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Posted on Sun Sep 1st, 2019 @ 12:48am by Lieutenant Commander Christine Descharmes
Edited on on Mon Sep 2nd, 2019 @ 9:01pm

Mission: Between the Pages
Location: Bas-Rhin, France, Earth
Timeline: Shanghai Prime Timeline 2388


"Bon sang!"

Christine pulled her covers over her head. Someone had opened the curtains and let the awful orb of light shine directly onto her face. She already had a headache to go along with the nausea she felt. She cursed again and buried her head in her pillow. Someone rudely pulled them off of her.

"Go away!" she said angrily as she sat up and tried to reach for them again. When that failed, she collapsed back and tried to bury her face again, this time under one arm.

"That must have been some drinking session last night. Did you even bother to change?"

Christine opened one eye followed by another. A shadow hovered over her. With one eye closed and an arm thrown over her face, she rolled onto her back and stared at her sister standing above her with the other eye. Des stood with her hands on her hips and a raised eyebrow.

"Ugh," Christine replied. She closed her eyes again. "Yeah. Never thought Mei could drink me under the table. She's tiny."

"Some things never change," Des said, shaking her head. "Now get up. Mom's waiting to speak to you. Armand is already stalling her from coming up here. Like, guests are going to start arriving in about an hour and she really wants to talk to you. How did you even manage to sneak in last night? You do realize you were gone for more than a day, right?"

Christine groaned. "And I don't remember any of it. She's probably just going to lecture me again." She struggled to sit up, her long, blonde hair tousled and she was pretty sure she had racoon eyes from her mascara. She fixed the strap on her black dress as she scooted herself off the bed. She wandered to the bathroom mirror and gave a little yelp of surprise at her appearance but began to scrub off the evidence of her late night while Des rummaged through her closet and found the dress she was supposed to wear.

She managed to shower and scrub last night's evidence off her face. By the time she finally emerged from the bathroom, Des laid out a knee-length, blush pink strapless dress with a lace bodice and tulle skirt.

"God, you're a mess," Des chided, giving Christine a shake of her head.

“Christine!” a distinctly matronly voice called out, the sound of footsteps approaching.

“Here,” Des said suddenly and threw the dress at Christine, her mouth gaping open and she received a mouthful of tulle.

“Shit!” Christine said, scrambling to pull the dress on over her hips. She managed to pull it over her chest and held it with one arm when her mother opened the door. “Don’t you ever knock?”

“You’re not even dressed yet,” Claire said, glancing over her. “Hurry up. There’s something I need to talk to you about.” The older woman looked over at Des. “Help her, Dee Dee.”

Des sighed and sat Christine on the bed, pulling out her makeup. She worked on the foundation, focusing on the dark circles under her eyes. “You missed the rehearsal dinner, you know. I think she’s pretty mad about that. You know she likes to run a tight ship. It’s almost as if she should be the one in Starfleet.”

“Good grief,” Christine said. “She’d have everyone scrubbing the decks. I can’t believe I forgot about the rehearsal dinner, Dee. It’s just been a busy few days.”

“I know,” Des answered. She held Christine’s face with her thumb and index finger, studying it closely. She picked up the blush and dusted her cheeks. “Are we still going to go through with it? We agreed to deal with it after the rehearsal dinner.”

“Great. I forgot about that too. And yeah. I think we can do it after the ceremony,” Christine answered.

Des stopped what she was doing to take a good look at her. “I know you’ve been busy, Chris. I’m not chastising you. I guess this is just the way our lives are going to be from now on. Starfleet. It make sense. Armand is the one who's staying behind. As it is, I had to take a couple of extra days off. I just hope I don’t fall behind this year.”

“You always do fine, Dee,” the older sister said as she shook her head. “I hope Mei has a worse hangover than me.”

“You would have done just fine if you had stopped messing around and focused,” Des replied. She finished by adding some mascara. There. You don’t look like a zombie. Now go do something with your hair – pin it up or something and go. We’ll talk later. And for what it’s worth, Christine, you wouldn’t be the worst bridesmaid.”

It had been a couple of years since Christine had stepped foot in her father’s office. Rows and rows of old books line equally old bookshelves. A mahogany desk stood in the center. Sunlight filtered in through a narrow window, highlighting dust motes that no amount of cleaning would ever disperse. The furniture and the odd bits and pieces scattered around the room had been there for several generations already. If there was one thing to be said about her family; they were sentimental to a fault. Christine stood in the doorway. She watched her mother, who currently perused an old, leather-bound ledger, her back to the rest of the room.

“Christine,” Claire said, closing the book and turning around. She tucked a strand of long, blonde hair behind her ear.

“I’m sorry about missing the rehearsal,” Christine said. It always seemed the first words out of her mouth whenever she spoke to her mother was the word sorry. She was always doing something or felt like she was doing something to warrant an apology.

“Never mind that for now,” the older woman said. She looked her oldest daughter up and down, giving a satisfactory smile. “Armand and I were going over some things of your father’s a while back. We came across this.” She reached up and pulled an old wooden box from the top shelf and held it out to her.

“What’s this?” Christine asked curiously, reaching out to take it from her. She stared down at the lid. A carved picture of the Descharmes Vintage logo was etched on the top. Her fingers traced the lines before she lifted the hinged lid. Inside were a few things; a framed photo of a brown-haired woman date-stamped 2292, an isolinear data chip, and a couple of odd pieces. Her family definitely enjoyed old things.

“Your grand-father made that actually,” Claire said, placing the brown volume she had in one hand on the desk beside her. "Years ago. When you were about five or so. He wanted you to have it when you were older but he never finished it. Your father took it up years later, after you left. He put some things in it for you. He always believed you would find your way back home."

"Don't remind me," Christine said, glancing up at her mother with a deep scowl on her face and making it clear she didn't want to talk about it anymore. Missing her father's funeral was still a sore subject. "You sure know how to lay on the guilt trip. Who's the lady?" She picked up the picture and looked at it closely before putting it away and shutting the lid with a resounding snap.

"Your great grand-mother. I'll tell you about her later," Claire said as she glanced at the old time-piece on the desk. "We're going to be running late. There's one more thing. And who knows when you'll come home again." She walked around the desk, standing in front of her daughter. She pulled the ring off the third finger of her left hand, took Christine's hand and placed it in her palm.

Christine stared down at the gold ring with three square-cut diamonds. The realization of what her mother was implying caused a short burst of laughter to emanate from her throat. "You've got to be kidding me. Is this some kind of joke?"

Claire tilted her head. Her expression said she wasn't amused by her daughter's reaction. "I don't need it anymore. Look, Christine," she said, placing one hand on her shoulder and the other cupped her cheek. "It's been in the family a few generations. One day you're going to find someone that will change the way you feel. About everything. Maybe not now. But someday."

She let out another sharp burst of laughter and brushed her mother's hand away. "Whatever," Christine answered and opened the lid of the box just enough to drop the ring in. It was mostly to appease her mother. She paused, holding the box in both hands and avoiding the angry look from Claire. "I'm not getting married. Ever," she muttered under her breath.

"Do what you like," Claire said sharply. "But I'm tired of you walking around like you have a chip on your shoulder." She pointed to the door, sighing exasperatedly. "Go. There's a wedding and for once can you not make everything about you?"

"Fine," Christine said, tucking the box under her arm and giving her mother a sarcastic smile. "Whatever you want."


Lieutenant Christine Descharmes
Chief Counselor, USS Shanghai


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