Disclaimer: I don't own Tuck Everlasting. If I did, the concept of a Tuck Girl would be canon. I only own the extended Tuck family in this story (see below for family tree) including Una Annabel "Belle" Tuck Jeffers; as well as her husband, his family, all of their children but one, and a few other OCs who play a role in her life.
This fic is dedicated to my favorite tumblr blogger: mostbeautifulday. She is one of the greatest blurb writers it has ever been my good fortune to read. I really hope you enjoy this. Also- keep your eyes peeled for my upcoming oneshot about Mae in the musical Blood Brothers (if I ever get to it. I have the WORST track record)!
Author's note: This fanfic has technically been in the works since I first read this book as a kid, although it bears little to no resemblance, by now, to its first incarnation. There have been a lot of rewrites and edits since back in the day, but one thing that has never changed is my love for the idea of a Tuck Girl. In the modified words of TrudiRose, my role model in all things fanfic- also my fabulous Beta Reader for The Inventor's Daughter- can I write an AU in which the Tucks had more kids than just Jesse and Miles and that gives more insight into the Man in the Yellow Suit's past that is believable, or have I lost my mind?
Well, no turning back now, guys. Let's find out.
This fanfic takes place in what I like to call a "Comboverse." Meaning, this 'verse has elements of both the musical and the 2002 movie. As in the musical, Winnie, once she appears in 1893, will be an eleven-year-old kid, the cat drank the water instead of the horse, and the Tucks look and talk basically like they did in the play (in the play, I noticed they pretty much talked like modern people, or at least used expressions I don't think that, historically, they'd have used. Examples: "Where are my pants?"- Angus Tuck. "Pants" was considered bad language in the 1800s. Also something along the lines of "You better go before You-Know-Who finds out and I get in trouble."- Angus Tuck. Also "Well, technically, Honey…" and "No one is shooting anyone. Jesse, I mean it. I just cleaned."- Mae Tuck. Tell me that doesn't sound kind of like something someone's mom would say today. Also "This is my father, Angus Tuck, usually he's in clothes…" – Jesse Tuck.). Like the 2002 movie- spoiler alert! The jailbreak happens (For those of you who have seen the musical- onstage or via bootleg like I did- I personally feel that that was their biggest cop-out). In the words of Tvtropes, that was Winnie's "Crowning Moment of Awesome." Plus, Winnie will be there longer (I am of the opinion that in the movie, she was with the Tucks for longer than a couple days). I also have a few headcanons of my own about the Tucks' past that you should be aware of.
A few of my headcanons about the Tucks' past that you should be aware of as they are mentioned pretty early on (Natalie Babbit didn't leave many clues about their past, so it's pretty open-ended, I'd say)- Headcanon Number One: Mae wasn't Angus's first wife. Furthermore, he has eight years on her (but in the late 1700s, when they would have been married, whose husband didn't?). He was married once before, but the first Mrs. Tuck died of an illness, leaving him alone with four daughters to finish raising/get married off. Mortality was very high back in the day. However, although he loved wife number one, he would definitely choose Mae to spend eternity with (isn't it great when life works out that way?). The reason he never mentions them is because over the many many extra years, he has worked through their losses and sees them as the lucky ones- they got to ride the wheel to its fullest, and now they are in Heaven. He is happy for them in that respect, and bit envious. I feel that, unlike Miles, Tuck doesn't focus as much on the dead. He does, after all, not see death as so awful as an unlived life.
Headcanon Number Two: Mae got married late in life for her time period (haven't decided exact age yet, but sometime in her mid-late twenties), and for a while, believed she'd never get married. A shy, quiet type in her youth, she preferred to leave the flirting to her beautiful, more vivacious sister and instead spent most of her time at home, looking after her aging widowed mother and helping her aunt in her weaver's shop (her experience from there at least partly explains why so many of the things she makes to sell in the book are textile based, such as rag rugs). She had few suitors, but Angus Tuck noticed something special in her and fell hard for her. At first everyone, including Mae herself, thought the widower Tuck was just courting her as new mother for his girls (she was rather a known "good caregiver" type), but events soon convinced her otherwise. After Mae's "most beautiful day," when she was proposed to at a village dance, there was no question in anyone's mind that it was the real thing. (Note- both the previous headcanons are based on a dream I had that I was reading a prequel in which all this happened. I woke up deciding I liked the idea, decided after a bit of thought that it could, given the time period/Tuck and Mae's ages, potentially be plausible, and the rest is history.)
Headcanon Number Three: This one explains the age differences between Miles, Jesse, and my OC that plays a part in this fic. For a while, it seemed that Mae was barren- it seems to me that many people back in the day had their first kid within a year of marriage and I personally think if Miles is indeed the oldest child of the couple (as opposed to the "oldest surviving" of their children, which is also a possibility given mortality rates back then) it took him a while to show up. Miles was nothing short of an unexpected miracle, and it seemed he'd be the only Tuck boy, as well as the only Tuck child who belonged to both Mae and Angus. Then, a couple miscarriages and/or stillbirths later, along came Jesse. This is my theory why in most depictions, Mae appears to be in her early-mid fifties. In this story, my Tuck Girl was born when Mae was in her mid-late forties, so a few more pregnancies that didn't go right happened between Jesse and Una. Una herself, as you will see, is kind of lucky she's alive- people didn't often survive getting born the way she was way back when.
Headcanon Number Four: Angus Tuck fought in the Revolutionary War. No one will ever convince me otherwise.
Headcanon Number Five: Like in the movie, Angus Tuck is Scottish. In the musicalverse, my headcanon is he came over as a child and lost his accent over time, which is why he doesn't have one in the play. Or, perhaps, he was a baby when his family came over and never had an accent to begin with. His mother was Una Tuck, so Belle is a dead guy junior in the words of TvTropes.
More headcanons to be announced as they become relevant (I actually have amassed quite a lot of them over the years- this was my original "out of control headcanon" before Into the Woods and my headcanon thereof finally swiped the title around the beginning of this decade.)
Tuck Family Tree
Gregor Tuck: d. 1760
M. Una Tuck: 1720-1762
Four other sons, one daughter
Angus Tuck: 1748-
M. Annabel MacLaren Tuck: 1749-1779
Annabel Elizabeth "Nan" Tuck Standish: 1766-1792
M. Phillip Standish
Unnamed stillborn daughter
Phoebe Aphra Tuck Bennett: 1768-1847
M. Joss Bennett
Five sons, three daughters
Lydia Jane Tuck Halsey: 1771- 1845
M. John Halsey
Four sons, two daughters
Patience Mary Tuck: 1774-1783
Angus M. Mae Fidelity Babbitt Tuck: 1756-
Miles David Tuck: 1786-
M. Rose Elizabeth Everston Tuck: 1789-1870
Annabel Rose "Anna" Tuck
Thomas James Tuck
Unnamed, unborn child
Jesse William Tuck: 1791-
Una Annabel "Belle" Tuck Jeffers: 1801- 1875
M. Isaiah Jeffers: 1790- 1859
Travis Isaiah Jeffers
Rose Elizabeth Jeffers
Nora Caroline "Caroline" Jeffers
Ephraim Isaiah Jeffers (died in infancy)
Annabel Dorcas Jeffers (stillborn)
1875, the Woods on the Outskirts of Treegap, New Hampshire
The first thing Angus Tuck heard when he woke up alone in bed was the familiar tinkling melody of his wife's music box. The sound glided from somewhere above him, down into his ears; she was up already and in the attic. That was how she started every day lately, ever since they had received that horrible letter from Miles earlier that week. The letter that had told them that the day they dreaded, but at the same time always knew would arrive, had finally come.
Yawning and rubbing his eyes, he rolled out of bed and began to search the bedroom for his boots and his pants. Although normally, he would be fast asleep, now it was time to get dressed. He would need to go up to the attic. No doubt Mae would be rummaging through the trunks, looking at a variety of old possessions they still hung onto despite all logic, and no doubt she would be crying. She had come down from the attic wiping the last tears from her eyes every morning for the past few days, after the sound of trunks being moved about rumbled from the ceiling. His wife would need him to comfort her now, and since the letter arrived, he'd felt a pressing need to be close to her himself, just so he could have something to remind him that things would be all right eventually. Finally, he found his pants slung over the dresser; his boots under the bed. Pulling them on, he climbed the steps to the attic, following the metallic sound of the music box.
As Angus had predicted, no sooner had he opened the hatch to the attic than he saw his wife, already dressed and kneeling in a circle of trunks and boxes, the attic in its usual messy state. Their cat, Storm Cloud, home from his straying for the time being, curled up on her skirts, his dark grey, bushy fur blending into the fabric, his tiny white paws kneading the folds. Mae absentmindedly scratched his ears as she rummaged through a trunk, tears trickling from her eyes. Scattered around her were a series of relics from happier times in their lives, all of them belonging at one point or another to one special, dearly-missed person. An old, badly-battered rag doll slumped next to her foot. A handful of books lay scattered around her on the floor. Tiny gowns and caps, such as a baby might wear, embroidered with flowers and birds and one special little girl's name were tossed in a pile next to the trunk, barely covering a pair of tiny shoes, a handful of cloth diapers, and a knitted red blanket. A child-sized, everyday dress of a soft periwinkle blue fell gracefully from her hands on top of the pile of baby clothes, partly concealing it. A beautifully-stitched sampler hung over the side of the trunk and a pointer such as a teacher might use lay directly in front of it. On her lap, Mae held a large patchwork quilt which had come all the way from Pennsylvania and which had been spread across one of the beds in their old farmhouse every night until the morning they woke up to find everything had changed.
Right next to Storm Cloud, its horrible message facing the rafters, lay the Note. The note that had told them just how much their changelessness had affected everyone in their lives. The note that had been left when the one person they thought would never leave them despite their strange situation gave in to the fear of the unknown and abandoned them by night. The last note from the person they'd always hoped would recant and come back to them, but never did. Now, she never would.
"Are you all right?"
Mae gasped, startled, and hastily wiped her tears with the back of her hand. "Fine- just fine."
Angus shook his head. "No you aren't." His face fell as he watched more tears bud in the corners of his wife's warm, hazel eyes. "Would you like me to set up here with you for a while?"
She nodded. Angus wracked his brain, unsure exactly what he should say to her. What did one tell a person who has lost someone irreplaceable to her, someone whom she knows for certain she has no hope of ever seeing again no matter how much time passes due to the simple fact that because of one little drink of water, she will never die? How did one comfort someone dealing with such a loss when they were in the same situation themselves? What can I tell her that won't hurt her all the more?
Finally, he thought of something. It wasn't much, and he doubted it would comfort his wife at all, but it was the best he could think of.
"You know I'll always be there for you. Nothing will ever change that. Nothing can change that." He laughed in spite of himself, then immediately regretted it when he saw the annoyed purse of his wife's lips. He cleared his throat. "And, we'll always have our ten-year reunions with Jesse and Miles. You'll never lose us."
"Can't we write the boys, tell them to come home now? I need my sons, I need us to be a family again, especially after what's happened."
Tuck sat down on the floor beside her, moving aside a couple of books, and wrapped his arm around her shoulders, rubbing her back. "You know we can't. Things the way they are; we have to be careful. Someone might catch on." He gave her a quick squeeze. "There, now. It'll only be five more years. Won't seem like more than a blink. Then, we'll have the two of them back."
Mae turned away from him, looking down at the blanket in her arms. "There should be three of them. There should always have been three of them. Now there never will be." Her finger gently drifted over a soft pink patchwork square. "I can't believe she's gone."
He couldn't believe it either, if the truth were known. Ever since she first left, he had tried to convince himself she'd be back, but he knew, deep down, that would turn out to be a fool's game. Now, it had. The inevitable had finally happened. Their little girl was dead at the age of seventy-four, without a reconciliation.
His wife blinked away fresh tears. "You were right, when she was first born. When you suggested we name her 'Una,' after your mother, because your mother was a fighter? You told me she must be like her, the way I had to struggle to bring her into the world." Lips quivering, she tried to smile, but winced instead. "It seems she fought to stay away, anyhow."
"I know it hurts, but we will be all right. We've got no choice. She's not the first loss we've lived through, and she won't be the last. It's just the curse of the spring." He smiled a halfhearted smile, hoping to cheer his wife a bit. "At least she got to stay on the wheel. She's very lucky that way."
"None of the others we've lost had the chance to drink from the spring, though. Belle did. If she'd been with us that day at the spring, she'd still be here." Her hand drifted gently across the quilt on her lap. "I'll never forget how happy I was the day she was born, once she was finally here- I couldn't believe I really had a baby girl, like I'd always wanted; I couldn't believe that that beautiful baby the midwife was holding up was really mine." She blinked as her tears began to bud in her eyes once more. "It used to terrify me, how small she was, after her brothers. I was afraid I'd break her. All the same, I never wanted to put her down. All those nights I used to sit up with her, rocking her to sleep with my music box… oh, she was such a little love." Sniffling, she wiped her eye with the corner of the quilt. "Oh, Angus, where did we go wrong?"
Tuck sighed. "I've asked myself that same question so many times. Sometimes, I don't think that there's anything we could have done. Everyone shied away when they realized we weren't aging- even if she'd stayed with us then, she'd probably have left at some point anyway."
"You told me you passed the spring all those years ago, when you brought her up from Pennsylvania to join the rest of us. You pointed out the "T" you carved. Why didn't you stop and make her take a drink, too?"
"Remember, I had no idea about the spring back then. None of us did." He sighed. "Really, if I had known, I don't know if I would have let her drink from the spring, let alone told her to. Like I said, she was the lucky one." At this, Mae cocked her head, disbelieving. "Think about it," Angus went on, "if she drank that water, she never would have gotten to grow up. She'd still be just a child. With a little girl in the house, it would have been even harder for us to keep a low profile. We'd probably have to move every year just to avoid suspicion. Can you imagine how hard that would have been on her? A child needs a stable home, she needs to feel that she has somewhere she really belongs. Besides, would it have been fair to her, denying her the chance to have a life of her own? Keeping her trapped forever at seven years?"
"At least she'd be here," Mae snapped, by now sobbing. "At least I'd still have my little girl with me! Now she's gone, and I'm never gonna see her again! We never even got to make up… and those sweet-looking little children we used to see her walking down the street with sometimes back in Georgia… those two little girls looked just like her at that age… and the boy, I know it's hard to tell from how far away we were standing, but I'm sure he had her eyes. Angus, our grandchildren are grown by now and probably either hate us or don't know we exist!"
Angus sighed. "Perhaps it's better that they don't know." His wife gaped at him. "What we have, Mae, you can't really call it living. We just are, we just be. There's no before and there's no beyond. Every day I wish I could grow and change again, and I wouldn't wish what we have on anyone. If they knew, they might try to find the spring and go after immortality for themselves, and in the end, their lives would be ruined. Really, I'd say it's for the best that Una and her children stayed on the wheel."
"I know. I know you're right. But right now I can't- "Frantic, she put down the quilt and rummaged in her pocket for her handkerchief, blowing her nose like a trumpet as soon as she pulled it out. "What I wouldn't give to have a daughter."
"You'll always have a daughter. No matter what she did, she can't change that. She'll always be ours, same way I'll always have my first four, same way we'll always have our parents and siblings and your aunt… Belle's just far away now. We can't reach her, but she'll always be our girl… my Sunshine…"
Quickly, Angus screwed his eyes shut, willing his tears to stop. Now wasn't the time. Mae needed him right now. He had to be strong for her. Later on, once her tears had stopped for a while, he would go fishing. Once he was out on the water in his boat, with no one else in sight, then he would allow himself to cry. Once he was alone, he would pour out his grief in floods of tears and rage and hopefully be freed from it all the sooner.
One thought entered his mind, the same he had so many years ago when he'd run into their kitchen from the bedroom to answer his wife's hysterical wail and read the note she'd held, practically crumpled in her hand. How could she do this to us?
Thus ends the prologue! Reviews are always welcome- flames will be put out with the Spring Water.