Set in Stone by Djinn

"So you wish to know your fortune, pretty lady?" The exotic young man stared boldly up at Christine Chapel.

"Not really." At his look, she continued, "I have a pretty good idea of my destiny. But thanks."

"No one really knows their destiny."

Christine smiled bitterly. "Oh, believe me, I do." She walked away before the man could find a suitable retort.

She knew her destiny all too well. At one time she had thought she had outrun it, hidden from it. She had retired, for god's sake. But ever since the Enterprise's mission to Alpha Nu-M, she had found herself drawn back into a life she had never wanted.

Destiny. Destiny sucked, she thought as she continued down the row of merchants and fortunetellers that made up the majority of the market on Andus IV. Hell, being a vampire slayer sucked. Especially in space. She hadn't expected to find vampires out here. Of course, they weren't always called vampires and they all had their own preferred species of victim. But they still died the same way. Nice pointy stake to the heart-provided you knew where the heart was.

She made it her business to know. That knowledge might be the only thing that stood between death and her...or the people she loved.

She could see Spock about ten steps ahead. She couldn't stop a small smile. He had become so dear to her. When her secret had been exposed, she had expected him to react with disgust at her role as an executioner. But he had not. And the polite disinterest he had always shown her had changed. He had seemed intrigued by this new Christine.

But that time was long ago. They had faced evil together since then. Fought side by side...and slept side by side afterwards. He cared for her. Would do anything for her. It should be enough.

But somehow it wasn't. Not when there was always some new evil to be faced. She wanted to quit, but she knew that she would never have that chance again. She had hidden from it for many years but, once renewed, her destiny would not now be denied.

And her destiny was to some day be a little distracted, a little too slow, and ultimately a lot too dead.

She sighed.

Spock slowed. He didn't turn but she had the feeling he could sense her sudden downturn in her mood. She mentally picked herself up, sent him a quick, *I'm all right.*

She wasn't sure he had gotten the words, but he seemed to have read her tone right because he started to walk faster again. They were looking for something very specific. They had heard of a rash of killings that seemed to be centered around this market. The rumors they had heard pointed to a fortuneteller-one who was really a vampire with a taste for green blood. So they were looking for any booths that weren't open for business yet, even though the competition had been on the job since early morning. It was still light out. Plenty of time to find a fortuneteller that was sun- shy, but Christine wanted to hurry.

"You are troubled, my child," a wizened Andorian smiled gently at her.

"I'm late," she lied.

"You rush and you die." The Andorian's expression did not alter. "You hunt dangerous game. Take care that you do not become the hunted."

Christine felt a chill run through her. She refused to think about the dreams she'd been having. Dreams that left her sweating and drained. She saw Spock look back. His expression to anyone else would appear to be only the calm Vulcan mask, but she knew him well enough to see the concern.

She tossed a coin to the Andorian. "Thanks for the tip." She forced herself to grin.

He did not smile back. "Evil sometimes wins."

She shook her head. "Not for long."

His eyes were gentle. "Long enough to destroy something beautiful."

"Something just as beautiful will replace it." She knew her voice was bitter.

"Impossible. Nothing can replace the essence that is you. We are all unique." He gave her a shared professional smile. "And some of us are more unique than others."

Christine fought the urge to sit down with him. She suddenly wanted so badly to talk to someone who truly seemed to understand. "I've got to go."

He nodded. "Good hunting, Slayer."

Spock was watching her from a nearby vendor. He raised an eyebrow at her.

"I'm fine," she answered softly, as she passed him. She knew he would wait for her to get ahead before rejoining the hunt.

A few booths away, Christine found what she was seeking. The booth was empty. A sign said, "Open after dark."

Spock passed her and she quickly studied the neighboring merchants until she was sure she could find the spot again once the sun had gone down.

She caught up with Spock two blocks out of the market. They walked back together to their lodging.

"Open after dark. Doesn't get much more obvious than that, does it?"

"It does not." He turned to look at her. "Are you all right?"

"I told you. I'm fine."

"You say that, but I see evidence to the contrary. You are not sleeping. And you have been irritable lately."

"Yeah, well not sleeping does that to a girl." She walked faster.

His hand reached out and gently pulled her back. She could have broken away easily. He was very strong, but she was stronger.

"Christine." His voice held the endless patience that always undid her.

"I'm sorry." She put her hand over his, let his heat warm her for a minute before she pulled away.

"Life with you is never predictable," he observed.

"That's an understatement." She laughed for the first time since they'd beamed down. "You're probably a saint to put up with me."

"Undoubtedly," he agreed.

"Or just stupid," she teased.

"My intelligence has never been in question."

"No. But your common sense is another thing altogether."

They walked in silence for a moment.

"I assume you have a plan?"

Christine looked at him. "I kill it."


"You have a problem with that plan?"

"It is not much of a plan. More of an end state."

"Whatever. That thing is dust, Spock."

"So you will just walk up to the booth and stake the proprietor?" He raised an eyebrow. "What if you are wrong? There are several harmless species that cannot tolerate sunlight."

"I take it you have a plan?"

"I do."

"Let me guess, it involves using you as bait?"

"As the creature has only attacked beings with copper-based blood, my approach is logical."

"Yes. It is."

"And you do not like it."

"Nope." Her bad mood was returning quickly.

"It is the only way you will know that you have the right person."

"There are other ways. Ways that don't involve putting you at risk."

"If it has not fed since the last victim, then it will be quite hungry, will it not?"

"Should be." She followed him into their inn. "So you'll be the first Vulcan ever to want his fortune read?"

"Romulan," he corrected.

"Oh. Sure. There's a plan. Do you even speak Romulan?"

"A bit. Do you really think this creature will?"

"For all we know it could be a Romulan. You said there are no vampire legends on Vulcan?"

"None." He opened the door to their room.

"I think I'll retire there," she declared, as she flopped on their bed.

He joined her. "That is not outside the realm of possibility."

"No?" She touched his face gently as she admitted, "Your plan was the only one I could come up with too."

He laced his fingers through hers. "Nothing will happen to me."

She kissed him. "I nearly lost you the last time we went against a vampire."

"Spike would not have let Drusilla harm me."

"Spike might not have had a choice. If it hadn't been for Uhura's quick thinking..."

"Shhh. It is not like you to dwell on-"

"It's exactly like me. Or maybe you don't know me as well as you think?" She moved away from him to the other side of the bed.

He followed her. "Actually, I have been doing some research. Peter has been very helpful."

"Wyndam-Price has been helpful with research on me?"

"No. On slayers. Especially those who have survived as long as you have. Peter indicated that their outlook, their mood, tended to darken the longer they survived. He isn't sure any have lived as long as you."

"I'm this old because I quit and hid out in the depths of outer space. As a mild-mannered nurse that kept to herself. It was a good way to stay alive."

"But not much of a way to live."

"Hey, still breathing. Beats being dead." Images from her last dream came unbidden to her mind. She closed her eyes, shuddered.

"Christine, what is it?"

She let him pull her close, burrowed into his warmth.

"Tell me."

"I don't think I'm going to survive this one."

She didn't realize that she'd spoken aloud until he asked, "The dreams?"

She nodded. "And something one of the fortunetellers said."

"Dreams, even those of a slayer, are hardly infallible. As for a fortuneteller, you know that what they say cannot be taken as anything approaching truth."

"This one was different. He knew who I was. What I was."

Spock did not reply.

"I can't always win. Someday I'm going to slip up and that'll be it."

"Yes, if you were alone, it might be. But you are not alone. I do not understand why that is so hard for you to accept."

She allowed him to push her to her back. "I'm trying, Spock."

"Try harder." He kissed her.

She chose not to argue, allowed herself to surrender to the sensation of being loved by him.


Christine crept behind the row of booths. She counted them down as she went. She had followed Spock as he led her back to the suspect spot. The booth was open for business and the fortuneteller, fortunately, had not been a Romulan. She was a Klatite, one of several unrelated species with copper-based blood. The woman had looked barely older than a teenager and was beautiful. Christine had suddenly felt very common as she took in the other woman's lustrous black hair and amber eyes. Her skin showed the same greenish tinge as Spock's. For a moment, Christine considered what a lovely pair they would make. Stop it, she ordered. The vampire was going to die. She wasn't going to turn Spock. Christine would never let that happen. She'd die first. Just hopefully not tonight.

She was in position and could hear the vampire moving around in the back of the booth. Christine froze, thankful that there was no wind to carry her scent to the creature.

She heard Spock's voice. It sounded harsher, impatient, not Vulcan anymore.

"Ah, who is this that seeks to consult the spirits?"

"My name is unimportant."

The vampire's voice was silky. "Not to me. Here, I will tell you mine. I am Hrema."

Christine heard the woman walk away, so she moved to the back wall and found a crack large enough to allow her to peek into the booth.

Hrema had her hand on Spock's arm and was leading him to a chair. "Oh very well, keep your name to yourself, my dear Romulan." She sat down across from him. "So you wish to know your future?"

"I certainly don't need you to tell me my past."

"Not very nice, are you?" She smiled. Christine didn't like the smile. It was one of approval.

"Just do whatever it is you do."

"Do you have a specific question?"

Christine was shocked to hear Spock give a sharp bark of laughter. "If I tell you my question, then you'll know how to answer. Just read my fortune, woman." He stood up abruptly, causing the table to shake. "Or am I wasting my time here?"

"Sit down." Her voice brooked no argument. "I can see your fortune clearly."

Spock sat down slowly.

Hrema reached for his hand. "Ah so warm," she breathed huskily.

"Yours is very cold. Are you ill?" The query sounded like normal Romulan disdain for the weak, but Christine knew Spock was giving her a clue. She searched her memory. Klatites were warm-blooded. When alive anyway.

She thought of the research she'd done when they had begun this. She knew the anatomy of every green-blooded humanoid in this sector. She just hoped she didn't mix them up.

"Just the way I am," Hrema answered Spock as she closed her eyes. "Ahhhh."

"You see something?"

She opened her eyes. "Oh yes. A grand future. One worthy of a warrior such as yourself. For I see you are a fierce and feared man."

Spock only nodded.

"I see a very, very long life for you. Filled with adventure. You will take whatever you want without asking. Nothing shall stand in your way. No man shall oppose you." Her eyes shone into Spock's.

"Will I do all this alone?" His voice was husky.

"No, my Romulan. You will have at your side a woman who will be your equal in all things." She stood suddenly. "I am hungry. I will tell you more after I have fed."

"Tell me one thing first. What will this woman look like?"

"Why, like me, my dear. I hope you approve?"

He moved close to her. "Most assuredly."

Christine heard the vampire laugh as they moved away. She watched long enough to see which way they turned when they left the booth, then she hurried down the alley and was waiting for them when they passed.

She fell in behind them, trailing them carefully. After four blocks Hrema led Spock away from the market and into an alley.

"This is where you eat?" Spock asked.

Christine walked around the corner, saw Hrema's face transform into its demonic version as the hunger took over. At least that never changed. As she moved into position, Christine said, "I guess you never have to worry about making reservations."

The vampire spun. "We are busy. Go away."

"I'd love to, really." Christine pulled out a stake. "But I can't."

"Then die." Hrema was on her so fast that Christine could barely track her. She didn't have time to block the ferocious kick that knocked her against the far wall. Her stake went flying.

"Klatites are almost as strong as Vulcans," Spock told her urgently.

Good to know, she thought as Hrema picked her up by the throat. Hell of time to find it out though.

She felt the vampire's hand tighten around her. The Klatite's normal strength was enhanced to unbearable by her supernatural nature.

Christine kicked out, trying to push the creature off her. She couldn't shake her.

So this is it, she thought, as she felt something start to give in her throat. Her world was going black but she could just see Spock coming up behind Hrema. The last thing I'll see, she thought. *I love you,* she tried to send him, even as her last bit of strength faded. She wished she had told him earlier, when she had the chance.

"For the record," Spock said as he slammed Christine's stake into Hrema's lower back. "I prefer blondes."

Christine felt the vampire's grip loosen then release her. She hit the ground hard.

Hrema's look was one of pure shock as she exploded into dust.

Spock helped Christine up. "Are you injured?"

She tried to speak; only a croak came out. "Fraid so." She felt her throat, winced in pain. She tried to swallow, felt fire. "Nothing that can't be fixed though."

His eyes told her that he was extremely glad to hear that.

She smiled. "How'd you know where the heart was?"

"I did not."

"You mean...?"

"Yes." He nearly sighed. "I went on instinct. You and Jim are very bad influences."

She laughed and immediately started coughing.

"Do not speak." He reached into his pocket and drew out his communicator. "Spock to Enterprise."

Uhura answered immediately. "Enterprise here."

"Two to beam up."

"Aye, sir."

"Sure you don't want to have your fortune told first?" Christine whispered with a grin.

He shook his head. "I know what it will be."

She shot him a puzzled look.

"I save the day," he kissed her. "And get the girl." One eyebrow slowly rose.

She tried but failed to hold back her laughter. Another coughing fit claimed her as the transporter took them home.