A Mirror, Not a Window
You walk the corridors of the ship. Alpha shift has just ended and you are bored and feeling the tingle that starts in your toes and works its way up. You smile, the small quirk of the right side of your mouth—a more caustic look than you would show normally but tonight you're...hunting.
What do you have a taste for?
Who do you want to be?
You walk a bit longer, past the turbolift, past the gym and the sweaty, beautiful bodies inside it. Bodies you could add to your collection but you've got enough of one already. It's a risky game you play, but you play it well, have since University.
Roger never figured out you slept with Brown—or with his little prize pupil runner-up Andrea. He always thought you were faithful.
Faithful isn't in your vocabulary.
Risk is. Danger is. Stolen, but never careless, moments are. Sex is best when the stakes are high.
But not too high. The worst that's likely to happen if you're found out is that you get transferred off the ship. It's unlikely anyone will kill you—you don't think they've fallen in love with you.
Unless you're really off your game.
But the possibility exists, you suppose, for a dire ending to all this, and that's frightening—but exciting, too. Life lived too far from the edge bores you.
You see Chekov coming out of the gym. He smiles at you, opens his mouth to speak and you give him the look that has shut him up so many times before.
You may like to live on the edge, but this boy can't spell discretion much less exercise any. You'd be better off fucking an open comm channel.
"Christine, are you...looking for company?" The boy is brave tonight.
"If I am, Pasha"—you use the diminutive with sarcasm dripping from your lips—"why would I look at you?"
He blushes and stands a little straighter. "You are not a nice woman."
"No? Because I'm not interested in you?" You lean in. "That would make ninety-eight percent of the women on this ship not nice. The other two percent are just morons."
His color deepens. He has tried to tell Len how mean you are to him. Len just laughs and tells Chekov to quit hitting on you and you'll quit shooting him down so harshly. Len has the benefit of thinking he's the only one you're fucking—even if you only fuck him once in a blue moon—so he feels free to laugh at the poor, dumb boy.
Good old Len.
You're tired of Pavel baiting so you turn and walk off, leaving him standing insultus interruptus in the corridor.
You want something softer. What you really want is Janice, but she transferred off the ship after watching yet another woman fall under the captain's spell—although you suspect it was Lenore Karidian who really drove the final nail in the "I'll love James Kirk forever" coffin. Jan thought what you and she had was just something that happened when you two had too much to drink and got to commiserating over your mutual unrequited loves.
Because clothes always come off when you're bitching about men who don't love you. Mouths always open, tongues always touch gently. Janice was a master with her tongue—no way she hadn't been with women before, the way she could make you come.
You could go to Ny, but she's not the same. You have to coax her and it takes forever. She only lets you have her because she's lonely, but it's not you she wants. You think she loves the captain and Spock. You suspect she doesn't tell you either of those things because she doesn't want to hurt you over Spock and doesn't want you telling Jan about Kirk the next time you see her. Ny is going to be a whole lot of work and while you're in the mood to hunt, you're not in the mood to hunt all night—you want something easier.
You could go to Len, but you don't want something that easy.
You walk down to engineering. Something has kept you away from Mister Scott, but he would be a good addition to your set—if he didn't sort of turn your stomach.
You see him standing at the engineering console, watching one of his woman engineers working at the far side of the room. He's got a look that's a mixture of admiration—probably for her breasts: the woman looks like she should not be able to stand upright—and of disgust.
He's muttering. Something about women not belonging in the engine room. You heard this from Brown enough time in the lab before you fucked him into submission. You don't actually relish doing it again with this yahoo.
Scott looks up, smiles at you. "Lass, what're you doing all the way down here?"
You give him the sweet smile you know he expects. "Reminding you that you have a physical due."
He scowls. You imagine that's a look a woman of his might see a lot. When they weren't seeing the inane look he wears when he's in love. You saw him with poor Mira Romaine. "Can't we work something out?"
"Mister Scott, really." You give him a look that would make Spock proud and leave.
Sulu, maybe? He's dreadfully earnest at times, but if you catch him on the right day, he can be loads of fun. You're just never sure which Sulu you're going to get. And now that you think about it, he may be off the ship anyway for a fencing tournament.
He'll be pumped up when he gets back, though. If he wins, he'll be on top of the world and ready to celebrate in the most physical way possible.
If he loses, he'll be ready to work out his frustrations in the same way.
Win win for you.
Two men left, then. Both require extremely careful handling. A careful hunt, which is what you're in the mood for, and the payoff will be huge. You save them for nights when you really need a pick-me-up. Because you have to be extra careful with them. They aren't like Len or Ny or Sulu.
They actually move you.
Or maybe it's the work you have to do to get them that moves you. Who you have to become to get them that makes you love them, want them, never tire of them.
They're the two who will kick you off this ship if they ever figure out what you're doing. You have to be cagey to make sure they don't.
Spock with his mind meld. Jim with his scary intuition and ability to show up the last place on the ship you expect him to be.
Which one will it be tonight?
You decide on Jim, go to his quarters, and ring the chime. He answers, seems surprised to see you.
Perhaps because Spock is in his quarters. They are not playing chess.
They have glasses in front of them—Spock's is not water. You think perhaps it's wine.
You are not sure how to play this. But your persona for each of them is similar so you put on a betrayed face—not too betrayed, though—and ask in a small voice, "Are you celebrating something?"
Jim studies you, and you wonder if he and Spock have been talking about things that happen in beds late at night.
Then you realize that given the tableau you've just walked in on, they could talk all night about that and your name might never come up.
You stand and wait, knowing the situation is awkward without feeling it the way you would if you were a more normal person. "You could offer me some wine," you finally say, then look at Spock. "And since when do you drink?"
He looks up at you. "What I do or do not drink is none of your concern."
You glance at Jim. He is clearly waiting for your reaction.
"You're right, Spock." You sit down on the bed, the only spot left to sit since they have the chairs. "As long as you perform as robustly as you have in the past when we have sex, you can drink yourself into unconsciousness any other time for all I care."
It is the most reckless thing you have ever done. You are not entirely sure why you've done it, except that he's angered you—and you think they're on to you anyway. Better to go out unapologetic and fighting than like the meek little doormat everyone thinks you are.
"Wow, brazen first move." Jim grabs a glass and pours some wine, then hands you the glass. "So, you shouldn't let Spock meld with you when you're asleep."
"I think let is probably not the right word." You stare evenly back at him. "Did you tell him to?"
He nods. "I saw the way Bones was watching you. He has a certain look when he's involved with someone."
"We're not involved. We just have sex occasionally."
Spock studies you as if you are a specimen under his microscope. "Compared to you, T'Pring has great personal warmth."
"Probably so." You sip your wine. "Is this Vulcan?"
Spock nods. "From my family's vineyards."
Jim seems impatient with the polite enological small talk. "Chris, you're in a great deal of trouble here."
"Am I, Jim?" You raise your eyes slowly to meet his. "Why is that? Because who have I hurt?"
"This is a morale issue."
"Hmmm." You swirl the wine gently. "Are you sure you're not just angry that you weren't the only one I was sleeping with? Is it a morale issue or is it your morale that's the problem?"
You're enjoying this. This honesty, finally. You don't think it will get you anywhere, but it feels good, liberating even.
"I am a little irritated with you." He looks away.
"Just a little? And you?" You meet Spock's eyes. "You used me after the Pon Farr, when the burning wasn't quite gone, and then kept on using me—isn't that the story you told yourself?"
"It was. It no longer is."
"Why? Because I came to you that first time? You needed me, didn't you?"
"I wanted you. I did not need you. I would not have died."
"You never said you loved me. You never said anything about exclusivity—or even that we were in a relationship. We've barely spoken outside of your quarters. Is there some way I've betrayed you, Spock, by taking other lovers?" You lean in. "Or is it just that I took Jim, too?"
"I am not with Jim."
You see Jim glance at Spock. There is something in his expression. Something...untapped. Something in the way Spock looks back at him.
You know longing when you see it. On a human or a Vulcan face.
"But you want to be."
"I did not say that, Christine." He glances at Jim, who is suddenly busying himself with pouring more wine. Spock looks like a man who may not have said it, but very much meant it.
And you smile. You see where this hunt can take you. If you want it to.
"I have three other lovers, gentlemen. Ny is not that interested, so she will be easy to disengage from. Hikaru will take longer but I am relatively good at this."
You shrug. "He's my least favorite. He's needy."
You see Jim's mouth tighten.
"I call it like I see it. He wants too much. If I have feelings—and I'm not actually sure I'm capable of them, if you must know—it's for you two." You watch them to see if that statement is of any interest.
It appears to be.
"I just...cut back more and more until I don't see Len at all. That's the easiest way to unload him."
"Cold." Jim looks at you as if you are a thing he might see at the reptile house at some zoo.
"Honest. I assume that's what you want me to do. Fix this morale issue? Or are you transferring me off?" You dip your finger into your wine, run it around the rim of the wine glass, making the glass sing. Both men watch you, and you think they don't know they are doing it.
"I should transfer you off." Jim throws his drink back, pours another.
He never drinks this way. You know something is different tonight. You know what it is, too.
"If I'm going to be transferred off anyway, then you should indulge." You hand Spock your wine glass, see a flicker of something in his eyes, and wonder if he has figured out what you are doing.
You pull your top off, hold it out and ask, "Do I put it back on or do I let it drop?"
Jim says, "Put it back on" as Spock says, "Let it drop."
They look at it each other.
You laugh. "Spock wants you, Jim. He knows that if you both take me, eventually he'll work his way around to having you. Maybe not this time. Maybe not the next time. But eventually. And then, you'll probably get rid of me. And by then, I'll probably be ready to go. I tire of things quickly."
"Like Korby?" Jim laughs softly. "You searched for him."
"I searched for him on your ship. There were other ships going directly there. I wasn't in that big a hurry. Not once I saw you." You turn to Spock. "And you."
Jim takes your wine glass from Spock and puts it on the table. He shakes his head, then mutters, "Put your damn shirt back on, Chris."
Spock looks disappointed.
"Break up with them all. Sleep with anyone else on my crew and you'll be off this ship."
"Understood. I reserve the right, however, to exclude you two from that threat."
Spock's mouth almost flickers up.
Jim's does not. "Get out."
You stand and pull your shirt over your head. "But I notice you're not transferring me off your ship, Jim."
"Jim." You touch Spock on the shoulder, feel him lean into you, but this doesn't surprise you. Of all of your relationships on this ship, the one you have with him is the most uncomplicated. "I'll behave in public. The way everyone expects me to. But someday, the longing you two have will get to be too much. And you'll need to slake that thirst for each other. And I don't think you'll slake it in each other at first. I think you'll need me. And that's why you're keeping me aboard."
Jim looks like he's ready to toss you out an airlock.
"And I was serious, Jim. I can't break up with Len fast. He's...fragile and he'll make my life a living hell. But I'll get it done. The other two: consider them over."
You crouch down in front of him, put your hands on his knees. "Are you sad?"
You can tell he wants to push you off him, maybe knock you to the floor.
You laugh. "I'm sad. You were amazing in bed. So is Spock, in case you want to file that fact away."
Pushing yourself up, you dig in, leaving nail marks in his legs. "I'll see you around, Jim."
He grabs your arm, yanks you back down. "Sir."
You smile and say nothing until he lets you go. Spock is watching you with a look you can't entirely read but think might be grudging admiration. Jim looks so angry you think he really might space you.
You wait to see. You're living on the edge. Dancing on the edge is probably more like it.
"Get the hell out of here," he finally says.
Safe again. For one more day, anyway.