‘Tis Charity to Show
It was early afternoon, which meant lunch break for many crewmembers on the Enterprise. Rand sprinted into her quarters, tossed her padd on her bed and hastily removed her recorder, tossing that alongside her padd. She went over to her dresser mirror and inspected her hair. Strands of platinum poked out haphazardly around her elegant twist in a discordant crown. “Ooh, Khobran you naughty naughty boy,” she said aloud, as she turned her head, unable to find a salvageable corner. She’d clearly have to remove every pin from her head and start all over again. Her hair wasn’t the only thing that would need fixing. The wetness between her legs was surely a reminder that she’d need to change into a fresh clean pair of panties, hose, and regulation pants. The creaminess of her lips had been a daunting distraction for her throughout her checklist runs. During the rush of the day, Rand had tried to clean herself during a bathroom run but found it fruitless as wad after twisted wad of tissue paper had failed to stem the moistness. It was quite difficult for her to stay focused on inventory and shortages when she had wanted nothing else but to be bent over and exposed while Khobran held her down and hotly penetrated and probed her slickness, but at least Rand would be able to fix this little problem now. Rand pulled off her boots, tossed them in a corner by the bathroom door, and rushed in. She turned on the water in the sink, letting it run while she removed and discarded her pants, panties and hose. Throwing these in the hamper by the corner, she reached over and opened the cabinet where she kept all of her handmade organic soaps, picked out a bottle of chamomile-infused feminine wash and placed it on the sink counter, plucked a hemp wash cloth from the rack by the cabinet, and shut the bathroom door behind her.
Rand walked briskly over to her dresser and pulled out the bottom drawer, retrieving a fresh clean pair of pink lace thong panties, studied them and recalled the time when she performed a strip tease for Khobran wearing this very same pair. She smiled to herself but thought better of it and tossed the panties back in the drawer, trading them in for a more utilitarian pair of high waisted, modestly cut, cotton white underpants. Rand put these on, along with a fresh pair of sheer black hose, and clean red overpants. Walking over to the corner where her boots lay in a heap, she picked these up and slipped them on. Now that she was done with dressing, she could start on her cartoonishly messy hair. She took another walk over to the dresser, grabbed her comb and brush and then proceeded to pull out the pins from her somewhat tangled hair.
“The computer. Wonder if it’s Nyota calling me for a lunch date.”
Rand headed over to her desk, turned on the computer, and sat down in front of it. A woman appeared on the screen, her thick red hair cut in a bob that brushed to her chin, framing her high cheekbones and arched coppery brows. She looked like a slightly altered version of Rand herself, with fuller features and bright green eyes.
“Hey, Mom! This is a surprise. What are you doing calling me all the way from New Jersey?”
There was a slight pause as her mother brought her face closer to the screen. “You didn’t go to work with your hair like that, did you?”
“Ma, be real! I was just about to fix my hair when you called me, so I didn’t get around to it yet, thanks to you.”
“You looked like you fell asleep without undoing your hair, but I know that can’t be it. How’d it get that way?”
Janice shook her head, waving her hand in front of her face. “You don’t want to know, Ma.”
“What do you mean?”
Rand gave her mother a look. “Never mind.” She shifted in her chair and started to pull all the pins from her hair. “So, how’ve you been since the last time we talked?” she asked.
“I don’t know why you don’t just cut it all off, like me and Stephanie. It makes life so much easier, believe me!”
When Rand pulled out the last of the pin, she shook out her long flaxen hair, allowing it to tumble down her back. “I frankly never understood why you ever cut yours. I remember seeing that picture of you back in your college days with your long fiery red hair cascading down to your waist, wearing that tight black turtleneck. You were a real sweater girl. Hey, do you still have that pentacle necklace?”
“Why would I?”
“I don’t know,” Rand shrugged. “Are we just going to talk about hair all day?”
“Well, I don’t know about hair, but your term ‘sweater girl’ fits very nicely with the reason why I’m calling today,” said Mrs. Rand with a playful smirk.
“What it that supposed to mean?”
“Guess who came to visit us yesterday?”
“Who, Aunt Trish?”
No! Why on Earth would I treat this as a mystery if it was her?”
“Well, how the hell am I supposed to know? Can you just tell me? I hate this guessing game stuff--you know that!”
Mrs. Rand took a beat before divulging her answer. “Khobran’s parents,” she said.
Rand was both surprised and wary. “Khobran’s parents! They came to see you? Really?”
“I know that you’ve been seeing Khobran for about a year and never told anyone back here; not me, not your father, not Stephanie, and not Aunt Trish. No one. It’s because he’s Orion, isn’t it. You didn’t think we’d approve.”
Rand jerked her head back, placing her hand on her chest in a defensive manner. “Ma! That had nothing to do with it! It’s just that I really want this relationship to work, and I didn’t want to jinx anything. You remember all those jerks I’ve been with…”
“All those jerks? You’ve only been with four men since you started dating in high school. Khobran makes five, Janice. Only five…”
“And I want number five to work, Mom! I wanted to see how things panned out before telling anyone back home.”
“You know we don’t care that he’s Orion, right?”
“Ma, I told you that had nothing to do with it!”
“Well, now, don’t get touchy. I just asked you that to be sure. It wouldn’t be fair to him, you know. It was pretty awkward when I didn’t know who Khobran was when the mother introduced herself at my place of work, Janice. I didn’t know who she was, and I was never told to expect her! It’s not like Orions are commonplace in Montclair. She seemed a little hurt, frankly. Well, initially anyway.”
Rand sighed, feeling a leaden weight of guilt on her chest. She had thought at the time that she was making the right decision, about taking a wait and see approach to her relationship with Khobran, but she knew now that she’d been wrong. Rand knew she would have to right this, and talk to Khobran’s parents herself.
“She met you at the campus library? How did she know to go there?”
“I guess you must have told her where I worked,” Mrs. Rand said simply.
“Oh, I guess. Go on. I’m sorry.”
“Well, Tara came over to the university library and introduced herself. She told me that she and her husband had met you along with their children when they had seeked asylum at Adrius IV. Come to think of it, she did recall that you mentioned where me and your father worked. She had also said that they were being sponsored by a Dr. Grimaldi of Princeton University, the same man who had sponsored their children when they first came to Earth. Funny, huh? Orions in New Jersey! That means that Khobran and Hydra were here when you were in college, isn’t that something?”
Rand smiled brightly, wondering how it would have been like to have met Khobran and Hydra back then. “Yeah, that is something,” Rand sighed.
Mrs. Rand continued. “Well, we went over to your father’s office and he met Tara. Her husband Rhollo came over later after he’d been exploring the campus grounds. After that we got your sister and her brood and went to that sweet little Ethiopian restaurant!”
“Bet they loved that place!”
“They sure did! Oh, and they were crazy about your nieces, and loved the fact that they were biracial! They even mused about how your’s and Khobran’s would look like!”
“Oh my God!” said Rand, blushing but wondering herself.
“I have to say, Janice, they’re an impressive family. Talk about being achievers, and survivors! Their children being fifteen years old wunderkinds, and homeschooled! Amazing people, Janice. They’re the kind of people you mention soon after you meet them.”
Mrs. Rand raised her brows, tilting her head to the side and giving her daughter a look of gentle scolding.
“Yeah, I know,” Rand sighed.
“They’re thinking about moving here, you know.”
“What do you mean, moving here?”
“What do you think? They’re thinking about moving to Montclair!”
“Montclair, seriously?!” Rand was jubilant, throwing her arms up in the air and laughing. “Wait ‘till I tell Khobran!”
“They’d love it,especially since the mother is an artisan. She could sell her wares here. You know the father is an inventor and engineer. Had his own business until that Syndicate…but, I’m sure you know all that.”
Rand nodded in the affirmative. “Yes, I do.”
Mrs. Rand looked at her daughter thoughtfully for a long time before she spoke again. “You know, Janice, for Khobran to want you with him when his parents landed on that space station seeking asylum is pretty special. He sounds special, and he sounds like he loves you very much.”
There was a catch in Rand’s throat as she nodded silently.
“I’ll bet he’s very attractive,” said Mrs. Rand coyly.
“Oh, yes he is,” Rand said dreamily.
“Not surprising, since his parents have got to be two of the best looking beings I’ve ever seen in my life! You should have seen the stares Tara got in the campus library!”
“You don’t get Orions on Earth, much less Montclair,” Rand quipped.
“Janice, don’t even bother to downplay here. That woman is remarkable by Deltan standards! And Rhollo! My God! I’ve never seen a man who filled out a pair of slacks like that in my life! Apparently, neither did all those young woman who followed him around campus!”
“Same thing with Khobran and the crewwomen here! You’d think they’ve never seen an ass before!”
The two women laughed good naturedly.
“I hope you’re using protection. You don’t want to get preg…”
“Ma! Come on!”
“Just want to be sure.”
“Well, be sure! Me and Khobran are not planning on a family anytime soon, okay?”
“Bet he’s a firestorm in the sac, huh?”
There was a short moment of giddy silence between them, before Rand and her mother broke into robust guffaws.
“Oh, Janice! Let me let you go. I know you have a lot to do. I’d hold on to Khobran, judging from his parents. I’m very glad I we met! I really think you need to talk to his parents to clear things up with them,” said Mrs. Rand, ending on a more serious note.
“Yeah, I know. I’ll do that asap. I’m so glad you met them, Mom. Let’s talk some more about them soon, okay? I’d love to hear what Dad thought,” said Rand, smiling radiantly.
“Of course! Well, I’m signing off now, hon. Be good, and get that hair cut!” chided Mrs. Rand playfully.
Rand smirked and waved her hand dismissively. “Whatever, Ma! See ya.”
Rand reached over and turned off the switch to the computer, got up from the swivel chair at her desk, and headed for the dresser. Placing her hair pins in the bowl, she took her brush and swept through her hair. Rand smiled as she recalled the conversations with her mother.
Everyone clearly got along famously, the two families. In her past relationships, there had always been a chink in the dynamics concerning the family of anyone she’d been involved with. Sometimes she didn’t get along with one of the boyfriend’s parents, or one of his siblings. In her last relationship with a Starfleet instructor, she never even met his family. Though, considering that such relationships were off limits at the Academy, that was understandable! Her intuition vibrated with a quiet excitement that told her all was good for this relationship. She would be sure to make contact with her family, so that they could finally meet Khobran, via computer screen, for themselves. Perhaps she could contact Hydra and make it a three-way conference call. She was glad that the relationship was out in the open now, especially since it’s proven to be the best relationship-more than she’s hoped for, in fact! Rand pictured Khobran’s parents moving to Montclair and becoming neighbors with her family, and the thought of that tickled her.
“Montclair could use some Orion residents,” she thought to herself.
When she finished brushing through her hair, Rand did it up in a French twist again, humming along while she shaped, twisted, and pinned her head in place. Patting every inch of her do, Rand looked in the mirror, turned her head for inspection, and gave herself the thumbs up when the chime to her door summoned her. Wondering who in the hell it could be, Rand walked over to the door and pressed its side button. When the door zipped open, Rand’s mood brightened tenfold when she saw Khobran standing silently in the hallway.
“Khobran!” she exclaimed, rushing up to him. Rand reached out and threw her arms around his neck and planted a long hot kiss on his lips, which he returned tepidly. Rand, in her enthusiasm, didn’t notice. She also seemed oblivious to the fact that Khobran never wrapped his arms around her.
“God, I can’t believe you’re here! Talk about kismet! Wait ‘till I tell you what went on with me! But you’ll have to be gentle though, after that fierce pat-down you gave me in the diliteum crystal chamber. It’s a lot of hair to pin up again for a third time,” she said, patting her hair and batting her lashes. Rand looked up at her boyfriend and noticed the grim expression etched in his face.
“Is anything wrong? Did something happen?”
Khobran broke free of Rand’s embrace and stepped inside her quarters, where he turned to face her. Rand stepped into her quarters like she was walking on shards of glass. She looked warily at Khobran. She had an inkling of what might be troubling him, and she felt her stomach fist up. Oh, shit! He knows. Khobran stood in his place, just looking at Rand, not saying anything. His silence was palpable, and it made Rand edgy. But what made Rand really edgy was that she was the cause of the misunderstanding to come. Khobran placed his hands on his hips and lowered his head. When he finally raised his head up again his eyes were brimming with tears. Rand hated herself at that moment. She felt her own eyes start to sting and become misty.
“I just got off the computer with my parents, and they told me that they finally met your family in Montclair, but that you never told your them about our relationship. They didn’t even know I existed, that my family existed.” Khobran’s voice was soft with hurt, almost trembling. Rand raised her hands to her face and laced her fingers together, pressing her palms together, almost like a prayer position. She took a very deep breath so that her own voice wouldn’t shake.
“Khobran, I know. Let me explain…”
“Explain what, Janice?” he asked in the same pained voice, the same soft pitch. “My mother said she was surprised when she found out the Rands knew nothing about me, my parents, my sister, my brother…”
Rand felt the panic build inside her as she tried to explain her side of the story. At first, she had a hard time stringing the words together, as Khobran stood there looking at her from his great height, his brows cocked in judgment.
“Look,” Rand began. “You know the lousy luck I’ve had with guys. All four men from high school to Starfleet Academy ended badly! I told you that…”
“I wanted to wait and see how this relationship went before I told my family about us! I-I didn’t want to jinx anything, you know? I know it sounds silly…”
“Silly? It sounds downright suspicious, Janice,” he said, his voice now steely and low, his vivid violet eyes unwavering as they bore right into her. Rand could feel the crushing weight of his eyes on her, and they made her feel exposed, like she was lying spread eagled under the cold aim of a microscopic lens. She wanted to run away, but she knew that wasn’t an option. She thought desperately about what she could do to fix the mess that she’d made. Then, Rand came up with an idea. She looked at Khobran, feigning nonchalance, and simply shrugged her shoulders.
“Look, Khobran. I really don’t see the big deal. My mother had a wonderful time with your parents. My father, sister, her husband and their two daughters were all there at the outing. Everyone got along really well, so I don’t know why not telling my family about you initially is such a big deal. Your parents are…”
“Oh, I’ll tell you why it’s such a big deal, Janice! I’ll tell you why it’s an immense deal…”
“You’re making a mountain out of an ant hill, Khobran,” she said in blithe disregard, though her insides wanted to scream. “I really don’t understand this drama…”
“The drama is you had a whole fucking year,” said Khobran, leaning into Rand, his voice now rising. “How long are you going to use your past relationships as an excuse, Janice?”
Rand’s head jerked back when she heard the word ‘excuse.” “It’s not an excuse, Khobran!”
“Oh, no? When I introduced you to my parents, I was never once concerned about the fact that you were human! You were the woman that I chose as a partner, you were the woman I cared about and desired! Our different racial backgrounds were immaterial!”
Rand looked at Khobran for a full withering minute, shaking her head, her eyes wide and her tears coming to the fore. She took her time, finding the voice that seemed to have escaped her at that moment.
“Are you trying to say, that I didn’t tell my family about you because you think that I’m the one who has a problem with you being Orion, as opposed to my family?!” Her voice was a horse whisper.
Khobran leaned in even closer until he was nose to nose with Rand.
“Jackpot,” he said quietly.
The tears tumbled down to her cheeks, her lips trembling. Rand turned away from her lover and pressed her hands against her chest, as if to steady herself. She closed her eyes, not believing what she’d just heard, what he was accusing her of. She wanted to push Khobran, to throw something at him as she stood there trembling with rage, shock, and heartbreak.
“Restrain yourself, Janice,” she thought to herself. “You don’t want to hit this man! You don’t want to hit this man!” Then, she thought better of it. “What the hell,” she thought smugly. Rand spun on her heels suddenly and slapped Khobran clean across his face with her open palm. While Khobran barely moved physically from the impact, the expression on his face clearly showed that he was stunned.
Rand was crying now. “How dare you! How dare you say that to me! How dare you even think that, you bastard!”
The surprise that was on Khobran’s face was replaced by it’s former steeliness. “The truth hurts, right?”
“There’s no truth to what you’re saying and you know that!” she screamed. “You being an Orion was never an issue with me! It sure seems to be an issue with you, though!”
Khobaran crossed his arms, saying nothing. He simply looked at her while Rand continued to fight for their relationship.
“What about all the times we’ve been together, don’t they mean anything to you?! Doesn’t our time together say anything about our relationship?!”
“Yeah, it says that an Orion is no problem in the bedroom, but poses a real problem when it comes time to tell Mommy and Daddy that you’re fucking one,” he sneered.
Rand reached out and pulled Khobran by his shirt and tried to shake him, as if doing so would make the words sink in. “For your information, my mother had no problem with you being Orion! As a matter of fact, she was concerned about me not telling her about you because of what she thought might have been prejudice on my part, of which I assured her it was not…”
“Perceptive mother, at least.”
“Khobran, are we really doing this? Really?” Rand asked, emotionally exhausted.
The two of them looked at one another for a long tense moment before Khobran gave Rand a hopeless, sad look. “Well, so much for the liberals in Montclair.” Then, without another word, he turned away from Rand and walked out the door to her quarters.
Rand started after him, reaching out for him, trying to grab at any part of his body, an arm, the hem of his shirt, but he was too fast for her, and it was also at this inopportune moment when Rand heard something behind her.
She turned sharply towards the direction of the noise and glared at the computer, her eyes blinded by her tears.
“You’ve got to be fucking kidding me! Why now?!” she yelled out loud at the little red light blinking dispassionately on the computer console.
In a panic, she turned to the door, and then back to the computer, initially torn between the two. It could be the captain, but then, it could be Uhura, or Sulu. She would be really pissed if it was anyone in the latter category, but if it was the captain or anyone else of high rank, then of course her duty would have to come before her heart. Shaken and annoyed, Rand wiped the tears from her face and eyes with her fingers as she cursed under her breath. Defeated, she headed for her desk, turned on the computer, and settled in front of the screen while it lit up in front of her. Duty was calling, in the image of Captain Kirk.
“Yeoman Rand,” he said, peering closely into the screen. “Am I interrupting anything?”
“Nothing that’s any of your damn business,” she thought bitterly. But when she spoke to the captain, however, she said simply: “No, Captain. Busy day.” Rand gave Kirk a weak smile, trying to keep a good front.
“You look preoccupied and tired, Janice.”
“I’m fine, Captain. What is this call about?”
The Captain nodded. “You’ve been selected to join a search and rescue landing party on the planet Tijus. You are to report to the conference room immediately. Yeoman Means will take over your checklist duties.”
“See you soon.”
Kirk’s image went black, ending the correspondence as Rand let out a long deep breath. She turned off the computer and got up from her chair. She murmured Khobran’s name despondently and reached for her padd and recorder that lay tossed on her bed. Rand strapped the recorder over her shoulder, gathered her padd, looked around her quarters for a last quick sweep, and left.