Summary: Christine feels inadequate after Spock's rejection in Amok Time, but McCoy reminds her what a special person she really is.

Transition

A McCoy/Chapel story by Farfalla (K/S implied)
Rated G. Warning: prepare for curveballs.
fb: blueberrysnail @ yahoo.com
Written for the Christine Chapel Fanfiction Festival

"In a pig's eye," Dr. McCoy repeated to himself cheerfully as he loaded the hypospray, carefully as always, and headed for the nurses' lab.

Christine Chapel was standing in front of the sink, her gloved hands immersed to the wrist in soapy bubbles. She turned when she heard his footsteps, but didn't speak. Instead, she let her scrub-brush speak for her, jamming it in and out of each piece of dirty glassware with an angry energy.

"Why are you washing dishes? We have yeomen for that kinda thing," McCoy commented.

"You sent me out of the room. I didn't have anything else to do, so I thought I might as well make myself useful." She plunged both hands into the bitter, cleansing soap.

McCoy approached her. "Christine, you understand. This has been a very difficult time for Spock, and I didn't want--" He noticed her lips quivering with what he realized was fierce determination not to cry. "I wanted him to have his privacy."

"What if that's not what he wanted--just then?" She rinsed an Erlenmeyer flask and set it down to dry in the rack nearby. "He was finally opening up to me, Len. He--" Now the tears formed, and she had to stop speaking to choke them down in the interests of professional dignity.

"Christine." McCoy walked closer to her so he could speak more intimately. "He left with the captain. That's the way things are, and that's the way they were always going to be. That doesn't mean he can't be your friend. If he's started gettin' close to you, I'm glad. The man needs more friends. He doesn't come by 'em naturally."

He took the hypo out of his pocket and started fiddling with it. She flinched unconsciously, and pretended not to see it. "Time for your shot," he said almost in a whisper.

Her eyes moved around the sink, searching for a response amidst the suds and the test tubes. "I--I don't--"

"Christine." He took hold of her upper arm gently, but she wrenched free. "Christine, I've got to do this. As Chief Medical Officer of this ship, I may be the only person who knows what's in this hypo, but if you start interfering with your treatment I may be forced to alert other physicians."

Her eyes flashed with alarm. "No! No, don't." Her breath had quickened as well. "I'll take it. I just...." She rotated to face him and looked into his eyes. "Len, he likes men."

"Oh, no you don't," McCoy began sharply.

"I know. I can't go back now, and I don't want to." She sighed, still fighting the horrible embarrassment of tears. "This is the body I've always wanted." She passed her hands asexually over her full bosom, then wiped away a stray tear. "But, Len, he's so... elegant, and beautiful, and intelligent... he's so quiet, and--I just know I could bring him out of that, and--"

"You can still be his friend," McCoy reminded her.

"I know that, but it hurts! What does the captain have that I don't?"

"You know it has nothing to do with that."

"Doesn't it?" she said passionately. "Will I ever really know? With Roger, I was always afraid I didn't look feminine enough for him, enough like a normal woman. The android he designed to keep him company looked more like a woman than I do, and she's not even a real person. Now, suddenly, here I find out that I'm too feminine for someone that I care very much for? I never expected that to ever happen. He might have given me more of a chance if we'd met before I transitioned."

"And then you might never have gone through with it, and always felt that dissonance and pain with your own body," McCoy reminded her. He held up the hypo again. "Christine, please."

"Do it."

She closed her eyes and he pressed the hypo into her shoulder. The estrogen mixture passed into her body easily.

She fell against his side, and he put one arm around her. "Christine." He rubbed her back comfortingly, and she leaned her head on his shoulder. "Do I really need to remind you, a bright capable woman who is my brilliant and tireless Head Nurse, of all the reasons you have to feel good about yourself?"

"I'm too stoic for most people," she said into his uniform.

"You're not very stoic right now," he pointed out wryly.

"That's different," she explained, lifting her head to look into his eyes. "It's you."

"I hope that's a compliment."

"You're the only person on board I feel completely safe with. You know everything about me, you know my--secret, so I don't have to be afraid of any preconceived ideas or--or nasty surprises. Nobody knows except you... so I can be myself here, and don't have to fight my way out of a label or a stereotype before anyone will see me the way I see myself."

"I'm honored that you can open up to me like this," McCoy drawled huskily, He rocked her back and forth slightly, smelling her perfume faintly beneath the overwhelming aroma of lab soap.

They didn't speak for a moment, and then she leaned her face into his exploratively. They touched lips once, chastely, and then he pulled away. "No, not right now."

"Why?"

"You've got a lot of healing to do from everything that's been going on--Roger, Spock... if we rush into this too suddenly I'm just gonna be one more part of the stuff you're healing from. That's not how I do things. I wanna help you heal. I'm a doctor, after all."

She nodded and rested her head on his shoulder. At first, she wanted to say something, but instead, she just breathed. In and out, in and out... slowly, deliberately. Calming. He continued rubbing her back.

"I'd like to escort you to dinner tonight, if that's all right," he whispered into the silence.

"Mm-hmm..." she cooed. Then she straightened up, and reorganized herself for work. "Thank you, Len... I can't believe I broke down like that on the job."

"You had a lot on your mind," he reminded her, slipping the empty hypospray into the bin of dirty labware. He led her away from the sink. "The yeoman does that, remember?"

"I do hope Spock is happy with the captain," she commented as she followed him back into the main room of the Sickbay. "There's just a little voice in my head that was wondering if he would have liked me at all better before I was Christine."

Dr. McCoy looked at her with his crystalline blue eyes. "You were *always* Christine."