x-x

"You seem to be fine, commander," Phlox said.

"I know that, doc," Trip replied impatiently, sitting up on the biobed. "I…"

Phlox interrupted. "I need to keep you here for observation."

Trip shook his head. "There's no time." He turned to the captain, frantic. "Please, I know what needs to be done."

Captain Archer shook his head. "No, Trip. You've just had a seizure…"

Trip cut him off. "I know. But I can do it here. I won't even leave sickbay," he pleaded. "Please." He glanced at Hoshi. "Hoshi can gather things together for me, bring them here."

"What is it that you need to do, commander?" Hoshi replied, confused.

Trip smiled at her. "A spell of forgiveness."

Hoshi's eyes widened, and she glanced at Archer.

"Listen, I know it sounds nuts," Trip replied. "But really, that's what they want us to do."

"Who is 'they', Trip?" Archer asked.

Trip paused, thinking a moment. Then he smiled slightly. "I'm not entirely sure."

Archer's eyebrows went up. "Forgiveness for what?"

Trip shrugged. "Listen, Captain, I have no idea. All I know is how to do it." He continued quickly, with a glance at Malcolm. "Please, Captain. It seems fairly simple, and it won't hurt anything…" Seeing Archer's scepticism, Trip shrugged. "I think. And I'm pretty sure that they'll let Malcolm go."

Archer paused, looking from Trip, to Malcolm. "Okay…" he said hesitantly. Then he turned back to Trip. "But work cautiously, commander. And I want security here."

Trip nodded, bouncing slightly on the bed in his eagerness. "Thanks, Captain."

x-x

Trip placed the final candle in the large arc he'd drawn onto the floor, glancing to Hoshi as she helped settle Malcolm at the other end of the curve. "Thanks," he said, smiling slightly as he began lighting the candles.

"You owe T'Pol, actually," Hoshi replied with a soft smile.

Trip raised one eyebrow wryly as he bent to light the next candle. Once he'd finished all of them, he looked to the captain. "Could everyone step back, please?"

Archer nodded and motioned for the two MACOs to back away. Hoshi stepped to Trip and grabbed his hand. "Good luck, commander." Trip nodded, and Hoshi walked towards the Captain and Phlox, who were arrayed along the wall.

Trip sat at the end of the arc opposite Malcolm. He took a deep breath, then released it in a whoosh. He tried to catch Malcolm's eye, but his friend was engrossed in the candle before him, one hand tracing a lazy arc on the floor; the arc, again, carving itself into the surface as his finger passed.

Trip stared at the candle in front of him and began tracing his own arc with his right hand. Back, forth, back, forth, and Trip began feeling drowsy, mellow. He sighed. Back, forth, back, forth…he closed his eyes.

x-x

Hoshi watched as Malcolm and Trip both closed their eyes, and their hands stilled. Trip started murmuring words, so low that she couldn't quite catch them. After a moment, Malcolm joined him. She watched as their heads fell forward slightly.

Hoshi smiled, feeling a sudden sense of warmth, and of peace. Almost dozy, lulled by the heat and the gentle buzz of Trip and Malcolm's voices, she closed her eyes for a moment.

There was a sudden flash, and Hoshi opened her eyes to see all of the candles flare, then go out.

x-x

Malcolm sighed and opened his eyes. His brow furrowed as he looked around him, confused at being in sickbay, at the arc of spent candles in front of him, smoke curling in swirls above them. He saw Trip at the other end of the curve, and watched as his friend opened his eyes, blinking away the drowsiness. Slowly, Trip managed to bring his head up, and grinned. Malcolm returned his smile vaguely.

Turning away, Malcolm caught a glimpse of the captain and Hoshi smiling at him, then of the MACOs, and he blinked in surprise. Suddenly feeling cold, he glanced down at himself and gasped, mortified. He felt a blanket being pulled around his shoulders and looked up to see Hoshi smiling at him.

"Are you okay?" she whispered, helping him pull the covering around his body. She sat down next to him, placing an arm across his shoulders and rubbing as he shook.

He nodded, blushing furiously, his teeth chattering with the cold.

Phlox came up from behind him and squatted down. "What's the last thing you remember?

Malcolm pulled the blanket more tightly about himself. "Going to bed," he replied, grimacing. "Odd dreams." He yawned.

Trip nodded. "I'd say." He stood and walked to Malcolm, sitting next to him, opposite Hoshi. "Do you remember the forgiveness spell?" he asked, drawing an arc in the air.

Malcolm shook his head, confused.

"Your temperature has returned to normal," Phlox said as he tapped the scanner. "The cold will abate soon." He smiled broadly and stood. "You seem to be fine now, but I want you to stay here for rest of night for observation.

"Am I ill?" Malcolm asked drowsily, yawning again.

"You were, sort of." Trip replied, standing and holding out his hand. Hoshi stood, and Malcolm grasped Trip's hand, allowing both of them to help him upright. He stumbled slightly, and Trip grabbed him around the waist, helping him to the bed.

"Did it work?" Hoshi asked Trip softly as they guided Malcolm to the biobed.

"I think so," Trip replied, nodding towards the bed. "The arc's gone. But I still feel them, I think."

Hoshi looked at the bed, its surface now smooth, the arc that Malcolm had carved into it gone. Before she could ask Trip what he meant by his last comment, Malcolm spoke.

"Arc?" he asked, sitting on the bed.

"I'll tell you all about it in the morning," Trip said as he settled Malcolm onto the bed, adjusting the duvet over him.

Hoshi patted Malcolm on the shoulder. "Goodnight, lieutenant."

Malcolm nodded, covering his yawn.

Trip smiled as Malcolm's eyes drifted shut. He watched his friend sigh, then twitch as he slipped quickly into sleep.

Suddenly, Malcolm's eyes flashed open. Catching Trip with his gaze, he stared at him for a moment, then said, "Thank you," as his eyes drifted shut again.

Trip's eyes widened, and he whistled softly, then looked at Hoshi, seeing his shock mirrored in her expression. He reached out and gently shook Malcolm's shoulder. "Lieutenant?" he said loudly.

Malcolm started, his eyes squinting open as he pushed Trip's hand away. "Mmm…" he murmured, closing his eyes again. "Go 'way. Sleeping," he slurred, pulling the covers up over his shoulders.

Trip stepped away from the bed, motioning for Hoshi to follow him.

"That was odd," Hoshi said as they stepped up to the captain.

"What, that last bit?"

Hoshi shook her head. "The whole thing."

Trip nodded. "Among the odder of the odd things we've experienced so far."

Archer smiled. "Is he all right?"

Trip glanced at Malcolm. "Seems fine now, just tired."

Phlox stepped to them, smiling as he placed one finger against his lips, shushing them, then waving them away, out the doors.

As they stepped into the corridor, the MACOs following behind, Hoshi turned to Trip and asked, "What was it all about?" moving her hands in front of her in giant arcs, then sending her fingers up in a flaring motion, her eyes wide.

"I'm not entirely sure," Trip replied, cocking his head to the side. He shrugged. "Seemed to work, though. They're gone now."

"It felt good," Archer replied. "Peaceful."

Hoshi nodded. "I feel like we helped someone, somehow."

"At least they said 'thank you'," Trip replied, shrugging.

"Excuse me?" Archer said.

"Don't worry," Trip said, smiling through a yawn. "I'll tell you 'bout it in the morning."

x-x