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by Toni Cardinal-Price

He sat alone, a quiet figure in blue, sipping an orange-hued beverage slowly. His dark eyes surveyed his surroundings with almost a childlike curiosity. No matter how long he had been among them, humans were still a constant source of bewilderment to him. He watched a group of men seated at a corner table, listened to the bantering and laughter of their conversation, and felt a twinge of regret that he would never achieve a rapport of that sort. Unconsciously, he tapped the rim of his glass, then glanced at the wall chronometer. It was close to departure time, so he stood up and headed for the doors.

In the corridor, he passed the different stores, oblivious to their wares, for space stations--even this one orbiting Vulcan--were much the same. He continued toward the main Transporter Room.

He grew suddenly aware that a female had paused after catching sight of him, and he stopped abruptly when she spoke his name:


He knew that his eyes revealed the inward shock he felt, and he deliberately drew a deep breath before responding. "Christine."

"Spock!" The woman repeated, a smile of pleasure lighting her face. "I didn't know. . .well, I had no idea you'd be here! It's so good to see you! Are any of the others here?"

"No, they--" His reply was interrupted as a few off-duty crewmen brushed past them. Christine made a small motion with her hand, and she and Spock retreated into a secluded corner out of the mainstream of traffic. "They are on board still," Spock continued tonelessly. "I had some information to deliver to the Station Director. The Captain insisted I take a few hours leave."

Christine chuckled. "Still overworking yourself, I see." Her eyes admonished him. "How is the Captain, and the others?"

"Quite well," Spock answered with typical outward calm. Inwardly, he was struggling to control the sudden trembling of his hands and to disguise his feeling of uneasiness. "I trust you also are well?"

"Yes, I'm very well, Spock," Christine assured, still smiling. "But it's been so long since I've seen you. . .all of you on the Enterprise! Why. . .it must be over two years!"

"Two point zero five of your solar years," Spock replied.

Christine's eyes widened in surprise, then she tilted her head slightly. "You remember exactly?" she queried, confusion filling her eyes.

"Yes," Spock returned evenly. Then, as an afterthought, "It is my nature to remember."

Christine nodded slightly, but continued to study the lean figure before her. Then her gaze softened. "How are things with you, Spock?"

"'Things'?" he questioned.

Christine's smile returned. "You know--your life. Lorna and Sarek. . .how are they?"

"Both are well," Spock replied. "Our family has been honored, for Lorna gave Sarek twins. I have just returned from visiting them."

"Oh. . . ! How wonderful!" Christine exclaimed. "I'm so very happy for them!" Her smile widened. "We also enjoy the presence of children on the Otsud. Karm and I often take care of Helen and Kaleth's son."

"Indeed? After becoming better acquainted with my stepbrother and stepsister, I have learned that children require a great deal of one's time."

"But the time spent with children is always a pleasure for Karm and me," Christine returned.

Spock nodded once, his dark eyes watching her. "I rejoice in your happiness."

His words sounded strained. . .forced, and Christine looked closely at him, startled by the expression that showed plainly in his eyes. There was an uneasiness in Spock's manner that she had never seen before, and it worried her. "Spock?" she said abruptly. "Have you found happiness?"

The tall Vulcan before her stiffened and shifted position. "Happiness is a human emotion," he reminded her.

"You know what I mean," Christine insisted. "Have you found someone to share your life? A wife?"

The usually unflinching gaze darted to the floor.

"I have. . .not yet searched for one," he said, almost painfully.

Christine reached out compassionately, paused as she recalled his instinctive evasion of actual contact, then touched his arm. "I'm sorry, Spock," she whispered, "It's not my right to pry." She drew her hand back. "So. . . ," she said lightly, attempting to change the subject. "Have you had any interesting missions lately?"

Spock's somber eyes rose to meet hers again, and he shook his head. "Routine ones only. What of your own missions?"

"Far from routine, I assure you," she said, excitement returning to her eyes. "Karm and I couldn't ask for a better life! Sometimes I miss the Enterprise, but--"

"Your absence is strongly felt," Spock interrupted her, his dark eyes meeting hers once more.

Christine stared at him, open-mouthed. That hadn't been a general statement Spock had just made. If she could believe the look in his eyes, he had just admitted that he missed her! Christine's eyes narrowed. "Spock. . . ," she whispered.

"I was a fool, Christine," he continued, "to allow you to slip from my grasp."

Christine felt a lump rise in her throat as she stared at him. The misery in his face tore at her heart. He was confessing affection--for her!

Spock, too, was shocked by his bold statement; so shocked that a violent shudder ran through him. He knew he had no right to this woman, and he had thought he was nearly free of his feelings for her. But her presence summoned memories kept deeply hidden in the recesses of his mind. He was filled with overwhelming regret and a deep inner frustration.

"Christine. . . " he began quietly.

"Spock. . . " the woman before him interrupted firmly. "I love Karm--with all my heart. I always will!"

The Vulcan's eyes averted again, and he nodded in painful acceptance. "Yes. . " he whispered finally. "I know."

A long, uncomfortable silence passed between them, broken abruptly by someone speaking Christine's name. Both she and Spock turned in response.

Karm stood a few feet away from them, his narrowed eyes studying them both intently. He walked up to his wife and turned his gaze to Spock.

"Karm. . . " Christine said finally, a tone of relief audible in her voice. "I just beamed down. . .and I ran into Spock." Her hand reached out and took hold of her husband's. "The Enterprise is in orbit here, too."

"I know," Karm said evenly, his eyes continuing to examine Spock, unperturbed, secure in his victory. The Vulcan returned the look unflinchingly for a moment, then he looked back at Christine.

"I must go," he said abruptly. "The Enterprise will leave shortly, and I should not delay." He turned to Karm, then held his hand up in the Vulcan salute. "You are a fortunate man, Karm," he said quietly. "You have a happiness that many beings never find. I wish you both a long life and prosperity."

Karm nodded, his eyes gleaming with confidence and pride. The Vulcan bowed slightly to Christine, then turned to continue down the corridor.

"Spock--wait!" Christine cried, suddenly breaking away from Karm. Spock turned to face her as she placed her hand on his arm, feeling a slight tremor beneath her fingers. "Spock. . .there's surely happiness for you, too," she said softly. "But, you've got to find it--and recognize it. Give someone a chance to love you."

Spock's somber eyes looked deeply into her own. "I had my chance, two point zero five years ago, Christine," he replied, his eyes narrowing with pain. "But I was too blind at that time to see what I was losing." He took a deep breath as his mask of non-emotion dropped over his face. "Goodbye, Christine." He turned from her again, and walked away.

Karm joined Christine after a moment, and looked down at her. "Christine," he commented at last. "Did he say something to hurt you?"

Christine blinked as a few tears lined her eyes. She watched as the figure in blue disappeared into the Transporter Room. "No, Karm. . . " she sniffed, a tear starting to slide down her cheek. "We talked about the ship. . .and old times."

"I saw his eyes," Karm insisted. "He knows what he has lost--even wants you back." There was a moment of silence, then Karm put his arm around Christine's shoulders, puzzled by her tears. "Christine," he said. "You do not regret. . . ."

Christine turned to face him, her eyes still blurred with tears. She saw the concerned look in his eyes and knew that her tears were confusing him. "Karm. . .I love you!" she said firmly, her arms moving around him as she pressed close. She held him with a tightness that nearly took the breath from her. "I love you more than life itself. Nothing--no one will ruin our happiness."

"Then why are you crying?" Karm asked.

"Because Spock is so alone," she said gently. "I wonder if he'll ever know a happiness like ours?"

Karm grinned. "He was indeed a fool to have let you go," he said quietly. "But his loss is my fortune. Sympathize with him if you must, Christine, but remember--it was his own decision. His happiness is no longer your concern. . .nor is yours his."

Christine smiled and turned up her face to receive his gentle kiss. Then, arm-in-arm, they walked down the corridor, oblivious to the sound of an activated transporter coming from the room behind them.


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