Beta: The amazing seren_ccd
Warnings: Sex and violence, but only for the deserving.
Word Count: 50000
Disclaimer: Nothing recognisable is mine, and trust me, I'm making nothing from this!
Notes: Written for het_bigbang.
McCoy waited until she was unconscious, then yelled for a nurse to stand in the room and monitor her vitals.
“Anything changes, you get me immediately,” he barked.
“Yes sir,” the young nurse blinked, his eyes wandering from the bed and back to Kirk and McCoy, who both looked grim.
“Any fluctuation, no matter how small,” McCoy insisted.
“He’s got it, Bones,” Kirk said. “Come on, your office.”
They waited until they got to the privacy of the CMO’s office before speaking again.
“Computer, privacy lockdown delta seven,” Kirk ordered.
“Delta seven initiated,” the computer replied. “No microphone or camera monitoring until lockdown rescinded.”
McCoy ran a hand through his hair. “Section 31?” he asked.
Kirk leaned forward in his chair. “A very secret part of Starfleet, headed by your personal favourite psychopath and mine, Admiral Marcus. He told me of its existence when he told me to chase Khan down. They’re spies, basically. Doing the dirty work so we shiny starship captains don’t have to.”
“How come Christine thinks that they put some kind of kill-chip in her?” McCoy demanded.
“I have no idea, Bones,” Kirk said, shaking his head. “Although if she was working for them...”
“She was not working for them,” McCoy said.
“She might have been, Bones,” Kirk said gently. “After all, we were, for a while.”
There was a pause while McCoy worked through the information.
“She did give Marcus’ name,” he said eventually. “She wouldn’t have said that unless she knew about Section 31.”
“You need to go and find out if there is a chip in her,” Kirk said seriously. “She could be in danger if there is.”
“Jesus Christ,” McCoy swore, shaking his head. “This is not how I imagined her coming back to me.”
There wasn’t much Kirk could say to that, so he diplomatically left McCoy to prepare.
When Christine woke up, McCoy was sitting slumped in a seat next to her bed. He’d clearly been reviewing charts, but had fallen asleep next to her. The biobed chirruped as she woke, which alerted McCoy.
“How do you feel?” he asked, peering into her pupils.
“Fine,” she assured him. The back of her neck felt cold, and she raised her hand to find a section of her hair missing.
“You were right,” McCoy said, turning behind him to pick up a small specimen jar. “There was a chip. Scotty’s taken a look at it, and almost puked. It contains an explosive that would blow your brain clear out of your head.”
“I didn’t know it was there,” Christine said after a moment. “They didn’t tell me that.”
“I think that there were a lot of things that Admiral Marcus didn’t tell us,” McCoy said grimly. “You need to be filled in about what’s gone on in your absence, and Kirk wants to know about your mission on Lintallia.”
“I’ll tell him anything he wants to know,” Christine said, sitting back against the biobed. “I’m done with them.”
“Maybe they won’t be done with you,” McCoy warned.
Christine could feel the tears start, and McCoy cursed and sat on the bed to bring her into his arms.
“Don’t listen to me, I’m an idiot,” McCoy said fiercely. “We’ll get you out of this, Christine.”
“And I’ve got a plan,” announced Kirk, entering the private room.
McCoy made to leave Christine, but Kirk waved his actions away.
“You’ve been pining ever since she left, Bones, I’m not going to stop you. He’s been utterly miserable. Not even your friend Carol could cheer him up.”
“Carol’s here?” Christine asked, from the protective circle of McCoy’s arms.
“She’s practically beating down the door out there to get to you. I filled her in on her father’s role in all this, and she’s horrified.”
Christine was silent for a moment, then she raised her head and said, “I’m not ashamed of being recruited to Section 31. They were right. Sometimes you can’t be open about everything. If I hadn’t been on Lintallia then the Romulans would have taken the Outer Territories by now and innocent people would have been killed.”
“She’s got a point, Jim,” McCoy shrugged. “The only people we lost were the three scientists who took their drug.”
“That’s what I don’t like,” Christine said sharply. “The fear and intimidation. They thought that Section 31 would punish them if they were rescued, and that death by poison was better than facing Section 31. Marcus told me it was supposed to protect the Federation, but not at this expense.”
“You want out?” Kirk asked.
Christine nodded. “All this has jaded me. I can’t trust an organisation that thinks that they have to implant bombs in peoples’ skulls. I’m also not a fan of a secret organisation that’s had their security breached by at least one double agent.”
“Why don’t you start at the beginning?” Kirk suggested, and Christine did. She told them of her recruitment, and how it had involved being denied the MD course and taking a nursing course instead. She told them of the secret facility where she’d been tested and now, she realised, implanted with a chip. She told them about how she’d been assigned the Lintallia job, and how she’d gone because that’s what her sense of duty had told her to do. She told them about the settlement, the genetic testing, and how she realised, in the end, that Barnaby was the only person she hadn’t tested. She hedged over how she had got the sample from him – that was for her and McCoy to talk about later, if they ever had that particular conversation. She explained about the Romulan attack, and how she’d broken her way into the Section 31 research base with the families of the Starfleet personnel.
“I’m sorry that I lied to you, Len,” she said quietly. “I wanted to tell you so many times, but I couldn’t.”
“You did the right thing,” he said gruffly. “I don’t care much for lying and sneaking about, but if they’d asked me to serve, I probably would have done the same thing you did.”
“Really?” she asked.
“I've been thinking about this a lot in the last few hours," he said, stroking her hair. "I can't say that I'm not angry that you never told me, but I understand why you didn't. You were asked to do a job that nobody else could do,” he said simply. “You saw it as a duty, Christine, and you can’t turn your back on a duty.”
“I don’t want to lie to you again,” she vowed. “From now on, nothing but the truth.”
Once the whole story had been explained to them, Kirk and McCoy told Christine about what she’d missed when she was so far away, about how Admiral Marcus was so intent about defending the Federation from the Klingons, he’d nearly started a war and had used the Enterprise as bait.
“He was insane,” Christine said, eventually. “Poor Carol.”
“All this leads me to wonder who’s in charge of Section 31 now,” McCoy said, his arm still around her.
“I have no idea,” Christine said helplessly. “My only contact was Barnaby, and I blew him up.”
Kirk shook his head in admiration. “I didn’t think you had it in you,” he told her.
Christine shrugged. “You’ll be amazed what you can do if you have to,” she said quietly. “I don’t think of myself as a killer, though.”
McCoy’s arms tightened around her. “When I got back up here, you were bustling around this Sickbay like you owned it,” he said. “You were cut and burned and bruised and needed to be off your feet, but you were taking care of the people around you. You care about people Christine. That’s what defines you, not what you did down on that planet.”
Christine could tell he was sincere. She rested her forehead against his and just breathed him in.
“I missed you,” she said quietly. “So very much.”
“Are you walking back through the door?” he asked, equally quietly.
“Yes,” she said immediately.
He kissed her so firmly and strongly that she was lost in it. She clung to him fiercely, and he held her with the same ferocity.
A gentle cough returned them to normality.
“If you two lovebirds are ready, I’ve got a plan to get Christine out of Section 31,” Kirk said airily. “If you’re interested, that it. I mean, I could come back...”
“Jim,” McCoy sighed, releasing Christine.
“Okay,” Kirk said, leaning forward, “This is it...”
The Enterprise returned to Earth in record time, with the ship’s engines working at maximum warp. Christine had received orders to appear in front of a tribunal to explain her role in the saving of the plant from the Romulans, and she, Kirk and the rest of the senior staff of the ship had helped her cobble together a story that left out all mention of spies, genetic modification and secret bases.
Sitting in the room, acting as assistant to one of the admirals chairing the session, was Shav, the Andorian yeoman who had assisted Admiral Marcus. He watched Christine very carefully as she gave her evidence, and remained quietly in the background as the tribunal ended and Christine was promoted to lieutenant in reward for her quick thinking and the protection of the lives of the families of Starfleet personnel.
As soon as the tribunal ended, Christine received a message on her communicator from Shav that an Admiral Simmons would like to see her immediately. She told Shav she’d be there as soon as possible, and flicked the small button on the underneath of her communicator that turned it into a locater beacon for transporters. Commander Scott had managed to convert the normal communicator in record time.
When she reached Admiral Simmons’ office, she was unsurprised to see it was the one that Marcus had used all those years ago, and that Shav was sitting behind the yeoman’s desk. She was shown in immediately, and she saluted Admiral Simmons, a hard-faced woman with angular features and steel-grey hair.
“At ease, Lieutenant,” Simmons said, looking at her approvingly. “Good work on Lintallia.”
“Thank you sir,” Christine said. “I’m here to resign my position from Section 31.”
The Admiral looked amused. “I don’t think you understand, Chapel. You just don’t quit Section 31. Once you’re in, you’re in for life.”
The noise of transporter beams filled the room, and Christine was suddenly flanked by Kirk on one side of her, McCoy on the other. Commander Spock had materialised behind the Admiral’s chair, and a nervous looking Commander Scott appeared to the side of him and immediately took over the computer unit on Simmons’ desk.
After a few moments’ work, he looked up at Kirk. “You’re all set,” he said. “All the recordings in the room have been turned off.”
“Admiral,” Kirk said, nodding to her. “You’re going to release Lieutenant Chapel from active service to Section 31 and you’re going to assign her to the Enterprise.”
“And why should I do that?” the Admiral said, cool as a cucumber despite the invasion of her office.
“Starfleet has had a bit of a public relations nosedive recently, hasn’t it?” Kirk mused, looking out of the window of the room at the construction work still going on in San Francisco. “An admiral goes rogue, builds the largest and most powerful ship ever constructed – all secretly, of course – and then crashes it into downtown San Francisco. How many civilian lives were lost, in that attack, by the way? Was it as many as London, which Starfleet was also directly responsible for?”
“Your point?” the admiral asked coldly.
“Well, if you think that’s bad, how do you think that the Federation Council would react to the public exposure of Section 31?” Kirk asked. “How they regularly implant their spies with kill chips? How civilians that work for them, civilians who had been saved and were in no danger, thought that committing suicide was preferable to being debriefed by Section 31? How this agency managed to completely miss that one of its operatives was a genetically altered Romulan spy and had been leaking information to the Romulans for years?”
The admiral actually winced then. Kirk leaned over the admiral’s desk, pressing his point.
“We know all about the kill chip in Christine’s head, admiral. We’ve tried to take it out. We can’t. You’d need a surgeon with nerves of steel and the steadiest hands in the galaxy, and we’re just not that lucky.”
Christine deliberately did not look at McCoy, who was not looking at her.
“So,” Kirk continued. “We have a deal for you.”
“What kind of deal?” the admiral asked sharply.
“Christine is no longer an active member of Section 31,” Kirk said simply. “You strike her from your list, you do not call upon her to serve. As far as you’re concerned, she’s gone. In exchange, we all stay quiet about Section 31. The officers in front of you are the only ones that know about Section 31 and Christine’s role in it.”
“The kill chip is the guarantee?” the admiral asked.
Kirk nodded. “If at any time, word of the truth about the Romulans on Lintallia comes out, then you activate the chip. This way, you’re guaranteeing our silence.”
The admiral looked at Christine, and focused on the patch of shorter hair on the side of her head. “I want proof that the chip is still in place,” she said abruptly.
“You can scan her,” Kirk said, motioning Christine to come forward.
The admiral pulled a hand-held scanner from the drawer of her desk, and got up to stand in front of Christine. The scanning unit beeped and chirruped when it was held over the shorter patch of hair, and the admiral nodded.
“The chip is still in place,” she said, moving to stand by the window, looking out at the construction work below. “I agree to your terms.”
“Lieutenant Chapel will be assigned to the Enterprise,” Kirk stated. “We’re on a five-year exploratory mission, which we really need to get back to, Earth having been explored pretty thoroughly by now. That’s five years to bury the truth about Lintallia.”
The admiral nodded. “Take her back with you,” she said. “She’s not a part of Section 31 anymore. Dismissed, captain.”
With a salute that was more mocking than deferential, Kirk signalled the Enterprise for beam-up, and they were out of the system in less than two and a half minutes.
“These are your quarters,” McCoy said, walking her down a corridor and stopping outside a room that had her name and rank written neatly in black letters on a plate on the wall.
“I can’t believe I’m really here,” she said, touching the short patch of hair.
“Scotty’s decoy chip was good enough to fool the scanner, just as he promised it would be,” McCoy said softly. “I’m just sorry that there has to be anything in there at all.”
“No,” Christine said thoughtfully. “It’s a reminder to me. I rushed into Section 31 without really thinking it through. I was so amazed that they thought I was good enough that I didn’t realise the extent of it. This dummy chip,” she said, tapping the side of her head, “is a reminder to not be such a dummy next time.”
She opened the doors to her quarters and looked inside. “Much nicer than the pre-fab pod on Lintallia,” she said approvingly, walking inside. “Much bigger, too.”
McCoy had followed her inside, and was trying not to look at the large double bed in the room.
“This doesn’t seem to be standard issue,” Christine said, running her hand along it.
“It’s actually one of the rooms for married personnel,” McCoy said. “Jim said it was all that was left.”
“Really?” asked Christine, smiling. “That’s...convenient.”
She unbuttoned her ugly grey dress uniform jacket and tossed it onto a chair.
“I’m still feeling weak from the surgery,” she told him. “You’ll have to come and help me with the rest.”
He was there in an instant.
Later, as they lay in each other’s arms, sweaty, tired and completely sated, he asked hesitantly, “Do you want me to go?”
“No,” she told him, with a deep breath. “I want you to stay.”
“Okay,” he said softly, and kissed her so sweetly she could have cried.
She slept, and when she woke up, he was still there. He was snoring, and he’d managed to steal half of her coverings. The pillows were all askew and she was too hot because he’d refused to give her any space, covering her with his body.
It was perfect, and she’d never been happier.