Jim closed the oven door after peering at the half-baked gingerbread people. He set the time on his watch. And glanced out toward the window. Sighed. He walked over to the coatrack and only picked out a scarf, which he wrapped around his neck.

She hugged herself as Jim approached her on the ground just below the porch steps. Each hand was on her sweater-covered elbows. She got kind of quiet and melancholy around the holidays. Thinking of his dad, Jim figured.

“You okay, Mom? The gingerbread’s in the oven.”

“Sure. It’s so…silent.”

He smiled a little. “There’s never a lot of noise out here.” His smile slipped. “Unless it was Frank yelling.”

“Mm hmm.” That was all she said in acknowledgement of their mutually hated enemy. Jim supposed there wasn’t much else to say.  He knew her arm still pained her when it got too cold from the bad break he’d given her. Just as she knew he had never repaired the chipped tooth he had in the back of his month from the punch he’d taken. Dark family secrets best ignored now that Frank was gone.  “It’s quietest when it snows, oddly enough. Think it’ll snow this year?”

“Probably not this early. Not this year. It’s been warmer than last winter I think. Pretty much everywhere.”

He wondered again why he had come here this winter break. Why he hadn’t just stayed in San Francisco, as he had the prior year. She had asked and he had nothing else to do and nowhere else to go. Bones went to Georgia. He’d invited Jim, but Jim didn’t feel like being a nuisance, the poor unwanted friend who messed up Bones’ family plans.

And then…

His mom stiffened suddenly as Jim saw the approaching hover car lights at the same time as she did.

“Who could that be?”

They both squinted against the bright light as the hover car stopped in front of them to the left. The lights went out and the door opened, a lone figure stepping out.

And though Jim couldn’t really see him well, Jim would know him anywhere, that shape, that height. That awareness.


He moved forward and before he even thought to stop himself he threw his arms around the Vulcan. “You came.”