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Carry It With You

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It had been hard enough for Jaylah, seeing James T's crew (Captain Kirk's crew - Uhura was helping her figure out the proper ways of using people's names) walking around her house like they owned it, like it was just any other ship. Stomping everywhere, moving her things, unsettling what she'd spent so long getting just the way she wanted it. Even if she'd understood, it was hard.

This was harder. Seeing that house crashed sideways, half in the water. Closed to her.

They were going to study it now. Some of the Yorktown engineers and historians were very excited to pull it to bits. It wouldn't be her house any more.

When she'd heard that, Jaylah had asked for directions and then marched straight to Commodore Paris's office to complain.

'But it's my house!' she'd protested, and Commodore Paris had smiled sympathetically.

'I know,' she said. 'But it belonged to Starfleet first, and I'm afraid we really do need it back.'

'What about my things? They are still there. I can have them?'

'Of course - I didn't realise you hadn't had a chance to retrieve them in the confusion. I'll see if one of the administrative personnel can accompany you when there's some time...'

'When?'

Commodore Paris looked at her, pursed her lips. 'You know what? Let's go now. I'll come with you. No need to take anyone else from their duties.'

So they walked there together. Jaylah ignored the curious looks they got - she'd only been here a few hours and she was already used to that. She looked right back. It'd been years since she'd seen so many people in one place, and so many species she didn't recognise. She wanted to explore this place. Later.

When they reached the house, and the security personnel standing by confirmed that it was safe to go inside, Jaylah didn't quite know where to go first.

There was her food stash, of course, but Scotty had explained to her that she would be provided with as much food as she needed or wanted, and if that was true it didn't seem worth bringing her small stock of preserved meat, the boxes of old rations that she sometimes resorted to in the winter if supplies were low and hunting was bad.

She took some of the rations anyway in the end, because it was good to be prepared.

She walked, the commodore following, to the garden she had made on one of the recreation decks, but her vegetables had been torn from their places sometime between the planet and here, and it was pointless to replant them.

'You did all this by yourself?' Commodore Paris asked.

Jaylah shrugged. 'There was a lot of time. I learned how from the computer.'

The commodore tilted her head at Jaylah. 'I'm told you learned your excellent Federation Standard from the ship's database, too.'

'I learned many things.'

The commodore nodded. 'I'll make sure you have full access to the Yorktown databases, so you can continue to learn if you want to.'

After that they picked their way through the house, and Jaylah grabbed her things when she saw them. Not that she had many. So much of what she'd thought of as hers really belonged to the ship. She took a few of those anyway, glaring defiantly over her shoulder at Commodore Paris, who didn't tell her not to. She'd scratched designs into one of the cooking panels in the mess hall - silly things, names and dates and little pictures - and when she tried to pry it away from the unit, the commodore grabbed a tool and helped.

'My head administrator was going to assign you private quarters,' she said, 'but you've been alone for so long - perhaps you'd prefer to stay with a family? At least until you get your bearings?'

'Bearings?'

'I mean, until you feel more comfortable.'

Jaylah considered, then nodded.

***

Jaylah liked the Sulus. She liked Ben, who taught her how to make pancakes and showed her where to go to get new clothes. She liked Hikaru, who patiently answered her questions about things she'd seen in her house's historical database. He wouldn't let her set traps at the entrance to her room but he showed her the security settings for their apartment and how she could lock her room down if she needed too.

She liked Demora, who had started to wear her hair in a ponytail like Jaylah's, and who put her own sticky hand in Jaylah's and went running all through Yorktown, showing her the best places to play, the best things to see, the most interesting foods. Everything else was complicated now - so much to learn, so much to do before she entered Starfleet Academy at the beginning of the next term - or didn't, she still wasn't completely sure. But Demora was too young to know or care about that, and so when they spent time together Jaylah stopped caring for a little while too.

The Sulus weren't much like her own family had been, but she liked them. Ben suggested once that, at some point, they might find her home planet and see if she had any relatives still there. That idea squirmed in Jaylah's stomach uncomfortably, and she set it aside to think about. Her planet was still far away, and she wasn't even sure if anyone there would remember her. But here, on Yorktown, she was beginning to know the way to the stand that sold the spiralling sugared cakes she liked, and the place where people went to play music for others to enjoy, and the high place where she could look out and see her old house, where the engineers still crawled over it.

And then, she knew the way back to her new house, with the Sulus, and her things.

'You know,' said Ben, one evening after Demora had been put to bed, 'you can stay here as long as you want to. Even if you go to the Academy, you can always come back here. We'll keep a place for you.'

Jaylah nodded. 'That is... good. Thank you.'


***

In the end, she went to the Academy. Just to see what it was like. When she arrived, she found that the Sulus had sent a care package ahead of her, including some photographs of them all, and the crew of the Enterprise, on Yorktown.

'Is that your family?' her new roommate asked, watching Jaylah arranging them over her desk.

'No.' Jaylah shook her head. 'But they are... important.'

'Want to explore the campus?'

'... Yes.'

This was not her home, and neither was Yorktown. The Sulus and Scotty and Uhura and the others were not her family. But it was good anyway.