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Chapter Notes:

Prime timeline. This is a direct sequel to Bread.

“There’s a certain grace,” former President Jonathan Archer declared, “in caring for someone in the throes of an illness that is all-consuming, progressive, terminal, and incurable. And then that disease, Irumodic Syndrome, robs the victim of their faculties.” He glanced at the widow; this was a funeral. The woman took a yellow handkerchief from her handbag and began dabbing at her eyes. 

“Every year, it seems, I preside over a memorial service for someone who had been on the NX-01.” Archer continued, “And so here we are again. We were in many battles on the Enterprise, but none was as hard-fought as this one. For what is it to save a world, when you cannot save the person you love more than anything?” 

He paused. “While Starfleet Rabbi Leah Benson never fired a phase pistol, she battled this disease but it consumed her beloved. Wars are sometimes fought with drugs and therapies. Rabbi Benson is a general in such a war, with too many medals to count. But the one medal she wanted more than anything would have been the one where Diana was never affected in the first place.” 

Leah looked up. Archer added, “Science Ensign Diana Jones was lovely, bright, kind, and well-liked. She met Rabbi Benson after the Xindi War. Their love was as deep and abiding as any I’ve ever seen. Far as I’m concerned, they’re both heroes.” 

He stepped down from the podium and approached Leah. “In another timeline, she married an alien woman. I don’t know anything about that union. But I do know that your marriage was the best one I’ve ever seen. Every day, I strive for my marriage to be just like yours and Diana’s was.” Overcome, Leah hugged him, clutching the yellow handkerchief – Diana’s favorite color.

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