It had been a week days since she and Lore had said their final goodbyes, but ensign Grace Fletcher was still rather unsure as to whether or not she felt like doing much. The technical paper which she had asked Data to read had gotten her some positive feedback, which calmed her nerves a little. But, she still was not certain that she wanted to continue doing what she was doing. Of course she loved working with Starfleet, it was a lifelong dream to do so, but her mind was not fully made up on the matter.
She hadn't seen her mother for three years, and she missed her. She wanted to just return to her home and stay there for just a little while. She was looking forward to having Thanksgiving dinner, with the rest of her family, but Earth was many light years away. Obviously, Grace had been able to communicate with her family one way or another, but not actually face to face. Ever since she and Lore had gone their separate ways, she had felt lost and confused. All she wanted was a break. Shore leave, perhaps. She just wanted some time to think things through.
Grace was sat in Ten Forward, thinking. Her best friend, Sarah Saunders, was sat there with her and they were both looking out of the large floor to ceiling walls of the room. The last time Grace had been to Ten Forward, she and Lore had been sat in one of the many booths which lined the windows. That was when Andy Summers had ignited a fight between himself and Lore. But, Grace tried her best not to think about that at the moment.
"Look," Sarah looked at her friend hard in the eye. Her expression was firm, yet friendly, "if you're not going to drink that..." she gestured to the black coffee which was placed on the table in front of the. It was probably stone cold by now.
Grace looked up and sighed a little. Her gaze had been so fixed on the stars, which looked like tiny little diamonds, as the streamed across the sky, that she hadn't really been paying much attention to her friend.
"Grace?..." Sarah prompted her as she stared at the coffee mug on the table.
It had taken her a little while, but Grace soon realised what Sarah was saying. "Oh... yeah... sorry." She then took her gaze off of the dark sky and picked up her coffee cup. It was cold and the actual drink itself was relatively disgusting. It was tangy and gritty and stuck to the lining of her throat. She grimaced as she took the final sip.
Sarah opened her mouth to say something but she was interrupted by the chirping sound of the communications panel. Commander Riker's voice began to boom throughout Ten Forward. "Will ensigns Abbey, Armstrong, Collins, Driscoll, Fletcher, Franklin, Hubble, Jones, Martin, Newman, Powell, Saunders, Simpson, Toms and Underwood please report to the main conference room." The panel chirped once again to signify the fact that the transmission had ended.
Grace stared at Sarah, open-mouthed. "Did he...did he say my name?" She asked. She knew that she probably should have been listening, but, to be honest, she wasn't really in the mood.
Sarah pondered the question for a short while, before remembering that commander Riker had definitely said 'Fletcher' and then told Grace. "Uh uh. At least, I think so."
"Well, he said your name too." She recalled Number One saying the word 'Saunders'.
"What is it for? Have we done something wrong?" Sarah asked Grace.
"I don't know. It kind of feels like we're back at school, and we've got detention or something!" She giggled.
Sarah laughed too, but only a little and then got up from her seat. She walked over to another ensign, who worked in the medical division. "Jack," she began, "do you know what this thing is for?"
Ensign Jack Powell shook his head. "I'm not sure," he replied, but, just as Sarah was getting ready to walk away, he remembered something. "But, I think it might have something to do with the promotions."
"Promotions?" Sarah asked, confused with what he had just said.
Jack, himself, was quizzical as to why Sarah had asked him that question. She was an ensign, like him, and so she surely would have heard about the promotions.
Suddenly, Sarah understood. "Ah, yes. I remember. Thank you." She smiled and she returned to where Grace was. "We'd better get going." She said to her.
Grace grew alarmed. "What? Why?" She asked.
"Well, apparently, this thing is to do with the promotions!" She exclaimed.
"Oh my god, Sarah, now you've made me nervous!" She whined.
"Never mind about that. You don't want to be late, do you?" She grabbed her friend by the arm and they made their way to the main conference room, which was where they had been called.
Luckily for them, they weren't particularly late. The conference room had been redesigned, especially for this event and it was set out rather like a concert hall. There were exactly fifteen ensigns there, all waiting eagerly to see it they had been promoted.
After a few minutes, when he was sure that everyone had taken their seats, Riker began to congratulate them on a few things, such as their great level of ability and determination and how passionate they all were. Soon, he was about to announce the promotions. He went down the list of names in alphabetical order. "Jonathan Abbey," he said in a loud, appreciative voice. Once that officer had walked up over to him, Riker presented him with a single uniform pin. The uniform of an ensign had only one pin in the collar, whereas a lieutenant uniform had two.
It had taken little over ten minutes, but Riker soon came to the letter 'F' in the alphabet. "Grace Fletcher," he boomed. Grace got up from her seat slowly and made her way towards the commander. As he passed her the pin and praised her and such, she thanked him, too much perhaps, and sat back down.
By this time, it had become clear that every single officer in the room was to get a promotion.
Soon, it was time for the letter 'S'. To Sarah's relief and wonderment, Riker announced her name and she received her uniform pin.
Finally, after maybe fifteen minutes or so, the final name was announced. Commander Riker soon gave a few more words of wisdom designed to motivate and encourage the newly promoted lieutenants.
Once the meeting had finished, Grace and Sarah each helped each other to place on their uniform pins. "Well done." Grace smiled at her friend, who returned the appraisal.
Many of the newly promoted officers were going to go to Ten Forward, to celebrate, but Grace didn't want to. Instead, as soon as she walked out of the main conference room, she stopped by one of large windows which lined the sides of the corridors of the Enterprise-D and looked out into the vast cosmos. She had only been standing there a while when she realised that someone was standing beside her. She tilted her head slightly, in order to get a better look and exclaimed. "Data!"
Lieutenant commander Data was slightly taken aback by Grace's sudden remark. "I would like to congratulate you in your recent promotion to lieutenant."
Grace blushed. She liked Data as a friend, but she was still not entirely comfortable with him, as he still, understandably, reminded her so much of Lore. "Thank you."
Data nodded, and, as he had said all that he wanted to say, began to walk on.
"Wait," Grace said to him just before he had walked too far away, "I mean thank you for everything." She smiled.
Once again, Data nodded and then he made his way back to the bridge. He realise that staying cooped up in his quarters for such a long time could not be doing him much good, and so he decided that he should go back to work, which is what he did.
It felt odd, to her. Instead of returning to Data's quarters, when Lore had commandeered them, she would have to go back to her and Sarah's own quarters. But, all was not that bad, as she understood. Because they now both held the rank of lieutenant, they would soon be assigned their own, separate quarters.
As the stars streaked past the ship, it made Grace wonder. She wondered which of those stars had a planet called Cygnus III orbiting it. But, the stars were so distant and her future was set in Starfleet. Two separate paths. Star-crossed lovers.