Disclaimer: Not mine blah blah blah not making any money blah blah blah don't sue me blah blah blah. "A Farewell to Arms" is by Ernest Hemingway, and is worth a read, if you're in the mood for something depressing. The Blue and Brown Books are by Wittgenstein, and are recommended if you are in the mood for something confusing :-)

Warning: Character Death. Very sad fic. Please don't write me reviews telling me how depressing it is. Believe me, I know.

Author's note: This is a sequel to Castaways, and it will probably make a lot more sense if you read that one first. The first chapter begins later in the same night as the end of Castaways. This is another Reed/T'Pol fic.

Author's note 2: This story is somewhat AU, as I don't intend to put everything back the way I found it. Contains a spoiler for "Breaking the Ice".

Author's note 3: See no "Stigma," hear no "Stigma," speak no "Stigma."

++

Malcolm's Farewell to Arms

Chapter 1: Goodbye already

~~~~~~~~~

Water again. Cloudy because his thrashing has stirred up the sediment at the bottom of the lake. He pops up to the surface and gets a glimpse of her before his head goes under again. Where is the shuttle? It must have sunk already. He fights his way to the surface, arms flailing, although he can swim better than this, and sees her, a long way off, beckoning to him. He calls her name, to tell her he can't make it, but his voice is carried away by the wind. She turns and continues swimming toward shore, barely visible in the distance.

He slips below the surface again, and when he pops back up, lungs bursting, the view has changed. There are people all around. Boys with sunburned faces and wet hair plastered to their foreheads, laughing at him. His ears burn with shame. He hears someone calling his name, from a distance.

"Malcolm!"

A figure is swimming toward him, not her, someone else. As the figure gets closer he can make out the gray hair, the strong arms knifing through the water. His father.

"Malcolm!"

His father is closer now, and Malcolm can see disgust and contempt mingled with embarrassment on his face. Without a word he wraps one arm roughly around Malcolm's neck and begins to tow him toward the shore. Malcolm struggles feebly against the arm which he believes is trying to drown him.

"Malcolm!"

~~~~~~~~~~~~

Malcolm woke with a stifled cry and sat up, gasping for breath. It took his mind a moment to process the fact that he was in his quarters, safe and dry, although still lying on top of his covers, wearing the sweatpants he had put on when T'Pol had arrived the previous night. T'Pol was gone, of course.

When the doorchime sounded, Malcolm nearly jumped out of his skin. Before he could react, T'Pol's voice came over the comm. "Malcolm! Please respond."

Malcolm stumbled across his quarters and pressed the release for the door, without giving himself time to think about the condition of his sleep- rumpled clothes, his mussed hair, or unshaven face. T'Pol stood in the doorway staring at him with an expression akin to shock on her face.

"What--what do you want?" he managed after a moment.

"You had a dream."

"What?"

"A dream about drowning."

Malcolm blinked at her in confusion. "How did you--how--?"

"I had the same dream. May I come in?"

"Yes, of course." He stepped back and let her walk around him to the bed, where she sat on the disheveled covers.

Malcolm crossed his arms. "You had the same dream?"

"Yes. In my dream, I swam away and left you to drown."

"Oh," he said in a small voice. "That sounds like it."

T'Pol nodded in confirmation. "It appears the dissolution ritual was not successful."

"But I thought--I mean, it felt successful. I don't feel like I'm falling apart anymore."

"Nevertheless, a bond apparently still remains, strong enough for your dreams to be transferred to me."

"So, what do we do about it?"

"I am willing to attempt the ritual again."

Malcolm sighed. "Must we? It was hard enough the first time."

"It is the only way."

"All right, fine." He pushed back his hair, which was falling in his eyes again (must remember to get that cut, he told himself) and sat awkwardly on the bed beside her. Her spicy scent swirled around him, at the same time calming and arousing him. When she raised her first two fingers, he mirrored her movement without even thinking about it. It felt completely natural now, not like the first time.

As soon as their fingers touched, he felt the now-familiar brush of her mind wash over him, like coming home after a long absence. Despite his attempts to resist, he found himself giving in to her, relaxing and opening his mind to her gentle probing.

++

Archer strummed his fingers on the briefing room table as his eyes flicked again to the chronometer on the wall. Ten minutes late already. This wasn't like either Lieutenant Reed or Sub-Commander T'Pol. He scanned the table thoughtfully while he continued to strum his fingers. Mayweather looked bored. Hoshi was inspecting her fingernails, Trip. . .

Something drew Archer's eyes back to Trip's face, to examine it more closely. Trip looked. . . embarrassed, was probably the right word for it. Maybe nervous.

Chewing the inside of his lip, with his eyes still locked on Trip's face, Archer thumbed the comm. to call T'Pol's quarters. "Archer to T'Pol," he said, narrowing his eyes at how Trip shifted his weight in his chair when there was no response. The engineer appeared to be fascinated with the lithograph of the space shuttle Enterprise on the wall.

Frowning, Archer cut the connection and hailed Reed's quarters instead. The response was a little delayed, and sounded sleepy.

"Lieutenant Reed, you were due for a briefing twelve minutes ago."

The sound of rustling was transmitted through the comm., and then water running in the background. "I'm sorry, sir. I've overslept. Be there momentarily."

"All right, Lieutenant. Perhaps you could find Sub-Commander T'Pol on your way? She's late too, and she's not in her quarters."

"I--I'll do my best, Captain. Reed out."

As Archer thumbed the button to close the link, his eyes roved to Trip's face again. His cheeks had definitely reddened. Trip was hiding something, and Archer was determined to find out what it was.

Reed arrived not five minutes later, slightly out-of-breath like he had been running. His hair looked presentable, although somewhat less kempt than usual. Archer was slightly irritated to notice that he still hadn't gotten it cut. T'Pol arrived shortly thereafter, sliding into her seat with a minute nod, as if nothing were amiss.

Archer decided not to push the issue, and started the briefing without comment.

++

After the briefing was over, Archer dismissed everyone, and then followed his dismissal up with, "Trip, could you stay a minute?"

When everyone had filed out, leaving the two of them alone in the room, Archer folded his arms and fixed Trip with his patented glare, the one that said, "spill it." It had never failed before. Trip always broke wide open within five seconds of being hit with the glare.

Trip was carefully avoiding eye contact. "What do you need, Cap'n?" he asked with his gaze still fixed on the lithograph.

"Come on, Trip. You know something. Let's hear it."

"I don't know what you're talking about. . ."

"Trip. Trip." Archer circled the table and put his hands firmly on the engineer's shoulders. "Tell me. You know you'll feel better."

Trip squirmed under his hands. "I feel fine. Like I said. . ."

Archer let his hands tighten, just a fraction. Trip stopped squirming. "It's about Malcolm, isn't it? What's going on?"

Trip groaned and pressed the heels of his hands against his forehead. "I can't tell ya, Cap'n."

"Or is it about T'Pol?"

"Cap'n, please. . ."

"Or Malcolm and T'Pol? Is that it? Is it about Malcolm and T'Pol?"

The groan was louder this time. "I didn't say that. Please. . ."

"All right, all right. You can go." Archer released Trip's shoulders and the engineer scooted out of the briefing room like he had just heard the recess bell. With stomach clenched from a stab of jealousy, Archer folded his arms across his chest again as he watched him go. Malcolm and T'Pol, huh?

++

When T'Pol showed up at his quarters that evening, Malcolm was already pretty sure what she was going to say. He had been expecting it all day, waiting for the other shoe to drop, but she had been avoiding him, which he also should have known to expect.

She stood in the open doorway of his again-immaculate quarters, with her lips pressed together in a tight line.

"We've got to stop meeting like this," he said lightly, in an inappropriate attempt at humor, because he could feel the anger seeping through her emotional barriers. He had become aware, over the past few weeks, that it wasn't that she didn't have emotions. She did. She was just really good at hiding them. Sometimes, he got a thrill of excitement knowing that he had been the one to break through those barriers and discover the real T'Pol hiding underneath. Sometimes, like now, it scared the shit out of him.

"Would you prefer to have this discussion elsewhere?" she deadpanned.

"No, no. Here is fine. I was only joking."

"I see."

"Please, come in. Would you like some tea?"

"No, thank you."

"Oh," he said, disappointed. "Well, do you mind if I have some?"

"You may do as you wish."

"Great," he muttered under his breath, moving to the teapot and setting out a cup.

"I do not expect to remain here long enough to drink a cup of tea."

His hands stilled, his fingers tightening around the cup. This was it. This was really it. Again. He carefully pried his fingers away from the cup and turned to face her.

"All right, then, shoot."

"Excuse me?"

"Shoot. Say what you want to say. Get it over with. The suspense is killing me."

T'Pol's shoulders straightened, her hands locked behind her back. "Our relationship is over."

Malcolm could feel his ears heating up. "That's what I thought last night, until you--" He trailed off, heart pounding at the memories.

"Until I what?"

"Until you came to my quarters last night and practically climbed into my bed!"

"I seem to recall that you initiated that encounter," she rejoined, a little heated now.

"What are you talking about? I agreed we should try the ritual again. I was ready to break it off."

"I am inexperienced in the mating bond and its dissolution. You took advantage of that inexperience."

"What?!" he exploded. "You say that you're inexperienced? Well, I have no experience in this sort of thing whatsoever. I was simply following your lead!"

"You ended up taking the lead, Lieutenant."

"I did no such thing!" he exclaimed angrily. "I only did what you wanted. You were in control."

There was a momentary pause, during which T'Pol closed her eyes and took several deep breaths. Malcolm could see the effort she was putting into trying to control her emotions.

"It does not matter who initiated the encounter, Lieutenant," she said finally, her voice tightly controlled again. "It only matters that it does not happen again."

Her flat voice and expressionless face only made Malcolm angrier. "Fine!"

"Fine."

"If that's what you want."

"It is."

Malcolm took in a shaky breath in response to the finality in her tone. It was over. It was actually, truly over this time. Accept it and move on, he told himself firmly. "Do we--do we have to do the ritual again?"

"I do not believe it will be successful."

"I see. You're probably right, considering what happened the last time we tried it."

T'Pol's chin tipped up, and her eyes softened slightly. "This may be difficult."

"I know," he said quickly. "Believe me, I know."

"But it is necessary."

His eyes flicked away. "Yes, of course. I know."

"Very well. I have arranged our schedules so our duty shifts do not coincide for the next two weeks."

"Oh, all right."

"It would be best if we avoided all contact for at least that length of time."

"You're probably right."

"Goodbye, Lieutenant."

"Goodbye, Sub-Commander." He looked back just in time to see the door sliding shut. She was already gone.

++

Once again T'Pol found herself hesitating outside the door to sickbay. Although it had been over a week since she had last seen Lieutenant Reed, her emotional symptoms had not resolved as she had hoped. She no longer felt a deep connection and longing, but her emotional condition was not normal, either, or even under control.

T'Pol knew that it was highly unlikely that she was suffering from a physical condition that could be treated by the doctor. However, perhaps he could render some advice that would be helpful. At the very least, he could treat the headache that had plagued her for the last several days.

When she entered sickbay, T'Pol again found the doctor busy feeding his menagerie, his arms halfway inside a glass tank filled with greenery. He pulled his arms free and set the lid in place before greeting her.

"Sub-Commander, what can I do for you today?"

"I would like you to examine me."

"Of course. Have a seat on the exam table." Phlox ran his hands under the sanitizer and picked up a scanner. "Are your symptoms similar to your previous visit."

T'Pol was silent for a moment, until Phlox said, "Sub-Commander?"

"Yes, my symptoms are similar. In addition, I have developed a headache which is not responsive to meditation."

"Ah." Phlox fiddled with the dials on the scanner and aimed it at T'Pol, starting with her head. "Ah." He frowned at the screen, pressed a control which caused the device to chirp, and repeated the scan. "Ah," he said again, eyebrows climbing.

++

Continued soon . . . maybe even tomorrow.