[USS Renaissance] Solace and Welcome

Solace and  Welcome
Annabelle  Chase-Garrity, Li Vilya, and Patrick Kabuki   
Numbness, that was all Annabelle could feel. Numbness though out  her body, 
soul, and heart. They said he was gone, shot on the station, murdered.  She 
shivered despite the warmth of where she was. She wasn't really sure why she  
was 
on the island to start with, she just remembered Anna saying something about  
him once and here she was, looking for him. She told herself it was to tell  
them, they were friends, but maybe there was a little more to it.  
It still felt a bit strange to be  staying in somebody else's home but Vilya 
liked Daniel's place.  It was  warm and lived in, a place where his children 
could be happy and where there was  also an office for quiet time.  That was 
where her husband was at the  moment, working on a sermon for later that week 
while she fed their son.    
"Pretty baby," she murmured as she  stroked his head.  "You're in such demand 
 here." 
She had no trouble  finding the place, what Annabelle was having trouble with 
was knocking on the  door. How was she going to tell them when she barely 
believed it herself?  Finally she forced herself to reach up and knock.   
Vilya rose gracefully,  hoping, at bit selfishly, that it wasn't somebody 
wanting Ming's time.  The  poor man needed air sometimes.  Draping a soft cloth 
over her nursing son,  she went to the door, gasping when she saw her 
unexpected visitor.   "Annabelle!  What a surprise!  Come  in." 
Annabelle tried to  smile but she just couldn't manage it. âI'm sorry for 
bothering you at home.â   
"You're not bothering  me and this isn't actually our home," Vilya said as 
she ushered the other woman  inside.  "It's my brother-in-law's."  She took 
stock of the other  woman and saw that something was just very wrong.  "What is 
 
it?" 
Her hands began to  trembled as she looked down at her wedding band. She 
should have went to Mac and  Anna first, or to Joshâs uncle, or she should 
have 
just went home. What right  did she have to ruin these peoples happiness? But 
they were all his friends, his  family. âSomethingâs happened.â  
"Ming!" she called  sharply, not wanting to leave Annabelle alone yet also 
wanting her husband out  there.  "Annabelle, sit.  Talk to me." 
"What?" Ming asked as he hurried out of the office.  Vilya  never spoke that 
way.  It had to be something important so he had no  compunction about leaving 
his roman collar unbuttoned and his shoes off.   "Annabelle!" 
Any other time she'd  have tease Ming for coming out half person half Reaper 
as Anna called him, but  her brain didn't work anymore. She looked up at 
their, her friends with tears in  her eyes. âJosh,â She whispered. âhe 
was, and 
now heâs. In a corridor, disrupter  traces, DNA evidence.â 
"Oh dear  Lord..."Ming breathed, making the sign of the cross over himself 
even as he met  his wife's eyes.  "No...what happened, Annabelle?" 
It took her several  moments to piece it all together enough to tell them. â
He didn't come home after  he found out about that she-beast and her basââ 
She 
stopped herself and sighed,  âHis children. We couldn't find him anywhere. 
Even her so called Imzadi bond  couldn't find him. Then two investigators came 
to me and told me there'd been a  run in, that they believed he'd been killed. 
They found his DNA in the corridor  and traces of disrupter fire.â  
Ming took both her  hands in his.  "Oh, no..."  He shook his head.  He could 
save his  own grief for later.  Now was not the time.  "Gone then.  Are you  
alright?" 
âI.. I don't know.â  Annabelle replied. âI'm numb.â  
"Shhh..." Vilya  murmured as he finally moved the baby to her shoulder, 
patting his tiny back  lightly.  "Are here alone then?" 
Annabelle nodded. âI  kept thinking I needed to go to Mac and Anna, I wanted 
to see his uncle, but I  couldn't. I'm sorry, I just short of ended up here.â 
 
 
"Don't be sorry, Annabelle," Ming  said, still holding both her hands.  
"Friends are family and family is  always welcome for good or for bad.  This is 
no 
inconvenience.  It's a  blessing in any form." 
She nodded and then  became quiet for a while. When she looked up at Vilya it 
finally dawned on her  she was holding the baby. She'd never have that, she'd 
never have a child, a  family with Josh. She'd never have a part of him to 
hold. Slipping her hand into  her pocket she pulled out a small toy starship. 
â
He was making it for his  godson.â  
"Oh how sweet,"  Vilya began, biting back tears that she his  in fussing with 
Zachan's  blanket.  "Look, Zachan, now you have a ship along with your bear 
and your  elephant.  See how pretty?" 
His eyes would  remain as blue as his father's and those eyes stared at the 
newcomer as a tiny  fist waved in the air.  "Thank you, Annabelle," Ming said 
softly.  "I  don't think Josh knew what to say when I told him we anted him to 
be our boy's  godfather but I'm glad to see he took heart in it." 
âI don't think he  understood the term, but he understood children.â She 
smiled weakly. âHe liked  children.â  
"He looked out for  them even before they were born," Vilya said fondly.  "He 
kept rearranging  my schedules while I was pregnant.  I can't...it's hard to 
use the past  tense." 
Annabelle understood  so she nodded. Then she looked away. âHe had two, 
twins, a boy and a  girl.â 
"He did?" Ming asked,  his face scrunching in confusion.  To cover that 
confusion, he spoke again  but slowly  and calmly.  "Annabelle, I think in all 
the 
confusion of  leaving the ship and everyone being tossed to the winds that we 
missed something  and it was obviously important.  Josh had children?  I had 
no  idea." 
âNeither did he until  she showed up.â There was no  keeping the anger and 
hate out of her voice. âShe had herself impregnated with  his sperm, which 
had 
been stole from him.â 
Ming glanced over at  his own son, a precious miracle to him.  "That," he 
said carefully, "is  rather abhorrent to put it mildly.  Excuse the language 
but 
it would be the  same as rape on a female." 
âAnd now heâs gone and  it's her fault.â Annabelle said quietly, âAnd 
I'll 
never have when she stole.â   
"Her fault?   Was  there an investigation?" Ming asked. 
She nodded. âThey  don't know who it was, they think maybe it was random, but 
that doesn't sit  right with me. If she'd have stayed dead like she was meant 
to be then he'd be  alive because he would have been home with me where he 
belonged.â   
He nodded slowly,  understanding the logic of the situation.  If it were him 
in her place, he  could understand her position completely.  "What are you 
going to do,  Annabelle?  I know you're angry but that won't help you right 
now.  
 Stay here with us if you'd like," he said gently. 
"You know there's  plenty of room and also plenty of places to be alone, 
too," Vilya added.   "You're more than welcome." 
Annabelle nodded,  she needed to clear her head, a place to figure all of 
this out. âI need to tell  Mac and Anna, I need to speak with his uncle.â  
"I'll tell you what,"  Ming began, his hands clasped together.  "This is my 
brother's place but  there's more than enough room since he won't be home for 
another few  weeks.  You're welcome to the guest room and to come and go as you 
 please." 
"I can make it up for  you," Vilya offered.  "Whoever decorated it knew about 
peaceful  places.  It's very comfortable." 
New tears began to  fill Annabelleâs eyes. âThank you.â  
"Here," Vilya said  as she stood up.  "Come with me.  We'll get it made up 
for you and  then you need to lie down and rest if you can.  When you're 
refreshed, you  can call whoever you want to call and we'll be right here." 
Annabelle nodded once  more. She didn't know of she could sleep, her mind was 
everywhere all at once.  They were going to be so happy and now it was all 
gone. She was alone again. âI  miss him.â She whispered as she followed 
Vilya.  
 
While she still held  the baby with one arm, Vilya put her free one around 
Annabelle's  shoulders.  "I know," she said softly.  "I don't know what I'd do  
without Ming.  The Prophets aren't always fair." 
âYou're blessed,  Vilya.â Annabelle replied softly.  
"We are," she  agreed.  "I thank Them every day for my little family.  We 
have him  back now but I can't even begin to think how my mother functioned 
without Daddy  at first.  I think it had to be the busyness of me and Findel.  
That's  why I want you here.  Alone is good but lonely...that  hurts." 
âEverything hurts.â   
"Let it," Vilya said  softly, guiding the other woman to sit on the soft bed 
while she moved to the  closet to get fresh sheets.  "Let it because feeling 
is what lets you know  you're alive.  He'd want you alive.  I'm sure of  that." 
She shivered as  she wrapped her arms around herself. âHe was so angry when 
he walked  out.â 
"Do you want to tell  me about it?" Vilya asked quietly.  "Or I'll send Ming 
in instead.   Nothing he hears leaves his mouth if you ask him not to." 
Annabelle twisted her  wedding ring around her finger and sighed. âI was so 
angry over that Coyne woman  and those babies, I was pushing him to take them 
from her, to go after her for  what she'd done, to stay away from her. He 
looked so hurt, so angry, so  confused. He walked out and didn't come home. Mac 
and 
I looked for him but we  couldn't find him.â  
Setting the linens  down on the bed, Vilya placed herself next to Annabelle.  
"I don't think  anybody ever really knows what went on in Josh's head, not 
even Mac.  Some  of the most basic things: like why somebody wouldn't have a 
replicator or why  people had religion just escaped him.  I honestly think he 
would have left  no matter who was doing the talking." 
She simply nodded as  more tears fell.  
"You're allowed to  be angry at him, too, Belle.  For putting you in that 
situation.  For  not being here..."  She rubbed the other woman's shoulder 
lightly.   "It doesn't make you a bad person or wife.  It makes you  real." 
âHe should have come  home,â Annabelle replied. âHe should have come back 
and we could have worked it  all out.â  
"Do you know what the  first thing my mother did to my father after he was 
released from the prison  camp?" Vilya asked. 
Annabelle shook her  head.  
"She hauled off and  smacked him across the face for leaving her alone for 
ten years," the auburn  haired woman said wryly.  "Daddy just stood there a 
minute then finally  said  he supposed he'd deserved it." 
Annabelle blinked just  before the very faintest hint of a smile tugged her 
lips. âSpirited  woman.â 
"She still is but  the point is, as much as she loved him and knew why he was 
in that labor camp,  she was still mad at him," she explained.  "She didn't 
hit him when he  wasn't dead any more though.  I'll give her that much." 
âI'd happily smack  him,â Annabelle sighed. âit would mean he was here 
with 
me.â   
"So let yourself be mad at him.   It would make him more real," Vilya  
suggested. 
âI'll try.â She  agreed. âOnce I can feel something again.â 
Vilya shifted her  son so that he lay in the crook of her arm rather than 
over her shoulder.   "It's so simple for them when they're this little," she 
said 
softly.   "Somebody takes care of everything you need or want and they do it 
pretty damned  quick.  He's so innocent and pure right now.  I'm told babies 
can be  comforting for all those reasons so if you ever want to hold him, I 
don't think  he'd mind.  Well, unless he's hungry." 
She smiled weakly, yet  warmly at the other woman. âThank you, Vilya.â   
"Don't thank me,  Belle," Vilya said, looking into her eyes.  "You came here 
because we're  all family in a weird sort of way.  This is what we do for 
family,  sweetie.  You're welcome here." 
Family, it was odd she  had a mother and two brothers but this is where she 
had turned. Guess that ready  did make a family. She smiled at the other woman 
and nodded. âThis is why he  cared about you so much.â  
"Josh is a good man,  Belle.  It was kind of hard to know what he was 
thinking but  sometimes...well, it was easy enough to see sometimes.  He's the 
one 
who  gave Ming the Bajoran birthing room holo program.  He did the whole thing  
for him.  I'm pretty sure he thought Ming was a bit dim for not even  knowing 
how to use a replicator but he was good about it," Vilya said with a  fond 
smile.  "Treated him like a country cousin and tried showing him the  ropes in 
his own way." 
âHe was a good man,â  Annabelle agreed. âI should plan something, a 
service 
or something.â   
Vilya nodded.   Ceremonies of that sort gave closure or started people on the 
way toward  it.  "Ask Ming about that," she suggested.  "He's very good at  
ceremonials and, if he's not sure, he'll ask his brother." 
âI will.â she replied.  âIn the morning.â She hadn't slept since she'd 
been 
told.   
"Here, hold the baby  and I'll make the bed up quick," Vilya said as she 
stood up.  "Then you  rest as long as you want." 
Annabelle took the  baby carefully and stood with him. She began to gently 
swag with him, smiling  down into his beautiful face. âHeâs beautiful, he 
has 
hope in his  eyes.â 
Vilya was quickly  tidying the linens but she glanced over her shoulder with 
a soft smile.   "That he does.  It isn't just the sort they think of on Bajor, 
 either.  He just...looks that way." 
âYou're going to be  the sensible one, aren't you, little Z?â she asked the 
baby. âThe calming effect  like Annaâs tiniest. Good thing too, the others 
all got a bit of mischief in  their eyes. I still say James had a foot shaped 
mark on his head when he was  born.â  
"I haven't seen them," Vilya said  with a wistful sigh as she folded down the 
covers and sheets.  "I bet one  of the others kicked him for some future 
wrong,  though." 
She laughed lightly  and then felt guilty for doing so. âThe middle one looks 
as if sheâs giving him  the evil eye. You should call Anna and get together, 
though sheâs been real  tired lately.â  
Vilya bit her  lip.  "I'm terrible.  She was such a sweetheart to me after 
Zachan was  born and now I've been too busy to even breathe.  She must be  
exhausted." 
âShe sleeps a lot.â  Annabelle told their friend as she gave the baby her 
finger to hold. âSheâs  spread kind of thin with the three at home and the 
two 
in and out of the  doctors.â  
"It was hard with  Zachan and having all the help I did but with five and two 
sick..."  She  shook her head.  "I'll call her first thing after you've done 
what you need  to do and I'll tell Ming.  I know Anna calls him Reaper and 
doesn't believe  what he does, but he believes in intention." 
âI think she'd like  that.â Annabelle sighed. âI'm there for her but this 
is 
just something I can't  understand, not having one of these gifts of my  own.â
 
"Zachan's still his  godson, no matter what's happened to him.  That would 
have made you special  in his life, too.  That hasn't changed either.  This 
poor 
baby's  already horribly spoiled by his grandparents but you feel free to 
join in.   He won't mind." 
Annabelle cuddled the  baby. âI'd like that,â she replied softly.  
"Then you lie down.  Sleep if  you can but do rest," Vilya said gently.  
"Then you can spoil my boy all  you want." 
âI know you said not  to thank you, but I've no idea what else to say.â 
Annabelle said as she handed  the baby back to his mother.  
"Say you're  comfortable and that you'll tell one of us if you need 
anything," Vilya said  with an easy smile. 
Annabelle smiled at  the other woman. âI will.â 
"Good night then,  even if it is only mid afternoon," Vilya said as she shut 
the light, turning her  head so Annabelle could see the tears in her eyes. 
In the darkness of the room Annabelle climbed onto the bed and  once again 
wept, only this time she was able to  sleep.

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