Somewhere in the Delta Quadrant, on Voyager, en route to the Alpha Quadrant

"Tom! You've received two letters from this data stream! Here they are."

"Thanks, Neelix," Tom answered, as the Talaxian handed him a PADD with a flourish.

"Anything for me?" B'Elanna asked.

"As a matter of fact, there is. It's a letter from your cousin." Neelix handed a second PADD to B'Elanna.

"Peeking into our messages, Neelix?" Tom said with a laugh.

"When they're coming through, I have to know who they're to, you know. It's hard not to know who they're from, too. "

"Uh huh," B'Elanna murmured, her voice dripping with skepticism. Once Neelix had left, she leaned over Tom's shoulder to peek at the letter in the PADD he was holding. When he didn't acknowledge her curiosity, she finally asked him straight out, "Okay, Flyboy. Spill. Who sent you letters?"

"One is from my father. The other is from my mother."

"Ah, the mystery woman I never hear about. What does she say?"

"Lots of stuff. My sisters are doing great, she says. But there's a picture here, too. Something a child drew. I'm not sure whose child it is. Neither of my sisters have any kids yet."

"Oh, look. 'To my Uncle Tommy.' It looks like your mother or someone else wrote that. It's too neat for the way the picture is drawn. The little boy must be pretty young. But how cute! All those flowers. But what's that big blue blob in the middle of the picture?"

"I haven't a clue. Let me see if there's anything in the letter that explains it."

Tom read his mother's letter for a minute or so without saying anything. B'Elanna was dying of curiosity, but rather than intervene, she read over her own letter from her cousin. When Tom began to read aloud from his letter, however, she looked up. From the expression on his face, he was profoundly moved.

"Tom, a certain vedek of your acquaintance was delighted to hear of your survival. She is also very pleased to hear you seem to have found that special someone she always knew you would find someday. She wants me to reassure you that she's found happiness herself. She said that 'the Prophets always knew it was meant to be this way,' and she thanks you for all you did for her. We've renewed our old acquaintance, Tom, and she's become more than just a friend. She's become like another daughter to me. Her son calls me Grammy! Her little Tommy thinks of you as his 'Uncle Tommy' and sent you a picture he drew. Once you get home, we can all get together, you and your B'Elanna, your sisters, your father, the vedek and her family, too - one big happy family. Take care dear. You are always in my heart, my thoughts, and my prayers. I love you so much. Mom."

When he'd finished reading, Tom kept his eyes on the PADD. B'Elanna was not sure if he was seeing what was on the screen. His mind might have been on something from his past life, before Voyager. When it was clear he was not going to say anything more, B'Elanna remarked, "Tom, the only 'vedek' I ever knew was Ro's alter ego on Delestor."

"She's the only one I ever knew, too. B'Elanna, Ro's name wasn't included in that first letter to Chakotay from Sveta, was it?"

"No, but Ro left us right after you were captured. If she's still around, she must never have gone back to the Maquis."

"Did she say where she was going?"

"Home to Bajor, I think. She couldn't have really become a vedek, could she? I can't believe that."

Tom looked down at the drawing again. "Actually, I can."

B'Elanna considered his answer. Really, she hadn't known Ro Laren well enough to be sure what she might do with her life, but Tom had known her very well. If he believed she could have turned to a religious life, then he was probably right. At least it must mean Ro was alive and well. With so many of the people they had known in the Maquis dead or in prison, it was nice to think that someone who had placed a lot of trust in B'Elanna was still alive and, apparently, free. At least, she would be free as long as the Federation couldn't find her.

"If Ro is still wanted by Starfleet, she couldn't send you a letter directly, could she?"

"No. And if my mom really is in touch with her, I don't think she'd say anything that would lead anyone to her. I guess we won't know for sure until we get home."

B'Elanna dropped her PADD onto the couch and put her arms around her Tom. They held onto each other for a long time, sharing the warmth of the love they'd found while lost in the Delta Quadrant. Finally, B'Elanna whispered, "We'll get home, Tom. Sooner than you think. And we'll have that family reunion. It's about time you took me home to Mother, isn't it?"

Tom laughed a little as he moved his head, to gaze directly into her eyes. "It sure is," he replied. Then he kissed his love for a very long time. It might take a while, but he had faith that all of their wanderings through the Delta Quadrant would come to an end someday soon. They were going to get home. Home, to family.

This story was outlined around the same time that I wrote "The Messenger." This was to be a follow-up to that story. I never got around to actually writing it until now. As it has developed, this story is related to "Pilgrimage," "Happy Holidays, Cadet Ro," "The Mercenary," "In the Footsteps of Another," and "The Choice" (Yes, the little boy who is told by his mother to stop running around on New Earth at the end of that last story is little Tommy.)

All things Star Trek belong to Paramount, Inc. I can lay claim to Alicia Kelley and to various vedeks, as well as Supplicant Terzy. As with several of the previous stories, some details concerning life in the House of the Prophets are based upon the concept of the conhospitae "double house" monasteries in Ireland during the early Christian era.

August, 2013-jamelia