The Other Side of Paradise
 Kay Copeland

 This is an FK-Star Trek X-over.  All FK characters belong to
 Columbia/Tri-Star,, and ST folks and assorted androids to
 Paramount.  No infringements intended on copyrights, etc.  I've
 tried to treat them well, show them in a good light, and give them
 hope for the future.
 SPOILER:  LK happened for me (sorry) and is included as the basis
 of the characters' memories here, so, if you haven't seen it or are in
 denial, don't read!  I'll understand. :)
 Comments, virtual tribbles, etc., to
         "The Other Side of Paradise" (Part 01/10)
         by  Kay Copeland
         (c) 1997

The report cycled through Starfleet Ambassador de
Brabant's computer as a routine matter and, if he had not been
particularly bored that evening and restless, he might easily have
missed it.

Ambassador de Brabant, Nicholas, or even 'Nick' to his few
friends and to his beloved wife, Dr. Natalie Lambert-de Brabant,
took the responsibilities of his position seriously, as he had taken
the duties of every post he had held for over eleven-hundred years.
There had been times when he had drifted, spent decades wandering
the Earth, alone, or with his vampire master, LaCroix, but all that
had ended after the six years he had worked as a homicide detective
with the Toronto Metro Police Department during the last decade
of the twentieth century.

He had met Natalie at the start of that time and he knew the
moment he saw her that his life, whether it be as a vampire or,
hopefully, one day, as a mortal, would never be the same again.
His struggle to overcome, as Natalie had called them, 'his vampiric
tendencies,' had continued under her solicitous medical and
personal care, until the evening that, in one last desperate moment,
Nick had succumbed to the lure of Natalie's essence, drinking so
deeply of her blood that he had been forced to bring her over into
his world, or lose her forever.

The decision had had to be made quickly and, as usual in
such matters, he had let LaCroix influence him.

Now, almost four hundred years later, Ambassador de
Brabant still lived daily with the guilt of the events of that night.
He felt it every time he looked at Natalie, as he watched her feed,
or saw her eyes turn golden-hued as he held her against him in
moments of passion.  She assured him that she did not regret the
path that had been chosen for her then and lived that assurance by
continuing her medical research into a cure, now for both of them,
even as she had adapted with remarkable alacrity to her new 'life' of

Years had passed into decades, then centuries and, yet,
Nicholas and Natalie de Brabant were still together, inseparable in
their love for one another and in their quest to regain their
mortality.  Nick had used the vast resources of the de Brabant
Foundation to set up a state-of-the-art medical laboratory for
Natalie to pursue her work.  She had adapted food synthesizer
technology to create both liquid and solid protein supplements for
herself and her husband, so that they were no longer dependent
upon human, or even bovine, blood for sustenance and
nourishment.  Technology had yet to be invented, however, which
would allow them to go back into the light of Earth's sun or to
eliminate the beast which lived under tight control within each of

When space flight became a common occurrence, they had
tried relocating to another planet, one that was class-M but which
had the properties inherent to a different solar system, specifically a
sun which was larger but at a much greater distance than Earth's
Sol and a hydrogen-oxygen atmosphere which was on the edge for
sustaining human life.

The effort had been wasted.  That sun had still scorched
them and, if anything, the mixture of gasses in the air had caused
their hunger for human blood to burn even more intensely.  And so
they had returned to Earth, assuming different names, always
considering the possibility of long-term travel, in the welcoming
darkness of space, with the chance that they might never find a
planet they could call home.

In the year 2364, after returning to the name 'de Brabant,'
Nick had exerted his considerable influence and political
connections to secure a post with the United Federation of Planets
as a Special Ambassador on Interplanetary Relations.  Based at
Starfleet Headquarters in San Francisco, he worked, as he always
had, only at night.  Natalie had returned to her lab and life, as the
poets say, went on.

Now, two years later, when the Report on Upcoming
Missions crossed his desk late on a warm summer's night, however,
Nick shook off his reverie and devoted his complete attention to
reading the files of the upcoming travels of the U.S.S. Enterprise
1701-D, under the command of Captain Jean-Luc Picard.  The
Enterprise, a legendary name in the annals of Starfleet history, had
continued to live up to its reputation, successfully completing
numerous missions into deep space, establishing valuable contacts
and conducting delicate negotiations with cultures in various
sectors of the quadrant.

Their next mission seemed, if anything, routine, but one part
of the briefing statement caught Nick's eye and piqued his interest.
It read:  'The Enterprise shall escort the above-listed Federation
medical team to quarantined planet Omicron Ceti III, location of
former Federation agricultural colony, Project Name: Paradise, and
assist Drs. Roman and Kramer in their controlled study of the
effects of the spores of the Quali-plant on human physiology and
healing.  The effects of these spores were first discovered and
reported by the crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise 1701, commanded by
Captain James T. Kirk, and resulted in the evacuation of the
outpost and the relocation of its colonists.'

Curious, Nick tapped his pen on his desktop as he
considered the report.  '...the effects of the spores of the Quali-plant
on human physiology and healing'?  What could those effects be, he
wondered and, crucial to him and to Natalie, might they contain an
answer to a millennium-old prayer?

"Computer, access files on planet Omicron Ceti Three."

"Accessing," a soft, female voice complied.

"Visual display," Nick commanded.

Moments later, Nick had his first answer and at least a
dozen more questions.  And, more important, hope.  His eyes
tinged yellow with excitement, he placed a call to Natalie at her lab.

*con't in part 2*Comments to*

       "The Other Side of Paradise" (Part 02/10)
       by Kay Copeland
       *See disclaimers, etc., in Part 01*

When Natalie's face first appeared on the screen, still
smooth and unlined even after almost four hundred years, Nick felt
a stab of desire pierce his heart and soul.  Would he never stop
loving this woman, he wondered, and yet he knew that that could
happen only in the moment after Death had finally claimed him.
And, if the soul truly was the only immortal part of man, then not
even then.

"Not that I'm not always happy to hear from you, my love,
but I'm, um, a little _busy_ here right now."  Natalie faced her com-
screen wearing medical scrubs and protective gloves that were both
covered with a disgusting layer of green slime.  Behind her, in
several large open tanks of water, floated more of the green stuff,
and an assistant hurried about, adjusting lights and checking temp

"Nat, what is all that?"  Nick winced at the sight, imagining
that he could smell the distinct odor of rancid sea-water coming
through the com-link.

"Phytoplankton," Natalie answered distractedly, wiping her
elbows on her scrubs as more of the sea-plant residue dripped onto
the floor.  "Rich in protein and source of food for most of the small
creatures of the I figured I'd take a few months to study it
for myself...never could hurt to have a little something to
supplement our own diet, you know?"

Nick grinned.  "You can study it till Doomsday if you like,
but you're not getting me to feed on _that_!"

"Yeah, well, we'll see, won't we?  Did you call for a reason
or do you just enjoy the idea of me walking around in shoes that
go 'squish'?"

Nick's grin widened.  "A reason.  I've found something
interesting that I want you to see.  Can you knock off early tonight?
I can transfer the files and meet you at home in an hour."

Natalie raised one eyebrow in surprise.  "Is it that

"It could be."

"Okay, Nick.  See you in an hour.  It'll take me that long to
dry out, anyway!"

Nick logged off his link to the lab, then downloaded the
mission reports to their home computer and left his office.

When his lady arrived at their penthouse overlooking San
Francisco Bay, Nick was already there, accessing the transferred
files and related reports from Starfleet archives.  A crystal decanter
filled with a red liquid from their special reserve sat on the table
next to him, along with two crystal goblets.

Natalie dropped her research notes in a nearby chair and
joined him.  They had greeted each other with a kiss every day since
the night that had changed their lives, and today was no exception.
Often, those kisses had led to hours of more heated contact and, as
much as Nick would have liked for that to be the case again
tonight, what he had to show her was too important to wait.

He pulled away and poured her a drink, handing it to her
silently.  Natalie settled back into the soft cushions of the sofa,

"Hmm...the good stuff.  What's the occasion?"

"Here," Nick gestured toward the report that appeared on
the screen in response to a series of tapped keys.  "Read this and
give me your opinion.  Your professional opinion."

Natalie sat forward and studied the screen.  "Chief Medical
Officer's log," she murmured, "Stardate 3417.9.  That was a long
time ago..."  She glanced at the top of the screen and then over at
her husband, confused.  "Dr. Leonard McCoy?"

"We met him once, remember?  A few years ago, at that
dreadful Starfleet party with the Vulcan contingent?"

"Of course," Natalie nodded.  "The elderly man with the
Southern accent.  He was drinking a mint julip.  Quaint."

"This is his report after his ship, the very first 'Enterprise',
was sent to rescue any surviving settlers at a Federation agricultural
colony.  Look at what he wrote."

Natalie read the report silently, scrolling backward at one
point, then going on.  When she was finished, she sat back and
sipped her drink, shaking her head in amazement.

"That is incredible.  Plant spores that heal human disease
and injuries with no trace that they ever existed, and leave the
person affected in a constant state of euphoric lethargy.  No
wonder Dr. McCoy recommended that Omicron Ceti Three be
placed in quarantine."

"Until now," Nick responded by tapping another set of keys,
bringing up the future mission summaries.  "The current
'Enterprise,' under Jean-Luc Picard, is going back to the planet, for
further studies of the Quali-plant.  And, Nat, I think we ought to go
with them."

"Us?  Why?"

"Think about it, Nat.  If these spores can really heal people
of all disease, damage or abnormalities they've ever sustained, then
why couldn't it work for us, too?"

Nat sat forward and placed her empty glass on the console
next to the computer.  Her eyebrows drew together as she
considered the possibility.  "You mean, destroy the vampire
mutation?  And return us to what we were...before?  Well, yes, if
McCoy's report is accurate, I suppose...oh, Nick, no, this would be
too ironic!  Centuries of research for nothing and we find a cure by
being sprayed by some sort of alien 'pollen'?"  She laughed.  "Do
you really think it could be that easy?"

"You always say, 'don't give up hope.'  Well, I've done as
you asked and now, this seems like it might be our answer."  Nick
moved closer and gathered Natalie in his arms.  "Consider what it
could mean for us, my love.  A life in the sun again.  Freedom.  No
hunger, no beast to control.  We could grow old together, as we've
always wanted to, as we were meant to."

Natalie rested her head against her husband, her chestnut
curls falling in a riot across his broad chest.  Her voice was barely
audible, even to Nick, when she whispered, "Children..."

"Yes," Nick smiled and dropped a kiss on the top of her
head.  "Yes, my love.  Children."

"But, Nick, how are we going to arrange to be on board the
Enterprise?  We have no reason to be there."

Nick turned her in his arms.  She looked at him with
worried eyes.

"Nat, I'm an ambassador, remember?  I don't even think that
it'll be necessary for me to use my powers to convince Admiral
Hyde that we should go along on this mission, but I will if I have

*con't in part 3*Comments to*

       "The Other Side of Paradise" (Part 03/10)
       by Kay Copeland
       *See disclaimers, etc., in part 01*

Admiral Hyde proved easy enough to persuade and
Ambassador and Dr. de Brabant were added to the roster of
Starfleet personnel scheduled for transport to Omicron Ceti III.
When the Enterprise dropped into standard orbit around Earth one
week later, the revised passenger list and mission updates were
transmitted to Captain Jean-Luc Picard, as he sat in his Ready
Room, absorbed in studying the dossiers of several new crew
members who were also coming on board that day.

Picard frowned as he scanned the names of the Starfleet
doctors scheduled to be their 'guests' for the Enterprise's next
journey.  He recognized the names Roman and Kramer
immediately.  Both were well known for their research and studies
in the field of the homeopathic medicine of alien cultures.  Their
inclusion in the mission to the quarantined planet was no surprise,
but the other two passengers on the updated list puzzled him.

De Brabant.  He knew that name well.  He had met the
Ambassador and his wife at a Starfleet function the previous year
and had found them to be interesting, if somewhat mysterious.  But
for what reason, Picard wondered, were they being included in the
research party?  Ambassador de Brabant was a specialist in
interplanetary relations and Picard's initial briefing had clearly stated
that Omicron Ceti III had no indigenous lifeforms for him to 'relate'

"Picard to Riker," the Captain spoke absent-mindedly.

"Riker here."

"Sorry to disturb your time off, Number One, but I need
your input.  I'm in my Ready Room.  And bring Mr. Data with

"Be right there, sir."

Riker and Lt. Commander Data arrived in moments.  Riker
wore a martial arts uniform and Picard could only assume that he
had interrupted his first officer in the midst of his daily exercise
routine.  Data, as usual, was in uniform.  They entered the Captain's
Ready Room as Picard rose from his desk.  He waved them to
chairs and seated himself again.

"I've been studying the roster of guests that we will be
escorting to Omicron Ceti Three and it seems the list has just
recently been expanded to include Ambassador Nicholas de Brabant
and his wife, Dr. Natalie Lambert-de Brabant.  Are those names
familiar to you, gentlemen?"

Riker furrowed his brow momentarily in thought.  "I've
heard of the Ambassador, of course, from his work with the cave
dwellers of Legania Seven, but we've never met.  I don't recall any
mention of his history before he joined Starfleet two years ago."

"Mr. Data?"

The Enterprise's only android officer turned yellow eyes
toward Picard and nodded.  "I have studied their dossiers, sir.
Information on the Ambassador and his wife is somewhat..." Data
hesitated "...sparse.  The most unusual detail is that they both suffer
from phototropia but apparently have refused all treatment for what
is now an easily curable condition."

"Phototropic?"  Picard raised an eyebrow in surprise.
"Allergic to sunlight?  How strange.  Well, there is little danger to
them here on the Enterprise, of course, but I'll expect you, Number
One, to see to any special needs they might have upon their arrival."

"Of course," Riker nodded.

"I'm curious as to why they are being included on this
expedition," Picard continued.  "Since there was no sign of native
life of any kind on Omicron Ceti Three, what could be the
Ambassador's purpose there?"

"Perhaps it is Dr. Lambert-de Brabant's medical
background, sir," Data suggested.  "I do not know her field of
expertise, but I can research the matter further, if you would like."

"Please do, Mr. Data.  You know how I hate to be
uninformed, especially when it comes to our guests.  Have a full
report ready for me before the Ambassador and the doctor come on
board tomorrow evening."

"Yes, sir."


Nick and Natalie materialized in the Enterprise's main
transporter room at promptly twenty-two hundred hours the
following day.  Their luggage had arrived moments before and had
already been delivered to the quarters reserved for them.

Picard and Riker waited until re-materialization was
complete before Picard stepped forward to greet them, extending
his hand.  "Ambassador de Brabant.  Dr. Lambert-de Brabant.
Welcome to the Enterprise.  May I introduce my first officer,
Commander Riker?"

De Brabant's handshake was firm but Picard took note of
the coolness of his skin and the pallor of his complexion.  His wife,
a lovely woman with long, wavy chestnut hair and clear blue eyes,
was equally pale.  Of course, that was to be expected, with the
condition of phototropia, but Picard could imagine few fates worse
than never being able to enjoy the warm caress of a noon-day sun.

"Thank you, Captain, Commander Riker.  Your ship is
legendary.  We look forward to seeing more of her on the journey
to Omicron Ceti Three."  Nick took Natalie's hand and tucked it
safely inside the crook of his elbow.  "We should like to retire to
our quarters for a bit, however.  My wife is...a bit uncomfortable
with space travel and requires rest."

"Certainly," Picard nodded.  "We will be honored to escort
you ourselves.  Commander Riker has ordered that your quarters be
shut off from all possible exposure to sunlight, as you requested.  If
there is anything else you need, please let him know."

Natalie and Nick followed Picard and Riker to a nearby
turbolift, which deposited them seconds later on the deck
containing quarters that were reserved for VIP visitors to the
Enterprise.  There was little conversation as they made their way to
the Ambassador's suite.  Picard remarked briefly on the upcoming
mission and received only a perfunctory reply from de Brabant.  His
wife, on the other hand, glanced at Picard significantly but averted
her eyes when he met her gaze, seeming fascinated by the deck of
the ship beneath her feet.

'She seems nervous...' Picard thought, in contrast to her
husband, who kept his hand firmly over his wife's and whose
countenance was steady and inscrutable.  ' if she's thinking
that they have no business here.'

The Ambassador's quarters were spacious and well-
appointed.  Picard and Riker left Ambassador and Dr. de Brabant to
their rest and headed back to the turbolift which would take them
to their own quarters.

"Your opinion, Number One," Picard stated without
preamble, as the lift's doors whooshed closed.

Riker looked thoughtful, then grinned.  "A bit skittish, sir.
The doctor, I mean.  As for the Ambassador...well, he's a man I
wouldn't want to get on the bad side of."

"My thoughts exactly, Will.  I wonder what in the world
those two are up to?"

*con't in part 4*Comments to*

       "The Other Side of Paradise" (Part 04/10)
       by Kay Copeland
       *See disclaimers, etc., in part 01*

"Tell me again why we're here."  Natalie finally relaxed in
Nick's arms.  They were on a comfortable sofa set near the only
unshielded window in their suite, with a magnificent view of the
Earth as it rotated almost imperceptibly beneath them.  Natalie had
entered her special programs into the food processor and she now
sipped at a glass of protein supplement.

"Because it's a chance."

"Sometimes I think we've had more than our share."
Natalie set her glass down and turned to rest her hands flat against
Nick's chest.  "What happens if something goes wrong?  What
happens if they discover what we are or if the spores don't cure

"Then we'll be no worse off than we are right now."  Nick
relaxed finally, too, and allowed himself an indulgent smile as he
pressed a gentle kiss to his lady's forehead.  "If they find out about
us, we'll make them forget.  We've both had lots of practice doing
that, you know.  And, if the spores prove to be less than we hope,
at least we won't live with the regret of never having tried them."


Lt. Commander Data worked through the night at the Ops
station on the bridge.  As an android, he required very little
'downtime' and, thus, had the luxury of doing research and study
while his friends and fellow shipmates were lost to the oblivion of
sleep.  His long, agile fingers danced over the computer console
lightly as he searched.

Data had prepared his report on Ambassador de Brabant
and his wife prior to their coming on board the Enterprise, as
Captain Picard had requested.  The briefing had contained every
snippet of information that he felt could be in any way relevant to
their mission which, in Data's translation, meant every bit of
information he could 'lay his hands on.'  The Captain often chided
him for being too literal and, as Commander Riker once put it,
'long-winded,' but, if Data had a middle name, which, of course, he
did not, it would be 'thorough.'

Still, even though he had fulfilled the Captain's request,
questions had arisen for which he could find no readily available
answers.  They had not appeared significant so he had not included
them in the information he provided Picard, but they were puzzling.
Data's preliminary inquiries had turned up little about the
Ambassador or his wife that was not already known.  However,
there was definitely something strange about the recorded histories
of Nicholas and Natalie de Brabant.

And, so Data continued working far into the night, probing
not only the extensive Starfleet database, but also delving into every
database in the known galaxy that he could access from the
Enterprise.  By morning, an hour before his duty shift would
officially begin, Data decided to pay an unannounced visit to the
Ambassador and his wife.


The chiming at the door to their suite startled Nick.  He had
risen early for both meditation and nourishment, despite the fact
that he and Natalie had made love long into the night, holding to
each other with a desperation born of the uncertainty they now
faced.  Once underway, their journey would take only a bit more
than a day.  After that, their lives might well be changed forever.
Mortality, an endless continuation of the existence they now called
life, or even death might await them on Omicron Ceti III.

The chiming sounded again and Nick rose from his chair.
He would dismiss whoever dared to disturb them so early, and
quickly, before they roused Natalie, who still slept in the next room,
not yet missing her husband's body fitted possessively against her

Nick belted his robe securely about him and passed his hand
over the sensor panel.  "Come," he ordered.

The doors slid open silently to admit a man with a
complexion as pale as Nick's, with golden eyes and a look of
perpetual eagerness on his face.  Nick sensed no heartbeat or
essence from the visitor and felt only a sound, much like the
humming of a machine.

The android named Data.  It could be no other.  Nick had
read of him, of course, but had forgotten that his current
assignment was the Enterprise.

"I hope I am not calling too early, Mr. Ambassador?"

"Lt. Commander Data, I presume?"

"Yes, sir.  I have been doing research for Captain Picard in
preparation for our mission and have come across some ...
'irregularities' which I am hoping that you might ..." Data tilted his
head to one side in thought, then continued, "...clean up for me?"

Nick frowned in confusion, then made the mental translation
and nodded.  "I think you mean 'clear up for you,' Mr. Data?"

Data's eyes widened.  "Of course.  Clear up for me.  May I
come in?"

Nick hesitated, then stepped aside and motioned Data into
the room.  As the android passed him, a plan began to formulate in
Nick's mind.

"You say 'irregularities,' Mr. Data.  Of what sort?"

"In your personal histories, sir.  I have done extensive
background checks on both you and your wife and there are several
points that, quite simply, do not correlate."

Nick frowned, crossed his arms and faced Data squarely.
"Is it customary to research the lives of all visitors on board the
Enterprise?  If that is a Starfleet policy, then it's one that I'm not
aware of."

"I am sorry, Mr. Ambassador.  I do not mean to be
intrusive.  I merely had questions for which I had no answers and I
had hoped that you could enlighten me."

"You _are_ being intrusive, but I'll play along.  What kind
of questions?"  Nick's mind raced as he called to memory the details
of his and Natalie's current 'incarnation.'  Their personal records
were complete and unquestionable.  Aristotle had seen to that and
he had never failed one of their kind yet.  Nick's background had
passed a thorough inspection by Starfleet before he had received his
current appointment.  And, yet, Data must have found
_something_, or he wouldn't be here now.

"Your Starfleet dossier states that you attended the
Sorbonne, and that you were graduated from that institution
fourteen years ago at the age of twenty-three, with an advanced
degree in the Political Theory of Interplanetary Relations."  Data
stopped abruptly.  "However, when I cross-referenced the name
'Lambert' with yours, I found that a man by the name of Nicholas
Lambert spent four-point-three years on the continent of Australia
during that same time, negotiating a truce between the two
opposing factions of the Outback Reclamation Organization
stationed there.  A photo of Nicholas Lambert contained in the
report shows that he is...well, sir, it is an exact likeness of you at, I
would estimate, the same age you are now.  Of course, it is possible
that the records of the O.R.O. could be inaccurate.  Can you verify
any of this information, Mr. Ambassador?"

Nick frowned again.  Data's information on the Sorbonnne
was the cover he was currently using, so there was no reason not to
stick to that story and dismiss any discrepancies as mere
coincidence, but Nick's instinct warned him to proceed with
caution, and not discard lightly what could be an opportunity for
some much-needed aid in their current situation.  He turned away
and picked up his glass, stalling for time.  Taking a sip, he stared
out the window at the Earth below.

"What if I were to tell you, Mr. Data, that I was never a
student at the Sorbonne and that the details of my life, as supplied
to Starfleet, are nothing but a hoax?"

*con't in part 5*Comments to*

      "The Other Side of Paradise" (Part 05/10)
       by Kay Copeland
       *see disclaimers, etc., in part 01*

"Nick!"  Natalie stood in the doorway to the bedroom, her
eyes wide with fright.  She had opened the door just in time to hear
the last of what he'd just said.  Nick and Data turned at the sound of
her voice.

"Come, join us," Nick held out his hand to her.  "Mr. Data
and I are having a most interesting conversation and you should be

Natalie crossed the room and grabbed Nick's arm, pulling
him to one side.  "Have you gone crazy?"  She cast a desperate
glance at Data, who was watching the pair with a totally guileless
expression.  "What do you think you're doing?"

"Nat, I think..." Nick turned her back toward Data and put
his arm around her shoulders, "...that I am trying to enlist a new
soldier in our own personal crusade."


Twenty minutes later, Nick had briefed Mr. Data on who
and _what_ he and Natalie really were.  Clearly uncomfortable with
trusting someone they didn't know, Natalie perched on the edge of
the sofa, her arms crossed in front of her defensively, as her
husband relayed to the Starfleet android highlights of his life since
being brought across in the year 1228 and some of what he and
Natalie had done together since he had been forced to bring her
across, as well, or lose her.  Nick also told Data that it had long
been both his and his wife's desire to become human again and that
both he and Natalie had grown 'tired' of immortality.

Data sat across from them, totally attentive, his positronic
brain recording every word of the conversation, processing and
storing it for later evaluation.

"So, Mr. Data, do you believe what I have been telling you?
Or, do you think that I am deluded and have been spinning some
sort of fairy tale?"

Data looked genuinely surprised.  "The idea that you are
making untrue statements never occurred to me, Mr. Ambassador.
Are you?"

Nick looked over at Natalie and laughed.  "No.  Every word
you've just heard is the truth."  He sobered.  "I've decided to
confide in you because I believe we will need your help if we are to
succeed in our quest on Omicron Ceti Three."

"My help, sir?"

"Yes.  We will, of course, need to go down to the planet
after its sun sets.  You see, we aren't merely 'allergic' to sunlight.
More than a moment's exposure to it would be fatal to us.  And, if
the reports that my wife and I have read on the Quali-plant's spores
are accurate, we will need someone to...'bring us out' of the passive,
lethargic state that they may leave us in.  You see, Mr. Data,
although it has long been our most fervent wish to become mortal
again, it would be unacceptable for us to live our lives as humans
with no purpose and no meaning."

Nick fell silent and glanced over at Natalie, who returned
his look uncertainly.  He could see the reservations that she had
about entrusting their secret to Data but he knew that the difference
between success and failure might hinge upon having someone on
board who knew the whole story, or at least as much as he needed
to know.

"So, I ask you again, Mr. Data.  Do you believe what I have
told you?  And, will you help us?"

Data's golden eyes seemed to fairly glow with the
knowledge he had just gained and with anticipation for the part he
might play in Nick and Natalie's search for humanity.

"Your stories are remarkable ones, Mr. Ambassador,
Doctor, and I would sincerely enjoy hearing more details of the
lives you have lived.  Tell me, may I chronicle your histories for

Nick frowned.  This was not something he had counted on.

"I will gladly give you more information, Mr. Data, and
satisfy your every curiosity, after our visit to the planet is complete
and, I hope, successful.  But, I'm afraid that your recording and
sharing our story with others is out of the question.  After we
regain our mortality, we do wish to go on living, at least for a little

Data considered a moment, then asked in all innocence:
"Do you mean that there are those who might object to my having
empirical evidence of the existence of vampires?"

Natalie laughed and buried her face in her hands.   Still
smiling, she looked up a few seconds later to find a puzzled Nick
staring at her.

"Well, you've got to admit, it's funny.  He just described to a
'T' what the Enforcers are all about."  Natalie turned her attention
to Data.  "There are those in the Community who would not only
'object' to your having and sharing such evidence, Mr. Data, they
will kill to prevent it from becoming common knowledge.  Or

"Kill me, Doctor?  Frankly, that is not possible, as I, too, am
not human."

Natalie waved one hand in the air in dismissal.  "Whatever.
They will find a way to silence you and destroy anything you have
put into a computer, on paper, or in any other form.  If they have
to, they will kidnap you, dismantle you, and sell your parts for
scrap.  We have seen their work and, believe me, they are very

Data looked at her pensively a few seconds, then nodded.
"I understand, Doctor.  Then I shall say nothing of the matter to
anyone unless, of course, in carrying out your quest, there shall
arise some danger either to the Enterprise or those aboard her.
That does include, I must add, yourselves."

"We will deal with our own safety, Mr. Data," Nick rose.
"We have done so for centuries and I believe we can manage now."

Data stood, too.  "I will endeavor to be of assistance, sir.  If
you will excuse me, I am due on the bridge in three-point-seven
minutes and will need to leave now to avoid being late."  He turned
and strode to the door, then stopped and turned back.  "Becoming
human is a worthy objective, Mr. Ambassador, and one that I have
long sought for myself, as well.  I will do all I can to aid you in
achieving it."

The doors to their cabin whooshed open and Data left.
Nick sat down again and gathered Natalie close in his arms.  He felt
her trembling.

"Trusting Data is either the smartest thing I've ever done,"
Nick spoke softly, "or the stupidest."


Natalie arranged to meet with Dr. Roman and Dr. Kramer
later that day, after they and their staffs had come on board and the
Enterprise was underway to Omicron Ceti III.  She helped them
sort through their equipment and supplies, working with Dr.
Beverly Crusher.  Natalie found Dr. Crusher to be warm,
personable and, to her great relief, not overly inquisitive as to
exactly the part that she and Nick were playing in their current

Natalie was still uneasy about entrusting Data with their
secrets so, as they packed cases of specimen storage units for
transport to the planet's surface, she asked Dr. Crusher about the
Enterprise's android officer.

"Data?"  Beverly looked up, surprised.  "I didn't know you'd
met him.  He's something, isn't he?"

"To say the least.  I've heard of him, but I never thought I'd
actually...well..." Natalie trailed off.  "If I didn't know better, I'd
swear he was a human being...just a very formal one!"

Beverly laughed and snapped another case closed, then
started a check on the power source to the contamination seal
packaging.  "You're probably thinking about his speech and the fact
that he doesn't use contractions.  Actually, he _can't_ use them.  His
creator, Dr. Noonien Soong, didn't include them in Data's vocabulary.
Other than that, he's a walking dictionary!"  She laughed, then turned
thoughtful and sighed.  "I only wish that when Dr. Soong built Lore,
he wouldn't have put emotional responses into his programming.
Then, Lore and Data might have been exact replicas.  Starfleet could
have used both of them."

"Lore?"  Natalie looked puzzled.  "You mean, there's two of

"There was," Beverly nodded.  "A couple of months ago,
we returned to Omicron Theta, where Data and Lore were built.
We discovered several earlier models of Data stored there, but
only one of them was functional and that was Lore.  Unfortunately,
he was all too functional and he had to be..." she hesitated, "...he
had to be 'sent away.'"

"Sent away?  So, you mean that the Federation has him and
they're studying him?"

"No."  Beverly looked uncomfortable.  "Lore tried to take
over the Enterprise so Jean-Luc had to...well, he had Lore beamed
out into open space.  We don't know if he survived.  I, for one,
hope he didn't."

"An _android_ tried to take over this ship?"  Natalie stared
at Beverly in disbelief.  "Why?  How?"

"Lore had emotions, which Data doesn't have.  Only
Lore's emotions were entirely selfish and purely evil ones.  I doubt
that Dr. Soong designed it that way.  It was probably an accident,
but it was one that almost cost all of us on board our freedoms and
our lives."

Natalie felt a chill run through her at the ominous tone of
the doctor's words.  She had never learned to be as good as Nick at
controlling her fears and what she'd heard so far about androids
wasn't exactly what she'd call _reassuring._   "So, could Data
become like that, too?  I mean, could he turn on humans?"

"No, never," Beverly shook her head adamantly.  "It's funny
to say it, but Data has 'a sense of honor,' I guess you'd call it.  We
know he'd never harm any of us for any reason.  In fact, Data's
dream in life, if androids can dream, is to go from just looking like a
human being to actually becoming one."

"I know the feeling," Natalie murmured.

"I'm sorry, what was that?"  Beverly looked at her oddly.

Natalie smiled half-heartedly and shook her head.

*con't in part 6*Comments to*

       "The Other Side of Paradise" (Part 06/10)
       by Kay Copeland
       *See disclaimers, etc., in part 01*

Nick spent the evening in conference with Data, discussing
strategy.  Nick had politely declined dinner with Captain Picard,
saying that he and Natalie would be happy to join him on another

Nick sincerely hoped that would prove true.  In a day,
perhaps two, he and his beloved could be mortal again.  The
possibility both thrilled and frightened him.  He longed to feel the
warm, soothing rays of the sun and feel the beast die within him,
even as he feared the mortal inevitability of aging and a natural
death.  He also knew that, at his first opportunity, he would go to
confession and tell the priest that he had killed, on more than one
occasion and, what was worse, that he had reveled in his crimes.
He was prepared to do whatever penance the priest doled out to
him, if only he could do it as a mortal.

"We will attain orbit around Omicron Ceti Three in
approximately twelve hours, twenty-nine minutes, fourteen
seconds," Data informed him.  "Dr. Roman and Dr. Kramer and
their assistants will beam down immediately to begin their study of
the Quali-plant and its spores.  Of course, you and Dr. Lambert-
deBrabant cannot beam down until sunset, approximately fourteen
hours later."

"Damn!"  Nick rose and paced the living area of the cabin.
He stopped suddenly and faced Data, who was looking at him,
puzzled.  "Sorry, Mr. Data.  But I'm afraid that not even twelve
centuries of existence has granted me the virtue of patience."

"I understand, sir.  If I were to be told that I might become
human but that I had to wait, I would be frustrated, too."  Data
cocked his head to one side suddenly as he considered his last
statement.  "At least, I think I would."

Nick laughed.  "Be careful what you wish for, Mr. Data.
You just might get it."


Counselor Deanna Troi pushed aside her half-eaten plate of
food and reached absent-mindedly for her glass of wine, apparently
lost in thought.  From the head of the table, Captain Picard watched
her covertly.  Dinner with the Starfleet medical team had been a
routine matter but Deanna had been unable to sustain her part of
the conversation for more than a few seconds without lapsing into
what Picard could only call introspection.  She was sensing
something amiss, that much he knew already.  As soon as he could
politely end tonight's festivities, Picard intended to find out what
was wrong.

Dr. Roman left first, followed closely by Dr. Kramer, along
with Riker, to make one final check on their supplies before they
reached their destination, where their work would finally begin.  Dr.
Crusher, too, saw Deanna's vague expression and started to speak,
only to fall silent again when Jean-Luc motioned to her and inclined
his head toward the door to the dining room.  She nodded in
understanding, stood and departed, leaving Picard alone with Troi.

"Counselor?"  Picard spoke quietly.  He waited but Troi
failed to respond.  She stared off, seeming to see beyond him,
perhaps even beyond the confines of the Enterprise.  The captain
rose from his chair and padded noiselessly to her side, laying one
hand gently on her shoulder.  "Deanna, are you all right?"

Troi started and turned her large dark eyes upward toward
Picard in surprise.  "I'm sorry, Captain."  She returned to herself
and looked quickly around at the now-deserted room.  "Where has
everyone gone?"

"Dinner is finished, Counselor, and the others have absented
themselves from our company.  Or, should I say, _my_ company?
You seem to have been gone yourself for quite some time.  Would
you care to tell me what is distracting you?"

Troi flushed as she placed her unused napkin beside her
plate.  "Forgive me, but there are such strange emotions on board
the ship right now.  I have never felt anything quite like them
before.  They began yesterday evening...and I am having some
difficulty dealing with them and understanding their source."

Picard sat down nearby and waited.  Now that he had
Deanna's attention, he knew that she would tell him everything that
was troubling best she could.  Even though she had served
under him for only a short time, he had come to know that Troi had
to reach her own conclusions before she spoke of the mental
impressions that constantly tested the telepathic capacity of her
Betazoid mind.

"These emotions..." she finally continued.  "I am feeling a
sense of evil,, two...that are submerged, under very tight
control.  The evil is old, one much more so than the other.  There
are also feelings of dread and fear, as well as hope and anticipation.
A strange combination, I know, and one that frightens me."

She fell silent.  Picard shifted in his chair and studied her.
Finally, he spoke.  "Does this _evil_ have a name, Counselor?  Does
it mean to harm us?"

Troi raised worried eyes to his and Picard could see on her
beautiful face signs of the mental confusion that raged within her.
"Harm us?  No.  This evil...I need to call it 'the Beast'...exists and it
_can_ kill without remorse or regret.  It has, I sense, done so many
times.  But it has been sublimated now by something else, a deeper,
more powerful spirit."  She shook her head in frustration, as if
trying to clear it.  "I can only call it...the human spirit.  The two
somehow co-exist...but they wish to do so no longer.  The human
spirit demands now that 'the Beast' must die."


"The beasts within us will die."  Nick held Natalie close in
bed and stroked her chestnut hair gently.  "We have not much
longer to wait, my love."

Natalie murmured in her sleep and snuggled closer to Nick.
He placed one arm possessively around her and pulled her the rest
of the way against him.  Would their nights spent thus soon be
numbered?  Would they eventually grow older and, one day, die,
perhaps one before the other?  He fervently hoped so.


The Enterprise assumed standard orbit around Omicron Ceti
III at oh-seven-hundred hours the following day.  The medical team
gathered in the transporter room with their equipment and supplies
immediately after breakfast.  Their purpose was two-fold:  to take
readings of the Bertholdt rays that bombarded the planet and had
killed all living creatures there not protected by the spores of the
Quali-plant and to recover as many specimens of the strange flora
as was safely possible for further study.  The members of the team
wore special reflective suits only recently designed by Starfleet
scientists in preparation for this mission, suits which could deflect a
portion of the deadly Bertholdt rays while, at the same time,
protecting the wearer from any unintentional contact with the
Quali-plant's spores.

Riker and a security detail accompanied the medical team to
the planet's surface.  Nick and Natalie, of course, did not.


Nick found himself pacing the floor of the VIP quarters
again, growing increasingly restless and anxious as the day wore
on.  Natalie had accepted Beverly Crusher's invitation to tour
Sickbay and had been gone for several hours.

He wished she would return.  Nick was hungry but he
couldn't decide whether to give in to it and feed or abstain, hoping
that, in a few short hours, he might be consuming real food again,
and enjoying it, for the first time in several hundred years.  He
finally relented and ordered the food processor to deliver a glass of
item number twelve, a protein shake which Natalie had developed
after over thirty years of experimentation.  It had been the first one
she'd come up with that both slaked their appetite and nourished
them, containing, as it did, certain components of human blood.
But Nick knew it wasn't the real thing and the beast within him
didn't like it.

What would it be like to feel the beast die?  What would it
be like to live day after day without it?  He had pondered these
questions before but now, now that he and Nat had a good chance
of succeeding in their quest, the answers seemed somehow to elude

The door chime broke into his thoughts.  Nick downed the
shake and set the glass back into the food processor receptacle
before answering.

"Come," he ordered.

Lt. Commander Data entered and the door slid closed
behind him.  He spoke without preamble.  "Have you contacted
Captain Picard, Mr. Ambassador?"

"Not yet.  We agreed to wait until the last possible moment
and my wife has not yet returned."

"We do not have much time, sir."

"I know, Mr. Data, I know."

The door opened again and Natalie strode in, stopping short
when she saw that Nick was not alone.  "Nick, I'm sorry.  I
completely lost track of the hour.  Is it time?  Are we going down?"

"The sun will set at the beam-down point in exactly twenty-
three minutes, fifteen seconds, Doctor.  If you are ready, I believe
that now would be an appropriate moment to talk with Captain

Nick nodded.  "Ambassador deBrabant to Captain Picard,"
he said a bit louder, triggering the computer's communication
system to locate Picard and put through the call.

"Picard here.  What can I do for you, Mr. Ambassador?"
Picard's disembodied voice filtered through the com-link.

"Would it be possible for you to come to my quarters,
Captain?  There is a rather urgent matter I need to discuss with
you."   Nick held tightly to Natalie's hand as they awaited his

"Is something wrong?  Do you need assistance?"

"Yes, but assistance that only you can give, Captain.  If it's
not too much of an inconvenience...?"

"I'll be there in a few moments.  Picard out."

Nick relaxed a bit and turned back to Data.  "If everything
goes well, we'll meet you in Transporter Room Three in twenty-five
minutes."  Data nodded and left.

"Nick, this is a big gamble."  Natalie tried unsuccessfully to
hide the fear in her voice.  "What if the Captain is a resister?"

"We've taken bigger gambles before."  Nick caught Natalie
in a fierce embrace.  "We have to have Picard's permission to beam
down to the planet.  I'll talk to him first.  If he balks, we'll have to
use whatever means necessary to 'persuade' him.  Are you ready,
my love?"

Natalie pulled away slightly and looked deeply into her
husband's blue eyes.  "I'm ready for whatever may come, as long as
you're by my side.  I told you that the night you brought me across
and I can't seem to stop repeating myself."

*con't in part 7*Comments to*

       "The Other Side of Paradise" (Part 07/10)
       by Kay Copeland
       *See disclaimers, etc., in part 01*

Captain Picard exited his Ready Room, where he had been
when he received the Ambassador's call.  The bridge was quiet,
almost ominously so.  The only senior officer present was
Counselor Troi, who sat in her usual chair next to the captain's.
She stared at the image of the planet as it rotated slowly below
them but Picard doubted if she was really seeing it.  He considered
requesting that she accompany him to the Ambassador's quarters,
then decided against the idea.  De Brabant had not asked for her
presence and Picard was, among all other things, a diplomat.  If the
Ambassador wished to see him alone, what harm could there be?

Still, as he took the turbo-lift to the appropriate deck, exited
and walked briskly down the corridor, Picard felt uneasy.  There
had been an odd tone in de Brabant's voice that worried him.

He passed his hand over the sensor panel to announce his
presence.  The door opened immediately and Picard saw both the
Ambassador and his wife waiting for him inside.

Picard stepped inside and the door closed behind him.  He
looked around quickly but nothing seemed amiss.  "What can I do
for you, Mr. Ambassador?"

"Captain, it is imperative that my wife and I beam down to
the planet's surface as soon as the sun sets.  We have...a private
matter to attend to."

Picard frowned.  The feeling that he should have brought
Counselor Troi with him intensified as he considered de Brabant's
strange request.  "Is this involved with the work of the Starfleet
scientific team?  If so, clearance from Dr. Roman would--"

"No," Nick spoke a little too sharply.  "It is a private matter,
as I said.  We wish to beam down with only Mr. Data to
accompany us.  He has agreed to help."

"Data?"  Picard was now thoroughly confused.  "I'm at
somewhat of a loss here, sir."

Nick turned and paced to the viewing portal while Natalie
waited, her body tensed.  Picard could tell that the Ambassador's
request was vital to the both of them but no one outside the
scientific team and an accompanying security detail had
authorization to go to Omicron Ceti Three.  Aside from the lethal
effects of extended exposure to the Bertholdt rays that constantly
bombarded the planet's surface, there were the spores of the Quali-
plant to be considered...

"That must be it," Picard spoke to himself, then looked up
to find that both the Ambassador and his wife had turned their total
attention to him, almost as if they had heard him.  He cleared his
throat and said in a normal voice, "I'm afraid that your request is
denied, Mr. Ambassador."

Nick returned to Natalie's side.  "May I ask why, Captain?"

"The risks are too great.  If I read this situation
correctly...and, please do advise me if I'm wrong...the two of you
wish to beam down in order to expose yourself to the spores of the
Quali-plant.  I surmise that you believe that they can cure the
phototropia that you both suffer from and, of course, you may be
right.  However, as I'm sure you must also realize, there are other
considerations, after-effects that--"

"We are aware of the possible complications, Captain,"
Natalie assured him.  "As a physician and a researcher, I have
studied Dr. Leonard McCoy's medical logs from the visit of the first
Enterprise, as well as Starfleet's subsequent follow-up reports on
the colonists evacuated and taken to Starbase 27 back in the year
2267.  We know what we're getting into here."

"I'm still afraid that I cannot allow it, Doctor."

Natalie turned to Nick, sighed, and gestured toward Picard.
The captain's brows lowered suspiciously as Nick nodded and
stepped forward.  Picard watched as the Ambassador approached
him and felt a rush of uncertainty rise up inside him.

"Captain Picard," Nick began, "listen closely to me."  Nick's
eyes locked on Picard and the captain heard a roaring sound, then
sensed a quickened, steady thumping in his ears.  The room faded
away and the Ambassador's blue eyes became the focus of his
world.   He heard de Brabant's voice coming from a great distance,
as if in a dream.

"It is perfectly all right for my wife and I to beam down to
Omicron Ceti Three at this time.  We will be safe from harm.  Mr.
Data will accompany us, by your order.  None of us will need to
wear protective suits and we will not be hindered or contacted
while we are on the planet surface.  Do you understand?"

"You will not be hindered," Picard repeated.  "But--"

"There is no danger, Captain.  You can trust me; there is no

"No danger," Picard agreed, his eyes never straying from

"Leave now and go immediately to your quarters.  You will
contact Transporter Room Three and authorize our beam down but
you will not speak to any other member of your crew while we are

"I will not speak..." Picard repeated, his voice fading away.
He turned and left.

Natalie let out the breath she'd been holding while Nick
'persuaded' the captain and grabbed for Nick's hand.  "Come, my
love.  It's time.  We have a date with mortality."

*con't in part 8*Comments to*

       "The Other Side of Paradise" (Part 08/10)
       by Kay Copeland
       *See disclaimers, etc., in part 01*

Nick, Natalie and Data beamed down to Omicron Ceti
Three without incident a few moments later.  The sun had just set
on what was obviously a beautiful, though deserted, planet.  No
insects, no birds and, certainly, no people.  The beam-down point
was near where the original colony had been located, though
decades of wind and rain had made the wooden buildings and
fences look tired and broken down.

Data had brought a tripod light in case they were still on the
surface when full darkness settled in.  They embarked at once in
search of a bed of the Quali-plants.  Nick and Natalie wanted to fly
but, in deference to Mr. Data, agreed to a brisk walk.  They
reached a stand of the plants in mere moments.

"They're very odd," Natalie spoke softly as they
approached them.  She rubbed her arms as if chilled.
"Beautiful...but somehow threatening."

Nick took her hand as they stepped closer, though they
were still out of range of the spores.   "Having second thoughts,
Nat?  Because, if you are, we don't have to do this just yet.  We
don't _have_ to do this at all."

Natalie laughed.  "If you come half-way across the galaxy,
Nick, having second thoughts is not a luxury that's allowed.  No, I
want this...if you do."

"You know I do," Nick grinned suddenly and kissed her.
"And, no matter how this turns out, I think we've done the right
thing to try.  You know...I'll always love you, Dr. Natalie Lambert."

"You took my breath away the day I found you on my
examining table, Nick, and you still do.  I'll always love you, too."
She paused, took a deep breath, and smiled.  "What are we waiting

Hand in hand, they walked toward the plants, which turned
a bit their direction at their approach.  Data stayed back, as they
had planned.  Even if he were to be sprayed by the spores, he knew
that they wouldn't affect him in any way, so he stood a dozen steps
to the side and waited.

Several of the plants rose, spreading their petals wide.  A
few seconds later, Nick and Natalie were covered in a shower of
the Quali-plant's spores.  They sank to their knees with a shudder.
A moment passed in silence; then, Data watched in surprise as the
pair of figures before him moaned in great pain, and collapsed to
the ground.


Nick awoke, strapped to a bio-bed in the Enterprise
Sickbay.  He felt dizzy, nauseated, both weak and strong at the
same time, and, for a reason he couldn't begin to comprehend,
strangely euphoric.  He lay still a moment, a part of him wanting to
understand the reason behind the sensations, but the better part of
him not really caring how he could feel so good and so bad

Natalie!  His thoughts went immediately to her and he
mentally felt along their telepathic bond for her presence, her
essence.  Nothing.  His eyes flew open and he looked wildly around
the room, seeing no other patients besides himself.  He struggled
against the restraints that held him down.

"Captain," Dr. Beverly Crusher's voice called from the
doorway.  "The Ambassador's awake."

Nick ceased his struggle and lay quietly.  His Natalie was
gone.  He could no longer feel her linked to him, the thread that had
bound them to one another for hundreds of years.   Great sadness
engulfed him and he experienced a despair deeper than any he'd
ever known.  The euphoria melted away.  Tears pooled in his eyes
and ran, unchecked, down his cheeks.  He heard footsteps approach
his bed but he didn't care who now stood beside him or what they
might do to him.

"Doctor?"  He heard Captain Picard's voice but Nick didn't
open his eyes.  If Natalie was gone, if he had somehow survived,
but she hadn't, he no longer had a reason to live.

*con't in part 9*Comments to* >>

       "The Other Side of Paradise" (Part 09/10)
       by Kay Copeland
       *See disclaimers, etc., in part 01*
       *Additional disclaimer:  sappiness have been

A familiar hand touched his cheek, gently wiping away his
tears.  "Wake up, my love," her soft voice whispered.

Nick refused to believe it.  His mind was playing tricks on
him again.  He cautiously opened first one eye, then the other.

A vision greeted him, perhaps the most beautiful vision he
had seen in his twelve-hundred years of existence.  Natalie, her eyes
shining with her love for him, her smile soft, her chestnut curls
tumbling around her face, which was once again pink-cheeked and
flushed warm with delight at seeing him.

"I think you can remove these now," she spoke to Dr.
Crusher, indicating the restraints.  "He won't be violent any longer."

Dr. Crusher came into his view.  She looked at him a few
seconds, judging him, then nodded and released him from his
bonds.  He sat up quickly and reached for Natalie, only to feel the
room spinning around him, as if he'd been dosed with curare.

He grabbed for the edge of the bio-bed for support and
Natalie's arm went around him, holding him steady.  She laughed.

"It'll pass, Nick.  It only lasted a couple of minutes for me.
But I think that Captain Picard has a few questions we'd better
answer right away or we could find ourselves in his brig!"

"If we're there together, I wouldn't care," Nick assured her.
He released his grip on the bed and reached up to caress her face.
He felt his heart began to beat more quickly when he touched her,
warm skin stroking warm skin.  That was the second he realized
that everything had changed.

"Nat?"  He looked at her in wonder.  "It worked, didn't it?"

"Don't you feel it, Nick?  Or, I should say, don't you feel
that _it's_ gone?"

"I...I don't know.  I felt sick when I woke up...but I was
really happy, too.  Then, I thought I'd lost you...and nothing
mattered to me but that.  Grief took over...but, now, here you
are...only I don't _feel_  you anymore...I'm confused."

Natalie laughed again.  "So was I.  When I first woke up, I
_felt_ for you, too, and when I couldn't find you, I started crying,
just as you did.  That must have been enough to counteract the
effects of the spores, or so Dr. Crusher tells me.  But, yes, Nick, it
worked.  It took more time for you to wake up, because you've
been..." Natalie hesitated and looked toward Captain Picard and Dr.
Crusher, both of whom were watching them curiously.  "...because
you've been 'phototropic' a lot longer than I have.  But it's gone
now.  We're both cured."

Nick grinned, that boyish, lop-sided grin that Natalie had
loved for four hundred years.  Then he kissed her and his kiss, for
the first time, was warm, but, as it had always been, filled with love
for her.

Captain Picard cleared his throat to get their attention and
stepped forward.  Nick and Natalie broke apart and turned to him.

"Mr. Ambassador, your wife has blatantly refused to
respond to any of my questions until you awoke.  Now, I should
like some answers and I should like them now!"

"Sure, Captain," Nick shrugged agreeably.  "Ask away."

Picard hesitated.  The Ambassador seemed a changed man,
cured of much more than a physical disease.  He seemed so much
more, well, _human_.

"How did the two of you get to the planet's surface?"

"We beamed down, of course.  After all, it's not like we can
fly!"  Nick looked over at Natalie innocently and saw that she was
struggling not to fall into a fit of hysterics.

"You did not have permission to beam down," Picard spoke

"But we did, Captain.  You, yourself, contacted the
crewman on duty in the transporter room and gave your
permission.  You ordered Mr. Data to accompany us.  Shortly after
you very considerately came to our quarters to discuss the matter.
Don't you remember?"

"I remember coming to your quarters, yes," Picard agreed.
"The rest is, I must admit, a bit...vague."

"Perhaps you're working too hard, Captain," Natalie
suggested.  "Have you had a vacation lately?"

Picard sighed and turned his eyes to the ceiling, searching
for patience and understanding.  He certainly wasn't going to get
either from the Ambassador and his wife.  It also didn't look like he
was going to get any real answers.

"So," Picard concluded.  "You, somehow, persuaded me to
permit you to beam down to Omicron Ceti Three, along with Mr.
Data, where you proceeded to find a bed of the Quali-plants and
deliberately expose yourself to its spores.  Mr. Data had you
beamed up again when you both lost consciousness and you were
brought here to Sickbay.  Now, you are both awake, feeling better
and, apparently, cured of your condition of phototropia, which, as I
believe, is the real reason for your being on this mission in the first
place.  Is that correct?"

Nick and Natalie looked at one another again, smiled, and
spoke in unison.  "Pretty much."

Picard hrrrmmphed and glanced over at Beverly for support.
She shrugged and smiled.  "Very well," Picard said.  "I have a ship
to run and I don't feel like playing Sherlock Holmes with the two of
you any longer.  A full report of this incident will be made to
Starfleet, Mr. Ambassador and..."  he trailed off.

"Yes, Captain?"

"...and I realize that I shall have some explaining to do, as
well."  Picard looked thoughtful a moment, then turned abruptly
and left Sickbay.  Dr. Crusher hurried after him and caught up with
him at the door.

"Jean-Luc?  Shall I release them...or...or what?"

Picard suddenly looked very tired.  "Yes, Beverly, please,
send them back to their quarters when you are satisfied with their
medical conditions.  I want to get this mission over with and
deposit both of them back on Earth as soon as possible.  In the
meantime..." he sighed heavily, "...if you need me, I'll be in
conference with Counselor Troi...trying to remember what has
happened to me tonight."

"And, what if you can't remember?"

"Then, I think I'll schedule myself for that vacation that Dr.
Lambert-de Brabant recommended.  I'm overdue for one, anyway."

*con't in part 10*Comments to*

       "The Other Side of Paradise" (Part 10/10)
       by Kay Copeland
       *See disclaimers, etc., in part 01*

Dr. Crusher released Nick and Natalie a hour later after
running a full med-scan on both of them and pronouncing them
totally and completely healthy.  She had remarked on the amazing
effects of the spores.  "Besides the phototropia, what other medical
problems have the two of you had?"

Nick had looked uncomfortable, because he hadn't had
anything even remotely resembling a 'medical problem' that Dr.
Crusher would understand in well over a millennium.  Natalie had
come to his rescue.  "I had my tonsils out when I was nine," she
recited, "and an appendectomy when I was fifteen."

Dr. Crusher performed another scan and nodded, pleased.
"Well, Natalie, I'm happy to report that you have tonsils again and
an appendix, too.  I wouldn't be at all surprised to find that any
scars you might not have had laser-sealed are healed now, as well."

"I'll check on that," Nick had volunteered.  "Can we go
now, Doctor?  I haven't, uh, eaten anything since lunch and
I'm incredibly hungry."

So, Crusher released them and they were 'escorted' to their
quarters by a security guard that Picard had assigned to them.
Once there, Nick scooped Natalie into his arms and swung her
around, the two of them laughing until they cried clear, salty tears
of utter exhaustion.

"Food!" Natalie announced as they collapsed on the couch.
"God, it's been so long.  I want to eat everything I used to love and
remember the tastes.  And, Nick, there are so many new things you
have to try, things that didn't exist when you were mortal before.
Where do you want to begin?"

"Spaghetti, definitely," Nick looked serious, then gave in
and laughed again.  "That was the last thing I remember enjoying.
With that red sauce..."


"Right, I guess, whatever.  And Chianti.  And...garlic

"_Garlic_ bread?!"  Natalie looked at him, amazed.  "Why
garlic bread?"

"It goes with spaghetti?"  Nick suggested innocently.

Natalie chuckled as she programmed their orders into the
food processing unit and carried their plates to the table nearby.
They ate in companionable silence, relishing their first meal,
nibbling off each other's plates.  Natalie had chosen a pizza and a
hot fudge sundae for dessert.

"We could be in big trouble, you know," Nick mumbled
around his last bite of pasta.  "If Picard reports this to Starfleet, as
I'm sure he must, it could mean my position with the Federation
would be in jeopardy."

"Nick!" Natalie scraped up the last of her hot fudge sauce.
"I know your work with the Federation is important to you...and it
should be...but, even if you do lose the position, there'll be other
chances for you and me.  As the old saying goes, 'we have bigger
fish to fry' right now."

Nick rose from his chair and pulled Natalie into his arms,
knowing full well what she was referring to.  After all the years
they'd spent together, even without the vampire link to join them,
he still knew her thoughts and her dreams.

"And which fish do you want to throw into the skillet first,
good Doctor Lambert?"  Nick whispered as he trailed tender kisses
down her neck.  It was marvelous to touch her in that way and not
feel the hunger burn inside him, not feel his fangs descending in
anticipation of sharing her blood, not see his world colored red as
passion for his wife grew within him.

Natalie moaned in response.  "You know what I want most
of all, Nick.  I want babies, as many of them as you and I can make,
as quickly as we can make them."

Nick's hand went sure and certain to the fastenings on
Natalie's tunic and, seconds later, the garment fell to the floor.

"Data to Ambassador de Brabant."  Data's voice, filtering
through the com-link, broke through to Nick.  Nick growled, not a
vampire growl, but a very 'human-male-interrupted-while-mating'

"Not now, Mr. Data!"

"Is this an inconvenient time, Mr. Ambassador?"

Natalie raised her head, saw the pained look on her
husband's face and chuckled.  "You _did_ promise you'd tell him
everything, after this was all over," she reminded him.

Nick looked into his wife's eyes and kissed her quickly.
"This is _far_ from over," he assured her.  Louder, for Data's
benefit, he added, "Thank you, Mr. Data.  Our quest has been
successful.  I'll tell you everything, satisfy your every curiosity,
during our journey back to Earth."

"Understood, sir.  I will contact you at oh-seven-hundred
hours tomorrow.  Data out."

The com-link connection went silent and Nick groaned.
"Seven o'clock in the morning?  I'm tempted to tell the Enforcers
about Data after all, and go ahead and let them dismantle him!

"Forget about him, my love," Natalie pulled Nick
unresistingly into the bedroom.  "Now, where were we....?"

              THE END

*****Author's note:  I hope you've enjoyed reading my
interpretation of what might happen if Nick and Nat met
the crew of the Enterprise 1701-D!  Comments and/or
tiny candle flames may be sent to: