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NOV/DEC Lost and Found


Velana
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Starbase 139

2387

Velana had forgotten what sleep felt like. After only five days, sleep seemed like luxury that no one could afford any more. She had taken to closing her eyes for ten or twenty minutes whenever she could, and calling that sleep when someone asked if she had gotten any.

How could she sleep? Even those stolen seconds of rest were interrupted by the voices, the moans, the screams...the never-ending sound of suffering that permeated the station's overcrowded hospital.

Doctor! Over here!”

She's losing too much blood! We need a doctor!”

Another shuttle just arrived. Eighteen injured, four dead on arrival.”

Please, Doctor....I don't want to die. Please...”

There was a master list of the dead, but Velana only added names to it. She had yet to look anyone up, not even her mother. Ignorance was more than just bliss, it was a coping mechanism that enabled her to keep going through the next surgery, the next loss, the next orphaned child asking for their mother.

She couldn't afford to lose the emotional control that the traumatized Humans expected her to display. When her patients saw Velana's ears, they almost seemed relieved, as if they at least knew that they were in good hands with a Vulcan who couldn't possibly have been affected by the loss of Earth.

It wasn't their fault. They couldn't know that Earth was...had been...the only home Velana had left, or that its destruction was a wound that cut her just as deeply.

She was just as homeless as they were.

In the first few days, her job had been simple. Save lives. There had been so little time to evacuate the planet; many of the shuttles that had left the system had been caught in the shock wave that followed. Huge, hurtling chunks of debris had taken out more than a few ships, as well.

The injuries ranged from full-body plasma burns and amputated limbs to torn ligaments and mild concussions. The starbases nearest to what was left of the Sol system had become refugee camps where doctors, even cadets like Velana, were worth their weight in gold-pressed latinum.

Now that the trickle of incoming patients had died down somewhat, Velana's job had expanded to include inventory and crowd control. Everyone had questions. No one had any answers. Shock and grief were giving way to anger and frustration.

Human nature, she supposed.

“Velana.”

She heard her name called out across Sickbay so many times every day that she didn't bother looking up from her PADD. Whoever it was, they could wait until she had finished calculating how much dermaline gel was left. The station was starting to ration its energy resources, and even Sickbay no longer had a free pass to replicate whatever they needed.

“Vee.”

Velana lifted her head. Hearing her nickname, spoken by that voice, was enough to tear her away from her work. Her stomach twisted; her heart leaped into her throat.

It had been three years since their last night together. Three long, painful years without the Human she had foolishly assumed was her mate. The man who had dumped her on graduation night, after wining and dining and bedding her one last time.

“You're alive.” Cade shook his head. She wasn't certain, but there might have been tears in his eyes. “I hoped...but I didn't want to look and see...” He swallowed, his Adam's apple bobbing above the collar of his uniform. “Oh god, baby, you are a sight for sore eyes!”

As much as she wanted to turn and walk away from him, Velana couldn't keep from taking a step forward. “What are you doing here?”

“Reassigned to the station. Temporarily, so they say.”

She nodded slightly. “Your family?”

“They're fine.” He smiled tightly. “Mom had them off-planet as soon as the temperature spiked.” A shadow crossed his face. “How's T'Lan?”

Velana's chin trembled at the mention of her mother, but she managed to reply, “I don't know.”

Cade moved forward, closing the space between them. Before she could stop him, he drew her against his chest. She was too exhausted to protest and too tired of missing him to pull away. Instead, she let herself lean into the solidity of his body. His arms circled her. Surrounded by his warmth and his scent, Velana let herself shed the first tears she'd spent since the supernova.

“Doctor! I need a doctor over here!”

Snapping back to reality, Velana looked up at Cade. “I have to go.” But it was another second before she could tear herself away from him.

“When do you get a break?” Cade asked as she started towards the nurse who had called for her.

“Break?” she repeated. “I don't think so.”

“1900 hours. The Promenade Lounge.” He gave her a smile which was still just as disarming as it had always been. “You have to eat, Vee.”

Shaking her head, Velana gave in. Anything to make him go away. “Fine. 1900 hours.”

Her attention was already back where it belonged, not on the man who had broken her heart, but on her patient, a woman who had just gone into labor seven weeks early.

****

Even if she hadn't lost her entire wardrobe, Velana wouldn't have dressed up for dinner. The only reason she was even able to go was because her patient's premature baby had been delivered with far more ease than she had feared. There was a tiny new Human in the world, a hope-filled sign that the species would continue, perhaps even thrive, despite their crippling loss.

Cade was waiting for her when she walked into the lounge in one of the few outfits she possessed, a simple black dress that she'd purchased from on the promenade half a hour earlier. He'd already ordered a drink for her, an annoying habit that she hadn't missed.

He stood as she approached the table and pulled out her chair for her. “I almost convinced myself that you weren't coming,” Cade confessed as Velana sat down.

“Really? That shows an uncharacteristic lack of belief in your own charisma.” Velana gestured to the flute of Talaxian champagne in front of her. “Please tell me we're not celebrating something.”

“No. I just remembered that you liked it.” He paused as he lowered himself into his seat. “You do still like it, don't you?”

She picked up the glass and took a sip. “Yes,” she decided. Cade watched her as she set the glass down again. “What is it?”

“You're different, Vee.”

“It's been three years, Cade.”

“I realize that. I just...” He shook his head. “I don't know. I was expecting...”

“The same woman you left in that hotel bed?” Sitting back in her chair, Velana folded her arms. “Are we really going to have this conversation?” A moment passed in silence. “I didn't think so.”

Cade lifted his own drink, but put it down almost immediately. “I regret that night, you know. Not being with you, but what I said...what I did. I have regretted it every single day since.”

“It doesn't matter now,” Velana murmured a moment later. “That hotel doesn't even exist anymore.”

“Yeah.” He drained his glass with distant, haunted look in his eyes. “Everything's gone. My home...is gone. I wasn't even there, Vee.”

She lifted her bare shoulder. “You're better off for that.”

“Is this what you felt? When your family's ship was destroyed...did you feel this?” Cade pressed his palm to the center of his chest. “This ache? It's not going away; it's just getting worse.”

“It won't ever go away.”

Cade frowned. “Your Vulcan is showing.”

“Would you rather I lie?” Velana leaned forward. “You can learn to live with the pain, but it never disappears, Cade. One day, you'll be reminded of Earth, and it will feel like the supernova happened only the day before.” She paused. “Some wounds never heal.”

“Did I...?” Knowing better than to ask, he stopped. “I'm sorry.”

Uncrossing her legs, Velana stood up. “Thank you for the drink, but I should get back to Sickbay.”

“Vee.” She was already walking away when Cade called out, “Vee, wait!”

On the promenade, she tried to lose herself in the crowd, but when she reached the turbolifts, Cade caught up with her. Reaching out, he grasped her arm. “Please, Vee. Don't...”

“What are you doing, Cade?” she yelled, pushing his hand away. Her emotions had been simmering for days, but now they boiled over. At least they were directed at someone who deserved them. “What do you want?”

“I don't want anything!” he insisted. “All right, that's not true. I wanted to see you. I needed to see you.” He pushed his hands through his hair. “You know, I didn't even think about my family when I heard that Earth was...gone. I thought about you. I was so terrified...that you were gone, too.”

“You didn't want me,” she reminded him. “You didn't want us. All you wanted was to captain a starship. That could still happen. Starfleet is bigger than Earth. I think I even heard that Vulcan was being considered as a new base of operations.”

Cade opened his mouth, but she cut him off. “Nothing has changed, Cade. At least not between us.”

The lift doors opened and Velana stepped inside. “Deck Five.” She avoided looking at him for the agonizing seconds it took the doors to close, but at the last possible moment, Cade followed her into the lift.

Velana scowled. “Look, I realize that no woman has ever turned you down before, but...”

Cade cut her off. “You are not some conquest to me, Velana. You never were.”

“Forgive me if I have a hard time believing that.”

“I just lost the only place I've ever called home and...”

“Yet, here you are, trying to rekindle something you extinguished a long time ago!” she shouted. “Of course, it's easy for you, isn't it? To think about yourself, what you want right now. Your family is still alive; you haven't lost someone that you...”

He spoke so quietly that Velana almost didn't hear him. “They're gone.”

Her chest rose and fell with unspent energy. “What?”

Cade cleared his throat. “My family. They're dead.”

She closed her eyes briefly, trying to process his words. “But you said...”

“I lied. They didn't make it out.” When she looked at him, he sniffed and tried to smile. “Am I too old to call myself an orphan?”

“Oh, Cade...” Against her better judgment, Velana reached for him, cupping his face between her hands. “You should have told me.”

“I haven't said it out loud until now,” he admitted. “My family is...is dead. I made you, the only woman I've ever loved, hate me.” When he lowered his gaze, tears spilled down his cheeks and over her fingers. “I'm all alone.”

“If I hated you,” she whispered, “I wouldn't still be mad at you.” Velana brushed her thumb across his full bottom lip. “And you're not alone. We're not alone.”

She wasn't sure if he leaned forward first or if it was her, but their mouths met in a salty kiss. What started out soft and sweet quickly turned deep and needy. When the lift doors opened, they stumbled out into the corridor, unwilling to lose contact as they made their way to Velana's quarters.

****

After six hours of dreamless sleep, Velana woke to the scent of coffee. Sitting up in bed, she searched the room until she found Cade, awake and dressed, walking back from the replicator with a mug in his hands.

“Cream, no sugar.” He offered her the cup which she hesitantly took. Sitting on the edge of the bed, Cade, the great womanizer of Starfleet Academy, seemed at a loss as to what to do next. Velana hid her smile behind her drink as she took a sip. “I was hoping you'd wake up before I had to leave.”

“I would have understood,” she told him. “Duty calls. Actually...” Velana set the mug aside. “I didn't expect you to say the night.”

He frowned. “Did you want me to go after...?”

“No!” A greenish blush stained her cheeks. “That's not what I meant. I just thought that...”

“That history would repeat itself?” Cade leaned forward and kissed her. “Velana, as long as you want me, I will be here.”

She looked down at the sheet covering her lap. “Be careful. I'll start to believe you.”

“You're my home now.” He shook his head. “Maybe you always were.”

Velana dragged her lip between her teeth. “I can't replace your family, Cade, or your planet. If you expect me to be your new home, then this will never...”

He kissed her again, longer this time. “While you were sleeping,” he said a minute later, “I did something that I hope you'll forgive me for.” At her puzzled look, Cade continued, “I checked the casualty list.”

Suddenly cold, Velana drew back. “Why would you...? I didn't ask you to do that!”

“She's alive, Vee. Your mother...she made it!”

Her back curved under the weight of her relief. She wasn't aware of her sobs; all she felt was Cade's hands stroking her hair, and all she heard was her own voice thanking him.

When her emotions were spent, Velana slowly sat up. “Where is she?”

“Vulcan.”

A chuckle escaped her, followed by a full peal of laughter. “Vulcan?” she repeated. “Of all places. Vulcan.”

“Maybe she'll stay there.” Cade hesitated. “Would you join her if she did?”

“No.” She glanced away. “Starfleet can resettle there, but I never will.”

“Where will you go?”

Velana turned back to him. “Where are you going?”

Cade smiled as he touched her pointed ear. “I'm not going anywhere.”

“Then...” She captured his hand and laced her fingers through his. “I suppose we're not homeless anymore.”

LtJG Velana

Assistant Chief Medical Officer

USS Tiger-A

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