‘Tis Charity to Show
It was the large, strong, warm enveloping of Rand’s hand that lifted her tenderly out of her prolonged lethargy. She opened her lids slowly to the shock of fluorescent glare that pierced laser-like into her eyes.
“Of course. Sickbay,” she thought groggily.
Her body felt like one long sandbag, even turning her neck was a struggle as she tried to look into the face of the man who was holding her hand.
“Janice, honey. How are you feeling? Talk to me.”
His voice was so gentle, like the strokes from his thumb gliding back and forth on the back of her hand. Rand smiled when she saw Khobran’s face emerge from the harsh pool of light. Even though she was still weak, that look of adoration on her young lover’s face, coupled with his hand wrapped around hers, fortified her.
“Khobran,” she whispered.
Her voice was thin, hoarse. Khobran leaned in, reaching out with his free hand to stroke the lines of her jaw, her hairline. She closed her eyes, rejoicing in how the tips of Khobran’s fingers made her skin tingle. Tears started to brim behind her closed lids, and she took a long, deep breath of quiet exuberance. Oh, how she had missed this!
“Oh, Janice! You have no idea, in this known universe, just how much you scared me! You literally looked like death standing on that transporter platform!”
Rand opened her eyes. “I looked like death, huh. Thanks for that,” she chuckled. “God knows I felt like death.”
“Well, you look a lot better now. It took a few days, but the medical staff was able to bring your color back. You’re still a bit thin, but you’re filing out at least. How do you feel? Weak?”
“Like a lead paperweight.”
“Mm, you poor thing. Don’t worry. Dr. McCoy says you’re getting better. You and the rest of the landing party.”
“Yeah. They’re operating on his face now as we speak. The damage was pretty miserable, but Dr. Truth is confident they’ll be able to rebuild it to its original appearance. Spock really did a number on him.”
You ain’t kiddin’! Thank God of Dr. Begay! He prepped Riley up real well. He’s a good doctor, and, unlike some other doctors I know, a real nice guy,” she quipped.
“Hey, Dr. McCoy had all of sickbay working overtime to get you all back up to speed, so lay off him,” Khobran chided gently with a light squeeze on her hand.
“I guess you can be a good doctor and an asshole, too,” Rand snorted.
They chuckled, Khobran’s being soft and deep, while Rand’s was a bit strained. Afterwards, there was a silence that grew between them, though it wasn’t awkward. The expression on Khobran’s face grew more serious.
“It was really scary for me, Janice! When the ship tried to make contact with the landing party, all we got was static! The captain even sent a shuttlecraft down to Tijus after awhile when all attempts to reach you failed! But, the strangest thing happened. When the craft reached the planet’s atmosphere, there was some kind of force field blocking its way! Some glassy, amber colored force field. It was as if that planet, or something on that planet, was determined to keep you down there! It was really creepy! I can’t tell you how frightened I was! I couldn’t think straight the whole time you were down there!”
Rand didn’t even bother to hold back the tears, letting them flow down her cheeks.
“I spoke to Mr. Spock in the other ward. He told me what went on down there, or the basics anyway. The basics were enough for me, quite frankly. The very thought of you down on that forsaken planet, going through all that while that thing was feeding off you makes me ill!”
“It was pretty awful, Khobran. I honestly didn’t think we were going to make it! That thing held us prisoner, tormented us by hurling our unresolved issues in our faces…” Rand choked up, unable to finish her sentence.
“I know. Spock told me about that, but not in any real detail.” Khobran hesitated for a bit. Finally, he took a breath, preparing himself. “You know I have to ask you this, Janice. Was our argument among those ‘unresolved issues’ that came to the fore down there? Be honest with me.”
Rand closed her eyes and nodded.
“So, it’s fairly safe to say that I was partly responsible for your ordeal,” he said, his voice slightly cracked.
His fault?! Rand opened her eyes, his statement having a sobering affect on her.
“Your fault, Khobran? I don’t understand…”
“Oh, come on Janice! You and I know that if it wasn’t for the argument I started…”
“Khobran! Listen to me! Listen very carefully! You can’t blame yourself for what was happening to me on Tijus! Don’t be ridiculous! You weren’t even down there!”
“Khobran, if it wasn’t our argument it would have been some other unresolved issue! Do you know that I was a relentless nose picker as a child? Could you imagine how my nose would have looked liked at the end of the mission?”
Khobran looked at Rand incredulously, as if not believing that his girlfriend could actually make a joke out of the ordeal. Rand gave him her best deadpan expression and wriggled her nostrils, like a rabbit. Khobran shook his head and laughed, in spite of himself. Rand laughed too, a little more robust this time, but still weak.
“Seriously, though,” she said after the laughter subsided, and her tone grew more somber. “It’s just as much my fault. Frankly, I should have trusted enough in our relationship to tell my family about you. I was just too damn insecure from all those past relationships. You have to believe me, it had nothing, and I repeat, nothing to do with any kind of shame…”
“Janice, I know,” said Khobran softly, tracing the thumb of his free hand along her lips. “I had time to think while you were down there. I know you, I know you too well to honestly think that you didn’t want your parents to know you were involved with an Orion. I know about those jerks you’ve been involved with. I can understand this need not to ‘jinx’ anything.” Khobran cradled Rand’s chin between his thumb and forefinger. “I really hate what they did to your trust. If anyone’s to blame for our quarrel, it’s those losers! I promise that you can trust me, Janice. If that means I have to keep reassuring you of that fact, then I will! I love you so much, Janice! I’ll never let you down.”
Khobran stroked Rand’s lower lip with his thumb, his touch light, feathery, enticing her to pout it just a little.
“I love you too, Khobran,” she said, her voice quivering slightly as the tears began to peak again, for the third time.
Khobran leaned in and brushed his lips to hers, kissing her delicately before pulling away.
“You’re still very weak, darling. So, that means I’ll have to restrain myself for awhile. I can’t wait until you’re in top riding condition again,” he said slyly with a cock of his brow.
“Mm, good riding condition, huh? Be careful what you wish you, big boy! You’ll need an ice pack by the time I’m finished with you!”
“That can cut both ways, sweetheart!”
He leaned in for another soft kiss, but this time, he added a little tongue for good measure.
“Khobran, honey. When I’m back in ‘top riding condition’, we can contact your parents so that I can apologize to them and explain my behavior. Then, we can contact my parents so that I can introduce you to them, OK?” she proposed between kisses.
Khobran pulled away. At first, he didn’t say anything, he just gazed at her, his large violet eyes swelling with tears that threatened to fall. His smile was sweet, slightly crooked, boyish.
“Oh, Janice! Thank you for that,” he said empathically.
He stroked under her chin, along the length of her neck with his fingers until he reached the hollow of her collarbone.
“Get some sleep, Janice. I’ll see you later, all right? I want you to close your eyes now.”
And she did, as Khobran continued to stroke along the lines of her face until he reached her forehead, stroking it gently from one temple to the other, lulling her into the most peaceful, gratifying sleep that she’s had in days.
BASIC OUTLINE: Started on 2/21/12
Finished on 3/21/12
DETAILED OUTLINE: Started on 6/12
Finished on 8/7/12
DRAFT ZERO: Started on 8/11/12
Finished on 11/1/13
FINAL DRAFT: Dates as chapters appeared on ProvidenceMine’s Star Trek Fanfic Site.