Evette's Trip Home

Part One.

Captain Drake Tungsten walks to Shuttlebay One aboard the USS Dragon, where his first officer, Evette LaSalle, and a young Ensign in Operations gold by the name of Roy Jones, carrying a cremation urn holding the remains of Ensign Jim Parker, are standing by the Delta Class Shuttle “Chevalier”, clearly about to board soon. Valkyrie fighters flank the enormous shuttlebay, as well as some other small craft, as crewmen go about the every day business of maintenance in the shuttlebay a small distance away.

The Captain says to them as he approaches in the bay “I wanted to see you two off, and wish you a good voyage.” he says with an easy smile.

Commander LaSalle replies “Oh, you didn’t have to, Captain. Still, thank you.” she smiles brightly. Ensign Jones pipes in after a suitable but brief pause “Yes, thank you, Sir!”

“Of course. Don’t worry Ensign, Commander LaSalle here hasn’t crashed that many shuttles.” he grins

She interjects right as a worried look crosses the Ensign’s face “Oh, stop! You’ll scare him! It only happened once in an artificial gravity well, and everyone made it out alive! Anyway, we’ll see you soon!” She gives her Captain a quick friendly hug, which he returns lightly, and she says “I’ll make sure your parents get their gifts in-tact, too!” as she turns toward the shuttle, coaxing the Ensign along with her, and they board the shuttle. The Captain waves at them through the front window, and they wave back, while running through pre-flight checks. The Captain departs back into the ship.

The commander hits a button, and says “Shuttle Chevalier, to Dragon flight-control, ready for departure on your signal.” A voice responds over comms “Shuttle Chevalier, you are cleared. Have a safe trip Commander, Ensign. Say hello to Earth for me!” “Will do control. Chevalier out.” With that, the commander has the shuttle lift off the floor, and rotate around, easing its way out of the large hangar at the back of the Dragon’s saucer, pulling hard to port to avoid that gigantic mission-pod full of torpedoes, choosing not to push her luck threading the needle between the pylons today. It’s going to be a long flight without the Ensign soiling himself.

She says as soon as they clear the Dragon “Ok, Ensign, we are going to make a quick detour here.”

“A detour, ma’am?” She replies, “Yes, but not too far out of our way, I promise. We just need to catch the Vincennes before we head to Earth, so I can keep a promise. Didn’t you smell all those cinnamon rolls in the aft compartment?”

“Well, yeah, but I thought you were taking those to Earth with us, or just really hungry.” he cracks a smile

She chuckles a little “Oh, there’s enough for us to have a few on the way, but no, even with your help, I wasn’t about to eat four-dozen on this trip. There’s not even a treadmill back there to work it off! Computer, plot course to intercept USS Vincennes, and engage at Warp Eight.” Acknowledged. The shuttle zooms into warp, and Evette lets out a little sigh. “We should be able to make up the time, easily.”

“It’s ok, ma’am. I already appreciate you bringing me along, so I didn’t have to book a passenger ship. Probably already saving me a few days of leave!”

“Don’t mention it. Besides, I don’t mind getting a bit more quality time with one of my officers. I certainly remember when you came aboard the old ship, but we’ve never really had the chance to talk at length.”

The Ensign opens his mouth to speak when the computer beeps at them, notifying they’ve intercepted the USS Vincennes underway, but fortunately not too long out of DS13. Evette drops them out of warp, and hails the Galaxy Class ship. “USS Vincennes, this is the Starfleet shuttle Chevalier, requesting permission to dock. We have a small delivery for the Captain.”

They wait a few seconds, as a voice comes through from presumably one of their Ops officers “Shuttle Chevalier, you are cleared to dock at shuttlebay three. Welcome to the Vincennes. You seem to have made the Captain’s day, and she’s headed down to meet you.” “Roger Vincennes, proceeding to shuttlebay three. Chevalier out.”

The shuttle comes to a gentle landing after passing through the forcefield in the shuttle bay, like going through an old optical scanner, and rotates around so it is facing out, and the rear hatch faces inward. “I’ll hold down the ship, ma’am.” the Ensign says. She replies “Suit yourself.” with a shrug, as she makes her way to the back of the ship, retrieving a few boxes of cinnamon rolls, fresh from the starbase, and exits the craft, to be greeted by the smiling face of Captain Meadows.

“You came through with the cinnamon buns! Yes!” the Captain exclaims, inhaling deeply, as Evette approaches. The Commander replies “It’s the least I could do, as a thank you for hosting the holiday party! Besides, I would have done it anyway, just so you didn’t miss out. I could hear the longing when you said you’d be under-way.”

The Captain says “Commander, you are an interstellar treasure! I won’t keep you, as I know you have a long trip ahead, but thank you!” she barks at a crewman in the bay “Get these into secure storage, on the double!” as she slips one roll out for herself, and the boxes are collected.

Evette replies “In that case, permission to disembark?” “Granted.” “See you soon, Captain!” she smiles to the Captain, and turns to enter the Delta Class shuttle, as Captain Meadows says “I’ll put you in for a commendation for this!” as she heads back in from the shuttlebay, happily eating the cinnamon roll she grabbed.

The commander re-boards the shuttle, closing the ramp/hatch behind her, and rejoins Ensign Jones at the conn, saying “Well, spreading a little holiday cheer is the best way to start a trip, I think. Let’s get going.” he nods, with a grin, mostly obscured by one of the cinnamon rolls left on the ship that he’s devouring. She smiles at this, and raises flight control “Vincennes flight-control, this is shuttle Chevalier, ready to depart. Requesting clearance.” “Roger Chevalier, you are cleared for departure. Safe travels. Vincennes out.”

The shuttle slowly lifts off, and exits the Vincennes, re-orienting toward Sector 001, and goes to warp.


OOCI want to thank @FruitOfTheLum for letting me include her character here, in a little continuation from the holiday party, teed-up well by @Valore 's bubbly intel cadet! I’m planning to post at least one or two more parts to this, this week, as I’m able.


Part Two.

A few hours into their flight, the Commander and Ensign settle in, having been mostly quiet. Evette is bouncing her one leg unconsciously.

Ensign Jones then asks “Um… are you nervous about something Commander?” she looks down, and then grins a bit sheepishly “Oh, uh, actually… yes… this trip, really.”

He answers with visible relief “Oh, good, I thought it was just awkward in here because of me!” she shakes her head “Oh, no! It’s not that. Just… family can be hard sometimes. I haven’t seen my father in a few years.”

“That bad? Do… do you want to talk about it? I mean, it’s ok if you don’t, I just… well… you know, to pass the time… and all. Uh, ma’am!”

She grins at Ensign Jones “At ease, Ensign. I really don’t, but it’s a fair question. Really, it’s nothing secret, and I wouldn’t mind if you knew about it, I just really don’t want to go through it right now. It was kind of rough in the last session with the Counselor.”

“I see… well, we could talk about something else then. Ask me anything you like.”

“Ok, but you don’t have to answer just because I outrank you!” she gives him a reassuring smile, and continues, “I was actually a little curious why you volunteered for this trip? I know you knew Parker, I’ve seen you two and others in the ship’s lounge before, but we could have sent his ashes back via courier.”

“Well, he and I met at the Academy. He was a year ahead of me, and kind of like the high-school jock from old 20th century stories, except… actually kind to people, not a bully. Made friends easy, had a ton of them, and looked out for other people, like me. I was kind of a loner, and he made a bit of a project out of me… and others, really. Helped me meet my girlfriend at the Academy, even. And when my family was on deep-space assignment for the holidays, he brought me and a couple other friends over to his family’s house, and they all treated us like we’d always been there, you know, aside from a few get-to-know-you questions.” he sighs “I know his parents now because of that, and I feel like I owe them this much, but not really like a burdensome obligation. I want to. I mean, it’s going to be hard though…”

Evette frowns a bit, but more in a sympathetic than disapproving way. “Oh, that’s actually lovely. And I understand. I might be able to come with you briefly if you need the support?”

He waves her off “Thank you ma’am, I really do appreciate that a lot, but… I think it would be better if I do this alone. Besides, I’m sure you’re plenty busy already. Sounded like the Captain has you making a delivery for him?”

She chuckles a little “Yes, but I’m happy to do it, actually! The Captain and I have served on several ships together, we’ve been friends for years! So, I’ve met his parents before, and they are just lovely people. I actually saw them again at the commissioning of the current Dragon… my own father was a no-show, but at least some of my sisters who were able did come.”

He replies “How many brothers and sisters?” She answers “I’m one of five sisters.”

“Geez, your dad was certainly outnumbered!” he grins “Only child, myself. That’s why it was nice to kind of gain a big brother out of Jim.”

She replies “Sometimes found family is the best. Oh, my sisters are all angels, and I adore them though, don’t misunderstand me. I miss them too. But I’m glad you fell in with someone who was so good to you.” she pauses briefly, and chuckles “You know, I didn’t know him extremely well. Sure, I’ve at least met everyone on the crew, and run into them now and then, but firstly there’s so many, and second, things are a little different when you’re the first officer. Oh, but this one time about a year ago, I was having dinner in the lounge with Stephanie, who I was dating at the time, and Parker comes right up to the table, clearly a little tipsy, and starts hitting on me.” she snickers “Oh, he had the confidence down for sure, but he wasn’t that great at it. Once I could get in a word edge-wise, I mentioned I was in the middle of dinner with my girlfriend, and it was like when the computer gets bogged down in complex computations… it took him at least 20 seconds to process it, and then he was falling over himself apologizing, and well, he backed right off, which I give him credit for. Oh, Stephanie was pissed, but I actually thought it was almost as sweet as it was funny! Ah… I don’t know what I was thinking with her, anyway… probably her… well, nevermind.” she gives a bright and amused smile.

Ensign Jones also chuckles a bit, much more at ease with his statuesque superior officer now, and says “Yeah… that sounds like him! Except he almost never struck out! I guess if he was going to get shot down, it would have been by you, though.”

She giggles slightly “You make me sound like the ending challenge of a holo-novel.”

The Ensign gets a little less relaxed, worried he may have offended her “Oh, no ma’am, not really, it’s just, well…”

She says “It’s ok, I know what you meant. It just strikes me as funny, is all. Like actually amusing, not like when your girlfriend or boyfriend is all ‘You know, I just think it’s funny that…’ when they’re teeing up a huge argument.” she chuckles again.

He relaxes again, counting his lucky stars she has a sense of humor “Well, I mean, I guess you’re already kind of on a pedestal being the first officer, but…” he takes a hand palm-upward, pointing at her, and moves it up and down “I mean, come on.” he chuckles

“Flattery will get you everywhere, Ensign.” she makes a show of batting her eyelashes jokingly “But seriously, I appreciate the compliment, thank you. Hopefully, you’ll tell all your friends on the crew I’m not that scary though.”

“Well, if I’m being honest, I was a little nervous about this trip, but I’m actually really glad we’ve got the chance to talk. And that you have a good memory of Jim.”

She replies “Me too. I wish the Captain and I could get the chance to know everyone on the crew better, but, it’s a big ship. Honestly, you’d find him very approachable as well. But anyway, I don’t know about you, but I think I’m ready for some lunch.” she smiles, and heads to the replicator, taking Jones’ order while she’s there, as the ship continues on its way to Earth.



Part Three

Time has passed on the shuttle, with the two officers chatting, and sleeping in shifts to keep someone at the helm. The shuttle is on auto pilot, but prudence dictates someone always be awake, even if not at the helm. Ensign Jones is, however sitting there, having slept on the first shift, with music quietly playing, as the Commander wakes up from a short, but adequate few hours of sleep.

She emerges into the forward cabin, still slightly groggy, but cheerful, with a “Good morning, Ensign!” Her hair is down, showing it’s longer than most would expect, coming below her shoulder blades, and showing an undercoat for lack of a better term dyed crimson, in contrast to the subtle, but certainly not natural gunmetal gray that normally shows which usually only catches the light shining in an almost unnoticeable crimson instead of a bold streak of it. This is mostly only apparent when her hair moves, as it is at the moment, while she arranges it into the usual loose bun, walking in.

“Good morning, ma’am!” he responds, somewhat buoyed by the sight of her, as the last few hours have been a little dull.

“How are we doing?” she asks of him. “Actually, pretty close to Sol. Just passing by the Vulcan system.”

“Alright, I’ll make breakfast. And by that, I mean the computer will.” she grins “I’m going to have a croissant and some fruit, what would you like?” He replies “Uh, pancakes and sausage would be great, actually. Haven’t had that in a while. Thank you.”

“No problem!” she goes over to the replicator and begins having it zap food into existence, and carries their plates up to the front of the shuttle, handing the ensign his. “Hope the computer got the right amount of syrup there.” He answers “Yeah, just about right, thank you.”

It’s quiet for a few minutes while they tuck in, balancing plates on their laps, when she says “You know, this has been nice. I’m really glad to have had some company on this trip, it’s almost a shame you’re staying a couple extra days and heading back on your own.”

He swallows a bite and responds “You know, half or more of the ship is probably insanely jealous of me right now.” he chuckles “I certainly enjoyed it too. Not many of us on the lower decks get to really meet the person behind those three pips.”

She smiles “We’re all just people, Ensign. Especially off-duty. Tell you what though, when you get back to the ship, or maybe the next day, let’s meet up for dinner. We can swap more stories then.” she pauses “Just, like I mentioned last night, I don’t really do ‘relationships’ these days, so don’t read too much into it, ok?” her face remains friendly, not scolding, as she says the last bit.

“I’ll let you know when I’m back, ma’am. And I get it.” he smiles warmly. “Then I look forward to it.” she gives him a scrunchy-faced smile, as the computer emits a soft beep, and says “Now entering Sol System.” She makes a gentle “up-up” signal with her hand to switch seats, and takes the pilot’s chair, bringing the shuttle under manual control, dropping them from warp, and proceeds on impulse.

“Earth Space Dock, this is Starfleet shuttle Chevalier, on approach, and requesting landing clearance.” she says in a more business-like tone.

“USS Dragon shuttle Chevalier, we have you on sensors, and flight plan registered. You are on-schedule, and cleared for landing at pad three-five-two-delta. Please confirm your final approach, and we’ll open the doors for you. Welcome home, Commander LaSalle.”

The weight of the last part hits her a little more than she expected, causing a very brief pause before she answered. “…Acknowledged, ESD, preparing for final approach. Chevalier out.”

In the span of a few minutes, the shuttle draws into Earth orbit, as the two officers hit a few buttons for standard system checks and preparing for landing, occasionally having to lift up their empty plates from breakfast on the LCARS portion of the console which is mercifully designed to avoid unintentional button-presses from such a thing unlike on the smallish area of analog controls, this being a Delta Class and all. The Ensign does clear the plates and recycle them in the replicator when he gets the chance. They soon find themselves face to face with the Blue Marble itself, and closing in on the giant mushroom-like structure of Earth Space Dock, with the San Francisco Fleet Yards visible off in the distance. Commander LaSalle slows the shuttle, and brings it to a graceful landing through those giant doors in the dome, and brings it to a gentle rest on the assigned pad. She’s no ace fighter pilot, but she’s at least pretty competent with a shuttle.

“Well, this is it, isn’t it?” Jones says to her. They both find themselves steeling for what awaits them both separately. “Yeah.” they both stand, ready to gather their things, and she pauses, then holds her arms wide for a hug, saying “If you are alright with it, and dropping ranks for a second here.”

“Of course!” he answers, and goes in for a friendly hug. Of course he’s ok with being hugged by the stunning woman beside him, and happy to trade a little emotional support, which they’ll both probably need for different reasons. Still, he’s not at all upset that his superior officer asked for consent first. “Good luck, Commander.” she replies “You too. I’ll see you in a few days.” they break the hug, gather their things, and head out.

Having transported to the surface, Evette is glad that Drake only tasked her with carrying small and light gifts to be delivered, easily fitting into her backpack. On the surface, she made use of some public facilities, and changed into a workout outfit appropriate for cold weather. Gone are the heeled boots and skirted Starfleet uniform, and she’s wearing what would appear to be a spandex outfit with a jacket leaving only her hands uncovered below the neck, in a sort of mauve color with some black details, especially on the jacket. She walks through a very quaint little town with a moderate amount of people going about their business. Situated in the middle of a forest, she begins to wish she’d visited in Autumn, except it would probably be much busier. The buildings look to be from the 1800s, but meticulously maintained, full of small shops and restaurants. She finds a trailhead near where the railroad tracks intersect the road, and begins a brisk jog.

Somewhat happy to be getting in a workout after being cooped up in the shuttle, despite the pleasant company, she’s actually on a bit of a mission. She would know from previous encounters and conversations that Drake’s parents have a bit of a routine with hiking in the daylight hours, even in the winter, so she can cross two things off her list at once, as she makes her way through the slice in what seems a very thick forest even with the leaves off the trees, at times running parallel to the winding Cuyahoga River on the ancient Ohio & Erie Canal Towpath Trail. Fortunately, her Captain’s parents are more likely to be walking than jogging, and won’t be covering the whole length of it. She is not intimately familiar with this area like Drake would be, but she did study the maps well before she left, and is pleased at how much prettier it is in three dimensions. Every few minutes, she is either passing another hiker or two, or being passed by serious runners or cyclists, as she scrutinizes everyone who seems to be about the right age while saying “On your left!” or just a friendly greeting.

She’s happy to be interrupted by the people right now. Just enough time to take in the scenery on a crisp day, without being left alone to her own thoughts too long.

Eventually, she does come across an older couple walking side by side, but leaving plenty of room to get around them with intent. Evette slows a little, with enough speed to still pass them, but not leave them in the dust. She calls over “Good afternoon!” with a look, and confirms it’s them, slowing down just in front of them, and smiling brightly.

They both do a double-take, as this is a surprise to them. The two of them are clearly not young, white hair, wrinkles and all, but do actually appear very fit for their age. "Mrs. Tungsten then says “Evette… is that you sweetheart?”

The Commander’s smile grows brighter “Yes, Merry Christmas!” Mr. Tungsten chimes in, as they all ease to a stop on the side of the trail. “My God, how did you even find us? It’s good to see you though!”

“It wasn’t that hard, your son knows you well!” She then pulls them into a group hug, easily as they oblige readily. “This is from Drake, he misses you both.”

Mrs. Tungsten says to Evette “We just talked to him over subspace a few hours ago, and he didn’t say a thing, that rotten kid!” she says the last part clearly joking as she smiles. “He got us good.” Mr. Tungsten chimes in, chuckling a little. “Come on, let’s get home where it’s warm, I hope you’ll be able to visit a little while, Evette? We haven’t seen you in months, I’m sure there’s plenty to catch up on.”

She nods to him “Yes, of course, I was hoping you’d say that!” he responds “Good, think we could do with some hot corn chowder to warm up. We’ll catch the tram at the next trailhead. Should be in about a half mile.” She interjects “Please tell me it’s the recipe with bacon in it!” Mrs. Tungsten answers “You know we take care of our son’s friends!”, which elicits a short fist-pump of approval out of Evette.

The trio walk the rest of the way in good cheer, and trading stories, catching up, looking forward to a warm house, especially Evette, who isn’t keeping a jogging pace anymore to keep as warm as Drake’s parents, who are bundled up a bit more. She is once again content, in the warmth of home and company, and even crossing a light workout off her list.



Part Four

Evette spends about 3 hours visiting with the Tungstens, catching up in cheerful conversation, and having delivered their presents from their son.

Mrs. Tungsten asks after the previous topic runs its course, “So, spill it on this new woman that Drake is seeing. He certainly seems happier when we talk lately.”

Evette grins “Oh, Captain Grant is wonderful! She’s smart, she has a good sense of humor, a Captain I’d be happy to serve under if I couldn’t stay with Drake, and gorgeous to boot! He hit the jackpot on that one! They are so cute together!”

The couple both smile, happy to get such a glowing confirmation. Mr. Tungsten responds “Well, I hope we get to meet her sometime soon. I know you kids just wrapped up a war out there, so we’ll give them a pass this year.” he jokes

Evette smiles “Yes, and she just took over a new ship, so that would be a hard sell right now. But I am sure she’d love to meet you too, and I am certain you’d all get along great.”

She sighs. “I’m afraid I must be going though. I’d like to get up to Montreal before it gets dark.”

Mr. Tungsten responds “Well, it was a real treat to have you over for a meal and a chat, but we know you need to see your own family too!.” his wife chimes in “Just a wonderful surprise! And you know, should you ever need it, our home is always open to you, dear.”

Evette splays her fingers across her upper-chest and smiles brightly “Aww, thank you! I really hope it doesn’t come to that though. Would you mind if I change out of these running clothes real quick before I go, though?”

Mrs. Tungsten shakes her head “Of course not, upstairs, first on the left!” the two women smile, as Evette grabs her backpack from the floor, and trots off to change.

Mr. Tungsten says to his wife under his breath “I get the feeling she’s gearing up for war.” She nods. Moments later, Evette comes back down the stairs in her skirted starfleet uniform, wearing the backpack. “Thank you both so much for opening up your home to me, and for a wonderful conversation!” They stand up to meet her, and she gives them hugs in turn. “Transporter is two blocks on the right, right?” she asks, and they both nod, and tell her “Merry Christmas, and come by any time!”

She heads out into the cold, grateful her hosiery is much warmer than it looks, but stops a block from the house where there’s a bench by the sidewalk to pull off her back, and fish a smallish rectangle from her pack, which she unzips, and it inflates by way of just being released from its compression into a Starfleet issue cold weather excursion coat, more than suitable for L-Class planets, which she shakes out a bit, and dons, then slips on her backpack, and the coat covers her down to her knees. It’s probably overkill, but she knows it probably won’t be warmer a few hundred kilometers northeast. She exhales, and walks through the cloud of her own breath the remaining block to the public transporter arch.

She emerges into downtown Montreal in a smallish plaza, not regretting the coat. Her uniform alone would be enough to keep her alive in this cold, being far more advanced material than simple cotton, but she appreciates the coziness, as she makes her way down the street towards her childhood home. She’s making good enough time. Not that it matters, as she’s dropping in unannounced. Any time is as good or bad as any other, really. A small detour wouldn’t hurt.

She ducks into a cozy wine bar, and grabs a stool. The place isn’t very busy, but it’s still just a bit light out. She exhales, as the bartender comes by. “Can I get you something to drink? We just got in a cabernet… Evette? Is that you?”

The Commander makes eye contact, and pauses for a moment. Finally she places the face. Robert, from high school. More of an acquaintance than a friend, but not in a bad way. “Robert! Yes, it is.” she forces a smile, as she kind of wanted a quick and quiet drink, but doesn’t want to be petty about that.

“I almost didn’t recognize you with the new hair color.” he says “Wasn’t it green last time I saw you?”

She chuckles “I think it was, actually! That’s a bit too much for Starfleet, though, even though it wasn’t neon. So how are you?”

“Drinks first.” he replies “Before I forget.” he grins. “Oh, whatever cabernet you were about to finish saying will do.” she answers.

Robert begins pulling the temporary cork off a still mostly-full bottle, and pours a glass for her, and a much smaller one for himself. Some might think this is kind of a creepy move, but Evette is unphased by it, because she knows he’s a bartender, and if he did this with every customer with a full glass, he’d move well past hangover territory, and straight to the hospital, before the night was through. He answers her as he finishes with this “I’m doing well, actually! I tried holding down a desk job for a while, and it was going well enough, but I really hated it, so I quit, and they had an opening here, where I get to sample wine, talk to the customers, and try to make sure everyone leaves here happy. Lots of regulars, so it’s nice! And, thankfully, these days, the pay is about the same.” he winks, clearly making a joke about how the Federation doesn’t really do the whole capitalism thing anymore.

“That is wonderful!” she says sincerely “Probably better hours than my job, but I can’t complain otherwise.”

He cranks his neck a little to check her rank pips, partly obscured by her coat “Well, you seem to be doing well for yourself, a Commander in Starfleet! What ship are you on, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“The USS Dragon. Lexington Class.” she answers with a bit of pride. He gives a descending whistle to signal his being impressed “Not baaaaaad. Even got a quick mention on FNN when you guys ambushed the bulk of the Terran fleet!”

She lazily waves him off a little “We were the lead ship, but we had a LOT of help. Even from the Klingons and Romulan Republic.” she finally picks up her glass, and drains it pretty quickly.

“You don’t have to be modest… whoa. Sure you don’t want to slow down a bit there?”

She smiles “I actually appreciate the concern, but I came in here for a bit of liquid courage. You know how family can be sometimes.” she taps her index and middle finger down on the bar, her long nails clacking audibly, making the signal that all blackjack dealers would know as “Hit me”.

“That bad, huh? Alright, but I’m not letting you get the whole bottle.” he grins to soften the statement, but he means it.

“I don’t want to pass out on the way home either, it’s ok.” he hands her another freshly poured glass.
“I haven’t seen you around here in years, guess I know why now.” He says with a little concern.

“Well, that, and being in Starfleet really does keep you that busy. Even the last time I was out this way, I didn’t manage to get any closer than the San Francisco Fleetyards. At least two of my sisters made it out to orbit to see me, and the others had good excuses.” she knocks back the new glass of wine, but a little slower this time, and not all in one go.

“Yeah, I’ve seen Jeanette in town a few times. I can’t say we know each other that well, so we didn’t really speak, but you girls tend to grab attention a bit.” he grins

“Stooop.” she says with false modesty through a smile and a chuckle, as she takes another swig of her glass of wine. “It looks like the years have treated you pretty well too, though.”

He blushes a bit, and says to her “Thank you. Clean living I suppose.” he winks “I finally broke up with Claire a couple years ago, and I think we’re both doing better for it. Just kind of have different directions to grow in. Met this new girl who moved here from Toronto a few months ago, and it’s been going well!”

Evette gives a sharp exhale through her nose in amusement “You know, you and Claire were kind of an institution back in school, but I think I can see that. I’m just happy to hear you’re doing well!” she takes another healthy swig that finishes off her glass. “But, I think I do need to be on my way here. I’m glad we got to catch up a little though!” She is sincere on all counts, and maybe a bit guilty to leave so soon, but she does sort of have her own schedule to keep, even if nobody else is aware of it.

“You too, Evette! I am also glad to see you doing so well in life! Don’t be a stranger, ok?”

“I promise next time I’m in town, I will drop in. Always good to see a friendly face!” she actually means it, surprising herself a little, but this was nice. A cozy little slice of holiday card for her. She can almost see the warmly lit scene in soft focus. But she is not a camera, and that is not vaseline on the lens. The wine? Probably the wine. She waves to Robert as she leaves, and heads back out into the cold, walking towards her family home.

She reaches the door, and hits the doorbell chime, while opening it anyway, and steps through.

A voice calls from a ways off “Jeanette, is that you? I wasn’t expecting you for another hour or so!” It is the voice of Arceneaux LaSalle, her father. Some of his friends and acquaintances, especially some of the more anglophone ones sometimes call him Archie. He is definitely an old man, but his voice is cheerful and friendly, and he moves quickly and easily around the corner to see the inside of the front door. His tone changes rather quickly.

“Evette? I certainly didn’t expect to see you here.” his voice is a bit dark this time.

She tries to drop her backpack, and the coat kind of comes with it, though she has to flap her left arm a bit to get it the rest of the way out, as she stares at him for a moment.

“That’s it? After all these years we haven’t seen each other, that’s it? I know we were yelling the last time we spoke, but nothing? Not even a” she goes a bit sing-songy here “So good to see you! How are you doing?” She’s trying really hard not to yell now, her emotions bubbling barely beneath the surface. But it’s much more hurt than rage. Her ankle rolls a bit, made more obvious by the heel on her boots, though she somewhat expertly salvages her stance before she hurts herself.

“You didn’t even let me know you were coming.” he replies

“Maybe I thought you’d find an excuse to be somewhere else again!”

He’s a little insulted, but ok, that did happen before. Touche. “Evette, are you drunk?”

“A LITTLE. THAT’S BESIDE THE POINT.” she answers, and the tears start coming silently, with a jagged breath “I just… I don’t know… I don’t really expect everything to get solved between us, but you know, when another ship RAMMED INTO US, there was that split second before we realized we weren’t all about to die, just a few of us, and I thought how awful it was that things would end between us with yelling and screaming, and accusations, and… UGH.” she wipes away an annoying tear while letting her frustration be known. “I have been surrounded by death and destruction now for months, and I just need to feel that you’re still alive, Papa. God, that sounds stupid when I say it out loud…” she sniffs

Her father is kind of stunned at this avalanche of emotions coming from his daughter, despite the fact that nobody would really accuse her of acting like a Vulcan. Except maybe in poker sometimes. He collects his lower jaw, and motions for her to come inside away from the door to the kitchen where he pours himself a glass of wine, and a smmmaaaalllll one for Evette, as she follows him in.

He says to her after a sip “I don’t know what to do with you sometimes, Evette. I mean, I really don’t. Whenever I start to think I want to reach out to you, I just get so angry all over again, and expect you’re just going to be screaming at me yet again.”

She says with a bit of bite, but more softly this time “Dammit, Papa, I’m here right now. I flew sixty-some light-years to be here.”

In this moment, time seems to stop for Arceneaux LaSalle. The pause brought on by her tears, her last statement, or the rest of it catching up to him? Who knows? But here, he has a bit of a flashback to many years prior, standing in nearly the same place. The house is nearly the same, but somehow seems much warmer. The front door opens, and a very pretty woman with a striking resemblance to Evette, but younger than she is now and with black hair, and in a Starfleet Cadet uniform opens the door, carrying a child at her hip with some effort in her free arm. She speaks before he gets a chance to greet her “Papa, I picked up Evette on the way home… she was walking by herself and crying, I think those awful girls a few blocks over were being mean to her again!” this woman sets down Evette, who at this point is quite a contrast to her present-day self. A fairly plain-looking little girl, maybe even very slightly chubby, looking very disheveled in an ill-fitting princess costume, and very frizzed-out and off-kilter long blonde wig. She has clearly been bawling her eyes out, and still crying as she looks up at him, and stretches up her arms to him.

As though a filmstrip ended in the theater of the man’s mind, time seems to resume for him, but as though Q had snapped his fingers nearby, Evette really appears to him as that hurt, and crying little girl, holding her arms up to him for a moment, rather than the statuesque Starfleet officer actually standing in front of him by the counter. It’s definitely more than just the tears behind this altered reality he’s experiencing.

He tentatively moves towards her with his arms open, and she almost crashes into him, wrapping hers around him, and crying her eyes out into his shoulder. He lets a tear or two slip himself before a few moments later saying gently “I am still angry with you, Evette, but I missed you so much…”

She says half into his shoulder “I am still mad at you too, Papa, but I don’t care right now.”

He responds “I don’t care either.”

The two of them hold their embrace for what most people would probably consider too long. The door opens again as another woman in her twenties steps in, with a clear resemblance to Evette, but blonde hair, and wearing a Starfleet Lieutenant’s uniform with gold operations stripe. “Papa, I’m home, Jeanette said she’d be a few hours late, and…” she stops, noticing the starfleet issue backpack on the floor with the coat she nearly trips over, as she sets her own shoulder-bag down just out of the way. “Papa?” she steps in further, closing the door, until she sees her father and sister hugging. “Evette!” Evette releases one arm from her father, and makes an almost grabby-hands motion to beckon her sister over, who joins for a group hug.

Everything may not be resolved in this house, but for right now, it is everything that everyone needed.

The End.