Tom smiled and nodded his head. "Yes, the first United Federation of Planets outside of our home galaxy was actually just formed an hour ago."

"Awesome," Chris replied, realizing he’d not used that word in a long time. "And the ship?"

He noted a hint of hesitation and surprise in Tom’s voice as he began. No doubt from my usage of the word ‘awesome.’

"The new...umm, the new warp drive was brought online yesterday," Tom replied. "No problems what so ever occurred. The new bridge is rather amazing, and it took some getting used to. All repairs..."

"Hold it," Chris interrupted as they entered a turbolift.

"Deck ten," Sarah ordered.

"You mean to tell me you didn’t spend your full shore leave time on shore leave?!"

Tom hesitated a moment, allowing the short trip to be completed. The turbolift doors opened and they spilled out onto deck ten, but remained there a moment.

Finally, he talked. "Ada and I...have been having some problems lately."

Chris immediately felt sympathy for his Second Officer. They resumed their walk towards Chris and Sarah’s quarters, but also continued to talk. "What’s wrong?"

"We just...haven’t been able to get along lately," Tom replied. "We can never agree on what kind of music to listen to, what activities to do... Before, it was easy getting along. We didn’t have to spend much time together..." Chris noted his acting like it was a job spending time with her. "...and didn’t have to worry about who liked what and so on. The one thing we seem to agree on is the type of food we eat!"

"What first attracted you to her?" Sarah asked, trying to help as well.

"Basically, her strength," Tom replied. "Or what I thought was strength. Later I found out it wasn’t was dominance."

Despite the situation, Chris felt himself grin. "Sounds like she’s more than you can handle."

"She is!" Tom replied quickly. "Which is why we came back early. She remained on the planet for shore leave until today, while for the past week I’ve taken duty shifts with the repair teams."

Quietly and sarcastically, Chris replied, "My dear good friend Tom...beaten down by a woman!" That earned a rather painful slug on the arm from Sarah.

It also earned a grin from Tom, but merely a weak, nanosecond long smile. "I’m used to being beaten male...female...or other..."

Chris smiled again as they stopped in front of his quarters. "Don’t worry my friend. You tried it and found out you weren’t compatible. Don’t hesitate to end it, or you’ll hurt yourself and her more than you may have already."

"Thanks, Chris," he said quietly. He spun around and headed back for the turbolift while Sarah entered the code on the door panel. The double doors parted, allowing the travel-worn officers to enter their quarters.

"I hope they’re OK," Sarah said quietly, throwing her duffel bag on the couch and plopping down next to it, slightly bouncing on the cushions.

"I’m sure they’ll be fine," Chris replied, throwing his bag into the bedroom and heading for the bathroom. He entered and began washing his face. "The one I’m really worried about, though, is Tom," he continued in a raised voice. "Ada is strong, and has actually taken worse heart breaks than this. You and I both know Tom hasn’t even had more than one relationship until now."

As Chris shut off the sink and wiped his face with a freshly replicated towel, he suddenly felt something...

He slowly walked out into the living room and looked around ominously.

"What’s wrong?" Sarah asked, looking around.

"Don’t you feel it?" Chris replied, frowning.

"Feel what?" Sarah asked, alarm growing in her voice.

"A sense," Chris said. "Of home...of belonging..." He gazed into her eyes for a moment, willing himself to project the serenity into her. "We’ve come home..."

Sarah took on a small smile and stood up. She moved to Chris’ side, then turned him and embraced him in a hug. "I’m just glad I can call your home my home," she said quietly. "Don’t you agree, love?"

"Of course," Chris replied quietly, slowly pulling her away just far enough to gently kiss her lips. After a moment of kissing, he pulled away and smiled. "My love...we’ve come home..."



Sarah paused in her story for a moment, emotions of regret and sadness almost overwhelming her.

"Are you OK?" Jean-Luc asked quietly from his position at the head of the briefing table.

Breaking her distant stare at the gloss-black table, Sarah looked at him and nodded. "I think so. It’s just...the last time I felt at home...they were all alive. Tom mulling over Ada...Vendar still acting with a silent, dignified stare at the Ops station...Kalia moving from one console to another in engineering like a bee moving from honeycomb to honeycomb...its all still so fresh in my memory. I can still feel Chris’ lips pressing on mine..." She brought her fingers to her lips and pressed lightly, the sensation filling her memory. "But now...I have no place to call home..."

Despair suddenly filled her, the situation of the moment overtaking her. Tears began to well in her eyes as her hands trembled slightly. "They’re all gone...dead..."

"Not for long," Jean-Luc interrupted her. "We’re here to stop it all from happening. We’re make sure you have a home to go to again."

Sarah smiled, blinked the tears from her eyes, then wiped them from her face. "And I’ll never be able to thank you enough."

She cleared her emotions, something she always found difficult to do, then moved past that moment in her home with Chris...barely able to contain her sadness…


Lieutenant-Commander Vendar Perkins sighed as her and her friends piled out of the Runabout Venture. They were all still laughing and chatting about their six month long shore leave...all except the Vulcan of the group, who came up along side of her.

"Strange how they continually talk about the same event over and over," he commented to her. Though Lieutenant-Commander Suran was only half Vulcan, he still acted like a full-blood Vulcan.

Vendar smiled slightly and replied, "Maybe, but I must admit, even I had fun on this trip."

"Indeed," Suran replied. "It was an enjoyable experience."

Vendar raised both her eyebrows and looked at him as they neared the exit to the shuttle bay. "Why, Suran, if I didn’t know better, I’d say you just had an emotional response."

She could have sworn he blushed. "And as you said, you know better than to assume that," he recovered quickly.

Vendar let out a light laugh and put her hand on his shoulder. "Suran, you’re more human than you want to admit."

"If I indulged on my human emotions," Suran retorted, "I would have found that remark insulting."

Vendar smiled as the double doors parted and allowed them onto the deck. Suran headed for his quarters on the deck while Vendar entered a turbolift. "Deck eight," she stated. The trip was short, and gave her very little time to reflect over the past six months. Many things had happened...

The turbolift came to a halt and opened up onto deck eight. She adjusted the bag she carried on her right shoulder and moved towards her quarters. Just as she began to pass by an intersection, she literally bumped into an ensign.

Though surprised, she managed to recover by saying, "Excuse me."

The male ensign looked at her a moment, a retort at the back of his throat, but stopped himself short of finishing it. "Oh! Commander Perkins! I was hoping to speak to you!"

Vendar frowned questioningly, then nodded. "What’s on your mind, Ensign?"

"I just wanted to comment on how beautiful I find you," he said with boyish grin on his face. "I was wondering if you wanted to have dinner with me tonight before we set sail again?"

Instead of blushing at the comment, as many women would have done, Vendar instead barely restrained herself from slapping him. She instead let her jaw drop a meter to the ground. "Look, I don’t really know who you are..."

"Jerry Sukan," he interrupted.

"...but that is no way to approach a woman, especially one like me!"

Disgusted by his kind, she literally shoved him out of the way and moved on towards her quarters. Jerry stayed hot on her heals.

"It worked for me before!" he recovered quickly.

"But that’s on other types of women," she said dryly. "I’m not like them at all. Flattery, in my case, gets you no where, and like hell would I date someone whom I know nothing about."

"You know my name!" Jerry was quick to comment.

She stopped flat in her tracks and spun around to confront him. She almost couldn’t keep a straight face due to his half-cocked grin. "Look...Ensign, I hate men who are like you. You disgust me! Now get out of my sight before I have you thrown in the brig!"

As she moved on to her quarters again, she heard him comment behind her, "’am..."

Ignoring his retort, she came up to her quarters and almost broke her finger pounding the code to her door in. She burst into her room and tossed her bag on the ground. She sighed as she laid down on the sofa and stared at the ceiling.

Maybe I was a bit hard on the boy, she thought to herself.

At that thought, she laughed at herself. Listen to me, someone who’s as fresh out of the academy as I am, and I’m calling him a boy. Maybe being a senior officer has made me feel older...

She shook her head and stood up, finding herself unable to remain calm. She moved to the bathroom sink and grabbed a brush. Unable to remain still after the Devil’s Virus ordeal, she began to brush her hair almost violently. Somehow, though, it didn’t hurt her.

"I hope you can help me calm down soon, Doctor," she commented to herself. "I’m sick of having to move around or overloading my senses with energy."



Commander Kara Trieal pulled the hypospray away from Vendar’s neck and smiled. "Now how do you feel?" she asked.

Vendar hesitated for a moment, then smiled back at her. "Calm...amazingly calm..."

"I used a combination of nanites that basically take your excess energy and use it to power themselves as well as a mild sediment," she said as she placed the hypospray on a tray. "You should remain like this, thanks to the nanites, for about a month. In the mean time, I’ll be programming medical nanites to produce more of the sediment themselves and add them to the ones already in your body."

Fear seemed to take hold of Vendar for a moment. "There’s no risk of them malfunctioning and causing trouble in my body, is there?!"

Kara shook her head and replied, "No, none at all. If there were, Starfleet wouldn’t have sanctioned their use as common medical practice two years ago."

Vendar nodded and smiled. "Thanks, doctor."

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