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Chapter Text

Jadzia looked at the new thing that had suddenly appeared on the centre of the table in their quarters. She didn't remember ever seeing it before, and it was unlike Worf to add personal touches unless they were of the spiky warrior accessories variety. This was just a candlestick - a candelabrum to be precise, with nine branches in a row, the centre one a little taller than the others.

'What's this, Worf?' she called, and he came in from the other room. She pointed at the object. 'Decorating without me?' she teased.

'It will only be there for eight days,' he told her, seriously.

'It's all right,' she said. 'I'm just curious.'

He did not reply, so she leaned over and prodded him. 'So? What's it for?' she asked. 'I thought I knew all the Klingon traditions.'

'This is not a Klingon tradition,' he said. 'It is a menorah - it is part of the tradition of my human family.'

'Huh - that's nice,' she said. 'What do you do with it?'

'I will show you,' he said. 

He took a lamp lighter from the drawer inside the table and used it to light the centre candle, and then used that candle to light a single other candle before replacing it. He spoke a few words that her commbadge didn't translate. He looked at the candles for a moment, and then turned away.

'Is that all?' Jadzia asked. 'No long, dreary prayers? No glorifying the souls of warriors past?'

Worf shrugged. 'My mother used to make doughnuts. And we would play games.'

'Well, why didn't you say so?' Jadzia asked. 'That's the kind of tradition I can get behind.'

Chapter Text

It wasn't a bad place to stop, Ace thought – a bustling space port, plenty of people about, nobody to notice an extra human around the place if she wanted to lie low for a few days. When she had thrown her bag down in the small single quarters she had been assigned, she came out again to wander down the promenade.

The shops were full of pretty things, but Ace travelled light, usually, so she just glanced at them on her way past, until she came to what she was looking for – the bar. It wasn't busy – it was the middle of the day, station time, she supposed, although she hadn't checked.

'I'll have a whisky,' she said to the man behind the bar – a small, toothy alien with large ears.

'Coming up,' he said. 'So, what's a beautiful woman like you...'

'Save it,' Ace interrupted. 'I just want to drink my drink, all right?'

'Just trying to be friendly,' he said, without malice. 'Sure you want whisky? I've got some Saurian brandy here, a very fine vintage...'

'I wouldn't,' said a voice behind Ace.

She looked up. The woman who had spoken had her arms folded, her eyebrows raised.

'I happen to know Quark's been trying to get rid of that batch of Saurian brandy for months,' she said. 'I'd stick with the whisky, he always keeps a good Scotch in for the chief.'

'Thanks for the tip,' Ace said, waiting for the grumbling Quark to pour her whisky. 

'How am I supposed to run a business with you sticking your ears where they don't belong, Major?' he asked the woman.

'You seem to get by all right,' she said, with an amused glance in Ace's direction.

'Thanks, Quark,' Ace said, taking her whisky as he slid it over the bar. 'And thank you, Major...?'

'Kira Nerys,' said the woman. 

'Ace,' said Ace.

'Pleased to meet you,' said Major Kira Nerys.

Chapter Text

'I want my doctor! I want Doctor Scully!' the patient shouts, flapping uselessly about on the bed, too weak to do anything else.

'There is no Doctor Scully at this hospital,' the doctor says, calmly, and then, in an aside to the woman assisting him, 'He's raving.'

'She doesn't work here,' says the patient.

'Well there isn't a lot I can do about it, then,' says Doctor House, running his eyes over the chart. It's inexplicable. Par for the course.

* * *

'Okay,' says House, clearing off the whiteboard and getting a fresh marker from the drawer. 'Here's what we know...'

And the door flies open, and a woman storms in.

'Are you treating Fox Mulder?' she demands.

'I'm trying to,' says House, mildly.

'Well, it's not what you think.' she tells him.

'I don't think it's anything, yet,' he says.

'It's still not what you think.'

'And you are?'

'Doctor Scully, I'm Agent Mulder's physician.'

* * *

Later, House reflects that, if he'd just let Doctor Scully go and treat her patient instead of engaging her in a lengthy diagnostic argument, nobody would have to be sewing the poor guy's stomach back up right now, and there wouldn't be a lingering smell permeating the building from that weird green goop that was in there. Still, win some, lose some.

Chapter Text

It had felt a bit odd, asking – Rani had gotten to know Maria a little on the internet, and through her video chats with the boys, but it wasn't as if they were really friends, or anything. But when Mum had announced that they were going on holiday to Washington, it would have seemed strange not to at least meet up and say hello.

They had arranged to meet for a coffee in a little place Maria knew. Rani had anticipated some awkwardness. She really needn't have worried.

'Any ideas on how we get out of this one?' Maria asked, hanging by her ankles in the brig of an underground alien base.

Rani, beside her, did her best attempt at an upside-down shrug. 'If we had a sonic lipstick, or even a phone...' she said.

'Well, what have we got?' Maria said.

Both of them were silent for a moment as they reached up into their jeans pockets in search of anything that might not have fallen out during the initial kidnap-and-upside-down-shaking.

'I've got a dollar,' said Maria, 'And... um... half a packet of cough sweets. You?'

'Hairband,' Rani reported. 'And a bus ticket.'

'Right,' said Maria. 'There's got to be something we can do with all that.'

* * *

Forty-seven minutes later, the aliens who had kidnapped them were safely inside a containment field, and Rani was using their communications system to call UNIT and tell them to come and clean up the mess.

'Calling us names really isn't going to help,' Maria told the aliens. She looked at her watch. 'If UNIT get here fairly quickly, we could still go for that coffee before the place shuts,' she said.

'Sounds like a plan,' said Rani.

Chapter Text

'What's it like, the Season?' Gwen asks.

They've been planning another secret excursion to a job interview, but somehow they've become distracted, and now they're sitting side-by-side on Lady Sybil's bed, and Gwen feels daring and afraid and ridiculous about it.

Lady Sybil shrugs, delicately, like a tree rustling in the breeze. Gwen wonders how she can move like that. 

'Honestly I thought it was all rather boring,' she says. 'Everyone just talks of the things they think they ought to talk about, and nobody says anything really interesting for fear that people will laugh at them.'

'But... weren't there lots of fascinating young men there?'

'I suppose there were. There were certainly young men, anyway. I didn't think any of them were fascinating, myself.'

'I'm sure they all found you very fascinating,' Gwen says, before she can stop herself. Her ears turn pink, but Lady Sybil seems not to notice.

'Oh, a few of them seemed to, I had two proposals,' she says, and from any other girl it would sound smug, but she just seems bewildered.

'Didn't you want to say yes?' Gwen asks.

'I don't know that I'm all that interested in getting married,' says Lady Sybil. 'At least not for a while yet.'

'So it was a waste of time, then?' 

'Oh... I wouldn't say that. It was exciting to go to London and see new places, and I very much enjoyed the dancing and things.'

'Dancing?' asks Gwen, and her eyes widen.

'Practically every night there was a ball,' Lady Sybil says. 'The men weren't at all interesting to talk to, but lots of them were very fine dancers.'

'Oh, tell me about it!' pleads Gwen, and she's forgotten almost altogether that they are not just two gossiping friends.

'Well, there's this marvellous new dance,' Lady Sybil says, 'it's sort of like... well, it's much easier if I show you, here...'

And in a moment she's up and holding out a hand to Gwen, who takes it, nervously.

'It starts out just like an ordinary waltz,' she begins, 'but then...'

And as suddenly as that, Gwen is in Sybil's arms, and they're twirling about the room, and Sybil is counting the steps like she's singing a song, and their petticoats rustle in tandem and Sybil's hand is warm in the small of her back and they're laughing and so close that Gwen can smell her skin, and they dance and dance and dance until they run out of breath for it.

They both fall back onto the bed, and Gwen's head is still spinning, she feels as though she's still dancing. They're still holding hands.

'You're much better to dance with than a man,' Sybil tells her, and Gwen catches something in her expression that makes her wonder what she means by it.

Chapter Text

'Nerys!' calls a voice, muffled by the wind.

'I'll be there in a minute!' Nerys replies, but Lupaza comes out anyway, holding a hand over her eyes to shield her from the rain that's beginning to spatter outside the caves.

'Aren't you coming in?' she asks. 'Furel's cooking tonight.'

'In a minute,' promises Nerys. 

Lupaza shakes her head. 'At least you have your jacket,' she says. 'All right, just don't stay out too long. If you catch a chill, you won't be going out on the raid tomorrow. Shakaar won't risk a sneeze alerting the spoonheads.'

'I know,' says Nerys, peaceably. 

Lately she's growing out of the desire to argue with Lupaza quite so much. Perhaps it's maturity, or perhaps it's just that she's tired of having the same old fights when she knows that Lupaza really has her best interests at heart. But she likes being outside for the storms.

The summers are generally long and hot, but towards the end of the season, there are always a couple of big storms. Warm ones, with a great roaring of hot winds. One of them is just beginning, with the first rain falling already. Nerys reaches out her hands to catch it, tilts her face up so that the drops run down her face. But this isn't the part she's waiting for.

The rain gets heavier, and she lies down on the ground. The wind rushes, and the rain patters around her. There's a flash of lightning, far away, then after a moment a long, ponderous roll of thunder. This is better.

It's not long before the rain and the wind and the distant thunder are so loud that she can't hear her own thoughts. That's what she likes. She likes to hear the raindrops bounce around her so that they drown out everything else. She won't worry about her family, or what the rest of the cell think of her, or whether they'll win, or what she'll do in the future. She doesn't think about her weapons drills or where the next meal is coming from or the ways she thinks she's changing. All she can hear, all she can think about, is the rain and the wind. The storm is the whole world, for as long as it lasts.

This one lasts a while. Nerys stops noticing how long. All she notices is the wind whipping the raindrops around her, until there are no individual drops, just sheets of falling water that roll across her, warm and insistent, and above all, noisy.

When the storm blows itself out, she'll go inside again. But that isn't yet.

Chapter Text

She hadn't told her dad about the march. It wasn't that she didn't think he'd give her permission, in the end – but he would have worried. And anyway, this was something she wanted to do all by herself.

After they'd moved to the States, Maria had missed the excitement of Sarah Jane's life. She'd missed saving the world, making a difference. And so she'd gotten interested in politics, and causes, and making a difference in smaller, less terrifying ways. This was the first time she'd been to a real live protest, though.

There were a lot of people there, and it made it difficult to see what was going on. It was noisier than she had expected, and she wasn't quite sure where to go, or whether she ought to be doing anything. She wondered whether she should have told her dad after all.

'First time?' said a voice.

The woman was older, with blond hair, a wide grin, and a British accent. Maria nodded.

'Not to worry,' the woman continued, 'It's always a bit scary at first. I'll keep an eye on you until you get the hang of it, shall I?'

'That's very kind of you,' Maria said. 'I'm Maria Jackson.'

'Jo Jones,' said the woman, ignoring Maria's outstretched hand and pulling her in for a hug instead. 'Come on, let's go and give 'em hell.'

Chapter Text

'So,' Remus said, once Lily and James had departed for their well-deserved evening alone, 'which end is up?'

Sirius sighed. 'You don't have to hold him at arm's length. He won't explode. Here - like this.'

He took Harry and cuddled him close, jiggling him up and down a bit.

'I never had you down as someone who'd be good with babies,' Remus said.

'All they are is tiny people,' said Sirius. 'I can't wait until Harry's old enough to come on the bike with me. You'd like that, wouldn't you, Harry?'

And he started making bike noises, and whirling Harry around the room. Harry laughed and squealed and tried to make bike noises of his own.

'You really think Lily and James will let you take him on that thing?' Remus asked. 'I'm afraid to ride on it!'

'Well,' Sirius said, 'they might need a bit of persuading. But they'll come around, I'm sure. Once we get rid of You-Know-Who, Harry can come out on the bike any time he likes.'

'I'll believe it when I see it,' said Remus, but Sirius and Harry, revving up their imaginary motorbike, ignored him.

Chapter Text

Amanda loved Vulcan. She had loved it since she had arrived, the vast deserts stretching away in all directions, the stillness of the air, the cities quiet and meditative. And she loved Sarek. And although love was an emotion and so he didn't love her back, not exactly, he would have done absolutely anything that she asked.

'We have to move to Earth,' she told him, one morning at breakfast. She had been thinking about it for some time.

He just looked at her, used to her sudden, illogical pronouncements. He finished his mouthful of Plomeek broth and dabbed his lip with a napkin before asking:

'Are you unhappy on Vulcan, then?'

She shook her head. 'Not in the least. But a child might be.'

Sarek actually raised his eyebrows at that. It had been some weeks since his Pon Farr, and he had assumed that conception had not taken place.

'Do you believe so?' he asked.

She sighed and got up from the table to put her arms around his shoulders. 

'It's not that I've felt unwelcome,' she said. 'I haven't. But I wonder if this life of logic and structure and quiet is appropriate for a half-human child. The people on Earth are more... diverse. We could still school the child in logic and discipline, and perhaps we could return to Vulcan after a few years.'

Sarek had never refused his wife anything, and he did not intend to start now. Two months later, they left for Earth. Some months after that, their son was born. Four months after that, he laughed for the first time. And Sarek was not displeased by it.

Chapter Text

Sarah Jane leaned on the mop for a moment and sighed. 'When you said you'd take me to dinner in Paris,' she said, 'I didn't quite picture this being how it would end up.'

The Doctor looked mournfully at her.

'Although I suppose I should have done,' she continued, rinsing the mop in the bucket and resuming the cleaning of the vast floor of the restaurant. 'You never were good with money.'

'Well, how was I supposed to know that they're not on écus any more?' he grumbled. 'If you humans would stick to one currency for more than five minutes at a stretch, I might have a better chance.'

'It's a good job we didn't get that wine you wanted or we'd be here until I die of old age,' Sarah said. 'And why am I doing all the mopping, anyway? It was your fault.'

'Sarah,' said the Doctor, patiently, 'do I look as though I was meant to wield a mop?'

Sarah regarded him critically. 'Yes,' she said at last, and thrust it into his hands. 'Don't forget to go all the way under the tables,' she told him. 'And when you're finished, we're getting back in the TARDIS, and you're taking me for another dinner to apologise for the first one. And this time, I'll look after the money.'

Chapter Text

Luke liked spending time at Clyde's house. He liked the way Mrs Langer would bring out a bottle of Coke and the biscuit tin when she saw them coming up the road. He liked the way she'd ask him how school was going and tell him to call her Carla, and help himself, and not stand on ceremony.

They didn't spend as much time there as they did at his house. Clyde and Rani always wanted to go to the attic after school, find out what had happened in the universe while they were struggling with significant dates of the Civil War and French verbs. 

It was different for them. Aliens and monsters and invasions and secrets and everything – that was exciting, that was novelty, that was strange and special and important. For Luke, that was how life had always been, from the moment he woke up and ran. He liked it, loved it, but. The monsters were routine. The secrets were routine.

Novelty was a cup of tea uninterrupted by a beeping or crashing that heralded adventure. Novelty was doing homework without the help of a genius alien supercomputer. Novelty was talking to Mrs Langer over egg and chips about politics that didn't concern interplanetary jurisdiction laws, or about explosions and shocking revelations on the telly instead of in real life.

Luke never stopped being grateful that Mum was teaching him so much about the universe. But life on Earth was its own adventure.

Chapter Text

'You said it wouldn't be busy!' Deanna said, half-teasing, half-exasperated. It was rare enough that they got leisure time together, and shore leave at the same time was almost unheard-of.

'I'm sorry!' Beverly said. 'I don't know what happened, nobody had heard of it the last time I was here! Stay there, I'll go and see what the wait time is.'

Deanna stood outside in the gentle rain and waited, watching the people in the queue that snaked around the side of the building. After a few moments she saw Beverly extricate herself from the crush in the doorway, shaking her head.

'At least an hour,' she reported, when she reached Deanna. 'And they say the rain's about to get worse. Oh Deanna, let's just go somewhere else.'

'You've been waxing lyrical about this restaurant for months!' Deanna said. 'We're not giving up.'

'Well, what is there to do?' Beverly asked.

'Wait there,' said Deanna.

Two minutes later, Deanna leaned out the door and beckoned to Beverly before disappearing again. Beverly hurried to follow, and inside, a waiter ushered her to a table with a view of the bay, where Deanna was already sitting.

'How did you do that?' asked Beverly.

Deanna shrugged. 'I told them I was a Daughter of the Fifth House and Heir to the Holy Rings of Betazed.'

'And that worked?!'

'Oh, you'd be surprised. Just don't tell my mother, I'd never hear the end of it. Come on, let's order. I'm starving.'

Chapter Text

Harry wandered into the console room, where Sarah had dragged a wicker chair and was reading a paperback novel. He was carrying a bundle of clothes.

'Sarah?' he asked.

She looked up, startled. She turned her book upside down to keep the page. 'Yes?'

'All my clothes are covered in mud or alien slime or blood and things,' he said, a little plaintively.

'And how can I help you?'

'Well... what shall I do?'

'There's a washing machine in the laundry room down the corridor from the wardrobe. It's from the twenty-third century but it seems to work all right.'

There was silence. Harry shifted awkwardly from one foot to the other.

'I'm not doing your washing for you, Harry,' she said, after a minute.

'Oh?' he said. 'I'm sure you'd do a much better job than I would, and I'd be so grateful...'

'Nice try,' she said. 'But no.'

Harry looked mournfully at Sarah. She returned pointedly to her book. After a moment, he shuffled away. Sarah waited until he was gone to laugh.

Chapter Text

'It's starting to rain,' observed Mrs Hughes, looking out at the darkening garden.

Mrs Patmore shifted comfortably in her chair. 'That'll be good for the vegetable garden, anyway,' she said.

They all listened for a moment as the rain began to spatter against the windows.

'Where's Anna?' Bates asked, suddenly.

'Oh!' Daisy said. 'She went out a bit ago. She wanted to pick some flowers, I think.'

'She'll be damp when she comes in,' said O'Brien.

'I'll take an umbrella down,' said Bates.

* * *

He found Anna sheltering in the shadow of the gardener's shed. 

'Oh, you didn't have to!' she said, when she saw him coming. 'I was just going to wait for it to stop.'

He looked up. 'I don't think it's going to stop,' he said.

The rain was heavier now. She moved under the umbrella with him. It wasn't a large umbrella. She linked arms with him. Slowly, they began the walk back up to the house.

'I like the rain,' she said. 'When I'm not in it. I like to listen to it, when I'm inside and warm.'

The wind whipped up and flung the rain sideways at them. Anna moved a little closer to Bates, as close as was proper. She wished a little that she could move improperly close, but this was nice enough.

It was wonderful to spend a moment with him without anyone else. She revelled in the slow pace of their journey back. When they reached the porch and took off their wet things, she lingered for as long as possible, taking her time hanging up her outdoor clothes before they joined the others in the kitchen.

The others drifted, one by one, to bed. Anna and Bates sat and listened to the rain.

Chapter Text

All of their things, including quite a lot of accumulated furniture, were supposed to be waiting for them when they arrived in the new house on Earth. But there was nothing, and no sign of what had happened. All they had was the bags they had taken on the transport from Bajor. 

Keiko was muttering threateningly about 'damn cut-price Ferengi shipping companies', so Miles sent Molly with Kirayoshi to explore the garden, while he got the communications system online to ask about their things.

'They'll be here in three days,' he told Keiko, once he had signed off with the shipping company. 'We can manage until then, can't we?'

Keiko held her hands up, and sighed. 'It's been a long few weeks,' she said. 'I just want to be settled again.'

Miles looked at her. 'You miss Deep Space Nine, don't you?'

She shrugged, trying not to smile. 'You know – I hate that station. All cold metal, replicators always broken, wars all over the place... yes, I miss it. It's funny, I didn't think I would.'

He pulled her into a hug that lasted a long moment. 'You'll feel better once our stuff arrives,' he said.

Molly came back in, balancing Yoshi on her hip. It wasn't long that she'd been big enough to do that. 

'This is just like when me and Mommy and Daddy moved to Deep Space Nine,' she was telling Yoshi. 'We didn't have hardly any things then, either.' She looked up. 'Daddy,' she announced, 'it's not as pretty as Golana but there's a lake. Can we have a picnic for lunch? If we don't have a table yet?'

'That sounds like a great idea!' said Keiko. 'Go pick us a spot, ok?'

She put an arm around Miles as they watched their children hurry back out into the sunlight.

'Three days isn't so long,' she said.

Chapter Text

1. She did the flowers for her own wedding. She was up late the night before, putting on the final touches. Everyone told her not to worry, that she should only care about looking beautiful for her big day. But where was the sense in looking beautiful if everything else wasn't perfect?

2. When her father died, Haresh said that perhaps someone else should do the flowers. He didn't want her to have to worry and work. She wanted him to understand, but talking about it was difficult. So she just did it anyway, and ignored Haresh when he tried to talk to her. Who could ever pay tribute to her father better than she could?

3. Ever since Rani was born, Gita had made her a flower arrangement for her birthday, every year. Just a little one, at first. A few bright sunflowers, a circle of daisies. Sweet, colourful flowers. As the years went by, she found herself adding orchids, tulips, birds of paradise. Daisies didn't seem appropriate any more.

4. Gita wanted to follow Sarah out of the registry office and ask if there was anything she could do, but Rani and the boys knew what they were doing. It was important that somebody take care of the practical things. So she removed the flowers, and took them to the hospital where they would be appreciated. Rani texted her the number for the reception venue and the caterer, and Gita sorted it all out.

Sarah never asked who had done it, afterwards, but Gita didn't really want to be thanked.

5. Gita felt as though this was the job she had been waiting for all her life. She had agonised for weeks over whether the pale pink or the cream roses would be better. She had spent an evening picking out only the freshest and most delicate blooms. She had sketched ideas for months beforehand, changed her mind almost daily. She had spent hours on the phone to suppliers explaining her requirements exactly.

But when Rani walked down the aisle in her wedding dress, Gita forgot the flowers altogether.

Chapter Text

Julian had devised a way to lock the holosuite, since Garak had barged in that time. The secret agent programme was embarrassing enough. This one was worse, much worse.

Julian was a stickler for accuracy and he hated having to guess at things, but until he saw the real Garak naked, the approximation would have to do. It certainly did the job, anyway.

The room was near dark, when he entered. They met in secret, always.

'Doctor Bashir,' said the voice of Garak. 'How nice of you to join me.'

Without preamble, his holographic hands were on Julian's skin, tearing away his shirt in a practised motion. They kissed, Julian's pulse hammered, Garak pinned him to the ground. A hand at his throat.

'Did you think I wouldn't find out?' he asked.

Julian blinked. And suddenly he saw it. The holographic Garak's eyes were .02 of a centimeter closer together than that. His skin was the tiniest fraction darker. He wasn't...


'I almost hoped you would,' said Julian.

Garak just smiled.

Chapter Text

'Tasha,' said Data, 'I appreciate your thoughtfulness, but today is not my birthday. I do not have a birthday. Nor do I need to ingest food.'

'But you can eat, if you want to,' Tasha pointed out, unconcerned. 'And I looked up the day you were activated. Which is more or less the same as a birthday.'

Data smiled. It looked funny on him but Tasha liked it.

'Blow the candle out, then, and make a wish,' she said.

He frowned, confused, but obeyed. She put the cake down on the table to cut it. They had a slice each, and ate in contemplative silence.

'Why did you bring me cake, Tasha?' Data asked.

She shrugged. 'I never had a birthday cake, growing up. It's something everyone ought to get at least once.'


Silently, Data resolved that her next birthday, Tasha would get the most extravagant cake the replicators could provide.

Chapter Text

'What if it's not the same?' Miles asked Keiko. He looked up at the clock.

'Of course it will be the same,' she said. 'Stop worrying. Haven't you written each other nearly every day since we left DS9?'

Miles couldn't help being nervous. But Keiko was right. When Julian materialised in the front garden, and yelled a greeting and ran to meet him, Miles knew that nothing had changed.

They had dinner with Keiko and the kids. They stayed up late into the night, telling each other all the things they had already said in letters and recordings. They got steadily drunk, and sang songs. They argued in circles, they played darts. Julian stood a little further back, like he always did.

The next day, they transported to San Antonio. They walked the short distance from the transport site. You couldn't just beam in, it wouldn't be right.

At the Alamo, for a long time they just sat together and looked.

Chapter Text

Major Kira looked around Ops, and sighed. It was time to talk to Captain Sisko.

It was natural in a community, she supposed, for the occasional craze to spread. Even in the resistance there had been a card game that had mysteriously leapt between cells and become ludicrously popular.

She'd thought at first that the children were starting them – it seemed a natural enough conclusion when it was yo-yos and those weird bracelets. But it had moved on to PADDs decorated with stickers, Risean energy drinks in special bottles, turn-ups on uniform trousers.

Each time she'd let it slide, and each time it had died away, slowly. But this was taking it a bit far.

'Tiny little hats are not appropriate for duty,' she said to Sisko, in his office. 'Even if they are colour coordinated with the uniform. I mean, what if the Cardassians show up and want to talk to us on the viewscreen? We'd look ridiculous! I'm not going to yell 'hats off' every time we want to activate a comm link.'

Sisko sighed. 'You're right,' he said. 'I'll send out a memo. No more little hats. But Jadzia is going to be mad. She just ordered a new one with fruit and feathers on it.'

Kira stared. 'It was Dax?'

Sisko raised an eyebrow. Kira sighed.

'Of course it was Dax.'

Chapter Text

'Oh, come on! Let's look! It could be anything! This is so exciting! Please?'

Virginia sighed. Mostly she appreciated Wolf's enthusiasm, but sometimes it got a little wearing. Especially when he wanted to do things that were so plainly not a good idea.

'I'm not sure we should,' she said. 'Do you remember what happened the last time I went through a mysterious portal?'

He nodded vigorously. 'You met me! And then we fell in love, and then...'

'Okay, okay!' she said. 'We'll look. But that's it. I'm not in the mood for an adventure today.'

'You're trying not to smile,' Wolf pointed out.

'So what if I am? Come on, let's just get this over with.'

And she took his hand and together they stepped through the portal that had appeared in the middle of the forest that morning.

On the other side was a large room, full of people who had stopped their work to stare at the new arrivals. The man on the raised chair in the centre of the room turned to look at them.

'My name is Captain James T. Kirk,' he said. 'You have five seconds to tell me who the hell you are and what you're doing on my ship.'

Chapter Text

She turned to Jean-Luc after Jack died, and everyone said how wonderful he was to take such good care of her. Nobody knew that she was just as much taking care of him.

It was harder for him because she had Wesley. A piece of Jack that he wasn't a part of. He never said anything, but she could feel him trying not to mind.

'You could adopt Wesley,' she said, one day. 'We could say he was yours. We could get married. It doesn't matter.'

But he refused. It wouldn't be fair to Jack, he said. And what would people say?

So they just took care of one another as though they were a man and his dead friend's wife, and not two-thirds of a whole. In public, anyway.

In private, it helped to have someone who understood, exactly, how she felt.

Chapter Text

'Is it much further?' Beverly asked.

Jean-Luc looked at her. 'Are you tired already?'

'Not at all. You just didn't say it would take all morning. A gentle walk, you said. Just down the way, you said.'

'This is a gentle walk!' He looked a little hurt.

'I think your idea of a relaxing vacation is a little different than mine,' she teased.

'You didn't have to come with me!' he said.

She shook her head. 'Send you on vacation on your own? You'd just get kidnapped, or seduced, or have to foil a jewel heist, or something. No way. I'm staying where I can keep an eye on you.'

'Onward, then?' he asked.

She sighed. 'Onward.'

Chapter Text

Beverly Crusher looked up. 'Pardon?'

Data said, more slowly, 'What is love?'

She frowned at him. 'What do you mean?'

'I am doing some research on the subject to facilitate my possible future emotional development. I have been asking many members of the senior staff to contribute their ideas.'

'I see.' She thought about it for a moment. 'Well, Data... to me, love is something that you do, not something that you feel. It's putting another being's needs ahead of your own.'

He nodded. 'Thank you, doctor. I will try that.'

A month later, Data got a cat.

Chapter Text

'I don't need to be in Sickbay, Beverly! Just release me to my quarters, would you?'

She raised her eyebrows at him. 'I'd have more faith in that statement if I hadn't just seen you fall over trying to stand up.'

'Fluke,' he said. 'I'm feeling fine.'

'You said you were feeling fine when we rescued you from the Borg, and the Cardassians. Why don't you let me decide when you're fine?'

He huffed. 'I think you just want to keep me here to amuse you.'

'On the contrary, I wish I saw less of you in here. You could be a bit more careful, you know. You get brought so often on the brink of death, my heart can hardly take it!'

'At least you've got a heart.'

'Oh, shut up, Captain, or I'll keep you here an extra day.'

'Yes, Doctor.'

Chapter Text

Neelix had quickly grown attached to the major Alpha Quadrant holidays, and right now he was putting up the Christmas tree in the Mess Hall.

'Nothing makes you feel all Christmassy like decorating the tree,' Tom remarked to B'Elanna, as they sat enjoying breakfast together before heading off for their shifts.

B'Elanna shrugged. 'I wouldn't know, I've never had one. My mother wasn't really interested in Earth holidays.'

'You've never had a Christmas tree?' Tom looked almost hurt at the revelation.

'It doesn't bother me,' B'Elanna said, a little too quickly. 'Hey, I'd better get going.'

And she got up, kissed Tom a brief goodbye, and was gone before he could say anything else.

* * *

Tom had to beg, borrow and promise things to half the crew, and recycle several of his favourite useless gadgets, and it took all day, but finally he managed to build up enough replicator rations for a small artificial tree.

It was waiting for B'Elanna when she got back to their quarters that evening.

'Oh, Tom - you didn't!' she cried.

He shrugged, trying not to look smug. 'I did.'

'How did you manage it? I know you don't have any rations...'

'Ah,' he said. 'Christmas magic. So are we going to decorate it?'

She grabbed him, and pulled him close. 'In a minute,' she said.

Chapter Text

'You never tell me I'm pretty,' Kaylee complained.

'Should I?' asked Mal, lolling across her lap in the bed.

'Well, I am, ain't I?'

'If you already know, why d'you need telling?'

She rolled her eyes. 'I don't know why women like you so much.'

'Well, why do you like me?'

'I don't,' she said, and stuck out her tongue at him. 'I think you're mean. But you're mighty clever with your hands, and your tongue, and that counts for a lot with a girl. Ain't every man knows what he's doing.'

'Well, there's the answer to your question,' Mal said breezily.

She hit him over the head with a pillow. But she was smiling while she did it.