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Author - Samantha Quinn | Genre - Angst | Genre - Future Story | Main Story | P | Rating - PG
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By Samantha Quinn
Blackjack Creek Campground, Jay, Florida, Earth, June 12, 2155
I am not certain of the precise number of humans swarming amidst this outdoor recreational facility. Thus far, I have counted sixty-five unique individuals of varying ages and genders. While there are assuredly more, I do believe the final tally will reveal less than one hundred.
As I am contemplating the numerical possibilities of Trip’s family gathering, a small blond haired male child comes into contact with my right leg. The contact upsets his drink, resulting in a good portion of my formerly blue pant suit turning purple.
Glancing down at the blond haired child, I again marvel at how very closely all of Trip’s relatives resemble one another. While some similarity is to be expected, the degree of similitude is remarkable, and unknown to my own family. Though I have been told I bear a strong likeness to T’Mir, I do not resemble my mother, father, or any of my immediate family so strongly. I briefly ponder the possibility that familial physical parallels are a human genetic trait. As the human child in front of me raises his blue eyes towards me, however, I am reminded of Lorian, whose only physical trait from his mother was his ears.
Perhaps it is a Tucker trait.
The child in front of me has been unnaturally quiet for a human of his age. Have I done something to frighten him? I do not believe so, though given the fact that I am quite likely the first Vulcan he has ever seen, perhaps it is my mere presence that causes him concern.
I lower my voice to as non-threatening tone as possible. “Hello.”
“You’re the Vulcan,” the child responds in an accent dissimilar from Trip’s. The excitement in his tone and the sparkle in his eyes alert me to the fact that I had misjudged his emotional state. I have heard – and seen – both states enough times in Trip that I recognize the child’s correct emotion. He is curious – immensely so, but far from frightened.
“I am a Vulcan. However, it would be more appropriate for you to address me by my name rather than my species. I am T’Pol.” In truth, however, I much prefer the bluntness of this child than the failed attempts at stealthy glances and clearly heard whispers I have received thus far from Trip’s other family members.
The increasing red pigment in the child’s cheeks again makes clear his familial connection to Trip. “I’m sorry, T’Pol. My name’s Robert.” After his apology, he raises his hand in a fair imitation of the Vulcan hand greeting.
I return the gesture, which has the unexpected result of widening Robert’s smile. “We learned that in history class. That’s what the first Vulcans did when they met Cochrane, so I figure that it must the Vulcan greeting. Because if Vulcans shook hands, they would have shaken hands with Cochrane, instead of the V thing, right?”
I wonder at what age the capacity for logic departs members of the Tucker family. “That is an astute assumption and a correct deduction.”
The expression on his face changes to one of confusion. “Um, does that mean yes?”
The smile returns, accompanied by a more sinister expression. “Are you really Uncle Trip’s girlfriend?”
If the child is Trip’s nephew, that would explain the unique accent, as the child resides in Ireland. “I am uncertain exactly what that means.”
“Well, it means he’s your boyfriend. Is he?”
That definition is considerably unhelpful, though I suspect it is the best definition he is capable of providing. Deconstructing the word, I phrase my answer carefully. “Trip is my friend. However, I do not believe it appropriate to call a person of his age a boy.”
Robert takes a moment to digest that information before his entire body begins to convulse with laughter. “No, no, no, T’Pol! I meant –"
“Robert Aaron Tucker!” the authoritative sound of the child’s Uncle aborts Robert’s explanation. Turning, I see he has finally returned from his food gathering expedition. Scanning both plates briefly, I take the one lacking animal flesh as well as the glass of water. His load lightened, he turns his attention back to his nephew. “You and I are going to have a nice little chat later, Bobby.”
The child responds only with a laugh before exiting our presence with considerable haste.
“Sorry ‘bout that, T’Pol,” Trip manages to say to me between bites of what appeared to have been an animal appendage at some point.
“There is nothing to apologize for, except for the fact that you interrupted his definition of ‘girlfriend,’ and ‘boyfriend,’ which I imagine have vastly different definitions than their syntax would imply.”
“I’ll explain it later.”
“I presume this will occur at the same time you reveal to me which part of my anatomy Robert’s father was referring to when he believed me to be out of earshot and questioned whether ‘they’ were really green?”
“Uh. . . yeah. Later. Much, much later.”
“Very well. What is that substance ten degrees left of the potatoes on your plate?”
“It’s macaroni salad.”
“I’m not familiar with that substance. What does it contain?”
“Lots of macaroni, celery, eggs, onions, Miracle Whip, carrots, and. . . mmm, Mom put cheese in this batch.”
“Where is this salad being stored?”
“On the third table up from the creek, next to the potato salad. Did you want some? I didn’t bring you either one because they both have eggs in them. I can run and get you some, though, if you want.”
“No, I do not wish to consume any of that product. It would be wise if you did not, either.”
“Why not? I love macaroni salad.”
I am contemplating my reply when another female voice interrupts my thought process. “I’m glad to hear it, Trip!”
A slight turn of my head reveals Trip’s grandmother. When she reaches us, she embraces her grandson and greets me with a polite nod of her head. “How are you enjoyin’ the family reunion, T’Pol?”
“I am concerned about the macaroni salad.”
The spoon containing the very substance pauses on the way to Trip’s mouth. I understand his unspoken concern, but I also understand the importance of proper storage of food.
“Oh? What has you concerned?” Trip’s grandmother asks. “Do you think I overdid the cheese? I don’t always put that ingredient in there, but Charlotte asked me to this year, so I agreed.”
“I am not concerned about the amount of cheese. It is the storage of the substance that concerns me. It has no less than three perishable ingredients, yet it is being displayed out in the sun.”
“Oh, honey, there’s nothin’ for you to worry ‘bout there. Charlotte and I keep a careful watch on all the perishables and anything that lasts longer than an hour is thrown away.”
“That is a wise precaution. Perhaps it would be wiser, however, to simply eliminate the dish from the menu.”
In my peripheral vision, I see Trip wince. I also distinctly hear several guffaws from those around us, who were apparently eaves dropping.
“T’Pol –" Trip begins before being interrupted by his mother.
“Hush, Trip. T’Pol, you couldn’t have known, but the macaroni salad recipe is a type of tradition in the Tucker family. I’m not sure how big Vulcans are on traditions. . ?”
Recognizing it to be an honest question, I answer equally as straightforwardly. “Vulcans have many traditions in our culture.”
“Well, one of the Tucker family traditions is the exchanging of the macaroni salad recipe.”
“Your grandson has already advised me of the contents of the dish.”
“Ah, yes, he probably told you that it contained Miracle Whip, didn’t he? Well, honey, that’s not Miracle Whip at all.”
“You’ve always told me it was Miracle Whip,” Trip complains at my side.
His grandmother responds by patting him on the shoulder. “That’s because the truth is only revealed to new brides. Once you and T’Pol are officially married and she attends her first Tucker family reunion as a Tucker, she’ll know the truth too.”
With that assertion, Trip’s mother leaves us. As I face Trip, I see an expression disturbingly similar to the one that crossed his nephew’s face minutes before.
“Ya know, my grandma seems awfully certain you’re gonna marry me.”
He is again engaging in this “teasing” that he seems to be so fond of. I once found it disconcerting, though now I am capable of responding in kind. “You are not equally as sure of the durability of our union?”
“Our union, huh? I kind of like the sound of that.”
“To find auditory pleasure from a word based solely on its emotional connotations is illogical.”
I am rewarded with a laugh that is equally as illogically pleasing. “Speaking of illogic, what do you think of the reunion?”
I fail to see the point in gathering large quantities of relatives together, some of which barely know one another, in order to gorge gluttonously on massive amounts of animal flesh, animal products, and excessively indulgent sweet desserts. I further fail to understand the necessity to hold such an activity in the outdoors, where both food and attendees will be subject to excessive pests of the flying, crawling, stinging, and biting variety. Even further beyond my comprehension is the recreational activities chosen. Throwing the shoe of horse towards a metal rod in the ground is an even more senseless activity than the water polo the Captain is so fond of, and “dodge ball” is a truly barbaric sport which would serve only to confirm every negative remark my father has ever uttered about the human species.
However, I need only to gaze at the man beside me once before I realize how important this event is to him. I am unable to fathom the emotional connection he has to such an event, but I will not cause him undue distress by verbally critiquing that which he finds so important. “I find being here pleasant.”
Though being at this gathering is not pleasant, being in Trip’s presence is. I have not exactly told a lie.
“I’m glad to hear it, T’Pol,” he says in close enough proximity to my ear that I have to suppress the shiver that threatens to overtake me. “So when do I get to meet your family?”
“When I am closer to ‘becoming a Tucker.’”
His smile increases. That one action is enough to make me feel at home, even in such strange surroundings.
Blackjack Creek Campground, Jay, Florida, Earth, June 12, 2286
This is the thirty-fifth consecutive Annual Tucker Family reunion I have attended, and the twenty-third such event that I have attended since the passing of my bondmate. My t’hy’la lived a long, prosperous. . . and happy . . . life, but ultimately his human genes could not sustain him much longer. I can only be thankful that he did not leave my side until the cycles of pon farr had completed. If I had been forced to take another mate. . .
I do not believe I could have done so. Trip’s loss still weighs too heavily on my consciousness, even in the mundane world of everyday responsibilities. To have his loss compounded by the touch of another would be more than I could bear. Though the emptiness that pervades my existence since his death leaves no doubt Trip left me too soon, he was considerate enough to spare me that additional grief. Logically, he had no control over the situation. However, such an action would be in keeping with the wealth of compassion he possesses. * Possessed.*
Breathing deeply, I chant several sayings of Surak quietly to myself in order to recover from the unpleasant sensations I am currently experiencing. They are initially of little help. This fact should not be surprising, as Surak himself was a monk. He never experienced grief in the manner that I do today, as I have for the past twenty-three years.
Twenty-three years. They have passed by more slowly than the previous one hundred seventy-five, each day drawing out progressively more gradually. By the end of each day, the toil of continuing on has taken its toll on my body and an additional ache or pain. Both Vulcan and Human doctors have offered medicine. But I will not be a contributor to delaying the inevitable.
Yet there are still those at this very gathering who will insist, foolishly, that I am “aging gracefully.” Perhaps I have a better grasp of their own language than they do, for their usage of “gracefully” to describe my aging process is incorrect. In addition to the ever present muscular discomforts, my first breaths of each morning are labored, and each step is an increasingly difficult effort. My physical appearance is equally regrettable. Though my species does not know vanity, I find the amount of wrinkles that have taken residence on my skin unpleasant. The amount of gray that has overtaken my once brown hair is likewise disagreeable.
A conversation from more than a century past finds my thoughts.
“I am not old.”
It was a true statement then. However, the same can no longer be said. Not only am I old, but each day is simply another battle against death, and I find myself growing weary of battles.
Even so, I must alter my current frame of mind. If Trip were here, he would be most displeased with my current state. The Annual Tucker Family Reunion was too deeply valued by him to spend the duration of the activity in grief. Even during the very first one attended after Elizabeth’s death, Trip focused on the pleasure of being with his family. I will honor him today by doing the same. At least, I shall attempt to, just as I have attempted to every year since his death.
Indeed, there is much to be thankful, in spite of the ever pervasive longing that has been my companion these past twenty-three years. To begin with, the amount of Tuckers present at this reunion is more than any previous year. In years past, Tuckers came from all over the planet for the reunion. Today, they have come from various parts of the galaxy, due mostly to the union of Trip and me, though Robert and his Denobulan wife have contributed numerous additions to my family as well.
As a result of the multiple non-human influxes into their gene pool, the variety in physical appearances of this generation of Tuckers is numerous. A casual glance towards those playing dodge ball, cards, Frisbee, chess, or tennis will reveal a wide assortment of skin tones, hair colors and textures, and ear shapes. Even the most Vulcan of the Tuckers are here, fulfilling their yearly familial tradition. T’Vel may only be 1/32 second human, but she is still a Tucker. I am thankful her father knew better than to be lax in enforcing that principle during her upbringing.
“Grandma?” The voice of ten year old Shakala interrupts my dwellings. Shakala is the daughter of my grandson, Malcolm, and his Andorian wife, Talara. With pointed ears, light blue skin, brown hair, and antennae, her features accurately reflect her heritage. Unsurprisingly, however, I find the slopped nose and clear blue eyes the most endearing of all of her physical characteristics, as they remind me of the human I treasured most. Everyone of those unique features is attuned to my face at present.
“You have been conspicuously absent from the festivities, Shakal. What explanation do you give for that?”
The child’s blue cheeks deepen in that pigment and a familiar expression of guilt crosses his features. “I – I was watching the results of Admiral Kirk’s trial in the grocery store down the road.”
“While I understand the . . . entertainment value of such an event, you should not have placed it above this gathering in importance.”
“I’m sorry, Grandma.”
“You should be remorseful. However, since the action has already passed, you may as well share the results of the trial.”
“They dropped all the charges except for one. I can’t remember what one it was, but anyway, he got demoted down to Captain. Everyone was really very excited about that. The store owner, Mr. Berg, says that means he’ll get to be a starship Captain again, like everyone knows he should be.”
“Grandma, he’s Captain Kirk. He must be the coolest starship captain ever! Uh. . .I’m sure you weren’t bad, either, Grandma.”
“No, nor were Captain Reed, or Captain Mayweather. However, I do concede that the planet is quite safe in Kirk’s hands.”
“Yep. I’d really like to meet him some day. Well, him and Spock. I think Spock’s really pretty cute. Hey, Grandma?”
“Did you approve of the job I did in cleaning out the guest room yesterday?”
“Yes, Shakala. Your help was most appreciated. I thank you.” It is obvious that there is more she wishes to ask of me, and thus, I wait patiently for her to continue.
“While I was sorting boxes yesterday, I found this picture. Who are these people, Grandma?” The small blue fingers hold out the picture for my inspection.
“I fail to see what exactly it is.”
“It’s a way to document our honeymoon.”
“Are you planning on forgetting this event?”
“No, of course not.”
“Then why do you believe you will need a reminder?”
“Look, just stand over there, by the hot dog stand, okay? I’m gonna ask that guy if he’ll take our picture of both of us together.”
“I do not wish to associate our honeymoon with the selling of a conglomeration of vulgar animal meat.”
“According to town’s historical record, that’s where Maggie’s store used to be, and therefore, where she first met Mestral. A Vulcan who gave up everything for the human he loved – don’t you think it’s appropriate?”
“I do not. I have given up nothing with our union. On the contrary, what I have gained is immeasurable.”
“You really feel that way?”
“Yes, so much so that I will endure the insufferable smell of that stand in order to satisfy your photographic obsession.”
“I ‘preciate that, T’Pol.”
As the photo was taken with a relatively primitive camera by today’s standards, the picture itself has not withstood time well. The color has faded with time, and the object itself appears to be so fragile that it will break if not handled with the most extreme care. Gazing at the worn remembrance of my t’hy’la, I cannot help but be struck by the similarities between the photograph and myself.
Regardless of the fact that it was taken ninety years ago, the very sight of Trip smiling with his arm wrapped casually around my waist is enough to momentarily stop the release of air from my lungs. Even the brightly colored flower print shirts I once found to completely lacking in aesthetic pleasure now fill me with a warmth I cannot describe. Because they belong to him. *Belonged.*
“Grandma?” Shakala questions again. “Who are these people in this picture?”
Do I look so different now that I am truly unrecognizable? “This is a photograph of your great-grandfather Trip and me, taken ninety years ago during our honeymoon in Carbon Creek, Pennsylvania .”
“Oh. Grandma, you were so beautiful.”
Beautiful? A human word which is most frequently used superficially as a descriptor of physical attractiveness. However, it is reserved for those things which are so exceptionally and uniquely lovely that they are deemed inimitable. Such a description does justice to my all too short union with Trip. “Yes, Shakala, we were.”
“Mom and Dad tell me lots of stories about him, but I don’t remember Grandpa Trip.”
There is a cruel irony in the fact that Shakala will never be able to meet Trip. He, in many ways, was much more supportive initially of the union of Shakala’s parents.
“I think you’re over-reacting just a tad, T’Pol.”
“A member of our family is going to marry an Andorian. I hardly believe myself to be over-reacting. On the contrary, it is much more appropriate than your lackadaisical reaction.”
“T’Pol, I love you, but sometimes you act just like Soval.”
“I do not, and I would appreciate it if you would refrain from attempting to use that argument in an attempt to dissuade me of my beliefs when your opinion differs from mine.”
“Really? Because this is a fair imitation of exactly how Soval behaved when we announced our engagement.”
Trip was correct in his analysis of the situation. Even more amazingly, the child that resulted from union I so vehemently initially opposed has grown into one of the descendents that I favor the strongest. Though I cherish all of them equally, I undoubtedly share a stronger connection with Shakala. Perhaps it is because I recognize that her Andorian-Vulcan mixture will make her as much of an outcast as I was from my home world a century ago. The strain of that memory is still fresh, even if they are in the gratuitously pandering habit of naming cities in my honor now. There are no less than three cities of T’Pol. Perhaps one day there will be an equal number of Shakalas on a joint Vulcan-Andorian settlement.
“You do not remember him, Shakala, because he passed thirteen years before you were born.”
“What was he like, Grandma?”
It is a simple question, but one with an answer astonishingly complex. “He was a strong man, both in body and in spirit. He was intelligent, kind, and compassionate. His capacity for stubbornness was matched only by his loyalty.”
“You met him on the Enterprise, right?”
“Yes. I was first officer and he was chief engineer.”
“Did you fall in love with him right away? Oh! Oops, Vulcans don’t love.”
On the contrary, Shakala, they love very deeply.
“I meant, did you . . . cherish him from the start?”
“I suppose I did. However, our relationship was also very antagonistic at times, in the beginning. That did not change until we entered the Expanse.”
“What happened in the Expanse?”
Finding the appropriate words to describe to a child what transpired between us in the Expanse is difficult, and not just because it was the site of the first time we engaged in sexual relations. How does one accurately describe what happened the very moment their life forever altered course? “We both encountered extremely difficult circumstances which found us in need of someone we trusted to rely upon. We followed our hearts to one another.”
“You must miss him a lot.”
“My life is incomplete without him, though I take great pleasure in all of our offspring and their descendents.”
“I wish I could have met him.”
“I too am remorseful that you will not have that opportunity. However, I still posses a wide variety of items that belonged to Trip. Perhaps after this gathering is concluded, and after we have visited the gravesite, we can browse through them together, including many more photographs.”
“Oh, Grandma, I would like that very much. But can I ask a question, Grandma?”
“May you ask a question.”
“Right, may I ask a question? I mean, another one?”
“Go ahead Shakala.”
“Why did the two of you take your honeymoon in Carbon Creek, Pennsylvania?”
“It seemed appropriate, given that it was the location of the First Contact between Vulcans and Humans.”
The small white eyebrows crease together in a frown and I wait patiently for the question that I know is coming. It is, after all, the very same one her great-grandfather asked of me when I first related T’Mir’s story to him.
“But I thought Zephram Cochrane met the Vulcans in Montana.”
“That is the location of the first official contact. The actual and unofficial first contact occurred in Carbon Creek.”
I rise, an action that takes more effort each day. Shakala is not pleased. “Grandma, you can’t just stop there. You must tell me the story.”
“Patience is a virtue.” Even as I complete the scold, I wonder when I began to freely use human clichés. I am too old to be concerned about my usage of them. “I have a task that must be completed now. However, if you wish to walk with me, I will relate the story to you.”
Shakala nods her agreement. It is for this reason that I begin reciting the tale of T’Mir and Mestral’s time in Carbon Creek as we begin our mission to replenish the macaroni salad.
Have a comment to make about this story? Do so in the Trip Fan Fiction forum at the HoTBBS!
A whole mess of folks have made comments
Great story, I imagine the Tuckers would embrase T'pol as another addition of the family regardless of her species
I really enjoyed reading these 'passages'. I would have wished to read more about when Trip was alive and to learn how he died. If the dates were supposed to be 2155 to 2286, that would mean Trip lived for a long time.
So it begins and ends with the macaroni salad! I guess T'Pol really did become part of the Tucker family. I love the story as it is, but I would like to know more -- how many children did they have, how did they turn out, did they go into space again, how did Trip die? Sequel please!
oh this is marvelous! absolutely touching and wonderful. i can so see the conversations and the love you so warmly and kindly portray here.
that the nose and blue eyes continue to live on.
playing the Soval card hahahahahahah! love it.
Oh so many wonderful wonderful little details that blend to make a great story telling.
Please continue with T'Pol and her granddaughter... rediscovering the past through the things of Trip's.
This was lovely but also quite poignant in an understated and gentle way. I don't like to think of T'Pol without Trip or vice versa, it is like having the moon but no sun, the night but no day. Yin without yang. I love how dignified you have made T'Pol and for a Vulcan she is quite wistful which is beautiful. Thank you. Now. How the hell can we get Trip back? I know, there was this chap Daniels who had this ability to time travel... Ali D :~)
Tol23: the dates are correct, and Trip passed away in 2263. It is a long time, but I figure the average human life cycle is at least 100-115 in the 22nd/23rd century. Thus, Trip's age at his death roughly corresponds to a person living to be 100 today. Rare, but it happens.
Sash: I think it's safe to assume Trip died of "old age." ;) And since it's only the 35th consecutive annual reunion T'Pol's attended, I think it's safe to say they went back into space. ;)
Tracy: yep, the nose and eyes live on, though I admit that Shakala must be a pretty scary looking kid. I wish I was an artist so I could put it to paper. *shivers.* She has good taste, though, in Captains. And Vulcans ;)
I'm glad everyone has enjoyed it, thus far, as I wasn't entirely happy with it, and almost didn't post it.
"...and “dodge ball” is a truly barbaric sport which would serve only to confirm every negative remark my father has ever uttered about the human species."-LOL!
Excellent story. Ah, the macaroni salad. Loved T'Pol's faux pas when she talked with Grandma Tucker about it.
Wonderful, beautiful and bittersweet. I loved all the details and the humor.
Darn, you made me cry tonight! The way she missed Trip broke my heart. But I did love your story. Thank you!!
I liked it a lot. It was one of the sweetest works I have ever read. Certain information (like the exact circumstances behind Trip's passing)were not revealed making it seem more real to me, like you were really inside of her head which I think makes it even more charming and poignantly sad. Thanks for a great story.
grat story but can you not whrite more about Trip and T'Pol together I mean when Trip still alive please I don't realy love the throught that Trip is death
Ohhh.... very, very lovely. I like this T'Pol a lot, even if she does make me feel a little sad. How does that poem go? "If we had but worlds enough and time", or something like that...