T’Resa Tucker looked down from the top of the oak tree in her back yard and wondered how her logic had failed her. She had been secure in the knowledge that, if she could climb this high, surely she would be able to get down. However, it now appeared that the last limb she had used to propel herself up was clearly beyond her reach for safe passage back down. As she sat contemplating her next move, T’Resa noticed her father coming out the back steps and calling her name.
Charles Tucker the Third stepped onto his back deck and surveyed his kingdom. The large deck was tricked out with a built-in barbeque grill complete with a sink and refrigerator. The other side was a covered porch with comfortable furniture and his favorite thing: a porch swing. As far back as Trip could remember, his family had always had a porch swing. The large expanse of yard was covered in bright green grass, a large oak tree, and a swing set for his seven-year-old daughter.
Speaking of T’Resa, Trip didn’t see her anywhere.
“Baby Girl”, he called “where are you?”
Looking around the yard for blonde curls, a red sweater, and jeans, Trip was beginning to get a little nervous.
“I’m right here Daddy.”
Glancing around to try and locate the source of his daughter’s voice, Trip saw a flash of red about 18 to 20 feet up in the oak tree. All the color suddenly leached from his face. Racing to the base of the tree, he looked up at his baby sitting on an impossibly high branch. Without stopping to think, heart pounding, he began to climb.
“T’Resa, don’t move!”
While it couldn’t have taken more than a few moments, to Trip it felt like an eternity until he reached the limb his child was sitting on as if nothing was amiss. Making sure he was braced, he grabbed T’Resa and hugged her tight.
“Are you okay, Baby?”
“Of course”, she replied in a tone that implied she thought it was a ridiculous question.
“Hold on tight to my neck and wrap your legs around me while I get us down.”
Trip could tell by her voice that T’Resa was considering this a high adventure but he would deal with that later, right now he just wanted to be out of this tree.
Taking the trip down considerably slower than he did the trip up, it still wasn’t long before father and daughter were safely standing with their feet on the ground. As the adrenaline left his body, Trip sank to the grass panting. A tiny little golden head, with exquisite pointed ears was leaning over, inches from his nose.
“Is something wrong with you, Daddy?”
Trip suddenly wondered how his parents had kept their sanity with four children and if it was too late to reconsider his second child due in a few days.
T’Pol was in her daughter’s bedroom examining the fruits of her labor. Trip and T’Resa had finished the painting of the walls two days ago. Much to T’Pol’s relief and no small amount of surprise, her daughter had selected a soothing shade of lilac for her room. As soon as the walls were dry, her husband had assembled the maple-wood canopy bed that had been in the Tucker family for over 90 years. The bed had originally belonged to Trip’s Grandma Theresa, their daughter’s namesake, but over the years had been used by his sisters Michelle and Lizzie. Most recently, the bed had been in Ireland. Michelle had taken the bed to Ireland when she found out she was pregnant. However, after her fourth son was born, Michelle gave up on having a girl and was more than happy for T’Resa to have it.
While T’Pol’s small portion of the Tucker clan had been happily involved in the painting process, she had slipped into San Francisco to visit a particular shop. Many years ago, Trip had commented on the beauty of the comforter in the guest bedroom of her mother’s home. There was a shop just inside the Vulcan compound which traded in imported Vulcan goods. She was able to find a very pleasing set of bedding that would match T’Resa’s room perfectly. The Vulcan script on the bedspread was actually an ancient lullaby. T’Pol also purchased a small set of linens and comforter suitable for the crib of her soon-to-arrive son. After making up T’Resa’s bed, T’Pol stepped back and looked around the room. The curtains were being gently rustled by a breeze from the window. T’Resa’s toys and books were on the shelves and the bed looked perfect.
Suddenly T’Pol felt a wave of panic sweep over her. She knew immediately that it was coming from Trip. She made her way to the back of the house as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, due to her advanced stage of pregnancy, she was not as agile as she had once been. By the time T’Pol made it to the porch, she could see Trip sitting on the ground at the base of their oak tree.
“T’Resa, I don’t ever want to see you in that tree again! Do you understand me?” Trip sounded out of breath to T’Pol’s ears.
“What has occurred?” T’Pol asked.
Trip looked up, “Your daughter just climbed twenty feet up this tree and scared me half out of my wits.”
“T’Resa that was very dangerous and you must never do that again.”
“But Mother, I was very careful, however the strangest thing happened. Although I was able to climb that high, for some illogical reason I was unable to climb down.”
They could tell by her face that T’Resa could not fathom how this had happened to her.
“Never mind how it happen young lady, just you make sure it doesn’t happen again,” her father warned.
“But Daddy, I’ve never owned my own tree before,” was his little girl’s plaintive cry.
Trip’s initial panic had eased and he began to realize that his daughter had missed quite a few things by growing up on a starship. Getting to his feet Trip walked over to the garage and rummaged around. He returned carrying a length of string. Reaching around the tree, Trip tied the string at head height, about six feet.
“You can climb in your tree as long as you don’t go any higher than this string. There are plenty of limbs below this mark.”
“Or not at all,” Trip said in a stern voice.
“Yes, Daddy,” was the angelic reply.
T’Pol’s choice of bedding was a spectacular success with her daughter and husband. T’Resa was of the opinion that there was no more beautiful room on the planet Earth and maybe Vulcan as well. She crawled up on her bed to read for a while, so her parents headed toward the kitchen to start dinner. As they passed the nursery T’Pol pulled Trip inside.
“I want to show you the comforter I purchased for your son.”
“Sweetheart, this is beautiful.” He fingered the soft fabric, “What do the Vulcan symbols mean?”
“It is an ancient child’s blessing. It asks for health, knowledge, contentment, and satisfaction for the child.”
“So it’s Live Long and Prosper, for babies!”
T’Pol sighed; she had learned a human phrase during her first years of marriage to Trip. It became her mantra, ‘Pick Your Battles’.
“Yes Trip, it’s Live Long And Prosper for babies.”
It was such a nice evening, the Tuckers decided dinner would be an outdoor affair. Grilled vegetables had become a favorite of T’Pol's, and Trip had picked up a piece of fish at the market for himself and T’Resa. He didn’t eat a great deal of meat anymore, but occasionally craved a bit of fish or chicken. Phlox had advised them to test the waters with T’Resa and they had eventually found a balance. She seemed to require a certain amount of protein to maintain good health and T’Pol wanted, above all else, for her half human daughter to be healthy.
After dinner, they adjourned to the swing. T’Pol, sitting sideways in the swing with a large cushion behind her back, placed her feet in Trip’s lap. He began to gently massage them. He seemed to do a great deal of foot rubbing these days, which was just fine with him. T’Resa was on the floor in front of them with a set of snap-together blocks constructing a rather elaborate building.
She suddenly paused to stare at her architectural masterpiece, “Mother, will you and Daddy care for the new baby more than me?”
Both of her parents were momentarily stunned by this seemingly out-of-the-blue question.
“Of course not my daughter, why would you think such a thing?”
Trip cut in, “Honey Bun, we will always love you both the same, we could never love anyone more than you. Why would you think that?”
T’Resa, with a very earnest expression replied, “Well, as you know, I have no experience with brothers and my friend Alice told me that you would probably love the new baby more than me.”
Trip pursed his lips and narrowed his eyes, “Would that be Todd Clark’s daughter from down the street?”
This was not the first piece of misinformation that had come from Miss Alice Clark. It had taken them two days to convince T’Resa that it was not true that cats were the girls and dogs were the boys. Trip was of the opinion that this was a friendship that should be nipped in the bud.
“Well, I’ve had sisters and a brother and I can tell you that parents love all their children the same.”
“I had sorta figured that Alice’s logic was flawed. I don’t think she is as smart as she thinks she is.”
On this her parents were in complete agreement. T’Pol pulled her knees up to make room for T’Resa to crawl up into her father's lap. Using his foot, Trip began to propel the swing in an easy rhythm, each Tucker becoming lost in their own thoughts for a time. T’Resa squirmed until she had her head on her mother’s stomach and feet on her father. Patting T’Pol’s tummy, she told her brother that she would always love him and they would never fight.
“I bet you never had fights with your brother and sisters did you Daddy?”
Michelle was being a real pill today. Mom and Dad were going into town to pick out a new washer and dryer. Mom said that with seven people in the house, her old appliances deserved to be put out of their misery.
“Chelle we’re leaving you in charge. Take special care of Lizzie. Grandma is upstairs so you kids stay out of trouble.”
Robin Tucker loved her four children dearly, but had no illusions about the amount of mischief they were capable of.
Charles grabbed his jacket and turned to his brood, “Leave Grandma alone unless there’s an emergency, she’s working on that painting of the lighthouse.”
Theresa had received several commissions from local businesses lately, and her work seemed to be in high demand.
“After lunch, you guys make a start on cleaning the garage; we’ll be back in a couple of hours.”
All four children stood on the front porch and waved their parents off. Glancing in his rearview mirror, Charles could have sworn that there were four little blonde angels standing there. A sudden shiver passed over him. He silently prayed, Please let the house be standing when we get back.
Michelle immediately took the opportunity to start ordering Trip around. Even though she was only thirteen months older than Trip, she liked to lord the fact that she was twelve and he was only eleven over him. Ignoring her, Trip headed around back to play on the swings with eight-year-old Alan close on his heels. Alan loved nothing better than spending time with his ‘much admired’ older brother. Five-year-old Lizzie settled into the nearby sand box to build a castle, with Michelle hovering nearby. She took her babysitting duties very seriously.
At noontime all the kids headed to the kitchen to make their various favorite sandwiches. Trip wanted peanut butter and grape jelly, so of course Alan did too. Lizzie requested banana and peanut butter. Michelle opted for her favorite, which grossed all her siblings out, sliced tomato and peanut butter. Needless to say, the Tuckers tended to buy peanut butter by the case.
“Trip, I want you and Alan to start cleaning the garage like Dad said,” Michelle announced.
“He meant all of us, Chelle.”
“Mom told me to take care of Lizzie. I’m gonna go wash her up and play with her in her room.”
“Yeah, I want to play with my dolls.” Lizzie had her arms crossed and her pouty face on.
“That’s not fair and you know it!” Trip scowled fiercely at his sisters.
“Well suck it up, Trip, I’m in charge.”
Slamming the back door, Trip stomped towards the garage. Suddenly he got a wicked gleam in his eye, “Come on Alan, I think it’s time Michelle and Lizzie met Ralph.”
“Who’s Ralph?” Alan asked following close behind.
Yesterday, Trip had been sent by his mom out to the strawberry patch to pick a bucket full for a pie. As usual their huge black and white border collie, Bedford, followed Trip. It was Bedford’s habit to check up and down all the rows for any danger, then he would eat a few ripe berries and go lay down. This time, however, Trip noticed Bedford freeze and go on point. Trip came over to investigate and, to his delight, saw a ten-inch garden snake hiding under the strawberry plant. Trip took his prize to the garage and put it in a large glass jar. He laid a board over the top, then using a screwdriver, he poked holes in the lid so his snake could breathe.
Today, with payback on his mind, Trip slipped up the stairs. He could see Chelle in the hall bathroom washing the peanut butter off Lizzie’s face. With all the stealth he possessed, Trip lifted the roof of Lizzie’s dollhouse and eased Ralph down into his new home. He knew that the girls would head straight for the beloved dollhouse as soon as they came into the room. Trip eased back downstairs and hid behind the sofa with Alan.
Michelle was satisfied that Lizzie was clean enough, so they proceeded to her room to play. Lizzie went to her dollhouse. Opening the front doors, her eye’s widened to the size of saucers. She was looking at what appeared to her to be a giant snake coiled around her favorite doll.
Theresa Tucker could never recall ever hearing a more blood curdling scream in her entire life. Trip and Alan were downstairs behind the sofa rolling with laughter. Theresa headed at top speed from her third floor living area to the second floor with Candace, her Sheltie, at her heels. She was greeted by the ‘glass shattering decibel’ screams that only small girls were capable of making. Theresa took in the scene from Lizzie’s doorway.
Michelle was standing in the middle of the canopy bed and Lizzie had somehow managed to crawl on top of her chest of drawers. Both were squealing “Snake!” at the top of their lungs. Theresa glanced over and saw a brown garden snake hanging half out of the dollhouse.
“Charles Morgan Tucker get your sorry little butt up here, Now!”
It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out where to pin the blame for this one. Trip appeared at the doorway with possibly the most innocent face Theresa had ever seen.
“Did you call me Grandma?”
Chuckling despite herself she rolled her eyes, “I don’t know what’s going on here, but if I were you, I’d get that thing out of this house before your parents come back.”
Grinning at his much loved grandma, Trip walked over to the dollhouse and picked up Ralph.
“Did those girls scare you?” he crooned walking from the room.
That boy just ain’t right, Theresa thought with a smile. Trip made it downstairs to the living room before all hell broke loose.
Alan had opened the front door to let Trip out when Bedford came bounding in knocking Trip down and causing Ralph to go flying through the air. Simultaneously, Michelle had come stomping in with Lizzie in tow declaring she was going to kill her brother. The snake landed with a plop at the girls' feet.
The sisters started screaming again. Trip and Alan began yelling. Bedford was barking and Ralph was slithering across the room as fast as possible. Theresa sat down on the stairs with Candace by her side watching with astonishment the bedlam that was occurring. All she could see was a blur of blonde heads running in all directions, Bedford loping around, and several pieces of overturned furniture.
A deep voice cut through the confusion, “What is going on here?!?”
All the children froze and later Theresa would swear that the snake stopped and looked up.
Robin and Charles Tucker were standing in the open door surveying the disaster area that used to be their living room. Suddenly the spell was broken and all the children began talking at once. Amidst the din, Theresa caught sight of the beleaguered little snake heading toward the open door.
“Candace. Snake. Out.” Grandma commanded.
Candace hopped off the stair nipping and chuffing at Ralph until he was off the porch and headed for the woods. Returning, Candace gave Grandma her, ‘tell me what a good dog I am’ face.
“Good Girl!” Theresa said ruffling her fur and patting her head.
By the time all the stories were told and explanations given, Trip was sent to his room for a yet-to-be-determined amount of time with none of tonight's pecan pie for dessert. Later that night, Grandma stopped by Trip’s room. Sitting beside him on the bed, she put an arm around his shoulder.
“I know that it’s hard sometimes to get along with your sisters and brother, but I also know that you love them very much. Always remember, nothing is more important than family.”
After Grandma left, Trip noticed a piece of pecan pie sitting on his nightstand. There was a note, 'I won’t tell if you won’t.'
“Truthfully T’Resa,” Trip explained, “I may have had one or two disagreements with them, but I love them all. Just like your little brother will love you. After all he’s gonna need his big sister to show him things.”
“Like how to climb trees?” T’Resa asked eagerly.
Trip hung his head and sighed.
Later that night, after their daughter had gone to sleep in her self proclaimed ‘perfect’ room, Trip and T’Pol were settling down themselves. T’Pol was having a shower, while Trip brushed his teeth. As she stepped from the shower, Trip handed her a large fluffy towel and helped to dry her. Reaching for T'Pol's nightgown hanging on the door, Trip turned and just stared for a moment. He wondered if it were possible for a woman to be more beautiful. With the gown across his arm, Trip took a step forward and enveloped T’Pol in a hug.
Kissing his wife with a passion he knew would never fade, Trip asked, “Do you know how much I love you?”
“Well my condition gave me an inkling.”
Trip laughed as he slid the blue silk gown over her head. “Nah, it’s you I love with all my heart, the kids are just the gravy of that affection.”
T’Pol felt a warmth flow over her. It was the reassuring comfort of Trip’s emotions for her and his children.
“I’m not sure I like my offspring being compared to a brown sauce you eat on potatoes.”
Trip chuckled, he could tell she was teasing him.
“Now Dumplin’, you know the highest compliment from me is being compared to a food item.”
He could sense her amusement, “Come on Puddin’ lets go to bed.”
Snuggling up behind her, Trip asked his wife if she needed any extra pillows or anything.
“I am comfortable for now; perhaps I shall get a full night’s sleep tonight.”
Trip kissed her temple, “I hope so, sweetheart.”
Unfortunately it was not to be.
T’Pol awoke with a start. She could sense distress, but it was a moment before she located the source.
“Trip. Wake up, something is wrong with the baby.”
He sat up and rubbed his eyes, “Has your labor started?”
“No, but we need to get to Starfleet Medical as soon as possible, our son is experiencing distress.”
Trip didn’t bother to ask if she was sure. If his Vulcan wife told him something was wrong, he believed her. Trip jumped up and hurriedly made the necessary phone calls. First, he called for an ambulance and then put in a call to Phlox. The Denobulan doctor assured Trip that he would be there waiting for them. Next he called his mother.
“Momma, we’ve got trouble with the baby, we’re heading for the hospital as soon as the ambulance arrives. I don’t know what to do about T’Resa…”
Robin Tucker interrupted her son, “I’ll be there in a few hours, hang on Baby.”
“Thanks Momma,” she could hear the stress in her son’s voice.
After hanging up, Robin remembered an offer made to her a while back. She then placed a few calls of her own.
Trip barely remembered getting his girls dressed or the ride to the hospital. When they arrived at Starfleet medical, T’Pol was quickly taken to a room by the medics. Trip was carrying a still sleepy T’Resa in his arms when he was approached by a female ensign.
“Captain Tucker, my name is Ensign Dana Brown. I have a room set up near your wife where you can put your daughter down to sleep.”
“How did you know…” Trip trailed off.
“Sir, Dr. Phlox called our family services office and said you might need an aide to assist with your daughter. I’ll be happy to sit with her, Captain.” Ensign Brown gave him a reassuring smile.
“Lead the way then,” Trip gave the young woman a small smile in return.
Trip settled his daughter on the cot set up in a private waiting room. He patted her head, “I’ll be back soon, Sweet Pea. Try to sleep. Ensign Brown will stay here with you.”
“Will my brother be born soon, Daddy?” T’Resa asked in a sleepy voice.
Trip had a knot in his stomach, “Yes, Baby, soon.”
T’Pol had just been settled into a bed and all the fetal monitors connected. Phlox was moving about the room checking various readouts.
He looked up upon seeing Trip enter, “Ah, Captain Tucker, I’m glad you’re here.”
Trip moved over to the bed and took his wife’s hand, “Okay Phlox, what’s going on.”
“As was to be expected T’Pol was correct, your son is in some distress. The baby’s heartbeat has slowed and we are watching it carefully. I need to deliver him in the next few minutes.”
Trip and T’Pol looked at each other. He put his arm around his wife’s shoulder and kissed the top of her head.
T’Pol spoke first, “We trust you completely, Dr. Phlox, to do what you feel is necessary.”
“Yeah, Doc, do what you need to do.”
“Captain, follow the nurse and she will get you some scrubs and a gown. We will be preparing T’Pol.”
Trip was in a daze as he was lead to a changing area. Everything seemed to be happening so fast. Before he knew it, Trip was sitting in the operating room near T’Pol’s head. He was very glad to see the drape between himself and Phlox. Trip wasn’t sure he could deal with seeing the doctor cutting into his wife. Much to his surprise, the actual surgery was over pretty quickly. Trip saw Dr. Phlox lift his son up and hand him off to a nurse holding a towel. She began to attend to the baby, as Phlox turned back to T’Pol. Everyone was working at their tasks with efficiency, but the strange silence was unnerving Trip. Shouldn’t the baby be crying? When Phlox finished with T’Pol, he stepped close to her head and spoke to the worried parents.
“We will move you to a room now to rest. It would be best if you slept a little.”
“How is my son, Doctor?” T’Pol asked in a weak voice.
“He came through the surgery just fine. I need to examine him now. I’ll come and see you as soon as I assess his situation.”
As T’Pol was being moved back to her room to rest, Trip kissed her forehead, “I’ll be right there Darlin’. I want to speak to the Doc for a second.”
Trip turned to Phlox as his wife was wheeled away, “First of all, is T’Pol alright Doc?”
“She will be fine Captain, rest is what she needs right now.”
“What about our son?”
“As I said, let me run some tests and, as soon as possible, I’ll give you a report.”
Before leaving the room, Trip went over to the baby, who had been transferred to an incubator. He bent down to get a closer look at his son. They had shaved a patch of his beautiful brown hair to insert an IV line in the side of his little head near his tiny pointed ear. Trip touched the glass.
“Just keep fighting little man, we love you,” he whispered.
They had T’Pol settled by the time Trip got to her room. He took her hand. Sensing her fear, Trip tried to hide his own and send reassurance back to her. About twenty minutes later, Phlox came to give them an update.
“Your child has congenital pneumonia, he exhibited clinical signs of pneumonia almost immediately after birth. Further deterioration is frequent as the process progresses and the infant is confronted with the exigencies of adapting to extra uterine existence. We are treating him with positive pressure ventilation. The next few days will tell the tale.”
Both parents were silent, trying to absorb all that the doctor had told them.
“Straight talk Doc, what are his chances?”
Doctor Phlox sighed, “Trip, I can’t give you percentages. We just have to wait it out. T’Pol I’m going to give you a mild sedative, you need rest.”
She was about to argue the point when her husband stepped in.
“Darlin’ let the Doc do his thing. As soon as you doze off, I’ll go be with T’Resa. When you wake up we’ll both be here.”
T’Pol nodded her head for, in truth, she had the strength to do little else. Trip changed to his jeans and shirt before heading back to check on his daughter. He felt as if a weight were pressing on his chest. Trip had experienced loss before, he thought of his beautiful sister Lizzie, but this was about to crush him. He had to hold it together for T’Pol and T’Resa, but he felt as if all his supports had been knocked out from under him. Trip hoped his daughter wasn’t too scared; she had been with a stranger for a while. He opened the door to the waiting room and felt tears come to his eyes. T’Resa was sitting on his dad’s lap and Michelle was helping her eat a bowl of oatmeal. Alan was standing with his arm around their Mom watching the procedure. All eyes went to Trip as he entered.
“How did you all get here so quick?”
Tears rolled down his cheeks as his mother wrapped him in a warm hug.
“How is everything?” Robin purposely didn’t mention the baby so as not to alert T’Resa to the problems.
Alan picked up his niece, “Shortcake, lets go find the gift shop and pick out some flowers for your mom.”
“Can I go with Uncle Alan, Daddy?”
“Sure Baby Girl, go find something nice for Mommy.”
Trip gave his brother a quick one arm hug and mouthed, Thank you.
When the door closed Trip asked again, “How?”
Robin Tucker eased her son into a chair, “After you called, I remembered the party we attended when you made Captain. Soval approached me saying, if there was ever anything he could do for our family, to please contact him. I called him at his office and explained that we needed to be here quickly. He graciously offered to send his personal shuttle for us and to also send one to pick up Michelle. Alan drove across the bay bridge from Berkeley and picked us up at the Vulcan Consulate, and here we are.”
Michelle put her arm around her brother, “Sean stayed home with the boys but he sends his love.”
“Thanks for coming Chelle, it means the world to me.”
“Now where else would I be little brother?”
Charles looked in his son’s eyes, “Tell us.”
Trip explained that his son had been born with pneumonia, and that Phlox said it would get worse before it got better.
“I didn’t even know that was possible,” Charles said shaking his head.
“According to the Doc it happens ever now and then without warning. Thank goodness T’Pol is bonded to the baby or we might not have known in time.”
“Well, we’re all staying until that young man is out of the woods,” declared Trip’s mother.
“But, it could be several days, maybe a week.”
“So, it’ll just make Sean and the boys appreciate how much work I do around there, and Alan told us coming in that he has someone to cover his classes for him.” Michelle seemed adamant.
T’Resa burst back into the room followed by her uncle. Alan was carrying a big bouquet of flowers.
“Look what we got Momma,” she declared with pride.
“They’re great honey.”
Trip looked around at his family.
“It means so much to me that you guys are here, I don’t know if I could do this…,” his voice cracked as he tried to speak.
Alan spoke up, “Hey Trip, remember what Grandma always says, nothing is more important than family.”
Three months later, Trip was unsure if he could be any happier. It was Thanksgiving and the Tucker clan was gathered at Trip and T’Pol’s house. Charles was sitting on the sofa with his grandson in his arms, the baby’s bright eyes tracking all the activity. Robin, T’Pol, and Michelle buzzed about the kitchen. Sean and Trip were trying to watch the football game with four-year-old Brian playing at their feet. Michelle’s other three boys, Jamie 12, Thomas 10, and Mark 6, were in the back yard playing on the swings with T’Resa. The doorbell rang and Trip got up to answer it.
“Grandma, I’m so glad to see you.” Trip bent down to hug Theresa Tucker in her wheelchair.
“I’m glad to see you to Darlin’, but where’s my great-grandson. Alan, honey, wheel me in there.”
“Trip, I think we’ve lost our number one status,” Alan said with a dramatic sigh.
“Never.” Theresa said with a wink.
As Trip was laughing he noticed a third, rather short person coming in behind his brother.
“Julia! Is that you?”
It had been a nerve wracking few days waiting for news about the baby’s condition. T’Pol was recovering physically, but the worry was draining. Trip was sitting by her bed reading cards that had begun to arrive from their friends. Suddenly Julia, one of the intensive care nurses, burst into the room.
“Look,” she said holding up a very small baby bottle, “One whole ounce.”
“To what are you referring?” questioned T’Pol.
“Your baby just drank one ounce of formula!”
Trip broke out in a huge grin. So far the IV had been their son’s only source of nourishment.
“That is gratifying news.”
Trip could sense a wave of happiness rolling off his wife.
“Is this news as good as I think it is?” he wanted to know.
“Well, Dr. Phlox will be by later to talk, but trust me, this is a good sign.”
Julia had been an angel during these dark days, a short, red haired bundle of cheer. Trip and T’Pol had grown very fond of her. After Julia left, T’Pol turned to her husband. Now that they had cause for cautious optimism, she wished to address something.
“Trip, we have put off filling out the papers to name the baby. I think that time has come.”
“I know, Hon, I think that I’ve been afraid to,” he admitted.
“I would like to name him after you.”
“Are you sure that you wouldn’t rather he have a Vulcan name?”
“That is not necessary, I would like to follow your family’s tradition and name him Charles Morgan Tucker the Fourth. However, I have a request.”
“I wish our son to be called by your middle name, Morgan.”
“Huh, none of us have gone by our middle name and truthfully, the only time I ever heard it was when I was being yelled at.” Trip stepped over to the bed and gave his wife a gentle kiss. “But you know, it sounds really nice the way you say it. Morgan Tucker he shall be.”
Julia had decorated the baby’s incubator cheerfully. As soon as the name was announced, the parents noticed on their next visit a card declaring 'My Name Is Morgan'.
Trip grabbed Julia in a hug. “What are you doing here, not that I’m not glad to see you,” he hastily added.
Julia began to blush, but before she could get a word out, Alan broke in.
“I invited her, in fact we’ve been dating for the past three months.”
“Wow, you sure kept it quiet.”
“You don’t need to know everything that’s going on brother of mine,” Alan smirked.
“I knew,” Grandma chimed in holding Morgan on her shoulder. “In fact, I helped my baby grandson pick something out. Look at her finger,” she stage whispered.
Trip’s mouth fell open, “Engaged! Momma get out here.”
As the adults gathered to congratulate Alan and Julia on their engagement, Trip decided he better check on the kids swinging in the back yard. Stepping out to the deck he looked around the yard, and with a sense of déjà vu, could not see a single child. Looking up into the oak tree he saw four sets of legs and not one was below his six foot string. In silence, he strode over the tree and, with a nod to his own youth, ceremoniously removed the string. Kids, he thought to himself.
It was time to set the table for dinner. Now came the one thing that Trip always dreaded most about Thanksgiving. Charles Tucker Jr. asked for everyone’s attention.
“As you all know we have a tradition in the Tucker family. We like to call it ‘the checking of the dinner table for stability’. This tradition has been in effect ever since the Thanksgiving when Trip was seven.”
Charles, Sean, and Alan all picked up the table cloth and made a show of pushing on the table and looking under the edge.
“Ha, ha, doesn’t this ever get old,” a red-faced Trip asked.
Apparently it didn’t he decided as all the Tucker family burst into laughter. Only Julia had a puzzled look.
Alan leaned in close and whispered, “Trip has always had the need to know how things are put together. On the Thanksgiving when he was seven, unbeknownst to the family, Trip had removed all the screws from our dining room table. The old glue had kept it together through setting the table. But, when Dad set the turkey platter down, the entire table collapsed: food, china, and all. Since then, no matter where we have dinner, we always make a show of checking the table.”
“You have a very…unique family.”
Between Trip’s face and all the chuckling, Julia knew she would fit right in.
After the food was served and everyone was seated, Charles again asked for attention.
“I just want to say how happy I am to see you all around the table again this year, especially with our two new additions, Julia and Morgan. The Tucker family tree is a large one with many branches, and more than its fair share of nuts.” This drew chuckles from around the table.
“We lost our sweet Lizzie, but there are always new additions to keep us strong. Robin, Grandma, and I are so proud of all of you. Happy Thanksgiving.”
In agreement, the Tucker's filled the house with the sound of clinking glasses.
All the leftovers were put up, kitchen cleaned, and the guests departed. Trip slipped into the kitchen for one last slice of sweet potato pie. When he returned to the living room, T’Pol was on the couch with the baby in her arms, rubbing her chin in his beautiful, soft brown hair. T’Resa was lying asleep with her head on her mother's lap. Trip silently put down his pie and reached for the camera he'd carried all day. He'd always considered his camera as a place to collect perfect moments and grinned as he captured the image of his branch of the Tucker family tree. This was definitely one of those moments.