Word Count: 2284
Summary: A romance about Spock and Christine Chapel.
It’s a soft thing, this love, like a letter that’s been read a hundred times. It’s funny how you can love someone for so many years without change. A thousand years, it seems. To the end of time, and since before our sun burned hot in space. Time immemorial. Perhaps eternity is a loop and we’re always at the top, always on the rollercoaster just about to plunge, while the track moves beneath us.
Spock will tell me I’m being illogical. Of course he will. No matter how long the neurons and feelings and impulses of our minds have been entwined, no matter how long he’s been exposed to human emotions without the constant curb of Vulcan discipline, he still comes out with those words. You are being illogical, Christine. I hear his father in those words. I see his father in his eyes, in the slight drawing together of his brows, in that faint puzzlement, those unspoken words, Humans. Women. He would never admit to the exasperation behind that tone. Never. And the exasperation is all Spock, nothing of Sarek there. He would admit to curiosity, to puzzlement. He would say that he’s merely expressing his fascination that after all this time and what amounts to decades of study he still doesn’t understand human emotions, and especially female ones.
I don’t mind that he reduces our relationship to a kind of anthropological lifetime research project. I know he doesn’t really feel like that, because – well, a Vulcan’s other half isn’t supposed to talk about this, to give away secrets – but I have sunk so deeply into his mind that sometimes I know what he’s feeling even before he does. I can catch those little worms of emotion that he feels but hasn’t processed, and I catch the nuances before he’s even really aware they’re there. And there are a lot of those in Spock. I don’t know if there are more than there are in other Vulcans, in full-blood Vulcans. I just know the thoughts in my Vulcan.
I love those evenings when we just sit, and he leans his forehead against mine, and without even the touching of hands our thoughts flow free. It’s so easy. There’s nothing to hide. He doesn’t look for the dark places in my mind and I don’t look for the same in his. We’ve shared it all, anyway. I shared the oh-so-many moments when he thought that Jim had died; that awful time when Leonard was, we thought, terminally ill; the moment when, God rest her soul, his mother passed away. I’ve been there with him in that terrible airless chamber with the radiation burning through my skin, and I’ve fallen onto my knees and felt how every breath hurts and not wanted to give up my life, but given it up anyway, for my crewmates. I’ve been there with him at the awakening, looking around at faces that are so, so familiar, but like faces in a dream, always fleeting away.
He’s been there with me when I got the comm to say that Roger was missing, and he’s felt how I felt when Roger finally died, when his android body finally died. He’s felt that terrible moment when the baby, our baby, died in my womb, and I felt like I was dying, too, because the best part of both of us was falling from me drenched in blood, and despite all the medical training in the world I couldn’t stop it. When he stood at my father’s graveside and I dropped in the first handful of earth, he didn’t just stand there; he felt it, too. He felt the pain in my mind, and it was too much for him, and my tears were his tears, his lack of tears the only thing that held me up.
I think of his hand in mine. He held my hand at that graveside—not the traditional, decorous Vulcan touch, fingertip to fingertip, but a full-on clasp, his five fingers wrapped around mine, the beautiful heat of him pouring into my cold hand. That New England February was so cold, but his hand was like a furnace, and he looked so beautiful in that high-collar button-up overcoat and the charcoal scarf, that even though I was grieving and even though I was watching my father’s coffin being covered over with dirt, my heart was bursting with love for him, too.
How can you feel so many emotions at once? he asked me, without once opening his mouth or even turning his head.
Because I’m human, and so are you, I thought, and he thought it too, his thoughts so inextricably tangled with mine that it was hard to tell who initiated the sentiment. Perhaps he pretended to be insulted and perhaps he gave that little sigh that reminded me again so strongly of his father, but we thought that thought at the same time. He understood, of course, how a person could feel grief and love and lust and hunger and cold all at the same time. He took me back to the house and, bless him, took charge of all of the social duties, took care of mom, shook hands with the guests without ever showing how uncomfortable it made him, made sure I had something to eat, sat me down in the armchair and murmured, ‘In your condition, Christine,’ and I remember giving him such a glare and telling him, ‘I don’t want mom to know yet.’ And she never did know, because our baby was gone a month after that, and I never allowed mom to share in that grief.
His hands are still so beautiful. It doesn’t matter how much time passes, how his body changes. His hands are still beautiful. He thickened a little with age, and then he slimmed again as he moved into his seventies and eighties. We both did. He tells me, ‘You remind me of mother,’ and I don’t mind that at all, because at the end she was like a bird, a beautiful bird walking in the morning mist. She never lost her grace, even on her deathbed. I miss the ripe vitality that my body use to have, but I don’t mind being like Amanda for a moment.
He has winnowed out like she did. His hips and his shoulders are angular again, and he’s lost that middle-aged solidity and become an incredible creature made of muscle and bone. His hands are still beautiful. I can see the bones beneath his paper skin. Whenever he holds up one hand and says, ‘Attend, my wife,’ I don’t baulk at the tone of command or wrinkle my nose. I just look at his beautiful hand, with those two fingers outstretched for me, and I lift my own hand and touch my fingers to his, and his mind sparks into mine, and it’s like breathing pure oxygen. You don’t realise quite that you’re living half a life when you’re not touching, but as soon as you touch you come truly alive. His mind is like a fire and a forest and an ocean. You could ignite, get lost, drown; but I never do, because his hand is there, the metaphorical hand in his mind as well as the real hand, the real skin touching my skin. He never lets me get lost.
I sit here and watch him sleeping, the breath coming softly between his lips, his face so lined but like a child, so strangely like a child. I wonder about the child he was, about how lonely he was, how lonely he was for such a long time. I think of that little boy who walked home from school with a straight spine, head held up, holding back unVulcan tears. My heart aches, and he stirs a little and those little frown lines deepen, and I close my eyes and control my thoughts, because even in sleep – even more in sleep, perhaps – he’s open to my thoughts. I look again at his thin eyelids, his upswept brows, the hair still black with a little charcoal mixed in. I look at the planes of his cheeks, at his lips which I know so, so intimately, at the ears which I can never get over, which I can never see as anything but exotic. It doesn’t matter how long you live on Vulcan, how long you are an Ambassador’s wife, you never stop seeing those ears as something gifted by the elves.
‘Don’t be romantic, Christine,’ he murmurs, but he doesn’t wake. His eyes are still closed. His arms are still relaxed, his beautiful hands curled half-open, his breathing still coming soft and slow.
I will always be older than him. I started off a little younger, but I’m human, all human, and if I am a mouse he is a Galapagos turtle. It’s hard to come to terms with that. He ages a little faster than your average Vulcan, because there’s his mother’s blood in his veins. But his hair is still almost black, and mine is grey to white. His hands are thin but strong, and my hands will no longer do for opening a jar or turning a wrench. He puts his hands over mine, so warm they’re like poultices to my aching joints, and he stills them and opens my jars and takes the wrench from my hands and says, ‘Christine, you could call a plumber,’ and then proceeds to do the job himself better than any plumber would, because he can turn his hand to just about anything.
But I will die before him. He knows that and I know that. I saw how it tore his father apart when Amanda died. I saw the hollowness in Sarek’s eyes. That look as if half his soul had been torn away. Half of his soul had been torn away. That’s the terrible thing about sharing minds. The wonderful thing is truly having a soulmate for the best part of your life. The worst thing is when letting go is like King Solomon cutting you in half with a sword. How terrible that must have been for Sarek. How terrible it will be for Spock when I have gone.
‘Do something,’ I say to him. ‘Do something when I’m gone. Do something big, something amazing. Put the fire in you to work. Bring people together. You’ve always been good at marrying cultures.’
‘I will do something,’ he promises, and behind the sadness I see it in his eyes. I see that he will take the furnace of grief and turn it into a fire for change. Perhaps he will bring together two worlds.
‘Will you remarry?’ I ask him sometimes, and he smiles ever so subtly and says, ‘I will not have to remarry because I will not be without you.’
Of course he will. Of course he will. How impatient that makes me, that with all his logic, with all that incredible intelligence packed in the folds of his mind, he won’t face that simple fact. I don’t have a katra like him. He won’t be able to hold on to me in any way. I will die and he will have fifty, seventy-five, a hundred years left without me. Perhaps he knows something that I don’t. Perhaps that long, little time when he was dead and his katra was rattling around in Leonard’s head told him something that none of the rest of us will ever know, that he’ll never tell me. He’ll never tell Leonard what he learnt about death. He never told Jim, and he certainly doesn’t act as if he thinks Jim has gone to a better place, a place of peace. And he’ll never tell me. That’s the one thing he keeps from me, like the silence of the grave. I don’t know why. Perhaps it’s too emotional. Perhaps it’s too frightening. Perhaps it’s too special. But he’ll never let me know.
I don’t talk about it, and when our minds are together I don’t even think about it. You learn, after a while, how to think. Not to hide things, exactly, because there is no hiding in meld, but what to bring to the front of your mind and what to let lie. It’s like water running over a river bed. If the water runs just right none of the silt will be stirred up. It will just lie there, and there could be anything in there. Specks of gold. Larvae in little tubules of stones and spit. Brooches broken by Roman hands and tossed into the current. The fossil of a footprint, a dinosaur, a piece of wood. If you don’t stir the water, none of those things will ever come up, and the water will run clear and sparkling, and you can watch it happily for hours. That’s what meld can be like. My death and his are buried under the silt, and I don’t cause an earthquake and he doesn’t dip his hand in and stir the mud.
That’s how soft and worn this love is. So worn that it fits around us perfectly, lies against our skin, like an old leather cloak. So soft that his thoughts are a river and I swim in his water, and he lies and lets me cover him, run through him, without stirring up the dark sediment that contains death, tears, grief. We both know it’s there. When we dive we do it together, and we surface together, too, and lie in the perfect warmth, forehead to forehead. And when I smile, he does, too.