DISCLAIMER: The Star Trek characters are the property of Paramount Studios, Inc. The story contents are the creation and property of T'Kuht and is copyright (c) 2002 by T'Kuht. Rated NC17.



Feet of Clay

T'Kuht



Christine opened the letter. The impressive letterhead of Darnley, Pratt, Johns, and Phillips law firm was the first thing she saw. With a sigh, she began reading.

"Dear Miss Chapel,

"We regret to inform you of the death of Mrs. Dana Korby.

"You have been named as a recipient in her will. Contact this office at your convenience for details.

"Thank you,

Garrett Frazier, junior partner"

She was expecting it. She knew that Roger's mother had been ill for the last couple of years that she'd been on the Enterprise. Dana Korby had never liked Christine. Or if she had, she had an awfully odd way of showing it. She'd been congenial at first, but when they'd announced their engagement she'd become cold and aloof. Christine could only assume it was because Dana thought Roger was too good for her.

"Well, I guess I know where my first stop will be on leave," Christine muttered and saved the letter to a file to be used for reference later. She had two weeks worth of homeport leave to pack for.

* * *

"As you can see," Garrett Frazier was saying as he checked through the documents on his desk, "the entire property is yours. Dana Korby mentioned when she made the will out that you would have inherited the property anyway if you'd have married Roger." Christine sat across the desk from the rather attractive lawyer. She couldn't help but notice the brilliant green eyes or the way they lit when he welcomed her into the office. The wavy blonde hair gleamed like platinum against his tanned face. She focused on them instead of the reason she was there.

"So, the lake house on Pintauk Bay is mine? Hmm, I heard Roger talk about it when I was engaged to him, but I never thought of actually owning it," she said absently.

"I live straight across from it on that little bay there. We'll be neighbors for a while I guess," Garrett said as he dug out the deeds and the other papers she would need to sign before taking possession of the keys to go through what was there. "I met Dana when she moved in full time about ten years ago. I kept the lake house as a weekender myself till I decided to settle in a more rural atmosphere to practice law. The big city has a way of knocking the spirit out of you real quick."

"How I know that. So, is the place in good shape? I don't want to be running around with pots and buckets when it starts to rain."

"She had a new roof put on last year. The place is spic and span. Even though she was sick she didn't believe in letting the place fall apart around her. She was quite a demanding lady."

"Yes, I know, well, I've signed everything," Christine said and smiled a little wanly. She had just inherited a house from a woman who did not like her. Why she was not certain except to put one last spur in her side about the fact that in the end she didn't get the one thing she wanted from her, her son or her blessing.

"Here are the keys and the papers. Do you need a lift out there?"

"Apparently. My bags are out in the waiting room. I don't suppose you are going that way are you?" Christine asked with a cocked eyebrow and a look that she had borrowed from her favorite Vulcan. It did not show a great deal of emotion, but it was enticing enough to get whatever she wanted without smiling hard.

Garrett took the bait. "Just getting ready to close up shop."

* * *

Pintauk Bay was a quiet part of Pintauk Lake. There were a few older houses and long established families here. Chapel found herself in front of the Korby family vacation house with two pieces of beat up luggage and a tote bag. Dropping the bags on the porch, she pulled out the set of keys and read the tags that indicated which ones went to which door. Finding the one for the front entry, she inserted the key and turned the deadbolt easily. The door slid smoothly open and Christine noted that although Dana Korby had been dead for several months, the house was still virtually spotless. The only hint of dirt was the dust particles that had been disturbed when the door blew across them. Garrett called from his Jeep, "Everything okay?"

"Sure, thanks. I'll be okay now."

The lawyer waved in understanding and pointed across the lake. "I'm over there. Just holler, I'll hear you."

"Okay," she laughed and waved back as he started around the circle drive and out to the main road.

Now she was alone in this gargantuan of a house. No, she wasn't alone. As soon as she opened the door she could hear Dana's voice, feel her presence as it disapproved of Christine's every move. There was something else she could feel. It was something that she had nearly forgotten it had been so long, Roger's cologne. A faint whiff of it drew her further into the house to find its source. In the large living room, she found the source. A pomander was soaked with it. No doubt Dana had kept it as a reminder of her only child. A picture of Roger and his mother sat next to the pomander. Christine sighed a little wistfully. She had expected to tear up in this place. Her heart was not that hard, not yet. She didn't think it would ever be. She just could not hate Roger Korby, no matter what he had done or become. She hadn't told Dana of her son's fate. She'd let her think he'd died long before Chapel ever got to Exo III. It was easier that way, and in a way, it was the truth.

Running a finger across the mantel she found little dust had formed. She chuckled at that. Suddenly feeling very claustrophobic, she turned to the large windows. Pulling up the shades and unlocking them, she pushed the old sashes up to allow lake breezes to flow once again through the house. She didn't have to worry about it getting cold. It was mid-July and perfect for rummaging through an old house. She had already decided to get rid of what she could of Dana's possessions. The furniture was fairly well used but not threadbare and could be donated to the nearest charity organization. The clothes, if there were any, would be donated as well. She wasn't quite sure what to do with the more personal items. She really didn't want to go to the trouble of keeping the pictures of Roger, but they might be useful to someone. She'd heard of a few universities that were interested in starting a memorial to him of sorts. Maybe they would want the pictures to use as a montage of his personal life.

The first floor had three main rooms and a wraparound porch. The stairs from both the main hall and the kitchen ended up in the same spot upstairs. Lugging her clothes up, she decided on the smaller of the rooms. It was cute and definitely feminine. Apparently, just because she didn't have a daughter didn't mean Dana couldn't have a little girl's bedroom. A Jenny Lind bed was loaded down with lace and ribbons. The walls were pink with rosettes sprinkled about. After unpacking some of the clothes, she decided that she would definitely not be spending much time in this room. Too much dainty ultra femininity would make her sick. Making sure to open the windows to air the room out, she opened the door to the balcony that looked out over to Garrett Frazier's side of the lake. That was the real reason she chose the room. She'd always wanted a balcony in her bedroom.

Hours of initial searching and perusing led her to the kitchen for something to eat. The problem was, she hadn't had anything sent out. Wondering how she could be so dumb, she slipped into the pair of moccasins that she had brought and hoped that she could make it the three-mile hike to town before the stores closed. Just as she closed the door and turned to lock it, a voice stopped her.

"Hungry yet?"

Christine turned to look out at the lake. Garrett sat in a canoe at the end of her dock. Apparently he'd been waiting for her. He held up a picnic basket. She walked toward him slowly. "Hmm, you must have read my mind, or do you have the house bugged and could hear my stomach growl?" she asked with a cool expression.

"I simply surmised that there wouldn't be anything here fit to eat. You didn't bring any food and nothing had been delivered here, am I correct?"

"Yes. I guess I am at the mercy of hospitality sir. What is for supper?"

"Do you like steak and lobster?" Garrett asked her with a smug smile.

"Of course who wouldn't?"

"Well, I'll remember that. But tonight's especialite of the house is cold chicken and left over biscuits. Do you like cole slaw?"

"Immensely," Christine answered and held the canoe for Garrett to get out. It was such a lovely evening they decided to eat on a blanket on the dock. They sat cross-legged as they ate and talked while the sun slipped past the tree line.

"So, you were Roger's fiance how long ago?" Garrett asked as he wiped his hands on a napkin. The chicken had been better cold than it had been hot. But, that was normal for fried chicken.

"God, too long to remember ... it's been eight, nine years now. I've been on the Enterprise four years so it's actually been ten years. My god, a whole decade," Christine said shaking her head as she thought of the amount of time she'd spent in the shadow of Dr. Roger Korby.

"And you're aboard the USS Enterprise. Pardon my opinion, but you don't look like the standard issue type to me."

Christine's gentle laughter rang through the bay as the cicadas began singing. "No, I'm not exactly standard issue. I joined to try to find Roger. When I did I just stayed. There really wasn't anywhere else to go."

Garrett leaned back against the railing to admire the lady he was sharing a meal with. She was quite a lovely woman. The blonde hair framed her face and made the blue eyes sparkle like topaz against a gold setting. He could also tell she was quite lonely. He could feel it emanating like a deep gonging bell. What he'd heard Dana say about this woman did not seem to gel with what he could actually see. Dana Korby had always spoken with a bit of ice in her tone when she mentioned Christine Chapel. Garrett had expected a smug and rather cold woman. Instead he found a warm vibrant lady. Christine noticed he was staring at her. She asked, "Something wrong?"

"No, just noticing that it seems awfully pretty around here tonight."

Christine blushed a little ran a hand across the back of her neck. She never could take a compliment without blushing. She felt self conscious, but she wasn't uncomfortable around Garrett. He seemed genuine when he spoke to her in that manner. The sun disappeared completely and the stars began winking in the inky blackness that was coming into prominence. Garrett looked up at the uncountable amount of stars. "So, how many of those have you visited?"

"I'd have no idea. You'd need someone like Mr. Spock to tell you that type of data," she added stoically.

"Mr. Spock. Sounds like you don't get along with him very well."

"Spock? We're not bosom pals, but we're not enemies either," Christine answered with a shrug and looked away from her companion's prying eyes.

"Oh, okay. So, what do you do on the ship?"

"I'm head nurse. I'm also a qualified bio lab head and research assistant to Mr. Spock."

"Mr. Spock again. What is he, some miracle piece of data entry equipment?" Frazier asked lightly.

"You could say that. He's Vulcan. Well, more specifically he is half Vulcan half human."

He snickered, "Man, I don't envy his human parent."

Christine frowned in reply. "His parents are lovely people. I've met them. His mother is completely different than what you would think. His father is Ambassador Sarek. You'd think he was a very stiff formal person, especially if you went by Spock's personality. But really, Sarek is very human. I suppose that's why he makes such a good ambassador to Federation planets. Of course with Amanda as a wife, he'd hardly be able to be completely Vulcan. She is such a charming woman." Garrett listened to Christine glowingly report on Spock's parents for another few moments. He could see that she was quite taken with this man's family. Therefore, he could only surmise that she was also quite taken with him. But a Vulcan was not what he would consider a viable candidate for such a vibrant lady's romantic interests.

The nightlights had long since popped on and the bugs began swarming the dock. Hurriedly they began gathering things and tossing them into the canoe. Garrett stopped from heading up the dock. "I should go. I need to get up early for work, and you might want to do some other stuff before bed."

Christine nodded. "I have a few things. Oh, there are a lot of things I want to donate to a charity or church or organization. Can you give me a list of places to contact?"

"No problem. I'll bring it when I come home tomorrow. Will you need any groceries or anything from town?" he asked as he settled into the narrow boat.

"I'll probably walk in sometime. After all I'll have to eat breakfast somehow. I might have you deliver anything I get if it wouldn't be any trouble," she added with a winning smile.

"I think that can be arranged. Goodnight, Christine."

She smiled even brighter at the use of her first name. "Goodnight, Garrett."

* * *

She slept more soundly in the twin bed than she had in four years aboard a starship. She wondered why. With a groan she stretched like a cat waking from a long nap and took a deep breath. She had discovered long ago that she couldn't be grouchy in the morning if she just took deep cleansing breaths. Looking about the room, she searched for the clock that she knew was there. Hidden in a porcelain doll's dress, the old timepiece read 9:15. She'd slept half the morning away. Pushing herself up, Christine got busy waking up. After a thorough shower, she dressed in one of her favorite outfits -- worn out Capri pants and an oversized shirt with paint splatters on it. She intended on digging through the attic today and pulled the shortly bobbed hair back with a headband to keep it out of her eyes as it dried naturally. No need for regulation hairstyles today. Remembering the coffee pot downstairs, she hoped, prayed that there was still coffee somewhere in the house. She didn't care if it was decaf; she just wanted something to get her going. Coming to the bottom of the kitchen stairs, she stopped and slowed cautiously. A full breakfast was spread out on the table. Fully alert, she automatically went into Star Fleet officer mode and began checking behind things before going near the table. A piece of notepaper was folded on the plate.

"Christine,

"Didn't figure you'd get around too early. Hope you like oats. If you don't well ... eat them anyway, they're good for you. Coffee is ready to brew and there is a quart of milk, some butter, eggs, and bread in the cooler. From here on you're on your own. See you later.

"Garrett"

With a soft smile, she looked over the basic breakfast. Just the fact that he had thought of her made it a full course meal. Flipping the coffee pot on, she nearly moaned at the smell of freshly brewed coffee. It was so rare to get really good coffee on a starship. From the aroma, Christine could tell that Garrett knew his coffee. A little basket with packaged flavored creams and sugars and some jellies sat next to the plate. She'd eat her queen's breakfast and get to work.

* * *

It was almost three in the afternoon when Christine emerged starving and dusty from the attic. She wondered what in the world she was going to do with most of what had been saved up there. She also found a broken windowpane and a place where it looked like water had been leaking in for sometime around the chimney flue. She'd have to have that patched. She wasn't sure if she intended to keep the place or not, but she didn't want to neglect it either way. A house of this size and location would fetch a pretty penny, but there were other amenities that weren't so tangible. Christine found herself absent-mindedly looking over to the small cottage that Garrett Frazier called home. He was a very nice amenity.

"Probably just trying to keep me as a client," she decided and began feeling a little disheartened. Why did she have to do that every time someone smiled at her or said something nice about the way she looked? All her life people had given her compliments, and she'd turned them inside out to the point that she almost always automatically felt worse when they were given than if they'd not been said in the first place. "Just accept him as a friendly face in a strange place," she asserted as she made her way down the attic steps to the second floor. Deciding to leave the pull down stairs open so she wouldn't have to climb back on the chair to try to reach the handle, she headed out to the yard.

A small garage sat just off to the side of the house. Out of curiosity, she opened the door. It was packed. One thing that caught her eye was a gleam of chrome. A smile spread across her face as she pulled the crates and boxes off the item. A bicycle, old and a little beat up, but completely operable offered itself as a means of faster transportation. Testing it out, she found it perfect for her height and it even had a basket on the front. With a little whistle, she checked the silver bell that had caught her initial attention and grinned, "Pu-ding pu-ding to you too."

* * *

Garrett Frazier was hard at work in his office. He had a stack of legal briefs to skim over and okay before he could hand them back to his secretary. He was in the middle of one when an odd bell sound caught his attention. Looking around, he realized it was coming from outside his office window. He stuck his head out. Christine stood triumphantly with the bike and a basket of groceries, "Hi!"

"I see I've been replaced by the mechanical age already. How time flies," Garrett laughed at the sight.

"Oh, I still need some things sent to the house. I told them to send them here. Is that all right?"

"Yes, that's fine. I'll let Sadie know so she won't wonder why they are being delivered. How was breakfast?" he asked as he leaned on his crossed arms through the open window. In the back of his mind he thought it must look like the reverse of Rapunzel or the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet.

"Very nice, but didn't last long. Thank you. How did you get in by the way?" she asked not wanting to sound ungrateful, but she was a bit concerned.

"Spare key. I looked after the place while her will was in probate. I'll give it back if you like," he offered.

"No, that's all right. I'll probably need to have someone keep tabs on it after I leave anyway."

"So you're going to keep the house?" Garrett asked a little pleased.

"Not sure, but let's not rush to a decision. Well, I think I'm starting a traffic jam on the sidewalk. I'll see you later. Oh, you're invited for supper. I can do wonders with a can of salmon."

"I bet you can," Garrett said with a nod and straightened to watch Chapel as she rode down the street back to the lake access.

* * *

The salmon and pasta was not the fanciest meal she'd ever fixed, but it was tasty and perfect for a warm evening. Garrett showed her around his house. He'd insisted that she take a canoe trip with him to visit the little spot he called home. It was the first time she'd actually seen the Korby house from this vantage. The barn red structure stood out against the dark green of the trees in the background. They ate at the picnic table under the gazebo.

"Do your eyes always sparkle when you laugh?" Christine asked after she'd said something particularly funny.

"I don't know, I've never watched what my eyes do. I could say the same for you, you know. I don't think I've seen quite that shade," he admired.

"My mother always called them morning glory blue," she provided.

"Sounds accurate from what I've seen. Your folks aren't alive? You haven't mentioned them anyway."

"No, they've been dead a long time now, longer than I knew Roger. They were killed when I was an undergrad. I guess I'm an orphan really, except I'm too old to adopt," she tried.

Garrett didn't buy it. "You miss them a lot."

"Well sure, I mean, they were my folks. Are yours still alive?" she asked picking at the hem of the shorts she'd changed into for supper.

"Yeah, they live in Florida. I go visit them in the winter when this place is closed up tight. Not much to do in Maine in the depths of winter."

"I can imagine. So you just pick up and go ... that sounds nice. Living on a starship you can't do that. For one we don't have snow," she laughed.

Garrett poured more tea into her glass. "Really, I didn't know that. I thought you guys had all sorts of crazy weather up there."

"Oh, shut up," Christine grumbled and poked his arm. She hadn't felt this at ease with anyone for a long time. If he could only be Spock. Her mind clamped down as well as her heart. Why she had to think of him when she was having such a nice time?

"Okay. Say, do you want to see my rock collection?" the lawyer asked innocently.

"Oh, yeah, a rock collection. I knew it was too good to last," she groaned into her tea.

"No, really, I have a rock collection. I'm not lying to you," Garrett said as earnestly as he could.

"All right, I believe you," she said with an air that said she did not.

Garrett clambered off of the picnic bench and held out a hand to her, "It's in the barn."

"You're serious."

"Why would I lie to you?" he asked cocking his head to one side with the question.

She blinked. Why would he lie to her? "I don't know. I guess I'm just so used to being pushed aside."

"Hey," Frazier said and turned back to her in the evening light. "Why do you say that?"

Chapel colored even in the dark. With a shake of her head, she crossed her arms across her chest as a defense. She always did that when she felt like she was exposed to emotional battering. "Let's just say I've been there and done that, okay?"

"I'm not going to lure you anywhere to get you into bed," he assured.

"Oh, well, hell, I ought to just go home then," she said throwing her hands up and starting to walk toward the dock.

"You want me to lure you into bed?" he asked, confused as he stepped over to cross her path.

"No. That didn't sound right, no, I don't want you to lure me to bed. However, I find myself attracted to you and if we eventually end up there, I wouldn't consider it luring. Does that sound better?" she asked with a slight smile.

"I'll remember that. But, you were going to look at my rock collection," Garrett insisted and took her hand to lead her back toward the barn.

* * *

The days went by more quickly than Chapel thought they were. She spent her days going through each room and designating different items that needed to go to each of the charity organizations that Garrett had listed for her. She spent her evenings in Garrett's company. She began to enjoy the days flying past and dreading the end of the evenings when he'd sail off in the canoe. The first day that they could spend the entire day together was Saturday. He found out that Christine loved to golf and whisked her to the closest country club.

"Aren't you going to 'instruct me' on the proper way to hold the club?" Christine said as she started to line up the ball with the hole.

"Nope, you're whipping me already and we're only on the second hole. Your form looks great from here," he added with an appreciative glance up the endless legs. With a deft move, she sunk the ball and retrieved it. Turning to him, the wind let her loose hair fly around her face. She looked happy to him. He grinned, "You really are beautiful, you know that, don't you?"

"Sure, I bet you say that to all your clients," Chapel pish-poshed as she slipped the putter back in the cart. Garrett grabbed her wrist and held it firmly but did not hurt her.

"Stop that. You are beautiful. You are so beautiful. Just accept it. It doesn't matter whether anyone else ever tells you that. Just believe me," he convinced.

Looking into his eyes, she sighed, "You're right. I'm beautiful."

"I didn't realize how deep in denial you were. I'll have to convince you," he tried and bent to kiss her. She backed up. "Sorry," he apologized. "I thought we were going somewhere."

"Garrett, it's not you. I really, really like you. It's me. Look, if you want to play golf, let's play. We can talk more later, after dinner?" she asked.

He relinquished the point," Okay, after dinner."

* * *



"So, just where have you gotten this silly notion that you are somehow undesirable?" he asked after the dessert dishes were thrown away. The banana split had been delicious.

"I don't know. I haven't always felt this way. I guess it started with..." she trailed off.

"Roger?"

She didn't look right at him, just stared out across the lake. They'd driven to the ice cream stand to take advantage of the beautiful weather and taken their splits to the public viewing area to watch the boats go by. "My life has been so different since meeting him. I used to be full of joie de vivre and now it seems like it's such a struggle to get anywhere. I don't know if it's just depression over everything or exhaustion or what. I've talked to Leonard about it and he doesn't think it's clinical depression, but I sometimes wish it were and then I'd know at least a course of action to take."

"Maybe you just need to get back into the swing of things. You seem very uptight to me. I'm not being critical, just stating the obvious."

Christine wanted to pace, but in the skimmer that was impossible. She started tapping the door instead. "I get sooo nervous and I never used to be that way. My entire being quakes at the thought that I might screw up something. It clouds everything."

"You've talked about this Spock a lot. I know that Vulcans can be very demanding. Is he the one making you nervous?" Garrett asked. What he really wanted to ask her was if she was in love with the Vulcan.

"Spock is a huge problem. I go on board to find Roger and find myself feeling ... feelings for this alien. But, he's not alien. He only pretends to be alien because he has to have a defense. I've made a fool of myself in front of him a few too many times. The latest being Platonius."

Garrett started to ask, but she stopped him with a wave, "Let's just say that it was a fiasco."

Garrett went back to something else she said. "You said that you went on board to find Roger and had feelings for Spock. Love?"

"Oh, God, it was the strongest ... I've never felt that way about anyone. It's as if he just pulls me toward him. I have felt guilty ever since," she admitted ruefully.

"Guilty that you were attracted to a man?"

"Guilty that I was attracted to a man when I had promised myself to another. I basically considered myself married to Roger already. I still feel like I'm cheating on him when I think of Spock," she sighed.

"Well, I can tell you that you aren't cheating on a dead man. If you ask me, you hold yourself way too high on the martyr shelf. Let your feet touch the ground. I think you'll find it's nice here," he advised softly and laid a hand on her knee. She didn't flinch or pull away. It was a start.

* * *

The next day of house cleaning started drearily. Clouds began gathering early and rain began beating on the porch roof before eight. Christine had gotten in quite late from her supper date, but she was not worried. She had decided to try tackling both Dana's and Roger's old rooms today. It was already a worthless day for anything else, might as well make the gloom even worse. The main room had been kept immaculately clean and organized. The bed was turned down just as if Dana intended to go to sleep in it that night. With a sigh, she put down her coffee cup on the nightstand and started in the closet. The clothes would be sent out with the rest. Dana had accumulated a number of quilts and those could be either given away or auctioned off for charity.

Sitting in the glider rocker that occupied one corner, Christine began going through a dresser filled with documents and pictures. Removing an entire drawer to make it easier to look through, she found an envelope on top addressed to her. "Huh, wonder why this wasn't in with the will?" she asked herself and held the large mailing envelope. Deciding that she'd never know what was in it until she opened it, she slid a long thumbnail under the sealed edge.

A letter, a journal of some sort, and some newspaper clippings poured out. Reading the clippings, she wondered why on earth she'd save a birth announcement for a little girl in town. She was of no relation; Dana had no grandchildren or nieces. Setting it aside, Chapel unfolded the letter and began reading.

"Christine,

"I know that we have not seen eye to eye on many occasions. I wish to let you know that it is not because I do not like you or did not approve of you as a wife for Roger. I am an old woman set in my ways. Roger was a fool who did as he pleased. You were so much in love with him that anything I would have tried to tell you about him would have been considered interference. So, I played the role of disapproving mother when I really wanted to embrace you into my heart as a daughter. Now we are both gone and perhaps you no longer feel anything for him so I can reveal the truth. This newspaper clipping is just what it says, a birth announcement for Rachel Adams. I have never seen her, but she is my granddaughter. Roger is her father. If you read the date, you will find that she was conceived while you were engaged."

Christine stopped reading and picked up the clipping again.

"Andrea Adams of Burnside, Maine wishes to announce the birth of a daughter, Rachel Anne. The girl weighed 7 pounds 5 ounces and was 20 inches long. Maternal grandmother is..."

Christine focused on the mother's name ... Andrea. There was only one Andrea that Christine knew, and she'd been an android contraption that Roger had said he'd created out of his own mind. Anger began burning through Chapel and found that it had nowhere to go. She had no one to yell at, no one to beat on, no one to even tell to go to Hell. The anger began churning her stomach up until she thought was going to throw up. "Burnside, Maine ... wonder if she's still there?"

Quick as a flash, Chapel hurried downstairs to the vid screen and cued up the directory for neighboring Burnside. Scrolling down through the Adams' she found an A. Adams and took a chance it would be the same one. Dialing it, she reached a business answering machine, "Thank you for calling the Cuttin' Up. I am unable to reach the phone but will return your call as soon as I can. Please wait till after the beep.."

Chapel hung up. The voice still haunted her at nights. The truth hurt like a dull knife ripping through her heart instead of slicing it neatly. She needed to do work in the house, but she wanted to go to Burnside and find the Cuttin' Up. It was only a twenty-five kilometer drive, but in this rain she definitely wasn't going to walk there. Calling up the law firm of Darnley, Pratt, Johns, and Phillips, she smiled, "Is Garrett Frazier in?"

Sadie looked at her pad, "No, he's out on a meeting until after lunch. May I leave him a message?"

"No ... yes, tell him that Christine Chapel has some questions regarding the house she just inherited. Please, tell him it's extremely important," she insisted.

Sadie noted it down, "I'll let him know."

The message stopped and Chapel found herself completely unmotivated to do any more cleaning. She wanted to go to Burnside. Remembering the journal on the bed, she went back upstairs and brought it down to the living room so she could be near the vid if it rang. Opening the page, she realized it was not Dana's at all but Roger's dated before and during their engagement. "Shit," she said and went to retrieve more coffee.



* * *

"January 18,

"I am finding myself falling in love with a student of mine. It is not only unethical; it is grounds for my dismissal from teaching at Dalhousie. I shall have to tell Christine that we cannot continue as we are. I do not wish to do so, but it will be necessary to maintain my job."

Christine laughed a little. She remembered that incident well. Roger had started out telling her that they couldn't see each other anymore and ended up proposing to her. She'd been so flabbergasted she'd said yes without blinking. Turning ahead a few entries, she found one closer to the time that Rachel would have been conceived.

"May 9,

"I am torn between two women. Andrea is completely of opposite Christine. I love Christine and want to marry her, but I cannot keep from meeting Andrea. She doesn't pretend to understand my work or care about what I do. She just wants to love me and please me. Maybe that's why I feel so guilty. Christine's own grasp of science is equal to my own. We are alike, but I seem to want what is different. It cannot continue. Christine demands a date to be set for our wedding. Andrea does not know about her. Luckily they will never find out about each other."

Christine pouted. "I never 'demanded' a date, Roger dear," she said at the book as if he were there. Resisting the urge to pace, she read further.

"June 28,

"I have to tell Andrea that we can't continue. I'm going to marry Christine, and she will be staying here. If they met it would be disaster. I don't want to tell her goodbye, but I have to. It is for the best. Christine will be the wife that a successful doctor needs to showcase his work. Andrea ... she showcases other talents that Christine is not as adept in."

If she'd had a fire blazing, a journal would be flaring up. As it were, she could only fling it against the wall, knocking half a dozen pictures off at the same time. "Damn you, Roger Korby! Showcase a successful doctor ... what about me, about us?" she screamed at the picture of him on the mantel. He simply smiled back.

Picking the book up off the floor, careful to avoid the shards of glass, she didn't read any more of it. She didn't have to. She knew who he had really wanted, and it hadn't been her. When she'd found him on Exo III, she'd been so gullible to believe that Andrea was just a geisha to him to serve his 'needs'. Now she knew better. Andrea had been the pleasant memory that he'd wanted to take with him. Christine had been the trophy wife he'd use at dinner functions. Wanting the vid to ring so badly she could scream, she nearly jumped two feet when it did. "Hello," she answered.

"Sadie said you had some questions," Garrett Frazier said with a smile.

"Garrett, can you take me to Burnside today, right now?" she asked clearly upset.

"I have an appointment at three, but ... hey, what's the matter?" he asked seeing that she was trembling she was so distressed.

"I really ... need to go ... to Burnside," she sniffed between words.

"Okay, I'll reschedule the appointment. I'll be out as soon as I get that arranged."

She nodded, the blue eyes watery and threatening to spill as the rain pounded harder on the porch roof, "Thank you."

* * *

"Now, what is this about?" he asked as the skimmer started back up the lake road and to the main line for Burnside.

"I need to go to a place called the Cuttin' Up. Do you know where it is?"

"I think it's a beauty parlor. You called me out of a business meeting for a hair appointment?" he said, anger beginning to tinge his tone.

"No. I found out from some of Dana's stuff that the ever loving fiance I had, had really been ever loving, but not just to me."

"Okay. So, are you going to duke it out or what? I mean, this guy has been dead how long now ... ten years?"

"Four," she admitted. To everyone else except to choice members of the Enterprise crew Roger Korby died just a few months after the journal had been completed.

"Wait, I thought he died right after he got to Exo III?"

"No, look, you drive, and I'll try to tell you the whole story, okay?" she said and began with what she had thought was the truth for nearly a decade.

* * *

They were on the outskirts of Burnside when she finished, "So you see, now I find out that not only did Roger have an affair while we were engaged, the affair resulted in a daughter, and the android that I thought was just out of thin air was really a copy of the child's mother."

"Jesus ... so what if this woman doesn't look like the android that Roger had? Maybe he just liked her name. You said you didn't see her in the message."

"The voice, that soft little girl voice that every man in fifty miles will fall head over heels for, is the same. It sent a shock right through me when I heard it."

"So," Garrett said as they rounded a corner and started toward the main street, "what are you going to do burst in and tell her all this or what?"

"I don't know. I guess it's a hair salon, I'll go have my hair done. It could certainly use it. Maybe I can just talk to her in a roundabout way. I'd like to see the little girl," she admitted.

Frazier stopped in front of the house that was also home to the Cuttin' Up salon. Christine sat there for a while. It was open. She was beginning to feel queasy.

"You gonna be okay?"

"Yeah, if I can hold my stomach down I will be. I have to go in. I couldn't go back to the ship with all this chaos," she said and closed her eyes to center herself. She half expected to see something else when she opened them, but she was still sitting in the skimmer and still at the corner in front of a home beauty parlor. "Okay, I'm getting out."

"Do you want me to wait here?" Garrett asked.

"Would you? I might be coming out rather suddenly."

"If you're not out in half an hour I'll just amble in to check on you. I'll pretend I'm your boyfriend or something," he said. It seemed to bolster her courage. She opened the door and started to get out. His hand on her arm stopped her. Turning back to him, she smiled and in an impulsive moment kissed him soundly. "Thank you."

"No, thank you. I'll be here don't worry," he assured.

The sidewalk was still wet from the rain. There was a break in the clouds for a moment, so she didn't have to run to the porch. A sign announced that walk-ins were welcome. Remembering to do what she'd seen Spock do a dozen times when the situation became one that might be difficult, she took a deep breath, straightened, and tugged on the hem of her shirt. The door opened to laughter. Apparently beauty parlor gossip was alive and well in Burnside. A lady was under a hair dryer with a head full of curls and foil. Christine's eyes searched for the beautician. A woman looked up from the wash bowl, "May I help you?"

"I was hoping that I could get worked in? I just need a shampoo and a trim," she said without stammering.

"I'm full up, but Andrea has an opening. She's out getting her daughter from school. Can you wait?" the streaked blonde said as she massaged the patrons' head in the washbasin.

"Certainly. I'm just visiting for a couple of days and desperately needed my hair done. I couldn't stand it any longer." She tried to be jovial. The other ladies eyed her suspiciously. They didn't care for strangers in their holy territory.

Christine chose a seat in the corner and idly picked up a magazine. There were little pictures and doo-dads around to dress the shop up, but the thing that caught her attention was a mother- daughter picture. It was the android that Chapel had met. Christine tried to keep from staring at it.

"That's Andrea's little girl," the other stylist said noting the woman's interest.

"She's lovely," Christine said without even seeing the child. She studied the photo to make sure she at least knew what she was talking about. The little girl was beautiful.

"She's won several pageants. That was taken last Christmas."

"How old is she?" Christine asked even though she knew how old she was. She just wanted to hear it confirmed.

"She'll be nine in February, won't she, Marie?"

"Yes, the 23rd." Christine laughed, but for a reason that the two women didn't have a clue about. They looked at her. She decided to provide them with the answer. "That's my birthday, as well."

The two ladies quit talking. A door elsewhere in the house opened and shut and Christine could hear the sounds of flurried activity. Her heart began pounding in her ears. Wetting her lips, she tried not to begin breathing heavily. A young girl, petite and bouncing came into the shop area. "Hi, Freda ... anything interesting today?"

"Hi, Rachel. How was school today?" the other stylist asked as she unwrapped Marie's hair from the curlers.

"We had a test today," the girl said and retrieved a cookie from the treat jar between the waiting room chairs. Christine couldn't help but stare at her. She had Roger's eyes, the same air of gentleness about her. She longed to speak to her, but what would she say.

A voice from the main part of the house added more to the child's statement, "Guess what. Our little girl here is a genius."

Andrea Adams stepped out into the shop. Christine was startled enough to drop the magazine she'd picked up to pretend she was perusing. She smiled nervously, "Oops."

Andrea looked at her oddly a moment. Christine wondered if she would possibly recognize her. She'd not thought of that. Marie tickled the girl, "We knew that already, Andy."

"No, I mean it. She tested out as a genius in science and mathematics."

"Well, what with her father and all," Freda said and cut the sentence short.

Rachel paid no mind. She repeated what she'd always heard, "My daddy was a brilliant man, and I take after him."

Christine felt faint. She felt like she was in one of Uhura's favorite damned altered reality movies. Andrea turned to Christine, "I'm sorry. may I help you?"

"Uh ... yes. I wanted a ... uhm ... something for this hair," she tried and ended up sounding like a blithering idiot.

"Well, you've come to the right place. Just sit in this chair," she invited. Christine's focus stayed on the child, Roger's child. She barely noticed the cape as it went around her neck or the fact that she was getting her head washed. It gave her time to soak in the situation. She was sitting in a business owned by the woman that the greatest love of her life had truly wanted. She was sitting in the home of the daughter her fiance had never known existed. She was going to either go insane or die, one of the two. She was being propped back up in the chair. Her hair was dripping wet, and she had no clue what she was supposed to be doing with it. Andrea spoke, "You're new around here."

"Just passing through. My hair was driving me nuts ... you know."

Andrea ran a comb through it. "If you want my advice, you'd get a good four inches cut. You've really damaged it with all this peroxide."

Christine reddened in embarrassment. "I know. It's just shredded. I only did it for ... someone who doesn't matter anymore. Go ahead, do whatever you want to it. Oh, I'm Star Fleet so I have to be able to wear it regulation."

That caught the little girl's attention. She practically leaped at Chapel. "You're in Star Fleet?"

"Yes," Christine answered resisting the temptation to feel one of the girl's dark curls that brushed her arm.

"Do you get to go out in space?" she asked her blue eyes bright with excitement.

"Yes, I work on a starship," Christine supplied and noted with delight that she had the child's rapt attention.

"You'll never get away from her. Rachel, don't pester the lady," Andrea warned as she got the comb through the tangle of hair. The scissors began trimming out the damaged ends. "What was your original color?"

"Uh ... about your color, a chestnut I guess. Why?"

"I could put it back on your hair. I think it would make your hair a lot easier to manage in the end," the hairdresser said.

"Well, I don't know. I'm so used to being a blonde now. I guess it'll be all right. My friends will all have to get used to it. Why not, just do what you have to do. It's about time I make some changes anyway."

Rachel didn't let the flying scissors dissuade her from talking to the stranger, "Do you get to visit a lot of planets?"

"Me personally, no. The ship I'm assigned to does, though."

"What ship is it?" she asked breathlessly.

"The Enterprise. Do you know it?"

"Yeah, it's the best. You know Captain James Kirk, don't you?" she asked fascinated at someone who was so close to famous people.

"Yes. I've helped save his life many times."

Andrea swung Chapel around to give her a look at what she'd done with her hair. It was nearly all gone, but it looked better. Running a hand through it, she realized it felt better as well. "Are you going to color it now?"

"If you have time," Andrea said. Chapel nodded but remembered Garrett sitting out in the skimmer. "Uh, would it be all right if I give a message to my friend. He's out in the car."

"Sure."

"Mommy, let me take it for her," Rachel said with a bounce.

"All right, just tell him that I'm going to be a while. Have him come back in say half an hour," she said.

"What's your name?" the girl asked.

"Christine," she answered. The massaging fingers stiffened and for a moment Chapel thought that Andrea suspected something, but no ... she didn't know who Chapel was. Or did she? Looking up at the beautician she searched for clues to the answer. She didn't find any. With a slight smile, she watched the child hurry to the skimmer, deliver the message and hurry back in. Garrett drove off slowly.

The smell of chemicals being poured on her head wrinkled her nose, but it was not as unpleasant as some of the scents she'd put on herself in her attempt to be a blonde. After fifteen minutes her hair was back to the color she was born with or at least as close as they could get. The girl's questions kept her on her toes though, "Have you ever shot anyone?"

"No, unless you mean with a hypo then the answer is yes. What is it about science that you like?" Chapel asked finally getting to turn the information tables on the child.

Rachel shrugged, "I don't know. It's kind of boring it's so easy. I like gym best."

"I was the same way when I was a kid. Oh, the other beautician said that your birthday was on February 23rd. So is mine."

"Wow..." she answered with a look of pure awe. It was as if it was impossible to meet anyone with the same birth date as she had.

The half hour was up and Garrett returned to pick Chapel up. She found herself not wanting to leave. Still, this was not her life. She had to go. Taking a look in the mirror, she was shocked at her reflection. It was her, but she'd have to get used to it again. "Man, I haven't seen that in ages. Thank you. How much do I owe?"

"Shampoo, cut, color, and style ... thirty," Andrea said as she cleaned up the area. Chapel was the last patron she had for the day. Christine gave her the credit chit and waited for it to process. Andrea watched her from the basin. "Rachel, you need to get started on your homework."

"Mom .. .I want to talk to the lady," the child whined.

"Rachel ... inside. She's going to leave in a few moments anyway."

With a look of utter despair, the girl did as her mother told her. Andrea and Christine were alone for the first time since they'd met. "Here's your card, Christine."

"Thank you and you did an excellent job."

Chapel started to leave but the woman's voice stopped her. "Why did you come?"

Christine didn't need clarification. Turning to face her she said, "To see. I had to know. I just found out earlier today."

Andrea nodded, tossed the towel into the receptacle. "I recognized you from the news vids when he disappeared. That's how I knew it was you. I knew you would come eventually if you ever found out. Can I ask you something?"

"Yes," Chapel said breathlessly.

"Did you ever find him?"

The question hung like a fog between them. How did she reply to that? She counted to ten before answering, "Yes and no. It's a very long complicated story that I don't think you want Rachel to know about."

Andrea nodded, "I've told her about Roger. She knows her father was a brilliant man who would have loved her dearly, but he died. I want her to keep that as her only memory. Is that understood?"

"I never intended or intend to reveal anything to her. I had wanted to see you. There were some things I needed to get straight. As much as I hate to admit this, the fact is, Roger loved you. I won't go into details but just know that he loved you. Maybe, later ... when I've gotten over the shock I can write to you. I've only got a few days left till I have to return to the ship. May I write to you? I promise I won't say anything to Rachel," Chapel insisted with as much sincerity as she could muster.

"I think I'd like that. If anything it would give me some closure. I'll give you my card," she said and sifted through a basket to find one to hand her. "Just send it to the business mail and Rachel won't get to it."

"I'll do that. She's a beautiful girl," Christine admitted.

"Yes, she is."

With that, Chapel felt it was time to go. Opening the door and heading out, she waved anxiously to Garrett who waited at the sidewalk.

"Hey, took you long enough ... what did she do to your hair?"

"Put it back the way it should be. So, are you hungry? I'm starved," she said and leaned her head back to try to relax against the rest.

"Sounds good. What do you want to eat?"

"Anything. I feel like something wild and different. Something to toast the new me," she decided with a smile.

"Okay. There is a good steakhouse in town. They serve lobster after four. How does that sound?"

"Perfect. I love lobster," she grinned, and they headed out.

* * *

"What do you plan to do with the house?" Frazier asked as he helped Chapel stuff more clothes into the bags to be sent to the charity boxes.

"I don't know. It's a lovely place, but I really can't see myself keeping it. I'm home once a year if that, and it would be such a shame to watch it deteriorate. This kind of place really needs a family to make it live," she mused and stuck the last of the items in Dana's room in the box. She was tired from the packing and moving and ready to call it quits for the night.

"Personally, I'd like to see you keep it, but if you're sure you wouldn't be able to stay in it much, I can see why you'd want to sell it," he said.

Chapel laughed, "Why?"

Garrett Frazier caught her eyes with his, held them, "Haven't you figured it out? Have you been around aliens so long you don't know it when a guy likes you?"

"Garrett ... I just assumed," she began and let the sentence die in mid air.

"What, that I was after you as a client or to get you into bed? No. I liked you from the moment I saw you, and I've spent every waking moment that I could while you've been here with you. I think that qualifies as being smitten at least."

"Garrett, I like you a lot. You've been there for me when I really needed it. But my life is not here. My life is..."

"On a starship with your friends and strangers," he replied a little sarcastically.

"No, my family. They've become my family over the years. We're an odd bunch, but we're all we have. What would you have me do drop my career and come live here in Pintauk?"

"Yes, would that be so bad? Or are the local yokels not good enough for you?" he answered out of hurt.

"You know that's not the truth. Garrett, I like you. I could even love you if I gave myself a chance, but I need to give myself that chance. Would you want me to come live here and find out that I didn't?"

His green eyes gave her her answer. He wanted her to stay. The two stood at the center of the room for a time, neither wanting to give an inch for fear of the other taking a mile. Finally, Garrett caressed her cheek softly, lightly. His smiling mouth frowned, "No, I wouldn't want you to do that."

Feeling a pull so strong that she couldn't resist, she stepped closer to him. His kiss was deep, passionate, but not overly demanding. He wanted to be slow, not desperate. She responded with a soft sigh, "Garrett ... if I could tell you what you want to hear?"

"Then I wouldn't want to hear it. Not that way. You're only going to be here a few more days Chris. We can enjoy what we have and if anything develops, we can enjoy that too," he said trying to make the moment more lighthearted. The little nod of her head and subsequent sly smile told him he was on the right track.

"So, what would you like to enjoy?" he asked innocently.

She laughed loudly and without hesitation pulled herself into his arms. He was more muscular than he appeared, and he was ready to meet her demands. With an upturned eyebrow, she looked at him, "A little anxious, are we?"

"Well, when you have a gorgeous woman in your arms, what else are you supposed to do? Where did you get that expression anyway?"

"What expression?" she asked not certain what he meant.

"This eyebrow thing. You keep doing that like you've learned it from somewhere."

"Oh, that ... well ... believe it or not from the man who is your competition."

"Wow ... upper league. I wonder if I'm up to the challenge?"

"Well, I think you're about to get a leg up on the competitor anyway," Christine teased and was suddenly sober, "But not in here."

Leading him out of the master bedroom and out into the hall, she didn't hesitate. Going to the room that Roger had used when he was home, she opened the door. It had been kept as a museum of sorts to the late scientist. If she were going to finally give herself to another man this would be the best place she could do so. Frazier wasn't too certain. "Chris, this is a little ... uh ... creepy, isn't it?"

"I find it quite erotic," she answered and tugged the shirt tail out of his pants. Her nails fluttered up his stomach as she made her way up under the shirt. She got Garrett to produce a rumble from deep in his gut.

"You are a temptress."

"No, I deliver, I don't tempt," she said and pulled the shirt over his head. He had a smooth chest with little wisps of hair around the nipples. She tugged on those a second, "Do you like that?"

"Mmm-hmm. But aren't you going to let me take something off you?"

"If you really want to," she said. His hands began unbuttoning the shirt she wore slowly. Getting to the hem, he pushed the shirt aside leaving her topless except for the brassiere. It was lacy and very non-regulation. She helped him out by unfastening the clasp and pulling it off herself. Hungrily he took her breasts in his hands and began massaging them. Pressing his lips to hers, he kept fondling until he had her perky and breathless. She struggled with the button fly pants and finally just jerked them down over his slim hips. His groan of pleasure escaped from her mouth. Backing up to the bed, Chapel made sure she was going to land on something soft instead of the floor before she fell back. Garrett followed her anxiously kissing as he went. Tugging on the pull on shorts, he removed them and the panties underneath in one easy move. She lay nude in front of him in the moonlight that poured through the bedroom window. Her skin took on an ethereal blue tint in that light, and he found that highly erotic. Eagerly he lapped at her nipples to make them taut again. She watched him and ran a hand through his thick blonde waves. She groaned in delight as he changed position and began ministering to other areas. His mouth moved downward, slowly, deliberately. While his right hand kept him from falling on top of her on the bed, his left traced a line down her torso and to her mound. He found it and found precisely where she was the most responsive. "Oh, you like that, huh?"

"Yes," she managed through quivering lips. His head dipped down, and he pushed her legs wide apart to gain better access. His tongue darted and licked until her clitoris was fairly screaming in ecstasy. She had her head back as far as it would go on the pillow and still she couldn't stand it.

Relaxing so that she could breathe, she glimpsed down at him. He worked so deftly that she didn't want him to stop. It had been ten years since she'd had sex. It was a pleasure that she'd not taken back up. She'd always felt like she was somehow being unfaithful to Roger when she thought of beginning intimate relations. With a growl of power, she brought herself up on the bed, grabbed Garrett's head pushing his face in deeper, and at the same time began rocking in the rhythm of his licking. He struggled against her for a moment. He had to breathe. Letting his head free, he looked up at her. Her smile was one of pleasure and release. With a grin, he wiped her off his mouth, "You like that?"

"Very much," she said and urged him up to join her on the bed.

Still clad in underwear and socks, he lay fully against her still completely erect. "Take those ridiculous things off," she commanded.

He bent down and pulled the socks off, went back to his position against her.

"No, no, not those. These," she directed and slipped a finger through the waste band of the jockey shorts. "Never mind, I'll do it."

She sat up, pulled the shorts off making certain that she didn't inadvertently hurt him as she did so. His erect penis saluted her as she dropped the underwear on the floor beyond the bed. "Hmm, what's this?" Her hands caressed gently as they massaged and tempted him. Bending to taste his member, she moaned as she did so. Engulfing him completely, she began to give him such head that he had to stop her.

"Wait, wait," he breathed deeply. "I don't know how much more I can handle."

"Oh, we'll find out," she promised and began to position herself over him.

He stopped her, "I don't have any protection."

"Do I look like I care?" she said casually.

"I just ... you don't want to make this a permanent relationship," he offered.

"I can assure you that Star Fleet personnel are kept up to date on all their inoculations and preventatives. Now, do you want me to lay you or not?" she said a little crudely.

"I'm here, aren't I?" he answered. As if she'd done it every day of her life, she sat back and smoothly allowed his slickened penis to glide into her. They sighed in anticipation and sensation. With a deliberate steady rhythm, she rode him. The bed creaked satisfactorily as they kept going into the night. Christine was certain to stop before he ejaculated. She wasn't ready to give him relief just yet. Extricating herself she rolled onto her back and fondled him to keep his interest peaked. She didn't need to do so.

"What do you want me to do to you?"

"Whatever you want," she agreed.

He patted her leg. "Turn over and get on your knees."

She did as he requested and sucked in a breath as his hands parted her buttocks. For a moment she thought he was going to go anal, but he slid his finger in her vagina to tease her before going fully into her. She grabbed the headboard and allowed her arms to act as shock absorbers as he shook her from stem to stern. His finger came out and his greedy tongue replaced it. She laughed. He had shaved that morning, but a slight growth of beard made it so spine tingling for her that she had to either laugh or scream from the pleasure.

Finally unable to stand it anymore, she yelled, "NOW!! For God's sake take me NOW!"

He obliged. With a quick motion, Garrett pounded into her with his engorged member and could feel her vagina as it contracted and squeezed him. He reveled in it. Chris didn't know it, but he hadn't been sexually active lately either. A bad romance had dampened his enthusiasm for years. Now it was back with a vengeance. He could feel that he wanted to make love to her every moment they had left to them before she went back to her life away from him. He was going too far.

"I have to cum," he said with an apologetic tone.

"Yes!" she said and could feel the orgasm race through her at the same time that his did. Momentarily exhausted, they stayed in that position. She was loathe to relinquish his penis, even if it was spent, but she also wanted to look him in the eye. Feeling suddenly empty but very full at the same time, she moved away from him and sat cross-legged as he dropped to the bed. She bent to kiss him firmly, "Thank you."

"Don't mention it. You are gorgeous," he said and allowed one hand to cup her breast. He didn't try to arouse it, but he wanted to just touch her while he could.

"You're not so bad yourself," she said and brought her hand to his face.

He flinched a little. "I'm a little scruffy."

"That's fine with me. I get really, really turned on by that little growth of beard," she insisted. His hands pulled her to lie beside him.

She spooned against his side and realized how much she'd missed this. Somewhere in her mind she wondered if sex with Spock would leave her feeling this released. She snorted. Garrett asked her, "What?"

"My mind. It shoots itself in the foot all the time. You know what. You are the best thing that has happened to me in so long that I can't even realize it," she turned and looked at him earnestly. "I'm not saying that I love you. I'm not saying that I can promise you anything when I might have the deck blown out from under me the moment I get back aboard, but if you're willing to have a lady friend who also happens to be a little out of contact for a while, I think I know who might want to apply for the job. The tour is over in a little over 8 months. I hadn't planned on signing back up, but before I got your notice about this house, I applied to Star Fleet medical to get my physician's license. I'm a doctor of biochemistry already, but working as a nurse and seeing what I've seen, I just can't pigeon hole myself here anymore. I know that I'll have at least two years of medical school planetside. I think I'd like to spend my off time with a man like you ... with you," she admitted.

Garrett smiled at her. "And I think I'd like a weekend visitor if it turned out to be someone like you ... you."

If Christine had ever thought she'd allow herself to be loved by a man, any man ever again, she would never have picked this time to do it. But, time had a way of determining the way life's courses took. Giving him a peck on the nose she growled low in her throat, "We have 26 hours before I have to report back to the ship."

"And I can call in sick to work tomorrow. I think they've had a pool on when I would anyway," Garrett said. Pulling this creature that now held his heart in her hands toward him, he kissed her tenderly. "What do I tell them to do with this house?"

"We don't need two houses," she said with a sigh. Suddenly remembering something, she asked, "Do you think I could leave it in trust for someone?"

"Of course, who?"

"Rachel Adams, the little girl who came out to give you the message at the beauty parlor the other day. She's Roger's daughter. Leave the house to her and her mother and if Andrea won't take it, then sell it and put the money in a trust for her. She has Roger's mind for science, and I want to make sure she gets whatever chance she can get to exploit that. Does that sound strange?" she asked a little self-consciously.

"No, not coming from you. You are far too forgiving, Christine, maybe that's why I like you so much," he said and snuggled with her into the pillow. His breath rustled her hair around her ears creating erotic shivers through her body. It wouldn't be long before she would ask for more from him than kisses. He was willing to give her what she needed. She deserved whatever he could give her now that she had fallen from her lofty perch of celibacy.

* * *

Twenty-six hours went by like twenty-six minutes. Chapel told herself that she would not cry. She and Garrett were friends and lovers but not serious about each other. Her head had that firmly in mind, but it was her heart that wasn't so sure about that last part. She was already pining for him like she had for Roger. Christine put her bag on the transport platform and took the letter that Garrett had handed her with instructions to wait to read until she was waiting for the shuttle to take her to the Enterprise. Choosing a seat near the observation window, she slipped a finger under the flap and unsealed it.

"Dearest Christine."

The smile she had grew slowly wider as she read. At the last part about what they would do when they saw each other again, she laughed aloud. Another occupant noted it, "Miss Chapel?"

She was startled by the voice. Spock stood not ten feet from her, and she'd been completely taken unawares, before that never would have happened. "Mr. Spock, did you have a nice leave?"

"It was productive," he replied and she found him staring at her, or more precisely her hair.

She coughed, "I made a few changes while I was on mine."

"I noticed that. Is this color..." he wasn't sure how to continue. He never commented on female or male appearance in such a manner.

"My natural color. I've been a blonde for over ten years just because Dr. Korby ... Roger said that he preferred it blonde. I decided that while I packed his mother's things I'd pack his away as well," she informed. Spock had no clue what or where she was going on her holiday. She no doubt knew precisely what he had done on his. He saw something different in her. The hair was an outer sign, but something else emanated from her. She vibrated like a great bell now. Earlier her aura had always been subdued. There was something else. Her eyes were bright and dancing with earnest delight. Whatever had occurred while she was on leave, he approved. He never had believed she should spend her life with her heart in a grave or at a locked door.

Christine turned to look at the ship as it hung in space still connected by umbilical power packs. "I'm glad to be home," she said with an honesty that felt good.

"Yes, it is always comforting to return to normalcy after a period of relaxation," he said.

Chapel rolled her eyes. "Spock ... have I ever told you that you are so human it's not even funny?"

"Miss Chapel, I believe you have worked with Dr. McCoy too long. His insults are beginning to rub off on you," Spock said slightly disappointed. Of all people Chapel had always been respectful of him. Now that appeared to be gone with the blonde hair.

She flashed him a face beaming grin. "No. I have just discovered that it's not so bad to have feet of clay."

With that she laughed like she hadn't done for years and just watched as Spock shook his head unable to fathom what she was talking about. She was free.



FIN or BEGINNING...

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