The place looked pretty much the same since I’d last seen it. From the outside anyway. I know Mom had made some changes inside, as she’d told me during one of our conversations a few months back.

The farmhouse had belonged to Mom’s parents. Dad had never lived in it. Mom inherited it after her folks had died and that was after Dad was killed. During Mom’s marriage to Frank, he had decided it belonged to him. I recalled many times when he referred to it as “my house”.

While I was gone, on Tarsus IV, Frank had a massive heart attack in the yard here by the barn. He didn’t die then, but he became incapacitated, and Mom had placed him in a care facility for the remainder of his days located in Sioux City. I had never visited him there. Shortly after our battle with Khan, Frank finally left this world. Neither Mom nor I mourned.

“Everything looks the same from here,” I commented.

“It definitely is out here. I thought about changing around the back porch a little, maybe covering it or something, but haven’t gotten around to it.”

I smiled faintly. When I came back from Tarsus, Mom and I spent an evening out there on that porch, smoking cigars of all things. It was an effort at bonding. It mostly worked, I think. “I can probably help you with that while I’m here.”

I figured unless Starfleet bugged me, I’d stick around Riverside with Mom until the Enterprise was ready.

“Maybe the three of us together,” she said, as she led the way up from the car to the side door. We’d never used the front door as long as I remembered. It was a big monstrosity of a door facing out toward a group of thick trees. It was always kept locked. Nobody that ever came to the house came that way either, as if by some kind of mutual agreement.

She flicked on an old fashioned switch when we stepped inside. The first thing I noticed was that she’d put in hardwood floors throughout the first floor and one of those big fact cooking islands with a granite top in the kitchen. She’d redone the cabinets too.

“Looks really good.”

She flushed with pride. “Took me forever but I got it done.”

She had reason for her pride, too, for I knew she’d done the work herself. Once Frank was out of our lives, Mom had determined she would be man free for the rest of her life and quite self-sufficient. I was proud of her accomplishments and amazed at her talent.

“You can stay in your old room,” she said then. “Why don’t you go up and get settled and do whatever you need to do. I’ll make a pot of coffee and you can just come down when you’re ready.”

“Great. Thanks, Mom.”

“Jim.”

I turned back around to look at her. She was smiling, a little strained.

“I guess I wanted to say that just because Spock doesn’t love you, it doesn’t mean you’re not worthy. You’re the best person I’ve ever known. Brave and smart and strong. You’ve saved so many people and you’re worth so much.”

“Mom—”

“And you’re cute besides.”

I rolled my eyes.

“Really, really cute.”

“Okay.”

“You’re worth everything, Jim.”

“You have to say that because you’re my mom.”

“Jim—”

“I’m kidding. I’m all right, Mom. I’ll get over Spock. I’ll get over this. Because I have to. And I want to. It might take some time, but I will.”

She nodded. “Okay.”

I went up the stairs two at a time and then down the hallway to the last room. The minute I pushed the door open I saw she’d made changes here too. The wood floors had been installed here and there was a big fluffy throw rug dotted with the night sky and the stars. It ran from under the bed all the way to the dresser. It made me smile.

She’d also put in a half bath attached to the room with a toilet and a sink. I’d still have to go down the hall to shower, but this was definitely nice.

I flung my suitcase up on to the bed and unzipped it to unpack. I took out my PADD first to send a message to Bones, per my instructions.

I made it. Not that there was ever any doubt! Mom picked me up and I’m unpacking now. She promises me all my favorites for dinner. She must really think I’m pathetic. Only thought about Sp…you know what? Never mind. King of Wishful Thinking and all that. Hope things are all right with you there and that Jo gave you a great big kiss and hug. Love you, Jim.  

Wasn’t even sure why I added that last bit. But whatever. Hit send.

I put the PADD away and then stuffed my clothes into the drawers and hung up some in the closet. Took a leak in the bathroom too.

Then I went over to the window and looked out. Leaning against the glass, I watched the trees and other foliage move in the wind. I could feel the tears threatening but I determinedly pushed them away. Wondered what time it was on New Vulcan and if Spock and Uhura were having dinner with Sarek, all cozy and all.

“Who cares? I don’t.”

I left the room then and went down to have coffee with Mom.