Psi Phi's Star Trek Books Database
Written by Keith R.A. DeCandido
The house was built in the Riverdale section of the peninsula known as the Bronx--the northernmost part of New York City--some time in the twentieth century. A two-story dwelling surrounded by a large yard bordered on all sides by a thick privet hedge, the house had been the home of Captain David Gold and Rabbi Rachel Gilman for five decades.
Gold had seen an image of the house that was taken from an old-style photograph, circa 1990 or so on the old calendar, and it didn't look any different now than it did four hundred years ago. Gold knew better, though--in fact, none of the original material used to construct the house was present in the current building, as the march of technology had allowed every aspect of the dwelling's structure to be replaced with something superior. When she was a particularly inquisitive teenager, Gold's daughter Eden had asked if that meant it was truly the same house that was constructed four hundred years earlier.
"Maybe, maybe not," Gold had said then, "but it's the same home."
When the Starfleet transporter deposited Gold, his son Daniel, and his daughter-in-law Jessica on the front lawn of the house, next to the massive dogwood that Gold planted as a sapling the day they moved in fifty years ago, his first thought was, I've been away too long.
Whatever his second thought might have been was lost to the impact of over sixty pounds of golden retriever on his chest. Gold had, of course, braced himself--no one entered the front lawn without being greeted by Freser--so he was only forced to stumble backward a step or two while Freser rested his front paws on Gold's shoulder and proceeded to welcome him home by making sure that no part of his face remained unlicked.
Scratching the retriever behind his ears, Gold laughed between face-licks. It was the first true laugh he had allowed himself since the da Vinci got the summons to Galvan VI. "Yes, Freser, Daddy's home."
Freser barked his approval at this state of affairs, and finally got back down on all fours. However, he continued to run in a circle around Gold, even as he, Daniel, and Jessica approached the front door.
"Got another surprise or two for you inside," Daniel said.
Gold raised an eyebrow. "Son, Freser trying to knock me to the ground isn't a surprise, it's an inevitability."
"Fair enough." Daniel opened the front door. "But still . . ."
The first thing that hit David Gold when the door opened was the smell. The kitchen was all the way on the other side of the house from the front door, but there was no containing the olfactory smorgasbord of Rachel Gilman's cooking, especially when she was making one of her patented feasts. From the competing delightful odors of fish, chicken, beef, assorted sauces and soups, and fresh challah bread, she had made enough to feed all of Starfleet. That, in itself, was not an indicator of the number of people present in the house--it only took having two nonresidents over to prompt Rachel to cook enough to feed an army--but, Gold soon realized, that the number was fairly high.
For the second thing he noticed was that the massive living room was packed full of family. The first one he noticed was his five-year-old great-grandson Tujiro crying out, "Hi-Ojiisan!" and running straight at Gold's leg with as much enthusiasm as Freser had.
He looked around and took all the faces in--many of them slightly altered versions of his own and Rachel's faces. Daniel's youngest son (and Tujiro's father) Michael and his wife Hiroko sat on the couch, along with Nate and Elaine's girls Danielle Hirsch and Simone Meyer--their respective husbands, Ira Hirsch and Jared Meyer, stood behind them. Gold's pregnant grand-daughter Ruth Graylock, looking ready to have the baby at any millisecond, sat in the big, comfortable chair, with her husband Rinic Kayven sitting on the arm, and their boy, little Rinic David Kayven--no longer so little, he was almost as tall as Ruth now--sitting on the floor at her feet. Standing behind the chair was--
My God, it's Eden.
Eden Gilman and her husband, Robert Graylock stood holding hands, and smiling as goofily as everyone else was at his entrance. He'd seen his oldest daughter maybe three times in the past twenty years, and she hadn't, to his knowledge, set foot in the house in at least a decade. He'd last seen her only a few months ago, at the memorial on Betazed for Nate and Elaine.
"Welcome home, Pop-Pop."
"Good to see you, Dad."
"About time you got here!"
"How long you gonna stand there with your mouth hanging open, Grandpa?"
"I bet he catches flies!"
Gold shook his head. "My--my goodness."
Daniel leaned down to whisper in his father's ear. "Told you, Pop."
A voice came booming from the staircase to Gold's left. "At last, the House head returns! Perhaps now we may feast!"
Gold turned to see a tall Klingon dressed in a long, dark green cassock decorated with several medals. Barely visible behind him was a small woman who had inherited her mother's glowing green eyes and her grandmother's firm jaw: Daniel's youngest daughter Esther. The man was her new beau--what's the Klingon word? Oh yes, "parmachkai"--Khor, son of Lantar. Briefly, Gold wondered how Freser had reacted to Khor--and how Khor had reacted to Freser. Since both Klingon and canine were in one piece, Gold assumed that the meeting went well--or Esther sensibly had the two avoid each other altogether.
"I wasn't expecting to see you here," Gold said, surprised. "In fact, I wasn't expecting to see any of you here. This is--" He wiped away the tears that welled up in his eyes. "This is wonderful. Thank you all for coming."
Then a whiff of matzoh-ball soup caught him. "I'll be right back," Gold said, and made a beeline for the kitchen.
No one moved to stop him. They knew better.
Gold almost hesitated before crossing the threshold into the kitchen, wanting to hold the moment of anticipation.
He first met Rachel Gilman at the track at Starfleet Academy. Gold, a champion runner in his day, was part of the Academy track team that was facing off against the team from Columbia University, an institution in New York City that Rachel was attending as an undergraduate, and for which she was also a champion runner. Finding the young student with the curly light brown hair, almond-shaped brown eyes, distinct cheekbones, and snub nose to be rather attractive, Gold had gone over to talk to her. She had expressed sympathy on his team's upcoming loss, and he had laughed. "We haven't lost yet," he had said.
"Until now." She had said it with complete certainty. There had been no doubt in her mind.
So Gold had made a wager that his team would win hands down. She had accepted, but only on these terms: the loser had to make dinner for the other--from scratch. A product of the replicator age, Gold barely knew how to boil water, but he had been sufficiently confident to make the bet anyhow.
After Columbia's upset victory, Gold had made an attempt to cook a meal, which resulted in the entire dormitory's being evacuated for what was initially believed to be a chemical explosion. As they stood outside the dorm while Security put out the fire, she had looked at him with her brown eyes and the expression that was somehow half-smile and half-frown, and said, "Next time maybe you'll listen to me?"
A week later, she cooked him dinner, ruining him for replicated food for the rest of his life. A year later, they were married. Two years later, he went off to his first posting on the Gettysburg, and Rachel became a rabbi and started teaching. Three years later, they moved into this house. And fifty-two years later, he had yet to have cause not to listen to her.
Now he entered the kitchen, which had been remodeled to her exact specifications fifty years ago, and modified regularly ever since. Every type of cooking appliance available--and a few that weren't--had a place in this kitchen, down to a wood-burning stove, which she rarely used (but oh, when she did!). She stood over a pot of soup, stirring it with one hand, even as she added a few spices to another pot with her other hand.
Rachel Gilman's hair was still just as curly, though it had as much gray as brown now. Her brown eyes now had crow's feet, and her magnificent cheekbones were less pronounced.
She was more beautiful than ever.
As always, she looked at him, gave him that same half-smile half-frown she'd first given him outside the smoke-filled dorm room, and said, "You're home."
As always, he smiled, and said, "I'm home."
He could tell that she saw the joy he felt at seeing his family, and that she also saw the great sorrow right behind that at what happened at Galvan VI. Without saying a word, she reassured him that they would talk about it later, for as long as he wanted, but that for now he should just take joy in being with his family.
"You have five minutes to get out of that uniform and into some proper clothes."
"I forgot to bring my dress uniform."
She held up the wooden spoon threateningly. "Don't make me have to kill you, Captain. Go change."
"Yes, ma'am." He turned to leave, then turned back. "How'd you get Eden and Bob to come?"
"I asked them."
Gold blinked. "And?"
"That's it, David. Sometimes it really is that simple."
Before he could reply to that, he heard Freser barking, followed by a distinctive whooomp.
Turning to his wife, Gold asked, "Expecting anyone else?"
"Actually, no. You'd better go check." Rachel didn't sound too terribly concerned, so Gold didn't, either. It could have been one of the neighbors, or one of the children, of course.
He went back into the living room, just as Daniel was opening the front door. The rapid-fire pounding of small feet to his right heralded the arrival down the staircase of Anne Meyer and Ike and Jake Hirsch, Danielle and Simone's children. Now standing by the loveseat with Esther, Khor said, "It seems your guard animal has claimed another victim, Captain."
Maybe Esther didn't keep them apart after all. That was a story for later, however. First, he needed to see who it was Freser had decked.
Gold moved to stand next to Daniel at the doorway. At first, all he could make out was the massive retriever, licking the form of some kind of humanoid laying on its back.
"He's gotten a lot bigger."
At the voice, Gold almost stumbled. Daniel steadied him just in case, but he looked just as surprised as Gold was. Then they both ran out, along with Jessica and Esther, Khor right behind them.
"Freser, disengage!" Khor said sharply.
To Gold's surprise, Freser immediately backed off the figure and ran back toward the privet hedge. Definitely a story for later, Gold thought, since he'd never been able to get Freser to obey commands so readily, unless they involved food.
Thoughts about the Klingon's ability to bond with his dog retreated as soon as the figure sat upright, leaning against the ground with his elbows. "A lot bigger," he said.
His face was almost identical to Daniel's, only with a bigger nose, and his hair was still all brown.
Gold hadn't even lain eyes on his third child in ages--since before he took command of the da Vinci, certainly. He hadn't been able to make Nate and Elaine's funeral on Betazed, and father and son hadn't spoken in years.
Daniel quickly walked over and offered his younger brother a hand up. Joey took it, and Daniel pulled him up into a bear hug. "It's so good to see you again, kiddo."
Joey coughed, but returned the hug. "You're as bad as the damn dog, big guy."
After they broke the embrace, Joey looked at his father. "Hi, Dad. Heard you were home. Thought I'd drop by."
This time, Gold didn't bother to wipe away the tears as he hugged his son for the first time in far too long.
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