By Thalia Drogna
You say your days are ordinary
And no one ever thinks about you
But we're all the same
And she can hardly breathe without you
She says she has no time
For you now
She says she has no time
She Has No Time, Keane
She didn't know what to do. There was pain and it wouldn't stop. It was a feeling unlike any other that she'd ever experienced. It was concern, and she recognized it because it wasn't the first time that she had felt it for Commander Tucker. At first it had been easily suppressed but her recent experiments with Trellium had caused huge sea-changes in her emotional tides. She wanted to run to him and hold him in her arms but that would go against everything that she had been trying to achieve. She had to remain strong and faithful to her Vulcan nature, just as Surak taught.
But just one visit couldn't hurt surely. If she reassured herself that he was indeed going to be fine, then she could return to her work and renew her concentration. That was how she had ended up making her way down to sickbay after she heard that he had been moved there from decon. Lieutenant Reed had finally left his self-assigned post at the Commander's side to change his clothes, take a shower and get some proper sleep. T'Pol had been grateful when she'd heard that someone was staying with Trip, she knew that radiation poisoning was extremely unpleasant and the support of a friend would help him through the worst. If she couldn't be there, then Reed was a good substitute.
He was sleeping when she arrived in sickbay. She didn't go over to the bed, instead she sought out Phlox and asked him for an update on the Commander's condition. Phlox gave her his vital statistics as if he was talking to another doctor, knowing that T'Pol was well versed in human biology. It wasn't what she wanted to hear though. She wanted to know how he felt and how he was doing, not a series of numbers. The numbers told her that he was recovering but they said nothing about his state of mind.
"He was asking for you, according to Lieutenant Reed," said Phlox.
"He was delirious at the time," said T'Pol, looking over the records and giving no indication that she was at all concerned for the patient in anything other than a professional capacity. "When will he be able to return to duty?"
"I'd like to keep him in sickbay for another few days. After that perhaps a week of bed rest and he should be able to return to work," said Phlox.
"I see. He will not be able to attend a meeting tomorrow then? To discuss the drone and the information which he downloaded from it?"
"He's had a very serious illness, T'Pol, and despite what he would like to believe, his body needs time to recover."
T'Pol nodded her understanding. Trip had nearly died on the Romulan drone. He had come closer than anyone was admitting, even Phlox. Another fifty rads and he would more than likely have died before Phlox could treat him. Suddenly it was as if the sickbay walls were closing in around her and she had to get out.
"Excuse me, Doctor, I must return to my analyses of the information on the drone," she murmured and bolted for the door. She didn't realize that Trip had seen her hurried exit, and would have been even less inclined to stay had she known.
She stopped outside the sickbay doors in the empty corridor and tried to compose herself to face the crew. Why did he mean so much to her still, when even now she was trying to put the mistake of this relationship behind her? Why couldn't she shake the emotions that she was feeling? Why was it so hard to breathe when he wasn't with her? She felt the stirrings of anger within herself at her lack of control and then bewilderment that she should feel anger. Emotions triggered other emotions, she had found and every time she experienced this phenomenon she marveled how humans weren't completely overwhelmed. She longed for the iron control that she had once possessed and again wondered how she could live the remainder of her life without it.
The Kir'shara was her life line. The rock she clung to in a stormy sea. Her studies were not only about her Vulcan heritage but also about herself. She hoped that the Kir'shara would impart the wisdom that she needed in order to survive the emotional tumult that assailed her at every turn on Enterprise. She had begun to see everyday as a test of her Vulcan-ness. And Commander Tucker was the biggest test. If she could look at him and feel nothing then she would have attained her goal and she could once again call herself Vulcan.
She took a deep breath, smoothed down her uniform and set off down the corridor towards the Command Centre. She chanted a Vulcan meditation under her breath quietly as she walked, using it to strengthen her resolve and emotional control. She intended to put more distance between herself and the Commander, both actually and metaphorically. It was the only way that she could see of surviving as a Vulcan and being true to her people.
Trip was persistent, T'Pol thought. Even as she watched him building the telepresence chair she could see that he was not fully well, yet he was here working as if he hadn't nearly died three days ago. She still had no trouble seeing the many good qualities in him that had drawn her to him during those long dark weeks in the Expanse. Of all the humans that she had met, he was the one that she found most interesting and still didn't really understand. She once again pushed away the feelings that she had felt for him and buried them deeply. He got up from underneath the chair and swayed a little, leaning against the frame to get his balance once more.
Before her brain had caught up with her mouth she had told him that he should not be working. She didn't understand why she had said it. It was logical for him to work. He was needed and no one else could do what he was doing. No one else had the knowledge. A Vulcan would be doing exactly the same thing. She was momentarily annoyed by her slip into human mannerisms and her brief lack of thought. However it was only a small adjustment to return her thinking to logical Vulcan paths and when he asked her what she had thought about when close to death she had no trouble answering him with an unemotional response. Of course it was a lie.
During the incident that she had mentioned, she hadn't just thought about transferring power, she had been concerned for the crew. Everyone had been experiencing the effects of exposure to the area of space around the sphere, their skin cracking painfully like an old oil painting. She had looked over for a moment and seen Trip's beautiful skin damaged by the forces they were up against and been upset. She had thought about what it would have been like to spend the rest of their lives together and hoped that she would yet be given the chance find out. It had been one thought among many but it had been there. However T'Pol now firmly believed that then was a different T'Pol, and she needed to forget that T'Pol in order to move on. Everyone had done things in the Expanse that they were not proud of and her relationship with Trip was one of those things. At least she didn't have the skeletons that the Captain now had to deal with.
Trip was becoming more and more emotional as she became less so. He had argued with her about who should be first to use the telepresence chair. It was only logical that she should be the one to use the chair as she was the only telepath on board Enterprise. She refused to admit to herself that she didn't want Trip to use the chair because she worried that it would harm his delicate human mind. Trip's mind was a wonderful thing, able to see solutions where no one else could. Quick at mental arithmetic and able to frame arguments in compelling terms that T'Pol found challenging to refute. She had spent some time in enjoyable discussions with him. This was her risk to take, not his, and nothing he could say was going to stop her from being the one to test the chair.
She passed him later in the corridor. He obviously didn't want to talk to her but she had to raise her concerns. They parted less than amicably and T'Pol wished that she had just walked past him down the corridor. They both knew that he was lying when he said his feelings were purely professional, his whole manner screamed his emotions at her. Every time they crossed paths they seemed to end up arguing these days and she hoped it would get better soon. It was making it very hard to concentrate on her work.
The Captain called her into his Ready Room. When she entered he was standing at the window looking out at the stars going by. Given their recent success with the Aenar and destruction of the Romulan drone, she had expected to find him in a good mood, but he seemed to be unhappy and thoughtful rather than elated.
"Trip has asked to be reassigned," said Archer, in a voice that she could barely hear. "Columbia offered him the position of chief engineer and he's decided to take it."
T'Pol's heart skipped a beat, a cold weight settling on her chest. This was completely unexpected. "Did he give a reason?" she asked, dreading her Captain's reply.
"No, he wouldn't say why. He wouldn't say much at all. He's already turned down Columbia twice before, I don't know why he's decided to accept it now," replied Archer. "There's more to this than he's telling me but if Trip doesn't want to talk about something then no one will make him. We've had our differences recently so maybe that's part of it, but I'm sure that there's something more. He came to me with a scathing report on his work on the telepresence chair. Phlox told me that he'd worked just as hard as always and must still be feeling pretty awful from the radiation sickness. He was condemning himself for nothing. I never thought I'd say this but I don't know what's going on with him at the moment. We used to be so close."
"His presence will be missed," said T'Pol.
"The Admiral sent me a list of possible replacements, I'd like you to look over them and see what you think. The top brass want us back home for the launch of Columbia. We're going to drop Trip off and then they have a new mission for us. We don't have much time to find a replacement Chief Engineer, so our choices are a bit limited. None of the candidates have Trip's experience, but we'll just have to make do with what we've got."
"I will review the candidates," said T'Pol. "Was there anything else?"
"No, dismissed," said Archer. He went back to staring out of the window and T'Pol left wondering if she was the only one who would be adversely effected by Trip's departure.
The foundations of her world had been shaken. It was as if all the rules had suddenly changed. She had never actually believed that Trip would leave Enterprise. She had hoped that given time, they would be able to resolve things between them, or that she could find a way to incorporate her illogical love for a human into her Vulcan soul. She had no evidence that he loved her, he had never told her that he did, and whilst that was the case, she could deny her own feelings for him.
She had told him that she needed time and now suddenly there was no more time. She wasn't ready to face her feelings for Trip and now she wouldn't have to. He was removing the problem. It was because of her that he was leaving, it had to be. It was the only reason he would leave a job and ship that he loved. There was no career advancement in a transfer to Columbia so there had to be another reason why he was leaving and she seriously doubted that it had anything to do with his differences with the Captain.
She was driving him away from everything that he loved and it was all her fault. This was the end of everything.
I don't know your thoughts these days
We're strangers in an empty space
I don't understand your heart
It's easier to be apart
We Might as Well be Strangers – Keane