of days, but now the ship was limping back to Earth and there was time.
'You've been through a lot, Ambassador," she said, knowing full well that Sarek would resist her urgings just as she'd resisted McCoy's when she first came aboard, "and it will set an example for your people. It'll show that you trust the Federation and the Terrans."
She'd spent a number of hours with the Sarek of her universe, enough to know he was considering her suggestion and a way to get out of it.
'"It's a long, slow trip back to Earth, sir." Christine watched his expressions closely. "It's the logical time to get a physical, Ambassador."
"Perhaps you are right, Doctor Patterson. I am not feeling at my peak," the ambassador admitted.
Not at his peak! It was so like the Sarek she knew from her timeline that Christine almost let herself laugh. The man had lost his wife, his planet and was trying to rally his people and he wasn't feeling at his peak. I'm just functioning myself. At least I know my world is intact, and that those I love are safe at home.
"Thank you, sir. I'll get you scheduled for tomorrow morning, if that will work. One of the nurses will comm you with the time."
Ever the precise Vulcan, the Ambassador showed up for his appointment 15 minutes early as requested and quietly filled out the perpetual medical paperwork. Unlike many from his world, his medical records were intact, backed up at the Vulcan Embassy on Earth where he spent much of his working life. Christine made the appropriate notations to ensure the transfer of her records to the embassy medical staff when they reached Earth.
Christine remembered the words she said to Mr. Eccles in another lifetime."Changing the past changes the future. Changing the past changes the present and we will never be wise enough to know what to change." This past was not hers. She didn't know, couldn't predict, the future, but she did what she could to make her 'now' better. Fixing Sarek's heart valve early would help.
"I am grateful, Doctor Patterson, for your intervention," Sarek told her after the surgery. He was a couple of standard days into recovery, able and needing conversation. "My personal physicians had not found the defect yet. It was small and nearly undetectable. My understanding is that it would become a problem for me in my later years."
"You will want to be aware, Ambassador, that it's a genetic condition," she added. "You may want to make sure your son monitors himself for a potential occurrence of the same problem." The Spock in her timeline never had the defect. She was grateful that the geneticists that helped in his creation left that defect out of his DNA. She assumed as much would be true for this Spock, but it would look suspicious and neglectful of her, had she not mentioned this little detail to Sarek.
She didn't know how, once she got back to Earth, she would to hide who she was. One genetic profile away from discovery, Christine found her solution in the needs of the Vulcans. By staying with them and devising a new identity for herself with enough truth that she would not forget it, she took in to account what she knew, who she was, how she could hold herself together... Slowly, carefully, consistently, she become Lauren Patterson, MD, PhD, from a colony world that had been lost in a natural disaster with additional medical training that had taken place on the now non-existent Vulcan, leaving no records of her except in her DNA, which she shared with a young and naive blonde nurse.
She went with the Vulcans to help build the new Vulcan home world. They accepted her at her word and her exemplary performance. Vulcan provided her with the paperwork she needed to be real again as it had done with countless other survivors. It felt good. Maybe she wouldn't be able to go back to her own timeline, but she could still make a difference here.
Six, maybe seven solar months, into her self-imposed exile on edge of the civilization of New Vulcan, Christine Chapel accepted a position at the main health facility in New Shi'Khar. The city had a substantial non- whl'q'n population. Her versatility in dealing with the medical issues of different species made her a prime candidate in Vulcan logic. She was offered the position without being interviewed. She accepted without any additional details. For the first time since she'd passed through the barriers of time space and became Lauren Patterson, she realized that she was happy.
Lauren Patterson stepped out of her patient's room. Even with two months in the New Shi'Khar facilities, she was unable to see the facility as anything but extraordinary. Built with Vulcan aesthetics and the understanding of the connection between the Vulcan mind and body, the rooms and the hallways lacked the sterile and machined feel found in Terran hospitals. These wards and rooms resembled the warm sandstone rooms they were common in Vulcan domiciles. She often stopped and ran a hand along with the rough surfaces. Her Human training told her there was no way it could be sterile, but she understood Vulcan technology and knew that, indeed, no dangerous bacteria could survive long in that environment. Her human aesthetics told her that it was beautiful. She glanced down the hallway to a small waiting room carved into the side of the hall.
The Vulcan who caught her attention wore a knee-length, dark gray dress coat and slacks. Despite his age, his posture was straight. He kept his hands clasped behind his back. From the tilt of his head, his even gate, she would have known him anywhere. He was older than she'd ever imagined that she'd ever see him. In a normal world, she'd be dead before he'd even reached this age. Adjusting for the extended lifespans of a Vulcan, he wasn't much older than she was now.
She breathed his name as softly as she could, but she knew he'd heard her anyway and he turned to face her.
"Christine?" Spock said, more a question than her name, curiosity and wonder showing in his calm, Vulcan demeanor.
She pulled in a deep, shaky breath and leaned against the wall she thought so beautiful. She'd heard rumors about a Vulcan, an old Vulcan, who knew things that he shouldn't, but she'd never suspected that it was the Spock that she had known so well.
"Spock!" she said. This time she knew it was loud enough for him to hear. "Is that really you?" as soon as the words came out of her mouth she realized just how stupid they sounded, but it was an honest emotion for her, for Christine Chapel, not Lauren Patterson.
She righted herself and rushed forward to the Vulcan who was moving towards to her. She stopped as she reached him, not sure of the circumstances, not sure of what was right or wrong in this reality. She looked expectantly at him, searching his face for clues.
"Christine," he said her name again, his voice deep and rough, "How did you get here? I was told many years ago that you'd died on Guardian's planet in an explosion."
"Not exactly." she said, "The explosion didn't kill me. It blew me into this universe . . . and to here."
"That explains much." he replied, more to himself that to her.
She searched his face again. There was little pause between his words and his actions. He raised his hand, running the long, elegant first and middle fingers of his right hand down her cheek and then pressed his fingers to hers. In a more human gesture, he pulled her closer and whispered something inappropriate to her.
"We need to converse, Christine," he said, a little louder, but still softly.
"I'm on duty, Spock. And I'm Lauren Patterson, here."
"After your parents," he said. "Very clever, Doctor Patterson. You may call me 'Selek.'"
"And who is cleverer now?"
"Don't fight me, Christine . . . Lauren." His voice turned rough, his eyes serious. "Don't tease. It's been too long." His fingers settled on the side of her face, his mind settled into places so comfortable it was as if he hadn't been gone them for the better part of a century. "This explains why I never really lost you when you 'died.'"
Noises down the hallway caused the pair to startle and pull apart.
"So please, Doctor Patterson," Spock-Selek said as a trio of Vulcan Healers-in-training came down the corridor, "inform your chief that Ambassador Selek requires your assistance with a medical issue concerning one of his staff."
She waited until the Healers-in-training rounded the corner down the hall and were well out of hearing range to answer.
"I'll bet you do, 'Ambassador Selek.' I'll just bet you do," she said and hit the comm unit on the wall to let them know she was leaving.