A Series of Vignettes
by Mylochka

(sometime after Martha, My Dear)

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Daphne Gollub had faith in precious few things in life. One thing she did believe in, however, was the power of chemistry and its ability to influence human behavior. For example, she had observed that the generous application of bourbon to natives of the southern-most portions of the former United States predictably produced loquaciousness frequently resulting in honesty. It was therefore with the calm confidence of a scientist that she sat down opposite her selected information source and placed before him a flask of the finest brew that could be liberated from Sickbay on short notice.

Noel DelMonde eyed her narrowly. "What?" he asked with forbidding terseness.

She noted with satisfaction that the cajun's foul mood did not prevent him from uncapping the small bottle. "Pavel was your roommate when you and Ruth were together at the Academy, right?"

Del shrugged. "So?"

"So what's with the two of them?"

The engineer tilted his head to one side and frowned. "What?"

"They fought, right?" Daffy provided helpfully.

DelMonde shrugged again and took another long sip from the flask. "Not really. They yeow-yeowed at each other ever once in a while, but I not recall it ever broke to a fight as such."

Gollub was about to ask what "yeow-yeowing" was, but decided she was happy with the image of her friend and her boyfriend making territorial cat noises at each other even if that wasn't what Del meant. "So they got along?"

"Yeah," Del answered noncommittally. "Sorta."

Daffy frowned and began to wonder if her bourbon dosage had been too high or too low. "So. They liked each other?"

DelMonde took a long moment to consider then slowly shook his head. "Not really."

"Why not?"

"Coulda been policy," the engineer replied cryptically.


"Yeah, when I moved in, Chekov told me he had one simple rule an' that was no visitors after oh-thirteen-hundred on nights either of us had an early class the next day. An' I told him I also had one simple rule an' that was screw him an' his rules since I was gonna do as I pleased. So as you see, we had a bit of a policy conflict."

"And Ruth was in the middle of this conflict of policy?"

"She was a primary manifestation of our differin' opinions on the terms of our cohabitation," Del answered dryly. "For quite some time."

"So he resented her," Gollub concluded.

"Sorta." The engineer was quiet for a moment, then put down the flask. "You wanna know the real reason why the two of them not like each other?"

"As Spock would say," Daffy spread her hands invitingly, "I'm all ears."

"They too much alike."

"They're nothing alike."

"They exactly alike," DelMonde asserted, then added the caveat, "Except in the ways they different. Both of 'em were adorable, bright, precocious children who grew up believin' that they the cutest, smartest li'l things in the universe - 'cause nobody ever treated 'em like they weren't. Then they skip the sullen an' self-destructive adolescence -- in which some of us may still languish - an' became adorable, bright young adults who -- despite a token show of rebelliousness - attach themselves passionately to authority figures who remind 'em of they parents - particularly they wonderful, perfect daddies - who in turn grow to love an' adore 'em - despite the occasional urges t' throttle 'em to get 'em to shut their bratty, smart-alecky li'l mouths."

"There's that," Gollub conceded.

"Back in the day, when one would talk, the other would stand there wit' a look on his or her face that clearly said, 'What a jackass. I would never say such a t'ing,' and' then - sometime not a half damned hour later - they be sayin' almost the same exact damn t'ing."

"So there was no attraction between them?"

Del snorted. "One time, Ruth walk in on him when he was gettin' out o' the shower. They both naked. An' he looks at her - you know how he does - startin' wit' her feet. Just burnin' wit' desire until he get right here." The engineer gestured just below his chin. "Then when he finally put the right head on the body he droolin' over - fffzzt - Not'ing."

"Nothing?" Gollub repeated dubiously.

"Not'ing. Like a bucket o' ice water," DelMonde confirmed as he took another swig from the flask. "The two of 'em stood there, naked as a damned pair o' jaybirds, an' argue fo' 'bout twenty minutes 'bout which one of 'em was the biggest jackass."


"Now that a relationship so unlikely that I would have to see it to believe it. Preferably from a distance... a very great distance," Del said, then added. "Not that I enjoy seein' any of her relationships close up."

Daffy felt a brief stab of sympathy for him - although she still felt he needed to wake up to a little thing called reality and move on with his life.

She always liked Del better when he was drinking. Since the Clave had been hip-deep in lost-souled bad boys, she'd not given him a second glance at first. However when she found that the right amount of alcohol burned away the arrogant misanthropy to reveal a funny, sensitive guy who wrote poetry and wickedly cynical lyrics about all their mutual friends, she'd been so surprised that she had slept with him. Well, the second time. The first time they'd slept together had merely been an unexpectedly combustible combination of inebriation and proximity. In the sex-soaked atmosphere of the Clave, such encounters were no more significant than a professional courtesy would be in another context.

A slow smile began to pull at the corners of Del's mouth. "What you up to, girlie?"

And then, of course, there was his annoying ability to always know the exact second when he started to turn you on... The bad thing about chemistry, Daffy reflected, was that it seldom had a convenient "off" switch.

"Ol' T-Paul make you suspicious," Del speculated teasingly, "so you figurin' on makin' him jealous?"

"Jealous?" Daffy snorted as she rose. "To you I come when I'm looking to make him homicidal."

"Happy to oblige in either case," he toasted her cheerfully as she moved swiftly and prudently away.

~ FINI ~

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