Family is Forever: A Yule Story

By Linda

Rating: G

Genres: drama

Keywords:

This story has been read by 311 people.
This story has been read 452 times.


Disclaimer: No filthy lucre changed hands.

Genre: Family, hurt/comfort

Rating: G

Summary: A kind of sweet little Yule story about Trip and T’Pol which takes its theme from O’Henry’s classic story “The Gift of the Magi”.

 

 

Family is Forever: A Yule Story
By Linda

The mailroom at Jupiter Station was hustling to get all the holiday cards and packages sorted. The Interplanetary Postal Service, anticipating becoming a department of the new federation, had hired personnel from Telar, Andoria, and Vulcan as well as from within the Terran system where its headquarters resided. About a fifth of the mail had Starfleet military APO addresses and was outward bound to space stations, planetary outposts, and starships. A package from Vulcan ricocheted down a slide and bumped another package with a Terran return address. They both got tossed into a hamper labeled Enterprise. The ship, returning from ferrying some diplomats, would be stopping at the station for six hours to resupply before heading out on another urgent mission.

The lights of Jupiter Station shone into his quarters, a welcome change from streaming stars. Trip glanced briefly at the lights of almost-home and sighed. His family would be deeply disappointed he would be absent from yet another family Christmas. Trip had just shaved and was patting his face dry with a towel while trying to read the letter from his mother on the computer screen in his quarters. He had gotten off his shift late because a problem that had come up at the last minute, and was now trying to do two things at once so he could meet T’Pol in the mess hall on time. Vulcans were notoriously punctual and expected everyone to be as well.

He sat down when he saw that the letter deserved closer attention.

Dearest Trip,

How are you dear? My heart was heavy when again this year you said you could not be with us for Christmas. But that is one of the burdens of a military family, isn’t it? We all love you so and miss you so much. I was hoping, now with the undeclared war in The Expanse over, and the recent unpleasantness on Vulcan settled, that you might be coming home and bringing your T’Pol for a visit. So the next best thing, I guess, is to send you this vid with separate wishes from each of us. And there will be a package coming. Hopefully it will get to you soon.

This year there is an extra gift. I was saving it to give to you in person, but I didn’t want to wait another year. I hope enough time has passed that this gift will bring joy and not sadness. I found it when I finally got the nerve to clean out Lizzie’s closet. Do you remember how she used to buy things all during the year and wrap them and label them so she wouldn’t forget who they were for? Well, she must have bought these on her travels to Europe for her job. It must have been in February or March of 2153, and she had all her Christmas shopping done already! We all opened ours last Christmas. For us, it was time. I don’t want to wait any longer to give you your last gift from her. So it will be coming to you soon.

I have to stop writing now. I am getting the keyboard all damp and sticky. I can never think of my precious daughter without tears, but now they are happy tears that I was allowed to have her for 28 years.

Take care out there,
With Love,
Mom

 

Trip’s eyes were damp now too. Oh, Lizzie. You were always the thoughtful one in the family. He looked up at her photo and touched the glass. You are smiling, animating your photo, I can hear your sweet laughter, and you saying “Of course there is a present for you from me, silly. There always will be for every Christmas, forever”.

It was too much right now. He rasped out loud “Thank you, Lizzie” and wrenched himself out of the desk chair, threw the towel at the bunk and strode out of his quarters. He needed T’Pol.

….

In her quarters, T’Pol had just turned off her own computer screen. I suppose there are still some loose ends between me and Koss. But I will be content when he no longer has a need to send me messages. She leaned down to pull on her service boots, sat up again, and sighed. Why did you leave so much to Koss, Mother? Well, I suppose it was logical, as he was my husband and you were going into exile. But your final document of possession disbursement? And why did he wait so long. It was he who dissolved our marriage, not me. Is this delay an attempt to hold onto me? Or a hope on his part that I will come back to him? Sometimes males are so difficult to understand, be they Vulcan or Human. No matter, I only feel obligated to try to understand one male now, and Koss…it is not you.

T’Pol folded her bathrobe neatly and laid it on her bed. Trip might already be waiting, and if she were late he would have some quip about Vulcan time sense getting lax when Vulcans start to hang around with Humans. She left her quarters and walked quickly in the direction of the mess hall. She needed Trip.

….

The mess hall was animated with many voices discussing the latest news from home, and what a shame it was that they were so close but unable to get a few days leave to visit family. The COM channels to Earth were jammed with holiday well wishes from station personnel as well as crews on several starships docked at the station.

T’Pol and Trip sat with their heads bent toward each other, as if in the noisy mess hall they still needed to whisper for privacy. Their conversation paused only when a galley assistant came around to pick up their empty plates. Trip nodded at the assistant but held onto his empty coffee cup and T’Pol’s empty teacup. He raised an eyebrow and lifted her cup. She shook her head and they continued their conversation.

“So an exchange of gifts is expected between all family members at this time?” Asked T’Pol.

“Like you saw the first couple of years on Enterprise. Most of the crew sending packages off and saying they wished they could deliver them in person,” responded Trip.

T’Pol turned the empty cup with elegant fingers, the only sign of Vulcan nervousness. “And each of the members of your immediate family will be expecting gifts from you, from us?”

“Well, yes. But I have taken care of it already. I signed the cards from both of us.”

T’Pol’s eyebrows knit slightly. “Should I not have signed them myself? And should I not have helped in their selection?”

Trip shifted uneasily in his chair. “Well, yes, but it was faster for me to complete the transactions with the PX online all at one time. I hate shopping. We gave them all gift cards to Interplanetary Trader.”

“I see. Well next year, I would like to be present when you make the order. I enjoy shopping. Gift giving is an art form, at least from the Vulcan viewpoint”.

“Noted,” said Trip, relief in his voice.

“And it is customary for mates to exchange gifts, also?”

“Yes,” said Trip. “It doesn’t have to be anything exotic or expensive. But it should be something personal, something that would be special for your mate. I guess Humans make it an art form too, in that sense. Though with only a short time like we have here, shotgunning out gift cards is a practical alternative, dare I say, logical, even.”

“Understood.” T’Pol rose from the table, a faint smile playing with the corners of her mouth. Her bridge shift was starting in five minutes. She turned to him with a feigned afterthought. “I have something in mind for your gift.”

Trip raised both eyebrows.

T’Pol looked down at his expectant face, and said, “It is supposed to be a surprise, is it not?”

Trip nodded.

“Well then, stop looking at me like Porthos begging for cheese.” And with that parting shot, T’Pol left for her shift, with Trip sitting there in bemused silence.

….

While T’Pol was working her shift on the bridge, Trip returned to his quarters to find a package. Though large, he turned it over and over in his hands, almost reverently. It contained many gifts, he knew. Just like last year. And the year before. But this year, it was extra special. Instead of ripping it open, he gently jimmied it open with a knife. Slowly he removed a layer of protective material, uncovering the first colorful cartoon character paper wrapped gift – a lumpy thing haphazardly sealed with tape. His brother. He read the tag, yes, he was right. It was addressed to “Motor Killer” from “Your Smarter Younger Brother”. Trip set the gift on the deck under a small artificial tree.

The next gift to emerge was tightly wrapped in an old newsletter from General Electric. His father’s plant. He didn’t have to read that tag either, but he did just to see his dad’s neat engineer’s handwriting. It brought back memories of his dad holding his hand as a small boy, helping him to form the more difficult letters of the alphabet. He placed the gift next the one from his brother.

Trip pulled away another layer of packaging material. A ribbon sprang back into shape that had been repressed by the packaging. A lacy red and gold ribbon over red and green striped paper on a meticulously wrapped gift. From his mother. Yes. He set it under the tree, smiling.

One more. THE GIFT. His hand trembled and his heartbeat picked up. Ever more gently, he pulled off the remaining packaging. What color would the gift be wrapped in? It was blue paper. Blue. Like the dress she had died in, in those nightmares. Oh, God. I can’t do this. I can’t open it. There will never be another gift from her. This is it, the final good-bye.

Trip stood and kicked the desk chair away. He left his quarters and went to Malcolm’s quarters. No one there. The gym. Trip went there to find Malcolm on the treadmill. Trip joined him on the next one.

“Hey, you get that package I left for you in your quarters? Got one from my Mum and thought I’d deliver yours too.”

“Yes.” Trip stabbed at the ‘increase speed’ button.

“Well?” Malcolm’s torso was twisted toward Trip, expecting an answer. His legs were seemingly independent in their forward momentum to keep up with the moving strip.

“I put them all under the tree. ‘cept for one. I could not even take it out of the box, Mal. It is from Lizzie.”

“I see.” Malcolm hit the stop button. “Trip, you want me go back there with you? Open it now, get through this now.”

Trip pressed the stop button too and turned to his friend. “You know Mal, I never apologized a couple of years back when I practically bit your head off for asking me about a memorial for Lizzie. I owe you that apology, so I am giving it now. And this time, I am going to follow your advice. Come back with me. Lets open it.”

Back in his quarters, Trip sat with the artfully wrapped blue paper gift on his lap, a white ribbon laced around it ending in a four-loop bow. Malcolm looked into the viewfinder, and then put the camera down. He stood and reached above Trip to take down Lizzie’s photo, the one of her sitting with her arm draped over the back of a chair, and placed it on the desk next to Trip. Then he picked up the camera and snapped the shot of Trip, the gift, and Lizzie.

Trip slowly slid the ribbon off. Then carefully pulled off the tape on the corners of the blue paper, so not to tear it. He folded the paper and placed the ribbon on top of it on the desk, beside Lizzie’s photo. The square white box gave no hint of the contents. Trip pulled out the opening tab with a fingernail, raised the lid, and lifted out some tissue paper. It was an Austrian crystal base, meant to hold something. Trip traced the indentation. It was shaped to hold an IDIC! There was a note in Lizzie’s handwriting. It was as if she was present here, would walk right in and look over his shoulder.

The note read…

Dearest Favorite Brother,

I could not afford the IDIC that should rest in this base, as the base was an overreach of my budget as it is. But next year, you shall have one. The base is from Earth; the IDIC will be from Vulcan and will be the size of those given as very special presents by Vulcans to each other. But the base is beautiful in itself, and surely a reminder that we are not alone out there in space. We have allies who are good people. I have met a few of them in my work renovating those few buildings still left in ruin by the Third World War. Aren’t you glad that war will probably never touch our world again? I hope you are getting to know the Vulcan woman you said you have on board, and that you become friends.

Your loving little sister, Lizzie.

…And this was the last thing she must have written to him, as her last communication had been a vid mail. He touched the note, could feel the indention of the pen.

“Mal, you hold it too.”

Malcolm took the IDIC holder. “Quite lovely. Like her.” He handed it back.

“Thanks, Mal. This is the best present I ever got. I’d like to be alone now, if you don’t mind.”

….

T’Pol pulled the tabs on the Vulcan style mailing box and the sides fell away as designed. So, the contents of this box were what her mother had considered so important they needed to be stored away from her house when she fled with the Syrranites. Koss had taken them to his family’s safe deposit locker. Perhaps he really had forgotten about them in the aftermath of the political situation? T’Les’s house had been ransacked by the minions of the High Command looking for clues to the whereabouts of the Syrranites. Then, with the new government forming, Koss’s family’s assets had been frozen until it had been proven they were not part of V’Las’s inner circle and would have no incriminating evidence of V’Las’s traitorous activities. So, maybe it really had not been possible, as Koss indicated, for him to retrieve these items until recently.

T’Pol took another sip of tea. Then she pulled a chair over beside her bunk on which the opened package rested, to give separate attention to each item. Her mother’s meditation candle set - a wedding gift from her father. Her father’s IDIC. It was the one he wore on formal occasions. He had worn it at his wedding and he would have worn it at her wedding. Her mother’s hand copied notebook of Surak’s writings – those that were known before the Kir’shara was found. That was all. The last of her mother. And her father. She had forgotten that IDIC but now would never part with it again.

T’Pol’s hand trembled as she took another sip of tea. Well, she was glad she had not received all of her mother’s estate at once. She had asked a member of her clan to close up the house. One day she hoped to return to that house…with Trip. When they did, there would be no mother to greet them in the courtyard. She would wait until the distance of time had dulled any emotional residue when once again entering that courtyard.

….

Jupiter Station was now far behind as Enterprise pushed its warp engines to the limit on its latest mission of mercy. They were half way to New Terra and Dr. Phlox had recruited several crewmembers to help replicate an urgently needed vaccine. He also was training everyone on board how to administer it. They would in turn be assigned to the various settlements to train the colonists. But now it was Christmas Eve, the final Yule season holiday. Ramadan, Chanukah, Winter Solstice, had all been celebrated over the past weeks aboard Enterprise. The crew all attended each other’s celebrations in the spirit of crew unity and because there were few opportunities for celebrations aboard a working Starfleet ship.

Travis was up on a ladder hanging the last ornaments on the tree when Trip entered the mess hall with an armload of packages. He bent down to put them under the tree. There were so many gifts already, so he placed his gifts here and there on top of others.

“Hey, Commander, I think yours are the last,” Travis said. “Now that the sector has settled down a bit, we can got shore leave on many worlds and picked up all sorts of goods. The mail between friendly worlds has gotten more regular since the federating talks have been ongoing these past few months. Do you think it will actually happen?”

“Yeah, Travis, it will happen. If the Andorians can sit down with both the Vulcans and the Telarites at the same table, it will happen.”

“That will be the best holiday present of all, Commander.”

“Well, I don’t expect it will happen that fast, but yeah, it’s just about the best present these worlds can give each other.”

Trip straightened up to see people entering the mess hall for the Christmas party. T’Pol walked in with Hoshi. They came over to admire the tree.

“Good job Travis,” said Hoshi, arms crossed over her chest. “And look at all these presents.”

Travis climbed down and folded his ladder. He looked at Hoshi with that wide, kind-eyed grin of his. “Hey, it was part of my job description on the Horizon to set up the tree. Boomer ship crews are really just extended families and this Christmas holiday is a better family event than birthdays cause everybody gets presents.”

Hoshi nodded and headed for the food table. T’Pol headed for the box that held cards filed alphabetically. As a senior officer, she had made out a card for everyone who had worked in any capacity in the science section. The captain, of course, had one for everyone on board – a kind of thank you for your service over the past year, with as personal a message as Archer could make. Trip had made one out for everyone in engineering.

The party peaked with the distribution of the presents, the more junior crewmembers going first and senior officers last. Phlox played Santa, beard and all, wanting to immerse himself in the holiday spirit of each Human celebration in that was occurring at this time of year. When all the gifts were opened, people started to yawn and drift away to their quarters. Cheery good nights were called down companionways, and the ship grew quiet.

Trip and and T’Pol walked slowly to his quarters as he had saved the family gifts for last. T’Pol accepted a mug of tea, tasting a little like the coffee which usually was in it. She sat on his bunk as Trip sorted through the gifts under his small tree. “One for T’Pol from Charles II and Caroline. Another for T’Pol from Liam. One for Trip from Mom. One for Trip from Dad. And one from Liam. Guess that’s it. No…one for T’Pol from Trip.”

“May I have the one from Trip first?”

“Any order you like, sweetheart.”

“Then I will have the one from Trip first.”

T’Pol removed the wrapping paper and raised the heavy crystal, turning it so the light refracted over its surface. She lowered it and found the IDIC indentation.

“Trip, this is exquisite work. An IDIC made on Earth?”

“It is actually an IDIC holder,” he told her. “For the formal presentation IDIC that is made on Vulcan. I will get one for you next Christmas.”

“Thank you. But no need. You will understand when you open your gift.” T’Pol reached behind her and gave Trip a small package wrapped in a piece of Triaxian silk.

Trip unwound the silk exposing the gleam of gold, Vulcan gold mined in The Forge. The IDIC was the work of Vulcan goldsmiths from centuries ago.

“This must be a family heirloom. T’Pol, you should have kept it.”

“But I am keeping it, for I am keeping you.”

Trip grinned. He placed the IDIC in the crystal base, a perfect fit. “I guess these were meant for each other, as we are meant for each other.”

“Is the crystal holder also a family heirloom?” T’Pol asked.

“Yes, it was given to me by a very special person who has left the material world but is very much with us in spirit”.

“As this IDIC was also given by one who has departed the flesh, yet remains here with us.”

T’Pol grabbed Trip’s head in both her hands as he squatted between her and the tree, almost upsetting his balance. She kissed his forehead, then looked closely into his eyes. “Shall we open the rest?”

“They can wait a few minutes while I return that kiss. They can wait, because family is forever.”

The End

Notes: I guess that everyone probably knows that APO addresses are military addresses. Motor Killer is a nickname for the Coast Guard MK mechanic rating. So I am assuming Starfleet adopted some Coast Guard protocol as well as Navy. I hope everyone is okay with a Christmas story from an out-of-the-broom-closet Pagan Witch. Have a great holiday everyone…God and Goddess bless!


Comments:

Dinah
What a lovely story and a very nice twist to a classic tale by O'Henry. I look forward to reading your next story.
Linda
I really appreciate all your comments! I guess I am on the right track with my writing, lately. And that Distracted saw the connection to O'Henry's story without noticing my mention of it in the summary is very cool. It means the connection worked.
Sash
This is really lovely, Linda. Thanks for sharing it!
Distracted
I just noticed your summary. Duh. :roll:
Distracted
Very nice, Linda. Sort of O. Henryish with its exchange of precious gifts that neither of them can use because they've given up the one thing that goes with it. Unless they join forces, of course. Good story.
Asso
Believe me, Linda. This story is as delicate as a feather! It is capable of stirring deep and sweet feeling. And you have been capable of picturing the intimacy of Trip and T'Pol's relationship, making us aware of their being... a family!:p
justTrip'n
You got me with that last line: "because family if forever." Very nice!

You need to be logged in to the forum to leave a review!