**This is a short chapter, and I apologize. I know it's aggravating when you are interested in a story; I hope you still are! Sometimes, real life slows down our fun in the Star Trek universe, but I will be wrapping up the story next week. Deep thanks to the people who reviewed; those kind words keep writers going. Thank you.
Blow Back: Chapter 12
Spock was keeping vigil beside Christine Chapel's bed, in Shi' Kahr's hospital complex, when Leonard McCoy appeared in the doorway. He paused, taking in the scene before him.
Spock was sitting in a chair at Christine's bedside. His eyes closed. Christine's face still held lingering traces of bruising and other injuries, but her bio-readings were strong.
McCoy had come as fast as possible, which in this case was pretty damn quick. When Sarek of Vulcan sends a ship for you, personally, to transport you across the galaxy, red tape is not an issue.
As if sensing his presence, and he probably did, Spock raised his head to look at McCoy. Leonard was surprised at the age and worn demeanor exhibited by the Vulcan. Spock had seemingly aged faster than he and Christine had. Before the doctor had a chance to move, Spock rose and moved to him.
"Thank you for coming," Spock said quietly. "She needs you. I need you." His words were not passionate or beseeching, simply truthful.
Leonard McCoy grabbed Spock by the upper arm and said, "I'm here, my old friend."
After going through Christine's medical records for the past three days, Leonard asked to speak to Spock somewhere privately, away from her.
Guiding them to a secluded corner where a small waterfall in black stone trickled nearby, Spock sat down heavily.
Leonard sat across from him and leaned his elbows on his knees to look at Spock, with his legs spread and head slightly bent. He, too, was tired, emotionally wrung out.
"Well, obviously, she is still in a coma. Still in shock, I'd say after what happened. Tell me about the last few days, here at the hospital," McCoy asked.
"Restless nights, crying, begging for me to come home, although I am there holding her hand." Spock looked at the fountain, unable to face McCoy yet. "I am concerned for her mental well-being. What she did was something that the Christine I know would never have done."
McCoy wasn't going to let him off so easy. "The Christine you knew, not know. You don't know everything she's been through, Spock, since you left after Jim died. And if I were you, I wouldn't worry about her sanity. She's been through a lot, and I'm not sure she's dealt with it all, still yet. Believe it or not, Spock, humans don't face their emotions either—especially when they're brutally painful and seem overwhelming."
"But I do, Leonard. I….experienced it all through her eyes, rather unexpectedly. Our child died. I was gone and our child died. She blames me for this, rightly so." Spock's sad countenance finally turned to McCoy. "She will never forgive me."
McCoy twisted his mouth as if unsure of what to say and rubbed his hand across his tired blue eyes. "I don't know, Spock. Christine has loved you for so long, almost her entire adult life. When the baby died…..well, afterward, I told her that even if you had returned, we probably couldn't have saved her; the baby had so many problems. Honestly, it was a surprise that she lived as long as she did and a mercy for them both when she died, though God knows I didn't say that to Christine. I know that's brutal, but it's true. You could not have saved her by being there, Spock. I told her that. She knows that."
Getting to his feet, McCoy placed his hand on Spock's shoulder. "I need to eat. Would you like to join me? Get out of here for a while?"
"No. I will go back to Christine's room." Before McCoy could walk away, Spock's voice stopped him, "What was my child's name?"
In an instant, a thousand heart-breaking images flashed across the doctor's mind of the dead baby: tiny pointed ears; congenital heart problems; Christine's gut wrenching sobs.
He said, "The baby's name was Lena," then walked away to eat a meal for which he had just lost his appetite.
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Christine's eyelids opened slowly, and she fought for consciousness. When she came to her senses she recognized the hospital and realized where she was and why. Turning her head, she saw Spock sitting in the partial darkness of the room; his eyes closed. Leonard McCoy was across the room, asleep on a small cot that had been brought in for him. Through the windows, she could see it was dark outside and the thought of the heat of Vulcan made her glad to be in the coolness of her room.
She studied Spock. He seemed to be uninjured, thank God. He looked tired and, surprisingly, a bit older than he should for a Vulcan. As if he knew that he was being observed, he opened his dark eyes and raised his head. Christine searched his face, as he did hers, and an eternity seemed to pass in a long moment. Her face relaxed, and she didn't smile but there was a sliver of something about her that subtly altered, Spock thought.
He rose and went to her bed and sat down in the chair beside it. "How do you feel?"
She shrugged, "I'm not dead. You?"
Spock said, "I am not dead either."
Christine smiled in spite of herself, "That's a good thing."
Spock reached tentatively for her hand. She didn't pull it away. They sat, not saying anything for a while. Quietly, Spock said, "I am sorry about Lena. I did not know. I would have returned. Please believe me."
"Would you," Christine asked. "Could you have? You were so devastated; I don't know how you would have handled it."
"I would have returned." He held her cool hand in his large one and leaned toward her on the pillow. "I meant what I said. I have been a fool. I tried to tell you that I loved you when we were home, on Earth, before Jim died. I could not form the words; I could accept feeling what I did as a Vulcan, but saying it aloud seemed impossible. You have been the most constant, loving person in my life. I ran away because the loss of Jim overwhelmed me, and when I came to myself and controlled those feelings, I realized that you, too, would one day leave me, and I could not bear it." It was impossible to doubt his veracity; his eyes were dark pools that pulled at her heartstrings.
"Do you still….have strong feelings for me," he asked.
"I still love you, if that's what you're asking. I have always loved you, probably since the first time I laid eyes on you, much to my chagrin," she gave him a shy smile.
"To your 'chagrin'? You have reason to be regretful, Christine, but I ask you to reconsider me."
"Why should I?"
"Because you love me." Spock leaned so close she could feel the heat radiate from his body. "Because I love you. Because I came for you. Because I will never leave you again due to fear of loving you or losing you. I will be with you as long as you want me." He was close enough to almost touch his lips to hers, "If you will reconsider having me back in your life, that is."
Christine placed her hand softly on the side of his face, "I'm simply happy you're here. Now."
Taking her hand from his face, he softly kissed her palm, her fingers, one by one, then placing it back into her lap. "Tomorrow," he said, "I am taking you home, to Corfu, if that is acceptable to you."
Tears filled her eyes to overflowing and she whispered, "Yes, that is acceptable."
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The next day at lunch, Spock asked McCoy, "Why has Christine not asked about the mission, Riley, or her ship?"
"I don't think she cares right now, Spock," the doctor said. "In my medical opinion, she's still in 'crisis mode' and is more concerned with maneuvering the ship of "Christine" without hitting the shoals. That's a good thing, self-preservation; it shows she understands her vulnerabilities right now. She will eventually. At some point she will want to know everything, including about Valeris's death, which right now, she may not remember. That's not a bad thing. Don't push her. Let her heal. Just be with her. You ARE going to be with her? You're not planning on leaving her again because if you are—"
"I am not."
"Good. I am not sure she could stand it right now. If you're back in her life, be here for good, or leave now and leave her alone. She doesn't need to be yanked around like a cheap toy anymore." Leonard was surprised at the anger in his own voice, but he meant it, every word.
"I will not."
"You'd better not or I'll hunt you down and skin your damn Vulcan hide." Getting up abruptly, McCoy angrily threw his food into a receptacle and walked out of the cafeteria.