Happy New Year! I have a new story for you to get started on this year. Now, I should do the formal bit immediately and say I own none of these characters, although I really only had Joanna's name to go on. Look to the great writers of Star Trek, who own everything, including the quotes that I will use at the beginning of Jim's chapters. My hat off to you gentlemen.

Now to explain this story. I warn you that the timeline is rather complex. The chapters come in pairs – the first is a flashback to past meeting between Jim and Joanna. The second is the main storyline. The story itself is in two halves, the second of which will be set on the Enterprise. I will attempt to update as often as possible, but I warn you now that there's a lot on my plate at the moment, so I'll need all the encouragement I can get! Oh, and if you haven't read my other story, At Your Side, it will make certain things in this story make more sense, particularly one chapter coming up, which is a version of the Taking of the Enterprise. You'll also get to understand Bones and Joanna's relationship a bit better. However, be warned – it's not short (as I have a feeling this one won't be!).

Just one final point – please be patient with my characters. You'll have a lot of questions, and many things won't make sense at the moment, but they will eventually. Thanks for taking the time to read.

Prologue – Stardate 2270

She was floating. The sound of her breathing was loud in her ears, her breath steaming the glass above her as her heart thudded dully in her ears. Above her stars winked in silent dance, so close and yet so far. She remembered watching them as a child - looking up into that dark sky and promising herself that she would be among them one day. A wry smile came to her lips, despite the circumstances. This wasn't what she had had in mind. She'd wanted to travel, to seek out the mysteries of the universe, to be with him. And she had, too, for a short time. Until now. Until she had betrayed him – the man who had dominated her thoughts, had been her best friend, and had held her heart for so many years. He would never forgive her for this, but she supposed now it didn't matter. This was the end. Today there was no escape, no daring rescue, no hope. Today, because it was the only way, she was alone. Today was the day when Joanna McCoy died.