‘Tis Charity to Show
Rand left the changing room in a shot, pacing herself as quickly as she possibly could, away from the unwanted company of a certain nurse.
“Hey, Janice! Wait up!”
Rand continued, stepping up her pace and looking straight ahead, maneuvering around other pedestrians in a desperate attempt to lose this woman in the corridors.
“I seeee yoou!”
God, she couldn’t get a moment’s peace down the goddamn hall! Was this a little glimpse of how her time on Tijus would be?
“There you are!” said Rose, breathing heavily.
Wasn’t Starfleet personnel supposed to be in tip-top physical condition?
“I sure wish we didn’t have to wear these stupid jumpsuits! I hate the way I look in them!”
“Is this a mission, or a fashion show?” Rand thought to herself caustically.
Looking at the two women together, one might be able to understand Rose’s insecurities. Side by side, the differences in the way they looked in their tan form-fitting jumpsuits was so stark in contrast, it was almost comical. Rose’s thick-waisted, thick-limbed, medium-height physique made her look like a single piece of sausage in shrink-wrapping. Even her medium ashy-brown hair lacked definition, styled in a cut that appeared to be growing out of whatever shape it was originally intended for.
Listening to Rose go on and on was absolutely insufferable. What exactly was it in her physiology that kept those lips flapping and those cords honking out mish-mosh? She would be sure to try to avoid this woman by any means possible on Tijus, “trying” being the operative word. Rand wasn’t sure, quite frankly, if it would be possible at all, the six of them stuck together for a time on a desert planet. She shuddered at the thought.
It was a sign of mercy from above when the two women reached the transporter room. They walked through the double automated doors and saw the rest of the landing party dressed in their desert terrain attire, placing needed equipment onto the transporter pad.
There was one tall man who was not a part of the landing party, as his broad tapered back was clad in the red tunic of engineering, but he was hoisting up a particularly large, heavy piece of equipment with the ease that a human would with a great big stuffed animal, of an huge empty cardboard box. Rand stopped walking and stood still, catching her breath. When Khobran placed the generator onto the transporter pad, he turned around.
The two lovers were hooked together by the power of their gazes, enclosing them under an invisible capsule of their own making that no one else could enter. Khobran moved ever so slightly, trying to get on with his duties, but he stayed where he was. Rand walked towards him with quiet determination, her eyes never leaving him, holding him with an expression on her face that said: “We’re not done here, and you’ll never be able to shake me. Don’t try it.” But, what came out of her mouth was a tender, sweet “Hi, Khobran.”
She could feel her eyes sting, and she frankly didn’t care whether people would be able to see her cry if she did so. If it embarrassed Khobran, then so be it.
Khobran looked down at Rand, his eyes conveying both longing to be with her and pleading for her to keep away. Love and pain. When he finally managed to pull away from her, it was with a hesitation that spoke of a conflict going on inside him. Good. That was exactly where she wanted him.
Rand followed Khobran with a hawk’s eye when he positioned himself behind the transporter console. She prowled after him, undulating her hips, running her fingertips over the edges of the shining black control board. Gathering her hands behind her back, Rand leaned back into the console, displaying her graceful curves encased in her terrain jumpsuit for Khobran’s benefit. He ignored Rand, or tried to, but his extreme focus on the panel controls were a dead-out giveaway to his uneasiness. Khobran’s handsome face looked strained, and his neck was craned downward in a way that it made Rand worry that he might be hurting himself, and all on account of avoiding eye contact with her. She could see a small vein popping from the side of his neck as he glued his eyes on the control board.
“A little bit too much concentration, don’t you think?” she asked lightly, looking into his face.
Khobran parted his lips, and he shifted his feet back and forth, his eyes darting rapidly under her scrutiny. Was he squirming?
“Energize,” Scotty called back to Khobran.
Khobran promptly pulled the mechanism down, which transmuted the equipment into scrambling light particles that vanished from sight.
“You did that well,” said Rand smiling softly.
Khobran turned his head in Rand’s direction and then quickly snapped it back down to the console.
“Uhm, have everything you need for the mission?” he asked tentatively, his deep voice catching at the end of his last word.
“Yes, I do.” Rand pushed herself up from the console and pressed herself gently against him.
“Is that the last of the equipment, Scotty?” he asked, his composure slipping as he continued to shift on his feet. Back and forth…back and forth…
“Yes, laddy! That’s it,” said Scotty with a bright smile.
“Well, I guess that’s your cue, huh?” Khobran said to Rand.
It was then that he mustered up the courage to look directly at her, his love for her so achingly apparent in his eyes. Oh, God, Khobran. I’m so sorry. I love you, don’t you know that?
“Khobran,” Rand said, reaching for his shoulder and squeezing it. “I wish you were coming with me on this mission,” she half-whispered.
Rand gave him one more lingering look before she turned away and headed for the transporter platform. She took her place on one of the pads, next to Riley, and turned to face Khoban as he stood, a tad shaken, behind the controls.
“Ready to beam down, Lieutenant,” Mr. Spock said from where he was situated.
Khobran worked the controls, his capable hands making final adjustments for landing party beam down.
“The equipment should be just a few centmeters in front of you when you arrive on the planet,” said Khobran, glancing at Rand every now and then.
“Very good,” said Spock. “We are ready for beam down, Mr. Khobran.”
Rand watched Khobran pull the transporting lever down, and a light, tingly, swirling sensation coursed upwards and across her body. At the point of near dematerialization, Rand felt a tear fall from her eye when she looked at Khobran for the last time, his yearning face rippling and finally submerging into the vast ocean of cold black space.