B'hava'el System
U.S.S. James T. Kirk

The first thing Lt. Nenyaht noticed as the doors to Dr. Abbey Paris' quarters was the noise: deafening, discordant noise, complete with shouting about not being fine or not being okay or something. In the middle of the living space, surrounded by that noise, was Abbey, sitting cross-legged on the couch, looking relaxed in civilian clothes, a PADD in her hands, her sandy blond waves loose over her shoulders to end right at the bottom of her shoulder blades, the same length it had been since she was twelve. She said something as Nenyaht entered, her words lost in the sound of whatever it was she was listening to. He pointed to his ears and shook his head; her mouth moved again, and the music decreased to a reasonable level.

"What is that?" Nenyaht asked, taking a seat on the chair.

"Music," Paris replied indignantly.

"That's a matter of opinion."

She grinned. "Late twentieth, early twenty-first century. Great stuff, lots of angst." She rolled her eyes slightly. "Not even Klingons could claim the level of animosity that was found among teenagers of that period. Colonel Green was a teenager around that time."

He searched his memory for that name, finally remembering the man who almost single-handedly started Earth's Third World War. "He might have gone to hear this band in concert."

She shrugged a shoulder. "I doubt it. This doesn't really seem like his style. I can't imagine this type of music being very popular among the radical environmentalist types." She shrugged again. "It just seemed to fit, though. I was in the mood for some angsty music." She paused, listening to the music for a second. "I think it needs the volume for the angst, though." He tried to think of how to respond to that, but before he could say anything, she made a face at him. "Don't look at me like that, Nate. I'm fine. Besides, the flight counselor beat you to the punch. I already had a two hours session with her today, and I have one hour a day for the foreseeable future. Nobody's letting me off the deep end any time soon."

He grinned at her choice of words and decided to let the subject go. He had heard about what she had done on the planet, but if she didn't want to talk about it with him, he wasn't going to make her. Nodding toward the PADD, he asked, "What are you working on?"

She glared briefly at the piece of equipment in her hands. "Letter to Joey, mostly yelling at him about the replicator."

He chuckled and pulled a small box out of his pocket. "That reminds me. I know it's a bit late, but happy birthday."

Her eyes brightened as she reached for the present, her excited expression replaced by one of confusion as she pulled out a small computer chip. "Uh, thanks?"

He grinned, taking the chip from her fingers and heading over to the replicator. A minute later, he straightened and ordered, "One raktajino with Vulcan chocolate and one black coffee." The two drinks shimmered into existence, with no complaints from the machine.

"That could be the best birthday present I've gotten in a long time, even if it is a month late," Paris said with a laugh as she accepted her drink. "I guess that means I need to take it easy on Joey."

"I wouldn't go that far," he said, deep dimples showing up in his cheeks with his wide smile. His expression sobered. "Listen, Abs—"

"Nate, we don't have to talk about this," she protested.

"Yes, we do," he said assertively. "We need to talk about this, because I need to talk about this. I've missed you, Abs. I've missed talking to you, joking with you. Hell, I even miss getting in trouble just for being associated with you. I miss you, and I'm sorry. I'm sorry about the things I said. I had no right to tell you who you could or couldn't date."

"You're right. You didn't," she replied with a wry smile. She sighed. "I'm sorry, too. I said a lot of things I shouldn't have, like that the only reason you were mad was because you were jealous." She gave a crooked grin. "In my defense, nineteen-year-old girls can be pretty mean sometimes."

"Mean?" he asked with a joking smile. "You, the part-Klingon gymnast with a superiority complex, could never be mean." She smiled and rolled her eyes at his sarcasm. "Besides," he continued. "You didn't say anything that wasn't true."

She paused slightly at the admission, but then shook her head slightly. "It was stupid," she declared. "I let a cocky half-Bajoran corner come before a lifetime of friendship, and that was stupid. I shouldn't have done that." She paused again, her eyes not quite focused on the space in front of her. "It's weird. I miss him sometimes—Jake—but then there are days, weeks, months that go by when I don't think about him at all. Then when I do realize that it's been days, weeks, months, or whatever since I thought about him, and I feel guilty because I wasn't missing him. Sometimes, I try to think about what he was like, what he looked like, and I can't remember. I was going to marry him, and I can't even remember what he looked like. Is that weird?"

He raised his eyebrows. "You're asking me about what a normal emotional response would be? You have met my parents, haven't you?" She smiled wryly. "Abbey, it's been more than four years. You can't expect yourself to mourn forever. Actually, I have something else for you." He got up again, crossing to the replicator and punching a few commands. "I know how you like to decorate, and I found this file in my things when I was packing my stuff from the Enterprise, so I thought I'd share. Maybe it'll help you remember."

The framed holo was a familiar one. Paris recognized the grey and black of the Academy's parrises squares uniforms and the red of Stanford's; the North American collegiate championships her sophomore year at the Academy. Stanford was the favorite, but in a surprise last-minute move, captured in the holo that made the front screen of the sports sections of news publications across the Federation, Academy freshman corner Ren Jacosi captured the ball, transferred it to sophomore point Joseph Paris, who pitched it past the Stanford block to take the lead and win the game. The holo was taken as the ball arched between Ren and Paris, a wide grin on Jake's face as he realized that his move might be successful, Joey watching the ball with concentration, Nenyaht, the senior captain, watching expectantly from his position as block. "Thanks, Nate," Abbey said softly. "This will have to go up on the wall. Now that I actually have a replicator, I'll have to put some thought into decorating."

"How about putting that thought off for a bit? It's about dinner time, and I don't have another shift until Alpha tomorrow."

She grimaced as she set the holo aside. "I would, Nate, but I already have plans." Just then, the announcer to her quarters chimed, revealing a tall, dark-haired man carrying what Nenyaht recognized from his time spent around the Kim family to be an instrument case of some sort. "Nate, this is Ensign Andrew Riker, one of the OFA pilots on Zeva. He has a New Orleans jazz program that he invited me to check out. Uh, Andrew, this is Lt. Nenyaht, one of the engineers. We grew up together."

"Nice to meet you," Riker said, extending his hand.

"Likewise," Nenyaht replied. The three stood in awkward silence for a minute before Paris spoke again.

"Well, the holodeck reservation is going to start soon, we should probably get going," she finally said. "Um, Nate…rain check?"

"Yeah," he finally said, watching her gather her PADDs and stack them on a corner of her coffee table before grabbing the PADD with her music programs. "Rain check." She flashed him a wide grin before following Riker out the door, leaving Nenyaht standing in her quarters alone.