Chapter 36 - Family Matters

“Het, Mama!” 


Milie practically dropped the duffle bag from her shoulder as she dodged a small paw that flew back at her chin. “Lana, принцесса, Mama is just going to carry you for a little bit until we get across the landing pad. Then you can walk.” She turned her body, offering the falling shoulder strap to Evelyn, and shifting La’lana on her hip to adjust the weight so she didn’t drop the kitten.


Evelyn took it, slinging it over her shoulder while trailing her luggage. The majestic mountains in the distance reminded her how much she’d missed them.  Throughout the trip she’d been anxious about coming home and it wasn’t just her father. She’d gotten more updates and he seemed on the mend. “Those are called the Rockies”, she told the girl.


La’lana stuck a paw in her mouth in a frustrated attempt to soothe herself. “Want down, Mama!”


“I know, sweetie.” Millie snuggled her close, giving Evelyn a look of thanks for freeing up the extra arm to wrangle the cranky toddler. She’d hoped that La’lana might nap on the shuttle ride, but the girl was far too excited. “We’ll get to the house and get a snack.”


“Дедушка sick?” The little voice asked.


“Yes, your grandfather was sick.” Millie stroked between La’lana’s ears in a way she had watched Statzia do, and it seemed to settle her wiggling. “And Grandfather and Grandmother haven’t met us yet, so we are coming to visit.”


At the end of the long row of shuttle pads, a personal transport sat with a man in his late sixties standing next to it. He was tall, balding, and thin but his eyes were warm.




“Welcome home, Miss Evelyn.”


She gave him a hug. “How’s father?”


“Recovering well. He’s home now.” He looked to the other pair. “Greetings,” he said as he took all the bags and placed them inside.


“Millie, this is Jamison, he’s been taking care of our family, well  longer than I’ve been alive. Jamison this is my fiance Millie, and this little one is La’lana.”


“A pleasure.”


“We rode in a SHIP!” La’lana exclaimed as she gave a squeal of excitement as Millie lowered her the rest of the way to the ground. “Ride in a ship aaaaallllll the way to Дедушка’s house!”

Millie gave Jamison a smile and extended her hand in greeting. “With any luck, she’ll fall asleep on the transport.”


Jamison shook her hand. “We ought to get moving, it’s about an hour to the estate.”


“Has anyone heard from Alex?” Evelyn was concerned about her sister as well.


“Yes, she returned your mother’s message this morning. She’s on route and should be here tomorrow.”


Evelyn nodded, relieved to hear the news and entered the transport.


By the time they arrived at the estate, La’lana was asleep against Millie’s chest. With Evelyn’s assistance, she worked the carrier around the kitten’s body and over Millie’s shoulders. “Remind me to thank Statzia for teaching me that trick with her ears.”


The doors opened and Evelyn stepped out, looking way up to the top of the house. A host of memories flooded back of the last time she’d been here. She was about to turn to Millie when the front door opened and a woman in her early fifties walked out. She looked very refined and reserved. She walked down to the transport.


“Evelyn, it’s been a long time since I laid eyes on you.”


“Yes it has mother.”


Her mother motioned to the transport, mistaking what little she could see of Millie as another servant. “Have them bring your bags up to your room.”


“Mother, I have someone I want you to meet. This is Millie, we’re engaged. And this is La’lana.”


“Evelyn, you know how I feel about pets.”


“Evelyn’s lips tightened. “She’s not a pet, she’s a child who we are raising from another world.”


Her mother’s eyes fell on the child. “Yes, I see.  Well, I didn’t know you were bringing guests, I only had them prepare your room.”

“One room will be fine.”


“I see.” She faltered for a millisecond, then gestured to the house. “Well, come inside.”


Evelyn caught Millie’s eyes before walking to the house.


As if to reassure her, Millie slid in close, linking her fingers with Evelyn’s.


The inside of the house was as expected, lavish and very old. Evelyn’s mother shut the door behind them. 


“Is father awake?”


“No, he’s resting.”


“And Jamison said Alex called you back.”


“Yes, finally Alexis opted to communicate. She is arriving tomorrow. Are either….any of you hungry?”


Evelyn looked to Millie, her eyes asking the same question.


Millie smiled. “I’ll let Lana sleep. She’s been fighting sleep this whole trip.” She turned the polite smile to Evelyn’s mother. “If someone can show me to our room, I’ll put her down for a while.”


Her mother turned to another attendant and the young girl motioned Millie to follow her up the stairs.


Evelyn watched her go, then slid her eyes to her mother. “Please don’t start, I’m not here to fight.”


“Oh I know that my dear, you’re never here to fight.” The older woman walked away into the parlor leaving Evelyn standing alone.


Millie returned a few minutes later, a baby monitor clipped to her collar. “Красотка,” she murmured, slipping an arm around her and pulling her close. “Say the word, and we’re on the first transport to Moscow.”


Evelyn shook her head, having steeled herself into refusing to cry. “This isn’t about her and nothing she says has any bearing on my life.”


“Good.” Millie leaned in close to give Evelyn a kiss. “I’ll make sure you’re extra loud tonight.”




That evening everyone gathered for dinner, though her father’s chair was empty. Evelyn sat two seats from Millie with La’Lana between them so they could both assist her. Her eyes glanced to her mother, who had not said much during the early portion of dinner. The silence wasn’t just uncomfortable, it was almost threatening.


“LenLen–” La’lana whimpered. “Ick. Yuck.” Her little paws attempted to work the stringy bits of asparagus from between her sharp teeth.


Evelyn leaned over, helping her. “Maybe you should just stick to the meat, it’s good,” she tapped her fork on the chicken.


Millie also assisted, scooping the vegetables from La’lana’s plate onto her own, exchanging it for half of the chicken breast she had been cutting into tiny bites, anticipating the struggle with feline teeth and plant material. “It’s good that you tried it.” She smiled encouragingly. “It’s always good to try new foods.”


Evelyn knew her mother was watching, but didn’t look up until she heard someone else enter the room.


“Nobody told me we were having guests.” 


Evelyn jumped up to hug her father, gently albeit. He had good color, and was wearing casual attire, unlike the work clothes she remembered.


“You okay?”


“I”m fine, truly.” He looked to Millie and La’lana. “And who do we have here?”


“Father, this is Millie, my fiance, and this is La’lana, who we are raising and hoping to adopt.”


“Well, look how big she is.” He walked over, offering his hand first to Millie, then La’lana. He noticed the plate, and nodded to it. “I don’t like asparagus either.”


“Дедушка!” La’lana exclaimed. The little girl spun in her seat, stretching up her arms. “Up!”


Millie laughed, reaching out to brace the kitten so she didn’t tumble from the chair. “Lana, Дедушка might not be ready for lifting you up.” Her eyes lifted to Evelyn’s father. “Дедушка means ‘grandfather’ in Russian.”


“Nonsense, come here.” He lifted the girl from her chair and brought her up to eye level. 


“Edward…” his wife cautioned, though it was unclear if it was about pushing his health or the child.


“I’m fine, Monica. “Besides, they said not more than twenty pounds. Surely she’s less than that.” He gave Evelyn a wink showing he knew better.


“We flew on a ship, Дедушка!” La’lana put her little paws on each of Edward’s cheeks. “A little ship!”


“That sounds very exciting. You’ll have to tell me all about it.”


Evelyn had missed him so much. “After she eats her dinner.” She took La’lana from his arms and resettled her in the chair. “Go eat, you need your strength.”


He walked to his chair and sat. “How long are you staying?”


“We got permission for a week.”


“Well I’m glad you’re here…all of you.”


All the while, her mother watched as if from afar, even though she was mere feet away.


Millie smiled, placing the extra chicken on La’lana’s plate. “I may have to sneak off to Moscow for an evening at the end of the week. The Klingon opera that the Bolshoi staged a few years ago was such a resounding hit that their diplomatic delegation has requested the commission of a new production.” She glanced between the two parents. “It should be opening sometime next year, and I would love to have you both as guests in my box.”


“Bolshoi, we caught a performance there about, maybe five years ago. Hell of a production.” He nodded as he took a bite of dinner.  “You’re affiliated with them?”


“Da,” Millie said with a smile. “Owner and head of operations.” She reached out, catching La’lana’s paw right before she ran it through the fur on her head. “I was trained at the Bolshoi prior to entering Starfleet Academy.”


Her mother chewed that bite very slowly. “And what is it you do in Starfleet?”


“I’m ship’s counselor.” Millie took a napkin and wiped the sauce from La’lana’s paw. “Initially I was stationed with the Federation’s Emergency Trauma Response teams, so I was moved around quite a bit in the beginning to various disaster situations. That’s what brought me to the Mercutio.”


“So you may not be on that ship for much longer if you move around so much.”


Evelyn did everything she could not to stare daggers at her mother for trying to wedge the conversation.


Millie gave a sideways smile at Evelyn, giving her the ‘I’ve got this’ look. “Quite the opposite. I made such an impression on the Captain and his staff that it’s now my permanent assignment.” She turned her attention momentarily to her plate. “If there’s a reason for a change of assignments, it’s more likely to be because Evelyn’s research moves her to Starfleet R&D.”


Her father nudged his daughter. “Moving up in the world?”


She gave a slight nod. “Actually was just made Lieutenant Junior Grade right before we left.”


“Then that deserves a celebration.”


“It’s quite the honor.” Millie’s smile seemed more relaxed as she looked to her fiance. “Her actions saved the lives of multiple senior staff, including the Captain and First Officer. Your daughter is absolutely brilliant.”


Her father beamed with pride but Evelyn held up a hand. “Brilliant enough to create a proto universe in her living room which ate her couch.”


Her parents exchanged glances, but her mother was the one to speak. “I would imagine not many could accomplish that feat.”


Evelyn was nearly taken aback by the compliment. “Well, I guess that’s one way of thinking.”


“Красотка,” Millie said, gently chiding, “let me brag on you a little bit in front of your parents.” She gave Evelyn a wink. “After all, not many people would hack an Intelligence officer’s personal computer system to locate the officer and ship’s counselor when their shuttle crashlanded on an–uninhabited planet.” She speared a piece of asparagus. “Last week was not the first time your daughter has saved my life.” 


Evelyn felt her cheeks blush at the attention. “I did what I could.”


“We are very proud of you Evelyn, aren’t we Monica?”


Her eyes raised to meet her mother’s. “Yes, she is excelling at this Starfleet career.”


Two compliments in one day, it felt like christmas.




La’lana gave a squeal as she rounded the fountain in the garden, toddling one step ahead of Edward–who was obviously staying just far enough behind the kitten to be in pursuit but not actually catch her.

Millie smiled, reaching over from her seat on the stone bench to take Evelyn’s hand. “I really like your father,” she said softly.


“He’s the best, was always like this when I was growing up. Took Alex and I on trips to parks and stuff. Supported me when I wanted to learn coding when I was nine. I don’t know how he stays with her.”


Millie chuckled softly. “Ask me for my professional opinion at the end of the week when I’ve had enough observation time.”


La’lana let out another squeal as Edward lifted her into the air. Her paws flailed as he swooped her down towards the basin of the fountain, as if he was going to dump her into the water, only to pull her up into the air again.


“I wish mine were still that little,” said a voice behind them. 


Evelyn jumped up and embraced her sister. “When did you get here?”


“About twenty minutes ago,” said the tall brunette. “Had to go through mother’s usual guilt trip. How is he?”


“He seems normal and even more energetic than yesterday. Are David and the kids here?”


“They’re still on the white beaches of Camily. I booked a transport solo.”


“Where are my manners?  Alex, this is Millie, my fiance, and the one with father tied around her paw is La’lana.”


Alexis held out a hand to Millie. “Welcome to the grand Carrington House, where the fun is as withdrawn as our mother.”


Millie returned the handshake. “It’s not so bad. I had a Vulcan roommate for two years at the Academy.” She smiled. “I’m not so sure beach vacations are in the cards for us until she’s older, Ev– can you imagine trying to get sand out of her fur?”


“It’s hard enough to give her a bath.”


“It doesn”t get easier as they get older. Now I have to convince my son he needs one.”


”That’s because she shakes her head when she gets her ears wet.” Millie laughed. “And yowls at us the whole time.” She gave a head nod to Edward. “As long as he keeps her from going for the koi in the fountain, I think we’re in the clear.” She put a hand on Evelyn’s arm. “Which reminds me–I snuck in and talked to the kitchen staff after breakfast. They’ll leave the vegetables off of her meal plate, and promised they could arrange for some tuna or salmon for snack time this afternoon.


“Oh she’ll love that.”


“So, fiance, huh? When’s the big day?”


Evelyn gave her sister ‘the look’. “We haven’t set it.”


“Well trust me, just elope. Do you remember what kind of a pain mother was during my wedding?”


Evelyn remembered and started laughing. “She decided the day before she didn’t like your dress.”


“And then had them redo my hair that morning into that awful cone thing.”


“Yea eloping may be the way to go,” Evelyn glanced to Millie. “Though you might look nice with that hair style.”


“I…wouldn’t object to eloping.” Millie leaned her shoulder against Evelyn’s. “It seems like life keeps throwing wrenches into our planning each time we start.” Her eyes went to La’lana. “And I think I would feel better knowing we didn’t have the same–complications with making sure La’Lana stays with you if we were legally married.”


“Unless you had an idea for the big grandiose wedding.”


Evelyn shrugged. “I look awful in white.”


Alexis shook her head. “You have never given yourself enough credit. Every boy in school had the hots for you.”


“I don’t think they got the memo.”


“It’s your eyes,” Millie said with a smile. “Which is why my stylist made you a wedding gown in the same shade of blue.” She held up a hand. “And before you say anything, it was his idea. He started on it as soon as he got your measurements the last time we went to the ballet. He’s designed one for me as well.” She gave a shrug. “I got a message shortly after I returned that he had ‘our wedding gifts ready’.”


Alexis tapped Evelyn on the top of her head. “It’s fate, little sis.”


Evelyn looked from her sister to Millie. “Do you want to do it before we go back? Or do you want your friends to be present?”


Millie took both of Evelyn’s hands. “I want my wife to be happy and our daughter to be safe.”


“Same. But you’ve been with them for years. I don’t want Patricia coming for my head because she didn’t get to be there.”


“Who’s Patricia”


“Her BFF who’s a former corporate assassin.”


“Sorry I asked.”


“I think I can make a good case for having nearly died twice and you vanishing once to justify not wanting to wait any longer.” She slipped an arm around Evelyn’s waist, drawing her into a deep kiss. 


She returned it, lost in the kiss until she heard the sound of someone clearing their throat.  She broke the kiss and looked up into the unenthused eyes of her mother.


“It’s time for lunch in the parlor.”


“Oh…uh…yea, okay.”


Using her index finger, Millie turned Evelyn’s face back to look at her. “I’m coming back for the rest of that kiss later.” With a smile, she turned back to Edward and La’lana. “Okay,  принцесса, it’s lunch time!”


When Millie approached, Edward motioned her over closer. “A moment?”


Millie smiled,  reaching out to take La’lana from his arms. “Sure.”


“I want you to know that I can clearly see how happy you make my daughter and whatever your plans, I only ask that you continue to do so.” He looked back at the house. “You also will need to contend with my wife. She wasn’t always like this. When I met her we had the same glances that you two share. She’s still in there somewhere.”


“Don’t let the ballerina part fool you,  Mr. Moro.” Millie gave La’lana’s fur a ruffle and set her down to toddle towards Evelyn. “I suggested to your daughter that I could knock her mother unconscious, tuck her away in a closet, and we could all have a few hours of peace and quiet.” She grinned and winked. 


He chuckled, walking with her to the house. “That little one is a handful.”


“From what I understand, she gets that determination from her biological mother.” Millie chuckled softly. “But I think she may wind up a lot like Evelyn. She’s already figured out how to unlock one of the childproof cabinet locks in our quarters, and she wants nothing more than to play with Ev’s engineering kit.”


“That kind of mischief and energy has been sorely lacking around this house. Now, tell me more about your ballet….”




Millie practically tiptoed into the parlor, waving Jamison–who carried two large, flat boxes–in behind her. She gave Evelyn a big smile. “I don’t think she saw us.”


“You’re pretty crafty.” She craned her neck. “Do I get to see or is it a surprise?”


Millie gave a mischievous grin. “Yours is the box on top.” She pulled off both of her gloves, setting them on a side table.


Evelyn hurried over to see. “So, I guess the last thing to decide is where.”


“We could get married at the Bolshoi.” Millie slipped in close to Evelyn as she approached the box. “Or we’d mentioned getting married at the Captain’s ranch–I could ask Patricia if we could get married on their part of the property.”


“Absolutely not!”  Evelyn winced as her mother”s voice boomed from the doorway.


Millie’s voice was level as she shifted, placing herself between Evelyn and her mother. “I don’t believe that you were invited to the conversation.” Millie placed an ungloved hand on Evelyn’s forearm in reassurance.


Soon her father and sister were in the room, having heard the commotion. Everyone was talking at once except for Evelyn and her mother. 


“Sit!” the matriarch’s command jostled the room and everyone did, even if Evelyn had to tug Millie down next to her.


“It seems, as though everyone but me was aware of this going on under this very roof.”


Millie gave her head a slight tilt. “We’ve made no secret of our engagement, Mrs. Moro.”


“This is true, you haven’t but in the space of twenty-four hours we’ve gone from knowing you exist to you running off to get married.”


“I wouldn’t call it ‘running off’.” Millie smiled gently. “The custom wedding dresses took eight months to make.” She put a hand on Evelyn’s. “We’ve encountered some issues with our custody of Lana that will be helped by expediting the finalizing our union, and Evelyn and I had planned on a private ceremony.”


“Be that as is may, no daughter of mine is going to get wed in some back hole  never-was….”


“Monica…” her father warned.


“If you are going to be married…’ll do it here, where seven generations of our family have done so.”


Evelyn wasn’t sure she heard that correctly. “You mean it?”


“Of course I do, you’re my baby.”


Evelyn couldn’t stop her eyes from welling up.


Millie leaned in close, pressing her shoulder against Evelyn’s. “If that’s what you want…”


Evelyn nodded before standing and approaching her mother who let her expression open up before hugging her daughter, and soon was joined by Alexis. Both girls were nodding to whatever they were being told in the embrace.


Millie stayed seated on the sofa, but gave a soft smile and a slight incline of her head to Edward.


He watched the happenings but gestured to Millie he had no part in this…that he’d admit.


Millie waited until it looked like the trio of women were starting to pull away from each other. “Perhaps,” she mused aloud, “you two would like to go with Evelyn to try on the dress?” She smiled, crossing one leg underneath her body as she did when she was getting comfortable. “Maxim said to let him know if you need alterations–” she gave a shrug, “but I’ve never known him to be wrong in his art.”


Alexis grabbed the box and led Evelyn out. Silently her mother followed, though she did stop next to her husband for a moment, long enough for him to give her a light kiss on the temple before she left.


Edward looked to Millie. “Sounds like we have a wedding to arrange.”


Millie glanced towards the door the other women had exited through. “Perhaps it should be someone other than your wife we consult for the hair? Or so I’ve been told.” Her lips quirked in a smile.




It had all come together very quickly. Too quickly? Was there something she had overlooked or forgotten? Evelyn looked at herself in the full length mirror. Who cares? She shoved the doubts aside. She was about to get married in her family home, remarkably with her family present. As a professor once told her, don’t look a gift coding shortcut in the mouth.


The patter of tiny shoes echoed through the hall. La’lana came bursting through the door, giggling and spinning in circles, the blue lace dress flaring out around her legs. “Lyn! Look!”


“You look beautiful! Like a little princess.” Evelyn swallowed the pun, given who the girl really was. “Do you know, I think you are going to be  the prettiest one in the whole wedding.”


“I’m not so sure about that.” Millie stood in the doorway, smiling. “I think you might have her beat, Evelyn.” She smirked. “I’m glad we were able to convince your mother to let one of Maxim’s staff to be your hair stylist. Your sister showed me pictures.”


“Yes, well she watched all the way through but managed not to make more than a few grumbles when something wasn’t to her exact liking. She’s in event planning mode now. I think it’s killing her not to have a huge thing. When my sister graduated high school we had 600 people here.”


“No worries. I tasked your father with limiting the guest list.” Millie smiled as she crossed the room, reaching out a gloved hand to take Evelyn’s. “But I would have married you in the middle of the forest on a pre-warp planet if it meant I got to spend the rest of my life with my two girls.”


Evelyn squeezed her hand. “I don’t know how, but here we are and I’ve never been more excited or nervous in my life.”


Millie gave a shrug, a coy smirk on her face. “I might have been slightly more excited to see you practically launch yourself out of a shuttle in the middle of a forest with a contingent of security officers in tow.” She returned the squeeze of the hand. “But that might have been the radiation talking.”


“I went from thinking I’d never see you again to standing here with you…with you both on the verge of the rest of my life.” She used her free hand to wipe her eyes, careful of the makeup. “So how about we do this thing?”


Millie leaned in close, careful not to smudge their makeup as she pulled her fiancee into a kiss. “Ten minutes. I’ll see you at the end of the aisle.” As she broke off the kiss, La’lana took off down the hall, still giggling and twirling.


Evelyn smiled watching her go. A moment she never thought she’d experience, especially in this place, was moments away. Life couldn’t get any better.




Two days after the wedding, Evelyn and Millie sat in an outer office awaiting their appointment with the case worker assigned to La’lana. Evelyn was nervous, her stomach feeling like it was ready to drop every other minute. She’d told Millie that amending the adoption request to reflect their nuptials would give them a better shot at finally closing the deal though she wasn’t completely convinced herself. But she knew her wife….wife!….was feeling as anxious as she was and held her hand as they waited.


Millie gave a soft squeeze of Evelyn’s hand, brushing it with a gloved thumb. “Take a breath. They are…notorious for making you wait.” She tried to give a reassuring smile, but wasn’t sure that she was entirely successful at the gesture.


About twenty minutes later they were ushered into a small bureaucratic office where a middle aged Bolian man sat behind a desk.


“Ms. Stepanova and…” he checked a PADD, “…Ms. Moro I presume. Please have a seat.”


Millie pulled out the seat for Evelyn before seating herself. She took in a deep breath. “Thank you for agreeing to see us while we were able to be planetside.”


“Well, I wish it were under better circumstances. You see, I saw you had amended your petition but unfortunately that invalidates the entire thing and you will have to start again with a request  for guardianship, then several welfare visits. We ought to have you where you were within two or three years.”


“Years?!” Evelyn sat up straight.


Millie was quiet for a moment. “I do believe that my relationship status with Ms–Mrs. Moro was established as a part of my petition process. The courts were made aware of my intentions to marry her upon our soonest trip to Earth…which was this trip.”


“Be that as it may, the rules are the….” he stopped when the com on his desk chirped. Picking it up he held it to his ear. “I am in the mid…yes, this is he. And who are….yes that is where I was raised, yes…yes, my family resides….” his blue skin paled a little. “I…I understand.”


He set the com down and began quickly signing a PADD before setting it in front of them. “Sign here and here.”


Evelyn looked at Millie then signed where he indicated.


Millie seemed to calmly take the PADD, though she glanced up at the Bolian briefly. “Male or female?” She signed and handed back the PADD.


“Congratulations you’re now parents.”


Evelyn was thoroughly confused. “But you said….”


“Clerical error, you’re all taken care of.”


She looked to Millie for her reaction.


Millie quietly placed a hand on Evelyn’s shoulder as she stood. “Sometimes, Ev, it’s family that matters most.” She gave a nod of her head towards the official, and then squeezed Evelyn’s shoulder, indicating that they should leave.


Evelyn followed her out. “What did you mean?”


“Family.” Millie said quietly, as she searched out her surroundings, much as Patricia had taught her. “Yours arranged for the wedding…and it appears that mine has facilitated the adoption.”


Evelyn was quiet for a few moments, unsure how to ask the question in her mind. “They don’t have the best reputation. Is this going to hang over our head as a favor that needs to be repaid?”


“I believe that they hold family in the highest of regards…especially my grandfather. He told me that…” Millie gave her head a shake. “I think he would do anything to protect family, and to keep family together, whether the entire family knows of our existence or not.”


“That makes sense actually.” Evelyn looked around as they exited the building. “God, is this real now? Like….we’re married, she’s adopted. Don’t let me wake up if this is a dream.”


“I think we’re the ones living in a dream…given that La’Lana Stepanova-Moro is now heir apparent to more than one planetary empire.” Millie let out a breath. “Just chew on that for a moment.”


“We can never let her know that. The terrible twos are bad enough for her ego.”


Millie chuckled. “We’ll tell her after we’re through the teenage years.”