A/N: Right, here it is… ahm, don't know what to say, really, it's all shiny and new, and I'm not sure how it will go down. It's only a short intro, the chapters will be much longer, even though not quite as long as those in H&H.

A few important notes on timelines:

This story is AU to the movie, which makes it AU AU to the original series. It is set after the events of Half and Half, you don't need to read it, but it will give you a better idea of some of the characters.

In the movie, Nurse Chapel was on the Enterprise during their 'rescue mission' of Vulcan. In the original series she didn't join Starfleet until much later… in order to find her missing fiancé Robert Korby. So, I've taken the middle ground here, and have her join just after the Narada incident… or rather, because of the Narada incident.

I included a Cadet Chapel in one of the knitting circle scenes in Half and Half; please ignore that.

"…. and how can you do this to your poor mother?" Christine briefly interrupted her in-depth study of the tablecloth to look at the hysterically sobbing woman in question. She knew these kinds of emotional displays; they were masterfully crafted performances, based on perhaps 10% actual feeling. She marginally hated her for this.

As Lauren Chapel continued to perform admirably, only glancing at her daughter occasionally to insure the success of her display, Patterson Chapel continued his tirade:
"Not to mention the implications for your career! Now if you'd chosen to go into this as a scientist, I'd perhaps understand… but active duty… as a nurse?" He said the last word as if it were something unspeakably dirty.

Oh, the shame of it all. How could she aspire to such a thing after they'd groomed her to not be a disappointment like her brother? They had allowed her to pursue an academic career, even if spending your days in front of microscopes and Petri dishes was not exactly their idea of a distinguished life choice; it had provided them with a nice little fact to gloat about. "Have you met my daughter, Christine, she is a brilliant scientist. Only recently she received a grant for…" The eternal need to demonstrate, to perform for an ever-present audience of overly critical peers, had always made her feel more like their trained poodle than their child.

"You have a PhD, for crying out loud… what were you thinking. …and to only tell us after completing all the paperwork, not even giving us a chance to…" His voice was now shaking with anger.

"What will people say?" Her mother choked out, waving her hand around in that overly dramatic way she was so fond of, her perfectly manicured nails and two diamond rings catching the light from the antique chandelier and making Christine squint.

Ah, finally, the core of the matter. None of this was about her, it wasn't even about William… as always, this was just about them.

She longed to scream, just scream… form no words and simply shriek. She knew she would never have been able to convince them, knew she simply was not strong enough to face them head on, so she had taken the coward's way out and had presented them with a decision already made. She would be joining the Starfleet Academy as a first year student in the autumn, and there was nothing anyone could do about it.

"You've always been such a good girl. Why are you doing this to us?" Her mother's voice had taken on that small girl quality she thought made her sound more pathetic,… she was right, just not in the way she wanted be.

Keeping her eyes firmly on the table, Christine managed to start with:

"I want to make a difference, the way William did, and…" That was as far as she got.

"You're brother is dead. 'Went and got himself killed, and for what?" Her soft voice was drowned out by her father's so very easily. As he stood there glaring at her, creating a moment of quiet she attempted to seize by beginning again: "I simply want to…" but once again, she could not finish, as a whole volley of theatrical wails emitted from her mother.

"Do you see? Do you see what you have done?" boomed her father.

Christine had the good sense to look chastised.

Patterson gave a small snort that indicated he had just thought of something.

"What does Robert think of all this?" There was just the smallest hint of triumph in his voice.

"He is not pleased." If it was possible, her voice had become even smaller.

She had met Robert nearly nine years ago; William had introduced them. She had been eighteen, completely inexperienced and practically blinded by his brilliance. Robert loved her, she knew, but he did not like her making decisions without consulting him, so it had come as no surprise, that he had been less than supportive when she had informed him of her decision. As with her parents, she had not trusted herself to not allow him to change her mind, so she had only told him three days ago. They had argued, 'had not spoken since.

"Robert only wants what's best for you, you should trust his judgement." Her mother's voice sounded suspiciously even, composed and perfectly melodic.

Christine nodded mutely, still staring at the tablecloth.

She could nod, she could play the contrite daughter, she could give them their way in all this, for at the end of the day, she would still go.

She had never defied her parents in anything, had never had reason to, but this was different.

She could not put into words quite how much she had loved her brother. William had been born too large, too colourful, too everything, to be held down by this family. He had taken the road that pleased him most, so unlike Christine, who had always chosen to please others. But oddly, she had never resented him for it, had admired him, had almost lived precariously through him.

William had been the only person in her family to have one quality strangely lacking in the rest of them: warmth.

When they had told her of his death, had informed her of the six ships destroyed within minutes by one giant Romulan monstrosity, she had been numb, had felt nothing but cold.

So, in the end, none of their objections mattered to her. She could sit here, cry a little, for reason's quite unfathomable to the others, and act as if she thought she'd had a mistake.

She hadn't.

And she would go.

A/N: Reviews are massively appreciated.