A/N: This story also ties into, and has direct relationship to, Reliquary: The Letters

One Christmas in Vacherie

By KayCee1951

Chapter One:

Monday, December 22, 2290

Earth/Vacherie, Louisiana

Patterson returned to the caretaker residence of Ducheaux House late in the evening. He had developed the habit of walking the distance from the agricultural laboratory to the manor house through the section of the property that acknowledged one of the darkest eras of Human history.

It reminded him that there was not a single planet or sentient species within, or outside, the Federation that was without sins of the past. The important thing was to rise above and beyond them, and most importantly, to never repeat them. It was this belief that gave Patterson solace not only to accept, but support his daughter's decision to be on the farthest edge of Federation space.

As he passed through the gardens surrounding their residence he had expected to find his wife burning the midnight oil in her office, working on plans for the Christmas Eve bonfire. The event was scheduled in two days and would kick off festivities surrounding the celebration of the five hundredth anniversary of the completion of the main house. Instead, he found her playing the piano in the conservatory.

Lauren, who was a Ducheaux, and Patterson had both come to realize they would likely be the last of the family line to accept that responsibility. Their daughter, had followed another path that precluded any involvement in that tradition.

When Patterson walked into the conservatory, Lauren was in the middle of Debussy's Clair de Lune. He sat in the chair by the bookcases to listen. Less than half a bottle of red wine sat next to the chair along with an empty Bordeaux glass. He poured a few ounces of the red liquid into the glass, picked up the bottle and transferred himself to the piano bench beside his wife.

When Lauren finished the sonata, she turned to him with the kind of smile she employed when there was something she needed to say but was unsure how to begin.

"So what's the occasion?" he asked, holding up the bottle and putting it on the music shelf of the baby grand.

"I had a visitor this afternoon."

"Must have been a special visitor," he said, cautiously taking a sip. "Not every day you break out the Chateau La Barre."

"Amanda Grayson."

"I thought the three of you liked to meet at obscure locations like Slapout, Nowhere, and Two Egg," he snickered.

Some of the places his wife met Amanda and Sara over the past eighteen years were not only obscure, they were utterly off the map. Aside from the fact that Amanda Grayson was the wife of the Vulcan Ambassador and the three contrived ways to meet out of the public eye, he had always chalked up the particular choices of meeting places to Sara's Bohemian proclivities.

Lauren couldn't help smiling. He was right of course.

"Sara was not with her this afternoon," she said. "But she wasn't alone. An attaché from the Embassy was with her."

Patterson pondered the ramifications while he took another sip of wine. The Vulcan ambassador's wife calling at their home on what had the earmark of being an official visit did not bode well.

A/N: Ducheaux house is an amalgamation of Destrehan Plantation (French Creole colonial architecture with Greek Revival elements and completed in 1790 – the oldest in Louisiana), Oak Alley Plantation (Greek Revival style located in Vacherie, LA) and Rosedown Plantation (Federal/Greek Revival style located in St. Francisville, LA) and Laura Plantation (French Creole style – located in Vacherie, LA and part of the Louisiana African American Heritage Trail) and Houmas House (located in Darrow, LA.

A/N: Ducheaux is pronounced 'Doo-show' and Vacherie is pronounced 'Vash-er-ee.'