Chapter 10

Author's Note: Sorry for the long delay! Here's another chapter for all of you Neil and Christy fans.

Disclaimer: This is a fan fiction work. I by no means own the rights to Christy the novel, TV series, or movies. I have just borrowed the characters. These characters belong to the Marshall-LeSourd family. This story is for entertainment purposes only and I do not seek any profit. This is strictly for personal enjoyment only.

"Go ahead and set the mashed potatoes over there Christy. I've got the chicken nearly ready as well," said Miss Alice, rushing frantically around the kitchen as she tied up the remaining loose ends of the meal they were about to enjoy. Christy picked up the bowl, steaming and brimming with promise, but couldn't help as her eyes strayed out the kitchen window to the barn outside. Neil and David had been out there for what seemed like an eternity. She knew that Neil McNeil could hold his ground, but she still worried, and she worried for David as well. She had never known David to be an aggressive person until now. Christy shook her head solemnly, walking the bowl as Miss Alice had directed towards the dining room table. Somehow she couldn't erase away the sickening feeling that all of this was her fault. Just then the front door slammed and Christy jumped back, her body stiffened in defense, not sure of really what she could expect. David's slumped form charged in, his hair flying madly in front of his face, it's wild movement a match for his mood. Suddenly aware of her presence, David halted, his eyes meeting hers for the first time since her rejection of him in her sick room. What had it been now, over a month? He couldn't remember, time wasn't something he tried to keep track of lately. Every day without Christy felt like a year. "Christy," his voice forced her name in an audible whisper, almost as if he were saying her name for his ears alone.

"David - hello. " You should take your coat off. You must be cold. She started to reach out in his direction to help him with his coat as she continued. "Dinner is nearly…"

"I'm not hungry." Pushing away from her was instinctive. David imagined it was a lot like a wounded child flinching from a stranger. That's how Christy felt now, like an absolute stranger. Almost immediately David regretted having cut Christy off so short. He could tell by her surprise and the glistening in her eyes that she was hurt. She had only tried to be kind. He chided himself. Why couldn't he just bring himself to show her some bit of civility, she didn't deserve to be treated with such disrespect, but he couldn't help it. She had only been honest with him and well, that honesty hurt. With some of the anger evaporating as guilt took it's place, David turned to take his leave. Besides, it would be just a matter of moments before Neil would follow him through the door anyhow. David didn't feel much like answering to anyone anymore than he had already done. "Please have Ida bring something into my bunk later."

"Just hold thy feet David," said Miss Alice, her voice firm and admonishing. "We don't run a boarding house here. If thee expects to eat, we expect thee to join us. Thy sister is not thee's personal servant."

"Then I'm not hungry. Goodnight." David's answer was short and direct and just as quickly as he answered, he was gone. Christy could see the shadow of his form retreating in the direction of his bunkhouse.

"Well I never! That boy has got himself some nerve!" Alice stood, shaking her head and wringing her hands in the drying towel she had brought over with her from the kitchen. "Christy, are thee alright?"

"Yes, thank you Miss Alice. He's just upset, and I'm afraid I have no one to blame but myself."

"Blame for what?" It was Neil, who had come to stand silently behind Alice. No one had seen him enter from the side door that adjoined the kitchen to David's bunk house. He stretched his broad shoulders around the door-frame and Miss Alice to see directly into Christy's face, which was still a mixture of shock and pain. "Christy, what are you to blame for?"

"Oh Neil, Miss Alice, I did this to him! I hurt David and my presence here is just making everything worse. Perhaps I don't deserve to be at the mission any longer. What right have I to keep putting David through this?" It was all Christy could say before her shoulders began quaking uncontrollably with tears. Neil rushed to her and held her close.

"There, there now Christy, you're not to blame. You can't take responsibility for David's actions. He and he alone is responsible for his actions, not you."

"But I led him on for so long Neil, it wasn't fair."

"Just wait one moment Child, Neil's right. Thee must stop shouldering blame that does not belong to thee. You did nothing wrong in being honest about your heart and who you love. David has known for quite some time that he didn't have your heart. He chose to ignore the fact that your it was Neil's all along, we all saw it Christy."

"Ahhmm," Neil stood and eyed Alice playfully as he cleared his throat in rebuttal. "Let me correct you Alice, YOU saw it. I was clueless."

"Ok, I see I stand corrected. We all saw the obvious except for Neil, who should have known better. I suppose they don't say love is blind without reason."

"I can't argue with that one Alice." Neil chuckled, despite the heavy emotion in the air. His lightheartedness went a long way to ease Christy's emotions. Turning to Christy, Neil motioned for her hand. "Christy, come, why don't we sit down to this nice meal before the chicken runs off? I'd best be going as soon as we're finished, I'm afraid Charlie won't like the ride home too much with the wind howling as it is. Snow tomorrow could be thick."

"Oh Neil, you're not riding home tonight, surely not!" Christy, although she still wasn't completely convinced of her right to a place at the mission, was shaken back into a shocked state of rationality. The thought of Neil and Charlie heading out in the storm sent darts of fear pulsating through her body. Weather like this, especially at this time of the year, could be so unpredictable. "Why don't you stay here with us tonight? Miss Alice has already offered a cot in the study. Please Neil, don't leave." Neil looked intently into Christy's eyes, pleading desperately with him and still glistening from her tears from earlier. He couldn't bare the thought of causing her heart anymore pain than it had already been through for the evening.

"Alice, is it really alright, you wouldn't mind and I wouldn't be inconveniencing the Mission?

"Not at all. It wouldn't be right to turn our only doctor out in a storm like this. Christy's right, thee should stay here for the night.

"Very well then, it's decided."

"Wonderful!" Now, where did I set that blasted chicken? Ida! Dinner is ready!" Alice quickly disappeared around the corner through the kitchen. Neil bent low, taking the opportunity while he had it to whisper softly into Christy's ears.

"It's only too bad I've been a fool not to have made you my wife already." Christy blushed, catching Neil's meaning with a measure of embarrassment. Had he really said the word wife?

"Neil McNeil, keep your head about you!"

"Aye love, that will be hard for a man to do, knowing your just feet above me." On my honor, I'll do my best."

"You better, or else."

"Or else what? You'll serve me burnt chicken instead of Alice's? Neil's comment earned him not only a wide smile but a hard slap to the chest as well.

"I might, I just might Neil McNeil."

"It's good that I'll have some extra time with you this evening. There's something I wished to discuss with you Christy, and I think the sooner we discussed it, the better."

"Alright Neil, but what is it?" Christy had sensed the edge of seriousness quickly invade Neil's tone.

"There was one thing you said earlier that I would agree with."

"What would that be?"

"That I don't think it's entirely wise for you to be here at the mission right now, with David that is. Not because of anything you've done, I just don't trust David."

"Oh Neil!" David would never do anything to hurt me. He may be upset with me, but he's not like that."

"You didn't see him in the barn the way I saw him Christy. David's wrestling with more than just his feelings for you. He's not himself right now. I think it may be wise for you to head back to Asheville as soon as possible."

"But Neil!"

"Christy, please, listen to me."

"I can't leave you, I won't!"

"And you won't have to. I don't intend to send you unescorted. I'd like to join you, as we originally intended. I'd like to speak to Alice concerning all of this after dinner. For me to be able to join you, Alice would have to be willing to take on any of the doctoring responsibilities that may arise in my absence." Christy nodded, her eyes hopeful and hesitantly excited.

"I should ring mother and father immediately."

"We'll do so after we've spoken with Alice, alright?"

"Alright. I'm so glad your staying this evening. I wish you never had to leave."

"So do I lass, so do I." As Neil embraced Christy once more before they turned to take their seats at the table, Neil couldn't help but feel a surge of protectiveness storm his heart. Christy couldn't see it, but there was something about David that was not to be trusted right now. He was a man running on emotions, and an irrational man could be a dangerous man. He hoped not, but he wasn't entirely convinced of that himself.