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Homecoming II

Posted on Sun Sep 1st, 2019 @ 1:44am by Lieutenant Christine Descharmes

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


After everything was said and done, Christine had found herself a spot at the makeshift bar and plunked herself down on a stool where she intended to wait out the rest of the night. Well, at least away from the ever watchful eyes of her mother. She waved the bartender over.Thank God for an open bar, she thought, letting out an audible sight of relief. One thing that could be said about her family is they sure knew how to throw a party. And one she intended to enjoy to the full by drinking some of the finer alcohol they reserved for special occasions. Like this port they had specifically brought in, circa 2309. She swirled the tawny-colored liquid around in the glass before she took a mouthful. She coughed and made a face, she had forgotten just how sweet it was. Or she was just not used to it anymore. Christine took another, smaller mouthful before she spun around on her stool and leaned back against the counter, watching the dance floor. After a few minutes, she turned back around and went back to staring into the bottom of her glass.

Someone sidled up next to her and leaned on the bar as well. "You planning on being drunk the entire weekend?"

"Yup," she answered then turned to look at her sister with a scowl. Christine lifted the glass in a mock toast before she took another gulp."Don't want to disappoint my mother. She already thinks I am a failure." She spun the short-stemmed glass around for a few seconds. "Remind me to swipe a couple of these bottles to bring with me. Supposedly can get quite boring where I'm shipping off to."

Des sighed. "You know that's not true. You're going to hungover for the breakfast tomorrow."

"Whatever," Christine answered. "Gotta maintain my reputation. If she looked at me with anything but disappointment then I'm not doing my part. Besides, I only drink so much when I'm at home."

The younger girl shrugged and turned her back to the counter, leaning one elbow on it. "Whatever happened to that guy? The one you went to see in Boston or Baltimore or someplace like that? Wasn't he coming?"

"Nope," Christine said, her brow furrowed and shook her head. She turned her head sideways to look at Des. "Gone. Somewhere. I don't know where. But he's not here. Where's your man? The one you told me about."

Des flushed and gestured across the open air dance floor towards someone standing off to the side, his hands shoved unceremoniously into the pockets of his dress uniform. He caught her eye and gave her a wide grin. Christine caught the look between them and rolled her eyes, shaking her head. She gave one more look from one to the other before she went back to studying her drink.

"If the uniform didn't give it away, he still would have Starfleet written all over him," Christine commented. She finished off the port and gestured for another one. "I thought I told you to stay away from men in uniforms. They're bad news. I should know."

Des sighed in response. "He's nice," she admitted. She smiled back at him. "Liam. He's a third year cadet. One of my friends introduced us. We're taking it slow. There's no rush."

There was a long pause. One girl gazing across the room at her boyfriend, the other looking into the shallow depths of a strong drink. The younger one broke the look and turned back to her sister. She gently nudged her arm and after another couple of minutes broke the silence.

"Look, Christine," Des said, sighing again. "Mom sent me over here to make sure you're okay."

"Of course she did. And you always did whatever you were told," Christine gave a backwards glance as if she could somehow feel a scathing glare from across the room. "Tell her I'll try not to embarrass the family too much, or do anything I will regret in the morning."

"Fine," Des pushed off. She placed a hand on Christine's shoulder. "Try to at least have some fun? And save some of the good port for the rest of us. We'll talk later."

"Yeah," Christine muttered into her drink as her sister moved off. Her drink was already half gone and she motioned for yet another. "That's what you always say."

The sun was high in the sky, already warm on her skin as she dozed on and off. The tree, its branches stretching out over the grassy hill offered only a bit of shade. At first, Christine had sought the shade but as as the sun moved and the hours passed, she enjoyed the sunshine. Her arm folded behind her head, she slept. It did nothing for her current hangover though. And with guests still hovering around the winery until who knows when, she preferred the silence of her own company.

"And what do you want now?" she said as a shadow loomed over her. She opened her eyes, finding Des staring down at her. Christine moved her arm, propping herself on her elbows.

"You're so predictable," the younger Descharmes sister said and seated herself next to her older sister. She looked down the hill to the River Rhine winding its way through the countryside and to the cityscape of Strasbourg. "It is a nice spot, though. I miss coming out here."

"Ever since you could walk you always followed me. You even followed me into Starfleet," she said, following her sister's gaze and admiring the view of the river. "I can think, here. Without Mom breathing down my neck for one thing or another. This time it's you drink too much, what's the matter with you?"

"Well, coming home drunk and then nearly missing a wedding in which you were a key part of because of a hangover didn't help. It only proved her point that she thinks you're an alcoholic," Des said.

Christine shrugged. "I only drink when I'm home. Mostly. Besides. I didn't drink this morning at breakfast. Believe me, I wanted to." She let out a sigh, enjoying the silence of the next few minutes.

"Are you okay?" Des asked, breaking the long pause. Sitting cross-legged, she turned her upper body towards her sister. A concerned look crossed her face, noted by the deepening of her brow.

"I'm tired of people asking me that," she muttered. "Them at Starfleet. Mom. You. Besides. I thought I was the psychologist. You're just a med student. Going to the Academy at that."

"Psychology is still a big part of my studies," Des said, unfolding her long legs and leaning back on her elbows as she crossed her ankles. "A lot ships don't have a dedicated counselor on board. And lots haven't been to the Academy either."

"Lots have their PhDs. Which I don't," Christine pointed out. "Is there a point to you coming out here and bugging me? I was having a perfectly good nap."

"Christine," she said, rolling onto her side so that she could look at her and propped herself up on an elbow.

She shrugged in response. "There's no need to" she said, quickly standing up and brushing off her sundress. "Look, Des," she continued, looking down at her sister. "That night...that night was the end of a horrible situation and one I'm glad is over. I'm heading back to San Francisco tonight. I think I overstayed my welcome. There's stuff I have to do."

Des stood as well. "So that's it?"

"I guess so," Christine said and began to walk down the hill towards the house.

"Wait, Chris," she called out, then hurried to catch up. She grabbed on to her arm to stop her. "Just..hold on a sec, though. Please. I barely get to see you anymore and you're leaving for who knows how long."

"That's Starfleet," she said as she pulled her arm away and raised an eyebrow. "It's going to happen." Christine looked intently at her sister's face then let out a little sigh. "Fine. We'll talk." She sat back down in the grass, resting her forearms on her knees.

Des plunked herself down beside her. They were quiet. Probably for a good while before either of them spoke. Christine still had a massive headache from her hangover. She mostly listened while Des chattered on; Starfleet, her courses, gushed over Liam and how amazing he was to the point Christine was sure she might have made him up had she not seen him with her own eyes. They stayed up until the sun began dip below the horizon, casting an orange and pink glow over the entire area. Finally, they stood.

"Thanks," Des said, linking her arm through Christine's as they began to walk back to the old house. "And see? I didn't ask too many questions. You know, I thought I was going to be able to meet this 'mysterious stranger'. It's a shame he couldn't come."

"Yeah. It happens. More often than I'd like," Christine admitted. Truthfully, she did feel better. They paused by the gate, staring at each other for a minute before the older sister reached out and gave the younger one a hug. "I am proud of you, Des."

"Thanks," she replied, leaning into the hug before she pulled away and held her shorter sister at an arm's length. "And who knows, maybe one day we'll get to serve on the same ship together?"

Christine snorted as she laughed. "Yeah, maybe. They'd have to watch out then." Her stomach rumbled, reminding her she was absolutely starving and that they missed lunch. "Come," she said, holding the gate open, "I'm going to rummage through the kitchen for food."


Lieutenant Christine Descharmes
Chief Counselor, USS Shanghai


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