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Ensign Anscom Folds -- Homecomings

Lt. Cmdr. Katy Orman

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((Folds' Quarters, Starbase 118 Habitat Ring))

::He had only seen his new home on a map of the station's layout, and a generic picture of an empty, apartment-style quarters he had pulled up, quickly, in one of his few free moments between receiving his assignment and checking in. When the doors opened, they revealed a stark, empty, grey room -- not entirely unlike what any other small, one-person apartment might look like in between residents.::

::Folds stepped inside and poked his head around. His duffel bag and trunk had already been delivered here, and sat next to a small table in the middle of the living area. Turning to his right, he found a doorway and a small bedroom. He slung the duffel over his shoulder, took three steps, and dropped it at the foot of the bed. The mattress was even a little softer than he had expected (or that he was used to from the Academy). But the pillows... He felt one, then lined the two provided up and punched them lightly. He would need to find better pillows.::

Folds: ::with a sigh that turns into a yawn:: Home sweet home...

::He sat on the bed and, keeping both feet on the floor, leaned back and closed his eyes. He didn't want to take a nap, or go to sleep, not just yet. He only wanted a moment or two of rest...::

::The medical rounds had been fairly uneventful; MacLaren had been right that many of the patients would probably be ready to be discharged in the morning. Still... he should review what had happened before coming in. And Captain Dubeau's files, if he had access to them. Would he have access to the records of patients he wasn't assigned to? This must have been covered in the Academy, but he was too tired right now to remember.::

Folds: ::eyes still closed:: In the morning, Folds. You can take a little time off, get acclimated.

:: 'You can take a little time off.' He remembered his sister telling him that, many years before. It wasn't long after she had left the Academy -- so he couldn't have been more than twelve.::

((Flashback -- Folds Household, Savannah, Georgia -- 2374))

::Anscom was sitting in his bedroom -- it had been his since Fiona had moved out to go to the Academy and Cyril had been allowed to take over her old room -- poring over work at his desk, the only piece of furniture other than a twin bed and a dresser. Fiona, eight years older than he, had come in to check on him. And offer to take him on a walk, to get ice cream, a soda, anything.::

Folds (age 12): ::excitedly and hurriedly:: Well, you see, I've got to finish my homework, and then finish these extra assignments Mum and Dad have me doing, and then Mum wants me to help review some of the data that she's brought in -- it'll be really exciting, she's finally letting me help her! -- and *then* once I'm done with all that, I get some time to myself to read, or maybe to get ahead on tomorrow's work. Mum and Dad say it's best to stay a day or two ahead of your teachers, if you can.

Fiona: ::smiling lightly:: You know, Ani, you can take a little time off sometimes.

Folds: Don't call me that.

Fiona: Sorry.

::She left him to his work then, lowering a hand to rumple his hair in apology for the nickname before leaving.::

::Later that evening, the entire family was together around the dinner table for the first time in over a year: Anscom, Fiona, the middle sibling, Cyril, and their parents, Rolan and Stella. In the background, however, voices from the news station Fiona had left on were filtering into their table talk. Dominion forces on Betazed ... Planetary defenses failing ... Casualty reports ... Ships missing or destroyed ... Federation and Starfleet insist on the security of Earth and Sector 001...::

Rolan: Will you turn that off?

Fiona: No. They ought to know what's going on. And I *need* to know. You should want to, also.

::Some earlier tension Anscom hadn't noticed boiled over the moment Fiona turned to their father and addressed him directly.::

Rolan: You care so much but you can't bother not to flunk out in near-record time!

Fiona: Record time isn't three semesters. It's the guys who pee their pants when the upperclassmen come around to "welcome" with Academy "traditions." ::pauses, looking at her food and then at both of her parents:: And it's not for lack of trying. I tried. You'd know that if you listened to anything other than your own failed aspirations.

Stella: Fiona!

Rolan: You'll not talk like that at this table.

Fiona: I just believe in letting Cyr and Ani ::she winked at Anscom here, he thought:: know the truth: I just wasn't good enough. Like you just weren't good enough. And there's nothing shameful in that. It's not like I was doing anything worthwhile, sitting around in a classroom by the Bay with a stack of textbooks and simulations while Betazed's in flames and the NOOSE -- KEEPS -- TIGHTENING!

::Her face had turned, quite suddenly, red as her voice rose and she banged the table with a fist to punctuate each of the last three words. The rest of the table was silent and looked at her; she had risen halfway out of her seat and no one knew whether she was going to return to it or leave it. Even Fiona, taking a deep breath and pushing hair out of her face, seemed surprised to find she was no longer sitting down.::

Fiona: I'm going to actually go do something now. ::looking at her father:: And if actually cared about making a difference, like you say in all your speeches, you'd get up and go do something, too.

Rolan: ::gruffly:: If they didn't want my help twenty-five years ago they wouldn't want me now.

::But Fiona was already on her way out of the dining room. As she passed by Anscom's chair, she reached over and pinched his back. He flinched, instinctively, then turned to look after her, but she was almost gone. They didn't hear from her for almost six months -- had no idea where she was or what she had done. A message came in one day letting them know that she was serving aboard a freighter, that they were in between runs and far enough from combat zones that she was allowed to send subspace messages home again.::

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