Let the Dead Bury the Living

By Thalia Drogna

AN: This is the final chapter and dedicated to the real Ian "Gandalf" Davis as a thank you for letting me borrow him as the bad guy. He wanted to come back again, but I told him one resurrection was enough.

Thanks to all my reviewers for your support, it's wonderful to read your views. You are the people I write for and without feedback I don't know if I'm getting it right.

Did anyone get the Eagle Lake reference? I couldn't resist.

Archer and Phlox found Trip on the pier, lying exactly where Reed had left him. Phlox checked his pulse which seemed to be strong and he was breathing. Phlox thought that it was probably more due to the Commander's already weakened state that he had passed out rather than lack of air. He took out a hypospray, checked the dosage and injected the contents into Trip's neck. It took a few seconds but Trip's eyes opened and he blinked at his Captain and the Doctor.

Trip opened his mouth to speak but only succeeded in a dry croak followed by equally dry coughing. Archer helped Trip to sit up so that he could cough better.

"Malcolm?" asked Trip, in an alarmed tone.

"He's a little bruised but otherwise fine," said Phlox.

Trip breathed a sigh of relief which started him coughing again. His throat felt gritty and sore. "Did you… Did you get Davis?"

"Malcolm did. By the time T'Pol and I arrived the show was over," said Archer. "We'll tell you all about it later. Do you think you can walk? We need to get you back to the cabin."

Trip said nothing, but just nodded his head. He was feeling too rough to do anything more. Archer and Phlox helped him to his feet and he allowed them to support him as he made the excruciatingly long walk back to the cabin. His head was pounding and all he wanted to do was lie down.

They made it back to the cabin and Trip was deposited on the sofa, while Phlox went to check on Reed who sat with his eyes closed in one of the overstuffed armchairs in the cabin's lounge.

"So how many is that I owe you now, Lieutenant?" croaked Trip.

Reed opened one eye to look at Trip, before he let it fall closed again. "I lost count the first time the Captain let you loose on an away mission."

Everyone had been so pleased at the demise of Lieutenant Davis, that when Trip excused himself early that evening they all assumed it was just the events of the day that had taken their toll. The next morning however Trip awoke feeling shivery and more ill than usual. Much to his annoyance, Phlox decided that it would be best if he remained in bed for the day. Trip hoped that if he rested he'd begin to feel better but he it didn't seem to help. He got steadily worse over the day and by the evening Trip had a temperature that was climbing dangerously high. He'd lapsed into a twilight between sleeping and waking, not always sure which was which.

Archer hovered nervously as Phlox checked Trip over once again.

"He still has a fever," said Phlox.

"I'm never going to get better," said Trip, sleepily and not a hundred percent lucidly. Archer could almost feel the heat radiating from his friend.

"You are getting better, Trip," said Archer. "It's all going to be okay."

Phlox loaded a hypospray and injected Trip with the contents.

"What was that?" asked Archer.

"An antipyretic, something to bring the fever down," said Phlox.

"He's poisoning me," said Trip, sounding slightly hysterical, grabbing Archer's hand, "you've got to stop him."

"Trip, you're not being poisoned," said Archer, gripping Trip's hand tightly. "I won't let anything happen to you."

"Ven Dath gave him the instructions. He wanted me dead," said Trip, his hair damp with sweat. "I'm telling you, it's poisoning me." Trip reached for the IV line that Phlox had inserted a little earlier and would have pulled it out if Archer hadn't caught his hand. Trip was too weak to put up much resistance.

"I assure you, Commander, you are not being poisoned. This is for your own good," said Phlox.

"Where am I?" he asked, dazedly. "Why aren't we on Enterprise? Did we crash the shuttle pod again?"

"No, we didn't crash the shuttle pod, you're on Earth, remember? You're sick, but you're getting better," said Archer. He hoped that he wasn't lying.

Trip closed his eyes, moving restlessly. Phlox rung out a cloth and placed it on Trip's forehead. It was still one of the most effective methods that he knew for cooling and soothing a patient.

"He's delirious, I'm afraid," said Phlox.

"He's still burning up. I don't understand why this came on so suddenly. You did test Ven Dath's formula?" said Archer.

"Extensively," replied Phlox.

"Nothing in it would harm Trip?"

"On the contrary, as you've seen, the formula is toxic to the human system, however it would only reach the levels required to kill after a prolonged period of treatment," said Phlox.

"How long?" asked Archer.

"Several months," said Phlox. "We aren't anywhere near those levels yet, although the side effects are unpleasant. The nanites are being killed and cleared from the Commander's bloodstream."

"Then why now?" asked Archer.

"I've taken extensive scans. T'Pol is analysing them at the moment. I'm sure we will get to the bottom of this," said Phlox.

Trip talked in his sleep, mumbling incoherent phrases. Archer kept vigil by his bed for the rest of the night. Occasionally Trip awoke but he was still delirious, not making any sense or telling Archer how Ven Dath intended to kill him. Morning came and Trip was no better. T'Pol brought Archer coffee at about 4am.

"I thought that you might require sustenance," said T'Pol.

"Or at the very least some company," said Reed, leaning against the doorpost.

Archer ran his hands over his face and looked down at Trip. "I don't know what to do. I'm Captain of the Earth's first warp five vessel and all I can do is sit here. The cure is worse than the disease. Phlox keeps telling me that he is getting better, the nanites are nearly down to levels where we can consider lowering the drug dosage. I just find it hard to believe when he's too weak to even get out of bed on his own. He spends most of his time sick to his stomach with aching joints, unable to even stay awake long enough to play a game of cards with me. He's not eating either, and now this. He keeps on saying that we're poisoning him and maybe he's right."

"You know that is not the case," said T'Pol.

"I know, but I've asked Phlox to run the formula through all the tests again just to be sure," said Archer. "It's just that he isn't even taking an interest in things anymore. When we first brought him down here, at least he used to complain about being stuck inside or having to lie still during his therapy session. Now he just lies there, doesn't even talk to me, or he sleeps. I can't believe after everything that we've gone through together that we're doing this to him."

"Captain, it was Trip's decision to get rid of the nanites, I know that he isn't blaming you for what he's going through," said Reed.

"Well maybe he should be," said Archer. "If I hadn't ordered him to give assistance to that ship none of this would be happening."

"Maybe you should take a break, sir," said Reed. "T'Pol or I could sit with him for a bit."

Archer sighed and realised that Reed was right, sitting here wasn't helping Trip. He rose from his seat feeling stiff from having been sat there for so long. Trip lay drenched in sweat under a cooling blanket, obviously still in the grips of fever. He did seem to be slightly less restless but he still occasionally mumbled something to himself.

"He's still delirious and not making much sense," said Archer, in warning before he handed over his vigil.

Phlox came into the room, reading a padd as he went. "This is most remarkable," said Phlox.

"What is, doctor?" asked Reed.

Phlox looked up from his padd. "It seems that some of Lieutenant Davis' nanites were transferred to the Commander. Which is theoretically impossible."

"Doctor, what are you saying?" asked Archer.

"The nanites were originally created from those that infected the Commander so I suppose it would make sense that they were able to transfer."

"Doctor, what does this have to do with Trip being sick?" asked Archer. Phlox didn't seem to be listening to him.

"Lieutenant Davis' nanites are attacking the Commander's nanites. It's causing the fever," said Phlox.

"What can we do?" asked T'Pol.

"Nothing. If we let them fight it out then we should be left with a miniscule number of nanites to clear from the Commander's system. The Commander's nanites are already weakened so even though there are rather more of them they're falling to the attack more quickly. I ran a simulation and if left alone they are currently in the correct proportions to nearly wipe each other out. It really is fascinating. All we have to do is concentrate on keeping his fever down." Phlox beamed at the assembled party.

Two days after he had first discovered the rogue nanites in Trip's body, Phlox stood at the end of the bed examining the readouts from his scanner. Trip was tangled in his sheets, shivering and still delirious. He'd had several more goes at trying to remove the IV line but only succeeded once, when Phlox had turned his back to load a hypospray of antipyretic to bring the fever down.

"His fever is down two points," said Phlox. "I'm hoping that it will break this afternoon."

"That's good news," said Archer.

"In more ways than one," replied Phlox. "It seems that the diminishing of the fever signals the death of the last of the nanites. Once he comes down from the fever he should be almost completely free of the nanites. We'll need to continue the anti-nanite therapy for a couple of days but we can start him on the drugs to readjust his blood chemistry. Once we've finished that course of treatment he'll be on the mend."

"Thank god," said Archer with feeling.

"No, no," murmured Trip unhappily, in the grips of a bad dream. Archer immediately went to sit beside him, to give comfort to his friend.

"It's going to be okay, Trip," said Archer. "Everything is going to be fine." The words seemed to soothe Trip and he quietened and fell into a more restful sleep.

Reed knocked on the wood beside the door, not wanting to barge in on Archer and Phlox if they were discussing something confidential. Phlox gave Reed a grin before he headed towards the lounge.

"I'm going to head back now, sir," said Reed.

"You're sure about this?" asked Archer. Reed still had the scars from his fight with Davis and Phlox had warned Reed to take things easy for a few days. Nothing had been broken, but a rib had been cracked and an awful lot had been bruised.

"My job here is over. We caught Davis," said Reed.

"Yes, but I know Trip likes having you around. I don't mind if you want to stay. T'Pol's going to be here for another week before we both go back to Enterprise. We could all do with a proper holiday."

"There's some things I need to do before I retake my post on Enterprise," said Reed. "Trip's getting better and he doesn't need me hanging around."

"Why do I think there's something that you're not telling me about all of this?" said Archer.

"I just need some time to sort out some personal business." It was a half-truth rather than an outright lie. Archer was getting dangerously good at reading his Armoury Officer and Reed wasn't sure that was a good thing at all. Anything involving the events which had taken place since their return to Earth was definitely personal.

Archer looked at Reed, assessing what he had said and knowing that it wasn't the full story. However he also knew that it was all Reed was going to tell him. "I'll see you back on Enterprise, Malcolm."

Reed knew that wasn't just a pleasantry, it was Archer telling him to conclude whatever business he had and return safely. He gave Trip one last look and left him in the capable hands of his Captain.

"Lieutenant Reed," said a man who emerged from the shadows of a building in downtown San Francisco. "It's been a while."

"Not long enough," said Reed.

"What's this all about, Lieutenant?" asked Harris.

"You know what this is about," said Reed.

"It's either Ensign Carruthers or Commander Tucker. Since Ensign Carruthers is now safely back at the Warp Five Complex, I'm assuming that it's Commander Tucker you want to talk about."

"I want you to call the dogs off."

"That is easier said than done. Your Commander Tucker saw the inside of a top secret Section 31 science station."

"He doesn't remember anything useful. Your people had him so drugged up that he could barely see while he was there."

"He's a loose end, and my superiors don't like loose ends. If I'm going to remove the execution order on Commander Tucker then I'm going to have to give them something in return."

This was what Reed had been waiting for, he was about to offer to do something that he knew was going to regret. "I'll stop the investigation into Davis. Destroy the evidence he left behind."

"That's a good start, but it isn't enough," said Harris.

"You obviously have something in mind," said Reed.

"I may need a favour in the future that involves Enterprise. Agree to be there when I call and I'll let Commander Tucker live."

Reed looked at Harris and knew he had no choice but to agree to Harris's terms. It was either he gave up his soul to Section 31 or he let them kill Trip. Neither sat well with his conscience but he could only choose the lesser of two evils. "Very well, you've got your favour."

"I'll be in touch," said Harris.

"This is the last time that I work for Section 31," said Reed.

"We'll see," said Harris and sauntered away down the street, disappearing into the shadows again.

Trip woke to find T'Pol was sat on the floor beside his bed in what appeared to be a meditative state, her back to the wall. Trip moved and T'Pol's eyes flew open.

"Sorry, didn't mean to disturb you," said Trip, sleepily. His voice was dry and rasped in his throat.

"You're awake," said T'Pol. Her tone indicated that this was unexpected.

"Yeah, aren't I meant to be?"

"You have not been lucid for nearly three days," said T'Pol.

"That long?"

"You have had a fever."

"Damn anti-nanite therapy. As if being weak and sick wasn't bad enough."

"It was not directly the result of the anti-nanite therapy," said T'Pol and outlined the affect that Davis' nanites had upon him.

"So you're telling me that some foreign nanites attacked my nanites, and them battling it out caused the fever?"

"Essentially," said T'Pol.

"But I'm down to less than a hundred nanites?"

"That was Doctor Phlox's last nanite count."

"I never thought I'd get this far," admitted Trip. He didn't know that this particular fear had become rather obvious while he had been delirious.

"I never doubted that you would survive," replied T'Pol.

"Where's the Captain?" asked Trip.

"I'm here, Trip," said Archer, standing at the door with two mugs in his hand. One was full of mint tea for T'Pol, the other contained coffee for himself. He was unbelievably pleased to see Trip awake and aware. There had been times over the past three days when he'd wondered himself if Trip was going to make it. The fact that Trip kept asking if he was dying hadn't helped his state of mind at all.

Archer handed T'Pol the mug of tea and sat on the bed beside Trip's. The Engineer looked wiped out. Dark circles had formed under his eyes and his skin was pale. The weight loss was even more obvious now, his bones prominent under the skin.

"You had us all worried," said Archer.

"Sorry 'bout that," replied Trip, tiredly. "Hey, where's Malcolm? He hasn't gone fishing again, has he?"

"The Lieutenant had to return to Enterprise. I believe he expressed the opinion before he left that he would not ever want to go fishing again," said T'Pol.

"As long as he lived," supplied Archer with a grin which Trip answered with a pale shadow of his usual smile. However, it was enough to give Archer hope.

Trip knew he still had a long way to go before he was well again. At the end of the week T'Pol and Archer returned to Enterprise and Phlox let him out of bed to wave them off. Phlox would be staying at the cabin for the next two weeks to supervise Trip's recovery, since he wouldn't be required on Enterprise. Anything medical which arose would be taken care of by one of his assistants.

Enterprise had been given a two week taxi run taking some Vulcan and Earth dignitaries out to one of Earth's colonies. It was expected to be straight forward and when they returned to Earth, they'd have a better idea of whether Trip would be ready to join them again. Two weeks didn't seem to Trip like much time to get well enough to be allowed to rejoin Enterprise. He still felt weak and found it hard to even sit up in bed without help. However, he was certainly going to try. The fever had really sapped his strength but he was determined that wasn't going to slow him down.

A number of things had changed, which were beginning to make him feel better. Firstly he was hungry. Being hungry and able to eat were things that he'd taken for granted until the anti-nanite drug started to make him nauseous. Phlox was pleased to see his patient regain his appetite, even if it was still very much reduced from its previous levels. Trip also found that he no longer felt sick after he ate and he even noticed that he was staying awake for longer.

The first week he and Phlox were alone in the cabin went by slowly while Trip recovered his strength gradually. The doctor began to allow him out of bed for exercise (once around the lounge), and then he was allowed to transfer to the sofa to rest. If he hadn't been so tired all the time then he would have complained at being coddled like a child, but it was only towards the end of that week that he showed any sign of staying awake for more than a few hours in row. It was frustrating but given what he'd just been through, he knew it was to be expected and he'd just have to put up with it for a little while longer.

The second week was better because he was awake for longer and longer periods. The frustration aspect had become much harder to deal with because he began to have more energy, but Phlox was still enforcing his instructions that Trip rest as much as possible. Trip pushed it as much as he could, driving Phlox to distraction with his failure to do as he was told. The Denobulan soon found out that when Trip didn't want to do something it was very hard to persuade him otherwise. Despite Phlox's protestations, he had already started to steadily work his way through his padds of engineering schematics, sometimes sitting up late at night to finish things. Which of course didn't help his energy levels and made him more tired and grumpy. He knew that it probably wasn't fair on Phlox but he was impatient to get things back to normal as quickly as possible.

Phlox entered the lounge one afternoon with the usual medicine for Commander Tucker to find the room empty. Phlox sighed, he'd been expecting this for a couple of days. The Commander had been getting more and more restless. Phlox had been allowing Trip to take supervised walks beside the lake for specified durations, but he could see the longing in the Commander's eyes to be able to wander on his own. Phlox went to sit on the porch for his errant patient's return.

Trip did eventually return, about three hours later, looking dusty and dishevelled.

"Hey, Doc," he said as nonchalantly as he could manage as he stiffly climbed the steps into the cabin. He knew he'd been away too long and was in for a lecture, which he really wanted to avoid. He hated to admit it, but he'd definitely overdone the exercise, and every single muscle in his body was aching at their overuse.

"Not so fast, Commander," said Phlox.

Trip turned to look at his Doctor. "Save the lecture, Doc, I know I'm an irresponsible idiot who's not well enough to be hiking through the woods."

"That wasn't quite how I was going to put it, but that would be the gist of what I was about to say. We have discussed your recovery I believe. I have planned out a timetable of exercise and rest that you are meant to be following. If you push yourself too hard then it is likely that you'll suffer a relapse. As you know, the anti-nanite medication damaged your body and it is still repairing itself. Current indications are that you will make a full recovery, but not if you don't observe my instructions." Phlox didn't add that if the Commander had, in fact, had to endure another two weeks of the anti-nanite therapy as he'd predicted, then he wouldn't have been able to give him such a good prognosis.

"Sorry, Doc, it won't happen again. I just needed a bit of personal space today. I felt like I had to prove to myself that I'm getting better."

"Two weeks ago you couldn't even sit up in bed unassisted," said Phlox. "You've made a remarkable recovery, mostly through your own efforts, but you can't rush these things."

Trip winced as he felt his muscles begin to get stiff now he's stopped walking. He was worn out and beginning to notice that all the aches and pains that he thought he'd gotten rid of were returning with avengeance. Phlox bustled past him.

"I'll run you a hot bath and get you some pain killers. Then you're going to bed," said Phlox, recognising the signs of fatigue in his patient.

"But, Doc…" Trip protested as he flopped down onto the sofa. It was far too early to be going to bed.

"If you won't rest on your own then I'm quite happy to sedate you," said Phlox. He doubted that would be necessary given how tired the Commander looked already. After a relaxing bath he was quite sure that sleep would come easily.

Trip rolled his eyes at the Doctor's suggestion but capitulated. "Okay, okay. Bath followed by bed. Guess I am quite tired."

Phlox was anxious that there should be no set backs to the Commander's recovery. They were expecting Enterprise to return any day now and Phlox knew that Starfleet would want an assessment from him of if and when Commander Tucker would be well enough to resume his duties. Ignoring the Commander's propensity for pushing himself too hard, he was confident that he'd be able to give Starfleet a favourable report. He planned to advise that the Commander finish his recovery on Enterprise, the place that he considered closest to his home, and where he had friends to help him. Of course he could only do that if Trip really had made enough progress to allow it.

Reed lied through his teeth to his commanding officer and said that all evidence of who Davis had been working for had been erased. He told Archer that it had most likely been a xenophobic right wing extremist group but he had no evidence to confirm or deny it. Reed suspected that Archer knew he was lying but he couldn't prove that either, so he let it go. Enterprise had other things to do and places to be. Reed wasn't happy about his own duplicity by any means, but he really felt he had no other choice if he was going to protect his friends. He was sure that Harris wouldn't forget the bargain they'd made, but for the moment everyone was safe.

The two week round trip to the Gea colony had been a pleasant change of pace for everyone. No one had shot at them or tried to kill anybody, and, despite Trip's absence, the engines were running fine. Their Chief Engineer had been particularly noticeable by his absence. Three years ago Reed would never have believed that he would be missing Trip but now the ship just didn't feel right without him. So everyone was pleased when they found themselves in orbit around Earth once again.

The Captain had received notification from Phlox that his medical report had been received favourably by Starfleet Command and Trip would be allowed to return to Enterprise. He was still going to be off duty for a while, but he could finish his convalescence on board ship. He'd have to pass a final medical but Phlox seemed to think that would be a formality, once Trip had regained his strength.

Travis and Archer went down in the shuttle to pick up the last two members of the crew from Eagle Lake, while Hoshi, Reed, Hess and T'Pol got ready to receive their returning crewmates.

"Do you think the streamers are too much?" asked Hoshi, as she adorned the corridor outside the shuttle bay.

"I think it is all "too much"," replied T'Pol. "This is a functioning ship."

"It's not every day we get to welcome back a member of the crew after an extended leave of absence," said Hoshi. Reed noted that she had phrased that sentence very carefully. Translate "extended leave of absence" to "serious illness" and it would have been more accurate.

"Hoshi's right, I think it's allowable this time," said Reed.

"They're landing," said Hess, checking the control panel.

The four officers stood to attention as the shuttle bay re-pressurised and the door was opened. They could already hear an annoyed Commander Tucker.

"All I want to do is go down to Engineering for a couple of hours and check on things," said Trip.

"No," said Archer. "You're sticking to Phlox's schedule and that's an order."

Both parties in the argument fell quiet as they noticed the welcoming committee.

"Welcome back!" said Hoshi enthusiastically as she ran over to hug Trip. Phlox and Mayweather had now also come through the hatch behind Archer and Trip and were watching the scene with amusement.

"Thanks, Hoshi," said Trip as he returned the hug warmly. He caught sight of a banner that was strung across the corridor and said in big letters "Welcome back, Commander Tucker." "Are you responsible for the banner too?"

"Actually, that was me, sir," said Hess, blushing slightly. "Hoshi did the streamers though."

"We have cake waiting for you in the mess hall," said Reed.

"And there are considerably more people waiting there to greet you also," added T'Pol.

Trip felt the vibration of the deck plating under his feet which signalled that the engine was idling. He took a long deep breath and smelled the familiar scent of Enterprise. He looked at the people around him, whom he considered lucky to call his closest friends. It felt like home. "Damn, but it's good to be back."

Trip stared out of the windows of the observation lounge, watching Earth recede into the star-studded distance. He curbed the impulse to ask the nanites for an update on ship's systems. That was something he'd have to learn to live without now. He'd almost got used to being without his inner voice, but now he was back on board Enterprise and well enough to take notice of things again, it was coming back to him just how useful the nanites had been.

Phlox had promised him that next week he could work a few hours on light duty. Assuming that he stuck to this week's schedule of physiotherapy and the rest of his recovery continued to progress satisfactorily.

"Thought I might find you down here," said Archer from the doorway.

"I never normally get the chance to watch us pull away from a planet. I'm usually too busy with something down in Engineering," said Trip.

"It certainly is a beautiful sight. I guess every cloud has a silver lining," said Archer. "How are you feeling?"

"Fine," said Trip.

"And the truth?" asked Archer.

"My joints still ache twenty-four-seven and occasionally I get a dizzy spell. I suppose I'm still sleeping a lot, but my strength is definitely returning and, more importantly, I'm getting my appetite back."

Archer had watched Trip pick at his dinner the previous night so he wasn't certain that was the case but at least Trip felt like eating.

"This sure has been the year of living dangerously," said Trip, with a sigh.

"You can say that again. It's been a horrible year and really hard on you, I know," said Archer. "We haven't really talked about it, have we?"

"Nothing to talk about, it's all over now. Phlox says another couple of weeks and I might be able to go back to full duty."

"You can't just shrug this off as if it wasn't important. I know neither of us is good at discussing our feelings, but you nearly died, Trip," said Archer.

"Which time are we talking about? When I was captured by the Xindi? Old news. Or when I was turned into a computer part by the Tien? Not my best week, but I'm fine now. Or is this an overdue conversation about me hitting my head in Engineering? I wasn't even awake for that."


"Captain, just let me say my piece. I've had a lot of time to think these past few weeks, despite doing my best to keep myself busy. I work in a dangerous job. We all put our lives on the line everyday we're out here, but it doesn't quite prepare you for facing up to the fact that you're going die young. I was really scared, I'll admit that. I put my will in order and everything, just before Phlox started the anti-nanite treatment. I didn't think I was going to make it through this one. I've beat the odds so many times that I thought my number had finally come up. But I'm still here and that's what matters at the end of the day."

"And I'm very glad that you are. I just wanted you to know that if you ever need someone to talk to then you know where I am. I've not been the best friend this past year and I'm going to correct that," said Archer.

"We've all been under a lot of stress. The weight of the world and all that," said Trip.

"That's no excuse for not being there when you needed me most," said Archer.

"You've been there these last few weeks," said Trip, staring back at Earth.

"I've tried to be and I'm sorry it took you being seriously ill for me to realise what a terrible friend I've been lately," said Archer.

"You know, considering that you're a bad friend, you've done an awful lot for me." Trip counted off on his fingers. "Going back to the Expanse, finding Ven Dath, nearly getting killed by a giant spider, almost being crushed by an oversized octopus, being captured by a bunch of cats, facing off against Shran, springing me from Senator Nash's torture chamber, persuading me that I shouldn't commit mass murder with a satellite, not to mention helping me through my therapy by taking me on holiday to a nice cabin by a lake."

"Where you nearly died."

"Okay, so that's the time we're talking about. With all due respect, Captain, give it a rest. No one could have done as much as you did. I accepted the job of Chief Engineer and everything that came with it. If it was a choice between being on Enterprise and a quiet life, I'd take Enterprise every time."

"Hoshi, why is this game so complicated?" asked Archer, one of four players who sat around a table in the mess hall with Hoshi's Mah-jong set out in front of them.

"It isn't complicated once you get into it, sir," replied Hoshi.

"Why don't these tiles called dragons look like dragons?"

"Actually those are the Chinese characters for the names of the dragons," said Hoshi.

"Maybe we should just play poker," said Archer.

"The point of a Mah-jong night is that we play Mah-jong," said Trip. "I would have dragged Hess along instead but you said you wanted give it a go some time. Besides you were the one who gave both Malcolm and Travis duty shifts tonight."

"Sorry, I forgot that it was Mah-jong night," said Archer, contritely. He caught Trip's smirk, and was pleased that his Chief Engineer was looking so much better. It had been several weeks since they'd left Earth and they'd already found more than their fair share of trouble, but Trip had dealt with it all well. Archer was constantly surprised by Trip's ability to bounce back.

"I still fail to see the logic of games of chance," said T'Pol.

"The logic of it is that there is no logic to it," said Trip with a grin. "It's meant to be fun, T'Pol. Vulcans do have fun don't they?"

"Not usually," replied T'Pol.

"That's a real shame because I can think of a lot of ways for a Vulcan to have fun. Which direction did we decide was East again?" asked Trip. It was something that they had constant difficulties with given that there was no East or West on a starship and direction was important in Mah-jong.

"You're East, Commander," said Hoshi, "and it's your go."

"Okay," said Trip and made his move. "Mah-jong. I guess I win."

"All Honours," whispered Hoshi.

"What?" asked Archer.

"It's a special hand. Dragons and winds, and it's East, his own direction. If we were betting then it would win the house limit. I've never seen it done before," replied Hoshi in awe.

"Do you know how long I've been playing this game?" asked Trip.

"Approximately a year I believe," said T'Pol.

"And how many times have I won during that year? Not once. I was beginning to think that I was cursed or something."

"But when you do win, you do it in style," said Hoshi, still considering the tiles in front of Trip.

"I'd say your luck's changing, Commander," said Archer.

Trip leaned back in his chair, a smug grin on his face. "You know, maybe it is. It sure is about time."

"…they pretend that their hate for the powerful and the great of their time is a fulfilling admiration for the strong and the great of past times…Whether they know it or not, they certainly act as if their motto were: let the dead bury the living." - Friedrick Nietzsche