The Bonds Between Us

By Lt. Zoe Jebkanto

Rating: G

Genres: family

Keywords: Baby Elizabeth Tucker

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Summary: When she recalled the look on her son’s face on the link from Starfleet, Elaine Tucker knew her husband was right- she should have told Trip about the family reunion…

Disclaimer:  CBS/Paramount owns the rights to the Star Trek Enterprise- ship, crew and universe.  This story was not written for profit, but for love of that universe and the bonds it has created between all of us that share it.

A/N:  This story takes place hours after the episode “Terra Prime”.

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26 January 2155

 

“Charlie?”  Elaine Tucker pushed open the door to the gardening shed at the edge of the back yard. “I just got off the link and…”

“And let me guess.” Her husband’s face appeared from behind a speckle-leafed dieffenbachia sitting on a work bench.  He brushed soil off his hands and raised teasing eyebrows.  “Aunt JoEllen decided not to bring her famous succotash stew this year?”

“Oh, don’t I wish!”  Elaine cast a glance heavenward.  “But you can guess better than that, with Enterprisegetting back just in time for Jonathan’s speech at the conference last night!  It was Trip!  They’re still debriefing everyone about those awful Terra Prime people, so he had only a minute, but he has a priority transport and …”

“And he’s coming.”  Charlie’s grin said she hadn’t surprised him for a minute.  “I’m amazed he was able to get off so early!   Did he say how long he’s staying this time?” The grin froze.  “Did you tell him about the reunion?”

Her own smile dropped. “When he said he had a transport, all I thought was how we’d see him so much sooner than I’d expected.  He used to have so much fun at these big get-togethers; I just didn’t stop to think…”

“That was before,” began Charlie.

Before Lizzie.  He didn’t need to say it. 

She turned away and deadheaded a pink geranium fading under a hanging grow-light.  Two minutes ago she’d looked forward to having her boys together for the first time in four years.  It still hurt that her girl’s place in the family circle would be empty, but the idea of watching her sons’ blonde heads bobbing through the gathering couldn’t help but lift her heart. 

If Trip would hang around to be part of it.  

Her cheerful, outgoing younger son had changed so much since his sister’s death; the heartaches that still gripped her at unexpected moments were almost as much for Trip these days as for Lizzie. 

His communications from Enterprise in the months after the Xindi attack had all but crackled with impotent fury and brittle-edged grief.  Though he’d filled them with descriptions of shipboard life, his once entertaining stories had begun to remind her of purely factual articles from the engineering journals she used to find scattered around his room when he was growing up.  Or of bricks in a wall he was building to keep everyone at a safe distance from his feelings.  

“Maybe,” Charlie’s voice came from behind her.  “You could try to reach him so he knows the wing-ding’s at our place this time instead of having it sprung on him.”

Of course, nobody had expected them to hold the winter bash the year after Lizzie died, so Charlie’s sister had hosted over three dozen assorted Tucker kin, all converging on her house either from down by the gulf or over from an area covering half the eastern seaboard.  This past Christmas when his Aunt JoEllen, the unofficial family matriarch, had told Charlie that their turn to take on the reunion was two years overdue, it was all Elaine could do not to groan right out loud.  Oh- God, no!  Forty something people, only about half of whom she really knew, crowded into her and Charlie’s place? 

But it was a nearly impossible thing to argue with the formidable JoEllen.  Still, as she began planning she found herself almost looking forward to the event despite its clamor and controlled chaos.  Either way, she had to admit the thing served its purpose. 

Its originally intended purpose, anyhow. 

When it was conceived of, some thirty odd years back, the point of the late-January bash had been to shake up the blahs that set in after the holidays, though Uncle Beau insisted it had really been the kick-off for Super-Bowl One Hundred and Eighty Something.

Elaine pinched off a yellowing leaf.  “It’s too late to reach him.  I’ll tell him when he gets here.  He can decide then what he wants to do.” 

Once, she’d have known.  It was hard to admit it, but these days, despite the familiar face, Trip had become almost a stranger.

“Anyway,” she added.  “We might be making too much out of pre-guessing Trip’s reaction.  He did say he’s bringing a shipmate with him.”

“Well, I’m glad.”  She could hear the smile return to Charlie’s voice.   A moment later he appeared carrying a terra cotta pot full of forced January mums.  Setting the burgundy blossoms by the door, he came to stand beside her.  “Sounds like he’s started picking up some of the pieces from the old days, doesn’t it?”

She nodded.  Used to be, whenever Trip got leave he’d show up with a friend or two in tow.  He’d parade them in the kitchen door, grin, and explain that they needed reminding what a home cooked meal was like after restaurants and replicators.  Even if it was only two or three days before he was off again, exploring the bayou backwaters by pirogue, scuba diving in the gulf, or indulging in whatever other adventure called his name, while he was there the house rang with talk, laughter and tall, tall tales. 

In the past two years he’d come three times, always alone, always quiet, and though he carried his battered old overnight pack from Academy days with him, he never stayed more than a few hours.    

Oh, he seemed glad, or at least relieved, to see her and Charlie.  There were quick, restrained hugs and a few more reports on his shipmates.  He always checked the jar on the kitchen counter to see if she’d made ginger molasses cookies.  But he could have been talking over a com link for all the sense she had afterward that he’d ever been here.  He didn’t change from his Starfleet uniform into the comfort of jeans and a tee shirt.  He didn’t stick around to sit on the porch swing and listen to the cicadas, sleep in the extra bedroom, or talk about his sister.

“Did he say?” Charlie asked as he fetched another pot of chrysanthemums and used it to prop the door open.  “If it’s Jonathan he’s bringing?”

“No, but it wouldn’t surprise me.” 

Now that was a man who could use some home cooking, plus a few days away from the media spotlights.  Because of the three hour time difference between here and San Francisco she’d planned to request a digital copy of his speech to the Interplanetary Conference from the Event Tracker last night to watch over breakfast.  But waiting was never her strong suit, so she’d stayed up, using the time to make three pies for today: peach, New Orleans chess, and Trip’s favorite, pecan. 

Jon’s dream of interplanetary co-operation made today’s sleepy start worthwhile.  It was so much brighter than the one envisioned by that ranting xenophobe, Paxton.  

She’d wasted no time deleting that madman’s broadcast from two days ago.  How could he look into the sweet face of the baby he displayed like an old time carnival freak and call her a threat to humanity?  Two centuries ago people from this part of North America had voiced the same fears about mixing human races!  So much heartache had been expended over what turned out to be a trivial concern. 

And what a hypocrite that man was!  This morning’s Tracker said Paxton’s own scientists had cloned that poor baby from stolen DNA!  Had her parents discovered her existence before flaws in the process caused her death?  Had they gotten a chance to hold her?  Love her?  To say goodbye?  People deserved that, a chance to say goodbye…

The woody stalk of another fading geranium snapped beneath her fingers as the heartache took hold.  Papery petals showered to the floor, leaving nothing but an empty stem.  She stared at it through a shimmer of tears.  That lovely flower had come and gone so fast, like that child.  Like her Lizzie.

Oh, God, not now.  Charlie said each tear was a tribute to how much they’d loved their girl, but why did grief have to be so damned sneaky, even after all this time?    

That’s what she got, turning on the Tracker at night when sometimes its stories got her too stirred up to sleep!  How often had she vowed to go to bed with a novel instead? 

But if she’d done that last night, she wouldn’t have heard Jon’s speech or had those glimpses of Enterprise’sofficers standing at parade rest near the back of the room. 

She’d been pleased to see Travis and Malcolm, who’d both enjoyed some of the meals Trip bragged up, and she’d finally gotten a look at the science officer who’d been the object of so many irritated comments during Trip’s first year on Enterprise.  A while back he’d said her mother had died, and that even though they rarely showed them the way humans did, Vulcans felt their emotions every bit as intensely.  Otherwise, he hadn’t spoken of her in a long time.  And he’d never said she was beautiful, though Elaine thought Commander T’Pol’s large eyes had looked shadowed with fatigue and her elegant features seemed to show signs of strain beneath that legendary Vulcan stoicism.  

And, if she’d skipped the broadcast, she wouldn’t have seen for herself that after the battle with Paxton’s people Trip was back, safe, on Earth again. 

Because of that, a few minutes ago when the link had chimed as she finished baking ginger cookies, she hadn’t been too surprised to find him gazing out of the screen at her with a view of the Golden Gate visible through the window behind him.  Considering the time difference and the responsibilities that went with his command rank, she hadn’t thought he’d be through debriefing for hours.  But it was his words that took her off guard.

“Mamma, I’ve been allotted a transport.  I should be there…” he’d paused, made the conscious switch from both shipboard Greenwich Mean and West Coast Standard chronologies.  “About thirteen hundr- that is, a little after one thirty or so your time.”

“I can hardly wait!” was all she’d thought to say then. 

But Charlie was right.  She should have told him about the reunion.

Because Trip really didn’t look… good.  She didn’t mean the obvious signs of the fight at Mars Colony.  That adventurous kid of hers had looked more banged up countless times growing up.  It was something in the set of his mouth and unsmiling blue eyes during last night’s broadcast and today’s link that tied a worry knot in her gut.

He’d actually looked more like his old self on his last leave.  Again, he’d only stayed a couple of hours, but she’d almost believed he was less eager to get away from old memories than in making some new ones.  

“I got an invitation,” he’d said.  “To visit Vulcan.”

“I thought you said Vulcan’s all desert.  Seems to me you griped about the Outback after you and Jonathan had that two week survival training Down Under.  Besides, I didn’t think you much liked Vulcans.  Not after all you said about how that Commander T’Pol of yours gets under your skin.”

“She’s not my Commander T’Pol!” he’d protested.  “Well, I guess technically she is, since she is second in command to the captain!” 

She hadn’t heard that teasing note in his voice for over a year.  His grin was brief but it reached his eyes and sparkled there.  A few weeks later, when his next communication came from Enterprise, the spark was gone. If somebody had gotten a few romantic ideas simmering in the back of Trip’s mind, the flame had been doused.

Too bad.  She always thought he’d make a good husband and father if he could scuff the wanderlust off his boots.  The demand for warp drive engineers was growing on Earth and at Mars colony.  Even Alpha Centauri wasn’t so far away any more.  With warp seven vessels in development there could be a lot of options for an engineer with qualifications like his closer to home.

Her home, she reminded herself, not necessarily his. Provided the idea of “home” with all of its emotional entanglements was a concept that still held meaning for the restless, closed-off stranger her son had become.  Would he let that wall of his down before it became a prison instead of a refuge?  Or had there been too much loss, too many harsh decisions made out there in the Expanse, for him to risk his heart to tenderness? 

If it came down to it, she’d settle for him living far away if he found a real home there with someone who could ease the grim lines forming around his eyes and bring back their old sparkle.  

She gathered up the petals and tossed them into the composting bucket.  This was no time for worry over her son or grief over her daughter when there was still so much to do.       

Charlie snipped a crumpled leaf from the nearest mum.  “I’m gonna set these flowers by the front door, put the beer coolers out by the grill, then start firing up the barbecue,” he said.  “Did Trip say when he’ll reach the shuttle-port?  Does he need someone to pick him up or will he rent a skimmer?”

“He says he’s coming by transporter.  Beaming in, he called it.  I’m glad he feels comfortable with this new technology.  I certainly don’t.”

“Beaming isn’t exactly new anymore, Lanie, though if I understood Trip last time, I think you need special permission if it’s not for something official.”  He picked up one of the pots.  “But I guess rank has its privileges.  He’ll be here early enough for you to look at him and Jonathan, tell them they’re too skinny, and sneak a few cookies in their pockets before the company starts arriving.”

“Cookies!  Oh, my God!”  He ducked aside as she spun past him.  Her words kited out behind her on the breeze as she dashed for the house.  “I left them in the oven!”

The tangy smell of hot molasses filled the kitchen, but nothing looked burnt as she juggled the baking sheet onto the counter.  While the cookies cooled, she cheated a Hoppin’ John salad from the fridge unit, freed it from its packaging into an antique cut-glass dish and hoped that with all the pot-luck food being served nobody’d notice it wasn’t home-made. 

There was just time for a last run down her mental check list.  The cloth was on the dining room table.  There were enough chairs in the living room for people to at least take turns sitting down as they ate.  Pausing to straighten the grouping of family photos and holo-images on the mantle, she smiled at her favorite from when the kids were little.  The boys, gap toothed and grinning, were trying to balance Lizzie on the back of their big old dog, Bedford. Then she moved on to the photos marking milestones of their growing up years.  Play clothes gave way to prom clothes, then graduation caps and gowns and that Starfleet blue uniform.  Still smiling, she went to make up the bed in the guest room, just in case. 

Back in the kitchen, she was putting away the last cookie as the front door slammed.  Sighing, she glanced at the clock above the fridge unit.  Not a chronometer, but an actual face clock, almost a hundred and fifty years old, that the kids had gone in on together as a housewarming the Christmas she and Charlie moved in here.  One forty five.  Not the first of the relatives yet, please.  Not even JoEllen, who’d never in her whole life allow a door to slam, was expected ‘til close to two. Elaine really had hoped for more than a glimpse of Trip before everyone started trooping in and- 

“Hey, Mamma, I’m here!”

“I’m in the kitchen!” She turned, a smile growing across her face and racing ahead of her footsteps as Trip came through the doorway.

There was an instant to glimpse Trip’s familiar blue uniform, and then that no second figure was appearing behind him, before she was gathered into a hug.  The weight of his forehead settled on her shoulder, a little longer and a little heavier than she’d expected before he released her.  Looking up into his face she could have sworn she saw a glint of unshed tears edging his unguarded blue eyes.

“You all right?” she asked, looking at the sling cradling one arm, then raising a hand to brush feather light over a fading bruise on his cheekbone.  For a moment her concern dimmed before the simple joy of the solid, warm and living reality of his presence here.

“Phlox says I’ll be fine if I take care of myself and eat right.”  Though she didn’t like the look of his dark shadowed eyes or the rasp of fatigue in his voice, there had been no restraint in his embrace, or in its release, which had been a slow and easy letting go, not the edgy pulling away she’d more or less expected.  And there was no sign of the wall when his gaze met hers.  His casual tone seemed only a little forced as he moved past her, his hand already on an accurate trajectory toward the cookie jar.

She kept a cheerful note in her voice though the candidness of his expression wasn’t quite as reassuring as she’d thought it would be.  “Charles Tucker!  Don’t you touch that jar until you tell me!  Have you had your lunch yet?”

There was an instant’s flicker of childhood mischief in his eyes.  His hand poised, hovering.  “Nope.  But I had breakfast.”

“All right, go on.” she feigned reluctance. 

“It was two whole cups of coffee!”  Before she could protest, the hand descended.

“Trip, you’re impossible!”  On half a laugh she turned for the fridge unit before he saw the tug of emotions in her face.  Maybe she’d been wrong about that suspicious glint, and his pale cheeks and puffy eyes were just from a long night’s debriefing. 

But then, he hadn’t looked much different during Jon’s speech last night, had he?

“If your insides aren’t floating in coffee,” she said, hoping she wasn’t forcing too much brightness into her tone.  “I’ve got lemonade.”    

Real lemonade?” A hunger sounded in his voice that, it seemed to her, spoke more about his yearning for the old familiarity of the drink than of its reality.

“What a question!  There’s nothing reconstituted about my lemonade.  Made fresh this morning.  Grab a couple cookies for me, too, and I’ll pour you some.”  She got the pitcher, moved to the counter and filled two cold glasses.  “Your brother’ll be here in an hour or so.  Your father’s firing up the grill.  If he’s not in here in a few minutes, I’ll go get him.”

Nodding, Trip slipped into a chair.  He hadn’t touched the cookie he’d snatched, only laid it with several others on the plate he set on the table before picking up his lemonade.  Tiredness sharpened the angles of his features, erasing that brief glimpse of childhood.  He took a sip, then pushed the glass aside.  Pulling a shoulder strap over his head, he set his familiar old pack on the table next to it.  “Good.  I really need to talk to both of you.”

“It’s not another mission so soon, is it?”  She cast the pack a suspicious glance.  He’d brought it on two out of three of his last visits.  It hadn’t meant anything more than an unfulfilled hope either time.  She could almost hear the words Trip had spoken over the link. “I’ve been allotted a transport,” and Charlie’s comment.  “I think you need special permission if it’s not something official.”   

Still she allowed a note of optimism into her voice.  “I thought with the coalition of planets being voted in you’d have time for R and R while the details are finalized.”

He picked up the cookie, but only held it, making no move toward a first bite.  “No, we’ve got repairs and upgrades to take care of first.  What I’ve gotta talk to you about has to do with Terra Prime.”

Her brow furrowed.  “I understood that the danger they presented is gone.  Jonathan’s speech implied the same thing.”

Trip set the cookie down unnoticed.  “Random protests or minor incidents can’t be ruled out, but from what we’ve been able to learn, any major threat they posed is over.” 

“That’s one good thing, isn’t it?”  She hadn’t meant for her words to sound so tremulous.  “What’s on your mind, Trip?”

He looked at the cookies, then the clock behind her shoulder.  His gaze met hers.  “I’m sorry,” he said.  “That I really wasn’t there for you and Dad after… Well, after Lizzie.”

“What?”  Of all the things she thought he might have said, that wasn’t one of them.  Her hand moved across the table to touch his.  “Trip, you were the person in the family who could go out and find some answers as to why the attack happened.”

“Maybe.  But answers aren’t the same as…  as just being there for each other, are they?  I didn’t realize how it must’ve been for you and Dad.  Not back then.”  His hand turned beneath hers, then gripped strong and steady, though his unguarded eyes were infinitely tired, alarmingly sad. 

Yes, the wall was down.  So why hadn’t the worry knot even started to untie itself? 

The back door slammed.  Charlie appeared in the entryway, brushing at his shirtfront, then his surprised, smiling voice preceded him across the kitchen.  “Hey, Trip!  I didn’t see when you got here, or I’d have been in sooner.  Did you bring Jon as well as an appetite?  I’m setting up the grill to make…”

He looked from Trip to Elaine, then advanced toward the table.  The soft scuffing of the chair across the floor was the only sound as he sat down.

“Hi, Dad,” Trip said, releasing Elaine’s hand.  “Whatever it is you got going out there, it won’t burn the place down if you sit a few minutes, will it?”

“No.  It’s down to white coals now.  I thought your mother said you were bringing a shipmate along.  I’d ask if everything’s okay, but…”  His words trailed away.  Continuing was hardly necessary.

“She’ll be here in a few minutes.  Direct transport.  Her debriefing’s done, but there are some arrangements we… she… I…”  Trip stroked the surface of his pack.  “Well, that’s what I needed to talk to you about.”

She?” Elaine raised surprised eyebrows. 

“No,” he shook his head.  “I invited T’Pol.”

Not “Commander”, Elaine noted.  Just “T’Pol”.  Why hadn’t she put two and two together last time Trip was here?  She managed to keep most of the snap from her tone as she recalled the spark lighting Trip’s eyes that day, and the way it had been extinguished.  “She’s the one who invited you to Vulcan last time you came, isn’t she?”

Most of the snap, she realized a moment too late, but not all of it.  She stiffened and watched for that distant, walled-off look to come back into his eyes. 

It didn’t.  Trip sighed, long and tired.  “Yeah, she was.  I don’t know what I told you, but a lot’s happened since then between T’Pol and me.”

T’Pol and me.  Whatever it was didn’t seem to have brought him much joy, though it wasn’t hard to guess where the attraction might lay.  T’Pol was beautiful and, with a science career on a starship, undoubtedly brilliant.  Those words could also describe diamonds: beautiful, brilliant.  But they were hard, the fire in them cold.  Trip’s feelings ran deep, he tended to lead with his heart or he wouldn’t have taken such joy following his dreams into Starfleet or been so devastated by Lizzie’s death.  Despite his assertion that they felt them every bit as much as humans did, everything Elaine knew of Vulcans described them as dismissive or disdainful of emotions.  Commander T’Pol could probably break that heart of his without realizing it.  Maybe she already had, on that trip to Vulcan.

But there was no arguing with his words.  “T’Pol and me”.   

The worry knot tightened as Trip pulled his battered pack closer to him, in what could almost be a protective gesture.  Whatever he was about to say, all at once she wasn’t sure she wanted to hear it.

“You saw the broadcasts?” Trip asked, leaning a little forward in his chair as he looked at each of them in turn.  “Paxton’s broadcasts?”

“Yeah,” said Charlie, unconsciously mirroring Trip’s movement.  “They were hard to miss.  His people took over all the links.  We couldn’t switch to any other feed-ins.”

“All we could do was turn off the darn Tracker.” Elaine added, unsurprised to realize she also had leaned forward, resting her forearms on the table to complete the intimate family circle.  “But they set it for ‘record-override’, so when we turned it back on, there he was again, spouting his awful nonsense.”  She stopped.  “But I don’t think you’re interested in hearing about Paxton’s media takeover, are you?” 

“What I wanted to ask,” Trip began to undo the clasp on the pack beside him.  “Is if you saw him when he talked about the threat to humanity-?”

“When didn’t he?” Charlie exploded.  “Everything he said was how Earth would-”

“Charlie, wait!”  Elaine cut in before he could do more than get started.  With nerves of steel-edged resolution, Trip had held Enterprise’s engines together in more dangerous emergencies than she cared to speculate on, but to her surprise, she saw that a fine tremor of agitation was causing his fingers to fumble as he worked at the pack’s fastener. She resisted the impulse to offer assistance, but waited the extra seconds of determined concentration it took him to release the clasp.  “Trip, we know you and Jonathan were there when Paxton tried to launch his weapon and you managed to end the threat.  If it’s really over, then what is it you’re telling us?”

From the front hall, a door chime sounded, cutting short the moment of intimacy as a commanding voice called out.  “Hello, Elaine, Charlie?  We need some help out here with these casserole dishes!”

Elaine groaned.  JoEllen may have been raised not to slam one, but she had never learned the part about waiting for a door to actually be answered before tromping right on through.  “Why?” she demanded, half aloud.  “Does she always show up early?”

“We’re in the kitchen!”  Charlie’s chair scraped across the tile.  Rising, he looked from Trip to Elaine, then gestured them to stay put.   “You talk; I’ll take care of this.”

“I didn’t know you had company coming.”  Trip’s hand curled protectively over his pack as Charlie brushed past him and out into the hall. 

“Trip,” began Elaine.  “When I talked to you earlier, I didn’t think to tell you what was going on, but today we’re supposed to host the-”

She could hear JoEllen’s voice.  “Charlie, take Brandilynn’s cake pan.  She’s got her hands full with bread-rolls and a bowl of barbecue beans.  By the way, I saw your cousin Kieran’s skimmer pulling up and…”

“Oh, God, no!  I forgot!” Trip’s eyes widened.  “January!  Don’t tell me you’re doin’ Uncle Beau’s football party this year!”    

Sitting back, he spoke with a deliberate calm she imagined would sound formidable in a command situation.  “If I’d known what weekend this is, I’d’ve handled things differently.  But you and Dad deserve to hear this directly from T’Pol and me before someone in the media figures out some way that they can ‘accidentally’ leak the story.”

There it was again, T’Pol and me.

Charlie reappeared behind a huge, domed cake carrier and a perma-glass casserole dish through which Elaine caught the familiar yellow and green of corn and lima beans.  She fought a sudden, awful urge to laugh.  The tension in the kitchen was charged enough to flare-spark magnesium and, Lord, give us strength, here came Aunt Jo’s succotash! 

Rising, she grabbed the cake carrier and looked for a place to set it between Trip’s pack, the lemonade glasses and the untouched cookie plate. None was quick to hand, so she held it and stepped toward the door, unsure if the move was meant more to greet or to fend off her guests.  “Charlie, if you set Jo’s casserole on the counter and get Brandi’s beans in the warmer, they can lay their coats on the bed upstairs.”   

A small, grey-haired lady bustled in on Charlie’s heels, as a younger woman paused to listen to a rising wave of male voices flowing in from the front hall.  Of all the times that people straggled in over a leisurely hour, why did everybody converge at once now? 

“I’ve got this,” Charlie said over his shoulder.  “If you’ll make yourselves at home in the living room for a few minutes, I’ll-”

“Nonsense, Charlie,” JoEllen slipped past him and set a sweet potato pie in the perfect spot beside the cookies.  “I’m sure Lanie can use some help in the kitchen.  Oh, my, it’s young Charles Anthony!” 

Starfleet protocol or generations of well-conditioned Southern etiquette had Trip starting to his feet.  “Auntie Jo, Cousin Brandi,” he said.  Charlie maneuvered past him to set the succotash and barbecue beans on the counter, his movement brushing the trailing strap of Trip’s pack on the corner of the table.  The soft sound of its tumble to the floor was lost in Jo’s exclamation.  “Your mamma didn’t say you were joining us today!”

“She didn’t know until an hour ago.”

“Let’s have a look at you!”  Jo drew him around and studied him up and down.   “We’ve heard so much about that ship of yours.  I don’t think we’ve had such a hero in the family since General William Tucker was at First Manassas.  Now, Charles, you remember how long ago that was-”

“Auntie Jo, that was three hundred years ago!” Elaine protested.  How could this be happening?  Trip was trying to tell them something important about-

“T’Pol and me?”

-about him and the Vulcan Science Officer from Enterprise. Her stomach was in knots, and they had to deal with succotash and a history lesson on the States’ War? 

But again amusement flickered in her son’s eyes.  At the sight, a sudden wave of gratitude washed through Elaine, briefly easing that persistent worry knot as Trip kissed the top of his great-aunt’s head.  “Auntie Jo, you just don’t change, do you?” 

“Well, I hope not!” exclaimed Jo, as from the other room the chime sounded again.  Someone- Elaine thought it might be Uncle Beau- called out “I’ll get that!”

Trip’s eyes shone with old affection, but with a sigh, he picked up the note of command.  “Auntie Jo, I haven’t had a chance to share ten words with Mamma and Dad.  I know I can trust you to keep everybody outta here for a few minutes.  I need to talk to-”

JoEllen was nodding quick agreement when Trip was interrupted by an excited shout.  “Someone named Commander T’Pol from Starfleet is at the door looking for Commander Tucker!”  One of Kieran’s nine year old twins bounded into the kitchen, almost running down Trip and JoEllen before skidding to a stop.

“That’d be me.” said Trip. 

“I’ll tell her you’re here! I think she’s a Vulcan!  She’s says she’s from Enterprise!  If you’re both commanders, does she outrank you, or do you outrank…?” 

“Let’s go bring her in,” Charlie rescued Trip from the girl’s avalanche of questions by starting with her through the doorway.

“Wait-”  Trip started after his dad.

“Charlie, we need to-”  Elaine began, then caught the backward flick of his hand.  She nodded, though she knew he wouldn’t see her response.  He planned to bring T’Pol in here.  Good.  They could decide how or when to finish Trip’s interrupted discussion. 

She’d have said her apprehension had eased until the humor and affection lighting Trip’s face changed in an instant to a look of determination.  There’d been too much of that expression during his journey to the Expanse.  An hour ago she’d expected to see it and to feel her old resentment that the Xindi had both taken her daughter and damaged something in her son—maybe past repair.  She’d have hated it, but found a way to live with it and been glad to have Trip here at all.  It was harder now, seeing that look snap back into place after those brief glimpses of the open, spontaneous son she’d always known.  

If only she had some idea what Trip and this woman she’d never met, but heard more than a few irritated comments about, this…  this stranger from stern, austere Vulcan of all places, could possibly have to discuss with her and Charlie!     

She started after him, then stopped at the kitchen door.  What was she doing?  She still had Brandi’s damned big old Lady Baltimore cake balanced in both hands!  Setting it down would take only seconds, but she wanted, no needed, to get a look at Trip’s guest.

She was trim and elegant, still dressed as Trip was, for shipboard duty, though it must be something Vulcan since it wasn’t standard Starfleet blue, but a vivid turquoise color. 

“Well, so you’re Commander T’Pol.  I’m Trip’s dad.  Glad to meet you.”  The aura of Vulcan reserve that discouraged any sort of casual touch had Charlie resisting grasping her hand as would have been his usual habit.   

“Hello, Mister Tucker.”  Her words rang clear, despite the talk and laughter swelling from the living and dining rooms, then seemed to lower past easy hearing as Trip strode to meet her.  Elaine saw him respond to whatever she’d said by shaking his head, then gesturing toward the kitchen. 

T’Pol’s amber gaze touched Elaine’s along the length of the hallway. 

She was more beautiful than on last night’s broadcast.  Her bearing was reserved, and yet the almost condescending self-assurance Elaine expected was not in evidence.  T’Pol’s features were calm, but her eyes seemed as weary as Trip’s.  The word that came to mind was one Elaine never in a hundred years would have associated with a Vulcan.         

She looked… vulnerable.

Trip maneuvered between her and three more Tucker relations, blocking T’Pol from casual jostling and curious glances.  Her eyebrow raised in silent question.  Though he was not watching her, but the crowd, he nodded in answer. 

So, Trip’s resolute look when he left the kitchen wasn’t him rebuilding the wall, but a wish to offer the protection of his presence to T’Pol.  

Growing up, he’d been protective of Lizzie like that, too.  Grinning, he’d talk about designing and erecting state of the art sensor grids to check out any boy coming within a mile of their place once his baby sister was thirteen, but beneath the jokes lay something tender and considerate.  Maybe the trauma of the last two years was healing, if he was letting that caring side of his nature show, though after his visit to Vulcan with T’Pol, Elaine was hard pressed to understand what feelings could have prompted it.

God, if she’d only had five more uninterrupted minutes with him!

JoEllen must have seen Trip’s gesture, too.  “You wouldn’t think,” she murmured.  “That he’d feel like he had to guard her from his own family.”

Elaine spared Jo a fleeting glance.  “Half the folks here we never see except at these get-togethers,” she said, not sure if she was defending Trip’s actions or picking up his protective attitude toward T’Pol.  “Trip doesn’t know what they think of off-worlders after the Xindi attack any more than you or I do.  Between that and the bad feelings stirred up by those Terra Prime people this week, maybe it’s not a bad idea.”

“Lanie,” Jo looked mildly shocked.  “These are reasonable people!  They’re family!  Whatever their views, they know enough about tradition and Southern hospitality to keep them to themselves in someone else’s house!” 

“Do they?” Elaine was amazed to hear the unsuspected conviction ringing in her own words.  “I never heard of anything that says just because a person has the name Tucker written down somewhere on their legal documents means they have to be reasonable!”

She wasn’t certain how reasonable she, herself felt right now.  She hoped- God, she really hoped- the unease tightening her worry knot wasn’t lingering resentment over that unfortunate visit to T’Pol’s home-world. Not when Trip said that was all behind them.  It was no more comforting to think it might be because T’Pol was a Vulcan in a room full of people, many of whom Elaine only half knew—people who could have been stirred to fearful or chauvinistic anger by Paxton’s hateful broadcasts.  

No!  She almost managed to push that possibility aside, though it gave a painful tug at the worry knot. Even after Terra Prime, she had to- absolutely had to!- believe Jo was right.  What an awful legacy if Paxton could create mistrust for her own species, let alone for people she called kin. 

Elaine turned back to watch Trip and his guest.  They did look comfortable with each other.  The small nods and gestures passing between them seemed like a wordless language.  She and Charlie could hold little nod-and-wink conversations sometimes, but they’d evolved them over many more years than T’Pol and Trip had been acquainted.   

Of course, whatever words they might have spoken had simply been lost amid the buzz of conversation, but Elaine could have sworn she hadn’t seen either one of them so much as open their mouth since T’Pol had said hello to Charlie. 

She would have liked to give the matter a little more study, but her view was blocked as some cousins from near Biloxi drifted in, giving T’Pol appraising looks.  Elaine turned back to the table.  Whatever happened in the next few minutes, this cake in her arms had to go! 

Using the edge of Brandi’s pan like an impatient shovel, she made room for the thing by pushing half-empty lemonade glasses aside, along with the cookie plate.  Too bad she couldn’t stand here a minute and shake off the sense of something wrong which had taken hold ever since Trip’s link.  But there was the crowd to consider, and the strain beneath T’Pol’s elegant features.  Trip had invited her here for what he’d expected to be a quiet, low-demand interlude after days of high-risk, split-second decisions, media scrutiny and intensive debriefings, someplace conversations were woven with words and slow, comfortable silences.  Instead he’d landed her in the middle of the boisterous Tucker January bash.  T’Pol was now her guest as well as Trip’s, and Elaine would do all she could to ease the situation for this weary stranger.  Actually, for both her and Trip.

T’Pol’s look of vulnerability had been easy to recognize because Trip had looked much the same when he walked in.  And, for that matter, when he’d said: “You and Dad deserve to hear this directly from T’Pol and me before someone in the media figures out some way they can ‘accidentally’ leak the story.”

It was the same look he’d had standing in San Francisco last night, listening to Jonathan Archer’s hopeful speech.    

The Tracker hadn’t decided to splash some lurid story of secret romance between a Human engineer and a Vulcan scientist on Earth’s first warp five vessel, had it?  Until things settled down a little more after the Terra Prime riots, something like that could put them both at risk.  Even though she suspected Starfleet security would have countless methods for keeping them protected, the strangely easy companionship Elaine had seen between Trip and T’Pol shouldn’t be trivialized that way—or exploited in the light of recent events. 

She glanced toward the door.  Why didn’t Charlie hurry up and get T’Pol and Trip in here?  JoEllen had agreed to help them find a few uninterrupted minutes, and Elaine would darned well take her up on it.  She’d see if someone could be commandeered to go check the coals on the grill out back, then the four of them could have that talk. 

“Jo-?” she began, starting for the door, then gasped and just managed to avoid plunging her hand into the sweet potato pie as she grabbed the corner of the table to keep herself from tumbling over something tangling around her ankle.

She was staring down at Trip’s old travel pack lying overturned by his chair.  Elaine bent and grasped the strap to pick it up.  Oh, damn!  Trip had gotten the thing halfway open on the table, and now items were tumbling out.  Faded jeans flopped, then sprawled on the floor.  An old blue and orange Gators cap landed upside down on top of them, followed by a familiar blue sweatshirt so ancient its cloth did little more than hold the holes in place.  One after another, she gathered them up.  She set the cap on the chair.  From force of habit, she refolded the jeans and laid them beside it.  After shaking her head in half-distracted amazement that he’d carried the poor old thing halfway across the galaxy and back, she did the same for the pathetic sweatshirt.

Beneath the chair lay two slim, grey cards lying atop a red tee shirt.  It took a moment to realize they were holographic.  Picking up the closest one, she turned it over.  As her thumb brushed the activation slide on the lower right corner, the blank silvery screen burst into a colorful image.  She started in surprise to find herself gazing down into the sweet face of the baby from the Terra Prime broadcast.  Such beautiful eyes she had, so wide and trusting.  Such a vivid blue.   Almost like…

Elaine’s breath caught.  She didn’t realize her hands were shaking until she reached for the second card.  She fumbled it closer, but then had to pinch its edge twice before she could get a hold on it and lift it off the shirt. 

I’m sorry.  That I really wasn’t there for you and Dad after… Well, after Lizzie.

The worry knot at last defined itself as she had suspected it might, from the moment she saw Trip’s face on today’s link, as a heartache.  As tears threatened, she blinked several times and willed them not to fall.  Instead she drew a slow breath and looked down at the card.  She was almost certain what she would find when she activated it.

I didn’t realize how it must have been for you and Dad.  Not back then.

When she did, she found herself looking into the amber eyes of the woman who now stood with her son out in the hallway.  The pretty baby was snuggled on her lap while her father held them in a loving gaze with eyes the same shade of blue as the child’s.

Elaine looked from T’Pol’s pictured face to Trip’s, then the baby’s before deactivating the images.  She pressed the cards against her chest and drew a deep, shuddering breath. 

Stolen DNA.  That glint of unshed tears in Trip’s eyes…

Vulcan and Human.  The vulnerability in T’Pol’s…

There are some arrangements, Trip had said.  Arrangements  we… she… I…

Final arrangements he’d meant.  For T’Pol’s child and (oh, my God!) for his.

No wonder he brought her.  They were bound together by the memory of the baby, as they were bound to her and Charlie by shared knowledge of what it was to lose a child.

Elaine let Trip’s pack thump onto the chair with his other things.  Still holding the pictures against her chest, she wriggled past a half-familiar cousin who’d paused by the door for a backward glance.  JoEllen fell into step right behind her.

“Lanie?” Her voice came from some far, irrelevant place.  “What is it?  Can I help-?”

She didn’t pause to say “glad you came” or “good to see you”: none of the things she’d have said and meant an hour ago.  She nudged past half-familiar relations milling in the hall.  The place seemed to be an obstacle course full of stiff, motionless backs and hard elbows.  Why hadn’t more people descended on the dining room table or on the beer coolers outside by the grill?  Were they waiting for some kind of “Welcome to our place, barbecue’s out back” speech?  Hadn’t she halfway planned that?  Now, “Sorry, excuse me.  I need to talk with my husband a minute,” seemed all she could find words for.

“Laine, what is it?” She saw more than heard his words as he beckoned her to where he stood with Trip and T’Pol.  They were becoming a focus for curious attention.  Welcoming?  Intrigued?  Hostile?  She didn’t know, couldn’t tell.  Couldn’t make it matter more right now than the need to get the pictures back into Trip’s hands.  Get them all somewhere to talk, think, grieve, plan…

Damn, but Kieran’s daughter and her loud, excited announcement that a Vulcan from Enterprise was here could turn this into a spectacle.  The Tracker might bring stories of alien species into work-stations and living rooms every day, but right now Trip’s casual, interplanetary Starfleet world of San Francisco seemed light years away.

“We need to talk!” she said, low and urgent as she reached him.

Trip’s gaze snagged hers as she beckoned toward the kitchen.  It lowered to the hand clutching the holo-cards.  He could read her knowledge of what was on them as clear as she could read his recognition of it.  

“Wait, what is it?” asked Charlie, his restraining hand catching hers.  For a moment the holo-cards tumbled free of her surprised grasp, then danced between her palm and his before Charlie’s fingers closed around them. 

Trip stepped forward.  Stricken apology was clear on his face as he looked at her then turned to Charlie.  “Dad, wait-” he said. 

Where was JoEllen?  She needed those few minutes’ promised talking time.  Hadn’t she been here just a second ago?  Elaine had to get Trip, T’Pol, and Charlie away from all the curious eyes and save her husband’s first reaction to those sweet, sad, painful pictures from being a public event.  She could still make Jo’s job a little easier by giving some kind of quick welcome speech to start disbursing everyone between the dining room and the back yard.  She’d take a deep breath and say-

“Hey, everybody!”  Before she could begin, Trip’s voice rose above the babble of voices.   “Welcome to another one of Uncle Beau’s football kickoffs.”

Elaine turned to stare.  If there was a school subject Trip had hated, it was public speaking!  But this wasn’t Trip.  In this moment he wasn’t the weary son or grieving father.  He was Commander Tucker, taking charge, setting a tone to guide the situation.

There were cheers, a few whistles, some laughing groans as all eyes turned to him. 

“If you don’t know me-”  His voice rasped with fatigue as he lifted it to fill the room.  “I’m Trip, even if Auntie Jo over there still calls me Young Charles Anthony.  Lanie and Charlie, who are providing a great barbecue out back and the best ginger cookies this side of Mars Colony, are my parents.  They didn’t know ‘til an hour ago I’d be here.  I’ve been away a while. I guess most of you know where.”

Elaine saw confirming nods as the room grew quiet.

“I came because I really needed to see my family today.”  Trip managed the suggestion of a chuckle.  “And I sure got to see a lot more of it than I was expecting!”

That drew a ripple of laughter, half amused, half expectant to hear what the obviously tired voice would say next.  Elaine moved closer to Charlie and laid a restraining hand on his, even as holographic color flared within his fingers.  Recognition and realization dawned in his widening eyes.  At least Trip was buying them a semblance of privacy as, raising his voice and moving past them to the center of the hall, he continued to draw the attention of the gathering. 

“We’ve all been through a lot the last couple years.  On Earth people kept asking if it was worth trying to put the pieces together after the Xindi attack, in case they showed up again.  Well, it was, and they didn’t.  On Enterprise, we wondered what kind of world would be waiting here for us when we got back.  I’d like to think we’re all stronger for getting through it.  We didn’t need all that Terra Prime craziness the last few days telling us who we should be.  How we helped each other get through already said that.  It’s what’s strengthened all the bonds between us and brought us together here…” 

“Lanie,” Charlie’s voice was tight with sudden heartache.  “This poor little baby in the pictures, she’s Trip’s.  She’s our…   Our…!”

“I know.” How clear she could hear it echoed in her words, though she spoke barely above a whisper.  “I found out when they fell out of Trip’s pack.  That’s what he was trying to tell us about.”

She stopped.  Listened to silence.  Though his head was high and he stood where she couldn’t see his face, Elaine read exhaustion in the set of her son’s shoulders.  How long had he drawn on adrenaline and willpower to help defuse the Terra Prime crisis, even as he worried over his child?  Now there was no galvanizing choice left for Commander Tucker to make as he and his crewmates rallied for clear, decisive actions.  The only decision here was what words to speak next.  That, Elaine realized, was falling to just plain Trip, who stood summoning his remaining reserves, strangely alone in the middle of his family, suddenly far too sad and tired to figure out what the best words should be.

The movement, when it came, was so unexpected that at first Elaine almost missed it. It took a moment to register what she was seeing.

Commander T’Pol, standing beside him, took his hand.  Held steady.  She turned to look up into his face.  Even in profile, Elaine saw his strained features relax as he looked back.  Something that could have been a brief smile quirked the corner of his mouth.  T’Pol’s expression was harder to read, but the lines of her face seemed to soften, and when something brightened in his gaze, a moment later it was mirrored in hers. 

Elaine caught her breath.  This was more than the wordless talk or companionship of long time crewmates Elaine had assumed it to be, something that ran between them even older and deeper than the discovery and loss of their daughter.

A lot’s happened, he’d said.  Between T’Pol and me.

It didn’t surprise her to recognize love in Trip’s face as he looked at T’Pol, but she hadn’t expected to see that T’Pol returned it.  He’d once said Vulcans felt emotions as much as humans, and though Elaine knew her experience of them was limited, she’d never seen evidence to suggest it.  T’Pol’s love must run deep if it allowed for such a display.  The grasp on Trip’s hand might have seemed a casual demonstration of affection between humans, but for a Vulcan, she might as well be shouting her love from the top of Mount Seleya.

Had Charlie seen?  Understood?  Elaine wanted to turn and whisper the certainty that had joy welling up inside her, even through the ache of grief.  He loves her, Charlie! And look!  Do you see?  She loves him too! They’ve had the hardest loss a parent can face, but somehow these last months they’ve also  found each other!  

Trip was speaking again, his voice still raspy with fatigue, but steadier, more determined.  “There’s a member of our family that’s not with us today, unless maybe in spirit.  You probably saw the Terra Prime broadcasts.  My folks said it was hard not to.  The baby Paxton showed was the one sweet thing created out of all that ugliness.  Last week we didn’t know she existed, but now… any parent knows…”  His hand still gripping T’Pol’s, Trip looked at Elaine and Charlie.  His words could have been spoken to them alone.  “…One look in your child’s face is all it takes to fall in love.”

One step and then another and Elaine found herself beside T’Pol as Trip’s voice again lifted to address the gathering.  “However she was conceived, and for whatever reason, is beside the point.  That beautiful little girl was my daughter, and T’Pol here…” 

“T’Pol here,” said Elaine, as Trip’s voice cracked and he paused to clear his throat.   “Is the mother of my grand-daughter, mine and Charlie’s.”

“Her name’s Elizabeth,” said Trip.  “T’Pol named her.  In honor of Lizzie.”

“Elizabeth,” Elaine repeated softly.  Her voice warm with wonder and gratitude, she turned from her son’s blue gaze to meet T’Pol’s amber one.  “Thank you.”

T’Pol’s features were as calm and still as before, but for an instant she flicked her gaze toward Trip and allowed the naked love Elaine had glimpsed to continue shining.  Then, nodding in acknowledgement of Elaine’s words, T’Pol blinked and her eyes became serene and unreadable pools.  Did she, Elaine wondered, realize that she was still clasping Trip’s hand?  If not, Elaine wasn’t about to be the one to tell her.

Instead, taking the pictures from Charlie, she walked into the living room. One by one the Tucker clan stepped aside.  There were no murmurs of condolence as she passed, only silence.  She shrugged off brief apprehension.  There were no mutters of hostility either.  But then, Trip’s talk of how they all helped each other get through the hard times after the Xindi attack would’ve made that awkward.  Had he planned it that way?  Not bad for someone who used to hate talking in front of groups.

There was no creak of floorboards as there would have been if people shifted to crane curiously after her, though this did seem an expectant stillness.  An almost ritual silence, she thought, even if nobody knew, but only guessed at what might happen next. 

Reaching the fireplace, Elaine set the pictures of Trip, T’Pol and little Elizabeth on the mantle with the rest of her family.  How at home they looked sitting there!   

“Whether or not,” Elaine’s voice rang as her gaze swept the gathering, then settled on T’Pol who stood in the doorway with Charlie and Trip.  “T’Pol chooses to call herself Tucker, whether or not she comes from this world or another, she will always be a part of my family. I would be pleased if you all do your best to make her welcome here.”

Oh, my God! she thought as the stillness that followed her announcement reverberated loud in her ears.  Those formidable words had sounded more than a little like JoEllen!  But they had done more than that.  Their ringing tone had just secured a bond between her and a woman from another world who was no longer alien, one she’d exchanged less than half a dozen words with, but who would never again be a stranger.    

It was JoEllen herself who broke the silence as she moved to stand before T’Pol.  “Under these sad circumstances,” she said, glancing to where Baby Elizabeth’s pictures gazed over the gathering.  “You may not feel hungry, and I know that your people are traditionally vegetarians.  But if you decide you would like something, I can offer you some iced tea, lemonade or… I have some meatless succotash stew.”

T’Pol glanced at Trip.  “Go on ahead,” he said, releasing her hand.  “I’ll see you in a few minutes.”  Without another word he made his way back toward the hallway.

Nodding, she moved side by side with JoEllen toward the dining room.  Everyone began talking at once.  The tide of words rose as they passed.  “Good you could join us today, T’Pol.”  “If there’s anything you need…”  “Welcome to our family.”  Elaine found herself smiling.  It was hard to imagine she’d ever groan again at the idea of hosting the family bash.  Right now she could imagine nothing better than being a Tucker.

Charlie’s arm circled her shoulder as they looked at Elizabeth’s picture.  At Trip’s.  And T’Pol’s,  “You know?” he said.  “I think he loves her.”

“Yes.  And she really loves him, too,” Elaine sighed, let her head rest sweet and heavy  against the warmth of his shoulder and realized the last of her worry knot had gone. 

“I never thought I’d hear myself say this-”  Charlie’s voice tickled her ear.  “But thank God JoEllen decided to bring that succotash after all,”

She almost laughed.  The impulse was stilled by a touch on her arm.  Trip was back.  Something about him was different, but at first she wasn’t sure what it was, only that his unguarded expression shone with relief and gratitude.  His devastating news had been delivered, the grief understood and shared.  As he looked toward the dining room where T’Pol had disappeared with JoEllen, his face filled with an amazing mix of sorrow and quiet joy.  If anyone Elaine decided, following his gaze, had told her after Trip’s dismal journey to Vulcan it that was T’Pol who’d manage to bring down that wall of his, she’d never have believed it.  Someday maybe she’d learn how T’Pol had gotten him beyond his old anger, bitterness and grief.  At each other’s side, their grief over the 

beautiful little girl in the picture would heal as, Elaine realized, hers for Lizzie would as well, now that it no longer kept being rekindled by anxiety over Trip. 

 “Dad,” her son’s voice interrupted her quiet musing.   She could still hear the rasp of fatigue, but his tone was relaxed and steady.  “I was thinking… sometimes it’s easier if a person keeps a little busy.  Suppose I can give you some help with the barbecue?”

Then Elaine knew.  Trip had changed out of his Starfleet blues into faded jeans and that pathetic old holey sweatshirt.  “Might as well let him, Charlie,” she said.  “He won’t have to worry about ruining his clothes.”

As Charlie nodded, Trip leaned in close.  “Later on,” he said.  “We can all sit down together and talk.  I’ll tell you about Elizabeth.  She was wonderful.”

“Kind of like her mother?” Elaine asked, looking up at him.

This time when it came, it wasn’t a quirk or a flicker.  Through the tiredness and grief, Trip’s contagious smile broke through, the one she hadn’t seen since before the Xindi attack.  The one that crinkled the corners of his eyes. 

Exactly like her mother,” he said.      


Comments:

Cap'n Frances

What a lovely story!  I like stories with the Tucker family and I think this may be the best I've read. In Trip's mother, we can see much of what made him person he is. Her love, empathy and openness come through in her thoughts and in everything she does. Despite all of his pain and his exhaustion, we can see Trip's strength and his love for his family (which now includes T'Pol). T'Pol is almost in the background but she is solidly there to support Trip and accepts her unexpected induction into the Tucker clan with grace. I enjoyed the details that helped us see the setting and the people as if we were there and the many small touches of humor. I particularly liked that last line "Exactly like her mother".

Weeble

Sorry i took me so long to read it. I was beautiful and I have a few tears in my eyes. I really like the way you handled the TnT meet parents scenario. Elaine was a great first person to write the story around. Thanks much.

Dinah

You did a terrific job with this story! :D The Tucker clan you created is both interesting and believable. The details you provided greatly enhanced the story without overpowering it. The football party was something Trip and T'Pol hadn't planned on, but it seemed to work out well for everyone. 

I look forward to reading more of your stories. Your writing flows along nicely and your dialogue is excellent. Well done! ;)

Transwarp


Let the healing begin!

I very much enjoyed this.

Linda

It was nice to see family acceptance come out of this sad time for Trip and T'Pol.

Eireann

Excellent mother perspective, understanding a great deal from very small visual clues.  You bring Trip's exhaustion vividly to life, and I'm  glad that there was, after all, light at the end of the tunnel.

Nemo Blank

It was great, right up to where it went to black in the middle of the story. Hope it gets fixed soon.

Alelou

Very nice.  It's heartening to see how T'Pol and Trip together are able to cope with the extended Tucker clan even at a time like this... and perhaps even draw strength from it.

Asso

Indeed, this is truly remarkable. In general I do not like to the utmost the stories that speak of the father and mother of Trip, but this is undoubtedly of great value.
There is a consummate skill and ability to make the pictures correspond to the thoughts and impressions.
It is evocative.

framework4

Well done.

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