A Perfect Moment

Part 1 - Tom

I wasn't looking at her when it happened, so I can't describe her expression, which is a pity because I know it's all anyone will ask me about. I can tell you about the shiver that ran down my spine as the blue, green globe appeared on the viewscreen before me and I can tell you about the sound that came from directly behind me, a gasp filled with anticipation and apprehension. It was easy to hear; the Bridge had been shocked into an awed silence and I was kicking myself, not for the first time, that I could see her face at this defining moment. I'd have to hear about it secondhand, from Harry or B'elanna. I suppose I could have turned around to look at her, but to be honest I couldn't wrench my gaze away from Earth, just in case I blinked and it was gone, we'd been this close before after all.

But Earth wasn't going anywhere, just tumbling gracefully in its orbit, the most perfect Planet anywhere in these moments. The bleep of a console somewhere was an interruption we could have done without, we were all still too busy drinking in the sight of it. But I think it helped us all remember that there was more to the Planet than the way it looked from space. I heard Harry say, 'incoming message from Starfleet Command,' and wondered if I'd imagined that note of exultation.

'On screen,' There was no doubt about the Captain's command of the situation, she sounded as crisp and as alert as she has in the hundreds if not thousands of times I've heard her give that same order.

Earth blinked away, a face replacing that image. It was an Admiral, but not, I'm glad to say my father. I'd like our reunion to be face to face not over a viewscreen now that I'm finally ready to look him in the eye.

'Welcome home Captain.' Well, if they'd been practising that fort he last six years they couldn't have got it sounding any better.

'It's good to be here.'

' I can imagine.' I knew that he couldn't, not really, but I wasn't surprised that Janeway let it pass. 'There are a few details to take care of, but after that you'll be free to go - all of you.' The remark was clearly meant to encompass the former Maquis and the final doubt that this might all end in tears slipped away from me. I'd been sprouting optimism for days to B'elanna's spirits up, but somewhere deep inside I'd had my doubts, I knew what Starfleet could be capable of. 'If you and your First Officer will beam down to Headquarters we can get everything sorted out.

'Of course.'

'We'll look forward to seeing you, Hayes out.' He seemed a nice guy, but what can I say? I preferred looking at Earth any day and I don't believe I'm alone.'

'Tom,' a hand patted me on the shoulder once and this time I did look around to catch her grin and the tears that glistened unshed in her eyes, 'assume a standard orbit please.'

'Yes ma'am,' the hand tightened, squeezing my shoulder once and she whispered so that only I could hear,

'We did it.'