Persistence Makes Perfect

By Emberchyld

Rating: PG

Genres: drama romance

Keywords: Kelby

This story has been read by 395 people.
This story has been read 522 times.


Disclaimer: Someone other than me owns Star Trek. I am simply a loyal acolyte worshipping at the altar of that universe. Translation: I’m a gettin’ no stinkin money from this.

Summary: Whatever happened to Natalie from Pensacola? Could any woman just “give up” Trip?

Rating: PG

Author’s note: I took a little creative license and borrowed Natalie’s appearance and last name from another non-Trek fandom. But Trip wasn’t too big on details about his ex… so… enjoy my take on life after Trip.

**************************************

The Xindi attack on Earth had brought her life into sharp focus.

Natalie Lambert pushed away from her desk and the constant new stream of casualty counts and political posturing. Enterprise was the ship being sent to confront the Xindi.

Trip was still on Enterprise.

“Sweet tea, extra ice.” The Florida weather remained incredibly hot, humid, and swampy, constant and disregarding of the chaos and depression of the past two months. Natalie pulled her heavy brown curls away from her neck and tried to clip it into a semblance of a bun.

It had been over a year since she had broken things off with Trip and yet—she couldn’t lie to herself—she missed him. The break-up had been purely selfish on her part—it was hard to wait and live like a nun, tied down to a man who was always incommunicado and light-years away in space while all of her friends were free to enjoy their lives. It was easy to forget how much she cared for Trip back then.

Truth was, she was still in love with him. Too bad it had taken an alien probe destroying her home state and him going off to risk his life for their planet for her to realize how much she still felt for him.

Natalie took a deep breath and settled herself back down at her desk. After a quick swipe of lip gloss, she straightened up and tapped a control on her monitor. “Personal message to Commander Charles Tucker, USS Enterprise, NX-01, from Natalie Lambert. Begin recording.” She gave the screen a nervous little smile. “Hi, Trip. I haven’t talked to you in a while, so I thought I’d, well, call. I was so sorry to hear about Liz . . . I would have offered my condolences earlier, but things have been well . . . you know. Florida’s kinda a mess.” She bit her lip. “I saw your mom and dad at the memorial service. We talked a lil’ bit—they’re . . . as okay as can be expected, considering.” “Pensacola made out without a scratch, but my Aunt Lucie and her husband were at home when the beam hit Naples.” She paused for a second and frowned before continuing. “But everyone else made it through okay . . . the best anyone could. You know, if you ever need to talk . . . I’m here. We’re all a little PTSD’d here and the talking really has helped.”

She paused and shifted awkwardly in her seat. “Anyway, I heard about Enterprise and how you’re off to fight the guys who did this to us, and, well… Just… be careful… an’ give em hell.” With a tap, she shut off the screen and lay her head on the table.

She needed something a little bit stiffer than tea after that.

“Crap.”

****************************************

“So… I’ve got some scoop on our favorite Chief Engineer,” Libby pronounced as she slid into the seat opposite Natalie, glass in hand. Even in her advanced state of pregnancy and factoring in the close seating and unsteady chair of the little outdoor café table, the tiny blonde’s motions were incredibly graceful.

Natalie leaned across the table to pat her friend’s belly and grinned. “Still a gossip whore, even with a munchkin on the way? Shame. But, if you insist… spill.”

“Well,” Libby began dramatically, propping her elbows up on the table. “See… Matt has a cousin from Orlando who went to school with a guy who’s neighbors with a girl related to one of the MACOs on Enterprise.” She paused to take a breath followed by a sip from her drink.

Trying not to look impatient, Natalie gave her friend a little prod. “Aaaand?”

Libby made a face at her. “And… well, Matt’s cousin said that his friend said that his neighbor said that her sister was dating a certain Charles Tucker the Third.”

Natalie started, then tried to cover up her dismay with a cough. “Nah…” she murmured, “Trip’s so not the MACO type.”

“Puh-lease.” Libby sputtered. “I know Trip as well as you do . . .” She then made a face and corrected herself, “Well, except in the biblical sense.” Ignoring Natalie’s groan, she continued, “So I know that he’s the ‘hot body with a sharp mind’ type. And rumor has it that not only is Amanda Cole quite a looker, but she’s smart as a whip. Top o’ her class or something over at Florida State before going into the service.”

“Hmph.” Natalie bit her lip. “Still doubt it. Wouldn’t that be, like, fraternizing with the crew or something?” She had to remind herself to unclench her hand from around her glass.

The blonde rolled her eyes. “Right. In the Expanse on a tense mission for so long with no shore leave? If you think there isn’t fraternizing going on aboard that ship, you’re so living in a Disney movie.” She squinted at her friend suspiciously. “Nat, if I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were jealous.”

“Of Trip and some space ninja? Honey, I think those hormones are getting to you.”

At three A.M. that next morning, Natalie came to a conclusion—she hated MACOs.

**************************************

About a year later….


Natalie adjusted and re-adjusted her blue silk dress (the same color as Trip’s eyes), making sure that it hung in just the right way to as to hug her every curve. Trip has always loved her athletic hourglass figure. A matching ribbon tied back her hair, Just the way he loved it, just barely restrained and she wore minimal makeup. He always preferred the more natural look.

She had to hurry to Starfleet or she’d be late. It had been hard enough to get on the guest list for the Enterprise “Welcome Home” reception—she had to play everything from the close friend card to the grieving Floridian card—and it would be silly to miss it just because of fussing over her wardrobe.

Natalie would stroll into the reception hall, drop-dead beautiful, pausing on the staircase like Cinderella entering the ball. She’d take the steps one at a time, just-so, to take the most advantage of the long slit in her skirt. Her Swarovski-encrusted sandals would sparkle, further drawing attention to her descent. And then . . . all talk would die to whispers: “Who is that?” they would say . . . and Trip would look up, meet her eyes, and forget that little MACO slut, forget everyone but her. He’d come to the base of the stairs, give her his hand, and help her the rest of the way, like the true Southern gentleman that he was. “Nat . . . you look amazing,” he’s murmur, and she’d drop her eyes and blush in such a pretty little way, like a proper Southern belle. “I know what you wrote two years ago,” he’d continue as the entire room would watch with bated breath, “but I could never let you go. It’s been so long, Natalie, and I can’t love anyone but you. Please say that you’ll take me back.”

“I . . .” she’d look up at him through lowered eyelashes (to make his heart skip a beat), “. . . I can’t love anyone but you, either, Trip.”

He’d then sweep her into his arms and kiss her with two years worth of pent-up passion.

So much for great plans gone awry.

Her entry had been through a side door because the damned staircase was reserved for VIPs like the Vulcan ambassador. What the hell did he need a grand entrance for? The stupid rhinestones on her shoes kept catching on the hem of her dress, turning her walk into anything but sexy.

And she was late, after all, because she had to go fix her makeup—her hair had blown around and caught in her lip gloss, creating pink streaks across her cheeks. Why didn’t anyone warn her that San Francisco would be so windy?

Natalie had arrived just in time for a speech and toast and introduction of the senior officers. She had tried to catch his eye at that time, but he didn’t seem to see her in the sea of people packed into the hall. And after the speeches, he had disappeared into the crowd. Now, she couldn’t find him.

It didn’t help her search that he was wearing the same blue jumpsuit as a third of the crowd (Although he looked a damn sight hotter in that jumpsuit than anyone else…). Natalie pushed and elbowed her way through the groups of Vulcans and Starfleet and civilians and reporters until she saw him. In a pose she’d seen countless times, he was leaning against the bar, beer in one hand and gesturing animatedly with the other as he said something to a small Vulcan woman. Trip. “Trip!” she called out, waving her arm to catch his attention as she made her way towards him.

Recognition and that smile that she loved so much spread across his features. “Natalie!” He put his drink down, caught her up in a big bear hug, then stepped back, still grinning. “It’s great to see you again.” He then turned towards the Vulcan. “T’Pol, this is one of my old friends from Florida, Natalie. Nat, Commander T’Pol.”

The Vulcan studied her coolly, unnerving her slightly. “Pleased to meet you.”

“Likewise,” Natalie said, a little lamely, pulling her hand back when she remembered that Vulcans didn’t shake hands. “Uhm, thank you for helping ta’ stop the Xindi . . .” T’Pol simply nodded in response.

Trip burst in again. “So, how’s the whole Pensacola crew? It’s been tough to keep in touch with everyone with everything going on . . . you know.”

Natalie sucked in a breath. This so wasn’t going as planned—this politely friendly Trip was far from the ardent lover that she had pictured. “They’re . . . good. Life goes on, ya know? I’m sure you heard Matt and Libby got married . . . and they have a baby due any day now.”

His grin grew wider. “I knew about the wedding, but a baby, huh? I can’t picture Matt as a dad . . . I’ll have to give them a call one of these days.” He then gave her a mock serious look. “And you?”

“Me?” Natalie affected a laugh. “You know me. Keeping my prospects open n’ all.” She hoped he wouldn’t remember how her accent would come back full force when she lied.

“I’d think . . .” She didn’t get to hear whatever he had been planning to say because he had apparently spotted someone somewhere over her shoulder. Trip’s face lit up as he called out, “Mom n’ Dad!” He turned his attention over to T’Pol. “T’Pol, you’ve got to meet my parents. My mom’s been dying to meet you.” Trip gave Natalie an apologetic smile. “Hate to cut this short, but we’ll have to catch up later.” He pat her on the arm. “It’s good to see you again, Nat.”

“Uhm, yeah . . . we’ll talk later . . .” she said weakly, then watched as he placed his hand at the small of T’Pol’s back and guided her through the crowd. Was he . . . that look in his eyes when he looked over at the Vulcan . . .?

Nah. It was just her overactive, overtired imagination.

Natalie bellied up to the bar. “What’ll it be?” The bartender asked with a sympathetic smile.

Great. Now even the bartender felt bad for her. “Vodka tonic. Heavy on the vodka… and let’s just pretend there’s some tonic.”

She didn’t see Trip the rest of the night.

*****************************************

Okay . . . so she wasn’t that pitiful, was she? She dated lots of guys. People generally thought her pretty and smart and personable. So what if she wanted to keep up with what was happening with her ex-boyfriend? It’s not like she could avoid it—the tabloids had non-stop speculation about his relationship with that Vulcan ever since his little visit to Vulcan for her “marriage”. Whatever. She didn’t even blink an eye about the reports of what seemed to be his on again-off again relationship with her . . . and her, a married woman. Well, married at least until the Vulcan’s divorce—the tabloids had a field day with that one.

No, Natalie had a perfectly well-rounded life. And she was happy for Trip and that alien—really, she was.

He’s just a guy. It’s not like he’s anything special. There are a million guys just like him out there.

So, why did she feel like absolute crap when pictures of that half-human/half-Vulcan baby surfaced? And oddly relieved when it turned out that the baby was just a clone? And even worse when the baby died and that feeling of relief compounded into horrified guilt?

*****************************************

He’s just an ex. An old friend. You’re here to offer him condolences. Natalie shifted in place, trying to keep her heels from sinking into the soft grass. They had picked a lovely place to hold the baby’s memorial service—the Vulcan garden in Golden Gate Park echoed a perfect merging of the two cultures. The Golden Gate Bridge, itself, shimmered behind the little raised dais where the ceremony was being held. And the park was packed—it was amazing how many people had come to honor the life of this little hybrid. The dignitaries seated near the dais were completely overshadowed by the crowds and crowd of people standing throughout the park and the mounds of flowers that had been piling up at the memorial site for the past two days. Instead of igniting fear, Paxton had wrenched the hearts of a good portion of Earth’s population.

Natalie craned her head and found Trip standing over to the side of the dais with the Vulcan woman. He was in tears, barely able to look up toward the Admiral who was speaking, but she remained stoic in her ceremonial Vulcan robes. Cold little Vulcan bitch. The rumors couldn’t be true—how could Trip ever be with someone like that, someone who couldn’t even express grief for her own child?

With a sigh, Natalie forced her attention back to the Admiral as he began closing his speech. “Therefore, as the Terran poet T.S. Eliot said,

‘So when at times the mob is swayed
To carry blame or praise too far
We may take something like a star
To stay our minds on, and be staid.’

Let us hope that little Elizabeth Tucker can be that star for us—for all of us—to remind us of the preciousness of life and diversity, and to guide us moving forward into the future.”

Out of the corner of her eye, Natalie noticed the Vulcan woman just seem to wilt slightly at the mention of her daughter’s name, before being buoyed up by Trip’s arm sliding gently around her waist. In return, the woman looked up at him, giving the slightest of nods. The interaction was so small . . . barely noticeable, but spoke of something much larger than even Natalie could have even imagined. At that moment, Trip was so much further out of her reach than he had ever been.

Damnit.

Without waiting for the formal dismissal, she started walking swiftly out of the park and back toward the transport hub to take her back to Pensacola. This had been such a stupid idea, anyway. What? Did you think that Trip would just jump up in the middle of the memorial service for his daughter and run to you for comfort? Natalie wanted to kick herself. Stupid.

“Uhm… Miss…” A voice called out from behind her and she turned to find a man in Starfleet blues jogging after her. “You, uhm, dropped your transport chip.” He handed her the little card that contained her fare home.

Natalie forced a smile at the man. “Thank you . . .” she glanced at his rank insignia, “Commander . . .” “Kelby.” The man smiled back, “From Enterprise.” He kept walking alongside her as she exited the park. “So, I’m guessing from the transport chip, seems like you came a long way for this service,” he continued in a conversational way.

Natalie bit her lip and nodded. “Kinda. Trip is… was an old friend. I just wanted to be here for him.”

“Nice friend.”

She snorted. “I wish.” She turned towards Kelby and stuck out her hand, remembering her manners. “Natalie Lambert.” She then paused, appraising him slightly. He was good looking— no Trip, but not half-bad in that uniform, either, and he had a nice smile.

What the hell, why not? “Ah’m… uh… going to have some coffee before heading home. Wanna join me? We can trade Trip stories.”

Kelby broke into a broad grin, gesturing for her to lead the way. “Coffee sounds great.”

Moving on wasn’t really so bad.

Besides, imagine how jealous Trip will be when he finds out.



END


Comments:

snapper
I enjoyed this. What a great idea for a story! You made Natalie believable. Well done!
Distracted
I really enjoyed this. VERY well-done. Thanks for sharing your version of Natalie with us. I like her. :D
Ezinma88
I loved this! It made me laugh out loud more than once.... I particularly enjoyed the image of Soval stealing Natalie's thunder: "What the hell did he need a grand entrance for?" A unique take on the Trip-T'pol saga. Well done and thanks for sharing. E88
justTrip'n
No, nothing like that ever happened to me either. And if it did, I've successfully repressed it. I can't even remember good old What's-his-name . . .;)
Linda
LOL, Emberchyld, it looks like you now have to do a Natalie/Kelby followup story for the fans! ;)
TrexKitten
Great story.:D
Emberchyld
Ooops, and T'Sara, you're right. (I even had that whole thread about what was hit in Florida, and I stillll managed to pick an intact city!) Thanks for catching that!
Emberchyld
[b][/b][i]Shut up, Nat.[/i] Thanks for the nice comments! I have nooooo idea where I got Natalie's predicament. I never tried to win back an ex. Noooo. That whole daydream? Nah. (well, maybe a little bit, but nowhere near as obsessive as her, and only back when I was young and naieve!):D
Natalie (from Pensacola)
You like me... well, most of you like me! :D And my plan is going to well-- you know, the best way to a man's heart is to get his fans on your side!;)
Dinah
Boy, is Trip lucky that Natalie dumped him. She really hasn't caught on that he's not the same fun-loving guy who shipped out on Enterprise for the first time. Libby sure pegged his preferences: hot bodies and sharp minds. Natalie may have a hot body, but I think her mind leans more toward shallow and self-centered than sharp. She and Kelby are made for each other. :p I really enjoyed the daydream of her grand entrance into the reception hall and the convoluted way that she got wind of Trip "dating" Amanda. Great story!
rogue
Loved it! Poor Natalie - you can't always get what you want.
T'Sara
This was really good! I only have one gripe if I may? Naples is just south of where I grew up on the East Coast of Florida. The Zindi's weapon went through the middle of the state...if I remember correctly. Thus it should have missed Naples. I could be off though. In any case I really did like this story. :D
larry
GREAT JOB well-written and original story
JadziaKathryn
Riiight - she's moving on, but she's still thinking about making Trip jealous. This is a very well-written and original story. And I second what Linda said about the dressing up going awry. Been there, done that. Great work!
Linda
Emberchyld, that was beautiful! Well written, the emotions of Natalie sound so true. And that description of the problems with the shoes, dress and hair after trying to put together such a gorgeous look! Haven't all women been there! And you thought of a great plot no one else has done yet - an aspect of Trip's life that was still left hanging. You know, it makes me glad that the canon writers left so many things hanging, so many suggestions of stories for us to pick up on. Great job!
Asso
Absolutely lovely and very original!:D
Chris
Great job.:D I enjoyed reading it. I agree Kelby is NO TRIP.:D
justTrip'n
Trip to Natalie: "I'd think you . . . Mom! Dad!" Ouch! This was just awful, excruciatingly awful. GREAT JOB! I loved it. :D And I'm glad you gave her a fallback guy. That was kind of you.

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