Okie doke, I wrote this after I first saw Star Trek: Nemesis (partly because I couldn't stop crying!) so this takes place right after Nemesis.

Chapter 1

Bubbles rose into the air as Admiral Rose Hayes stepped into her bubble bath. She sighed and lathered up her neck and arms with soap. She couldn't wait until her shore leave started that afternoon. She had already planned out everything that she would do, and who she would do it with. She smiled and stood up, wrapping herself in a towel. She walked over to her bureau and picked up the present that sat there. She placed the small ceramic kitty onto the computer pad.

"Computer, please wrap this in green wrapping paper with a green bow and label it to-"

"Admiral Hayes," a voice came from Hayes's dirty clothes. She walked over to it and picked up her communicator.

"Admiral Hayes here."

"I'm sorry to bother you, Admiral, but the Council has decided to meet earlier than planned."

"I'm on my way." She set the communicator down and started getting dressed.

G-G

Deep in the heart of Federation space, the Federation Council met to discuss business. The Federation President, Jaresh-Inyo, sat at the head of the room and surveyed the group of people around him. He noted that one chair was empty and shook his head. The chair belonged to the youngest member of the council, Admiral Rose Hayes. She was barely 26, and how she had become an Admiral so fast in the first place was beyond him. He put his mind back on the meeting and started it.

"Any old business?" he said with a sigh. These meetings were always so tedious. No one spoke. "Any new business?" The room was silent. He rolled his eyes. The door opened and Admiral Hayes walked in. She started to sneak over to her desk, but the screen behind the President stopped her.

"Mr. President, sorry to interrupt you like this, but I'm afraid it cannot wait."

The President turned around and addressed the Lieutenant on the screen. "What is it?"

"The Captain of the Enterprise-E would like to speak with you immediately."

The President sat down in his chair. "Go ahead."

The screen went black, and then it showed the bridge of the Enterprise-E with Captain Jean-Luc Picard at its head. "Mr. President, I regret to inform you this, but a member of my bridge crew was killed in our recent mission with the Romulans. I request that you send me a new bridge officer to replace him."

The President noticed that Admiral Hayes had stopped dead in her tracks. "Which one of your bridge crew was it, Captain Picard?"

Captain Picard sighed. "It was Lt. Cmdr. Data, Mr. President."

The President opened his mouth to respond, but a noise behind him made him turn. Admiral Hayes had dropped her books and then ran out of the room, slamming the door behind her. He turned back to Captain Picard. "I'll see what I can do, Captain."

G-G

In the hallway, Admiral Hayes pushed her way past everyone until she was outside. Her black council robe whipped around in the breeze as she scurried down the steps of the building. She spotted the First Officer of her private starship flirting with a pretty girl in the nearby garden, so she ran to get him.

"Number One."

He turned to her. "Yes, Admiral?"

"We have to get back to our ship."

"But Admiral, the entire crew is on leave right now."

She snapped at him. "An order is an order, Number One. This is an emergency."

He nodded. "Yes, Admiral."

Within a few hours, Admiral Hayes's crew was back onboard her ship, the U.S.S. Luther. They all grumbled at their posts, but Admiral Hayes ignored it. She sat in the Captain's chair and straightened her uniform. "Number One, set a course for the Enterprise-E."

G-G

Captain Picard walked slowly back to the bridge. He sighed inwardly. He'd never felt as tired as he had in the past few days. He considered going back to sleep so he wouldn't have to face the reality of the situation, but the truth wouldn't leave his mind. Data was gone. He leaned his shoulder against the corridor wall and sighed again.

"Captain, we need you at the bridge," Commander Martin Madden's voice crackled through Picard's communicator.

"Understood." Picard continued down the corridor, putting his emotions behind him. The doors to the bridge opened slower than usual. "Number One," he said as he sat down in his chair. "What seems to be the problem?"

Madden was sitting in Data's chair. "We just received a message from a Federation vessel."

Picard hated the sight of someone in Data's chair. He waved his hand in front of his eyes to stop tears from coming. "What did it say?"

"The U.S.S. Luther has set a course for our position and they will be here in twenty minutes." Madden looked down at his board. "Make that, five minutes. They've arrived."

Picard sighed. "On screen." A silver Federation ship appeared.

An Ensign looked up from her board. "It says here that they need to beam Admiral Hayes onboard the Enterprise."

"Take us out of warp." Picard tapped his armrest in thought. "Admiral Hayes. Where have I heard that name?"

Dr. Crusher leaned forward in her chair. "She's part of the Federation Council. She was at the Council meeting that we went to last year about the Baku. She repealed the act to take the Baku off of their planet."

Picard nodded. "Oh yes." He cleared his throat. "Far too young to be an Admiral."

Dr. Crusher smiled until she saw Madden sitting in Data's chair. "Captain, there's something you should know about the Admiral."

Picard looked at Dr. Crusher. "Yes? What is it?" She opened her mouth, but was cut short by Madden.

"Admiral Hayes was transported successfully and she is on her way here."

Picard stroked his chin. "I wonder what she wants?"

A few minutes later, Admiral Hayes came to the bridge with a distraught face. "Captain Picard." She nodded to him.

"Admiral Hayes, sir. Is there anything wrong?"

"Yes, Captain. I'm afraid there is." She paused to gather her strength. "The council received your message two days ago concerning Cmdr. Data. As soon as I heard the news, I set a course for your position." She looked at Dr. Crusher who gave her an encouraging smile. "I had hoped to tell you this news during a more suitable situation, but it seems that that moment will never come." She looked down at her shoes for a second and then looked back up. "Data was my husband."

"Your husband?" Worf said. "When did this happen?"

"We met at the Baku meeting last year. You can guess what happened. In a hasty decision, we were married two days before he had to go back to the Enterprise. Except for hails, we haven't been together since then."

Picard was skeptical. "Why did we never hear anything about this?"

"Because I am a part of the Federation Council, my life is constantly in danger. I didn't want Data to be hurt on my account. But I had no business making him deceive his friends. I'm sorry for my deception, Picard. I know that Data was sorry as well."

Picard smiled and nodded. "It's alright, Admiral. I understand." He turned to Worf. "Mr. Worf, will you please put all of Data's things back into his old quarters?"

"Yes, sir." Worf left to do so.

Dr. Crusher noticed the bags under Hayes's eyes, as well as her pale skin, so she stepped forward. "Admiral, I'd like to run some tests on you, if it's not a problem."

"Of course, not. If you will excuse us, Captain."

"Certainly. Take your time." Hayes left the bridge and followed Dr. Crusher to sickbay.