Starfleet Medical …
Neelix paced about the hospital room, nervously tidying his few possessions. It was almost time …
Finally, the chime sounded. “Come in,” he called.
The door opened to reveal Samantha Wildman … older, a bit heavier, but her smile was the same.
They stood and looked at each other for a few moments before Sam crossed the room and wrapped her arms around her old friend.
“Neelix, I am so happy to see you,” she said, her voice choking.
“Oh, Samantha, let me look at you,” he said, pulling back a bit. “A commander?” he asked, spying the pips on her uniform. “Congratulations!”
“Thank you,” she said wiping tears from her eyes. “Now, before we get too carried away; Naomi will be here a little later. She had to work at the restaurant this morning, so she took the afternoon shuttle.”
“Oh, I was so excited to hear that our Naomi graduated from culinary school, and that she’s a chef!”
“Well, a junior chef, anyway,” Samantha laughed. “See, now we’re getting carried away. I brought along someone I want you to meet,” she said, motioning toward the large Katarian man standing quietly in the doorway.
“Oh my goodness, forgive my manners, sir, please come in,” Neelix said jovially.
“Neelix, this is Greskrendtregk, Naomi’s father.”
“How do you do Mr. Greskrendtregk. I am delighted to finally meet you,” Neelix said, offering his hand, which the Katarian solemnly shook.
“I cannot stay long, “ Greskrendtregk said, “but when Samantha told me you were here, I wanted to thank you for taking care of her and Naomi all those years ago. “
“It was my pleasure. I’m happy they were able to come home to you.”
“Having Naomi here has been a wonderful experience,” he said. “And I’m glad that she will be able to see you again. “
“And I’m looking forward to seeing her all grown up,” Neelix enthused.
Greskrendtregk nodded, then looked apologetically at Sam, who nodded in return.
“I’m sorry, but I must go. Please tell Naomi that I will see her later,” he said to Sam. He shook Neelix’s hand again, and hurriedly left.
The whole business struck Neelix as odd, but he decided not to let it spoil the moment. “Samantha, please sit down. Could I get you something to drink?”
They made small talk for a while … about Naomi, about Sam’s job and what she knew of the crew. When they’d finally wound down a bit, he smiled at her fondly. “I’m sorry your husband couldn’t stay longer; I was hoping to get to know him a bit.”
A shadow crossed Sam’s face. “Neelix,” she said gently, “there’s something you need to know. Gres and I are divorced. Nearly eight years now.”
“Oh, no. I’m so sorry. No one told me …”
“I asked Admiral Janeway not to mention it. I wanted to tell you myself,” she said. She was quiet for a moment, then sighed. “We tried, Neelix. We tried for three years. But so much happened to me on Voyager. And Gres … there was a war in the quadrant while Voyager was gone. Deep Space Nine, where he was posted, was in the middle of it. Gres saw a lot of terrible things. In the end, we just couldn’t make it.”
Neelix shook his head. “I wanted so much for you to be happy.”
Sam smiled. “I am happy, Neelix. I met someone a few years later. He’s also in Starfleet,” she said as she fumbled with her vid. “This is David … Commander David Barton,” she said as she pulled up a holoimage. “We were married four years ago. The wedding was in Admiral Janeway’s backyard.”
Neelix peered at the image. “He looks very kind.”
“He is. He adores Naomi; in fact he’s picking her up at Spacedock, so you’ll get to meet him later.”
“I look forward to it,” he said, feeling a bit bewildered.