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We'd like to dedicate this fanfic to dinopoodle, who deserves it and so much more. Collaboration with Fameanon. She wrote this chapter. Enjoy!
Stron looked over at Mestral. He was sitting on the couch with his finger placed into a Vulcan meditation point. He looked down at his frozen fish stick dinner and cringed. He wondered passively why he volunteered to stay on Earth with his fellow officer. Looking back at Mestral who was mesmerized by some show called "I Love Lucy", Stron stood. He was about to walk over and shut the television off when the phone rang. He turned and picked up the receiver.
"Greetings. This is Stron."
He heard a small feminine sigh on the other end, "Is this Mr. Stron, the man who fixes plumbing?"
Stron turned away from looking at Mestral, as just looking at him was adding minutes to his meditation time. "It is, how may I assist you?"
"I know it's late and after your normal hours, but…" There was a small pause and the clatter of a tin pot sliding into a hollow space, and the pinging of water, then the slush of another full pot. "Sir, I'm not exaggerating when I say if I can't get your services tonight, I may well have a ruined kitchen."
Stron highly doubted the human's claim, he had heard such things come from the tiniest of leaks, but the prospect of fixing her plumbing issue was much more agreeable than a night of fish sticks and watching Mestral stare at that unintelligent glowing box. His mouth parted to take the offer of work when she spoke again, "Sir, I don't have a lot of money…I umm.."
"Your currency situation is of no matter." Stron said, as he reached out to gather his tools, "I will be over in a short time period, please, give me your location."
Tonya could hear the tinking of water hitting the pot over and over. She shook her head and grabbed her cane so she could make it to the couch to put on her leg braces. She hated using a cane in front of people she was meeting for the first time, the braces weren't much better, but it was either that or potentially trip and fall. She had just pulled the last leather strap tight when she realized it was dinnertime. She had called him from his dinner, and his wife and probably children. She grimaced. How thoughtless. She pushed the red curls that had fallen into her eyes out of her face and then reached for her wallet. She had no more than ten dollars. It was all she had, and his services might be more, probably should be more given the late hour.
She stood and walked back to the kitchen, struggling a bit with her left leg, it was always slow to work after she put on her brace. She had cut up and cleaned vegetables, and boiled some lasagna noodles before her plumbing gave way. The least she could do was finish putting the vegetarian lasagna together before he arrived. He was probably a meat and potato man, but it wouldn't hurt to offer him a hot meal for coming out at this hour.
Tonya carefully put the lasagna together, and then stuck the bread stick in next to the pan. Standing so long was taking a bit of a toll on her back, so she walked carefully back to the living room to sit before Mr. Stron arrived."
Stron put on his wool cap and scarf. Mestral wasn't paying attention, so he snatched his much thicker coat off the hook. He peered out the window: it was snowing. He glanced back at Mestral. "I am leaving for a job. I shall return."
Mestral nodded silently, never taking his eyes off the television.
"And I am never coming back."
"Take my jacket, the news reporter said that is going to have something called a blizzard coming, the precipitation will be significant." Mestral said without a tone in his voice, still watching the Lucy special.
Stron shook his head and left. The cold struck him immediately, and the crunch of snow under his shoes was loud. When he exhaled he could see his breath, and inwardly he cursed this disagreeable weather. The way he saw it, it was no wonder that humans were so aggressive, in this cold he found it difficult not to be so himself.
He stepped carefully down the stairs and out into the streets. As he looked around the vacant road his eyebrows rose. There were numerous strange lights in varied symbols lining the houses, and trees. He paused, looking at the homes he found it fascinating. There was a strange aesthetically pleasing sense to it, a feeling of calm in the twinkle of the lights shining in the white crystal of the snow. Were it not cold, he might be agreeable to walk all over the town just to take it in. With a sigh, he continued walking through the crunching white snow.
Tonya heard a knock at her door, and immediately got up to answer. She nearly tripped on a loose section of rug, but managed to right herself by palming the wall. "I'm coming!" she called out, straightening herself. She limped the last few steps to the door and opened it. Her eyes went wide, he wasn't what she expected. In her mind, she imagined him being a short and dumpy balding man, middle aged, and grizzled. The man before her had chiseled features, and sticking out out from his wool cap was thick black hair. When he looked up at her, his blue eyes reflected the moon light that peeked out behind the dark clouds...and his eyes were beautiful.
"Mr. Stron?" Tonya managed, now self-conscious that she had not put on any make-up, or put combs in her unruly curly red hair.
"I am Stron," he returned. "May I enter your domicile? It is quite cold."
She blushed, "Oh, I'm sorry." She stepped away to allow him entrance. When he was in, she glanced out the door; the snow was picking up, coming quicker in small flakes. "It is a terrible night, Mr. Stron. I'm so sorry for dragging you out like this."
Stron was grateful when she shut the door and the warmth of her small house began seeping through his frozen layers of clothing. "My roommate said there is going to be a blizzard."
Tonya slipped her fingers into the collar of his jacket to help him off with it. "Oh my, that isn't good, Mr. Stron. You might get stuck here. I made food; I hope your wife won't be troubled."
Stron jumped at her touch around his neck. He looked back at her. "I am not mated…married," he replied. "What work do you have for me?"
Tonya hung his jacket on the hook of the door. She walked past Stron, who was now looking at the strange braces on her legs, but he looked away without asking a question. "It's right through here, Mr. Stron," she said, leading him to the kitchen area.
He shouldered his pack of tools, "May I ask you a question?"
Tonya cringed. Here it comes, she thought, he's going to ask about my braces or my strange walk...might as well get this over with. "Sure, Mr. Stron."
"On the walk over here, I saw the most agreeable arrangement of lights at each house. Can you tell me the significance of them?" he asked, squatting to open up the door to under the sink.
Tonya giggled with nervous relief, "That?" she smiled. "Mr. Stron, those are Christmas lights. Don't you have Christmas where you come from?"
Stron looked into the darkness under the sink and sighed; she had acted like everyone would know what this "Christmas" celebration was. "No, where I come from we have no such thing."
Tonya leaned against the cabinet watching him work. How exotic, she thought. He must come from the Middle East, like Egypt or something. "Well, I made dinner, so after you're done, if you'd like to hear about it over dinner…"
Stron thought of the tasteless frozen dinner waiting on him, and equally tasteless company. "That would be agreeable, Miss…"
"Just Tonya," she replied softly.
"Tonya," Stron said, "just call me Stron."
Tonya did not want to seem like she was hawking over him, so she left the kitchen. She looked out the window; the snow was coming quicker, and the wind was picking up too, so the visibility was such that she couldn't see the houses across the street. She glanced back at his legs sticking out from under the sink. The way it looked he might not be able to go home. She saw no car in her driveway, so he had to have walked. He couldn't walk home in this, he'd freeze to death.
Placing her hands on her hips, she sighed. There was a likelihood he'd have to stay with her. She had food to feed him, but did not know what she might do to entertain him. She couldn't afford a television, but… Her eyes widened and she walked down the hall to her spare room. If he didn't know what Christmas was, she was going to show him.
Pulling boxes from the storage one by one, she limped down the hall until the living room was nearly full. Meeting her about halfway down the hall as she struggled with the tree box, Strom gently pushed her aside and lifted it with one hand, "Is there a place you need this deposited."
Tonya swooned at the casual show of strength. "My goodness, Stron!" she exclaimed, putting her fingertips to her lips, "What an impressive show of strength!" She reached out and touched his bicep before he could say anything and gently felt its tautness. "You are a strong, strong man."
Stron flushed slightly at her touch, and was thankful his arm was covered by the thick fabric of his flannel shirt. "It is nothing, Tonya, though I would like to sit it down." He pretended to strain slightly.
"Oh, I'm sorry, Stron." She blushed a light shade of pink, "This way."
"What is it that I am carrying? I watched you struggle with these boxes, are they important?" he asked, placing the box on the ground near the cleaned out corner.
"It is a Christmas tree, an artificial one. From the look of things outside, Stron, I didn't think you'd be able to walk home tonight. So, I thought after dinner I'd show you those Christmas lights you thought were so pretty." She folded her hands in front of her, and looked down at her feet, feeling suddenly very shy.
"How very thoughtful of you, Tonya." Stron said slowly. His brows furrowed. It concerned him that he might not make it home. He looked out the window and saw drifts creeping up the front of the house and the wind blustering through the street carrying on it more and more snow. As disconcerting as the thought was to stay here, it was more so to have to go outside. He estimated that the level was nearly up to his chest. He looked at the female before him, "Where is your mat…your husband?" He watched her turn nearly as red as her hair, and he wondered if he asked a shameful question.
"I have no husband, Stron. It's been just me in the house since my parents died two years ago." She turned and began limping to the kitchen. Inwardly she was cursing herself. She was getting tired, her muscles were aching, and now her strange gate was more apparent. She was hoping he wouldn't notice, but it was blaringly obvious to her.
Stron watched her walk to the kitchen and cocked his head. He had not spoken to or been around a human this closely for this long. He hated to admit it, but this human was agreeable. She was a tad emotional, but much less than he expected. She had been kind and courteous to him, and had not even questioned why he had not taken off his wool cap.
"Dinner is ready, Stron," she called carefully placing the food on the table.
Stron sat down at the table. He watched her spoon out food onto his plate, and place breadsticks next to it. He breathed a sigh of relief, there was no meat.
"I'm sorry I didn't make any meat, I don't eat it myself. And–"
Stron held up his hand, "There is no offense taken. I too do not eat meat." He was amazed by the broad bright smile he saw brighten her glittering green eyes. Then, it struck him. She was handing him a mug of what appeared to be tea. She had her hand on the bottom of the mug and was carefully handing it to him. Her eyes were locked with his. He felt his heart thud. No, she doesn't know what that means. It is her being courteous. It must be a human custom. She couldn't know that offerings such as this were a proposal of…bonding. His mouth went dry, and his hands were accepting the tea before his mind could stop it. His inner beast was purring.
"Can I get you anything else? Stron? Stron?"
Stron looked at her, "I did not…what did you say?"
"I wanted to know if I could get you anything else?" She asked and touched the back of his hand lightly.
Stron felt her thoughts briefly like a charge of electricity through his skin. He saw…she was attracted to him.