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Bolarus System: Federation Space

Stardate: 54452.2

"There's my baby boy!" Annabeth exclaimed as she looked at the terminal in her quarters. Alex held up Max towards the camera and waved his little hand. "Mama liebt dich so sehr!" He smiled as he heard Annabeth's voice through the subspace link.

"See," Alex whispered into Max's ear. "There she is. I told you we'd talk to Mama soon."

"I think he's gotten bigger since you left," Annabeth said as her heart melted. She just wanted to reach through the screen and hold her son.

"Beth, we've been gone just over a week."

"Still," Annabeth said. "I think he's gotten bigger!" She looked at the background around Alex. Her wife was sitting in the living room of her childhood apartment in Munich. She sighed when she saw her parent's old furniture that they had pulled out of storage. "How's the place?" Annabeth asked.

"Still got some cleaning to do," Alex replied. "Replicator repair man is coming Thursday. Some of the milk coming out of it smells a little funky."

"We probably need to redo that whole kitchen," Annabeth said.

"Yeah," Alex replied. "I don't think it's been updated in thirty years."

"I think you're right," Annabeth replied with a smile. "My last tenants were a little older. They didn't seem to mind."

"Well I do mind if I'm going to be living here," Alex grinned back on the screen. "How're things back on the Lady B?"

"Mercifully quiet," Annabeth said. "We're just making the rounds of the Federation and showing the colors. Kinzo is settling in nicely. I think Dan might actually like him."

"Shocking," Alex said bouncing Max on her knee. "I guess he doesn't hate doctors that much after all."

"I wouldn't go that far," Annabeth replied. "It might be a case by case kinda thing." She paused. "He's been going out of his mind since Laria has been gone."

"And he still hasn't heard from her?" Alex asked surpised.

"No," Annabeth said shaking her head. "Whatever the Klingons have her doing, it's on radio silence."

"I'd be going crazy too," Alex said with sigh. "It's even worse when you know how dangerous our job is."

"Magnify that by a hundred when Klingons are involved," Annabeth said rolling her eyes.

"Take care of him, alright?" Alex said. "He doesn't have a lot of people in this galaxy besides Laria and Torlek."

"I'm his first officer, and God help me, I think I'm his best friend. It's kinda my job," Annabeth said taking a sip of tea from a mug on her desk.

"Well, at least you're good at it," Alex said.

"I don't know about that," Annabeth replied. "I got Phil and Katie about to kill each other. The wedding's in two weeks and I'm still not sure they're gonna go through with it. Scharr is trying to take his mind off of home by driving the entire engineering section crazy, and I got a new Chief Medical Officer who's only spent two months of his career aboard starships. I kinda got a full plate."

"The last one is kind my fault," Alex said innocently pursing her lips. "You're welcome."

"He'll be alright," Annabeth said calmly. "When do you start reporting to the Academy?"

"Not for a couple of days," Alex replied. "Mom and Dad are beaming over tomorrow afternoon and then we're going to the Christmasmarkt downtown."

Annabeth waved her hands excitedly.

"Ok," she said furiously trying to explain things. "First things first, you have to get fresh Lebkuchenkekse and then go for the Gluhwein. They'll both warm you up, but don't get them together. It has to be in that order…"

"Beth," Alex said cutting her off. "How many times are you going to explain this?"

"As many times as it takes!" Annabeth said. "Christmas is a big deal in Germany!"

"I'm Canadian, not Vulcan," Alex replied rolling her eyes. "It's kind of a big deal there too."

"Babe," Annabeth said lowering her chin. "If you think Canadian Christmas is anywhere near German Christmas, you're wrong."

"Alright, alright," Alex said surrendering. "I believe you."

"And pictures! I want a million pictures!" Annabeth reiterated. "I want to see his little face light up when he sees the big Christmas tree!"

"Don't worry," Alex reassured her. "We'll overload the subspace bandwidth. My Dad is already tracking he's been dubbed the official event recorder and he's looking forward to it. We even got a new snowsuit today to wear tomorrow, didn't we?" Alex cooed at Max. His head bobbed a little and his eyes started to close. "It's getting kind late here," Alex said. "I probably need to get him ready for bed."

"Ok," Annabeth said holding her hand up to the screen. "Ich liebe dich, Kleiner Mann," she said to Max's image.

"And I love you too," Alex said holding up Max towards the subspace camera. She spoke from behind his back pretending to be him, "but I want you to speak in a language that mommy understands. I don't want to learn German."

"Lies!" Annabeth said laughing. "You want both mommies to speak German because that's the best language in the universe."

"Ok," Alex said putting Max back into her lap. "I probably do need to learn at least a little if I'm going to be living here."

"Only a little?" Annabeth cocking her head to the side.

"Fine, more than a little. Better his first words are in German than Klingon," Alex said shaking her head.

"Babe, you ain't kidding…" Annabeth muttered. "We'll just have to watch Dan when he talks to him."

"No Klingon yet!" Alex said looking at Max's sleepy face. "You hear me, Little Guy?" He relaxed and began to doze off in her arms. Annabeth smiled. She never realized how happy life could be until now.

****

Tigranian stood in front of his quarters' replicator and thumbed through the selections.

"Festive…" he muttered with a hint of derision. "We want festive…"

Finally, he settled on a hot toddy. It materialized in front of him and he stumbled to his couch. On his holoscreen, a high definition video of a fireplace crackled and popped. He sat down and took a long sip of bourbon and honey.

"Computer," he said as he grabbed Rijo, Laria's pugabeast, from a cushion and dropped the stuffed animal into his lap. "Current date and time on Earth."

"Specify calendar and time zone."

"Gregorian Calendar, Coordinated Universal Time…" Tigranian said taking another sip. He stared at the tiny, blinking Christmas tree on his coffee table.

"The current time at the Royal Observatory, Greenwich, United Kingdom, Earth is 2134 Hours, Tuesday, 20 December, 2377."

"Getting close…" Tigranian said. He didn't know what was wrong this year. Normally, the ancient holiday of Christmas passed without much fanfare in his life. He had just introduced Laria to it last year. To his great surprise, she loved it. Now, the fact that she wasn't here made it stick in his mind like a sharp needle. "Computer, play Christmas music."

I don't want a lot for Christmas.
There is just one thing I need.
I don't care about the presents
Underneath the Christmas tree.

I just want you for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true…
All I want for Christmas is you…

He wondered who had programed the Pershing's musical database. It had the uncanny ability to twist the emotional knife at the worst times. He thought about writing a sternly worded to the Caleb IV Shipyards, but instead settled for another stiff drink while holding Rijo slightly closer to his chest. He looked up at the bat'leth on his wall. Beneath it, were the two empty slots for Laria's mek'leths.

"At least I still have you…" he said looking down into the pugabeast's plastic eyes. "What do you say? Join me in a toast to Laria?" Rijo continued to look up at him. "No?" Tigranian asked. "Too bad."

He took another nip of hot toddy.

"Wherever you are, My Love," he whispered, "I hope you happy, I hope you are joyful, and I hope you are fighting with honor…Merry Christmas."

He continued to stare at the wall, dreaming of seeing those mek'leths back in their rightful place.


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