Summer 1998 8th-9th grades
Author's note: As before, Paramount owns the characters, the ship, etc., but the story is of my creation.
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Trust Part VII
At first, Harry feared that Admiral Paris, his parents, or someone would object to Annika's being there. But they accepted her, all of the crew now, and his parents delighted in her company. They had gone home to the house he remembered so well, the streets of San Francisco below alive with celebration. For the first time in a long time, he had tasted his mother's cooking, always full of flavor and quite un-reproducible from the replicators.
His wife had just finished recounting their wedding to his parents, and took his hand gently. "I never knew love until I met Harry. And now," she smiled softly," I can't imagine my life without him," she finished simply. His father nodded, and his mother had a faraway look in her eyes, as if picturing that happy day. Harry cut in.
"Yes, Mom, Dad, I don't think I could know happiness without Annika. And Kyria just brings joy to our lives." He watched as Annika carefully placed her daughter in the arms of his mother.
"She's so beautiful, yes, I think she has her father's eyes. Quite so," she added with a glimmer of humor, "and I hope you've learned to appreciate the intricacies of life, Harry."
"Mom, when I first left, I thought that the universe was all one big playground. I learned better. And now that I'm back home, I wonder what is coming next."
"May," his father now addressed his wife, "I think they should be getting some rest now." May Kim smiled, quick to reassure her son and daughter-in-law.
"Indeed you should. Your father and I can watch Kyria, we did, after all, do this for you, Harry." At that, Annika couldn't resist an impish smile.
Annika spoke quietly, "Well, Mrs. Kim, you shall have to tell me about that time. I should be quite interested. I do, however, regret having no parents to introduce you to. They were assimilated long ago…" Harry squeezed her hand tightly in comfort.
"Mom, Dad, I think you know Annika's origins."
It was his father who answered, "Harry, we hold no hatred against her. She had no choice in the matter so long ago, and she chose later to become human. That is a great achievement, and we could do not but hold her in affection. She's your happiness, Harry. Never forget that." He clapped his son on the shoulder, and shooed the two off towards Harry's room. After they disappeared, he added to May, "I think he has found the love of his life."
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Later that night, Harry woke up to find Annika gone from his side. He knew instinctively where she had gone. Instead of windows, his bedroom had an entire side devoted to glass panels and doors onto his balcony. Barefoot, he padded out after her.
She stood at the railing, looking out over the now quiet city. Her cornsilk hair and thin cotton gown were teased by the soft wind blowing through the city. The moonlight added silver to her hair and face; he walked up and stood beside her. "Nika, love, I remember coming out her before I left for Voyager. It's oddly calming and meditative sometimes."
Her answer was so soft he could barely hear it, "All this time, to be back here, to feel the warmth and affection from your parents that I do not remember from my own is quite…unsettling. I came out here to contemplate time." Annika sighed at that. "Perhaps time has no meaning where there is love."
Harry thought a moment. "Sometimes it seems that way. It's hard to believe five years have passed since I stood here last. But I've learned my lesson."
"And what's that?"
"That you have to treasure every day, because change can happen so fast. I wasn't prepared for Voyager to be swept so far off. No one was. I thought I would be back in at most a few months, be married to Libby. But I found you, and she didn't keep her faith. Who could expect her to, after all this time?" He wrapped his arms around her waist and fell silent.
They stayed out there until the sun's tawny rays broke over the horizon, to bathe the coastline in color. Another day had begun, and they were ready to face it.
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