Disclaimer: I own nothing but the OC. Thank you to everyone who reviewed "What Doesn't Kill You", and hope you enjoy this installment.

A/N: This is not a happy story, at least not for a while. For those of you sensitive to this sort of thing, please bow out now. I'm sorry. For the rest of you, buckle up. It's going to be a bumpy ride.

He gripped the lirpa in his hand, stroking his fingers over the sehlat hide that wrapped around the handle. The blade end glimmered in the cold moonlight, and the blunt end was hefty; it felt good to lift it and feel its weight in his hand.

His opponent stood before him, the man's back straight as a pin, his brown eyes dull with logic, a silver brow slightly cocked in defiance. Or was that amusement?

The thought annoyed him, and he poured his growing ire into his grip. He raised the lirpa, ready to fight, and he noted vaguely that his opponent was unarmed. Unusual...had he disarmed him?

He swept the blade across his opponent's face, and the man made no motion to move. The lirpa left in its wake a gash of green blood, and the sight of the bleeding mark filled him up with perverse pleasure. Served that bastard right...

Again he struck, this time a sharp jab to his throat, and more blood began to flow. He felt his face contort into a disturbing grin, and yet it felt so good, so right...

Another blow, lower still, splitting the old man's golden jacket. He spied gray hair on his chest and switched ends of his weapon, delivering a crushing blow to the man's chest. With a soft oomf, the man collapsed onto the ground.

He howled in victory as he straddled his chest, casting away his weapon. He would do away with the old man with his bare hands...it was so much more satisfying to do it that way...he could watch the life drain from those mud-colored eyes, increasing or decreasing the pressure, drawing out his death, watching fear replace that cold, despicable logic...

He laughed aloud, a depraved cackle that both stung and soothed his ears...

"You took her away from me," he growled to the elderly Vulcan struggling beneath his grip. "And now I will kill you...yes, struggle, let me see you try and break free, you weakling..."

The life slowly drained out of his eyes, and he laughed beneath the cold moonlight...

Strom awoke with a gasp, bringing his bio controls quickly back in line. He swallowed thickly, breathing in and out through his nose.

He rose from bed and quickly went to his meditation alcove, lighting the candle with a shaking hand. His dreams had been turbulent over the last month, yes; most involved hunting Koss and Lucy again. But they had never gotten this explicitly violent...he had never felt such perverse pleasure in killing before, never in waking life, never in dreams. And he certainly would have never thought the recipient of this dark desire to kill would be Oratt.

Then again, he had recalled him, restricting his chances to help Lucy heal and eventually claim her if she wished it...

He turned off that thought and focused his attention on the flame.

Lucy loaded her plate with egg salad and a water, then found a quiet corner of the cafeteria to eat. She didn't look at anyone as she ate, focusing her attention on the PADD in front of her. She was reading ahead in her class, and tonight she would concentrate on her homework. Her food disappeared from her plate in a matter of minutes, and soon she was striding out of the cafeteria, her eyes on her PADD.

She collided with someone and looked up, and she heard laughter.

"Woah," the young man said, his brown eyes twinkling. "Watch yourself, woman."

"I will. Sorry about that," she said, then turned her attention back to her PADD as she walked on.

"What are you reading?" he asked, catching up with her.

"My textbook," she replied flatly, turning the page.

"That interesting, huh? What class is it for?"


"Ok," he said with an easy laugh. "So did you come from the caf? Do you want to come eat with me and my friends?"

"Thanks, but I need to get started on some homework."

"It's the second day back."

"So?" she said, frowning up at him. "Why is that any excuse?"

"Ok..." he said, and she waved in farewell, turning her attention once more to her work.

Strom sat down at his desk and pulled a new pile of PADDs toward him, determined to get some work done. Maybe work would take his mind off of Lucy. Little things reminded him of her: Mousse curled up in a patch of sunlight, her shirt sitting next to his pillow on his bed, plomeek broth boiling away on the stovetop. Every time he saw a human, he thought of her. Every time he read about Earth in print, he thought of her. Even when he closed his eyes at night and tried to think of nothing, he thought of her.

Last night's disturbing dream was still on his mind when Oratt strode in and handed him a PADD, and Strom took it with a curt nod.

"You look tired," the senior physician said tartly. Strom blinked slowly.

"I am adequate," he lied, turning his attention to the material at hand. Oratt nodded and left the room.

As midterms for her Foreign Relations class, the teacher sent them all information on what classes they would have to know for the next step in their education. Lucy looked over the information for those seeking a posting with Vulcans, and she smiled slightly at herself regarding the itinerary. Two years of Vulcan language studies, which included material on Vulcan culture, along with physiology courses regarding their logical, green-blooded allies. Most of the class started talking among themselves, but Lucy kept looking over the coursework. She quickly searched for summer classes that she could take and found three per condensed semester, and she decided to sign up for all of them.

"Also, I would like to introduce the two professors who will be teaching all of you, should you continue with this program. This is Professor Pezil, from Denobula, and Professor T'Lur, from Vulcan."

She looked up and saw a Vulcan with golden eyes and a solid build, and he was scanning the students, as if incredulous that any of them could make it in his class. She smirked and turned her attention to Pezil, who spoke first. She was a kindly-looking woman, and Lucy could tell most of the students would probably be going for her class.

But Lucy looked at her schedule again as T'Lur spoke, warning them that she and the other Vulcan professor would not take anyone but the most dedicated of students. She smiled at her schedule, making an appointment with her advisor as the two aliens walked out of the room. She would be taking a class with one of the Vulcans, she would show them just how good of a student she could be.