§ § § -- sometime in 2282
Very early the following morning, Lauren woke abruptly. She was still upset over Kylie's death and worried about Arzi's fate; she had dreamed vaguely of ending Arzi's servitude, but had never expected it to happen the way it had. She slipped out of bed and made her way to the kitchen, gasping when the light came on just as she walked in.
"Hi," said Leslie, looking sheepish.
Lauren stared at her. "What're you doing here? And at this time of night?"
Leslie grinned. "I know it's nuts, but Mr. Roarke sent me. He says your fantasy is over."
"But the others are gonna think I just walked off and disappeared," Lauren protested. "Can I at least leave them a note? I'll just tell them I don't think I can hack it and I'm heading home."
"Sure, go ahead," Leslie agreed. She watched while Lauren wrote on a small pad on the table, then asked, "So what happened?"
"You mean you don't know?" Lauren bantered, then realized from Leslie's expression that she wasn't kidding. "Oh, well…remember when I talked about wanting to set Arzi free? She did it herself."
Leslie blinked. "Get out of here. I can't wait to hear this one."
Lauren finished her note and glanced around. "I'm gonna miss my friends here, especially Kylie. I wish there were some way I could've prevented what happened to her. Before she died, I wanted to stay in touch with her. If it hadn't been for the nutball princess…"
"So tell me about it," Leslie urged, leading Lauren to the apartment door and pulling it open. They stepped through into the same little room where Lauren had come to begin her fantasy. Leslie shut the door and gestured at the table where Lauren's own clothes still lay. "Go ahead and change. I'll listen while you talk."
Lauren had so much story to tell that she was still at it when she and Leslie emerged into the elegant study Roarke used as his office. Roarke and Tattoo were both going over some papers; they looked up and stared at the girls. When Lauren finally finished, Roarke said in amusement, "I trust your fantasy was enjoyable, Lauren."
She blinked and focused on him. "Oh, hi, Mr. Roarke. I did have a good time, but I've got some questions for you. Number one…Leslie said something about a time-travel glitch when I saw her before. I always thought two days in another world was two days here, so how come it's only Sunday here but I was in Star Trek for five days?"
"A…minor malfunction," Roarke replied evasively. "You have other questions?"
Lauren looked at Leslie, but Leslie simply shrugged, and Lauren gave up and went on to her next query. "I made a really good friend, Kylie Garrison. I was planning to ask if there was some way I could have stayed in touch with her, but she died, so I guess I can't. Maybe it wouldn't have been possible even if she hadn't, since she's in the future and all…"
Roarke's voice softened with sympathy. "I am terribly sorry you experienced the loss of your friend, Lauren."
"Thanks." Lauren heaved a deep sigh, then remembered something else. "What about Arzi? She was—"
"Mr. Roarke already knows all about it," Leslie broke in.
"Well, she disintegrated the princess with a phaser," Lauren said, feeling a little silly, especially when Tattoo gave her a bewildered look. "Anyway, I guess the punishment for that is execution on her world. I wanted to bring her back here with me, and I was right on the edge of suggesting it when she said that otherwise she'd have been Mrs. Stink's slave for life, and she knew she was going to die, but she'd be dying a free person. That made me think. It would have been nice if we could have persuaded Mrs. Stink to change her outlook, but I guess we can't force other people to see things the way we do."
"Very wise, Lauren," Roarke said with a smile.
Tattoo looked more bewildered than ever. "Who's Mrs. Stink?"
Leslie and Lauren both instantly burst out laughing, and Roarke cleared his throat, not quite able to disguise his own chuckling. "Perhaps you had better take Lauren home, Leslie," he suggested. "We must be up early tomorrow morning to see the guests off before you leave for school."
§ § § -- February 8, 1982
Roarke, Tattoo, Julie and Leslie were all on hand to see their guests off very early Monday morning. The last to step from an arriving car was an attractive teenage girl, ginger-colored hair pulled tidily back in a French braid, green eyes sparkling, a few freckles scattered across her nose and cheeks. Her parents alighted behind her. "So…I assume you are ready to return to your quiet life in Canberra, Ms. Garrison?" Roarke asked.
Kylie Garrison grinned. "I think so, Mr. Roarke. Y'know, I was kind of skeptical about your abilities, but I have to hand it to you…you definitely deliver what you promise. Thanks so much—I always did wonder what it would feel like to get phasered, and now I know. I thought since I wasn't wearing a red shirt, it wouldn't happen." Everyone laughed.
"I am delighted to be of service," Roarke said, "even with such an unorthodox request."
"We aim to please," Tattoo said and smiled with perfect poise.
"I sort of wish I could have stayed in touch with this girl I met," Kylie began hesitantly. "I know it's not possible, but she was a lot of fun to be around…"
"Say no more," Leslie broke in. "It just so happens that Lauren McCormick is one of my friends, and she was having a fantasy too, as a birthday gift. She said the same thing about you. Here's her address—I think she'd be thrilled to get a letter from you." She handed Kylie a slip of paper.
Kylie's eyes widened. "Wow, a bonus on my fantasy! Thanks again, all of you." And with that, she and her waving parents headed for the dock to board the plane.
"A nice touch, Leslie," Roarke complimented her.
"Thanks," Leslie replied and grinned, then remembered something and turned fully on her guardian. "Mr. Roarke, I keep hearing references to red shirts. What on earth is that supposed to mean? Lauren said that security people on the TV series wear them, but that didn't explain anything at all to me."
Julie laughed. "Didn't you ever pay any attention to all those Trek episodes you were watching? Security people are always getting bumped off. It's kind of an in-joke among Trek fans. Watch some more episodes and keep your eyes on the guys in the red shirts. They'll bite the dust just about every time."
Leslie stared at her. "That's really morbid, Julie."
"Hey, if you don't believe me, ask Lauren." Julie grinned. "Got to head for home and make sure Frida gets to school okay. See you later this afternoon, uncle and Tattoo. Have a good day in school, Leslie."
"And that Australian girl wanted to get phasered," Leslie mumbled, thoroughly perplexed. "We sure get some oddballs, don't we, Mr. Roarke?"
Roarke eyed her in disapproval and shook his head. "My dear Leslie, for shame. You really must learn to practice tolerance. You'd better hurry home and change your clothes before you're late for school."
When she was gone, Tattoo said, "I still want her and Lauren to explain about Mrs. Stink." Roarke shook his head, no longer able to control his amusement, and began to laugh heartily.
There is a sequel to this, but I won't post it unless I get feedback that indicates folks want to read it. I would really appreciate reviews, so please do me a favor and let me know what you think—and if you're feeling so inclined, check out my other work, under both my account names. Thanks to all!