A/N:

First, this is a disclaimer that Star Trek belongs to CBS and Paramount not myself. No copyright infringement is intended by this work.

Second, this story is completed so it will be updated weekly. I hope you enjoy the story.

Chapter One

Stardate 2266.08

As he drove a hover car from his quarters near Starfleet Medical in San Francisco to his mom's house in Atlanta Georgia, McCoy wondered if only his mom and daughter would be there to greet him that evening. With the time difference they would have eaten dinner already as he had done before he left the city. He could have been there nearly instantly with a transporter but he didn't trust that particular piece of technology. As for a shuttle, he'd never liked them and he wanted the quiet of driving a hover car by himself in order to have time to think.

McCoy planned to stay at his mom's place in Atlanta for the next week. While his mom had seemed glad to host him, his daughter had not seemed terribly enthusiastic to see him. Or perhaps that was just because it was very late at night when he had told Joanna the news. He hoped it was the latter.

As for his sister Donna, he knew she and her family often visited his mom this time of year. While he sent her birthday greetings and she did so in return, the two of them were not as close as they had been before she left for college. He'd never actually met her husband Fred, his nephew Thomas, or his niece Linda in person. Though he knew what they looked like as Donna had sent him a family photo of them on his last birthday. He'd like to meet them all, but he was a little nervous at the same time. Thomas was nine and Linda was seven, which meant they were bound to be energetic and possibly noisy. Donna claimed they were both well behaved. But then he suspected his mom had said the same of him and Donna, and he knew there were times they had not been well behaved as kids.

When it came to his extended family, his grandparents on both sides of his family were now dead. He wasn't close to his three uncles and two aunts, except for his uncle Jeffrey. Jeffrey's wife Betsy had died last year. The two of them had never been close, but he knew that his uncle had loved her. For that reason alone he'd felt bad for missing the funeral and had told his mom to pass on his condolences. There was so much he had missed while in space, but it was moments like that when he wished he could be there for people he cared about that were the hardest things to deal with. He'd had a good talk with Lieutenant Sulu about that a week after he'd learned of the funeral. That conversation had convinced him that even despite the danger and death that the exploration of space sometimes entailed, the risk was usually worth it.

He was glad he'd come back safe and sound from the five year mission, McCoy thought as he pulled into the driveway of his mom's house and then parked the hover car. He grabbed his duffle bag then climbed out of the hover car and locked it. Then McCoy took a deep breath and walked toward the door. He'd done that a thousand times or more but somehow the familiar sight of his childhood home felt more monumental after all this time away. He dismissed the thought then pressed the door chime. A moment later, the door opened and he saw the familiar figure of his mom Eleanora. She smiled at him then gestured for him to step inside.

"Come in Leonard. It's good to see you again." she stated. After he had walked inside she wrapped her arms around him. He patted her back, a little startled at the embrace. She didn't linger but pulled away relatively quickly and looked him in the eyes.

"Oh, don't look at me like that sweetheart. You're never too old for a hug. Now follow me and we'll get you settled in your old room. Joanna is staying in Donna's old room. Speaking of your sister, she and her family are coming over here tomorrow for lunch so I hope you get a good sleep tonight." his mom stated as he hung up his coat and took his shoes off.

"I take it Thomas and Linda are energetic?" he asked as he followed her up the stairs to his childhood bedroom. The walls had been repainted since he had last been inside the room, but he recognized the desk and the bed. He set down his duffle bag by the door then followed his mom down the hallway.

"Yes, you can say that again. They're good kids though." Eleanora said. She knocked loudly on the bedroom door that had once belonged to Donna.

"Joanna, your father is here. Come say hello." she called out loudly. There was no reply and his mom sighed.

"Joanna's probably on that enhanced reality unit again. I swear she has spent hours on that device since Pamela gave it to her for her birthday. I don't care what anyone says, interacting with that much video can't be good for your brain." his mom declared.

Before he could ask what she was meant, she opened the door and strode into the room. Joanna had on a thick set of black goggles strapped to her head and wore thick black gloves on her hands. She seemed to be making the motions of swimming, which looked strange considering she wore jeans and a tight green sweater. Then he looked at his daughter closer. Was that lipstick she had on? Yeah it was, he realized. Eleanora came up to Joanna and grasped her shoulder.

"Joanna, turn off that thing. Your dad is here." she stated loudly. Joanna stopped.

"What? Video off." she stated. A moment later Joanna took off the goggles and gloves then placed them aside on the nightstand.

"So you're back then." Joanna concluded as she turned to look at him.

"Yeah. Come here and give me a hug Joanna." he requested. She crossed her arms over her chest which drew his attention to her nail polish. He now noticed that she was wearing eyeshadow too. None of her makeup was glitzy or overdone, but he was a little taken aback that she was wearing any at all as he never seen her do so before.

"No. I'm not your baby girl anymore. Those days are long gone. Let's go to the living room shall we?" she replied. Before either he or Eleanora could respond, Joanna quickly strode out of the room. Eleanora looked at him sympathetically then followed her out of the room. When they all sat down in the living room, the silence between them was tense for a long moment before Joanna spoke again.

"So dad, are you going to be heading out into space again?" she asked.

"Yes. Right now, the Enterprise A has an six month retrofit at Space Dock. During that time I will be assigned to the Starfleet Medical Hospital in San Francisco. I asked to stay longer then that on Earth, but instead Starfleet Command assigned me to the Enterprise A on another five year mission." he explained. Joanna sighed.

"Well that doesn't surprise me. After all, I've been looking after myself for years." she replied.

"Joanna! You know both your father and mother love you." protested Eleanora.

"Yeah, but not enough. I'm going outside to get some air." Joanna stated.

"It's cold out there." Eleanora warned her. The weather was colder then the Enterprise, but it was only a little cooler then normal for a Georgia winter evening.

"That's what my boots and jacket are for." Joanna stated then she turned and left the room. McCoy stood up once the door had closed behind her.

"I should…" he began, but was stopped by his mom as she raised a hand.

"Sit down Leonard." Eleanora stated. He sighed then sat down heavily again.

"I know I haven't been the world's best father to Joanna. Hell, not even close. It's hard to stay connected when all you have are monthly video comms and letters. That's not an excuse, but it is an explanation. I expected to come back to find that Joanna had changed, but she's a virtual stranger to me mom. Now I'm not sure if she even wants to get to know me again." McCoy said quietly.

"Give her time Leonard. Joanna needs to get to know you again as well. I know it's been over ten years since your divorce, but you don't get over something like that overnight. I'm not going to call Pamela names because I know you two loved each other once. But you know that saying about marry in haste, repent at leisure? I think that describes you and Pamela. Joanna was closer to you then Pamela before the divorce, and she has a lot in common with you both in looks and personality. Maybe that reminded Pamela of you and that's the reason that Pamela really never got to know Joanna that well after the divorce."

"Pamela has made sure that Joanna has everything she needed for a good education, to stay healthy, and for her to find hobbies she liked. There was always enough credits to make sure Joanna never lacked for anything. But emotionally, Pamela turned to Edward for support after the divorce. After he left her two years later, Pamela had a succession of lovers. So it's been left to me and Joanna's friends to be there for her. That's why Joanna now has the idea that she can't rely on either you or Pamela for much emotionally." his mom explained. McCoy closed his eyes briefly. He wasn't surprised to hear that but her description of the situation was what he had most feared to return to.

"Maybe you're right about my marriage to Pamela being hasty. After all, our relationship was a bit of a whirlwind. It was only ten months after our first meeting when I treated her for an ice-cream headache that Pamela and I married. Then Joanna came along eleven months later. But then once Pamela went back to work a month after giving birth, I think both of us felt we had to work longer hours to provide for Joanna. That gradually meant we drifted apart because we didn't make time for each other as our careers went in different directions. Eventually she turned to Edward rather then me. Dad's death didn't help matters either." McCoy reflected.

"Whatever happens now, Joanna will still be your daughter no matter how old she gets Leonard." stated Eleanora.

"Yeah. I suppose I just have to get to know Joanna again. If she'll let me in again that is." McCoy realized.

"Do you regret joining Starfleet?" his mom wondered.

"No. Even if I had stayed on Earth after the divorce, Pamela still would have had full custody. But clearly Joanna still resents me for our limited communication and doesn't want to spend time with her father…" McCoy trailed off bitterly.

"No, she doesn't resent you Leonard. You didn't see how eager Joanna was to hear from you during the Academy. Or how scared she was that you had also died when she heard that the Enterprise had been close to Vulcan when it was destroyed. You're Joanna's father Leonard. Even though you haven't been around as much as you would have liked, I've known other men that were far worse fathers to their children." Eleanora concluded.

"Thanks mom. But it's clear Joanna and I still have fences to mend. You know, I think I'm going to go to bed now. Good night." McCoy stated. He quickly left the living room for his bedroom. He wasn't that tired but he would find something to do until he fell asleep, McCoy decided.