Lieutenant Malcolm Reed entered the cafeteria, looking for a place to sit. He spotted Trip Tucker in the far corner of the room and headed over.
"Hey Trip!" Malcolm said, sitting down beside his friend.
"'Ello.." Trip responded, barely mumbling a response.
"What are you reading?" prompted Malcolm, gesturing to the PADD in Trip's hand.
Trip quickly lifted the PADD up and turned it over fac down onto the table. "Nothing." he said.
"Doesn't look look like nothing to me!" exclaimed Malcolm , a small smile on his face.
"Just leave me alone!" yelled Trip, pushing back his chair and standing up. The entire cafeteria looked up at him in surprise, Malcolm included.
"Sorry Trip, I didn't mean to-" Malcolm started.
"Just..Just leave me alone..." mumbled Trip, turning and going for the door.
Everyone stared after him, looks of surprise still evident on their faces.
Jonathon Archer watched as the door slid open and let Lieutenant Reed in.
"What can I do for you Malcolm?"
Malcolm looked slightly uncomfortable, shifting his weight from one foot to the other.
Archer waited a moment, then spoke. "What is it, Malcolm?"
"Uh... It's Commander Tucker, sir."
"What about him?"
"Well, this morning..." Malcolm told him the whole story, about Trip's outburst in the cafeteria.
The Captain was silent for a moment. "That doesn't sound like Trip."
"I know, sir. That's why I came to talk to you. I'm worried about him."
"So am I. Thank you, Malcolm, I'll talk to him."
Malcolm nodded and left the room, leaving Archer to wonder what was wrong with his friend.
Archer headed down to Engineering. If there was something wrong with Trip, he would most certainly be in Engineering.
He strode inside, but he wasn't prepared for what he saw. Tools strewn everywhere, crewmen running all over trying to pick them up. He could hear Trip yelling from behind the warp engines.
"Okay, everyone out!" Archer called out, watching as the confused and worried crewmen left Engineering.
One of them stopped to ask if Commander Tucker would be alright. Archer answered yes, although he honestly didn't know if Trip was going to be okay.
Once everyone was out, he headed over to where he had last heard Trip's voice. He found him, sitting down, his back against the power converter access port.
"Hey." Archer said, bending down beside his friend, "What's wrong?"
Trip's head was resting on his knees, his face hidden from view. He mumbled something intelligible.
"What was that Trip?"
Trip lifted his head for a moment, and Archer saw the tear on his face.
"I said, Go Away! I don't need your pity!" Trip spat out the last word, then put his head back down.
Archer was taken aback by his friend's volatile nature. Usually Trip was so happy and humourous. Something big must be bothering him, Archer thought.
"You can tell me, Trip." Archer said softly, "We're the only ones here."
Trip was silent, and Archer stayed that way too. They just sat there for what seemed like an eternity, a comfortable silence over them.
Trip finally lifted his head, and rested against the wall. He sighed, and rubbed at his eyes, wiping away the streaks the tears had left on his face.
"I got a letter from home." he said simply, leaving it at that.
Archer looked over at his friend, then spoke. "From who?"
"You don't know her." Trip said, staring foward.
"Oh." Archer responded, not sure what to say next. "What's her name?"
Trip took a deep breath and let it go slowly. "Amy."
"What did she have to say?"
Trip blinked, and Archer could see his eyes glistening. "She said.. she said that Sarah had leukemia."
Archer sighed. Leukemia was one of the only diseases left that didn't have an all out cure.
"I'm sorry, Trip."
"It's okay." said Trip, wiping away the single tear that fell from his eyes. He laughed grimly. "Look at me: I'm throwing things around, scaring my friends, and crying my eyes out! I'm pitiful."
"It's alright to cry, Trip." Archer said softly. "But..."
Trip looked over at his friend, and smiled sadly. "You want to know who Sarah is, don't you?"
"Well, now that you mention it..."
Trip looked back to the wall. "Sarah's my daughter."
Archer almost choked on air. "Your dau-daughter?"
Trip laughed softly. "Yeah. I have a daughter."
"Why didn't you ever tell me?" Archer said, a note of pain in his voice.
"It never came up." Trip said, smiling. "Her mother and I had a bad divorce, when Sarah was about three. It was always hard for me to talk about her without getting upset."
"I'll bet." replied Archer. "How old is she now?"
"She's eleven, twelve in December. She's really pretty, Jon, blue eyes, long blonde hair. But her hair's gonna be gone soon." Trip's eyes started to glisten again.
"I'm okay. It's just hard, you know, thinking that you might outlive you own daughter..." At this, Trip started to cry.
Archer put his arm around his friend, and waited until Trip calmed down a bit.
"I never got to see her all that much after the divorce." Trip siad, after he had calmed down a bit. "But I saw her every year on her birthday, and we'd go out for the day. Then came the Enterprise mission. I couldn't pass that up, especially knowing that you were the captain," Trip said, smiling at his friend. "I talked it over with her, and told her that I wouldn't be back for a while. She wanted to come with me so badly, Jon. She said that she'd leave school and everything, just to come with me. I was so tempted just to go, bring her with me and leave everyhting behind, but I knew that I couldn't. I told her that she had to stay on Earth, with her mother. She got angry, and asked why she couldn't come. Was it because I didn't love her? That broke my heart, but I to leave her. So I did. And here we are now."
"It was the right choice, Trip. There was no way a child could have lived on this ship."
"I know. But now, her having leukemia and everything, and the fact that she might die before I see her again, it just tears my heart."
"How about this then," Archer said, standing up. "Enterprise needs some maintenance work done, and it can only be done at Utopia Planitia. We'll head back to Earth, get some upgrades and repairs, and I'll give the entire crew shore leave. And you can see your daughter."
"I dunno Jon, we've worked so hard to get out here, it'll take us even longer to get back here after..."
Archer smiled down at his friend. "Exploration is important, Trip, but family is more. Everyone on this ship has someone they want to see again, including you. We'll get the work done, then head right back out, finding new civlizations all over again. Now, what do you say we get this place cleaned up, and get on our way home?"
Trip laughed and stood up. "What would I do without you?"
Archer laughed right back. "Not much, that's for sure.
The two friends walked out, tears healed and friendships renewed.