The Bulikaya Particle
Location: USS Hera, Deck 3, Commander Paris' office
As she was making preparations for the announcement of the departures of the senior staff, and the attendant party that she was organizing, as the guest list was forming, Commander Rita Paris realized she had overlooked a rather crucial detail, and she rolled her eyes as internally she berated herself.
Entrusted to you by the Prophets, yet out of sight out of mind. Shame on you, Rita.
Tapping the comm badge on her abundant bosom, she spoke aloud. "Paris to Az'Prel. Could you come to my office, please?"
Looking up from her meditations, the Vulcan woman from another universe took a moment to respond. "I will be there momentarily, Commander." Of course for her, momentarily meant that she took off her meditation robes and walked out the door in her usual rustic red padded semi-uniform that she felt most comfortable in, heading straight to her destination. Skipping the turbolift as she deemed them a waste of time, she quickly made her way from her quarters on deck 8 to Rita's office on deck 3 via jeffries tubes in less than two minutes.
Arriving at her destination, she composed herself by checking for dust and pressed the door chime, which opened at her approach.
"Come in Az'Prel, please. Come sit down... we need to have a talk, you and I." Coming around her desk, Rita Paris leaned her rear against the edge of the desk and held the table edge with both hands- a decidedly informal posture for the Starfleet siren to adopt.
With a raised eyebrow, the Vulcan woman slid into one of the offered chairs, curious as to the purpose of this meeting. There had been several rumors going around the ship for a while now, but somehow she suspected that none of them pertained to her or were the topic of today's discussion. Instead, she folded her hands in her lap and waited in stoic Vulcan-esque silence for Rita to continue.
"I'm leaving the Hera. Sonak and I are going back to Earth to start a family, teach, go to the Academy... get ready for the lives we expect to lead in the 25th century," Rita explained, stating simply and directly exactly what was happening, as her audience needed no emotional couching. "Now, what this means for you is that we won't be here... the Captain is returning to her people, Dox is returning to hers, and... I was thinking about you."
"The Prophets entrusted me with you, and I take that responsibility very seriously. But at the same time, you're a grown woman. So while I might offer you a home with us on Earth, I don't think that's what's best for you. How would you feel about going home yourself... to Vulcan?" Asking a Vulcan how they felt about something was a mild insult at worst, inaccurate phrasing of a question at best. But as a Vulcan who had lived amongst emotional beings for her entire life, Rita felt confident that Az'Prel knew what she meant.
"This is indeed something to think over," Az'prel replied, steepling her fingers in front of her. She had interpreted the phrasing as she always had - as a metaphor for how her logic assessed the situation. Thus she gave the question the attention it deserved as is rather than dwelling on the meaning of the wording. After all, Vulcans in her universe were not the emotionless beings of this one and she often had to pretend to not be a logician. "When we visited Vulcan, I was offered a comparative studies and martial arts teaching position. At this juncture, I feel that it would be logical to see if the offer is still open and accept it if it is."
"I'd be happy to bring you Earth and keep you around as part of the family, Az'Prel. But you've spent your entire life dwelling amongst the emotional beings of the cosmos. You deserve peace, serenity... and logic," Rita opined. It was clear she had given this some thought, and considered not what her own wants and needs were, but what would be best for the Vulcan resistance fighter of another universe. "And not like this is goodbye- we'll still come visit you. I am determined that our children know both worlds, even if Sonak is a bit over Vulcan."
"Then I will go to Vulcan, take a certain form of zen pleasure in serenity, and provide suitable accommodations during your upcoming stay," the interdimensional Vulcan replied, one brow raised in interest. "Vulcan is a harsh planet and your family will require several Earthly amenities not common to the normal housing arrangements. I will endeavor to provide them for you. I will make it your... home away from home."
The smile that warmed the woman's face was lost on the dispassionate Vulcan, but she understood the societal convention well enough. "I would dearly love that, Az'Prel. I'll always feel a little bit responsible for you, and I hope I have fulfilled that responsibility in helping you acclimate to this universe. But no matter what I'll always feel responsible... so if I know you are on Vulcan, flourishing in a place you could only dream of all your life... I'll sleep better knowing you are safe, and content, where you belong- amongst other logical beings like yourself."
"You showed me that I no longer have to sleep with my eyes open and that trust in this universe can be an absolute," The lost Vulcan replied with the barest hint of emotion behind those eyes of hers. Few would have been able to pick it up, but to one such as Rita, it was as if Az'prel were smiling from ear to ear. "You also proved the truth of the Federation, and that humans themselves have the capacity for compassion and empathy- something that I thought impossible having come from a reality ruled by the Terran Empire. For that you have my eternal thanks, and undying gratitude."
"I also owe a debt of gratitude to Jaeih Dox, whom I now have a family bond with as well." Furrowing her brows slightly, Az'Prel considered her position with her bond-sister as well. "It would be logical to discuss this with her as well. I may also need to make accommodations available for the Godox family."
"Indeed. And make no mistake, their reunification efforts won't stop, so there's every possibility you might be called on for that as well. Life is long, and I doubt history is finished with you quite yet, Az'Prel of Vulcan," Rita Paris replied, then levered herself off the desk. "I promise to keep my thoughts to myself. But c'mere and give your human friend a hug, my favorite freedom fighter."
Standing, Az'prel composed herself once more before nodding and wrapping her arms around the lost navigator in a very Klingon hug, patting her back several times as she had with many of her former freedom fighter companions. "I will go where I am needed and do what is required to spread freedom through this galaxy as I did in my former home. However... I believe some peace would be... Pleasant."
Stepping back to give the woman room, Rita smiled, a surprisingly frank expression.
"After all we've been through, I think the phrase you're looking for is 'well earned'."