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[2006: JAN-FEB] Homeward Bound


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Lieutenant Commander Pietro Maximoff was officially on emergency leave - and for the moment, he considered himself simply Mr. Pietro Maximoff. Although he had packed a uniform for the return trip, he planned to be a civilian on the trip home and while he was there.

The ride from SB118 to Earth was remarkably short - perhaps he'd taken the route enough times, it just seemed faster. No matter - he was back on Earth again. His sister, Wanda, had agreed to pick him up from the spaceport. Normally the two would have bounded to greet each other with hugs and quick words, but on this occasion, they met with weak smiles and silence. There was one hug, lighter than usual. His arm around her shoulder, hers around his waist, the duo slowly departed the spaceport.

And there was still silence as they climbed into her hovercar. The radio was off. Pietro could barely make out the sound of passing cars, and the wind whizzing by.

They arrived at the old house after about an hour's drive. She told him she hadn't been there since she heard the news, because there were too many bad memories - he agreed. They climbed out of her car and moved to the front door, quietly examining the familiar features of the front lawn and the front stoop. He bent down and lifted the end of the welcome mat, picking up an ancient key for an ancient lock. He slid the key through the keyhole, turned it to the familiar sound of the lock opening, then shoved the key into his pocket. The twins stepped inside, taking in the sight of the old house, and all the memories to go with it. The smell of stale air made his nose twitch.

Wanda and Pietro separated, each exploring a different part of the house, for it had been nearly two years since either one had been inside. Wanda turned left into the southern part of the house, first crossing through the sitting room and into the kitchen. She let out a sigh, frowning slightly at the picture hanging next to the replicator. There was an old fridge as well, but it had never worked for more than a week at a time, so the replicator had been installed in the old house when fresh food wasn't available.

Pietro had gone up the stairs leading from the front hall. At the top of the stairs, he looked down at his hand and scowled, then clapped his hands together to smack away the dust that had been transferred from the railing to his palm. He turned right at the corner... and stopped. He stood there, eyes vacant, staring at the door at the end of the hall. A frown teased the corners of his mouth, and he slowly stepped forward. His hand closed around the doorknob, turned, and pushed the door open. Shuffling inside, his eyes were drawn to the large bed, the vanity with photos, the armoire hanging open. He approached the vanity first, sighing and wiping away the cobwebs. He pulled out a handkerchief, wiping the dust from the picture, his eyes suddenly welling up with tears.

Wanda found a similar picture hanging on the wall in the den. It was the only picture in the room that hadn't accumulated dust, and she wasn't entirely sure why. Frowning, she carefully pulled it from the wall, studying it silently.

The twins met in the front hall a few minutes later. It was almost time. Wanda had stored her picture in her purse, Pietro's in his back pocket. They left the house, locking the door and hiding the key where it was before. The hovercar took off again, heading towards the downtown area.

This trip only took a few minutes. Another few minutes later, the twins were sitting silently together on the wooden bench, waiting. Then it began.

The trial only lasted an hour. Their father had been paraded in, and both the prosecution and defense counsel's had made a show, but it wasn't really necessary. The twins knew their father would be pronounced guilty. The evidence was presented, testimonies given. A recess wasn't even necessary. The verdict was given.

The first of several trials was over. Erik Maximoff was guilty of treason to the civilian population of Earth. The next trial would be Starfleet vs Erik Maximoff. Pietro and Wanda dreaded that one as well. It would likely go much the same way.

The conclusion of the trial was not nearly as elaborate. Erik was handcuffed and taken into custody. Before they took him away, however, both Pietro and Wanda were allowed to speak with him. Very few words were traded, but both photos were given to him. The twins left with no other words. Erik was taken to a cell, where he was able to finally look at the photos.

One of the photos was of his wife and the twins, two weeks before she died. The other was a family portrait.

Erik broke down weeping.

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