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Chapter One

The Sun is the Same

“Half impulse, Lieutenant Patel.” Lorca settles into the captain’s chair. It’s good to be back. He wouldn’t be in Starfleet if he hated going into space, but this time it feels different to him. As Buran passes the “dark” side of the Moon, starry with the lights of civilization, his mind goes over the last couple of days with Kat. He always says a long mental farewell as his ship travels out of the solar system. Once they hit warp, he closes his feelings into the box he only opens when he’s alone in his quarters. Sometimes he and Kat will be able to comm daily. Sometimes they’ll get very busy and won’t manage. But they’ll try.

He’s thinking of last night. Their vigorous lovemaking, consuming each other to the point of satiety, then the tender aftermath, as they curved toward each other like tight parentheses.


Kat looks up to see Gabriel looking at her deeply, as if saying farewell. She touches his face. “I’m going to miss you.”

“I’ll miss you too.” He takes her hand, folding his own around it. “Listen. I love you, Kat. I don’t know what’s going to happen. You know I’ve left you a letter—”

She leans up on an elbow, looking down at him. “Gabriel, where’s this coming from? You’ve gone out on Buran time after time, for months at a time. We’ve said goodbye many times before, but this … are you worried about something?”

He frowns a little, checking his feelings, and shrugs. “I guess I am. No idea why, it’s just … coming in on me. Sorry. I don’t mean to spook you.”

“It’s okay, we can talk about it.”

“It’s not something I can really identify well enough to talk about.”

“Let’s explore that.”

He gives her a side-eye, one gradation back from full eyeroll. “You know I hate it when you …”

“Well, I am a psychiatrist. So you can expect this. I think you’d know this after 30 years. So use me.”

He smirks. “I thought I just did.”

She doesn’t bristle, exactly, but her expression is serious. “You have never in your life used me that way. That’s what I love about you. If there’s any ‘using,’ it’s mutual, and it’s really too caring to be ‘using’.”

“It  was a really lame joke.” He gives her a crooked smile. And her smile is a gift in return. How I love you, he thinks.

“I forgive you.” Kat sits all the way up, resting a hand on his chest. He holds it.

His thumb strokes her palm and where his fingers hold her hand, her skin is thinner than it used to be, wrinkling slightly. She looks fragile and slight of body, but she’s not. She’s tough and though slender, her muscles are solid. He thinks of her as a woman with tensile strength. Flexible at the right times, command-wise, personally, physically. His fierce Kat.

“Is it a physical feeling?”

“Hon, I can’t figure it out. Let me look things over again, maybe I’ll be able to.” He kisses her palm and sits up himself, reaching for the Padd on the night table.

“Stop that. Let it come to you in your sleep. You’ll be able to tell me in the morning.” She settles down, curving into him.

He kisses her shoulder to send her to sleep on a smile. “I told Some Guy to take good care of you.”

Kat’s eyes crinkle at the corners as she pets the Siamese, who’s lying by her pillow. “He always does.” She’s already going to sleep when she pats Lorca’s shoulder. “Sleep well …”

He lies awake for a little while, trying to analyze his feelings, some lines from an old song repeating in his mind.

*So you run and you run to catch up with the sun but it’s sinking

Racing around to come up behind you again.

The sun is the same in a relative way but you’re older,

Shorter of breath, and one day closer to death.*


Christ, he thinks as he drifts off uneasily to sleep. I’ve never felt this morbid before.


Buran passes Pluto. Lorca quirks a little smile. Such a controversy, hundreds of years ago, when Earth’s astronomers determined Pluto was too small to be considered a planet.

Time changes us all, he thinks.

“Warp Six, Mr Patel. Go.”



*Lyrics by Roger Waters, Pink Floyd, “Dark Side of the Moon”