Pairing: Christine Chapel/James Kirk, Christine Chapel/Spock
Fic Title: "Doomed to Repeat"
Link: Part One of Seven, click on "Next Entry" to get to Part Two and so on.
Genre: Angst and Romance, novel length at 44,000 words.
Why This Must Be Read: This is one of the most complex, layered characterizations of Christine Chapel I've encountered in this fandom. She's smart and smart-mouthed, ambitious and a loyal follower, has a daddy-complex, likes to sleep with her bosses and falls in love too quickly. She likes sex, too. I found djinn_fic's versions of the other characters just as compelling as her Chapel.
Chapel saw Kirk walk into the mess. Usually he was with McCoy or Spock, but this time the captain was alone.
He got his food and then turned, surveying the not very crowded room. He saw her and smiled; she smiled back.
Holy God, he was handsome.
"Nurse Chapel." He indicated the chair across from her. "Are you in the mood for company?"
There were so many answers she could have given--probably would have given if she were still on Earth--but Fleet decorum seemed to be rubbing off on her. She only said, "Of course, sir. Please sit."
He sighed very loudly as he sat. "Damned odd couple of days."
"I heard Doctor McCoy talking about that boy Charlie."
"Charlie." Kirk shook his head. "That poor, poor kid."
She wasn't sure what to say, so she took a bite of her sandwich.
He seemed to mentally shake himself, turned his attention to her, a warm smile on his face--but it was a practiced smile, the one he probably reached for whenever he didn't want anyone to see what he was really feeling or thinking. "So, is Fleet life agreeing with you?"
"It's growing on me."
He laughed. "You know that could be bad if, say, you considered being in Starfleet comparable to a nasty fungus."
She grinned. "I meant more in the good sense."
"Well, I'm relieved then." He dug into a rather thin sandwich, which didn't look like it was hitting the spot very well.
"I have a gut that would prefer to be a bit larger than it is. And it's too big now." He laughed, but it was an empty laugh. "My father has the same problem. The Kirk women seem to avoid it. Hardly fair."
She thought he was a being a bit hard on himself. He cut a fine figure, slight gut or not.
But then she wasn't really a hard grader if a man carried himself with the confidence Kirk did.
"Bones treating you okay?" The question could have been casual, but there was something in his tone that told her he knew that McCoy could be a bit of an ass when he wanted.
"I can hold my own, sir."
He laughed. "Of that, I have no doubt. You held your own when you wanted on this ship. Though, as Spock has noted, I let emotion cloud my judgment when I let you join the crew."
"Spock doesn't like me?"
"Like is an emotion, Ms. Chapel. I think it's more he sees you as wasted in nursing when you hold several degrees in biochem."
"Possibly. But all the biochem billets that are open right now are on Earth, other planets, or ships heading on long-range missions in the wrong direction." If she'd waited, though. If she'd waited, she might have found a ship going the right way, a ship that needed skills she actually had. Her mother had been merciless in reminding her of that. But looking for Roger had seemed the easier--and conveniently more noble--thing to do than sit around trying to figure out what to do with her life.
"True enough," Kirk said. "And you are determined to find your man, aren't you?"
His smile was approving. "I value loyalty highly, Nurse Chapel."
"I do, too, sir."
Which probably wasn't true, since she thought it very likely that Roger had been having a fling with one of his grad students behind her back. She'd never said a word to him about it, but she'd made Andrea's life a living hell in the time between Roger's disappearance and Chapel's defection to Starfleet. The woman had been in tears more days than not.
Chapel could be a bitch when she wanted. The sweet, nonthreatening, and a little bit dim mask she wore much of the time worked better to land the boys. Most boys. It wouldn't work with Kirk, though, if she wanted to nab him. She'd heard Janice go on and on about him, his life, his quirks, what kind of toothpaste he used--the normal stuff a girl who's obsessed with her boss picks up on. Janice had also bemoaned his taste in women--the long-term women anyway. Nearly all scientists. Janice was a sweetheart and smart as a whip, but a scientist she was not.
Chapel, on the other hand...
"You know, it's customary, when one is having lunch with one's captain, to pretend to be paying attention." Kirk was grinning at her. "Although your expression is intriguing. What are you thinking about?"
"I was listening to you."
"And I said...?"
"Something incredibly interesting, profound, or funny?" She laughed and could tell she was turning red. "I'm sorry. I promise to remain rapt to your every utterance for the rest of the lunch."
He shook his head. "You"--he punctuated the word with a stab in the air with his fork--"are not what you seem. And I like that." He sighed. "Unless of course you're an alien-enhanced human who can blink my crew out of existence."
"Not last time I checked, sir."
He nodded, his expression grim. She imagined he was thinking of that poor boy again. She liked that it bothered him so much. Spoke volumes about his humanity--something that was often in short supply.
The story slots neatly into canon seasons one through three, following a slightly alternative episode order. I couldn't put this down once I started it.