As the memorial began to empty they were among a handful of people who remained. Kelvin saw a Federation ambassador he had met once before at an official function although he couldn't remember his name.
Not that he was really trying too hard to remember it, he had more important things. More important people to think about as he stood holding hands with his wife Elizabeth.
He had no idea what to say to break the silence they endured since she cracked and started to cry and been unable to carry on and read out Olivia's name.
He stepped in and said her name then led Elizabeth off stage and they had been sat on a bench next to what would soon become a memorial garden since then.
Hours passed before Elizabeth finally broke that silence, during which he had waved away the few people who approached looking to talk to one of them.
Whether they were wanting to offer condolences or talk official business, he didn't know or care.
His only concern was for Elizabeth, so he felt a great sense of relief that she was talking again.
"I lost it up there, just thinking it, let alone saying her name is still too painful."
"I don't know what made me think I would be able to get up in front of all the people here and everybody watching all across the Federation and just say her name."
"As if saying it aloud will make it anymore real than it already is."
"It's ridiculous isn't it. I know she's gone, yet I still expect to hear from her or to come home to find her there."
"I honestly thought I needed to get up there and say it, to read her name aloud to make it real for me,"
Elizabeth said. The quiet tone of her voice and her whole body slightly shaking as the tears once again began to slide down her cheeks.
"I didn't get to say it, but I do now believe it, I do now, know deep down that my girl is never coming home ever again."
Holding her hand feeling her shake and seeing the tears slide down her cheeks, Kelvin felt his wife's pain.
"No it's not ridiculous, I said it. I read out Liv's name and it hurt."
"I mean it almost physically hurt me to say it. Even when I know every one who had and was preparing to go out there on that stage knew exactly what I felt."
"I still found it hard, I'm actually surprised I managed it."
"You did though, you got up said it and were able to walk off stage under your own steam."
"You weren't led off in tears and nearly catatonic you were so caught up in your own grief."
"You didn't fail Lizzy, it wasn't a test. If she were here she would tell you, you needn't be so hard on yourself."
"You have every reason to lose it, what this service has been about is a beginning to the healing process, one day you will be able to say it."
"To say our girls name out loud in conversation to think it when you're alone without bursting into a flood of tears."
"Until then I am here, I am the shoulder you can lean on because I know what you're feeling."
"I know how hard just getting out of bed every morning, nevermind sitting, eating, drinking and carrying on as if it was at all normal to live on after your child dies."
"I know the depths you can fall to, the thoughts that go through your mind."
Elizabeth looked at him and for the first time really saw not just the pain, but the emptiness behind his eyes. The look of someone struggling just like she is to get through every day, knowing every smile, every laugh, waking moment feels slightly like a betrayal of the child they lost.
She had been too wrapped up in her own grief to see how it hit him, she hadn't even considered how their other two children were dealing with losing their sister.
Elizabeth stopped shaking and crying and used the back of the sleeve on her Admirals dress uniform to wipe away the tears from her cheeks.
She looked at Kelvin as she said to him, I think it's time to get up, I think if you're right and this was the beginning of the healing process, whatever that means."
"If this is it, then you and I both need to leave this place and maybe never come back here."
"Do you mean this site where they're going to build the garden or do you mean Starfleet headquarters."
"If you mean this place, then yes we should leave now, if you mean living Starfleet altogether I can't agree with that,"
"I need to stay, stay and use my job to honor Livia's memory and try to prevent other families going through this in future," Kelvin said.
"How is that ship you've built at Utopia Planitia going to help protect anyone other than its crew, if it ever has one. You haven't even been given the green light to launch the prototype, let alone begin work on a fleet of that over the top warship of yours."
"Now the war is over, no one in Starfleet will want that beast out there, a fleet vessel as armed as a dozen Klingon or Romulan warbirds."
"What kind of message would that thing send?"
"Okay, you're exaggerating how heavily armed it is, but the message it sends will be heard throughout the Alpha Quardant, that you don't mess with us anymore."
"That Starfleet can and will defend itself against aggression, Starfleet still won't start the fight, but be damn sure we'll end it," Kelvin said. Finishing spouting off part of the rehearsed speech he had planned on giving to Starfleet command to justify the building of a small fleet of this class of ship.
That he still hadn't decide for himself whether even believed it would still be necessary now the war was over.
Grief over Olivia and then jubilation with the end of the war and now his career plans pushed thoughts about the ship which he still hadn't named or given a name to the class of ship it would belong to if it did become part of a fleet.
Kelvin Class having already been taken some time ago, if he did have enough ego to name it after himself.
That's when it occurred to him that he had yet to tell Lizzy his news, since they met up earlier there hadn't been an appropriate time.
He took hold of her hand again, not even sure when he let go to begin with.
"Hey Lizzy, I know we had some brief conversations about retiring, but I can't now. Things have changed and now I don't want to."
"Things changed, what things?" Elizabeth said looking confused by his statement.
"We only had that talk about retirement a few days ago, so when did it change," she said as she pushed a strand of hair that had fallen out from behind her left ear.
"This morning before the service, I got called into see Veloru, it didn't go how I thought it would."
"He didn't fire you then."
"No he didn't, in fact it's fair to say what he did say, it left me stunned and you will be too."
"Why, what happened?"
"He promoted me, well he plans to promote me, he intends to publicly announce it tomorrow and then in all likelihood Starfleet Command will greenlight my appointment."
"What appointment what rank is he giving you?"
"He's naming me his successor as Fleet Admiral and head of Starfleet."
"You, he's going to appoint you, I thought Cole was his golden boy."
"He told me he's seen what kind of opportunistic parasite Cole is so he's out."
"Even if that's true, why you?"
"It isn't overstated to say that he hates you, even if he finally saw through Raymond Cole, why would he go for you."
"No offense, Kel, but why would he immediately switch to his most vocal opponent. Why not someone else who was critical occasionally, but supportive as well when he earned it."
"Someone like you?" kelvin said with a smile on his face.
"Yes someone like me."
"Hey I'm as surprised as anyone he's stepping down and that he chose me, and you're right you would have made a good choice, you would have had my backing one hundred percent."
"I think he has simply had enough and whatever the last straw is, it is something besides my near constant criticism that pushed him over the edge as he is resigning from Starfleet not just stepping down from being Fleet chief."
"I got the sense that he has fallen out with the Federation President and no longer feels like he wants or needs the hassle of the job."
"I guess the death of his wife also played a part. I think he just wants a quiet life from now on."
"Okay I guess I buy that, but I'm still not sure why that makes you the one he chooses to succeed him. Are you sure it's not a joke, you know his parting shot at you for all the trouble you caused him."
"I don't know, he seemed genuine when he told me and gave me at least some of his reasons for picking me, but maybe it is all just his revenge. Maybe he wants to see me fail, to go home and watch from a distance to see if he was right in his claim that the task is simply too big for me."
"As I said on several occasions, it has been too big for him."
"Whatever his reasoning, I want it so bad, I can taste it. I know if I get it I'll make a difference. I know I can improve the quality of life for everyone in Starfleet.
"I can make Starfleet about exploration again, for too long it has felt to me like we've been on the defensive we've been waiting for the next attack."
"First it was The Borg, then the disastrous Cardassian treaty that turned Starfleet officers and Federation citizens against each other. Then came the Borg again, not as devastating as the assault at Wolf 359, but still we lost a lot of good people and good ships."
"Then it was the Klingon's, that may have been more of a diplomatic stand-off, after the Khitomer Accords were dissolved, but there were skirmishes and damage to Starfleet ships. Yet still none of that compares to what this war cost us. If I get the position, if I can I know I can restore Starfleet."
"I can make it great again."
"I know that sounds like an empty campaign slogan."
"The meaningless words of a con man looking to achieve a position he is unsuited for, but that's not the case."
"I am up to the task even if it means working with President Larenka."
"Well if you are going to step up and become chief of the fleet, then I can't think of anyone better, well anyone beside me," Elizabeth said trying to raise a smile.
"Thank you my darling, for that half-hearted endorsement. It means the world to me," Kelvin said, a similar slight smile on his lips trying hard as Elizabeth is to mask the sadness, in his case he felt with sarcasm.
"Seriously Kel, if you step up you will have my support and I will work hard to get everyone else in Starfleet, top brass on board with you."
"I will get them to see the good man you are, the great leader I'm sure you will be."
"Does that mean that you'll stay in Starfleet. I would want you to," Kelvin said an air of cautious optimism in his voice as he asked."
"Like we both agreed when we discussed retirement, it won't make the pain go away, it won't make the loss cut any less."
"Which I guess means I'll stay, who knows maybe some good can come of it. Maybe I can find a way to reignite my passion for my service to Starfleet, maybe even find a way to honour my Olivia."
"Thank you Liz, I know having you at my side will make it easier to do the job and I guarantee you that if there is one to come out of my new position it will be that together we will find a way to honor Liv."
Elizabeth stood up and embraced Kelvin and kissed him on the cheek as she said to him.
"I think you my dear should get home get something to eat then get to bed, get a good night sleep. You've got some big days ahead of you."
"There can big days ahead for us both if you're by my side."
"I'll always be by your side."
"Thank you Liz, I know I can count on you, he said before he returned the hug and kissed her on the lips."
The memorial had begun at 10 am and finished at 4 pm, as Kelvin and Elizabeth were set to leave it was almost Seven in the evening as the two of them stood up and headed for the nearest Transporter pad to beam home.