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Meeting the Parents

Posted on 13 Apr 2017 @ 11:25pm by Lieutenant Joey Geisler & Captain Harvey Geisler
Edited on on 15 Apr 2017 @ 5:30pm

Mission: Shore Leave
Location: Denver, Colorado
Timeline: September 2388

The blue haze of the transporter cleared, replacing the typical civilian transport station in Hawaii with a familiar suburban district. Harvey and Joey stood at a corner crosswalk in the quiet neighborhood. Harvey took a deep breath, taking in the familiar thin air. They had not only been transported thousands of miles away from the beautiful islands to the middle of Colorado, but they’d also been elevated a mile above sea level. Harvey had once been acclimated to its climate, but he now felt how different it was.

The neighborhood, featuring two rows of five houses each with fairly large lawns, awaited the couple. Harvey’s destination was an eleventh house, this one at the end of the road at a cul-de-sac. The home wasn’t terribly large, just a meager two thousand square feet, but it sat on an acre and a half of land. It had always been the pride of the neighborhood, a result of all of the many hours his mother, Maggie, had invested in it over Harvey’s lifetime. In fact, he remembered many times playing in the yard on his mother’s days off as she tended to the bushes and garden.

As for the ranch style house, its white paint had slightly yellowed over the last two decades. It had been nearly eight years since Harvey last saw the house with his own eyes. The wrap-around porch looked as clean as ever, something his mother would never allow to fall into disrepair. Harvey even recognized the windows for Ivan and Samantha’s rooms, always sneaking out to get into trouble. He knew that he would not see them on this trip. Ivan was still in a penal colony serving the end of a sentence, and Samantha had left Earth a long time ago, choosing to pursue a lifestyle akin to a twentieth century hippie. His last attempt to locate her failed miserably, but he was certain she was still alive and kicking somewhere.

The transport had completed a while ago, but Harvey did not move towards the house. The memories were plentiful, and even now, he had spotted a figure kneeling in the garden, her back to them, tending to the daisies. Harvey was filled with anxiety, absolutely unsure of what she would say or how this would go. Would they be indifferent? Would they demonstrate how much they cared for him, especially all those years ago when their parenting style shifted to ways to keep him close to them so he wouldn’t wind up like Ivan or Samantha.

There was only one way to know. Rather than let a thousand more scenarios unfold in his head, Harvey did what was expected of him: take the first step towards the house. "Here we go..." he muttered.

Joey was nervous. She could tell from the butterflies in her stomach, or maybe it was because Harvey was close by that was doing it. There was no way to know for sure, but there was definitely a case of nerves on the border of so severe that it was making her nauseous. A feeling she wasn't used to, but then, she had never met anyone's parents before, either. Did he feel like this when they went to see her family? Maybe she would ask him when there was a chance to.

She followed his gaze to the house. So, this was where Captain Harvey Geisler grew up, huh? It wasn't quite what she expected it to be. Then again... what had she really expected? A castle-like establishment complete with a moat and dragon? No. This was even better.

From where they stood, she could make out a figure by the garden. Was that his mother? There was only one way to find out, and Harvey must have been on the same page because of what he muttered. Joey reached out to take his hand, giving it a gentle but reassuring squeeze. "It's going to be okay, Harvey," she said softly, believing what she said in her heart. After so many years, how could things possibly go south? Then panic set in when she looked down at the two dogs that were wagging their tails in all their excitement.

Harvey looked down to Rico and Pequeno, wondering if it was a good idea to bring them along. It was too late to turn back, and any attempt to do so would be thwarted by Joey. Still, he didn't respond to Joey and rather kept walking towards the house. If there was one wise thing he'd done, it was change into a dark brown T-shirt with khaki pants and brown shoes. Nothing was absolutely "dressy" as he gave up trying to impress his parents years ago.

As they approached, the figure in the lawn turned. Her brown eyes glistened in the sun, spotting the couple walking towards the house. She did not recognize the dogs or the woman who was... quite attractive. Then she saw the man leading the way. Her heart skipped a beat, recognizing her son. "James!" she called out towards the house, trying to attract the attention of her husband whose focus was always in a book or medical journal.

Joey swallowed back a lump in her throat as her nerves began to grow. They'd been spotted, so there was no turning back now. Not that she would have. She was dressed comfortably in a blue maxi dress and a pair of brown sandals on her feet to complete the look. It all made her a bit self conscious as they neared the house where the woman, who she assumed was Harvey's mom, was calling for someone else.

The front door opened and the aging James Geisler. The man was now in his early seventies, his hair long gone, and his face looked like he rarely smiled. "What is it, Maggie?" he asked, only to spot the newcomers as they arrived at the walkway to the house. "Harvey..." he nearly gasped, seeing the face he'd recognize anywhere.

Maggie's jaw dropped open, and her gloved right hand covered her mouth. She, like James, knew her son's face well. A tear welled in her eye as she recognized a myriad of emotions hidden behind Harvey's eyes. "Harvey!" she exclaimed, crossing the lawn to embrace him.

Harvey was surprised, shocked even. Of all of the things he anticipated, this was not one of them. In one instant, his entire adult life melted away and he returned the embrace. "Mom..." he chocked, fighting back tears.

Joey hung back a bit to let Harvey have this moment with his parents. They seemed quite happy to see their son, and by the looks of his face, that shocked him. Maybe things wouldn't be so bad after all, and she felt a slight wave of relief wash over her. Their visit with the elder Geislers hadn't even truly started yet, which meant things could change. She certainly hoped this set the tone for how things would progressed.

Should she say something? Introduce herself? Joey gave a mental shake of her head and stayed silent. It was clear they mother and son needed this moment, and it would be very wrong of her to interrupt it.

"We heard about your ship," Maggie said, releasing her son. She placed both her hand on his biceps before taking a step back to examine him. "Why didn't you call?"

"I..." Harvey stammered. "I didn't think you cared." He looked up to see his father hobble down the porch steps to join them.

"How little you know us," James fired back, his tone emotionless. "If we didn't care, we would have left you to your devices in your youth and you would have turned out like your siblings."

Harvey had many reasons to argue, and many arguments to give, but this was not the time. The last thing he knew his parents wanted was to have an episode on their front lawn. And, the last thing he wanted was for that to be a memory for Joey.

Before Harvey could respond in any fashion, Maggie looked over Harvey's shoulder and saw the younger woman standing there. "Well, my son, are you going to at least introduce us?"

"This is Joey," Harvey said, turning to face her. "My girlfriend."

"Must be something more than that," James stated matter-of-factly. "The last time we got to meet someone, she became his wife."

"It's nice to meet you both," Joey said, offering them both a polite smile as she slipped her free arm around Harvey's waist. It was quite clear when she looked up at him that she was a woman who was very in love with their son. She looked to his father with her smile still present. What in the world did she say to something like that? "I don't think it's anything more than that, Mister Geisler."

"James," he greeted, waving her over to the group. "Don't just stand there on the sidewalk with those two dogs of yours. You are part of the family now. Let's go inside."

Now it was her turn to be shocked. All the nerves and apprehension she once felt melted away as she moved to join the group. Pequeno pulled on his leash and managed to get to James, giving one of his trademark mighty barks for attention just before he started to paw at the older man's leg. "Pequeno... no. I'm sorry. He gets excited," she said, bending down to scoop the little pup up. "And thank you for the welcome."

"Pequeno, is it?" James remarked, looking down at the pup as she picked him up. "Happy little fella isn't he?"

"James isn't terribly fond of dogs, I'm afraid," Maggie said. "Your other one looks well trained."

"That's Rico," Harvey explained for Joey as they all started to walk towards the house. "Both Rico and Pequeno are K-9 units, and Joey is their handler."

"Security?" his surprised father asked. "That's a dangerous line of work."

"James!" Maggie hissed at her husband. He was known for speaking exactly what was on his mind, especially now in his elderly years. It was one of the many traits her children inherited, especially Harvey.

"It's okay," Joey said as they made their way toward the house. Security was a dangerous line of work. It was when she graduated from the Academy, and eight years later, it still was. Maybe even more so now. "You're right. I started off as a Close Protection Officer and spent a great deal of my time bouncing from one place to the next until recently."

She looked down at little Pequeno. The pup was still wagging his little tail happily, but was no longer bouncing around trying to get attention thanks to being snuggled up to his human, which was one of his happy places. Joey was still unsure what her future held as far as her career went. A lot had happened to make her rethink everything, and yet, she still hadn't really talked about it with anyone. "I've actually been giving consideration to retiring early."

Harvey raised an eyebrow at Joey's confession. It was not something that they had discussed, but he could not blame her. She had been injured pretty well during the takeover of the Chimera, then in the fight against Major Jackson, and again during the boarding of Deep Space 11. Three major injuries in the span of two weeks would make anyone think twice.

James, however, grunted. "Galavanting around the stars... Out there, there isn't any job that's safer than another, is there?"

"James, please," Maggie pressed again. Though he hadn't directly said it, Maggie knew that her husband was referencing what happened to Alison. "War is a terrible thing for anyone to live through. Twice, even."

"Mom, it's okay," Harvey said, holding the door open for his parents to enter the house.

"No, it's not," she countered sternly. She looked at Joey as they entered the house. Maggie could tell there was a lot of uneasiness in the air, especially now that James was in his usual mood. "We've lost two of our children, Harvey," she said plainly. "Ivan's in prison. Samantha is... God only knows where..."

"Delta Vega!" James spoke up, sitting in his easy chair. "She made the news two months ago when her hippie group was out there protesting the dilithium mining. Still hasn't called us though."

"She's not there any more, James. They left just like they always do." Maggie sighed, stepping forward to embrace her son again. "We can't afford to lose you too. Not again."

Joey felt bad for Harvey's mother. She couldn't even begin to imagine what it was like for her to have three children and to never really see any of them, and now she was learning more about Ivan and Samantha. "Harvey has an amazing crew that do everything they can to make sure he stays safe," she said, in an attempt to assure Maggie before addressing James in regards to his statement about no job being safe in space. "No, no job is really safe in space, but we do what we do so that others... like you and countless others... stay safe. There are still many areas that have yet to be explored, and because of that, who knows what's hiding out there... or what kind of threat they could be. Starfleet isn't for everyone, and not everyone has to like what we do, but they should respect it."

Had a crew, thought Maggie as she sat on the couch. Her eyes widened, knowing that if she didn't speak now, James would say the very words that she just thought. "Are they going to be putting you on a different ship? Or, giving you another command?"

Harvey nodded, sitting on the loveseat with the window behind him. There was room for Joey to sit beside him if she wanted, and he hoped that she would. "Starfleet hasn't given me any details yet, but Admiral O'Connell indicated that a command would come my way soon..."

His voice had trailed off when he saw what was on the coffee table. Civilian PADDs were not nearly as thin and versatile as their Starfleet counterparts. In fact, Harvey knew his father preferred the bigger variety, having always been looking at some complex DNA strand or chemical compound. He was a man known for detail, yet another trait Harvey inherited. Among the PADDs strewn about had articles from both the Fleet News Service and Medical Journals, all about the Consortium. "Um... doing some light reading, dad?" Harvey asked, looking up at his father.

Joey sat down next to Harvey on the loveseat and unhooked the leash from Rico's collar. He made no move to explore his new surroundings, but chose to lay down at Harvey's feet. Pequeno, on the other hand, managed to escape her grasp and launched himself off of the couch. He didn't stop there. With his leash dragging behind him, he ran straight for James and sat down, giving happy little yips to get the man's attention. The little guy even went so far as to flop over and offer his belly while his little tail thumped against the floor.

She looked to where Harvey did and saw what he was talking about. Joey had lived it. "The Consortium?" She asked. Word would have definitely gotten around by now, along with the fact Starfleet had taken them down at a pretty high cost.

Neither James nor Maggie made any attempt to remove what was on the coffee table, though Maggie explained, "Your father has somewhat moved his office to out here in the living room over the last couple of years. He still won't let me turn the old office into a library."

"Posh!" James spat. "Harvey," he then said, looking back to his son. The position of his chair made it easy for him to see both Harvey, and out the window that was behind the loveseat. "Your mother was correct earlier. We never stopped caring about you--"

"We were just never good at showing it," Maggie interjected.

James continued as if the interruption never happened. "When you never called, I had to dig into things myself. All we knew was that your ship went down. Your name was never on the casualty lists, and on occasion, there would be mentions of a Captain Geisler in the news."

The elder Geisler leaned forward and picked up a particular PADD from the top of the pile. "I've actually been reviewing something written by a Jayla Kij regarding joined Trill and telepathic conditioning. The firm," James was referring to the pharmaceutical corporation that he was now a board member of, "has been commissioned to study this and see if we can develop some detection methods and possible counter-agents."

Joey cast a glance in Harvey's direction. His parents had always cared, they just had a hard time showing or expressing it. Some people were just like that. It made sense to her now, and she found herself hoping it made him feel better knowing that his mom and dad really did care.

At the mention of Jayla and what she'd written, though, Joey said nothing. Not because she didn't like the Trill woman... she liked her... but because she didn't understand any of it. Joey knew some basics thanks to her SAR training, but that was about as far as it went. She was no more a doctor or medic, than someone wearing the blue uniform was a Security officer. This was something the three of them could bond over, and it was because of that she chose to remain quiet, giving the little black ball of fur some attention when he came back to her.

It was all still too real and recent for Harvey, and he knew where his father was leading. "Perhaps another time," Harvey said, anxious to not relive what he just went through.

"Joey," Maggie said, sensing her son's reservation. "I have some fresh lemonade in the kitchen. Would you mind helping me bring it out here?" She also stood up, indicating that she was about to go to the kitchen anyway.

Joey smiled and rose to her feet. She already loved Harvey's mother. Maggie was so incredibly sweet. "I would love to help you," she said, passing the now sleeping pup over to Harvey so she could follow. "Your garden is absolutely gorgeous, by the way."

"Thank you," Maggie said, leading her into the kitchen. "Since I retired from nursing last year, I've had a lot more time on my hands."

Joey followed Maggie into the kitchen. "A nurse? That had to be quite exciting," she said, offering her a smile as she waited for instructions. Being that she was a guest in the Geisler home, she didn't want to take any liberties.

"The glasses are in the cabinet to the left of the sink," Maggie instructed, opening the refrigerator to pull out the pitcher. "How long have you and Harvey been together?"

"About a month and a half," the younger woman replied as she opened the cabinet where the glasses were. She pulled some out and set them down on the counter. "I can't explain it, but I love your son, and I want him to be happy."

"Love doesn't need an explanation," Maggie countered, beginning to pour. "Either you do, or you don't. How you show your love, that's what matters."

"How long have you and Harvey's father been married?" Joey found herself asking, trying to keep from blushing at such a personal question. She adored Harvey, and would marry him in a heartbeat if he asked her, but that was one of those things she just wasn't going to push. Happiness was in her future with him no matter what. "Of course, you don't have to answer that if it's too personal. I'm sorry." And now her nerves were back.

"How is that too personal?" Maggie asked, trying to be cautious about the woman's nerves. "Harvey's in his early forties now, so I guess that makes us married around forty-nine years. It'll be fifty in June." She finished pouring the lemonade and set the pitcher on the counter. She intended to let the boys have a few minutes of private time since it would be the only way they'd talk to each other. "We met in medical school. I wound up pursuing nursing and him general practice. Wound up in pharmaceutical research not long after. I guess you could say medicine is in the Geisler blood."

Maggie picked up a glass of lemonade and took a sip, gesturing for Joey to do the same. "So, tell me about my son. Is he okay? Is he happy?"

Joey reached for a glass of lemonade, pondering the questions she was just asked. There was an obvious answer to it, but it was one she was certain Maggie wouldn't appreciate. Harvey just lost his first command in a war that never should have been as far as she was concerned. Consortium and those who were blindly following versus Starfleet. Far too many innocent lives were lost, but at least it was over now. For good. At least she hoped so.

Taking a sip of the lemonade in her hand, the young woman found herself leaning against the counter. "Harvey has had a lot of pretty horrible things happen in the span of his career. Some you probably know about, and some you may not. There are even some things that I don't know about," she began, preparing herself for what was sure to be a long answer.

"Your son is an amazing man, and he's got such incredible strength all things considered. Despite everything he manages to hold himself together for everyone around him... myself included. I'm not even sure how he does it," she said, looking down at the glass in her hand as she thought about everything. "Is he okay? I think he's getting there. Losing his first command the way that he did... I think that's going to take a little time for him to fully heal from. As for being happy... I would have to give the same answer for that question. I'm doing everything I can to help him, and I plan to continue to do so for the rest of our lives. He means the world to me, and as I mentioned before, his happiness means everything."

Joey turned her gaze back to Maggie. "If you were to ask him, I'm sure he would be able to give you a better answer than that."

"I doubt that," Maggie replied. "I know he's stronger than any rock on Earth, and doubly so when he's determined. As for loss..." Maggie sipped her lemonade and leaned against the counter. "I've seen him when he's lost something... someone. The man I saw today is one who's grown so much that the loss hasn't affected him as much. I have a feeling you have something to do with that."

"I don't know about that," Joey said, tucking a lock of hair behind her ear. "Harvey had more to do with that than I did, though, I will admit... I came into his life like a whirlwind. He spent many years building a wall around himself and shutting people out, but he recognized that it was time for change. I can take credit for helping along the way, but he's the one who did the work."

Maggie nodded, thinking now was the perfect time for her big question. "So, what are your intentions with Harvey? I'm sure he's shared a lot of what he's been through, especially if he's taking down the walls."

She had a feeling that very question was going to come up sooner or later, but it surprised Joey a bit that it was coming from his mother. Though, she had to admit, if the roles were reversed and she was the one standing in Maggie's shoes, she would want to know the answer to that question also. "He has shared a lot," she said without hesitation. "As far as my intentions... I love your son. He's everything I could ever hope to have in a partner and so much more. I want to spend the rest of my life making him as happy as I can. Maybe, if it's something he's interested in in the future, we can get married or have a child or two." Now, she was a bit uncomfortable, but she didn't show it.

His mother smiled, more than satisfied with the answer. "I could use a grandchild or two," she confessed to Joey. "I hope to do better for them than what we did with our three. Besides, I think his intentions are pretty clear right now."

"What do you think his intentions are?" Joey asked. She had her own idea of what his intentions were, but was curious for another person's opinion.

"I echo what I said outside," Maggie said, picking up one of the glasses on the counter that was meant for her husband. "He's only ever let us met one other special someone. Regardless of how tragic it ended, I've only seen him that happy when he was with her. I see the way he looks at you, and it is like that, but more."

Joey didn't quite know what to say, but then, she didn't know him when he was with Alison. It was because of that that she would have to take the Geisler matriarch's word on that particular subject. "Well... all I can say is... should Harvey decide he wants to marry me at some point in the future, I plan to say yes. I hope you won't mind having me as your daughter-in-law."

"I would do more than mind," Maggie said with a smile. "I will encourage it. Come on, we can't leave the men alone for too much longer."

Grabbing one of the glasses, Joey smiled. She adored Harvey's mom, and couldn't wait to spend more time with her. Maybe, if she was lucky, Maggie would let her get her hands dirty in the garden. It'd been a while since she was able to do anything like that. "I hope they're both okay," she said, making her way back into the living room.

* * *

Harvey was left alone with his father in the living room. James set the PADD he held on the end table beside him. "Son," he asked, using a gentle tone he rarely used. "Are you okay?"

The younger man shook his head and sighed. "All things considered... yeah. Yeah, I'm okay."

James sighed. If there was ever an expert on concealing feelings, it was he. "Harvey, your mother is right, we do care for you. It's why we pulled you in with us when you were younger, kept you close. We were always busy, and it was just our way."

"I know, dad," Harvey said, looking up at his father as he leaned back on the couch. Truthfully, he either didn't always know, or perhaps just never really recognized it.

"We never really worried during the war, even when you were trapped on Betazed. We figured as long as you were in the Dominion's hands, you were at least safe. And then, on the Schuster, when you had your accident, we knew you'd be fine. We're Geislers, and we can take a lot. But, when the Gamma Quadrant went silent, and we heard your ship go down..."

Harvey noted that his father's voice started to crack, despite his best attempts to keep it together, "We actually thought we lost you. Son, I'm seventy years old. Having more children is not an option, and I can't stand to lose one more kid."

"You're not going to lose me, dad," Harvey said, leaning forward on the couch now. "Not now, not ever."

"You know I'm on the board with the firm now," James explained. "I can get your own lab, your own team..."

Harvey shook his head. "Dad, I can't. Not now. I have to do this. I have to... I want to go back out there. This last year... I can't explain it. It's how I felt curing Edlund's Syndrome, but even better."

"That's the uniform talking."

"That's me talking," Harvey said, remembering the last conversation he'd had with his father. When Starfleet placed him in command of the Black Hawk, he was ready to find a way to retire. Going back to research and medicine was never an option as it did nothing but remind him of what he lost. It was his exploration of the stars that restored his purpose and his soul.

Joey made her way out of the kitchen and over to the loveseat where Harvey was sitting. Like the very first time, her heart rate quickened at seeing him. After passing him the full glass of lemonade, she settled back down next to him.

Maggie exited the kitchen with James' and her lemonade in hand and set one of the glasses on the end table beside James. "It's good to see that you haven't eviscerated your son, James." Without giving James a pause in which to fire a retort, Maggie asked, "So, Harvey, how long are you planetside?"

Harvey shrugged. "Honestly, mom, I'm not sure. Starfleet still hasn't assigned me to anything yet, and we are taking advantage of a mandatory leave." He didn't mention that either of those leaves were due to medical or administrative.

"This is the first time I've had any kind of vacation in years. I'm enjoying every single second of it, too," Joey said, placing a hand on Harvey's knee. "Starfleet will let us know when the time comes." Though, she didn't know if she was going back as an officer or a civilian.

"How about for dinner?" Maggie asked. "You'll stay for dinner?"

"We can stay for dinner," Joey said, smiling at Maggie before she looked toward Harvey. She would never deny his mother anything as sweet as she was.

"I prefer to cook, but I don't have anything for Ricardo and Peq... Pequeno is it?" Maggie asked. "We do have a replicator, so I think we can take care of that."

"That will be perfect, thank you," the younger woman said. "Would you like help?"

"I got it," James said, rising to her feet. "The damn thing is temperamental... much like his siblings." James pointed at Harvey as he said that. On that note, Maggie and James departed to leave their son and Joey alone. Pequeno, ever the curious one, leapt and trotted behind them to the kitchen. Any possibility of getting food was not going to slip past this little one.

"Well," Harvey remarked to Joey. "This was certainly not what I expected."

"You were expecting your parents to not really care, weren't you?" Joey asked softly. "It does make sense now... why they kept you so close to them when you were just a boy. They wanted to protect you from choosing the wrong path in life. Your Mom and Dad love you, Harvey. I could tell that the second they recognized you outside."

He had no reason to argue. If anything, he was thankful that he'd been wrong all of these years. "I suppose it's good to know that I've never truly been alone. I see that now."

"And you will never have to feel like you're alone again," she said softly as she leaned forward to press a kiss to his cheek. "Things are going to be okay from now on. That, I can promise you." And for once, Joey felt like that was a promise she would be able to keep.

A gentle smile appeared on Harvey's face. As he heard the clatter of dishes and cookware in the kitchen as his parents prepared dinner. If anything, Harvey could breathe easier now. He had been assured that everything, no matter what happened next, would be all right.

 

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