“Jim!” Nyota said as she attempted for the third time to drag her best friend out of the Williamsburg bar. “Honestly. Who gets wasted on Thanksgiving morning?”
As they say, the third time was the charm, and Jim stumbled out after her in an orange coat. “People do, Nyota. The holidays are sad for them, and they get lonely, and it is up to people like me to ease their loneliness!”
“That’s not all you were easing,” Nyota said under her breath. “Jim, seriously. My mother got a call from yours, and Winona was freaking out because you allegedly disappeared from your house this morning!”
Jim, who had decided spinning in circles was a good idea, turned and faced Nyota with a half-drunken (okay, fully drunken) glare. “So what, my mom freaks out and now you freak out? Chillax. It’s a holiday, for fuck’s sake!”
“Yes, it’s a holiday,” Nyota continued. “My favorite holiday, as a point of fact. I am supposed to be helping Daddy make pie, and you’re here dragging me away from him so I can calm your mother’s troubled mind.”
Jim shrugged and blew her a raspberry. “Parents are boring. You know what’s the opposite of boring which is…wait, what…oh right. Fun! You know what fun is?”
“No, but I am certain you are about to tell me,” Nyota said as she straightened the cuff of her Burberry wool coat.
“Shots,” Jim said with a grin. “Shots are fun. Shots are one of the top three fun things a person can do. The other two I can’t help you with because gay, but out of the three top things a person a can do that are fun, shots sit pretty at number three.” He grabbed her by the shoulders, attempting to steer her back into the bar. “C’monnnnnnnnnn. There’s tequila with our names on it.”
Nyota sighed and ducked out of Jim’s grip. She grabbed him and tried to steer him back towards the street to catch a cab. “I told your mother that you were out buying a pie.”
Jim struggled for a second before a slightly dazed look formed on his face. “Oooooh, pie.”
“Yes? Pie?” Nyota said. Oh right, a drunk Jim was usually a hungry Jim. Well, really, any Jim was a hungry Jim, but even more so than usual was a drunk Jim. “Let’s get pie, Jim. Where is your wallet?”
Jim held up his hands with a grin; they were empty. He then haphazardly turned his coat pockets inside out; some loose change fell on the ground, but there was no wallet. He then reached under his coat and grabbed his back pockets.
Nyota raised two fingers to her temple and sighed. “Fine. Stay here. Do not wander. Do not even move a millimeter. Do not drink anything. Do not hit on anything. I will go back into the bar and find your wallet. I will be right back.”
Jim shrugged and grinned at her, and Nyota sighed a second time as she stalked back into the bar.
Ironically, across the street from the bar, stood a crowded 24/7 bake shop. Leonard McCoy held two big boxes in his hands as he balanced his cellphone between his Army jacket-covered shoulder and his ear. “Hey Mom. I got the pies. I’ll be back home in a few.”
That’s good, Len. One apple and one pumpkin, right?
“Yeah,” Leonard said. “We always have to get Pavel apple so he doesn’t complain.”
“What? It’s true,” Leonard said as he walked towards the subway station. A flash of something in orange caught his eye, and he turned to face it. It was his classmate, Jim Kirk. Leonard forgot what he was saying as he stared at him for a full minute. His face flushed, and his heart thudded in his chest.
Leonard, are you even listening to me?
“What?” Leonard managed to take his eyes off Jim. “Sorry, Mom. I got distracted.”
Obviously, Mom said with a sigh. Just be careful, Len. I’d prefer it if you got home in one piece for Thanksgiving dinner. She disconnected the call, and Leonard closed his phone, dropping it back into his coat pocket. Leonard held the pies in place as watching Jim distracted him again.
Something seemed off about the way Jim moved, but Leonard couldn’t put his finger on what it was.
Jim, without bothering to check for cars, took a bold few steps into the street. He staggered a little, and a burgundy Lexus slammed on its brakes, honking at him. Leonard’s eyes widened as he watched Jim continue to walk without even noticing the oncoming cars.
A cab sped down the street, and before Leonard could stop to think, he bolted into the road, grabbing Jim by both shoulders and pulling him out of the way. Jim smelled like aftershave and the vodka Mom liked to drink with tonic water, and he sagged a little in Leonard’s arms.
The cabbie honked at them and raised his middle finger.
Leonard scowled. “Pedestrians have the right of way, asshole!”
Once they were safely to the side, the cab took off, and Leonard let go of Jim just enough that he was an arm’s length away from him. Jim blinked at Leonard for a moment before grinning.
“Are you okay? Do you need a cab?” Leonard said. “Or…I don’t know. One of those safety patrols people are in the fifth grade. I mean, I was one. Your grades have to be a certain GPA and stuff, so they made me do it. I had to wear one of those ugly orange vests.”
Jim didn’t say anything, he just kept grinning at him.
“Oh right,” Leonard said, letting him go. “Well, anyways. Do you need help?”
Jim blinked again with a blank look before his eyes dropped to the ground. “Oooooh, pie,” he said with a forlorn tone.
Leonard looked down at their feet; sure enough, there were two somewhat crushed pie boxes. He sighed. “I’m never going to hear the end of this. Oh well, I mean…better it than you, right?”
Another cab came up the street, more slowly this time, and Jim’s face became a grin as he stuck his hand in the air. The cab pulled up close to him, and he stumbled over to open the door.
“Hey um…I’m Leonard.” He stuck out his hand, and Jim beamed at him before shaking it. “We met last month You…might not remember me. In fact, I’m sure you don’t. But we did meet and we go to…”
Before he could finish, Nyota Uhura steamrolled in, grabbing Jim by the arm. “Got your wallet,” she said with a glare in Leonard’s direction. “And now I’m saving you from this skeeze.”
“Hey I just---“ Leonard sputtered indignantly.
“Trying to take advantage of a drunk boy on the holidays,” Uhura continued. “You should be ashamed of yourself.”
“I wasn’t taking advantage, he walked out into traffic.” Leonard said with a pointed glare.
“Oh sure, of course,” Uhura said as she tried to push Jim into the back of the cab. “And you’re what? Some brave rescuer? Whatever. Come on, Jim.”
Jim almost got pushed into the cab, when he popped back out of it. He grinned at Leonard. “Bye, Larry!” he said with a wink. Uhura grabbed him and bodily shoved him into the backseat, and she slid in after him more gracefully. The door slammed shut, and the cab took off towards uptown.
Leonard grabbed the now-probably-in-pieces pies from the asphalt and watched the cab go. “Yeah, bye Jim,” he said with a sigh and a frown to match.
“Yes,” Christopher Pike said into his cellphone. “No, it’s just the boys and I this year.”
Leonard came out of his room, tying his rep tie as he did so. That was the only good thing about having to wear one every day for school; he had gotten so good at tying ties, he could do it without a mirror. His dad was on the phone, as he had been every morning for the last few weeks.
Leonard sat at their breakfast bar; just in time, as the waffle popped up from the toaster. Without even sparing him a glance, his father put the waffle on Leonard’s plate and passed him the strawberry jam.
“That sounds lovely,” Dad said. “I’m sure you all will have a great time this Thursday.”
Leonard spread the jam on the waffle, making sure to evenly distribute it among all the nooks and crannies. It wouldn’t do to have a bite that didn’t have the maximum amount of jam per square inch. Pavel came running out of their bathroom in just his yellow shirt, which hadn’t been properly tucked in yet, and chinos with socks. Another waffle popped out of the toaster, and Dad passed it to Pavel, again without a word.
“Oh no, we’ll be fine,” Dad said as Leonard ate and Pavel drowned his breakfast in Grade A Maple syrup from Vermont. “I am being honest. She has her work, which is keeping her in Jersey. The boys and I will get along just fine.”
Leonard swallowed a bite of his breakfast and caught his younger brother’s eye. Pavel shrugged and got a sour look on his face. Leonard shook his head once and sighed.
“Well, we’re going to have turkey, of course,” Dad continued. “And pie, provided I don’t send Leonard out for it.”
Pavel snickered, and Leonard rolled his eyes. “It happened once. You all act like I’m a rampaging Klutzasaurus.”
“We wouldn’t make fun of you so much if your story as to why it ended up like roadkill wasn’t so ridiculous,” Pavel said as he cut up his waffle into perfect little squares.
“I told you, he was about to get hit by a cab,” Leonard said. “Fine. Whatever.”
Pavel snickered a second time as he drank down some orange juice. “Thanks for finally conceding.”
“Can it,” Leonard said as he focused back on his breakfast.
The sound of their Dad’s laughter filling the loft startled both of them. They stared at him for a minute while he laughed so easily and with such abandon, they were hard-pressed to think of a time where he had done so before. Leonard stopped eating, his food all but forgotten, as his father returned to his conversation.
“No, I know,” Dad said. “I’ll talk to you tomorrow. Have a great day, all right?” He hung up his phone, grabbing a mug of probably now-cold coffee. He looked at his sons, who blinked at him. “Neither of you are eating. Is something wrong?”
“Who was that?” Leonard said. Pavel favored their father with a curious look.
“Just an old friend from college,” Dad said, grimacing at the coffee. He opened their microwave and put the mug in it, setting the timer for thirty seconds.
“Must be some friend to make you laugh like that,” Pavel said as he went back to eating.
“We have our moments,” Dad said with a shrug.
The microwave beeped, and Dad pulled his coffee out of it. He blew on it for a second before taking a sip.
Leonard continued to eye his father with suspicion. “You’ve actually been on the phone with your ‘college friend’ every morning for the last few weeks. And while I’m on the subject, you’ve been on the phone at night a lot too.”
“What are you getting at, Len?” Dad said with a slight frown.
Leonard folded his arms over his chest. “Just because Mom’s having an affair doesn’t make it okay for you to do the same.”
Pavel choked on his orange juice.
Dad’s eyes got so wide it would have been funny if not for the circumstances. “Excuse me?”
“The guy Mom’s seeing in Princeton,” Leonard explained as he patted Pavel on the back to help clear his airway. “We know about him, and like I said, two wrongs don’t make a right. You’re still married, last I checked. It’s not cool.”
Now Dad straight up stared at them both with shock on his face before something shifted and things clicked. “That day after school, Pavel? You eavesdropped on my phone calls?”
“Well I,” Pavel said. “I mean, eavesdrop is a strong word. I just…got there earlier than anticipated, and overheard some stuff on accident, and…well, it wasn’t hard to figure out what was up. And I told Len because he deserved to know too.”
Dad sighed and set his coffee down on the counter. “I can’t really be angry with the two of you, because you’re right. You do deserve to know the truth. I was afraid to tell you because I didn’t want it to seem like I was making you both pick sides.”
“You still should have,” Leonard said. “Or…well…I guess she should have. We’re not five. We know things are wrong with you two. Keeping us in the dark isn’t fair.”
Sighing a second time, Dad took a long drink of his coffee with a thoughtful look on his face. “I’m sorry I wasn’t more forthcoming, and I’m also sorry that she hasn’t been. Although our communication has been…minimal.”
“You don’t say,” Leonard said at the same time Pavel grumbled out an “The temperature drops forty degrees every time you do talk.”
Dad frowned at both of them, and they had the sense to clear their throats and look down at the table.
“Anyways,” Dad said. “I was also holding out on saying anything because I admittedly don’t know what’s happening with our marriage right now. So since I don’t have a definitive answer for you two in either direction, I figured it was better to not say anything.”
Leonard picked at his waffle. Pavel sighed and stood, tucking in his shirt.
“Nothing gets solved by you two refusing to talk,” Pavel said as he left without excusing himself.
“Pavel, you need to finish---“ Pavel’s bedroom door slamming cut off their father.
Leonard stuck what was left of his waffle in his mouth, as he stood from the breakfast bar. “You know he’s right,” he said around the waffle as he walked back to his room. He closed his own door behind him, chewing on and swallowing the waffle. Then he lifted the garage door in their room; Pavel wasn’t finishing getting ready, though. His window was open and he wasn’t physically in the room, which meant only one thing.
The fire escape.
Leonard sighed and opened his window, stepping out onto it with a grimace at the cold November air. Pavel sat all the way to the edge with his legs dangling over the side, and as always, it made Leonard’s anxiety kick into overdrive. “You do realize a fall from this height will not only kill you but make all your organs explode when you hit the pavement.”
“Whatever,” Pavel said without looking up.
Leonard crouched down next to him, but still a few inches back from the edge. “Sulking isn’t going to bring Mom back or make them finally get divorced or whatever.”
Pavel didn’t say anything for a while. He sat there in silence, when suddenly he got the look in his eyes that meant he had an idea. His face shifted back into a neutral expression. “You’re right. It won’t.”
Leonard narrowed his eyes. “What are you up to?”
“I’m not up to anything,” Pavel said, but Leonard knew his brother. His tone was far too innocent for it to be genuine.
“Uh huh,” Leonard said. “Try that again.”
“I’m not,” Pavel said. “Honest. There’s nothing I can do anyway. They’re adults, and it’s kind of miraculous Dad just listened to us as much as he did. It’s out of our hands.”
Leonard sat back on his heels. “You’re right, but I know you, and I know when you’re scheming.”
Pavel turned to face him. “I’m not scheming anything except the fact that I suddenly feel like garbage. I don’t want to go to school today.”
Now Leonard was really suspicious. “What’s wrong with you?”
“I have a headache,” Pavel said. “And I feel nauseous.”
Leonard reached out a hand and held it up to Pavel’s forehead. “You don’t have a fever. Your complexion is completely normal, and you’re not shaking or shivering. You’re faking it.”
“I am not,” Pavel said. “Seriously, I think I’m gonna puke.”
His eyes still narrowed, Leonard stared his younger brother down for a minute. Before he could say anything else, Pavel stood and bolted into the loft. Leonard rolled his eyes and went back in through his room, following him to their bathroom. Before he could get in it, Pavel slammed the door closed in his face.
Dad came rushing over. “What’s going on?”
Leonard held up his fingers and made air quotes. “He’s not feeling well.”
Dad knocked on the door. “Pavel?”
“I’m----“ The sound of gagging and throwing up came through the door. Dad winced, but Leonard’s eyes narrowed again. Pavel threw up for a few minutes, and then the toilet flushed. Pavel opened the door, and his eyes were red, and his face was pale. “I don’t want to go to school. I feel awful.”
Dad frowned, and Leonard rolled his eyes. “It’s too late for me to call out, Pavel. They won’t be able to get a substitute in until lunchtime.”
“I can stay home alone,” Pavel said. “Seriously, all I’m going to do is go back to bed or run to the bathroom to puke. Honest.”
Leonard folded his arms over his chest and stared his younger brother down. “Maybe I can stay home to take care of you then, Pavel. I wouldn’t want something to happen to you.”
Pavel’s eyes widened for a second. “That’s…you don’t have to miss school on my account, Len. We all know how much you hate missing school.”
“Yes, but you’re sick,” Leonard continued. “You could fall running to the bathroom, and no one would get to you for hours. Since you’re so sick and all.”
Dad sighed. “Pavel, if you agree to not go out or let anyone in, you can stay home alone today.”
“But…” Leonard turned to their father.
“There’s no sense in you both missing a day of class, Len,” Dad said. “And we need to go, we’re running late as it is. He can take care of himself.”
“But…” Leonard tried again.
Dad put his hands on his shoulders and smiled. “I know you’re a worrier, Len, but he’s old enough to stay home alone when he has a stomach bug. Come on, get your blazer and books. We really are running late.” He turned and went back to their kitchen, and Leonard heard him put their dishes in the sink.
Leonard turned back to Pavel. “I don’t know what you’re up to,” he whispered. “But I’ll figure it out.”
“I told you, I’m not up to anything,” Pavel said. “You wouldn’t be satisfied unless you had seen the vomit come up out of my throat.”
“Leonard, come on! We needed to be on the 6 fifteen minutes ago!”
Leonard gave his younger brother one final glare as he went into his room to grab his uniform blazer and navy wool pea coat. Dad stood at the loft door, holding it open for him. Dad checked his watch again and sighed.
“We’re going to have to catch a cab,” Dad said, and Leonard winced because that was going to cost a million dollars at this time of day.
“Sorry,” Leonard said. Dad closed and locked the door behind them, and off they went down the stairs. For once, they managed to get an on-duty cab quickly, and they went uptown and across the bridge into Manhattan.
The whole time, though, Leonard knew Pavel had been lying. He pulled out his cell and sent a quick text to his brother. I know you’re faking it. You’re going to be in so much trouble when we get home.
Pavel didn’t reply.
Meet me around back of the school at my limousine. We are going to miss the rest of school.
Nyota took a look around to make sure no one was present. No one was paying attention to her. What makes you think you can just order me around like I’m the Latvian maid in your suite?
Spock replied almost instantly. I am not giving orders. I am merely making a strong suggestion.
Nyota smiled. You’re disgusting.
And you wish to join me, otherwise we would not be having this conversation.
Her smile grew bigger. Fine. I’ll be out in a few minutes.
She slid her phone into her yellow Chanel bag. She then grabbed her history book and began to glide back to the rear of the school. In order to do so, she had to cross the boys’ half of the campus, and that meant potentially running into people.
People like Jim.
Sure enough, Jim stood at his locker with McCoy standing next to him. McCoy whispered something in his ear, and they both started to laugh. Nyota watched them talk for a second, noticing not for the first time how close they seemed to each other. They’d been that way since the day of her party, but Nyota couldn’t put her finger on what it was that specifically had changed.
Oh well, it was a mystery for another time.
She was almost clear of the corridor when a too-familiar voice called out to her. “Hey Nyota!” Hikaru said, sprinting to catch up with her.
Nyota gave him a curious look. “Hello, Hikaru. What can I do for you?”
“I just haven’t seen you in a while,” he said as he walked beside her. “I was wondering how you’ve been. I’ve thought about texting or calling, but I wasn’t sure how busy you were.”
“I’ve admittedly had a lot going on,” Nyota said with a slight smile. “But you know you can always call, Hikaru. If I’m occupied, I’ll just call you back when I’m free.”
Hikaru looked relieved and returned her smile. “That is good to hear, thanks. With everything going on with my family, I kind of need all of my friends right now.”
Guilt coursed through Nyota’s veins. “Well…of course, Hikaru. I understand. Please do call me whenever you feel a need to. As I just said, I may not answer immediately, but I will always call you back.”
Hikaru’s eyes softened, and the weight lifted off his shoulders. It took Nyota’s breath away for a moment. “Thanks. I’ll definitely remember that. Hey wait…what are you doing over here, anyway?”
“I…” Swallowing, Nyota turned her smile up a notch. “Well, I was coming to see if you’re all right, of course. I realized we haven’t spoken since the day of my party, and I was worried about you.”
“Well, I was there,” Hikaru said. “I just kept missing you all night. I looked for you, but I never found you.”
“Oh,” Nyota said, trying to not show her confusion. She realized pretty fast why he didn’t find her; he must have gotten there after she disappeared with Spock. “Well, I was pretty busy. But I am sorry that we apparently passed like ships in the night.”
Hikaru shrugged. “It happens. Where were you anyway?”
“Oh…here and there,” Nyota said with a wave of her hand. The one time Hikaru decided to ask questions, and he picked then? About that?
“Oh sure, it was your party,” Hikaru said. “I bet you were just busy shaking everyone’s hand.”
“…Yes,” Nyota answered. “There were many people there. I wasn’t able to be rude. I apologize again for missing you.”
“It’s fine,” Hikaru said. “So…by the way…do you have a date yet? For the deb ball?”
Something clicked in Nyota’s mind. She hadn’t made her mind up yet, due to having several possible suitors. Boys had come out of the woodwork since her split with Hikaru became public knowledge. But there was one boy in particular she wanted to go with, and the realization of that made her freeze for a moment.
“I haven’t decided yet,” she admitted. “Why?”
Hikaru shrugged. “Well, I mean, if you don’t have anyone in mind, I could be your date. It is what we always planned on.”
Nyota blinked at him; she had been legitimately caught by surprise. “Oh. Well…that’s a lovely offer, Hikaru. I’ll think about it.”
“Yeah, sure,” Hikaru said. “I bet you’ve gotten loads of people asking you. Just…keep me in mind, okay? I promise it won’t be awkward or anything between us.”
Nyota smiled. “I’ll let you know what I decide. Talk to you soon, Hikaru.” She took off, leaving him behind, and she pushed the back door of the school open. Sure enough, Spock’s limo was parked a few feet away from it. Making sure no one saw her, she opened the door and slid into the back of it, where Spock sat waiting for her with a slight smile. “So. I’m here.”
“Indeed,” Spock said. He pushed the button to lower the partition. “The Palace, if you please, Arthur.”
The driver nodded and raised the partition, and the limo took off towards Midtown.
Nyota leaned back against the seat; she turned to Spock with a smile. “So a thought just occurred to me.”
“Do tell,” Spock said as he moved closer to her on the seat. Their thighs rubbed against each other’s.
“My debut is the first Friday of December,” Nyota continued.
“Yes, I am escorting Carol Marcus from Spence that evening,” Spock said.
“Oh,” Nyota said. “I was…never mind. It was stupid.”
Spock gave her a long, considering look. “You wished for me to take you.”
Sighing, Nyota nodded. “It was a thought I literally just had a minute ago. Although in retrospect, it’s not really a good one. You don’t want Hikaru to find out about us, and I don’t really want anyone to.”
“Indeed, although there is something to be said for hiding in plain sight,” Spock admitted.
“True,” Nyota said. “I don’t know, all of these people have asked, and I still don’t have an escort, although I’m leaning toward that prince, Khan Noonien Singh. Maybe I should just ask Jim; at least with Jim, I’d have a good time.”
“I have it on good authority that Jim is refusing to attend,” Spock said.
Nyota blinked. “Wait, how would you know that? I haven’t even talked to him about it.”
Spock looked unusually hesitant, which made Nyota more suspicious than she already was. “I…ran into Winona. The Kirks are staying in the Palace right now, after all, and she inquired as to whether I would attend the ball. When I answered in the affirmative, she mentioned Jim would not attend.”
The explanation made sense but still. “I see,” Nyota said. “Although I suppose I could just ask him myself. We had always planned for the four of us to go together.”
They had, in fact, planned that. Jim had suggested more than once all three of them escort Nyota at her debut, but Hikaru had shot him down each time.
Nyota gave Spock a curious look. “So if you heard this from Winona, am I to assume that Jim is still giving you the cold shoulder?”
Spock shrugged. “He spends all of his time with the common rabble. Why should I care?”
Frowning, Nyota mulled over his words. She was coming around on Leonard; his sense of humor was amusing, and he wasn’t intimidated by things like Jim’s money or her personality. That counted for something. But Spock utterly loathed him for some reason. “Why do you hate Leonard so much?”
“When did he become Leonard? Why is he not simply McCoy?” Spock asked.
“He’s Jim’s first real boyfriend,” Nyota said. “He makes Jim happy. That’s all I care about.”
Spock sighed. “I have my reasons.” Before Nyota could inquire further, they pulled up to the Palace. Arthur opened the door for them, and Spock held out his hand. Nyota took it, and he escorted her out of the car. “Come. Let us not spend the rest of the afternoon fretting over other people. I wish to think only of you.”
Nyota looked at him, unable to keep the surprise off her face. It wasn’t the first time he had said something like that, but it still caught her off guard. It also made her relationship with Hikaru seem childish in comparison. Hikaru had always whispered words of forever, but his actions seldom backed them up.
Then again, Hikaru seemed to be really trying back at the school.
Spock led Nyota up to the penthouse suite where he lived, and he unlocked the door with his keycard. She entered the suite, and before she could take more than two steps inside, Spock placed his hands over her eyes. “It is a surprise,” he whispered as he let go of her face to pull her through the suite.
Nyota sighed but kept her eyes closed. “It better not involve D batteries. Or strippers. Or the twins from Room Service.”
“None of the above,” Spock said. They stopped moving, and she heard Spock move next to her. “Open them.”
“All of Sarek’s money for etiquette lessons, and you can’t…be…” As she opened her eyes, she stared.
The room had been filled with no less than a hundred lit candles, and the bed had been turned down. It was covered in crimson rose petals, and on Spock’s table stood a bucket of champagne with two flutes. The curtains had been drawn closed, lending the room a heady sense of intimacy. A bag with the Intimissimi logo sat on the bed.
Nyota was floored. No one had ever done anything like this for her, not even Hikaru. She had done something similar for him, but…well. It ended with Hikaru telling her about Jim.
This was extraordinary.
“Spock, I…” Nyota said. “I don’t know what to say.”
His eyes lit up, and the barest hint of a smile formed on Spock’s face. “You do not need to say anything.” He handed her the bag. “Put them on. I shall give you ten minutes to prepare.”
He closed the door behind him as he left, and Nyota stripped out of her school uniform. Her undergarments were next, and she opened the bag to find a navy blue balconette padded bra and navy Brazilian style panties. After thinking for a moment, she elected to put the navy Jimmy Choos back on.
Both Spock and Jim had…things for women’s shoes, although in Jim’s case it was strictly in a “I wish I could buy and wear them, too” sense.
Nyota took off her headband and let her hair fall loose around her shoulders in waves. She lay reclining on the bed, taking a couple of deep breaths.
At the appointed time, Spock knocked once on the door before opening it. He entered the room, and for the first time since they were children, Nyota saw happiness on Spock’s face. It startled her; nothing made Spock happy, but she had?
Spock stripped off his school blazer, draping it over a chair. His tie was next, and Nyota moved to the foot of the bed. She sat up on her knees and reached out her hands; Spock moved close enough to allow her to undo the buttons on his shirt, and the yellow fabric fell to the floor. She smiled up at him, and he climbed onto the bed in front of her. His hands slid through her hair like it was silk, and he took her in his arms.
They kissed, and he laid her on her back on the bed. He broke it to look down at her feet. “You kept on your shoes,” he said.
“They’re new,” Nyota explained. “And they match.”
“They are perfect,” he said. “As are you.”
Again, Nyota didn’t know what to say, but he kissed her again before she had time to.
It didn’t take long for it to not matter.
He wasn’t even sure Mom would be there at this time the day before Thanksgiving; he had no clue what her schedule actually was. Aside from the one visit back in October, he and Len had only spoken to her on the phone since she moved out.
The thought of that made him frown as the cab pulled up to Peyton Hall, the building devoted to astrophysical sciences. He paid the cab driver with his credit card and stepped out of the cab. He wandered into the building, and a group of students stood in the foyer. They all talked loudly with each other, and Pavel cleared his throat. “Ahem. Excuse me?”
The students looked at him, examining him from head to toe. Some of them looked like stereotypical nerds, but one guy looked relatively normal. He gave Pavel a curious expression. “Can I help you?”
“Yeah, I’m looking for Doctor Pike,” Pavel said. “Her office, I mean.”
The guy lit up. “I thought you looked familiar. You’re one of her kids, right? She has a couple pictures in there…”
“Yeah,” Pavel said. “If you could just tell me where to find her, I’d appreciate it.”
“I’ll do you one better,” he said. “I can show you.” He excused himself from his group, and he gestured for Pavel to follow. Pavel did, and they strode together down a stairwell to the faculty offices. There was a door with a shared office, and Pavel saw Pike listed among the three people who were housed there. “Here we go.”
“Thanks,” Pavel said. He knocked on the door.
His mother’s voice called out a “Come in,” and Pavel opened it and entered. Her back was to him, and she appeared to be reviewing something. “Office hours are only for another---“
Pavel sighed. “Mom.”
After freezing for a second, she turned to face him. “Pavel?”
“Yup,” Pavel said. “It’s time for you to come home.”
Still staring at him, his Mom stood from her chair. “What are you doing here? It’s a school day.”
“That’s not important,” Pavel said with growing impatience in his voice. “What’s important is that you need to come home. Today.”
She sighed. “Pavel, the semester isn’t over. I can’t just pack up back to New York.”
“You can commute from Brooklyn,” Pavel said. “You need to be home with us. You need to come home.”
Mom stared at him for long enough that he decided to try a different tactic.
“Please?” Pavel said, putting a deep and abiding sadness on his face. “It’s not fair for Len and me to be caught up in this. Nothing is going to get solved by you hiding here.”
Mom frowned. “Your father doesn’t want to see me.”
“Let him decide that,” Pavel said, losing his patience all over again. “Seriously. You need to face him, and he needs to face you. This has gone on long enough. You’re being selfish; Len and I deserve things to be worked out, one way or the other, which can’t happen as long as you hide here.”
Looking pissed for a few seconds, Mom sighed and took off her glasses. She rubbed her hand over her eyes for a while with a grimace. “I should be angry with you for how you’re speaking to me. And I should ground you for showing up here on a school day by yourself, especially when I can almost guarantee that your father has no inkling about this.”
Now Pavel glared at her. “You’re just mad that I’m right.”
Mom stared at him for a while. “You may have a point,” she admitted in a grudging tone of voice. “But Pavel, you don’t get to take an hour train ride to order me around. I’m still the parent.”
“Could have fooled me,” Pavel said before he could stop himself.
Her expression shifted into that of a glare. “Don’t push it.”
Clamping his mouth shut for a second, Pavel clenched his hands at his sides. “I’m only pushing because you haven’t given me any other option! You and Dad have refused to deal with this! Well, I’m telling you your time’s up. You need to deal with it! Now.”
Mom picked up her glasses, placing them back on her face. Her brown hair had been loose around her shoulders, but now she grabbed it and twisted it up into a ponytail. Pavel knew his mom well enough to recognize it for the nervous tick it was, and he waited for her to speak again.
The pause stretched from seconds into minutes. Pavel didn’t argue anymore; he elected to let her think.
“I’m still contemplating grounding you,” Mom said to break the silence. “I know your father. You wouldn’t be allowed here by yourself, so you obviously played hooky and snuck out.”
Pavel shrugged. “It’s worth it.”
Mom began to put papers and a book into her briefcase. She latched it shut and grabbed her coat. “Okay. Let’s go back to my apartment. You can help me pack. Then when we get back into the city, we’ll go shopping for Turkey Day.”
His face brightening, Pavel smiled. “Do you mean it?”
Mom didn’t return the smile, but she looked less frustrated. “Yes, Pavel. You’re right; nothing gets solved by my staying here, and your father and I need to discuss some things. It’d be best to do it in person. So…let’s go.”
Together they walked out of the office, Mom locking it behind them. Her apartment was about three miles from campus, and they caught the bus to it. Pavel craned his neck, looking at the university as it passed. “It’s a pretty school,” he said.
“One day you’ll be here too,” Mom answered.
Pavel frowned, but didn’t argue. The music versus physics conversation was for another time. He could only stand so many arguments in such a short span.
Especially because he knew both his parents would lose their minds.
The bus ride ended, and they walked up the stairs to her three bedroom apartment. She unlocked the door, and they entered. He followed her into the master bedroom, where she grabbed two suitcases and opened them on her bed.
Mom grabbed sweaters and a few dresses, plus work appropriate clothing. She looked thoughtful for a minute. “I should still have some things in the loft,” she mused to herself.
“Dad hasn’t packed anything up or anything,” Pavel said, sitting on the bed next to one of the bags. “At least, not since the time you asked for your winter clothes.”
“Right,” she said. She grabbed underwear, tights, and shoes, putting them into the smaller suitcase. Pavel kicked his legs a few times. “I’ll need my laptop for grading.”
“I’ll get it,” he said, getting up. “Kitchen table?”
“Yup,” Mom said as she walked into her bathroom to grab her toiletries.
“Be right back,” Pavel said. He walked to the kitchen, grabbing her computer. He shut it down, unplugged it, and carted it back into her bedroom. Mom was still in the bathroom, so he opened her briefcase and put it in for her. Being careful to keep her papers from getting wrinkled, Pavel pulled them out and replaced them.
The one on top caught his eye, and he blinked at it.
It was a letter from someone named Phillip Boyce. Before Pavel could skim it, his mother came back into the room. He shoved the papers back into the bag. “Here’s your computer, Mom.”
“Thanks, Pavel,” she said with a smile. She put her toiletries in the suitcase with her shoes, zipping it up. She took a look around the room before grabbing some jewelry off her stand.
Pavel realized she wasn’t wearing her wedding rings. He opened his mouth to say something about it before deciding against it. He shook his head a few times as a bad feeling began to overtake him.
He might have been jumping the gun. Maybe she would put them back on when she got home.
Dad still wore his, though.
Satisfied she had enough of her belongings, Mom turned to him with a somewhat stilted smile. “Ready?”
“Yeah,” Pavel said. He grabbed the bigger suitcase, wheeling it behind him as they exited her apartment. They caught another bus, this one taking them to Princeton Junction.
Halfway there, Mom turned to him. “Are your classes still going well?”
“Yeah,” Pavel said. “I got the highest grade out of everyone on the last physics test, and I’m still first violin. English is boring, but I’m doing well in it. Russian’s fun.” He hesitated, before saying, “The district choir competition is December 10th. My duet partner and I are performing. Maybe you and Dad can come.”
“The chamber choir doesn’t take away from your studies, does it?” Mom asked. “I know you like music, Pavel, but science and math are more important.”
Pavel had to bite his tongue so hard he almost drew blood. He really hated how she always said that, like the arts had no value. She even did it about Len’s short stories and their Dad’s poetry.
Well there was one poem by Dad she liked.
Pavel sighed and stared out the bus window. He was getting too frustrated about his potential career paths. Len and Nyota were right; he really needed to tell his parents about what he wanted.
He just had no way of knowing if they’d understand.
They arrived at the station, and Pavel unloaded the suitcases for his mom. They entered the station, she purchased their tickets, and they got on the next train heading to Penn Station. Pavel pulled out his iPod and earbuds.
Mom grabbed her laptop and booted it up. She opened word. “I hope you don’t mind me doing some work on the trip,” she said.
“It’s fine,” he said as he queued up Andrew Bird’s Noble Beast. Both Pavel and Bird trained in violin using the Suzuki Method, but Pavel felt like he wasn’t anywhere near Bird’s level of skill. He would be one day, but he wasn’t there yet.
Pavel again thought about his application for LaGuardia Arts. He sighed as he turned up “Tenuousness.”
Maybe once things were resolved with his parents’ marriage, he could tell them about his career choice.
Jim grabbed his economics book and shoved it into his leather bag. “Man, I can’t wait for tomorrow,” he said. “A holiday built around eating is perfect for me.”
“Ignoring, of course, the gross colonialist implications, Thanksgiving is pretty great,” Bones replied.
Jim frowned. “Is that your dad talking?”
Bones blinked for a couple of seconds before wincing. “Yeah, it was. Sorry.”
“No worries,” Jim said. They moved from his locker to Bones’. Bones grabbed his psychology book, exchanging it for his calculus and AP bio ones. After thinking for a second, he put his notebooks except for psych in the locker too. “Thank God we don’t have to really do any work this break.”
“Yeah,” Jim agreed. “So remind me, what are you doing for tomorrow?”
“Just me, Dad, and Pavel,” Bones said. “Turkey and oyster dressing. Two pies because Pavel hates pumpkin. Mashed potatoes. Dad may watch some football. Pretty normal. You’re going to Nyota’s, right?”
“Yeah, I can’t wait,” Jim said. “Her family totally goes all out, and it’ll be the first time she’s seen her dad since the split. I’m really looking forward to it. It’ll be nice to remember a Thanksgiving for once.”
“I bet,” Bones said in a hushed voice.
Jim’s expression shifted to perplexed. His brows furrowed, and he frowned a little. “What?”
Bones looked at him for a minute before shaking his head a few times. “Nothing. Don’t worry about it.” Jim stared at Bones. He did it for so long that Bones flushed and grimaced. “Okay so…two years ago. We ran into each other.”
Jim’s expression became more confused as he struggled to recall Thanksgiving Freshman year. “I went to a bar in the morning. I ended up at Nyota’s. There was…I think I almost got hit by a cab?”
Bones nodded. “You did almost get hit by a cab, but luckily the only casualties were my family’s desserts. They still don’t believe me when I tell them I pulled you out of oncoming traffic.”
His eyes widening, Jim’s jaw fell a little. “That was you?”
“That was me,” Bones said.
Jim leaned back against the locker, throwing his hand up over his eyes. “Christ,” he said. “I suck. I suck so hard.”
“You do not,” Bones said. He took a few glances around them before pulling Jim into a hug. “It’s not a big deal, Jim.”
Jim could only groan. “We met twice freshman year, and I don’t remember either instance,” he said with a prolonged sigh. “I am seriously the world’s biggest dick.”
“Spock is the world’s biggest dick,” Bones said. He kissed Jim’s temple, and Jim sighed and leaned into it. “You were just a wayward youth.”
Still feeling like shit, Jim couldn’t help but snort. “That’s actually not a bad way of putting it,” he admitted. They pulled back from each other, and Jim looked into Bones’ eyes. “You have no idea how bad I feel that I don’t remember you. If there’s anything I regret from both of those meetings, it’s that.”
Bones smiled. “You know me now. That’s what matters.”
Jim lit up, his previous angst all but forgotten. “And I’m gonna keep knowing you for as long as you permit me to.”
Something lit up in Bones’ eyes, and Jim’s heart fluttered at the sight. He took another look around them, and before Jim could ask what was up, he kissed Jim thoroughly in the middle of their school. Neither of them had been so brazen since that time they got yelled at, and Jim found he was hard-pressed to care if it happened again.
They didn’t get yelled at, but a familiar voice said, “Leonard. You’re still on school property.”
Breaking apart, Jim and Bones turned to Bones’ dad. “Hi, Dad.”
“Hi Chr…Doctor Pike,” Jim said, wincing at how he almost called him by his first name where anyone could hear it. “Happy Thanksgiving.”
“Same to you,” Chris said with a smile. Bones moved to stand next to Jim, swinging his locker shut. “Does your family have plans for the holiday?”
Jim smiled. “My best friend’s family has a big Thanksgiving thing every year. Since we’re living in a hotel, we’re going to that.”
“That sounds nice, Jim,” Chris said. Bones had finished grabbing his books and shut his locker. The three of them walked out of the school together. “You should come over on Friday and help Len and Pavel eat our leftovers.”
Bones got a cute grin on his face, and Jim’s expression matched. “Bones mentioned something about oyster dressing?”
“My great-grandmother’s,” Chris said. “I only make it on Thanksgiving.”
“It’s my favorite part,” Bones said with a dreamy sigh. “And it tastes better the second day.”
Jim brightened even more. “Sure, I’ll come over. I’ll text Bones when I’m on my way, if that’s all right.”
“That’s perfectly fine,” Chris said with a smile. “Plan to be over all day, Jim. We’ll have a lot of food.”
“I’m your man,” Jim said.
“He is,” Bones added. He slid his hand down, his fingers lacing with Jim’s. Jim felt his cheeks flush, and he bit back another smile.
“Thank you for inviting me over, Doctor Pike,” Jim said. “I really appreciate it.”
“You know you’re welcome any time, Jim,” Chris said as the three of them walked together out of the school and towards the street. Bones and Chris would be taking the subway, while Jim caught a cab back to the Palace.
Jim’s face softened, and his heart swelled. It made him beyond happy that Chris liked him. Not that he wouldn’t still date Bones if he didn’t, but his dad’s opinion mattered to Bones.
And it mattered to Jim, too.
Jim shivered a little as they walked down the school’s front steps.
“Cold?” Bones asked.
“Yeah, it feels like we barely had a fall,” Jim said. “Then bam! Winter.”
“Yeah,” Bones said as he ran his thumb over Jim’s hand. Jim’s lips quirked up in a smile.
“It is definitely time to break out the scarves and gloves, more than we already have,” Chris said. “I don’t want either of you boys getting sick like Pavel.”
Jim and Bones exchanged a look; Bones told Jim at lunch about how he thought his brother had faked it to skip school. Jim opted not to say anything, in case it would get Pavel in trouble. “Yeah, stomach bugs suck,” Jim said.
Bones gave Jim another look; this one said he was relieved. Jim winked at him in a way that his father couldn’t see.
They reached the sidewalk, and Jim let go of Bones to hail a cab. It took a while, as most of the ones who passed by were off duty or had passengers. Bones sighed. “Typical.”
Jim snorted. “Yeah. Sometimes I think I should just have a standing reservation with a car service for afternoons.” He flagged an available one down, and it pulled up beside him. Before he got into it, he reached out and gave Bones a quick kiss. Bones smiled at him, reluctantly letting him go.
“Call me in between every course tomorrow?” Jim said.
“You know it,” Bones replied. “Bye Jim. Talk to you tomorrow.”
“Have a good Thanksgiving, Jim,” Chris said.
“You too,” Jim said. He sat on the backseat and blew a kiss to Bones through the window. Bones rolled his eyes, but he mimed catching it as the cab took off toward the Palace. Traffic was light due to the holiday, and they arrived pretty quickly. Jim paid and tipped the driver, and he ran up into the Palace.
Once he arrived at 1701, he walked into his part of the suite. Sam poked his head out of the door and greeted him. “Hey, Jimmy.”
“Hey,” Jim tossed over his shoulder as he changed. Off came the uniform, and instead Jim put on a pair of black trousers, a goldenrod colored button up shirt with French cuffs, and a black cashmere cardigan over that. He had worn gold socks that day, and he put on a pair of black Ferragamo loafers.
Thinking about it for a minute, he grabbed a pair of black leather gloves and a black scarf to go along with his winter white wool coat. He also grabbed his favorite Ray Bans and stepped back out of his room. Sam had moved to the living room, and he blinked at him for a moment. “Going back out?”
“Yeah,” Jim said. “I need to talk to Nyota about something, and I’d rather not do it over the phone.”
“Must be pretty serious then,” Sam said.
“Yeah,” Jim said. “I’ll be back probably for dinner, if Mom asks.”
“No problem,” Sam said. “Good luck.”
“Thanks!” Jim called as he left the room, walking back down to the concierge. Fortunately, Barclay happened to be there. “Hey Barclay. Can you get me a car please?”
“Of course, Mister Kirk,” Barclay said. He made a quick call, and when he hung up, he smiled at Jim. “It’ll be out front in just a moment.”
“Thank you,” Jim said as he tipped him. He walked back out into the chill air, grateful for the scarf and gloves. As promised, the car waited, and Jim took it to Nyota’s building. He gave the driver a generous tip, and the doorman let him in the building with a smile.
Jim went up to Nyota’s penthouse, and he stepped off the elevator. He looked around one side, then the other. Hoshi appeared, and she smiled at him. “Hello, Mister Jim.”
“Hey Hoshi,” he said. “Is Nyota here?”
“She is in the kitchen,” Hoshi said.
“Great,” Jim said. “I’ll head back. Thanks, Hoshi.”
“Of course,” she replied with another smile.
Jim walked into the kitchen, pulling his sunglasses up to rest in his hair. Nyota stood with her back to him examining something on a counter. She wore a dress made of two contrasting fabrics; the top was a blush colored lace, and the bottom was a silverish-lavender silk crepe. Her hair was down, and she seemed to have a light air about her.
“Hoshi,” she said as she turned around. She blinked for a second at the sight of Jim in his coat. Then she grinned. “Why hello, Jim. Nice to see you.”
“Hey,” Jim said. That was when he noticed that she had been examining recipe cards. “Prepping for tomorrow?”
“Daddy doesn’t get in until morning,” Nyota said. “So I figured if I get everything ready, we can get right to it when he arrives.”
Everything about her was carefree and happy. Jim couldn’t think of the last time he had seen her glowing like that.
Actually…yes. He could.
“You’re in a good mood,” Jim began. “Your dad coming to visit must agree with you.”
Nyota shook her head. “Sometimes I’m happy because of Daddy. Sometimes it’s because my doctor increases my Lexapro dosage.”
Narrowing his eyes, Jim tilted his head to one side. “And usually…you’re this way because things are good with a boy.”
Now Nyota froze a little. She didn’t deny it, but she didn’t admit to it, either. She went back to perusing her recipe cards.
“So…” Jim said. “What’s Spock doing for Thanksgiving?”
This time, Nyota froze a lot. The smile faded off her face, getting replaced by a stern expression. “Why would I know?”
“Well you are friends,” Jim said. “Good friends. Really good friends.”
Nyota gave up the final pretense of looking at the cards. “What’s your point?”
Jim sighed. Okay, so the extremely direct approach was warranted. “Nyota, I saw you…with Spock, I mean. At your birthday party.”
Everything about Nyota turned to ice. “I don’t know what you think you saw, but I assure you that---“
Openly rolling his eyes, Jim made an annoyed sound. “We’re not doing this, Nyota. I know what two people having sex looks like.”
“You would, wouldn’t you? You’ve certainly had enough of it for the entire Upper East Side,” Nyota said in a haughty voice.
As he exhaled loudly, Jim tried again. “I just don’t understand, okay? Help me understand. We both know where Spock’s been. Nyota just…why?”
Her arms folded across her chest, and she tapped one manicured finger against her biceps. “I bet you’re only angry I got a chance with him before you did.”
“Gross, and nope,” Jim said, his voice seething. His posture matched hers; his shoulders were stiff, and he had clenched his jaw tight. His eyes narrowed even further.
“There had to be someone left, after all,” Nyota continued. “You’re even sleeping with low-rent nobodies now. But what can I say? I learned from the Master.” She bowed to him with a disdainful look on her face.
Jim’s hands clenched into fists when she insulted Bones, but at the last comment about him being the “Master”, his vision went red. “If you’re having sex with Spock, it’s pretty clear that the student has become the Master.”
“You’d like to believe that, wouldn’t you?” Nyota said as she drew herself back up to her full height. “If it helps you sleep at night, by all means. Judge me. See if I care.”
“Why the hell shouldn’t I?” Jim spat. “God knows all you ever do is judge me for my mistakes. Maybe I just feel like getting a little back for once.”
Nyota’s nostrils flared, but before she could say anything, Aailyah entered the kitchen. “Nyota do you…oh. Hello Jim.”
“Hello,” Jim said. “I was just leaving.”
Aailyah looked confused. “Oh. Well. We’ll be seeing you tomorrow.”
“Actually, no,” Jim said. “We’re not doing Thanksgiving with you anymore.”
If Aailyah looked confused before, now she was completely bewildered. “Why not?”
“Because I just uninvited them,” Nyota ground out. The words were for her mother, but her eyes didn’t leave Jim’s face.
Jim broke the eye contact to give Aailyah a fake smile. “Nice to see you, Aailyah. Have a happy Thanksgiving.” Without so much as a glance back at Nyota, Jim stormed out of the penthouse and back down to the street. The doorman hailed him a cab, and he rode back to the Palace in silence.
Once there, he stomped all the way back to his room. His mother and Sam sat on the couch laughing about something. They both turned to face him, their laughter abruptly dying.
“Uh oh,” Sam said.
“What happened, darling?” Winona asked, her face and voice full of concern.
Jim winced. “So uh…about tomorrow. How married to going to the Uhuras were both of you?”
Sam winced. “Ah well.”
Winona stood and walked over to him. “You and Nyota had a fight?”
The anger seeped out of Jim’s body. It had escalated so fast. “Yeah. I don’t want to talk about it. I’m sorry…I didn’t mean for it to affect you guys too. We’ll have to figure out something else, I guess.”
Sam shrugged. “Room service will still be running. We can do that.”
“Yes, we can,” Winona said. She wrapped Jim into a hug. “The important thing is that we spend Thanksgiving together, the three of us. Everything else is just a detail.”
Jim sighed, and his eyes were wide and sad. “I’m really sorry.”
Sam joined the hug, and Jim let himself be held by his mom and brother.
Maybe the holiday could be salvaged.
“Breakfast for dinner would be good,” Leonard answered. “Bacon, eggs, grits, and toast.”
“We have all of those right now, and I’ll put a lot of cheese in the grits like you like,” Dad said. “We’ll see if Pavel feels well enough to eat.”
Leonard fought the urge to call his brother a liar outright as his dad unlocked their door. He opened it, stepping inside the loft first before freezing. Leonard crashed into him, stepping up on his toes to peer over his dad’s shoulder.
Sitting at their breakfast bar was Pavel.
And their mother.
The two of them laughed about something over hot chocolate, and Leonard stared dumbstruck at the sight.
That is, until the rage kicked in.
“Morgan,” Dad said.
Pavel and Mom stopped laughing. Mom cleared her throat a few times. “Chris.” She brightened when she saw Leonard behind him. “Leonard!”
His jaw clenching, Leonard didn’t acknowledge her with anything but a glare. He shoved past his father and stormed into his bedroom, slamming the door behind him.
How dare she…how dare she come back acting like nothing had happened!
Leonard grabbed his cell and dialed Scotty without hesitation. He picked up on the second ring. This is Scott-dog.
“Scotty? It’s me. You would not believe what I just walked into,” Leonard said as he threw his shoes across the room.
There was a pause. Wow. Okay. The last time you were this angry was the day of our fight. What happened?
“Mom happened,” Leonard said. “Pavel skipped school today, apparently to bring her back. And now she’s sitting in our kitchen like nothing’s wrong!”
There was another, more pronounced pause. Wait, what? Your mom came back?
Balancing the phone between his ear and his shoulder blade, Leonard took off his coat, blazer, and tie. “I don’t want anything to do with her. She has no right to come back like nothing’s changed.”
Scotty sighed. Look Len, I’m not saying you don’t have the right to be pissed at her. She’s been kind of shitty since she left, what with the whole cheating on your dad thing and whatnot. But don’t you think you should maybe let her speak for even just a minute before you set her on fire?
“Are you taking her side?” Leonard held his phone again, staring at his wall in disbelief.
I’m saying let her have a few minutes of your time and then become a thermonuclear detonation, Scotty clarified. You gave me that chance. Why’s your mom less deserving?
“But---“ Leonard realized he didn’t have a good answer for him. As angry as he was with her, she did deserve a chance to explain. “Fine. I’ll go back out and hear what she has to say.”
That’s the spirit, Scotty said. Call me after and tell me how it goes. Call me tomorrow, too, even though I’ll be in Vermont.
“Yeah, I will,” Leonard said. “Thanks, Scotty.”
Anytime, Len, Scotty said in a cheerful tone. I need to get back to packing. Talk to you in a bit!
“Yeah, see you,” Leonard said as he hung up the phone. He tossed his phone down on his desk and ran a hand through his hair. Steeling himself, he opened the door and stepped back out into the loft.
Dad had moved to Pavel’s other side, also with a mug of hot chocolate. None of them were talking, though. The silence was awkward and somewhat frigid between them.
Leonard cleared his throat, and they all turned to face him. “I cannot be the only one who thinks this is both out of nowhere and profoundly weird, can I?”
Dad didn’t comment, which Leonard took to mean that he agreed. Mom started twisting her hair in her hands.
Pavel rolled his eyes. “Oh whatever, get over yourself. Come sit with us and have some hot cocoa. If Dad can be in the same room with her after everything, you can too.”
“After everything?” Mom said.
Pavel sighed. “The guy. In Princeton. Len and I know about the guy in Princeton.”
Mom got a panicked expression on her face and stared at Dad. Dad held up both his hands. “I didn’t tell them.”
“I overheard it, and I told Len,” Pavel explained. “Dad only found out we knew this morning.”
Giving their father an apologetic look, Mom turned back to Leonard. “Honey, I’m sorry about that. Both of you,” she said with a glance at Pavel.
Leonard folded his arms across his chest and looked down at the floor. “I don’t understand any of this. I don’t understand why it took Pavel skipping school to get you to come back. I don’t understand why you cheated on Dad. And I don’t understand why you left in the first place!”
Mom stood and walked over to him; she stayed about a foot away from him, so she could reach out if she wanted to. “I’m not sure I can offer any explanation that would be satisfying for you, Len. But I’m here now. You’re right; I should have come back sooner. I have no excuse for why I haven’t. All I can do is try to make things right between all of us as a family.”
Leonard looked up at his mother with a wary expression. “I guess,” he conceded.
He turned and left the room again, going back to his bedroom. This time his mother followed him. Leonard made an exasperated noise as he flopped on his bed. He looked at everything in his room except her.
Mom sat in the desk chair across from him. “Leonard, I’m sure this isn’t easy.”
“Not even remotely close to easy,” Leonard said. “You have no idea at all what you’ve done, have you? Because you’ve been breaking his heart…breaking our hearts, chipping away at them a little more each day since June.”
Mom didn’t say anything.
Leonard sat up and faced her. “The thing about this that is the most asinine is that I have to sit here and explain this to you. You should know this. You should know everything I said without me having to explain it to you. It’s like…it’s like I’m the parent, and you’re the damn kid.”
That time, Mom sighed. “You have every right to feel that way. I haven’t been the best mother to you both. I’ve been so caught up in myself and in my research finally taking off, which is a lousy excuse. But Len, I want things to work between all of us. I want us to be a family. And I’m here now. So can you at least try to give me a chance?”
Leonard glared at her for a while. Finally, he shook his head. “Fine. You have one chance.”
“Fair enough,” Mom said. “Now come back to the kitchen. I want to show you all the stuff Pavel and I got for Thanksgiving. I think you’ll be pleased.”
“I think I’ll call it ‘guilt’ and leave it at that,” Leonard said under his breath. “Fine. I’ll be out in a sec.”
“Okay, Leonard,” Mom said. “I’ll be waiting.”
Leonard didn’t answer her with anything but a nod, and he grabbed his phone again. He needed to call Scotty, but first he wanted to talk to Jim. Hey, are you busy? he texted.
No, but I have to warn you, my afternoon went to shit.
So did mine. Remember how I told you I thought Pavel was faking it? He totally did so he could bring Mom back.
Approximately thirty seconds after he sent the text message, his phone rang. It was Jim. “Hello?”
Pavel brought your mom back?
“Yeah, dragged her kicking and screaming,” Leonard said. “I don’t know. It’s awkward, and I don’t even know that I want her here. Not after everything she’s done. Or hasn’t done. Or whatever.”
Yeah, I can understand that, but hey. Maybe this way something will actually happen. Even if it’s them saying it’s not working and filing for divorce.
“Yeah, I’m sure that’s why Pavel did it,” Leonard said. “Wait. What happened to you? You said your day went to shit.”
Jim took in a deep breath. Nyota and I had a huge fight. So bad I got uninvited from her house for tomorrow. Now we’re going to have to do a restaurant or room service Thanksgiving. Mom and Sam aren’t really mad, but I can tell they’re disappointed.
Leonard got a funny look on his face. “Hang on a second.”
Leonard walked out of his room and to the kitchen, where he saw all of the food his mom had bought. And yeah, it was way more than they normally did. Turkey and ham, double the amount of normal ingredients for the oyster dressing, tons of potatoes, both sweet and regular, four pies, green beans, yeast for the yeast rolls…there was easily enough for three more people to join them.
Leonard ran back to his room, ignoring the puzzled looks on his family’s faces. He grabbed his phone. “Back. So…I’m not down with you having a room service Thanksgiving.”
Well, we don’t have many other options. It’s the one day of the year that all the restaurants are super booked up. We’ll never get a reservation now.
“You have one option, and that’s to come here and spend Thanksgiving with us,” Leonard said. “I mean, if you say no, I understand considering what I just told you. But…I think it can be salvaged if we spend tomorrow together.”
Would we be imposing? I’d feel bad.
“Let me double check. It’s just you and Sam and your mom, right?” Leonard said as he stepped back into the main area of the loft.
Hang on. Leonard heard the phone be put down, and Jim disappeared. After a few minutes, Jim returned. Yeah, the three of us.
“Okay, hang on,” Leonard said as he put Jim down again. He ran into the living room. “Hey, is it okay if Jim and his family eat with us tomorrow? Their plans fell through.”
Dad got a startled look at this for some reason. “Oh. I don’t know, Len, it’s last minute.”
Mom looked at Dad with a curious expression. “Well, I bought enough for an army. We’ll have plenty with left overs. How many people is it, Len?”
“Just Jim, Sam, and their mom,” Leonard said. “Please? Otherwise they have to do room service. That’s not a good Thanksgiving, in my opinion.”
“I’m okay with it,” Pavel said. “I’d like to meet Sam. He probably thinks you and Jim are just as gross as I do.”
Leonard gave his brother an annoyed look, before turning his attention back to his father. His dad still had a freaked out expression on his face, like he was panicking. But why? He liked Jim, and he had never met Mrs. Kirk or Sam.
Mom continued to give Dad a weird look. “The holiday is about sharing, Chris. Why shouldn’t we have them over?”
Dad’s expression smoothed out, and he calmed down. “Sure, Len. Invite them over.”
“Thanks!” Leonard ran back into his room. He grabbed his phone. “It’s all set. You guys can come over. Dinner will be around four.”
Yay! Jim’s grin was evident by the joyous tone of his voice. This is awesome; I’ll tell them as soon as we hang up!
Grinning a little himself, Leonard said, “Now to just hope Mom and Dad get their shit together before tomorrow.”
I’m sure they can. I mean, if she came back, she must want things to work. Otherwise Pavel wouldn’t have gotten through to her.
“Yeah, I’m not sold on that,” Leonard said. “But we’ll see.”
Such a cynic, Jim said, his tone light and teasing.
“More like a realist,” Leonard said. “Like I said, we’ll see.”
Yeah. I gotta go, though. Mom wants to get dinner the three of us, and she keeps coming into my doorway and giving me looks. I’ll see you tomorrow…we’ll plan on being there around three, maybe three thirty.
“Good, I’ll see you then,” Leonard said. “Bye, Jim.”
Bye, Bones! Jim hung up, and Leonard put his phone on its charger. Just in time, as the garage door got lifted. Leonard blinked at his younger brother.
“You could at least try to be positive about this,” Pavel said. “You don’t have to be such a jerkwad.”
“Why did you do this without warning me?” Leonard said. “You know how mad I’ve been.”
Pavel winced, his expression turning guilty. “I didn’t want you ratting me out to Dad that I skipped, but in retrospect, you’re right. I should have told you what I was doing. So…I’m sorry.”
Leonard sighed. “It’s fine. I mean, it’s done now.”
“Yeah,” Pavel said. He perched in Leonard’s desk chair. “I came in here so they could talk alone. And I mean, worst case we just spend tomorrow together and she goes back to Princeton Friday.”
“True,” Leonard said as he sat on the bed. They were silent for a while, making out the hushed tones of their parents talking. “I mean…I should thank you, I guess. Now something will finally happen.”
“Yeah, that was the point,” Pavel said. “We were all in limbo. Now we can move forward.”
Leonard nodded, grabbing his bookbag.
Yeah, they could finally all move forward.
Nyota sat next to Jim at the table in her breakfast nook. Jim had stolen the mashed potatoes, and was shoveling them in one giant spoonful at a time.
“Want some?” Jim asked around a mouthful. “They’re really good.”
“Of course they are, Daddy made them,” Nyota said.
Jim held the spoon out to her, or rather, he tried to. In his drunken state, he mostly shoved it at her. Just in the nick of time, Nyota blocked the spoon with her hand.
“Your hand-eye coordination leaves a lot to be desired,” Nyota said with a grin.
“Yeah well, your hand-to-bitch coordination is just fine,” Jim said with a matching grin.
Nyota gaped at him for a minute before grabbing a handful of the mashed potatoes and rubbing them all over Jim’s face. Jim didn’t care; he howled with laughter.
“Oh sous chef,” Endesha Uhura said as he entered the room. “It’s time to get to work on the pies. You’re needed…oh my,” he finished as he took in the sight of Jim’s face. Endesha stared at him for a minute, and the look in his eyes told Nyota that he knew Jim was soused.
Nyota caught wind of it and gave her Daddy an apologetic look. “Jim is…dining with us for Thanksgiving, Daddy.”
“I can tell,” Endesha said with a slight smile. “Jim, will you be helping Nyota-bear and I with our meal preparations?”
“Woo!” Jim said as he pumped his fist in the air.
Aailyah came into the room carrying a tray of canapés. “Everyone loved them,” she said with a bright smile as she entered the kitchen. “Nyota, darling, would you like one?”
“I’m not really hungry,” Nyota said as she stood from the table. She glided to her father, putting her arms around him and hugging him from behind. He reached out his hands, placing them over her wrists. “I had like fifteen of them when Daddy first made them.”
“Fifteen?” Aailyah said. “Do you think that’s wise? What about your weight? They’ll only be able to let your costume out so much for the recital…”
“Darling,” Endesha admonished. “Not today.”
Aailyah sighed. “You’re right. Today is our special day. I apologize, Nyota.”
“It’s fine,” Nyota said. Hikaru walked into the kitchen with a bright grin, and Nyota let go of her father, bee-lining for her boyfriend. He kissed her on the cheek once. “Hi.”
“Hello,” Hikaru said. “Hello, Endesha, Aailyah. And…oh, hi Jim.”
“Hikaru!” Jim exclaimed, opening his arms wide. He tried to get up, but the vodka had caught up to him, and he lost his balance.
Endesha sighed. “Nyota, can you do me a favor?”
“Us, rather,” Aailyah said.
“Take Jim upstairs and put him in a bath or the shower,” Endesha continued. “Winona is hosting her own Thanksgiving at their house, but several of the people coming today know her. Word will get back to her pretty quickly.”
“Not to mention the impression it will leave our other guests if we have an obviously inebriated fourteen year old breaking bread with us,” Aailyah said. She gestured for Hoshi to come closer. “In addition to another place for Jim, we need one more place at the table please. Laurel is bringing one of the models from my new campaign.”
“What is her name?” Endesha asked with a curious expression.
“His name is Matthieu,” Aailyah said as she took another tray of hors d’oeuvres
Now Endesha looked even more curious. “Matthieu.”
Meanwhile, Nyota pouted. “But Thanksgiving is our thing, Daddy.” She turned to Hikaru and gave him a winning smile. “Hikaru, could you…?”
“Sure,” Hikaru said. “Come on, Jim.”
“Aw but,” Jim said.
Hikaru put one of his arms around Jim’s waist, looping Jim’s arm around his shoulders. “No buts. Come with me.”
“Fine, fine,” Jim said. They left the room, and Nyota turned to her father.
“Here we are dear,” Endesha said as he wiped his hands off on his festive Thanksgiving apron. “The pumpkin puree is all done.”
“Let me,” Nyota said, making grabby hands for the bowl.
“Of course,” Endesha said. He kept a close eye on Nyota as she poured it into the fresh homemade pie crust. There was enough for two pies, so she repeated the process with the second crust. The oven beeped, signaling that it was at the right temperature, and Endesha put them on the middle rack.
Father and daughter hugged, and Endesha pressed a kiss to the top of Nyota’s head. “I think it is time you go get ready, Nyota. More guests will arrive soon.”
Nyota looked around the kitchen. “Are you sure? It seems like there’s still so much to do.”
“Tiny details, my bear,” Endesha said. “Go put on the new dress I bought you.”
“All right,” she said. She kissed him on the cheek once before leaving the kitchen. Only a few people had arrived, and Nyota previously said hello to them, so she was able to slip up the stairs to her room with no problem.
She opened the door to her room, when the sound of cackling and shouting caught her attention. It came from her bathroom. Nyota pushed open the bathroom door all the way, staring at the sight before her.
Hikaru had his arms around Jim’s waist as Jim shot him in the face with the adjustable showerhead. Both of them were drenched, still in their clothes, and Jim was the one doing the cackling. The room was also in shambles; there were huge puddles of water on the floor, the walls were streaked with it…everything was a mess.
“Jim, come on,” Hikaru said. His grip tightened around Jim’s waist. “Nyota will lose her mind!”
“Nyota’s not the boss of me!” Jim said with another cackle.
“You must be new here, because Nyota is the boss of all of us,” Hikaru said with a loud laugh.
Her shock having worn off, Nyota put her hands on her hips. “What the hell are the two of you doing? My bathroom is a disaster, and you both look like drowned rats! You’re supposed to be putting Jim by himself into the shower, Hikaru!”
Hikaru and Jim, who had frozen at the sound of her voice, both stared at her with matching contrite expressions. Hikaru blew his wet bangs out of his face, and Jim held the showerhead down, aiming it at the floor.
For about three seconds.
Before Nyota could do anything, Hikaru sprinted behind her, grabbed her, and held her in front of him. And before Nyota could protest, Jim opened fire on her, drenching her from the chest up.
“No, no, no, no!” Nyota screamed. “I just had my hair blown out! Jim! Hikaru! No!”
Hikaru laughed in her ear, as Jim sprayed her mercilessly with the water. Finally Nyota wriggled out of Hikaru’s grip, using him as a human shield. Jim sprayed both of them, his laughter echoing off the bathroom walls.
Nyota had enough. She let go of Hikaru, grabbing the showerhead out of Jim’s hands with a surprising amount of strength.
Although the fact that Jim was still wasted helped.
Nyota hosed him down thoroughly, until every item of his clothing was sodden and heavy. Even his socks. Satisfied with her work, she turned off the water.
“Now,” she said, flipped her wet and rapidly-curling hair out of her face. “Can we get ready to eat?”
Jim squeezed water out of his indigo dress shirt. Hikaru pulled off his sweater, leaving it on the edge of Nyota’s huge soaking tub.
“We can’t go down like this,” Hikaru said. “My parents will lose their minds.”
“As will mine,” Nyota said. She handed each of them a towel. “Here you go. Dry yourselves off. I have to do something with my hair.”
Before either of them could say anything, Jim stripped all the way down to his purple boxer briefs. He kicked his clothes across the bathroom, and they landed in a wet heap next to Nyota’s hamper. Hikaru stopped what he was doing and stared.
Jim turned and took off out the bathroom.
Nyota’s jaw fell. “Oh my God, he’s going to streak at my parents’ Thanksgiving. Hikaru!”
Hikaru continued to watch Jim go with a strange look on his face.
“Hikaru!” Nyota repeated. “Go after him! Make sure he doesn’t go downstairs!”
“What?” Hikaru turned and blinked at her. Honestly, he could be so slow sometimes. “Oh right! Jim! Hang on, Jim!”
Hikaru bolted after him, Nyota falling in behind. Fortunately, Jim didn’t head towards the stairs.
Instead, he headed towards Nyota’s parents’ suite.
What would he do there?
Jim opened the door and snuck in through a crack, Hikaru and Nyota rushing in after him. He threw open one closet door; it was Endesha’s walk-in, and he wandered into it.
“Jim, get back here!” Nyota whispered. “You’re going to get me killed!”
Jim had gravitated to Endesha’s collection of bespoke shirts. He rifled through them before settling on a red and white one. He pulled it off the hanger and started buttoning it up, causing Nyota to bury her face in her hands.
Next to her, Hikaru brightened. “Well, actually, that’s not a bad idea.” He picked out a blue shirt with white pinstripes. Discarding his own polo, Hikaru dropped them on the floor. He buttoned up the shirt, although the sleeves were too long. Hikaru rolled them up and grabbed a tie.
Nyota sighed. “I swear if I end up dead I will haunt both of you for eternity.”
Jim, who had grabbed a pair of red pants, pulled them on. They needed a belt, and he grabbed one from a rack built into the closet wall. He had to fasten it at the smallest hole on it, but it worked and the pants would stay up. “Like your dad will even fucking notice,” Jim said with cheer in his voice. “He comes home with new shirts practically every day. Kinda fruity if you think about it.”
“From the expert,” Nyota said with a sigh.
“I’m just sayin’,” Jim said with a shrug. He took a step forward, tripping over the pants cuffs. “Whatever.”
Again Jim led the way back to Nyota’s bedroom. There he slid his feet into his black loafers, not giving any thought to the fact that he didn’t have any socks on. Hikaru tucked his borrowed shirt into his chinos, and Nyota shook her head as she grabbed her blow dryer.
Putting the defuser on the dryer and setting it the hottest it would get, Nyota dried her sopping hair in a few minutes. It rested in waves surrounding her features, and she debated putting a headband on. Then she left the room, picking up her new dress from where it hung on her mirror. It was a cream satin with black trim around the neck and on the edge of the sleeves.
The boys had come out of the bathroom, and it took Jim three tries to lean against the door frame without falling over. Nyota grabbed a pair of black Wolford tights and started to pull them on; ever the gentleman, Hikaru averted his gaze, but Jim had no such qualms as he stared openly at her.
“You should show your legs off more,” Jim said. “They go alllllllll the way up.”
Nyota gave Jim a baleful look. Hikaru snorted, but he stopped once Nyota turned to look at him. “I mean, shut up, Jim,” Hikaru said after a second.
“Yes, Jim, do shut up,” Nyota said as she slid on her black Louboutin Pigalles.
Jim pouted. “You’re ganging up on me. It’s not cool.”
“Then don’t give us a reason to,” Nyota said.
Sticking his tongue out at her, Jim stepped forward. He tripped hard on the pants that time, and Hikaru managed to catch him only just before he faceplanted into Nyota’s carpet. Nyota raised two fingers to her temple and sighed.
“Just…cart him downstairs,” she said.
“Yeah, I’m on it,” Hikaru replied.
The three of them tottered down the stairs, and Nyota saw her father, still in his apron, passing out flutes of champagne to various guests. Mimi and Ken mingled with Aailyah, Laurel, and an exotic looking man that must have been Matthieu. Ken excused himself to take a call on his cell.
Jim made a weird noise. “You can stop carrying me.”
“Nope,” Hikaru said. He placed Jim in a chair. “Here.”
Jim sighed. Endesha came over with the tray of champagne. The look in his eyes demonstrated that he recognized Jim’s clothing. “Those are dry clean only, Jim. Just bring them back clean the next time you come for a visit, all right?”
Jim grinned up at him when the champagne caught his eye. He grabbed a flute. “Hooray!” Nyota stealthily stole it from him and handed it back to her father. Jim stared at his now-empty hand with a blank look. “Wait, didn’t I just---“
“Don’t worry about it,” Endesha said. He winked at Nyota and took off to greet more guests.
Ken wandered back within earshot. “No, I…well, I’m with my family right now…I see…”
Mimi walked over to them, giving Hikaru’s new outfit a funny look. “Do I even want to know?”
“Not really,” Hikaru admitted. “What’s up with Dad?”
“Some deal with some company in Amsterdam, I believe,” Mimi said as she took a sip of champagne. Nyota watched them with a curious look as Ken hung up the phone and came over to the group.
“I have to go into the office for a bit,” he said with a regret-filled smile.
“Right now? It’s Thanksgiving,” Hikaru said.
“Not in the Netherlands, it’s not,” Ken explained. “I have to close this deal. They want to move today, so it has to be today.”
“Dinner is almost on the table, Ken,” Mimi said with a stern frown. “They can wait until tomorrow.”
“Honey, if I could, I would, but they want to do it tonight,” Ken said. “Look, I brought them in, but if my coworkers close without me, I lose the commission.”
“Then I will write you a check myself,” Mimi said, her words edged with steel and condescension. “Go find your place at the table, Ken. You’re staying.”
Nyota winced, and it did not escape her notice that Hikaru did the same. His father however…everything about his demeanor shifted in that instant. His stance had been open, and it closed completely towards her. His mouth tightened into a thin line, and defiance glittered in his eyes.
“I think I just lost my appetite,” Ken said and his tone was the bitterest Nyota had ever heard. “If you’ll excuse me, I need to go.”
Mimi stared at Ken in shock, and Hikaru sighed and put his hands in his pockets. Before either of them could speak again, Ken turned his back on them and strode out of the room towards the elevator.
Sighing a little, Mimi put a stilted smile on her face. “We’ll bring him home a plate,” she said to Hikaru. “No gravy, though. At his last physical, his doctor said his bad cholesterol is too high.” As if she just realized they were there, Mimi gave Jim and Nyota a look. She smiled at the two of them before taking off to mingle with some newly arrived guests.
“Hikaru,” Nyota said.
Her boyfriend turned to her. “No, it’s no big deal. He’s been talking about this deal for weeks. It’s obviously really important to him. Let’s just have a good time without him and make him sorry he missed out.”
Nyota nodded, although she was still concerned about him. She didn’t have time to inquire further or reassure him, however.
Her mother called everyone to the table.
Well as always with my standing tradition, Gossip Girl is closing the curtains and going dark for this most special holiday. I’m trading my laptop for stovetop, and the only dishing I’ll do will be around the table for seconds.
But while the cat’s away, the mice will play, of which I have no doubt. Happy Thanksgiving, and have fun my precious little rodents!
Around two pm, she glided down her stairs to greet her father when she noticed that something was wrong.
About ten people in matching white and black uniforms set up the dining table in the middle of her family’s foyer. Her mother stood in a black Stella McCartney suit accessorized with a gold silk blouse, delegating tasks and giving orders.
“Mother?” Nyota asked. “Caterers?”
Aailyah looked up at the sound of her voice. “Could you give us a moment, please?” she asked the server she spoke to. The woman nodded, and they all cleared out.
“What are they doing here?” Nyota said. “Where’s Daddy?”
Aailyah sighed. “I should have expected this. Of course he leaves it to me to be the bad guy.” She walked over to Nyota and put her hands on her shoulders. “Your father isn’t going to make it after all, Nyota.”
Her heart dropping down into the vicinity of her knees, Nyota stared at her mother with shock plain on her face. “What?”
“Something happened with the consulate in Paris,” Aailyah said. “He had to cancel last minute.”
Utterly devastated, Nyota had to blink back tears. “No, but…he promised…”
Aailyah sighed and gave her daughter a soft look. “I’m sure it’s a huge blow, dear. I know he would be here if he could. But unfortunately, he had to cancel. At least we’re together, though, right?”
Nyota nodded, the disappointment receding into anger. So her father couldn’t keep a promise? Well, that was his problem. The next time they spoke on the phone, he would be in for an earful.
“I need some air,” Nyota said as breezily as she could.
“Take a coat, it’s cold,” Aailyah said. “I don’t want you getting sick.”
Nyota ignored her as she stalked through the penthouse and out onto their terrace. She stood, her back to her home as she looked out at the city.
Behind her, someone cleared her throat.
“I don’t want company, Hoshi,” Nyota said. “I just want to be left alone.”
“Miss Nyota,” Hoshi said. “Your father…”
“I definitely don’t want to talk about Daddy,” Nyota said with a frustrated sigh. “If there’s anything I won’t want to talk about for days, it’s him.”
Hoshi was silent for a minute.
“And he didn’t even call,” Nyota finished.
Again, Hoshi cleared her throat. “Miss Nyota…maybe you should call him. Maybe you should hear for yourself the real reason why he isn’t here.”
Nyota’s brows furrowed. She turned to face her housekeeper. “What do you mean? The real reason?”
Hoshi got a hesitant look on her face. “I think I may have spoken out of turn, Miss Nyota…”
Nyota advanced on her. “You know something. Spill it.”
Hoshi turned to make sure her mother wasn’t listening. She then turned back to face Nyota. “Your mother was the one who called him. She told him not to come today.”
“Excuse me?” Nyota said.
“As I said, call him,” Hoshi pleaded. “I’m sure you don’t believe me, but you can call him.”
Nyota gave her a long look; Hoshi wasn’t really just Nyota’s housekeeper. She was more like a kind aunt who had practically raised her. More to the point, Hoshi had never lied to her.
But her mother had.
“Excuse me,” Nyota said. She stepped back into the penthouse, running up the stairs to her room. She grabbed her phone, dialing her father’s phone in Paris.
The phone rang twice before he picked it up. Nyota? I wasn’t expecting to hear from you.
“Hi Daddy,” Nyota said. “You’re not coming?’
There was a long pause. Well, no. Of course not. After what your mother told me, I assumed you wouldn’t want me there today.
Nyota raised an eyebrow. “And what exactly did Mother tell you?”
There was another long pause. Your mother told me how angry you were with me for moving here. And that you were so upset and so sick over it, you didn’t wish to speak to me today, let alone see me.
“Did she now?” Nyota said, her teeth gritting together. “And you believed her?”
Endesha cleared his throat. I see now that perhaps I should not have. He sighed. I had a feeling I should have insisted on speaking to you before making my decision. I just… He sighed again.
“You just what, Daddy?”
I just remember how devastated you were when you found out about Matthieu and I, Daddy said. The wounds are still so fresh. I would have understood, Nyota, if you really had felt that way. I didn’t do right by you telling you about our split over the phone. I should have been there with you and done it in person.
“That I can agree to,” Nyota said. “Daddy, you know I adore you. And you know Thanksgiving is our most important day. You realize I would never tell you I didn’t want to see you today, right?”
I do now, Nyota-bear, he whispered. He groaned a little. I should have confirmed it with you before canceling.
“It’s too late now, Daddy,” Nyota said. “But I love you. And I miss you. Please promise you’ll still come for Christmas. I couldn’t bear to not see you then as well.”
Nothing could keep me from you for that day, Endesha said, and Nyota could feel the love from the tone of his voice. I promise you I will be there for Christmas. I’ve already purchased the tickets.
“Good,” Nyota said. “Daddy, I do love you and miss you terribly. I need to go now. I’ll call again tomorrow.”
Of course. I look forward to it. Do try to enjoy your Thanksgiving, Nyota. It’s your favorite day of the year. He disconnected the call, and Nyota clutched her phone in her hand in anger.
Without another word or glance around her bedroom, Nyota stormed down the stairs. Some guests had arrived, and Nyota approached her mother. “Excuse me,” she said to Laurel. “Mother.”
Laurel caught the hint and left, and Aailyah stared at Nyota. “I certainly hope you have a reason for being so impolite.”
“You told Daddy I didn’t want to see him today?” Nyota said, her tone sharp and accusatory. “You told him I was so upset about his leaving I didn’t even want to talk to him today?”
The irritation on her mother’s face faltered, and she looked suddenly older than her forty-one years. “Nyota…”
“How could you?” Nyota said, not caring if everyone heard. “How could you do this to me?”
This didn’t shame her mother, however. Her face steeled with resolve. “When are you going to get it? He left us.”
“No, he left you,” Nyota said. “Daddy and I are fine. Your marriage ended, my relationship with him is fine.”
Aailyah shook her head a few times. “Nyota, I am sure you are just upset right now. We will have dinner and discuss this later. Make sure you get a special dessert.”
Next to them sat a table filled with desserts, as a matter of fact. Pies, pastries, cakes…but no pumpkin pie. “Wait a minute. Where is Daddy’s pie?”
Aailyah didn’t answer.
Nyota whirled around, her eyes wild and accusing. “What. Did. You. Do. With. Daddy’s. Pie?”
“Well we just had so many choices from the caterer,” Aailyah said. “I just decided we’d send Endesha’s pie down the doorman. I’m certain you understand.”
This, more than anything else, drove Nyota to a near-blinding rage. “You…how dare you!”
“Nyota, you have your pick of desserts. Choose one of them, and be done with it.” Aailyah turned her attention to some new arrivals. “And stop making a scene. We have guests.”
Nyota virtually vibrated in hurt and anger. She grabbed a large apple pie from the table and stomped up the stairs to her room. Her mother opened her mouth to say something before deciding against it. Nyota ran into her room, locking the door behind her.
She sat the pie on her desk, and without care of propriety, she took her hand and shoveled the pie into her mouth. She ate, barely chewing, as fast as she could, swallowing it down. Before long, there were only crumbs left in the pie pan.
Nyota hiccupped a few times before bolting into her bathroom. Before she could talk herself out of it, she shoved her fingers down her throat, vomiting the pie up into her toilet. She threw up until there was nothing left, resulting in her just dry heaving above the water.
Then the sobbing started. Tears streamed down her face, burning hot her against her cheeks. The worst part was she had no one to talk to about this. Spock was always incommunicado on Thanksgiving for reasons literally no one knew about, and Hikaru had his own problems. Christine was with her grandmother in Hyannis Port. Gaila and her family had gone to a ski lodge in Vermont.
Well…there was one person, if he didn’t completely hate her from the day before.
Nyota grabbed her phone again and sent a text message. Where are you?
It only took a second for Jim to reply. Brooklyn, thanks to you.
Can I meet you there? Everything’s gone to hell in a handbasket.
Jim took about five minutes to reply, which set Nyota on edge. Finally, he responded with a 6 Stagg Street. Sixth floor loft. See you in a few.
Nyota dried her eyes. She paused to fix her hair and make up, before gliding back down the stairs. She grabbed her silver Alexander McQueen clutch, and a heavy black coat.
“Nyota,” Aailyah said.
“I’m leaving,” Nyota said in a tone that brooked no argument. “Have a fun Thanksgiving, Mother.”
The elevator chimed, and Nyota stepped into it. When she arrived in the lobby, the doorman arranged for a town car for her. She sat in the back seat, gave the address to the driver, and off she went.
His wife came around the corner, sitting at the counter. “I’ve missed this,” she said.
“The rent control and the kids, sure,” Chris said without looking up.
“No, Chris, I mean us as a family,” Morgan explained. “I’ve really missed this.”
“So much you slept with someone else,” Chris said with a sigh.
Frowning, Morgan stood and moved from behind the counter to face him directly. “I deserve that, but Phillip and I…it was a one time thing, Chris. It hasn’t happened since, and there are no words for how deeply I regret it.”
“I’m sure,” he said, not giving her any ground.
Morgan pursed her lips and shook her head once. “Chris, I’m here. I’m trying. Can’t you do the same?” A deep, abiding sadness crossed her features, and her eyes filled with tears. “Or did I mess things up that badly that you don’t care.”
The frustrating thing was that Chris wanted to try again. He really did. But could her forgive her? Could they move on?
A tear spilled down one of her cheeks, and she wiped it away. She took a deep breath and went to turn to leave. Chris caught her arm with his hand.
“Wait…” he said. “I care. I do. And I want to try also. We can move forward, Morgan.”
She gave him a long look, searching his eyes to make certain he told the truth. After a minute of this, she wrapped him in her arms. He returned the favor, tilting her face up to kiss her.
They lingered together until one person cleared his throat, and the other said, “Gross.”
Chris and his wife broke apart, and sure enough, there stood their sons. Leonard’s expression was somehow both pleased and wary, while Pavel had the typical expression he wore when they would engage in public affection.
“I didn’t hear you two come in,” Chris said.
“Obviously,” they replied in unison. Before either of them could say anything else, there was a knock on the loft door. Leonard visibly brightened, rushing towards it.
Chris startled. “Morgan, there’s something you should know about Jim’s mother…”
“I’m sure I’ll know everything I need to in a…second?” Morgan stared at the three people entering the apartment.
Jim led the way, bee-lining for Leonard. Without a care of the other people in the room, Jim planted a big, chipper kiss on his son’s mouth. Leonard’s cheeks flushed, and he cleared his throat.
The older, taller, darker-haired boy with them openly rolled his eyes, as did Pavel. Leonard pulled back from Jim and gestured at the Kirks. “Mom, Dad, Pavel, this is Sam Kirk and Winona Kirk.”
The look on Morgan’s face shifted from shock to almost dangerously neutral. “So I see,” she said, and if her words were harsh, no one else commented.
Winona stared right back at her, and her face was pale. She swallowed. “It’s nice to put faces to names,” she said, holding out a hand. “Christopher and Morgan, right? I’ve heard a lot about both of you.”
Chris blinked; was she really doing this?
Before he could react, Morgan stepped forward and shook her hand. “Yes. Winona was it? Nice to meet you.”
Okay, so…they both were doing it.
Shaking his head a few times, Chris stepped forward and shook Winona’s hand too. “Thanks for coming,” he said giving her a look. “We’re happy you could join us.”
Winona smiled at him, although it was stilted and brittle. In her other hand, she held a bottle of wine. “I…brought this for us,” she said. “For the adults.”
Chris looked at the wine; it was an off-dry rose that would perfectly complement both the turkey and the ham. It was startling that, even though they had spoken every day on the phone for weeks, Winona could predict him so well. “I’ll open it and pour us all glasses.”
The kids all proceeded towards the table, with Leonard pausing to take everyone’s coat into his bedroom. “God, I can’t wait for this. I haven’t had a home cooked meal in months,” Sam said.
“In months?” Pavel gave him a curious look. “Oh right, you live in a hotel.”
“Just for right now,” Jim said as Leonard reappeared. He laced their fingers together. “We’ll be back home in April.”
The kids continued to talk excitedly, and Pavel seemed relieved to have someone to chat with who wasn’t Jim or his brother. Morgan followed Chris further into the kitchen while he got their corkscrew.
“I apologize,” Winona said, having followed them. “I had no idea you were back, Morgan. Otherwise I would have sent Jim and Sam by themselves.”
“Well, I am,” Morgan said. “And why would you know?”
Chris and Winona exchanged a startled look. “Well…Jim. Never mentioned it.”
Morgan didn’t look convinced, but she didn’t press further. Chris opened the bottle and poured three generous glasses. Both Morgan and Winona immediately took theirs, taking long sips from them.
Chris sighed. “Look, I know this is…awkward.”
“Putting it mildly,” Winona said.
“But let’s just make the best of it,” Christ continued after giving her a funny look. “Our kids want to have a nice time. Let’s at least not ruin this for them.”
Both of the women’s expressions softened.
“You’re right, Chris,” Morgan said. “As I said yesterday, this holiday is about sharing.”
“Yes, but let’s not share too much,” Winona added. “My children don’t know about…our knowing each other.”
“Neither do ours,” Chris said. “And I think for at least Jim and Leonard’s sake, that’s for the best.”
“Agreed,” Winona said with a nod.
“Hey guys,” Leonard called, and they all turned towards the kids. “I think the turkey is bottoming out to room temperature. Stop being all ‘oh we’re adults with secrets’ and come eat.”
Winona snorted with a smile.
Morgan sighed. “Leonard.”
“What? It’s true.” Leonard said with a shrug as he took a seat next to Jim. “I didn’t eat breakfast, okay?”
“Me neither,” said the other three boys.
All of the adults sighed.
Chris cleared his throat. “Here. Grab the dressing, honey.”
He grabbed his glass and the bottle, and before he could move, both Winona and Morgan went to grab the bowl of oyster dressing.
Winona let go of it like it was on fire. “I…”
Morgan gave her a cold look before grabbing it and carting it to the table. She sat it next to Pavel, who was on Leonard’s other side.
“Yay!” Pavel said. “My favorite, thanks Mom!”
“Of course, honey,” Morgan said as she pointedly took the seat next to the head of the table. Chris stood at the head, and Winona took the chair next to Sam and across from Jim.
Chris took his wife and Pavel’s hands. Leonard and Jim were already holding hands, but Leonard put his other one into Pavel’s. Morgan’s free hand took Sam’s, and Sam caught the hint and took his mother’s. Winona then reached across the table, and Jim completed the circle.
Clearing his throat, Chris bowed his head and said, “For the laughter of the children, for my own life breath, for the abundance of food on this table, for the ones who prepared this sumptuous feast, for the roof over our heads, the clothes on our backs, for our health, and our wealth of blessings. For this opportunity to celebrate with family and friends, for the freedom to pray these words without fear, in any language, in any faith, in this great country whose landscape is as vast and beautiful as her inhabitants…thank you, God, for giving us all these. Amen.”
“Amen,” everyone else said. They all let go of each other’s hands, and dishes began to get passed around the table. Chris took turns serving up carved turkey and ham on every one’s plates, and he marveled for a second at how high the food got piled on Jim’s.
“Oh awesome, you guys do the marshmallows on your yams,” Sam said almost under his breath.
“I make them,” Pavel said proudly.
“Yeah, when we all end up with type-two diabetes, we know who to come after,” Leonard said with a sigh.
“Whoa there, Debbie Downer,” Sam said with a smirk. He took an extra helping of the yams, as if out of spite.
“Shut up,” Pavel added.
“Pavel,” Morgan said. “Not today.”
Leonard turned to Jim. “You see how he treats me? I’m only looking out for him.”
Jim grinned at him. “You’re so cute,” he said in a non-condescending manner. A phone beeped, and Jim pulled his out of his pocket. Jim frowned at the text message before typing a reply.
“Who’s that?” Leonard asked, peering over his shoulder.
“Hang on,” Jim said. His eyes widened, and he put his phone down. Biting his bottom lip, he turned to Chris and Morgan. “So um…and I realize this is last minute, insanely rude, and not my house…but would it be okay if a friend of mine joined us?”
Winona got an alarmed look on her face. “Jim, which friend?”
He hesitated for a second. “It’s Nyota.”
Winona’s face softened. “You’re being very kind to her considering what happened yesterday. You’re a wonderful friend, Jim.”
“Thanks, Mom. I wouldn’t ask,” Jim said, turning again to the Pikes. “I promise I wouldn’t have asked if it wasn’t dire. But she has nowhere else to go, and I just…”
“It’s all right, son,” Chris said. “We have more than enough. She can join us.”
Morgan sighed for a second but put a smile on her face. “Of course, Jim. If she has nowhere else to go, she’s more than welcome.”
“Thanks,” Jim said. He sent a quick text, then turned his phone completely off. He turned his attention back to his food. ”This is all really delicious, Chris. Thank you for having us.”
“Yes, thank you,” Winona said with a bright smile. Chris met her gaze, and a warm smile spread across his face as well.
“Thanks,” Sam added.
Morgan smiled too, but hers seemed frozen. “Of course.”
The seven of them ate in silence for a few minutes. Finally, Pavel gave Winona an interested look. “So, Mrs. Kirk…what were your Thanksgivings like growing up? Did you have a big family?”
“I have a sister, actually,” Winona answered. “She lives in West Palm Beach. We grew up in Montecito, California on a small ranch.”
“There are small ranches?” Leonard said.
“Not really,” Morgan said. Chris gave her a look. “I’m sure she’s being modest,” his wife amended.
Winona didn’t say anything, she just took a long drink of her wine. Sam and Jim gave her concerned looks, and Leonard cleared his throat. “So…did you have any horses?”
Brightening, Winona smiled at him. “Yes, I had a few, actually! My favorite was a Palomino named Rosewood, but I also had a beautiful Bay named Bronte, after the sisters.”
Morgan went pale. “Did you say Rosewood?”
“Yes,” Winona said.
Pavel had a curious look on his face. “Oh, our Dad wrote a poem called that…”
“Not that Rosewood,” Chris felt compelled to explain.
“Yeah,” Leonard said. “It’s because of our mom’s perfume. She wears a mix of rose and sandalwood. Hence the name.”
“You write poems, Chris?” Jim asked.
Winona looked down at her plate with an awkward grimace.
“I…have on occasion,” Chris answered him. “But, I…”
“I’m a fool,” Morgan whispered, somehow cutting him off.
Everyone else stared at them.
“You’re not a fool,” Chris told her.
“Why would you be a fool?” Pavel asked.
Morgan and Winona’s eyes met, and both women darted theirs away.
The kids continued to stare at them.
“Okay so why is everyone who’s over thirty at this table acting like they want to die?” Leonard said.
Sighing, Winona took another sip of wine. “Morgan, I never told Chris about that horse. He had no idea. It’s simply an odd coincidence, I assure you.”
Sam rested his hand on his chin, turning to look at his mother. Jim and Leonard both furrowed their brows, and Pavel opened his mouth for a second before closing it. When the youngest of them spoke, he said, “Why does it sound like you know each other?”
There was another, longer silence before Chris sighed. He cleared his throat a few times. “That’s because we did. Know each other. We went to college together.”
Jim and Leonard’s eyes widened, but before either of them could react, Pavel plowed ahead with, “Wait a minute. Is Mrs. Kirk who you’ve been on the phone with every day?”
Now Jim turned to his mother with a shocked expression. Leonard’s eyes narrowed as they focused on his father.
And Morgan looked like she wanted to kill herself.
“Every day,” she said. “You two…”
Chris sighed, but he didn’t deny it. “Morgan…”
“Excuse me, please,” Morgan said as she stood. “I need some air.” Chris began to follow when she snapped, “Don’t, Chris. Just don’t.” She stormed out of the dining room, her hair swinging behind her as she grabbed her coat and exited the apartment.
Pavel stood. “Wait, Mom---!” He gave his father a pointed glare before running after her.
Chris buried his face in his hands for a moment. When he raised it again, he saw Jim and Leonard whispering to each other. Then Jim and Sam exchanged a tense look.
“May we be excused too?’ Leonard said.
“Of course,” Chris said.
“Thanks,” Leonard said. He grabbed Jim’s hand, pulling him towards his room. Jim jerked his head at Sam, and Sam stood to follow.
“Lucy, you have some ‘splainin’ to do,” Sam said to his mom as he exited the room. The three boys went into Leonard’s room, and Leonard closed the door behind them a bit harder than was necessary.
Winona took another sip of wine and gave Chris an apologetic look. “As I said earlier, if I had known, I wouldn’t have come.”
“It’s not your fault,” Chris said.
Before she could reply, there came a timid knock on the door. Confused as to whom it could be, Chris got up from the table and opened the door. A beautiful girl about Jim and Leonard’s age stood with long, flowing black hair.
“Hello, Doctor Pike, is it?” she said. “I apologize for dropping in on you on a holiday. But my friend, James T. Kirk told me it would be all right if I came.”
Oh, that’s right. Jim’s friend.
Winona stood and smiled. “Nyota, so nice to see you. Happy Thanksgiving.”
“Happy Thanksgiving to you, too, Winona,” the girl said.
Chris smiled at her. “Nyota Uhura? I haven’t had the pleasure of teaching you yet.”
Nyota smiled at him, although the look in her eyes was sad. “I believe I’ll be in one of your classes next year, sir.”
“It’s not sir when we’re not at school, it’s Chris,” he told her. “Jim, Leonard, and Sam are in Leonard’s room. It’s the door attached to the living room.”
“Thank you so much,” Nyota said. She gave him and Winona both nods, walking toward the appointed room.
She knocked on the door, and Leonard opened it. “Come on, in,” he said. She followed his instructions, and he closed the door behind her, leaving Chris and Winona alone again.
Chris shook his head a few times with a grimace. “I sure hope the boys aren’t traumatized.”
Winona sighed. “Do you have anything stronger than wine?”
“My bourbon and whiskey collection,” Chris answered without hesitation.
“Whatever’s the strongest,” Winona declared. “Two…no, three fingers.”
“Great minds,” he said as he grabbed the Parker’s Heritage Collection. He poured generous amounts into two glasses, handing one to her. She took a long drink, and her eyes lit up. “Yeah, that’s one of my favorites.”
“I can see why,” Winona answered. She put the glass down on the coffee table. “Chris, I really am sorry. If I had known you were trying to work things out, I would never have…”
“Seeing as we literally only decided to try again the minute you arrived, you can be forgiven for not knowing,” Chris said. “She only came back yesterday, and there wasn’t really any time to give you a warning. Although I’m surprised Len didn’t tell Jim. He was pretty upset when she arrived yesterday.”
Winona looked thoughtful for a moment. “I bet he did, and Jim just didn’t say anything. They were on the phone for a while yesterday when Leonard asked if we could join you all. And it’s not really their fault…Jim had no reason to know I needed that information.”
“True,” Chris admitted. “Len and Pavel only found out about our phone calls yesterday morning. Well, they knew. Sound carries in this loft. But they didn’t know anything except a college friend. I certainly never said old girlfriend to them.”
Winona nodded. “We probably should have told Jim and Leonard when they started spending time together. It feels a bit unfair that this got dropped on them.”
“I think they’ll be fine,” Chris said. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen Leonard have this much affection for someone he’s not related to.”
“Jim has never been serious about a boy before at all,” Winona agreed. “It’s really adorable how much he cares for Leonard. I also don’t think I’ve ever seen him quite so happy. I don’t want their relationship to suffer because of us.”
“Same here,” Chris said. “In his almost three years at Starfleet, Leonard hasn’t made any friends. He has a chip on his shoulder about most of his classmates. It’s nice to see him let one of them in.”
Before Winona could reply, the loft door opened, and Pavel and Morgan entered. Pavel gave the two of them a slightly funny look before sighing. “Len?”
“His bedroom,” Chris answered.
Pavel didn’t speak again, he simply made his way to the room, knocking on the door. Sam opened it this time, and Pavel walked in without a word. The door closed behind him, and now all of the children were ensconced together.
Now Chris had to face his wife, and he gave her a look. “Before you say anything, aside from that one time Winona came by, all we have done is talk on the phone. Nothing has happened between us.”
“I’m actually involved with someone currently,” Winona said, further clarifying. “Sarek…wouldn’t handle me having an affair well.”
“Oh sure, you haven’t slept together,” Morgan said. “But emotional affairs are just as devastating as physical ones.”
Winona downed the rest of her bourbon and shook her head. “Emotional affairs are necessary to keep a relationship alive.”
“And just how many times have you been divorced?” Morgan said, and the tone of her voice made the temperature in the loft drop about twenty degrees.
“All right, all right,” Chris said, stepping in between them. “Let’s not say things we regret.”
The look on Morgan’s face screamed how dare you take her side. Chris gave her a look back telling her just how unnecessary her comment had been.
“My point is this,” Morgan said after a minute. “Chris and I have decided to give our marriage another try. We want things to work in the here and now. And that won’t happen if you’re here.” Her words were meant for Chris, but her eyes were focused on Winona’s face.
“You have got to be kidding me,” Winona said. “We’re just friends, for Christ’s sake. Nothing has happened!”
“You’re not just friends and you never have been,” Morgan said. She turned to him. “So which is it, Chris? What’s it going to be? Her friendship or our family?”
Chris looked at each of them in turn.
Yeah, Chris. Who was it going to be?
They ate in stilted silence.
After about ten minutes of it Hikaru decided he had enough. “Tastes good, Mom,” he said with a smile.
“We were fortunate the caterer could still accommodate us after the Uhuras uninvited us,” Mimi said archly. “It was such a last minute event, I was forced to improvise.”
Ken cleared his throat, taking a sip of Riesling.
“And I am certain it was just a misunderstanding that I wasn’t asked back to the Whitney foundation,” Mimi continued. “Or that I was asked to step down from the chairwoman’s position of the Snowflake Ball committee.”
Ken cleared his throat a second time.
Hikaru simply rolled his eyes. “Mom.”
Mimi took a sip of wine. “No one wanted to come attend ours, either. Perhaps the bail bondsman. Maybe I should save him a plate.”
“Mom,” Hikaru said again. “Seriously. Stop it.”
“What? I’m simply---“
“You didn’t care about this at all until it affected you personally,” Hikaru said with a slight growl. “That’s enough. It’s a holiday, and we’re together. Give it a rest, will you?”
“Hikaru, I don’t need you to fight this fight for me,” Ken said.
Hikaru stared at his father in disbelief. “Yeah, sure. You’re just sitting there and taking it. She’s ruining everything.”
“Hikaru,” Ken said. “Just…not today.”
Hikaru stared at his father with a sour expression; he turned back to his mother, who was pointedly cutting her turkey into tiny pieces. Everything about them filled him with disgust, and he only wanted one thing at that moment.
“Fine,” he said, scooting his chair back. He buttoned his suit jacket and stormed out of the dining room.
“And just where do you think you’re going?” Mimi shouted after him.
“Anywhere but here,” Hikaru retorted. He grabbed a coat, not even checking to see if it was his or not, and fled the brownstone, stomping towards Central Park. It took him a while to arrive, and he when he made it, he slumped down onto a deserted bench.
He grabbed his cellphone, scrolling through his favorites. The first person he went to was Spock. But that wouldn’t work. Spock turned his phone off pretty much only one day of the year, and that was Thanksgiving. He had never explained to anyone why or for what reason, but he always did. If Hikaru called him, it’d go right to voice mail.
Hikaru went back up in his favorites to Nyota…but they weren’t together anymore. He had no right to just run to her with his problems. And while he knew it was Aailyah avoiding controversy that prevented him from spending Thanksgiving with their family, he wasn’t certain how welcome he would be that day. Nyota always spent the day with her dad, and it was important. He didn’t wish to intrude.
She likely didn’t even have her phone on her, now that he thought of it.
Hikaru scrolled down his favorites again to Jim. He was still angry with Jim, and he wasn’t sure they could really even be friends anymore. Plus, Jim was likely at Nyota’s. And with the way Jim had acted since he came back, Hikaru doubted he’d even pick up when called.
There was also the little matter of what he’d said to Jim the last time they spoke. Hikaru winced; he had been pretty cruel, and yeah he had been upset, but that didn’t excuse it. Most likely, Jim didn’t want anything to do with him.
Hikaru wished there was someone, anyone he could go to about his family. For some reason, his mind went to that Scotty kid. He hadn’t cared about Hikaru’s problems; he had actually been pretty kind, if somewhat brash. Hikaru regretted not getting his number at the party. At least then he would have had someone to speak to.
Hikaru sat on the bench for at least two hours before sighing and leaving the park. He walked back to his house, opening the door and stepping inside.
Unfortunately, his mother stood in the foyer. “Where have you been? How dare you!”
“I doubt you even care, considering me dipping out on Thanksgiving won’t sully your reputation with the Colony Club or whatever,” Hikaru said in a snide tone. Without even taking his jacket off, he strode up the stairs, planning on drinking some of his father’s Suntory in his study. The sight that greeted him made him freeze.
Ken lay on the floor, unconscious. An empty pill bottle sat near an open hand, and the whiskey was on the desk, having been mostly drank. There was a puddle of vomit on the floor near his head, and streaks of it were on his face and around his mouth.
Hikaru’s eyes widened, and bile rose in his throat. “Mom? Mom!”
“What is it?” his mom said.
“Call 911,” Hikaru called back down the stairs. “Now. It’s Dad…I think he’s---“
Before he could finish, Mimi dashed out of view, presumably to call an ambulance. Hikaru rushed over to his father, kneeling at his side. He grabbed his face, trying to force his eyes open. “Dad?” Dad, come on. Wake up.”
Ken lay prone on the ground. He didn’t say anything or move. He was breathing, though it was labored. Hikaru grabbed the pill bottle and read it. Fiorinal, it read, but Hikaru didn’t know much about it other than his dad took it for headaches sometimes.
He’d taken the whole bottle, though, and drank enough whiskey to make a person sick. Hikaru prayed that the paramedics would get there quickly enough that his father wouldn’t die. He sat, holding his father’s hand, until a loud commotion was heard from downstairs. Hikaru stood, watching the paramedics bring a gurney up the stairs.
The first thing they did was check his airway and suction out more vomit. They put in a device that went into his airway with a bag attached; one of the paramedics squeezed the bag, “breathing” for his father. Another paramedic found a vein and started an IV. They stabilized Ken’s head, placing him onto the gurney. They carefully wheeled him out of the study and down the stairs, loading him into an ambulance.
Mimi went to get in the back with him, but Hikaru barked out a “No. You drive. I’ll go with him.”
She didn’t argue, she just ran back inside for the keys to the Lexus. The ambulance took off, heading downtown towards the NYU Hospital. Hikaru held his father’s hand the entire way; fortunately, traffic was light due to the holiday, and they arrived within a few minutes. The paramedics carted his father out of the ambulance, wheeling him into the hospital with Hikaru at his heels.
The paramedics had done a lot of things to his father that Hikaru didn’t understand. They gave him some kind of shot, and they did something called intubating that they explained was in case he vomited again.
It didn’t take long for his father to be wheeled out of sight, and Hikaru and his mother were left alone in a waiting room.
For twenty minutes they stood in silence, Mimi by a couch as if she couldn’t decide on if she needed to sit down or not, and Hikaru leaning against a wall.
Mimi finally smiled, putting a brittle smile on her face. “Your father and his headaches,” she began. “He obviously just forgot he took his pill and had some whiskey. I’m sure it happens all the time.”
Hikaru stared at her with little more than disbelief on his face. “He’s obviously taken enough pills to treat the entire free world’s headaches. Plus he knows better than to drink when he has one of those pills, let alone a whole bottle.”
Mimi didn’t reply for a long time. She stared across the waiting room, occasionally licking her lips or blinking rapidly. “I’m certain it was an accident.”
Hikaru pounded his fist into the wall. “It wasn’t an accident. He tried to kill himself. Wake up, Mom! He has a drug problem.”
Mimi suddenly appeared very small, as if she was a tiny fragile creature that could be crushed in Hikaru’s palm. His hard stare didn’t waver or back down, but finally she averted her gaze. “I don’t understand how. He’s been given everything. Even his job. All he had to do was show up every day, sit behind a desk, and not get arrested. I cannot understand how that was so difficult.”
“It’s obviously not working out for him,” Hikaru said. “Jesus. You make it sound like he’s just a puppet for you to bring out at parties. He’s a human being. Maybe it’s time you remember that.”
Before either of them could speak again, a doctor came into the room with a frown. “Mrs. Sulu?”
“Yes,” Mimi said.
“He’s not out of the woods yet,” the doctor explained. “But there’s little we can do for him at this point. We’ll continue to monitor his progress, but it’s all in his hands now.”
“Is he awake?” Hikaru asked.
“No, he’s unconscious,” the doctor said. “One of you can go in with him, but only if you remain quiet and let him sleep.”
Mimi grabbed her purse. Hikaru glared at her and cut her off. “No. I’ll go sit with him. You wait here.”
Hikaru couldn’t tell if she didn’t have it in her to fight or if she didn’t just want to cause a scene, but at that moment he didn’t frankly care. He followed the doctor to his father’s room, and what he saw made him hesitate.
His father wasn’t on life support or in ICU or anything that drastic, but he looked so pale and fragile, Hikaru had to fight to not bolt out of the room back into his mother’s arms. Ken was pale and wan, with IVs and bags keeping him alive. Hikaru had never seen anyone in such a state, and his heart went out to his father.
Hikaru went to his father’s side, taking one of his hands in his. He stood by him for a long time without speaking. When he finally did, he said, “You’ll make it, Dad. You have to. You’re…you’re stronger than this. I know you’ll be okay.”
His dad didn’t fully rouse or speak or anything, but if Hikaru paid attention, he squeezed his hand. Clinging to it, Hikaru smiled a watery, broken smile at the man who lay sleeping in his hospital bed.
He stayed by his side until he came to, and then Hikaru didn’t judge him. He just listened, and let his father vent.
It was worth it.
Once he hit send, he waited about five minutes before remembering; it was after four, which meant Len and his family were eating. Chris and Morgan had a strict no phones during holiday dinners rule. Richie Rich and his family were there, so Len probably wouldn’t answer anyway.
Scrolling through his contacts, Scotty hit Gaila’s number. They had texted off and on since that Nyota girl’s party and hung out once or twice. Maybe she was as bored as Scotty was.
Hey gorgeous, he sent. Happy Thanksgiving.
After a minute, Gaila replied with, Happy Thanksgiving, Scotty! Are you with your family?
Yeah, we’re in Vermont at my sister’s, he texted.
We’re in Vermont too! That’s so funny, Gaila said. What part?
Burlington. Where are you?
Killington Resort. My dad likes to snowboard.
Scotty leaned against the deck railing. Lot of athletes in your family then. What sports do you play?
I don’t really, but I do work out every morning for an hour. Occupational hazard. I do bikram yoga, too.
Hot, Scotty said with a smile.
LOL I see what you did there, Gaila replied.
Snorting, Scotty texted her with, It was too easy. So what are you doing if you don’t snowboard?
I did some skiing with my mom this morning, Gaila answered. Now we’re hanging out by the fire, waiting on dinner with hot buttered rum.
That sounds insanely good, Scotty said. Dad brought some of his homebrew with him for dinner. Milk stout and cider.
Your dad brews his own beer?
Scotty was about to reply when his mother poked her head out of the back door. “Monty, it’s time for dinner. Come be social.”
“In a sec,” he said as he typed into SwiftKey. Yeah, he has since the 1980s. Something about being against corporatism. I honestly tune him out when he starts.
I do the same with my dad when he starts ranting about the Democrats, Gaila said. Sooris and I both skew liberal. We just keep our mouths shut a lot.
Scotty shuddered. I bet that would get ugly.
Yeah, I said something once about marriage equality. Never doing that again.
Scotty frowned, as thanks to Len and his sister, that was a cause pretty close to his heart. Although, it was good to know Gaila was on the right side of that issue.
Before he could reply, he received a message from her saying, GTG, dinner. Enjoy yours!
You too, gorgeous, Scotty replied. He pocketed his phone, opening the sliding glass door and walking back into the house.
Scotty’s older sister, Maggie, lit candles on the dining table. “About time you got back in here,” she said. “Who were you texting? Len?”
“None-a-ya,” Scotty replied as he inspected the food on the table.
“None-a-ya? What kind of name is that?” Maggie asked, almost to herself.
“It’s short for none-a-ya business,” Scotty declared.
Maggie stood upright; they were the same height, but her purple Mohawk made her appear a few inches taller. She rolled her eyes at him for a second before something clicked on her face. “Was it a girl?”
Scotty started. “I just told you, it’s none---“
“She was a girl,” Maggie said with a grin. “Baby brother has a girl.”
“Oh whatever,” Scotty said. “Fine. It was a girl. A super-hot one who models named Gaila. She goes to Len’s school. You happy?”
Maggie’s grin turned wicked. “My brother is dating a model. Boy, are you in for it when Aileen and Donnan find out.”
“When Aileen and Donnan find out about what?” Their mother asked from across the room.
Scotty sighed and covered his face with his hands. This was a conversation he wasn’t prepared to have on Thanksgiving. Or ever. Never would be the best time to have it, all considered. “Nothing, we’re just talking about a girl I met at a party.”
“I heard something about her being a model,” Aileen continued. “Monty, is she a model?”
There was officially no way out. “Yes. Commercial, mostly, although she’s done some runway work.”
Aileen sighed. “Monty, you know how I feel about that industry. It’s a reinforcement of the unrealistic and damaging body image the patriarchy tries to force women and impressionable girls to adhere to…”
Scotty and Maggie both sighed, as they had heard it pretty much every time they passed a billboard or saw an ad on TV.
Undeterred, their mother continued her lecture. “Not to mention how it plays into the crass commercial atmosphere of the United States. Modeling rewards these young women for doing things like shilling blood diamonds and watered-down beer. It’s a shameful, shameful industry that chews these girls up and spits them on the ground when they age out of their twenties. As if a woman over thirty has nothing to contribute to society but her physical appearance.”
Scotty sighed a second time. “At least Gaila has a job, unlike the rest of her classmates. Including Len and Pavel. And all of her money from it goes into a trust, I think, so she can’t just spend it however.”
This did not move his mother. Aileen favored her son with a raised eyebrow. “Montgomery, I’m sure you like this girl…”
“Okay, she used Montgomery. I’m out,” Maggie mumbled as she snuck out the back.
Scotty watched his coward of a sister flee, wondering for a minute if he could do the same. Before he could come up with an excuse, his mother continued her speech. “I understand that you’re a teenager, and that comes with certain…trappings. You don’t always use your brain to think with; it’s perfectly natural and not your fault.”
“Is insulting me my fault?” Scotty said.
Aileen gave him a look, and he didn’t speak up for a while. “I’m sure you think you like this girl, Montgomery, but really what do you have in common with her? She sounds like a socialite. She’s probably not very intelligent if she’s making a career off her looks.”
Scotty lifted his sunglasses off his face, folding them up and placing them in his vest pocket. “Did you really just call Gaila stupid because she’s a model?”
Aileen shook her head a few times. “Monty…”
“No that’s…” Scotty glared at her. “Isn’t the whole point of feminism that a woman gets to choose what she wants in life? So shouldn’t you be, I don’t know, not coming down on my girlfriend because she is a professional model.”
“That profession reinforces virtually every single evil of the patriarchy,” Aileen said. “I’m sure she thinks she chose it of her own free will, but I highly doubt it. I’m sure her parents steered her into it.”
“I think maybe if you don’t even know what she looks like, you shouldn’t talk shit about her or her family,” Scotty said in a warning tone. He hoped that Aileen would catch the hint and drop it.
Frowning, she shook her head a few times. “Monty, I’m just looking out for you and your best interests.”
“Yeah, sure,” Scotty said. “Whatever. I don’t want to talk about it anymore.”
Before Aileen could protest, Donnan came out from the kitchen carrying homemade tofu “turkey” loaf on a tray. Already assembled on the table were stuffed acorn squash, candied yams with vegan marshmallows, vegan green bean casserole, tofu-sage stuffing, vegan gravy, and vegan pies rounded out the meal. Glasses of his father’s cider stood next to their plates.
“Come on, everyone,” Donnan said with a smile. “It’s time to eat.”
Maggie followed behind him, carrying a tureen of pumpkin soup. She set it next to her father’s place at the head before taking the seat to his left. Scotty took the seat across from his sister, and his mother sat at the other end of the table.
“Of course, on this year,” Donnan began, and his family turned to him. “We have many things to be thankful for. Ourselves and our family. The roofs over our heads. The people working on today such as doctors and nurses. Our teachers and coworkers and friends. Our health. That the urban farm is prosperous.”
Scotty and Maggie nodded their agreement, although Scotty silently added things like his Nikon and his Xbox to that. It’d just start another fight if he brought them up, though, so he kept it to himself.
Honestly, he didn’t get what his parents’ damage was when it came to consumerism. Consumerism was pretty great. He had cool stuff he saved up for with his own allowance or bought with gift cards he got at Christmas or for his birthday.
Money was awesome.
But every time he brought it up, his parents would give him a lecture about the evils of corporatism and how the country was falling apart because of all of the money and greed in politics. He’d heard it so many times it was just boring and irritating now.
“The people who enrich our lives, who challenge us, and who support us through good and bad, no matter what we believe,” Donnan finished. He clapped his hands together once. “Let’s eat!”
His family took turns passing the food around and serving it up to themselves. As Scotty grabbed a almost overflowing bowlful of the soup, he thought of his father’s words. Support no matter what we believe, is what he said.
Scotty had a funny feeling that his parents wouldn’t apply that reasoning to meeting Gaila. Especially not after the way his mother called her an idiot. He frowned again at the memory; he’d never really thought of his mom as judgmental, but maybe she actually was.
She was still his mom, though. He stopped frowning and focused on his food as his sister talked about her band’s last gig.
Maybe his mom would change her mind when she met Gaila. Which wouldn’t be for a while because Scotty was pretty sure they weren’t serious, but still. Gaila wasn’t stupid; the opposite, rather. Scotty had shown her his homework one time, and not only was she able to keep up with his explanations, she started getting it all on her own.
Beauty and intelligence were not mutually exclusive. Maybe his mom just…forgot that.
“Christ on sale,” Sam said as he took a seat at Bones’ desk.
“Yup,” Jim and Bones said in unison. They sat on Bones’ bed, kicking off their shoes. Jim sat upright with his ankles crossed over each other, while Bones lay on his stomach next to him.
“I mean,” Bones began. “I know Mom and Dad dated people before each other. They got married in 1993. But I never…your mom? Why’d it have to be your mom?”
“I know, right?” Jim said. “Of all the people who went to Brown, they had to date each other. It’s appalling.”
Sam sighed. “Well, our parents married in 1991, and they had me a year later. So the likelihood of any of us being related is non-existent.”
Jim got a panicked look on his face, as did Bones. “Why on Earth would you say that? Why on Earth would we be related in the first place?”
Sam favored his younger brother with a serious look. “You’re going to sit here and tell me it honestly hasn’t occurred to you that Chris and Mom have had sex?”
Bones made a loud offended noise as he rolled onto his back. His arms covered his eyes as he made another sound. “I’m adopted. My brother is adopted. As far as I’m concerned, my dad’s never done anything but kiss.”
Jim went pale. “I feel like I’m going to pass out or something.” He glared at Sam. “Also you’re a dick.”
Sam sighed and shook his head a few times. “If it hadn’t occurred to you now, it would have eventually. Better to get all of the creepy feelings out now I’d say.”
“Gee, thanks,” Jim said. He leaned back on his elbows. “Blech. I’m so mad at Mom. She knew this whole time. She could have…warned me, or given me a head’s up…something other than me getting blindsided with it on Thanksgiving.”
“They’ve been on the phone every morning for the past few weeks,” Bones added. “Surely they could have told us. I mean, they could have at least said they knew each other from college or whatever. They could have given us more information than they did.”
“Yeah, I can’t really argue with that,” Sam said, and Jim slid closer to Bones on the bed. He reached out a hand, sliding his fingers in between Bones’.
Bones squeezed his fingers, looking over at him with an expression that was equal parts grimace and smile. Jim’s eyes softened, and he tried to smile back.
There came a timid knock on the door. Bones let go of Jim’s hand and stood, getting up to open it. “It better not be either your mom or my dad,” he said as he pulled it open.
Nyota stood on the other side.
“Oh right,” Bones said. “Come on in.”
Nyota brushed past him, her eyes lighting up when she saw Jim and Sam. “Hello, and Happy Thanksgiving, Leonard. Jim. Sam.”
“Hey Nyota,” Sam said.
“I don’t think we can really call it ‘happy’,” Bones added.
Nyota took in the sights of Bones’ room. Her face got an approving look at all the bookshelves, but she stared at the divider. “You have a garage door in the middle of your room.”
Bones sighed. “If you lift it up, you go into Pavel’s. It’s how we have separate spaces from each other.”
“Fascinating,” Nyota said. “Speaking of Pavel, where did he disappear to? I didn’t see him out in the living room.”
“He went for a walk with our mom,” Bones answered. “He’ll be back in a bit.”
Nyota nodded before turning to Jim. “Can we go somewhere to talk?”
“Sure,” Jim said. He gave Sam and Bones a look, asking for permission. Sam nodded.
Bones jerked his head towards the garage door. “Use Pavel’s room.”
“Thanks,” Jim said as he lifted the garage door. They ducked under it, and Jim pulled it back down behind them. “What happened?”
“Mother disinvited Daddy,” Nyota explained. “She told him I was so angry with him I didn’t even want to speak to him today. So he didn’t come.”
Jim’s face fell. “Oh Nyota…I’m so sorry.”
“She gets to decide everything,” Nyota continued. “I’m so tired of it. I’m tired of her. I just want to be in control for once...”
Jim sat on the edge of Pavel’s bed facing her with a frown. He knew that feeling all too well. “I can relate.” For some reason, this made Nyota’s eyes fill with tears. Her expression filled with shame, and Jim’s own face filled with concern. “Nyota?”
“There’s something else,” she said. “I’ve been…since my parents told me about the split, every time I eat I get sick.”
Jim gave her a long, searching look. There was more to it than that; it was obvious by the way she fidgeted and wouldn’t quite meet his eye. “From stress?” As soon as the words left his mouth, he realized what she was getting at. Horror filled him, and he instinctively got off the bed to hold her. “Oh, Nyota. On purpose? You don’t need to lose weight…”
“It’s not about that,” Nyota said, crying into his neck. She clung to the fabric of his tan sweater, holding him close. “Like I said, I just want to be in control of something. I just want something.”
“That’s not the way to go about it, though,” Jim said as he stroked her hair. “You’re going to mess up your stomach and digestive tract. I think it messes up your teeth and throat, too. And you could die, Nyota, if it goes on for too long. I really need you to not die.”
Nyota didn’t say anything, she just nodded a few times. Her grip tightened in his shirt, and Jim wrapped her even further in his arms.
“It’ll be okay,” Jim said. “I promise you, it’ll be okay. But you need to promise me something…”
“What’s that?” Nyota said with a few sniffles.
“That you’ll talk to someone about this, a professional someone, I mean.” Jim pulled back to look her in the eye, hoping his expression left no room for argument. “I mean it, Nyota. You can’t keep doing this.”
“I know,” Nyota said. “That’s why I’m finally telling you.”
“Well, I’m glad you did,” Jim said. “You know I’ll always be here.”
“I do,” Nyota said. “No matter how mean or nasty I get, you’re always here.”
“Wild horses,” Jim said as he gently wiped the tears off her face. Her make-up had stayed in place somehow, but her eyes were red. Even though he had just dried her face, Nyota wiped at it with the back of a hand. “Are you okay now? Can we go back in the other room with Bones and Sam?”
“Yes, I’ll be fine,” Nyota said. “Though I should probably eat something.”
Jim gave her a look.
“I’ll keep it down, I swear,” Nyota said.
“You’re not allowed to go to the bathroom when we’re done,” Jim said as he lifted the garage door. Nyota walked under it, followed by him. He lowered it back to the ground.
Pavel was in Bones’ room now, and he lit up like it was his birthday. His cheeks flushed, and his eyes positively glittered at the sight of her. “Nyota! Hi!”
Jim raised an eyebrow, giving Bones a look. Bones looked at Jim, looked at Pavel, looked at Nyota, then looked back at Jim. Then he rolled his eyes.
Sam cleared his throat. “Pavel says we can’t really go back out there.”
Jim put his hands in his pockets, while Nyota’s expression became confused. “I don’t understand. Why would we not be able to do that?”
“It’s a long story,” Bones said with a sigh. “But trust us, you don’t want to be out there right now.”
Now Jim frowned. “But…the food is out there. And I’m starving, Bones, I barely had any food before everything went sideways.”
Bones brought his hand up to his mouth, his gaze turning inward. It cleared, and he looked out his window. “The fire escape. We can sneak out and go to the 24/7 diner up the road.”
Sam’s eyes brightened. “Yes. Good. Let’s do that.”
“All of the coats are in here,” Bones continued. “This way they can…well…whatever. I don’t care what they do; this is all their fault. They’ll get over us leaving.”
“Agreed,” Pavel and Sam said.
Jim walked over to the window and looked down at the ground below. “Aren’t we kind of high up? It looks rickety…”
“It’s fine,” Pavel said as he lifted the garage door to grab a jacket. “I do it all the time.”
“He does,” Bones said. “I do it less often, but it’s safe. Otherwise you couldn’t pay me to go down it. Scotty also pretty much only uses the fire escape to enter or exit the premises.”
Nyota gave Jim a funny look. “I’m willing to do it. I’ve had enough Thanksgiving drama for one day.” Jim pointedly looked down at Nyota’s four inch stiletto booties. He looked back up at her face, causing her to roll her eyes. “You’ve seen me sprint in higher heels than these. We both know I’ll be fine.”
Realizing he was outvoted, Jim sighed and grabbed his coat. “Fine.”
Bones, who had put his coat on, reached out and took Jim’s hand. He pulled him towards his bedroom window. One by one, they climbed over the sill with Pavel leading the charge. Sam followed behind Pavel, with Bones behind Sam. Bones and Jim still held hands, and Jim’s other hand held Nyota’s. They made it down all the stairs, with Jim looking up from where they came.
Pavel again led them as they walked down Stagg a block and a half. Sure enough, there was a diner, and it had a fair amount of patrons in it. The five of them were told to seat themselves, and they grabbed a six person table in the middle of the restaurant. Bones, Jim, and Nyota sat on one side, with Sam across from Jim and Pavel across from Nyota.
A waitress came over in a pink uniform and white apron. “Hey honeys. What’ll it be to drink?” she asked as she passed them menus.
“Coke, please,” Pavel said.
“Water for me,” Bones said. He let go of Jim’s hand to grab the menu.
“Do you do egg creams?” Sam asked as he looked at the sandwiches.
“Yup,” the waitress answered.
“Chocolate egg cream,” Sam said.
“Make that two,” Nyota said, and Jim smiled at her.
“I’d like a…oooh! Root beer float!” Jim said with a grin. The waitress took off to get their drinks, and they continued to look over the menus. “Can I just get one of everything?”
“You and your insane appetite,” Sam said. “You know when your metabolism gives out, you’ll have to use your own money for the lipo.”
“I run five miles every morning,” Jim said with an exasperated sigh.
“The first time he came over he ate like three helpings of our dad’s chili,” Pavel said with a smirk.
“Three helpings? Is that all?” Nyota said, her tone too innocent to be genuine.
“Hey,” Bones said. “Leave him alone.”
Jim gave Bones a grateful look before glaring back at the others. “I didn’t agree to running away from…whatever to be the object of ridicule.” He thought about it for a second before turning to Pavel. “Why did we have to run anyhow?”
Pavel opened his mouth to speak just as the waitress brought their drinks. She took their orders; a double-bacon cheese burger with disco fries for Jim, a club sandwich and regular fries for Bones, a French dip with a side salad for Nyota, a chicken pot pie for Pavel, and Sam got a regular cheeseburger with extra mayo and fries for his food.
Pavel took a sip of his Coke before clearing his throat. “So, our mom hates your mom. Like…a lot.”
Bones gave Pavel an interested look. “More or less than the Guggenheim?”
“Way more,” Pavel said.
Nyota gave Pavel and Bones confused looks. “I realize it’s not the best museum Manhattan has to offer, but how can a person outright hate the Guggenheim?”
“Don’t ask,” Bones and Pavel said.
“Well anyways,” Pavel continued. “Our dad and your mom didn’t just have a thing. They almost got married. And apparently, when our mom and your mom first met, your mom kind of threw it in her face a lot.”
“That sounds like her,” Sam said with a sigh.
“So anyway, since at every given opportunity your mom likes to be all ‘I was his first real love blah blah’, our mom hates yours. I don’t know how your mom feels about her, though.”
Nyota finished taking a long drink of her egg cream. “Wait a minute. Your mother---“ She pointed at Jim and Sam. “And your father---“ She pointed at Bones and Pavel. “Dated before they married your other parents? And you just found out by having Thanksgiving together?”
“The Reader’s Digest version, but yes,” Bones said. “Oh and also, our dad and their mom have been on the phone every day for almost a month. Mom didn’t know that part.”
“So your mom is upset over Winona being back in Chris’s life,” Nyota said. “But she’s having an affair. So…”
“Allegedly that’s over,” Pavel said. “She wants things to work with our dad.”
Their food came, and they all tucked into it. Jim swallowed a bite of fries and gravy. “If I had known, I wouldn’t have brought her. We would have just done something else.”
Bones slid his hand down under the table to squeeze his thigh. “They weren’t exactly forthcoming, Jim. I meant what I said back at the loft; this is their fault, not ours.”
Jim turned to him with a sweet smile. “Yeah, I know. You’re right.”
Nyota had a thoughtful look on her face. “This actually explains a lot. Only a woman who satisfied all of her urges in her youth could end up with your stepdads…”
“Okay,” Jim said giving her a glare. “I love you. But can you not with my mom’s…urges? I’m trying to eat.”
“Yeah, I’d also appreciate you not mentioning who satisfied them,” Pavel grumbled.
“I already said we’re adopted so all our parents have ever done is kiss,” Bones added.
Sam didn’t answer with words; he just gave a full-body shudder. He also set his burger down and poked at it with a finger.
“Sorry,” Nyota said, her voice far too cheerful to actually be sorry.
They continued to eat in silence, Bones’ hand on Jim’s thigh a comforting presence. Jim was about to say something to him when he glanced up and saw his mother approach. “Mom?”
All of the other kids turned their attention to her.
Winona smiled at them, but the look in her eyes was almost brutal in its sadness. Their waitress happened to be at the next table, and Winona tapped her on the arm. “Excuse me, I’m sorry to bother you, but I’ll be joining these five. I don’t need to see a menu, just…fries. I need fries. The biggest order of fries you sell, and likely another one after that. Just keep them coming.”
Bones swallowed and gave Jim a look. Pavel and Nyota shared a look, too, as Jim and Sam had a conversation without words.
“We should probably head back,” Bones said.
Jim looked at him with a slight smile. “Okay, Bones.”
“I think I’ll head back, too,” Nyota said. She stood from her chair, grabbing her handbag. She leaned down and hugged Jim hard. “I promise I’ll call a doctor,” she whispered.
“Okay,” Jim whispered back. He then turned his attention back to Bones.
Bones leaned in and kissed him. “Call me later?” he said. “And you’re still coming over tomorrow, right?”
“Yup to both,” Jim said. “Bye Bones. Bye Pavel.”
“Bye, Jim,” Pavel said. He smiled at Sam. “Nice meeting you.”
“You too,” Sam said with a grin. The three of them walked out of the diner, and through the windows, Jim saw Bones and Pavel put Nyota in a cab. Across from him, his mother sat as her fries got brought to the table. She sighed and leaned back against her chair as she nibbled on one.
“You okay?” Sam asked.
“No,” Winona admitted. “But I will be. Things work out the way they do for a reason.”
Jim frowned; it’d been a long time since he’d seen his mother so sad. He didn’t really know what to do. Winona put her hand on the table, before pulling it back with a grimace. She inspected her fingers, as if something sticky were on them.
Sam gave her a funny look. “I’m sure without even asking you’ve been in worse places,” he said, giving her shoulder a nudge.
Jim snorted as he took a long drink of his float.
Winona gave both of them startled expressions before turning smug. “Have you ever heard of Robert Mapplethorpe?”
“That’s the guy who took pics of all the naked guys, right?” Jim asked. He remembered something about him from an art history class he had taken.
“Not just guys,” Winona said with a shrug.
Sam choked on his burger. Jim froze.
“Chris wasn’t pleased when I told him,” Winona continued as if she were talking about the weather. “But when he saw the end result, he didn’t mind so much anymore.”
Jim stared at his mom for a long time. Finally, he said, “I honestly don’t know if I should be impressed or just sobbing on the floor in terror. Can I do both? I think it needs to be both.”
“Oh don’t be so dramatic,” Winona said in between bites of French fries. “I had a life before your father and you two. Why is that so hard to understand?”
“I guess I can’t really say anything considering how I acted before I left,” Jim admitted with a shrug.
“Yeah, don’t worry,” Sam said. “When you have kids, I’ll be sure to tell them all about their dad’s exploits when he was a freshman in high school.”
The thought of having a kid was something Jim privately looked forward to, but at Sam’s words he scowled. “Just to spite you, I won’t have any. How about them apples?”
Sam laughed. “Fair enough,” he said.
Winona made an annoyed sound. “I am not even remotely old enough to be a grandmother. Don’t even think about it.”
“I’m the wrong orientation for an accident of that nature,” Jim pointed out. “If anyone’s gonna cause it…”
“Nope,” Sam said. “A book I read about teen pregnancy scarred me for life when I was in seventh grade. Not until I’m thirty and married. I have back-ups for my back-ups, thanks.”
“Didn’t need to hear that,” Jim said.
Sam rolled his eyes. “You don’t have any kind of leg to stand on.”
Jim sighed. “I guess I don’t, but still. I’ve had about all I can take for today.”
Winona sighed. “Can we finish our Thanksgiving in peace?”
“Sorry, Mom,” they said at the same time.
Winona gave them both smiles. “The important thing is that we’re together. That’s all that makes a holiday…family, I mean.”
Jim and Sam smiled at her in turn.
She was right.
Aailyah turned to face her, and the expression on her face was sad. “I was about to call you,” she began. “But I wasn’t certain you’d even answer.”
“I wouldn’t have,” Nyota said. “Not after what you did.”
There was a big white envelope in front of Aailyah at the table. She picked it up. “Not that it justifies my actions, but here. This is why I did what I did.”
Nyota slid a few forms out of the envelope. She read the top form for a minute before sighing. “These are divorce papers.”
“Yes,” Aailyah said.
“And you’re…surprised? He’s living in Europe with a man, Mother. Of course he’s filing for divorce.” Nyota shuffled the papers back into the envelope, passing them back to her mother.
“I’m not surprised by that; I’m surprised by how it makes me feel,” Aailyah said. “It’s one thing to be told a marriage is over, Nyota. It’s another thing to have uncontested proof of that fact. Especially since they arrived Tuesday. Thanksgiving was always our happiest time…how was I supposed to face him today knowing for real that our life together is over? How could I hold my head up high knowing that this was the end?”
Solely because of the desolation and pain in her mother’s eyes, Nyota didn’t argue.
“I just…I couldn’t see him, not when the wound was so fresh,” Aailyah said.
“You could have told me this,” Nyota said. “Instead of going behind my back.”
“And what? Make you choose between us? Oh I’m certain you would have chosen me over him,” Aailyah said, her voice a bit bitter. “No, I think we both know I would have ended up completely alone today. Not that I didn’t anyways.”
“You still shouldn’t have done what you did,” Nyota said. “But I suppose I can understand why you felt like you had no choice.”
“I am sorry, Nyota,” Aailyah said. “Things between you and I have been improving over the last few weeks. I didn’t mean to regress.”
“I won’t say it’s all right,” Nyota said. “But I forgive you.”
Aailyah sort-of smiled at her. “Thank you, darling. Have you eaten? I had the caterers save you a plate.”
Nyota thought back to her part of a sandwich at the diner. “I haven’t, not really.”
“Come with me, then,” Aailyah said. Mother and daughter walked together into the kitchen, and sure enough at the table in the nook sat a plate full of Nyota’s favorites. She sat, taking a sip of wine, and began to eat.
She needed to tell her mother so arrangements could be made to treat her for her…problems. But how?
“Mother, I need…” she began. Clearing her throat, she tried again. “I’ve been having some issues with food.”
Aailyah sat next to her with a slice of spice cake. “What kind of issues?”
Nyota hesitated. “For weeks, when I’ve eaten…I’ve made myself sick after.”
Aailyah’s expression shifted to thinly veiled horror. She sighed and shook her head. “This is because of my fretting over your weight.”
As Nyota took a bite of turkey, she thought for a moment. “It might be partially from that,” Nyota admitted. “Mostly, it’s just that things have been so insane since Daddy split up your marriage. I haven’t handled things very well at all, so I’ve resorted to…that.”
“I’ll do some research tomorrow and find you a doctor,” Aailyah said. “You need to speak to someone trained in these issues.”
“Yes, I promised Jim I would,” Nyota said.
Aailyah put down her fork, wrapping her arm around Nyota’s shoulders. She made a soft, soothing sound. “Nyota, I do mean it. If this is my fault, I’m sorry. I know I have a tendency to be critical of you. I often want to kick myself when I make those comments, but they come out before I can stop them.”
Nyota turned to her mother with the ghost of a smile.
“Perhaps you are not the only one of us who needs to see someone,” Aailyah continued. “I know my tendency to criticize you has driven a wedge between us, and for that I am truly sorry. I promise I will make an effort going forward to not be so hard on you. Especially not when there’s so much to be proud of.”
Now Nyota’s smile fully lit up her face. “You’re proud of me?”
“Of course I am,” Aailyah said. “You’re intelligent and work hard in school. You’re beautiful, with a poise and grace beyond your years. Your sense of style is unimpeachable. You’re a giving friend and fiercely loyal to those you care for. I could go on, but I rather think I’d just embarrass you.”
Gratified tears filled Nyota’s eyes. “I don’t know what to say.”
“I know I haven’t always been the best mother,” Aailyah continued. “But it’s just us now. I’d like for things to be good between us again. I’m willing to try…are you?”
Her tears falling down her face, Nyota nodded a few times. Her mother gathered her into her arms, stroking her hair. Nyota cried on her mother’s shoulder for a few minutes, relief shaking her to the core that she would no longer live in verbal combat with her. Aailyah made soothing sounds into Nyota’s hair, brushing it off her face.
Tired from all of the emotions of the day, Nyota collected herself. She sat up straight, and her mother brushed the tears from her cheeks.
“Eat, darling,” Aailyah said. “It’ll get cold. I want to see you eat a good meal.”
“Okay,” Nyota said as she grabbed the fork. She took a bite of a turkey and dressing. “It’s not as good as Daddy’s,” she couldn’t help but point out. “But it is delicious.”
“Yes, I felt the same,” Aailyah agreed. “Perhaps next year, your father and Matthieu can join us.”
“That would be nice, I suppose,” Nyota said. She hadn’t spoken much to Matthieu, so she was unsure about him. “Maybe next year Jim and his family can be here too.”
“What happened between you and Jim yesterday?” Aailyah said. “It worries me when you two fight.”
“Just an argument about our romantic lives,” Nyota said.
“Does it involve Hikaru?” Aailyah asked.
“No, not really,” Nyota said. “Just some other things. I’d rather not go into it; I was with him all afternoon today. We’ve made up, so it’s in the past as far as I’m concerned.”
“Good,” Aailyah said. Something crossed her face, and she frowned. “Nyota, Jim has always been my favorite of your friends, but you do realize that I love you more than him, don’t you?”
Nyota’s eyes softened. “I admit, it doesn’t always feel that way.”
Aailyah frowned at herself. “I’m sorry for that, too, then. Jim is a delight, but I do not wish I were his mother. He’s…been a handful for Winona.”
“He’s put that behind him,” Nyota said. “He’s genuinely changed, and for the better, I might add.”
“He seems it,” Aailyah said. “He hasn’t been intoxicated a single time he’s been over since he returned.”
“No, he doesn’t drink anymore,” Nyota said. “He just quit it outright.”
Aailyah smiled. “Good for him. I’m sure Winona is proud. Whatever it was that catalyzed this change in him, I’m sure he’s grateful for it.”
“He’s very besotted with his boyfriend,” Nyota said as she continued to eat. “I’m still deciding how I feel about Leonard, but he’s a good student and doesn’t get into trouble. I rather think he’s good for Jim, all considered.”
“Then that’s all that matters,” Aailyah said. “I know you and Hikaru ended badly, but is there another boy you have your eye on?”
Her thoughts turning to Spock and their…whatever they were doing, Nyota couldn’t help but smile. “There is someone I have my eye on, but the situation is delicate because of Hikaru. I don’t wish to flaunt things and upset him.”
“That’s rather surprising, considering what he did,” Aailyah said. “If I had been in your place, I would have probably unleashed hell upon him.”
“If you remember, I was rather unkind to him that one night his family came for dinner,” Nyota said. “Though I do regret that. I hadn’t ever seen Ken so angry before.”
“His family has bigger issues than his confusion,” Aailyah said. “They need to band together and work this out for themselves.”
“Yes, I agree,” Nyota said. She thought for a minute. “Mother…do you think Ken did it?”
“I have no way of knowing,” Aailyah answered. “But from what I’ve been reading, it doesn’t look good for them.”
Nyota nodded. Perhaps she should send Hikaru a text or give him a call. But not right then…right then, she wanted to enjoy her time with her mother.
There could be no interruptions on this day.
Sarek was on his phone, discussing something in Cantonese with a potential development partner. Spock did not mind; business was business, and it was not a holiday in China.
Sarek said his goodbyes and hung up his Blackberry as they headed down the Long Island Expressway. He then checked the time on his wristwatch. “Provided traffic continues to be light, we shall arrive on time.”
Spock nodded. It wouldn’t do to be late; she always insisted they be prompt.
The car moved throughout Long Island towards some old cottages at the shore. It pulled up in front of a blue one that had seen better days; the flowerbeds were well maintained, but the exterior of the house itself needed a good power washing. Some of shutters hung crooked on the front windows, and the mailbox was a bit rusted. It wasn’t blatantly run-down, but it had been a while since someone did exterior maintenance.
The limo came to a stop, and the driver opened the back door. Sarek slid out of the car first, followed by Spock. Spock smelled the salt on the air; it was warm and familiar, and the aroma comforted him.
The lights were on in the little blue cottage, and the door opened to reveal an older woman with hair shot through with gray. She stood tall and proud in a worn flannel dress and apron. “Sarek,” she greeted warmly.
“Mother,” Sarek said in return with a rare smile. He strode towards her on the porch, wrapping her into an embrace. She returned it, whispering something in his ear that made his smile soften.
Spock hung back for a second as he watched his grandmother and his father exchange pleasantries. “You are too thin,” his grandmother declared. “You do not appear to be eating enough.”
“I do not forget to eat,” Sarek said. “The Palace staff takes excellent care of us.”
Grandmother did not look convinced, but she elected to let it drop. She turned her attention to Spock. “Come this way, please, Spock,” she said.
He did as he was told.
Wrapping him into an embrace as she did his father, Grandmother smiled up at him. “You had another growth spurt,” she said. “You are several inches taller than you were when last we saw each other.”
“I theorize that I have reached my full height now,” Spock answered. “I do not believe I will be any taller than I currently am.”
Grandmother held him out at arm’s length, examining him. “You also are not eating enough.”
“I have eaten twice today already,” Spock said. “Although I have saved room for dinner.”
“You shall have seconds,” Grandmother declared.
While normally Spock got irritated when people commented on how thin he was, with her he didn’t mind so much. “I shall try,” he said, not sure he could eat that much. Her portions were always enormous, and the food delicious but filling.
“May we come in, Mother?” Sarek said.
“Of course,” Grandmother said. She moved out of the doorway, gesturing for them to follow her. They entered the house, and hung their coats on a rack by the door. The furnishings were worn, but cared for, and warm light bathed the rooms in a soft glow.
“May I get you both something to drink?” Grandmother asked.
“No thank you,” they replied in unison. Spock sat on the couch while his father stood, giving the house a subtle examination.
“My offer still stands,” Sarek began. “I found a beautiful apartment near the Palace in midtown. It has a number of amenities, and you would not have to be alone any longer.”
Grandmother gave Sarek an amused look. “My answer is the same as always. My life is here, Sarek. I have no desire to leave.”
The argument was familiar, and Spock watched his grandmother closely. His grandfather had died five years prior, and with it went the exterior maintenance of the house. Sarek offered time and time again to move her into the city so that she would be closer to them and also so she didn’t have to manage the upkeep on a house all by herself. But every single time, she said no and insisted on staying in the cottage.
Truthfully, it made Spock’s heart ache a bit for her. It was hardly logical for her to stay…he suspected that pride and affection for the memories she made with his late grandfather explained her stubborn attachment to the old house. Ever since Sarek made his fortune, he offered to take care of his family, and every time he was told no.
Highly illogical indeed.
Sarek began to protest when Grandmother shushed him. “Today is not a day for arguments, Sarek. It is a day of family and giving thanks. Come. Let us eat before the food gets cold.”
Nodding, Sarek took her hand. “Of course, Mother.”
Spock stood from the couch, and followed them into the dining room where the meal had been set. Spock was certain his friends were all enjoying a magnificent feast at Nyota’s, but he found his grandmother’s cooking to be vastly preferable. It was a comfort in his life that every year they came here to share this meal.
Sarek insisted his mother take the seat at the head of the table, and he and Spock sat across from each other on either side. The turkey sat in the middle, along with various side dishes such as macaroni and cheese and mashed potatoes. A pitcher of iced tea sat next to Spock, and he gave his grandmother a long look.
Grandmother smiled at them both. “Go ahead,” she said. They passed the food around the table, his father carving and serving the turkey. Spock dished some of the macaroni on his plate. He had thought he finished when Grandmother cleared her throat.
Knowing what this meant, Spock spooned another pile of it onto his plate. Grandmother gave him a satisfied smile, and Spock began to eat.
“How are you doing in school, Spock?” Grandmother asked in between bites.
“I am first in our class,” Spock answered. “I have no desire to slip in the class rankings, so it is likely I will be valedictorian upon our graduation.”
“That is most wonderful news,” Grandmother said. “I am very proud of you.”
Spock felt his cheeks flush, and he gave her a tentative smile. “Thank you, Grandmother.”
“You are welcome,” she said as she took a sip of tea. She then turned her attention to her son. “Sarek. It has been just you and Spock for a long time. Have you still not found a woman to settle down with?”
Spock cleared his throat and studied his plate.
Sarek’s face had a decidedly embarrassed expression. “I…actually am seeing a woman named Winona Kirk. We are exclusive, and I would like our families to merge.”
Startled, Spock stared at his father.
“I plan on asking for her hand in marriage,” Sarek continued. “Although I am not certain what her answer will be.”
Spock blinked five times in rapid succession. His father…wanted to marry Winona Kirk? Which would mean that Jim and Sam would be…his brothers?
Spock had no siblings, but he had kind of always wanted one. His father traveled so much, he spent a lot of time alone. If he had Jim, Winona, and Sam around, that would put an end to that.
Plus it would be fun to pester Jim.
Spock was not really attracted to Jim, but he enjoyed acting as if he was to make Jim nervous. Truthfully, Jim was not anywhere near as fascinating or interesting as Nyota, especially not now that he insisted on pretending to be a good little boy. But the looks of horror on Jim’s face when Spock would make salacious comments at him were…amusing.
Ultimately, Spock decided Sarek’s announcement pleased him. He had never had a true family; au pairs did most of his rearing growing up. But…he’d always wondered what it would be like to have a mother. Perhaps now he would find out.
Grandmother looked most pleased by this turn in conversation. “I require meeting her,” she announced, and Sarek gave her a nervous smile.
“Of course,” he answered. “I cannot marry her if you do not find her acceptable.”
Her expression softening, Grandmother nodded. She spared a glance at Spock’s plate. “Would you care for seconds, Spock?”
He was actually full, but he did not wish to disappoint his Grandmother. “Of course,” he said as he helped himself to green bean casserole and more macaroni.
Sarek cleared his throat. “Mother, I took the opportunity to transfer some funds to you this morning.” Grandmother opened her mouth to protest, but Sarek held up a hand. “Not this time, Mother. I insist. You should be able to get ahead on your expenses and have some left over to have repairs made on the house.”
Grandmother gave Sarek a long, stern look. Sarek favored her with an equally stern expression of his own. Finally, Grandmother sighed. “This one time, I will accept the funds, Sarek. But do not do this again. I get by just fine on my own.”
Sarek sighed. “Mother, I have more than enough money to support us all. There is no reason why you should have to struggle.”
Grandmother didn’t say anything as she got up to fetch the pumpkin pie for dessert. Spock and Sarek watched her come back into the room with the pie and a container of Cool Whip. She dished out enormous portions of the pie and Cool Whip for them both. “Eat,” she rebuked.
They both obliged her.
After a few bites of pie, Sarek gave her another serious look. “You did not argue with me that I can afford to care for you. For what reason do you not permit me to do so?”
“My pension and your father’s life insurance have been sufficient,” Grandmother explained as she served herself a more modest slice of pie. “I do not need extras, Sarek. I have everything I need in this house.”
Sarek sighed. “I am not wrong for wanting the best for you, Mother.”
Grandmother was once again silent.
Spock cleared his throat. “It would be nice to see you more, Grandmother. Will you not at least consider moving into the city? Then I could visit you after school.”
This more than anything got through to her, and she gave Spock a look filled with love and affection. “I will consider it.” Sarek brightened and opened his mouth. “I make no promises,” she continued. “I do have friends here, Sarek. But I shall at least entertain the notion more than I have previously. I sincerely will examine the prospect of moving to an apartment in the city with due diligence.”
Sarek looked pleased. “I find this acceptable.”
“As do I,” Spock said with an affectionate look at his grandmother.
Grandmother gave them both knowing looks. “Do not make assumptions. I make no promises,” she reiterated.
Spock continued to eat his pie as his grandmother turned her attention to further interrogating Sarek about Winona. Thanksgiving was Spock’s favorite day of the year, and he always made sure to spend it focusing on his family.
Hopefully soon, that family would expand.