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Husband And Father

Posted on Jun 02, 2019 @ 7:03pm by Commander Jacob Crichton
Edited on on Jun 02, 2019 @ 7:04pm

Mission: Last Days of Empire

= Husband And Father =

(cont’d from “The Political Theater”)


SCENE: Bonviva Villa, in Italy
STARDATE: [2.19] 0602.2206

Jake Crichton made his way up the winding path, flanked on both side by cypress and cherry laurel trees. The villa was just ahead; he could have beamed in closer, even onto the villa grounds themselves - unless Xana had changed the transport grid security codes, that was - but the truth was he’d missed making the walk. He’d made it dozens of times before, and it was one of the parts of living at the villa that he’d come to miss the most. It was good to feel the ground underneath his feet for a change, and to look up and see blue sky overhead instead of slate-gray bulkhead.

Waiting for him up ahead were his children, whom he hadn’t seen in person for more than a year, and that was before he’d received the news about Xana’s condition. Now, with Xana away on Federation business, the kids had been left waiting for Jake to return and pick them up. He knew he had no right to judge his ex-wife for leaving the children behind for the sake of her duty to the Federation, since that had been exactly what he himself had been doing for the past year. Surely, with her diagnosis, she had a better excuse for it than Jake did. And yet, he couldn’t quite get over that sense of resentment. They were her children, after all. If their positions had been reversed...

Jake felt his eyes starting to sting, and felt that familiar weight settling into his stomach: not quite grief, but more of a dreading of grief that is soon to come. Xana was dying - that thought hit him like a punch to the gut each time it crystallized inside his mind, even months after he’d been given the news. Out in in space, far from Earth, far from this villa, it had been easy not to deal with the reality of that news. But here, in Italy, with the villa just around the next turn in the path, Jake found it impossible not to think about it. He wondered if this might be the last time he made this walk.

And there, too, was that feeling resentment, shouldering aside that unformed grief to make room for itself. Xana should be here. She should be on Earth, spending time with her children, taking it easy, taking care of herself. Instead, she was off who knew where, getting into who knew what kind of trouble. Jake wanted to believe that, if their positions were reversed, he’d want to put in as much time with his family as possible.

Wouldn’t he?

The answer to that question was obvious. This was the first time he’d been back on Earth in over two years. His children had been here, and they’d needed him, but instead Jake had gone to Starbase 56, Acamar 3, Sherman’s Planet. Instead, he’d faced down Romulans and Klingons and Phobophages, all of whom might have killed him as surely as Xana’s disease was killing her. If Jake had died, the kids would have lost a parent, yet that hadn’t stopped Jake. He’d gone through it with, time and again. The ugly truth of it was that, in those moments, his family hadn’t even been on his mind. It was easy enough to tell himself that was out of necessity, that being alive to come home to his family meant pushing aside any distractions and pouring all of his focus on getting the job done. There might even been a few scraps of truth to that. But here, under the blue sky and flanked by cherry laurels, all it did was make him feel sick with guilt.

He rounded the curve in the path and made his way through the villa’s gate. A minute later and he was standing in the foyer, looking at the surroundings that were both familiar and oddly new. He felt unsure of what to do with his hands.

“Kids?” he called. He immediately regretted it, not liking the way his voice seemed to shatter some kind of blissful domestic silence filling the house.

The response was immediate. He heard rapid footsteps on the second floor, moving down the hallway, the pounding their way down the steps. Benito Crichton rounded the corner, his white hair gone a little shaggy and trailing breezily behind him. His eyes fixed on Jake’s, and his lips pulled open into a wide smile.


Jake tried to ready himself, but an instant later Ben slammed into him with enough force to stagger him backward a step. He scooped the boy into a hug and lifted him, immediately realizing how much bigger Ben had gotten since Jake had seen him last. After a moment, he had to set the boy down again and switch to giving his mop of hair an affection tousle.

“You’ve gotten so big!”Jake said. It sounded stupid, but it was all he could think to say. Ben was 10 years old now… god, where did the time go?

“We’re going to your ship now, right?” Ben asked, talking a mile a minute. “I’m all packed so we can go right away. I’ll have my own room, right? Will you take me to the holodeck? I want to go with you on missions sometimes, do you think that would be okay?”

Jake grinned. “Hey, hey. Slow down there, buddy. Where’s your sister?”

“Oh, her.” Ben rolled his eyes. “She’s in her room. She’s doing *girl* things.”

Jake blinked. “Uh… like what?”

“Brushing her hair, putting on makeup, trying on shoes,” Ben said. “I don’t know. She’s always doing that kind of stuff.”

“Okay,” Jake said. “Listen, go and get your bags. I’ll go check on your sister.”

Ben’s eyes widened. “And then we’re going to your ship?”

“Well, I thought we might spend a day or two on Earth,” Jake shrugged. “The PHOENIX won’t be setting off again for at least a week.”

“But I want to go *now*,” Ben whined.

“You’ll have plenty of time to see the ship, kid,” Jake said. “Get your bags while I check on your sister, huh?”

“O-kaaaaaay.” Ben turned and scampered off again, and Jake heard his feet clamping rapidly back up the stairs. Then, a moment later, Jake heard the boy yelling, “Dahlia! Stop trying on shoes! Dad is here!”

Jake started up the stairs himself, and stopped outside of Dahlia’s closed bedroom door. He knocked softly.


No answer. He knocked again, a little more loudly, and when there was still no answer, he pushed the door gently open.

Dahlia was lying on her bed, her attention fixed on an entertainment PADD balanced across her thighs. She was wearing audio pods in her ear, and the music she was listening to was so loud that Jake could hear it all the way over from where he stood in the doorway. Her head was bobbing slightly in tune with the beat, and it looked like she hadn’t noticed Jake standing in her doorway.

“Dee?” Jake asked again, but there was no hope of her hearing him over the music blasting in her ears.

By coincidence, Dahlia looked up from her PADD. She cried out in surprise when she saw Jake standing there. She pulled the pods out of her ear, her eyes flashing angrily as she did so.

“What are you doing?” Dahlia asked, as she slid off the side of her bed and put her fists on her hips. “Can’t you knock?”

“I did,” Jake said. “I think you were too busy melting your brain to hear it. Listening to it that loud can’t be good for your ears.”

“Ugh,” Dahlia said, falling backwards onto her bed. “Don’t talk about my music, *please*.”

“Okay,” Jake said. He rubbed the back of his neck, not sure what to do next. “It’s… good to see you.”

Dahlia sat up, giving him an incredulous look that, for a moment, made her the spitting image of her mother. “Really?”

“Yeah,” Jake said. “I guess you know you’re going to come live with me on the PHOENIX.”

“Oh sure,” Dahlia said. She sat up, walked past Jake, and made her way towards the bathroom. She shut the door quickly, leaving Jake standing awkwardly in the doorway of her bedroom.

“Is that… okay?” Jake asked, through the door.

There was no answer. Jake waited a moment, then tried again.

“Uh, Dee?”

The bathroom door flew open so fast that Jake took an involuntary step backwards. Dahlia stood in the doorway, frowning at him and brandishing a small hairbrush.

“You didn’t want us on the ship before,” she said, waving the hairbrush at him. “But now it’s okay?”

Jake winced. “Well, that was…”

“And then you and mom get *divorced*, and you leave us here for *years*, but now suddenly we have to leave our whole lives behind and go live with you?”

“Dahlia, it’s not… it isn’t that simple.”

Dahlia rolled her eyes. “Adults *always* say that. If you loved mom, if you loved us, you would have been here. What’s not simple about that?”

“I’m sorry, Dee,” Jake said. “I was hoping this could… that we… that *I* could start to make it up to you.”

“Why do you care now?” Dahlia asked. “Is it because mom is dying? Now you won’t have anywhere to leave us, is that it?”

This made Jake angry. He didn’t think that was the right thing to feel at this moment, but it felt better than the awkward uncertainty he’d been feeling so far.

“Hey. That’s enough.”

“Ugh,” Dahlia said. She spun on her heel, re-entered the bathroom, and slammed the door again, leaving Jake standing there once more, staring stupidly at nothing and not knowing what to say or do next.

Intellectually, he’d known that Dahlia was older - **13 years old, a teenager, god she’s growing up so fast** - but he’d foolishly expected the same kind of hero worship from the girl that he’d enjoyed even a few years ago. He hadn’t expected the anger, the feeling of abandonment that she seemed to feel… and he realized, he had been a fool *not* to expect it. Jake could be a doting and attentive father and husband when the situation allowed for it, but on balance, he’d turned out to be pretty bad at both, as evidenced by the dissolution of his marriage and, now again, by Dahlia’s anger towards him. She was right to be angry; Jake *had* left her behind, and Ben along with her. He hadn’t even come back when Xana had told him about her diagnosis.

Jake went to the closed bathroom door, reached a hand out, but didn’t quite touch the wooden surface. After a moment, he withdrew his hand, turned, and slid down to sit with his back against the door.

“I’m sorry, Dahlia,” he said, not sure if the girl was even listening. “This time… things will be different. I promise.”

There was no answer from behind the door.


Shawn Putnam
Jake Crichton
Executive Officer


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