Disclaimer: See Chapter 1. Thank you so much to Mestral, dinopoodle, Caren Rose and 2redbird for reviewing!
Stron put the braces aside. He had it in his mind now, how he could show that he was more than a simple plumber. Staring at the fire in the hearth he didn't know why it was so imperative he did, but even in meditation he found that he could not suppress the desire. Sometime after his meditation he laid back watching the tree, dark except for the reflection of the fire in the baubles on the limbs.
The warmth of the fire, the good food, the agreeable company, it was all soothing. His eyes began to feel heavy; he was calmer now than he had been since they arrived on the planet. He closed his eyes one more time and fell fast asleep.
Tonya's eyes popped open wide and she sat up. She looked over and saw Stron lying near the fire and she gasped. He had slept next to the hearth all night, with no blanket and no pillow. She slapped her palm to her face. She felt like a terrible hostess.
Looking over at him again she felt the heat spreading over her cheeks. He looked so…calm, so peaceful, so…handsome. Her heart fluttered, and she swallowed down the attraction she felt to him. There was no way he'd feel that way about her. He was so well spoken. She slid her legs over the couch and noticed he had covered her with blankets. Her heart fluttered again.
She looked at him again and saw her braces near him and her cane was nowhere near. She frowned and slid onto her knees to crawl over to where her braces were, right next to him.
She shuffled quietly, her hair spilling down over her shoulders as she went, and just as she reached her braces, the softest fingertips she had ever felt ran through her unruly red hair to uncover her blushing face.
"Are you well?" Stron asked with a groggy masculine drawl.
Tonya gasped, no man had ever touched her like that, "Yeah, I'm…just getting my braces." She looked up at him. His sleepy eyes and relaxed posture made it seem like she should lean over and kiss him. She began to move, but stopped herself as he stretched. Just as well, she thought, it wasn't proper for a woman to make the first move.
"I apologize." He said sitting up, "It is tradition in my…family, that the guest rises early and makes breakfast for the person hosting them. Apparently, the cold fatigued me more than I realized."
Tonya retreated slightly and began trying to put her braces on as quickly as possible. "It's not a problem Stron, I would…you shouldn't…I mean being a man and all it's my place to make you breakfast."
She carefully stood and began walking toward the kitchen. She looked back at him, "I'm sorry, I fell asleep on you. You should have just taken a bed. Anyway, let me get you some breakfast and some coffee before you leave…ok?"
Stron nodded, his eyes never leaving her disheveled look. She was so kind and all he saw made his beast purr the phrase desirable mate into his ears. "Thank you, Tonya. That would be, agreeable." He felt a smile tug at the corners of his lips that did not quiet form.
Stron entered his shared apartment and Mestral greeted him immediately, "I was concerned for your welfare, Stron. It is not like you to be gone all night, especially in a cold evening."
Stron could not make eye contact with him for reasons he could not yet grasp, "I was trapped at a client's home for the evening. "He said moving to the kitchen area to put down his tools.
Mestral watched him and both of his eyebrows are raised, "You seem…disquieted Stron...are you…"
"I am adequate, Mestral. Really, your questioning is tiresome." He turned, still not making eye contact with him, but giving him an irritated growl.
Mestral nodded, "Very well. I was simply concerned."
Stron opened their icebox and pulled a pint of juice from its confines, "Mestral?"
Mestral sat on the couch, "Yes?"
"Are you and Maggie…" he poured the juice and stared at it, "Intimate?"
Mestral stopped looking at the magazine he had just opened and looked at him. "That is a highly personal question, Stron. One I do not think you need the answer to."
Stron turned to Mestral and finally made eye contact with him, and Mestral's eyes widened. "You have found a potential mate," he said with more than a little awe in his voice, and then nodded his head as Mestral looked away again. "Yes." Mestral said immediately. "We have, and I have found that we are compatible, physically."
Stron looked at his juice and then took a sip, "Thank you." He said simply and then went to his room.
Mestral approached Stron who was working on a contraption at the table, "Maggie stated that you would be welcome at the Christmas Eve gathering, Stron, even if I stay the night you can return here if you are more comfortable."
"I have no desire to attend the gathering, Mestral." He said, putting the final touches on the contraption. "I will not look for you to be home this evening or tomorrow. "
Mestral shouldered his small pack and picked up the wrapped presents from the table, "That is logical, Stron. Have a pleasant evening." Mestral looked over his shoulder and Stron was staring at what he had been working on for the last three weeks. He opened the door and walked out into the evening. There was something going on with Stron, and he was curious to know what, but he was more focused on getting to Maggie's gathering.
Stron got up from the table and went to his room. He retrieved the box and decorative paper he had bought. He had expertly hidden it from Mestral, but with his companion gone he could finish his project. He returned to the table placing his project into the box and wrapping it all up with the decorative paper he had been advised was customary for this holiday occasion.
Once he was satisfied that it was wrapped properly, he put on his winter jacket and a hat and ventured out into the fading light of the evening. He walked with a purpose toward the home of the person he planned on presenting this gift.
Huffing through the cold and snow he found he was slightly irritated with himself. Three weeks of meditation had not cleared his mind of this young woman, who if he had to guess was in her early twenties, in earth time, and he was…older than that, and Vulcan, and…none of this made logical sense to him. What he did know made him climb through the ice and the snow in his best blue flannel shirt with freshly trimmed hair, bearing a Christmas gift he had made himself.
He paused at the foot of her drive and looked up. The tree lights were on and he saw her in the bay window lighting a fire. He swallowed hard and took a deep breath of the crisp air. He ascended the drive practicing his greeting in his mind.
Tonya made some egg nog and lit the fire place. It was a lonely night. Everyone was with their family, and she was planning on listening to the radio programs of the night and turn in early. The eggnog warmed her stomach though and the cinnamon felt good on her tongue. There were many out there tonight less fortunate than she, and she would remind herself of that.
She had just leaned back on the couch when she heard a knock at the door. She put down her drink and called out, "Just a minute!" she paused at the mirror on the fall and frowned. She had not bothered to put her long red hair up, it was just tumbling over her shoulders. Other than that, she looked fine so she made her way, with care toward the door.
Stron removed his hat. He looked at his reflection in the glass of the door and quickly flattened his hair down from the disarray the hat had caused. When the door opened he stood stiffer, clearing his throat, "I present you this gift for the holiday of Christmas, Tonya." He held up the carefully wrapped present waiting for her to take it.
Tonya smiled brightly, "Stron! You didn't have to do this." She gushed and took the large box from his hands. As she looked at it she noticed he was walking way, "Stron? " she frowned, "Where are you going?"
Stron looked back, and twisted his knit cap in his hands, "I did not think you would want me to be here on such an occasion as this holiday. I merely wanted to give you the gift, as is human…as is custom."
Tonya put her hand on her hip, "Unless you have some place you would rather be….I'd love you to come in and at least have a drink with me."
Stron saw the sparkle of the snow in her bright blue eyes, before he replied he was walking toward her. "I would be agreeable to that. My cousin is away, there is no one where I live, nothing to do."
Tonya stepped aside, "Come in Strom. I made a little veggie platter with hummus and dips, and Egg nog. It's not much, but I don't have anyone to share with…I'd love to share this holiday with you Stron."
He entered and took the large box from her, "Then allow me to carry it into the house for you and place it, as is customary, under the tree." He was proud of himself for reading up on the traditions at this holiday, so he would appear to be in the know.
Tonya shut the door and smiled as she watched Stron carry the box in and place it "just so" under the tree. She walked over carefully to him and was at his side when he stood to present it's placement, "Is it agreeable there?"
She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed his cheek, "It's perfect, Stron. Thank you so much."
Stron felt the heat of his body rise. He did not expect such…intimacy for the gift but he found her arms around him agreeable. He did not know how to reply, and cursed himself for not looking up the proper human response. "It is just something I made, Tonya."
Tonya pulled away and looked into his eyes, "That's even more special Stron." She did not know if it was the night, or the rum she put in the egg nog, but before she knew it she pressed her lips against his.
Stron's eyes fluttered closed and his palms finally found her sides. His beast was crying in the back of his mind that it was time for her to take her, to make her his, but before it could press him into action she had pulled back. He was left blinking watching her struggle to walk toward the kitchen.
"Can I get you a plate of food?"
"A drink only," he said softly, his fingertips moving to his lips, still moist with her kiss. His eye brow rose, "And then you must open your gift." He said, his logical mind wondering with curiosity what reaction his actual gift might cause, if the concept of the gift had caused that reaction.
Tonya brought him back a glass of eggnog, with freshly ground cinnamon sprinkled generously over the top. "Are you sure you want me to open it now? It looks like you put a lot of effort into wrapping it, it almost seems a shame to open it now."
The aroma of the cinnamon hit his nose and he fought moaning. It was such a sensual scent, and it reminded him of the taste on his lips. He took a greedy sip and nodded, "Please, open it. I am curious to see if you like what I have made. It is crudely made, but I did not have all the tools I usually require at my disposal."
She grinned, "If you insist, but." Tonya frowned, "I have nothing to give you."
Stron swallowed down the rest of the nog, "You already have. May I have another?"
Tonya giggled, "Of course," she started to move, but he put his hand on her shoulder, "I will get it, "he said, "Please, open your gift."
She blushed softly, "Ok, and the cinnamon is next to the bowl, sprinkle it on top."
He bowed slightly and left her to open her package.
Tonya tried to be careful as she unwrapped the gift but her excitement got the better of her. She found herself tearing through the paper and opening the box much quicker than she wanted. When she opened the flap of the box she could not think, or speak.
"Do you like them?" Stron asked looking over her shoulder sipping his egg nog.
"You couldn't have made these." Tonya said breathlessly.
Stron frowned, "But I did."
She pulled out of the box two new braces that were more modern than the ones she wanted but could not afford to get. Tears welled up in her eyes, "Stron, I…I…don't know what to say."
Stron looked down and his eyebrows shot up, "I have not…upset you have I?"
She put them down and carefully got up. She took the glass from his hand, placing it down on the table she then wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him on the lips.
His beast purred, and was much quicker to react this time. His hands found her sides, and his mouth parted to welcome this agreeable style of kissing. He felt Tonya relax into his touch, against his lips, and he deepened the kiss, pulling her closer to him until he was holding her tight against his body. She did not fight or struggle away from him, and he began guiding them down onto the floor. When they were sitting he felt her pull away. His eyes opened and the logical side of him wondered if he had gone "too far."
"Stron." Tonya purred softly, "I don't want you to think I am a woman of…bad character, but" he watched her freckles glow from the blush as she continued, "I think I know what I might like to give you for Christmas." She bit her lower lip and began unbuttoning the pearl shaped buttons of her angora sweater.
Stron stared at her, "Why would I…see that as…making you a woman of ill character?"
"I've never done this before, Stron, but I'm told good girls don't make love to a man on the first date…" She purred and opened her sweater revealing a lacy heart shaped undergarment.
Stron gaped and swallowed, "Then I think it would only be logical if I made you my mate…errr…wife." He moved and embraced her, his lips capturing hers, as he touched her alien body for the first time. There would be much to explain, but now he was opening his first Christmas gift on earth, given to him by his new human angel.
A/N: Once again, thank you so much to Fameanon for writing this chapter. We've decided to end this installment here, and we'll do a side series following these two and Mestral and Maggie. Thank you all for reviewing! And a very Merry Christmas to you all, but mostly to dinopoodle!