Disclaimer: Paramount owns Trek... we all know that...but I have to thank them for letting my muse, Vorik, live!!

Author's Note: Many thanks to Gayle for beta reading and keeping me going. Thanks to all of the Vorik aficionados out there. This one is for you guys!

To Boldly Go...

by Salatrel

Vorik escorted his bondmate and their two children down the hall. It had been nearly twenty years but the Federation Starship Voyager had finally returned to Earth. Awaiting all of the crew, were their families and friends. Vorik's own Vulcan family awaited him.

"Yatu?" Vorik eldest child inquired of her father.

"Yes, Le'Veya?" Vorik looked into the eyes his ten-year-old daughter. She so very much resembled his sister, Zereth.

"I may have left my kal-tow game in the closet..."

"Le'Veya," Raven, her mother, interjected. "We all looked in the closets and under the beds. Nothing was missed. If I did not know better, I would think you were procrastinating."

The little half-Vulcan half-human child jutted out her chin and matter of factly replied, "Vulcans do not procrastinate, Mother."

"Indeed?" was Raven's bemused reply.

"I was merely expressing my interest in being thorough." The little girl quickly countered.

"Ahhhh, of course." Raven glanced towards her husband. He attempted to hide his own tiny smile. When it came to their girls, her husband's Vulcan stoicism seemed to melt or at least would slightly thaw.

Life had been wonderful on the ship and it promised to continue to be joyous as they stepped out into the bright new day of the Alpha Quadrant. Raven was eager to finally meet Vorik's parents. She had no trepidation about acclimating, nor did she have concerns over the acceptance of their children. Vorik's home world, the Nisus Colony, was the Vulcan idealism of acceptance and the appreciation for the diversity of life.

But what had been most reassuring for Raven had been the personal messages from her honorable mother-in-law, requesting visual images of her granddaughters. Raven had been raised in a matriarchy and she recognized a matron's appreciation for female offspring. Vorik's mother had already taken the liberty of arranging a match between the ten-year-old Le'Veya and one of her choosing. Raven was certain that it would be a wise measure. But Vorik had been the one to reserve commitment.

The focus of life would shift from ship life to colony life. Raven felt the rush of adrenaline as the excitement of the unknown came down to bear. Their three-year-old daughter snuggled in Raven's arms; the busy hustle of the last minute departure had irked the youngster. She had grown irritable and clingy. Raven was only too happy to hold her child, since this young one was busy, too busy to sleep at times.

Her behavior was such a marked departure from her first born's. Expectation, Vorik and she had concluded had been the cause of the difference in their daughters. Vorik had promised to hold back on the kind of demands he had previously made on Le'Veya. The result was a rambunctious and bouncing toddler who made her mother appreciate the calm of her elder Vulcan-trained daughter.

The crowd spilled onto the Deck of Voyager. While docked at the star base, the ship had opened her main hatch and the crewmembers freely passed between the ship and base. Raven felt her anxiety rise. Through their bond, Vorik lovingly waved a telepathic hand over her inner trembling. The pair inwardly sighed as they shared this private moment. Raven looked to her husband, her life-mate, and the master of her heart. She sensed his delight in their return home and he afforded another tiny smile. Nearly imperceptably, the corner of his lips lifted as Raven's mouth broke out into a broad happy grin.

A strange beeping broke through the moment and Raven curiously looked about to detect its where about.

Crewman Raven Zans' eyelids flipped opened. The alarm continued its irritating chime. Alone in her bed, the human women urgently rolled over and slapped the drowse button on her clock.

"What a shame, that was a great dream!" the sleepy woman murmured as she flung one arm over her face. She slipped back into the void, seeking out another dream that would bring her closer to the man she longed for. All these years, thoughts of Vorik had been her torture and her delight.

The chime sliced through the silence. "I'm up!" she hollowed at the alarm.

It had been a long but adventurous seven years and the U.S.S Voyager had finally returned home. Crewman Raven Zans was in her room alone packing. It was a difficult endeavor, not because she had accumulated so many personal items but because she had so very few. To leave this ship would not be easy. It had been her home for seven years, and Chakotay's ship, 'The Crazy Horse' a year before that.

These two ships had been her initiation into 24th century life. Before that she had only known a simple reality upon a pristine planet. But the Cardassians had taken care of that dream. In all of the information that the Federation had imparted to the Captain through the long-range communications, never before had her planet been mentioned, until this last round of messages.

Starfleet had confirmed, with their Cardassian contacts, that in fact her entire home world of Queblanis had been destroyed. Every woman, child and far-flung male had been either murdered or lost during the Cardassian occupation. The population had not been a great one. Raven had no idea how many lived on the entire planet. Within her own tribe there had been two- hundred females and their children and a neighboring male tribe had numbered less than one hundred. They knew that there were other tribes situated over the face of the undeveloped planet.

When 'The Crazy Horse' and her Marquis crew had liberated her prison camp, Raven had been taken under the wing of the mysterious and dangerous Betazoid, Lon Sudar. Her skills as a metallurgist had been adapted to serve the ship and she had been a capable crewmember of 'The Crazy Horse'. Though the crew had made her feel welcome, Voyager had become her true home. Now that the ship had returned to Earth, Raven had no where to go.

With a heavy heart, the swarthy skinned female packed her few items into her case. It now held her entire life. Most recent of her acquired treasures was her Commendation, a token of the Federation's appreciation, which every Marquis crewmember had received. Filling up the case were a few souvenirs from visited planets, her tools of trade, PADDs filled with stories and writings and technological information that she desired to keep, but the most precious of all was a secret image that she had kept in her nightstand.

She had secured it from the chief medical officer, under false pretenses of course, for how could she have explained to the Doctor that she wanted a holo-image of Mr. Vorik for her own personal reasons. The Doctor of course was only too thrilled to share and he had explained the intricacies of the holo-vid reproduction process with Raven. To her delight he had managed to compose a flattering group photo including herself, with Tabor, Samantha Wildman and Mr. Vorik. Raven wrapped the image in a black silk scarf and lovingly lay it within her case.

Raven had a strong reason to believe that after today, she would never see the Vulcan officer again. Though they had never really become closely acquainted, Mr. Vorik had been friendly, as compared to Mr. Tuvok. She had even been able to commandeer Mr. Vorik's company a few times.

They had shared a moonlight walk by the lake during a ship wide party in the holodeck. She had promised herself to be brave and approach him. The others had been left behind and they were finally alone for just a few moments then they inadvertently bumped into Neelix. Vorik had eagerly invited Neelix to join them and a frustrated Raven had to smile and hide her disappointment. Never again did another opportunity arise to be alone with Mr. Vorik and Raven had profound regrets.

Over the intercom the boson whistles sounded. "Attention all hands," the Captain's confident voice came over the loud speakers, "I know the past seventy-two hours have been both brutal and exciting. I think we have all held up rather nicely." Janeway's voice wavered, "I know that you have heard it before but I must say it again." Raven recalled a tearful Janeway at the party last night after her lengthy speech and her shiny eyes this morning as she had placed the promotion pips on the Starfleet officers and handed out the commendations to the Maquis. "You have been the finest crew a captain could have. I wish you all the very best. Our long, long mission is at an end and everyone is hereby relieved of duty." Chuckles from the bridge crew came through on the loud speaker. "Enjoy your leave, folks!" There was a pause and a choked up Kathryn Janeway joyfully added, "Once again, welcome home! Janeway out."

Raven felt a mixture of joy and sorrow. It was an ending but a new beginning and this was something that they had striven for for seven years. They were all finally returning home, but for Raven, she was being evicted from hers.

"To what matter are you referring?" The perplexed Vulcan quickly replied.

"I can't believe you would pass up an opportunity like that. I thought you Vulcans were curious. I know you are frigid but not dead? If I knew a girl liked me, I would.."

"If you are referring to Crewman Zans," Vorik calmly interrupted his Bajoran friend. "I understand your concern about my personal life, my friend, but matters of that nature are extremely.."

"Personal," Tabor interjected, "I know. But," a flustered Tabor sidestepped etiquette and tried one last time to convince his friend of the logic of this matter. "You may be passing up the opportunity of a lifetime. She could make you happy?"

Vorik halted in the hallway and took his friend aside. They had shared this conversation far too many times for Vorik's taste. But yet the Bajoran persisted. Vorik knew from his friend's perspective this was a way to show concern and strengthen the bond of friendship. Tabor had been a true friend to the Vulcan officer and outside of his twin brother, Taurik, Vorik had never known anyone as closely. "Tabor, your concern is appreciated but you must accept this: for me happiness is not a factor in the equation of my life."

"How about satisfaction?" Tabor quickly amended. "How do you know she may not contribute to satisfaction in your life?" The Bajoran smugly watched his Vulcan friend consider this factor. "You do have a point, but as I have reminded you, such matters are resolved through traditional means."

"So," Tabor put down his suitcase prepared for one last debate with his friend. "After a lifetime of flying in the face of your tradition, refusing an engagement by your parents, attending Starfleet against their plans, you are telling me that a bonding now sounds like a good idea?"

"It is a sound solution to my dilemma, circumstances permitting, of course."

"You mean if that other one is not around."

Vorik raised his brows in admonishment. Once he had admitted to Tabor that he and a fellow Vulcan student had made an agreement while at Starfleet Academy.

Vorik had met her while both were in their junior years. Sophe had studied navigation while Vorik had concentrated on engineering. She too had been unwilling to return home and take a mate in the traditional manner. They did not share a true bond, but having found a kindred spirit, Sophe and Vorik had agreed to satisfy each other's needs at the appointed time and place. It had seemed a reasonable solution to their dilemma. But Vorik had found himself in the Delta quadrant thus Sophe was unable to fulfill her part of the bargain. Vorik had admitted to Lieutenant Torres that he did have a fiancÚ of sorts but he was had neglected to mention how the arrangement had been one of his own devising rather one sanctioned by his family.

On any other day, Tabor might have withered under Vorik's glare, but not this day. He felt brave and knew that things had to be said lest they part and live to regret later on. "Vorik, I am your friend and I can say these things: Vulcan taboos be damned. If she is still around, fine! If your parents pick out a girl for you, fine! But you should not have over looked this obvious possibility. It makes no sense."

"By your standards my friend, it does not, but it is not the Vulcan way." Vorik signaled to his friend that they should continue on their way. "Tabor, I am exhausted."'

At that admission Tabor's brows shot up.

"I am exhausted and I want to go home."

"Seven years of traipsing through the unknown has done a number on you?" Tabor mirthfully added as they halted at the lift.

Vorik activated the console and they waited for the doors. "Yes it has. I am willing to take an extended leave as everyone is doing. I wish to remain home and become reacquainted with my heritage. It may even be time to consider the sort of like that Tuvok enjoys. If matters within myself do not alter, I may even be resigning."

The doors opened and out stepped the Captain and the First Officer. Vorik and Tabor nodded to their senior officers, but Janeway and Chakotay were deep in conversation and gave the junior officers only fleeting glances. But after a moment they both heartily smiled and bid Vorik and Tabor good cheer and offered to meet them at the welcome home party on the station. Vorik stepped into the turbolift and Tabor joined him.

"You might resign? You never told me that."

"It has been a matter that has been intriguing since my promotion this morning."

"Well, don't think about that too hard. After all you went through to get to where you are, it would be a shame for you to just tuck your tail between your legs and let your Mother pick you out a wife."

Vorik's eyes widened and he was prepared to rebuke that statement until he noted his friend's smile then a laugh followed the jest. "I'm only joking! Give me a last chance to humiliate you?" The Bajoran gave Vorik's arm a hardy punch.

Vorik returned the gesture with a bemused quirk to his lips, the equivalent of a laugh. "You will be sorely missed as well, my friend."

The lift halted and with a hiss the doors parted. To their astonishment, the hall was packed with boisterous crewmen and family. Tabor looked to his friend and gave him one final smile. "Good luck, Vorik."

Vorik drew himself up and returned the look. With a solemnity that the moment dictated, Vorik raised his hand then parted his fingers into the Vulcan salute. "Live long and prosper, Tabor." When he saw something in the Bajoran's bearing, he knew that a more demonstrative gesture was required and Vorik stepped closer to the man.

A great broad grin broke out across Tabor's face and he embraced his Vulcan friend. Vorik's body stiffened as he tolerated Tabor's arms going about his shoulders. Vorik had to stifle a cough as a hard palm slapped his back.

"You take care, my Vulcan friend." Tabor whispered into Vorik's pointed ear.

As they drew apart, Vorik sensed a degree of satisfaction mixed with tension. He took a final look at his friend's face, memorizing the crinkled nose and jeweled ear. "May your prophets guide you always, Tabor."

The Bajoran appreciated the statement and reluctantly drew away from the Vulcan. Curious, Tabor thought, imagine an emotional moment with a Vulcan. Wanting to diffuse the discomfort, Tabor proclaimed, "Let's go find our families. Your brother is going to be envious of those theorems you devised for the warp core."

With this statement Vorik halted and Tabor noticed a look pass over the Vulcan's face.

"My data PADD," Vorik began

"Don't tell me you forgot it!" the Bajoran began to let out a laugh.

"I did not forget it. It was merely overlooked during all of the preparations."

"Oh yea, that's a good one." Tabor winked at his friend. "Go on and grab it. Your family will still be here"

Vorik nodded to his friend then turned on his heel and tapped at the turbolift padd. He quickly glanced back over his shoulder, but his friend was already wading out into the sea of joyful bodies, in search of his family.

In the engineering deck, it was the silence that was the most eerie: no voices, no computer consoles, nor even the steady thrum of the warp core, the heartbeat of the starship. Voyager was nearly empty; most of her crew was at the welcoming committee party, enjoying the loving embrace of family and friends. Raven had gotten caught up in the joy. Samantha Wildman and Tabor had introduced her to their families. Raven was happy for them but yet she still felt uneasy. It was difficult for her to be around so many happy people when she felt like her life was ending. There was no one to welcome her, no arms to greet her after seven long years. Then there was another reason for her sadness, her regrets.

The human woman had returned to engineering to say good bye to her station. She had an alcove where she would mend damaged and broken deck plates and other larger components of the ship. If someone had to weld or repair large parts of the ship, she was a member of the repair team that would don the space suits and enact such repairs. Space suits and over-sized welding torches were her tools. All of the fine technology and intricate isoliniar chips, neural components and computer programming were still beyond her intellectual grasp. But she had learned so much in these years and was now prepared to enter this 24th century world. Her fingers drew over the railing and she felt her own melancholy well up from deep within.

The Captain had made arrangements for her to return to Earth and perhaps secure a civilian position. But for Raven, it was a small consolation for she had no one to be with, no family. Her shipboard friends had eagerly invited her to remain with them during their leave, but after that, Raven was uncertain of her course. She knew she would adapt; she had in the past. But this deep sadness would not leave her and Raven suspected it would not for a long time.

As long as they had been on the ship she had at least a chance of seeing him. Vorik had always been accessible though Raven had never made her desires known. Being Vulcan, he probably would not have responded to her human romantic overtures, but she had been working slowly. By befriending him, Raven wanted to give Vorik the opportunity to contemplate her as a choice, instead of trying to chose another and be rejected once again.

Her hopes had been dashed, when fate had stepped in and they had made it back to the alpha quadrant. Ever since then, her fear, her anxiety had consumed her. Every time Vorik passed her in the hall, he was cordial and even at last night's gathering they had talked. Raven believed she was on the right course. He had even seemed genuinely interested in forging a friendship with her outside of their association with Tabor. With the advent of returning home all possibility had vanished. In its place was her loneliness.

After the party last night, a slightly intoxicated Tabor had escorted her back to her quarters. He insisted that he wanted to say goodbye, in private. Perhaps it had been her own light inebriation that contributed, but much to their mutual surprise, Raven had taken a chance and seduced the handsome Bajoran. The friends had smiled as they emerged from the heated passionate exchange. While lying naked upon her floor, the finger-nail welts upon his back pleasantly stinging, Tabor admitted to her that he had enjoyed the time as much as she had and promised not to let this go beyond the here and now.

Tabor knew that her frustration, her longing, was for his Vulcan friend, but he had happily accepted her passions. They were adults who knew the difference between love and sex. Maybe Tabor had always yearned for this with her and perhaps deep inside Raven had yearned as well. For whatever reason, the deep sharing had been her way to release her tension and to say good bye.

Yesterday afternoon in the mess hall, much of the off duty crew gathered and had begun sharing tales of their intentions upon returning home. Everyone knew that Raven was returning to no one; long ago she had told the tale of her homeworld's destruction. Along with others, Vorik had offered her a place to stay with his family. She was elated at his offer and hope sprang anew as her mind raced through the possibilities. Being human she might have interpreted such a gesture as mere politeness, as most humans were wont to do. But Vulcan's do not usually do things for convention's sake and his invitation could be considered a genuine one.

While others had been securing a promise from her to visit them as well, Vorik had retreated and joined Tabor for what she assumed to be a round of Pericee squares. Raven had wanted to formally accept his invitation and ask if she might accompany him home but he was gone before she could respond.

If she could not join Vorik, Raven considered going to Nisus, after a short time on Earth. She knew the odds were not in her favor, but perhaps, once there, Vorik and she would be able to strike up a closer association. To become a friend to the family was usually a sound plan.

Last night, after she had shared her plans with Tabor, he had crushed her hopes. "There may be another from his academy days. And you know him, he would hold to that first promise without regard for anything else." But he had encouraged her to still visit because he believed that Raven and Vorik would benefit from such a plan.

For the past two years, Tabor had endorsed her pursuit of their Vulcan friend. While Raven was reserved and slow in her approach, Tabor had vehemently urged her to make her desire known. Raven did not wish to embarrass Vorik. She knew that his traditions did not allow such an overt approach. Inspired by Tabor's faith, she did consider an alternative plan. In Raven Zans' own simple matriarchal culture, women always took these matters into their own hands. It was a bold gesture but perhaps the whim and decorum of the Vulcan male could be sidestepped and Vorik could be secured through an agreement with his mother, if that truly was the Vulcan way.

But for now she was here, in the engineering deck, alone, saying farewell to tools and empty rooms, remembering her life here, her memories. But most of all she recalled her fantasies. Within the privacy of her feminine mind, Raven Zans had lived an entire life with this Vulcan man. They had fallen in love, bonded, had children, shared good times and anniversaries and had even weathered stormy years. The fantasy had given her joy and comfort and she had been satisfied with them. Well at least they were a pleasant consolation. The opening of the engineering doors interrupted her melancholy revere.

Could she have been any unluckier, she mused to herself as she saw who had entered. Her racing heart drew a flush to across her throat. Shaking hands and wobbly legs kept her riveted to her spot near the warp core. As her fingers gripped the railing, she watched him stroll through engineering. His lumbering gait was hurried and he had not even seen her at the railing.

"Mr. Vorik?" She dared to call out.

"Ahh, Crewman Zans." His soft baritone echoed through the quiet chamber. "It is fortunate that we were able to meet before the reunion of our families."

Raven swallowed hard then replied, "Yes, most fortunate." Then she felt a force deep within, a strength she did not know was there. The force was whispering Vorik's own words, words that she had heard him utter during a prior conversation with a group of friends. The statement was low, soft and profound when he had uttered it to Ensign Kim. And now this same voice resounded through Raven mind:<> This voice compelled her as if he were beckoning her. She came around the railing to stand by him. Her feeble voice felt thin in her throat as she offered; "You are looking for something?"

He was glancing around at various stations. "Yes, my data PADD. It was left here at my console but it may have been relocated."

Raven slowly drew closer. She was only a few feet from him now and his nearness invoked terror and fear. Her own intentions were terrifying her. Of course he had not noticed her movements since he was in search of the PADD. "Lieutenant Torres collected them all with the intention of returning them to everyone at the gathering."

Vorik abandoned his search and turned to look at her. "The information is appreciated. I will secure my PADD from the Lieutenant." He was surprised that she was suddenly closer. Vorik also noted how small and uncomfortable she looked. Vorik noticed that much of the crew was having difficulty in taking their leaves of each other. He had never seen such a degree of discomfort since his academy graduation.

"I take it that you have not yet met up with your family?" Raven was unwilling to let him go just yet and was attempting to entreat him in conversation.

"I was about to when Tabor reminded me of my data PADD."

"Oh yes, the theorems." Raven recalled how he had talked about them at last night's festivities and the degree of delight his brother would take in them.

"Indeed," Vorik was mildly intrigued that she could remember such a slight detail from his life. "Though the information is contained within Voyager's data base, I wanted the information in hand to present to my Brother."

"I am certain that he will find it as intriguing as the rest of the engineering crew did." Raven replied. Her heart beat so loudly that she feared he would hear the pounding with those keen Vulcan ears. "Well," she let out a fearful sigh. "I will let you get to your family." She swallowed hard then lifted a shaky hand. "Peace and long life, * Lieutenant* Vorik."

Vorik raised a brow as he returned her leave. His hand parted in the Vulcan salute as he prepared to reply live long and prosper but he was stunned into silence.

Her cool human palm covered his and Vorik inwardly shivered as he suddenly remembered to breathe. Her eyes bore into his and he could not draw away. It was a momentary shock and he considered drawing away from her until he felt her fingers drawing up his, slowly enticing his nerves. In a blinding moment it was all over.

A warm flush crept over the Vulcan's face but he masterfully quelled it. Raven had kissed him in the Vulcan way and Vorik was completely taken aback. The notable absence of the thrum of the warp core only added to the surreal quality of the experience. There was not much that would astonish a Vulcan and usually he was prepared, but this was unexpected and most pleasant Vorik momentarily admitted to himself. But then his Vulcan decorum drew up and he blurted out, "Crewman, that was,"

"I know," she hastily replied as her face drew to his. She planted a quick kiss upon his thin lips then backed off, letting the surprise settle into him. She knew he would either walk away or lecture her. But she did not care; she had taken the chance and let her heart be known. Now it was up to him to decide what he wanted to do. Her heart raced as her daring actions sparked off adrenaline. To touch him was a heady delight and she felt faint from just that slight kiss.

When he was not forthcoming in either comment or action, Raven broke the spell and her discomfort, "Farewell, Mr. Vorik." Her eyes welled up with tears. "You will be deeply missed." Her lower lip quivered as sadness threatened to break through.

Vorik quirked his brow as he gazed down upon the emotional female. "As will thee." He tenderly intoned, "May your Goddess draw you into her loving embrace."

Raven was deeply touched by his formal leave. How could he have known that that was her people's way of saying good-bye forever?

"Thank you," she croaked out and watched him back away. With his hands clasped behind his back, he stole out of the engineering bay leaving Raven to the memories of her stolen kisses.

The memory of Raven's touch plagued Vorik's palm all during his walk back to the welcoming bay. In the privacy of the turbolift, he examined his palm, recalling how cool her fingers had been upon his. Never before had he been touched in that way. Not even his so-called intended, Sophe, had shared such an intimate, daring and pleasurable touch. Mind melds at the academy with Sophe had been enlightening but not deeply moving. The look in Raven's eyes was similar to what the holographic T'Pera had bestowed upon him: beseeching?

Vorik's memories fleeted to his commanding officer, Lieutenant Torres and the memory of how strong the draw to her had been. Instinct had ruled him them. Could Raven's human feelings be similar to the Vulcan pon farr? Vorik considered Tabor's advice on the opportunity for satisfaction. It was most unfortunate that Vorik had not known of Raven before his time, matters might have been different. Perhaps Vulcan tradition did serve its people well. To the Vulcan man, if his mind was centering on this matter then perhaps it was wise to do something about it. Vorik was determined to speak to his mother about some kind arrangement for him when they returned home.

Vorik licked his lips and detected a trace of cinnamon. It must have been the crewman's lip-gloss, he deduced, and secretly found the flavor appealing.

After a half-hour of wading through the crowd, Vorik finally managed to find his family. They were in far corner avoiding the crowd. Lieutenant Commander Tuvok and his family joined them. Vorik knew that it was discomforting for Vulcans to be in such an emotional and boisterous crowd of humans, but his family was used to humans. Colony life was filled with them. "Mother," Vorik stated by way of greeting.

She who was his mother turned at his voice. She remained unchanged. Her face never revealed her joy, but Vorik knew that she was pleased at his return. Her eyes and the resonance of the family bond were immediately reestablished. She offered him the ta'al. Vorik's father noticed the exchange. He broke from his conversation with what was obviously Tuvok's son and drew his attention to Vorik.

The stately Vulcan father stepped towards his son, then halted. His face was a bit more revealing as he greeted his son. "Welcome home, Vorik."

"Father," Vorik inclined his head, offering a slight bow to his parents. He knew it was an overly emotional gesture, but the cause was sufficient.

"Taurik was unable to join us," Vorik's mother interjected.

"That is unfortunate," Vorik replied. He glanced to the other faces and noticed his sisters with their mates and children in tow. It was a proper and sedate Vulcan family gathering. The serious-faced children stared about in curiosity at the boisterous gathering.

"Sisters, your offspring have grown."

"That is an astute observation, Vorik," his eldest sister, T'Sellan replied. Her even tone belied her teasing comment. "But many things do change after seven years. This is my youngest." She introduced Vorik to the mewling babe in her arms, the newest addition to the family.

After a time, Vorik required refreshment. His mother had requested a sandwich as well. While Vorik was at the board, selecting finger food and drinks, someone from his side, addressed him. "Vorik?"

The Vulcan looked to the unfamiliar voice. His brows raised before he could stop them, "Sophe?" he blurted out. "I am pleased that you are here." In from his past had walked his former schoolmate: the Vulcan female that Tabor had been teasing him about less than an hour ago. It was ironic she was here. No, Vorik corrected himself it was logical that she was.

"Your ship and crew have been all over the news nets: Voyager's illustrious return. I desired to be here at the welcoming ceremony." Vorik experienced a sudden inclination to put aside his food and drink. He then wondered if it would be proper to request a solitary audience with her. Sophe had changed. Though she resembled an extremely handsome Vulcan woman, her face was not the ideal of beauty that Vorik had remembered her to be. Her emotional word-choice struck him. 'Desired'? Just as he was about to inquiry of her health he noticed his mother from beyond.

Her brow was lifted in curiosity and he knew what it meant. Who is this Vulcan woman? Vorik ruefully noted how time had not changed his mother's formality. He prepared to introduce his classmate. "Mother.."

But Sophe gently interrupted Vorik's words. "Vorik, may I present my bond-mate, Stonn." From her side, an unusually tall Vulcan man stepped forward. How Vorik had missed him amidst the crow was unknown. But the towering blonde figure was imposing and in a way almost comical. If Vorik were one to laugh at such a juxtaposition. For Sophe was inordinately short for a Vulcan and the pair side by side only accented the other's attributes.

Vorik's mother held back as she watched her son engage in his adult interaction. She had seen his reaction to Sophe and must have deduced the truth. Her own eyes twinkled as she enjoyed the irony of his situation. After a few moments, Vorik beckoned to her. "Mother this is my class mate, Sophe and her bond-mate, Stonn."

With Vulcan formality, the three silently greeted the other and Vorik's mother invited the pair to the Vulcan gathering at the back of the room. Before she departed, she asked, "Vorik, your father requested an Ale." Vorik was comforted by the fact that his father's taste had not changed. Ale at this mid-day hour was his norm. Vorik was beginning to experience a curious sensation. Though he was not at the colony he somehow felt at home.

Vorik balanced three drinks and a plate of food with his usual dexterity. Just as he was about to return to the back of the room, a face caught his eye. It was the face of the swarthy human he had taken his leave of in engineering. A quick flush of his ear tips reminded him of the affect of her actions. Most curious, Vorik considered. His first inclination was to acknowledge her then to turn away, but his palms requested a second glance. Raven's dark eyes met his. With a smile her face was transformed from one of a colleague's to...to what Vorik did not know.

For the first time Vorik really looked and truly noticed her and with the memory of her quick kiss upon his lips and the seductive touches upon his palm, he thought he saw what it was that Tabor had been relentlessly referring too. Raven never let her bold gaze down as she made her way through the crowd and Vorik never moved nor let his gaze drop from hers. Laden with his food and drink, he remained in his spot as she made her way to his side.

The smile still teased at her lips. "You found them?" her voice now held a different quality and one that Vorik was rather inclined to listened too.

"Yes, my mother, father and sisters are here but not my brother."

"Oh, that is a shame," Raven offered to take a drink from his hand. He let her hold his drink and the plate of food.

"Crewman Zans?" Vorik began.

"I am no longer a member of this ship, Mr. Vorik. Please, just Raven?" she replied

"Miss Zans," Vorik compromised then began again. He looked to the drinks in his hand then looked back at her. For some reason the thought of seeing her on a daily basis seemed ...desirable. "I would be pleased if you would meet my mother."

Raven's throat grew tight. "I would love to meet your mother."

After the party, the pair set off, leaving the USS Voyager behind, to boldly go where neither had gone before.

The End.

This writing road has been a two-year long journey I have been to places I never knew existed. All thanks and praise go to those people online for their interest and to my muse Vorik for these stories. All things do come full circle it seems.

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