Hoshi pulled her chair out, not wanting to be on the bridge at all today. Liz Cutler's quarters were on the inside ring of the Enterprise and had no window, and Hoshi had spent the night sleepless and still in her temporary bunk, missing the silent lullaby of the streaking stars.

Missing more than that, if the truth were told.

They're only things, she'd told herself more than once. Be grateful you weren't there during the hull breach, or more than just your belongings would have been sucked out into space. And she was grateful, really. Things could be replaced, but as far as she knew there was only one Hoshi Sato in the universe. Still, it was hard to accept that everything she'd brought from home was gone, all the souvenirs she'd collected from the planets they'd visited over the last year, irretrievably lost.

And now she was here for her bridge shift, eyes puffy from sleeplessness and a few shameful, self-pitying tears. Travis smiled and gave her a sympathetic look before returning his focus to his console.

She was so preoccupied that she didn't notice the box until she'd nearly sat on it. Frowning, she picked up the lightweight, nondescript package and gave it a gentle shake. She pulled the lid off and stared at its contents, and suddenly there were tears swimming in her eyes again. Hoshi stroked the synthetic fur of one battered bunny slipper, noting the bald patches that dotted them like battle scars. When she looked up, Travis was hitching his head slightly towards Malcolm.

Clutching the box to her chest, Hoshi approached the tactical station. "Lieutenant?"

Reed raised his eyes from his console. "Yes, Ensign?"

"Sir, did you - my slippers, how -"

Malcolm's lips quirked in a miniscule smile. "Quite by accident, really. I picked them up during a scan of the area after the hull breach and transported them aboard."

Her fingers found the fur again, running along one floppy ear. "Thank you, Malcolm," she said softly. "You don't know what it means to me to have them back."

"No trouble," Reed answered, voice brisk and efficient as always. Before she could say more, Captain Archer and T'pol arrived on the bridge, and she reluctantly took her station.

* * *

It was late, and once again Hoshi wasn't sleeping. She watched her feet as she shuffled through the corridor, quietly delighting in the flop of the ears and the scuffing noise the worn bottoms of the slippers made against the deck. She was so absorbed in her footwear that she didn't immediately notice Phlox's presence in the mess. "Oh, good evening, Doctor."

"Ensign." The Denobulan smiled with his customary good cheer, utensil poised over a plate of cold spaghetti. "Not sleeping this evening?"

Hoshi shook her head. "Not yet, anyway. Isn't it a little late for spaghetti?"

Examining his meal as though noticing it for the first time, the doctor poked at the tangled mass with his fork. "Commander Tucker assured me at lunch that this particular dish is better when consumed as 'left over.' Ah," he said, as she retrieved a glass of milk and headed towards his table, "I see your nocturnal footwear is only slightly the worse for its adventure."

Hoshi couldn't help but look down at them again, wiggling her toes and making the bunny heads nod. "Amazing, isn't it? Except for some missing fur, they're in great shape."

Phlox snorted, winding strands of pasta around his fork with studied concentration. "Yes, indeed. Lieutenant Reed was quite vexed over the lost fibers. Considering the condition they were in when he retrieved them, some loss was inevitable."

"Malcolm talked to you about my slippers?"

"He brought them to sickbay. He was concerned that thawing them improperly would lead to further damage."


Phlox looked at her with mild surprise. "Of course. Once exposed to the vacuum of space, they froze instantly. The missing material snapped off when Mr. Reed removed them from the transporter pad. They had to be warmed slowly, over the course of several hours, to keep them from falling apart."

Hoshi stared at her feet. "Malcolm spent hours.warming my slippers?"

"To be fair, by the time he'd located and transported the second one, the first was nearly at room temperature." Phlox slurped a long strand of spaghetti into his mouth and favored her with a broad grin. "Your lapin facsimiles were the subject of a full-blown search and rescue attempt, Ensign, one that I doubt will be reported to Starfleet."

Malcolm, you old softie! she thought with a smile. Hoshi said goodnight and walked slowly back to her cabin, following the bobbing bunnies that had just become that much more precious.