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Sherisse T. Warren felt a bit stupid for asking this question. As a park ranger she had developed a sense if people were around, even if they tried hiding. Just last year, she had caught three Starfleet cadets who had thought it would be a wonderful idea to camp out here just in time before they lit the area on fire. At least Sherisse had found their trail. This time it was just a hunch. The cabin seemed undisturbed; the only foot prints she saw belonged to wildlife. As it could not hurt to check, she set out to open the door and discovered it was already unlocked. Pulling out her flashlight, she entered the building.

“Okay, fun is over, come on out.”

The light beam examined the room and what she found in the middle of it, was a surprise even for her. The trespasser was a Vulcan, complete with pointy ears, fancy robes and that haircut. Only this one's hair was grey and he was sitting in a position that made her think he was meditating. She had never met one of them in person, but had of course seen footage of them. Encountering an alien was not quite the same as it was about 200 years ago when rumours of a ship crashing near Roswell inspired crazy theories and even more fiction.

Her knowledge of them was limited, but she had the feeling they were not prone to sitting around in cabins in the wood sweating like some bad flu had caught up with them. He yelled at her, but she didn’t understand the words. Lowering the flash-light, she kept it aimed at his chest instead of shining it into his face.

“I don't speak Vulcan.”

Whoever the guy was, he was angry or upset or maybe on drugs. She had no experience with drug users but her grandmother used to tell her stories that now came to mind.

“Go away,” he hissed.

“Actually, between the two of us, you’re the one who needs to go away. You have no right to be here.”

It occurred to her that the brusque attitude which she reserved for her trespassers might not have been the best approach. The look she received when she was finished told her she would not get far this way.

“What a typical human attitude.” His tone was condescending. Just as she thought that she wasn’t going to take his rude tone, it occurred to her how her words might have been interpreted.

“I didn’t mean it like that,” Sherisse said. “This cabin and the whole area are in fact off limits to anyone, who is not a ranger.”

“Please, I need to be alone. I won't disturb anything.”

The words came out slowly and with so much effort, it only made her less inclined to grant this favour. She had made exceptions. After all, filling out reports was annoying. As long as no harm came to the park preserve, she was willing to look the other way. Only in this case, she had the feeling the alien sitting in front of her was the one in trouble.

If she knew one thing, it was that she wasn’t equipped to deal with this. From the news, she was aware that the situation between her planet and Vulcan were not the best at the moment. Her interests were more firmly routed on improving the planet they had, but she understood the importance of getting along with other cultures. Even if the Vulcans did not necessarily approved of the need humans had to explore the galaxy. Lots of people talked about the Enterprise and their mission. Recalling the last visual report she had seen she suddenly realized something.

“Oh my - you are the Vulcan ambassador.”

The young woman could instantly tell he was not happy that she had recognized him.

“Now that you know, just leave.”

Sherisse could not help but think that for a diplomat he wasn’t very good at interacting with people. It was fine with her, she would have to call this in and that made him someone else's problem. Making a decision, she turned off her flash-light.

“Fine, you stay here, I’m going to call this in.”

With that she left the doorway and pulled out her communicator. As she thought about what to say, she heard the ambassador stand up. Sherisse had the feeling that this was not good news. After dealing with drunk frat boys, rude cadets and those Canadian wood workers, she didn’t feel particularly threatened by a man with grey hair who seemed to have problems standing.

“Don't do that, just go.”

He approached her. Now that she saw more of him as he stood in the light that fell through the open door, he seemed even more sick to her.

“I can't leave you here on your own.”

Having no idea why the Vulcan ambassador would sit in the dark of an abandoned cabin in the middle of her park, Sherisse knew that it was not something to be ignored.

“You have to.”

Discussion was obviously not going to help in this case, so she just raised her communicator. Before she had even hit the button to open communications, the Vulcan grabbed her wrist and snatched it away with the other hand. He immediately crushed it with an ease that frightened her. For an old man with grey hair this alien was quite strong.

“You can not tell anyone about me.”

He sounded almost desperate. Longer sentences seemed to exhaust him, even though it was obviously not because of language problems.

“Let go of me.”

Much to her relief, he did. Sherisse immediately took two steps back. She was about three hours away from the next station. This was not good.

“You won't understand - this is a personal thing.”

Despite knowing she should back up and get someone else involved while she was still able to, she found herself unable to walk away. After two deep breaths, she calmed down a bit and remembered how disturbed he had looked when he had noticed that he had still been holding her wrist. Whatever was going on with him, he obviously didn’t intend to cause her harm.

“You look sick, there is certainly no good reason not to see a doctor.”

“There is a very good reason.” Leaving it at that, the Vulcan stepped back into the cabin. Before disappearing into the dark he uttered another warning. “You need to leave for your own safety.”

“My safety? Are you contagious?”

“It's not that kind of ... sickness.”

Sherisse hesitated, her instincts torn between wanting to help and running. There was also curiosity and a worry of what might happen if she made the wrong decision. After all, if she left and something happened to the ambassador, it might cause serious diplomatic difficulties. Even more so, abandoning someone in need wasn’t in her nature. While going for help might be the best course of action, it could also be the wrong one, if keeping his presence here a secret was somehow vital.

“If you can convince me that it is important to keep your being here a secret, I will.”

With that said, she followed him back into the cabin. He could hardly expect her to make the right decision with such a substantial lack of information. If he was not coherent enough to explain, she would walk straight to the next outpost. Only it didn’t happen this way.

As she tried to open the curtains to let light into the room, he approached her again. Without saying anything, he grabbed her. There was something about the way, he touched her that really got her blood pumping. It was a possessive gesture and hearing his laboured breath in the dark was frightening.

“You really need to stop that.”

Her attempt to lightly shrug this off didn’t work. She could feel his hand loosening up for a bit but not enough for her to escape.

“I need you - to leave,” his voice trailed off.

At this moment, she would have loved another chance to turn around and run. He held onto her wrist, his grip becoming so tight it actually hurt.

“Okay, you convinced me ...”

That still didn’t made him let go of her. Sherisse wasn’t able to see more than an outline of him in the dark. The door was still open and he began dragging her towards it. Then he hesitated.

“If you let me, I can help.”

“Help me?” he sneered at the suggestion. “You could not ...”

“Well, try me,” Sherisse said.

“No, I cannot accept your offer. It's unacceptable.”

She felt him shake, even as his grip finally loosened. Whatever was going on, it affected him physically. He was not making much sense. Was her offer to help really so unacceptable to this alien?

“Here, I thought our species were sort of allies.”

Finally, he let go of her. A chance Sherisse intended to use. Before reaching the door, he suddenly threw it shut. The ensuing darkness made it impossible for her to see anything but the most basic outlines. What happened next wasn’t what she had expected at all.

Pressing her against the closed door, the Vulcan kissed her with feverish passion. She felt his hands on her face and for a while she was too confused to say anything. Not that this was possible while her lips were otherwise occupied. Just as abruptly, he tore himself away from her. She heard him falling down in the progress, saw his outline in the dark crouched on the floor. He was shaking even worse than she did.

“Will you be okay, when I leave?”

Somehow she wasn’t too upset about the incident. While his behaviour wasn’t okay, he was obviously more troubled by it. Sherisse could feel that something was terribly wrong. Even with her limited knowledge about Vulcans, she knew they were usually pretty reserved and not prone to snogging people they barely knew. If that was the case, she was pretty sure her cousin Betty would have told her all about it. Betty was the one having this weird fantasy about doing it with an alien, ever since they entered high school.

“No,” he said from the floor. “But you must leave.”

“How can I leave, knowing you need help? There must be something I can do.”

“It would not be appropriate, harmful to you even.”

He rose and moved away further into the back of the room. Listening to his steps, she heard how much effort it took him.

“Harmful how?”

Sherisse was still unclear as to what she might be able to do that was so inappropriate. She suspected after the kiss but that possibility seemed way too unrealistic. It was like the plot of a very bad porno. She was pretty sure she had seen one like that. Only it had featured an alien with more appendages. Sighing, she decided to open a window after all. Whatever it was, she wasn’t leaving someone in need of help behind: even if that meant putting herself in harm's way. It would not be the first time, now would not be the last time.

“Humans are fragile, aggressive mating could seriously injure you.”

She laughed, because that seemed the saner response. If she really thought about it, the intended warning sounded not off-putting at all.

“Are you honestly telling me whatever your problem is, sex will cure it?”

There was a look of embarrassment and shame on his face. Suddenly, it wasn’t funny any more. His breathing was heavy, while his hands made fists. He clearly fought with something.

“The only option left.”

“What happens if you do not ....”

“Death,” he said.

“I'm sorry.”

He nodded, resignation in his voice as he looked at her. “It's okay, just leave.”

“No, I meant for laughing.”

Realising that for some reason he had come here knowing he might die horrified her. It also made her angry, that someone would throw his life away because he was too embarrassed to ask for sex.

“I just - why come here and risk dying?” she managed to say without sounding to angry.

“We don't talk about this.”

He got up again, sounding angry and agitated.