The Price
by HopefulR

Genre: Drama, episode addition
Rating: PG, for a bit o' cussin'
Archive: Please ask me first.
Disclaimer: Star Trek: Enterprise is the property of CBS/Paramount. All original material herein is the property of its author.
Spoilers: "E²"

A/N: Thanks to my betas boushh and Stephanie.


The Price

Trip barreled into the brig, his chest still sore as hell from the phase-pistol blast he'd taken, and his mood even worse. He pulled up short when he saw that Archer was already there. The fireworks must have just ended; the captain and Lorian were squared off on opposite sides of the tiny holding cell, an uneasy silence hanging thickly between them. Trip had expected Archer to be as furious as he was, but surprisingly, the captain looked more determined than angry. There was even a measure of compassion in his eyes that Trip hadn't expected to see at all.

At Trip's entrance, Lorian dropped his gaze and turned away, breaking the frozen tableau. Archer emerged from the cell, leaving the door open. "Maybe you can get through to him," he told Trip. "He's your son." He left the brig without another word.

Get through to him? I want to kick his goddamn ass, Trip thought darkly. He folded his arms, chewing his lip as he glared a hole in the back of that pointy-eared head. The injectors were back where they belonged, but now there were even more repairs to be done, courtesy of the firefight brought on by this...this...

"No son of mine would shoot me," he finally snapped. "Steal from me. Betray me, and the captain."

Lorian looked up sharply at that. For a fleeting moment, Trip got a good look at his eyes, seeing shame, doubt, sorrow, all jumbled together. The unflappable poise Trip remembered from engineering had vanished completely.

Then Lorian was looking at the floor again, and the moment was over. He spoke carefully, his voice hushed. "If a man who called himself your son committed these transgressions in the belief that they were his only remaining hope of obeying his captain, honoring his father, saving a world...could he be, if not forgiven, at least understood?"

Trip studied this man who called himself "son": tense, exhausted, his emotions barely held in check behind a paper-thin veneer of control. He seemed so human now, despite his looks...so vulnerable. "Why didn't you come to me?" Trip asked, his voice no longer challenging.

Lorian's eyes rose to meet his once more, and Trip was struck again by how much they resembled his own father's. They were so expressive, even when the rest of his face remained unreadable. Trip saw a yearning there that tore at his heart. Suddenly, he felt terribly guilty for dying so soon. And he still didn't even know how it had happened. Not that it mattered.

"Captain Archer had already made his decision," Lorian replied quietly. "I know you're a man of honor. If I had asked you to disobey him, I would have placed you in an impossible position."

"But what about you?"

Lorian gave a small, dismissive shake of his head. "My feelings are irrelevant."

"The hell they are." Trip entered the holding cell, coming closer. "Look at you. You're tearing yourself up, trying to honor Captain Archer by betraying Captain Archer."

Lorian set his jaw. "I was doing what was best for the mission."

Stubborn, just like his mother. Aloud, Trip said, "He meant a lot to you, didn't he? Your Archer."

"He provided me with valuable guidance." Lorian seemed reluctant to say more.

"It's okay if you thought of him as a father," Trip said. "If there's anyone I would pick to take my place in your life, it would be Jonathan Archer."

Lorian relaxed a little. "You and Mother named him my godfather when I was born. We were close." He paused. "After you died, he gave me a purpose."

Trip imagined the fourteen-year-old boy of long ago, grieving, lonely, desperate for a hero to replace the one he'd lost. If Lorian had latched onto Archer to the point of blind worship, Trip could hardly blame him.

He hooked a thumb toward the brig door, through which the captain had exited a minute ago. "And this Archer? What does he want?"

Disquiet shadowed Lorian's features again. "My help to get Enterprise through the corridor."

"Is that so impossible?"

Lorian began to pace restlessly around the cell. "I've already watched history repeat itself because I couldn't do anything to change it. He's asking me to do it again."

"You weren't exactly standin' around with your thumb up your ass," Trip pointed out. "You tried to stop the Xindi probe—"

"But I didn't stop it," Lorian said flatly. "The seven million...your sister Elizabeth...my aunt..." He stopped, looking bleakly at Trip. "I'm responsible."

So this was the fallout of Archer's 117-year mission. Lorian had shouldered the burden for decades, driven by an obsession unknowingly passed down from his surrogate father...but no one had anticipated that the mission might not succeed. And now one tortured man was paying the price.

"You didn't kill her, Lorian," Trip said softly. "The Xindi killed those seven million. Not you."

"I failed," Lorian shot back harshly.

"Dammit, son, sometimes it's not about failing!" Trip put a hand on the other man's shoulder. "My dad has always told me—try your best, try your damnedest, and be content with that, because you can't do any better. If I'd been around, I'd have told you that myself."

Lorian stared at him for a long moment, emotion welling up in those startlingly blue eyes of his. "You did tell me," he said at last. "When I was young."

Trip felt a stab of mingled happiness and heartache. "Then you must've been a typical kid. Didn't listen to your old man."

Lorian managed a faint, wistful smile. "Perhaps I needed a reminder, then."

Trip returned his smile. "Look...I don't know if your mission was the only solution, or the best one, or whether it was even possible. But I do think it helped the original crew to keep from giving up when they were first stranded. I know it's the reason you're here now. And I believe you can make a difference. It just doesn't make sense for us to be working against each other on this."

Lorian listened wordlessly, warily.

"I understand your concern," Trip went on. "But you've already altered the timeline, just by being here. And T'Pol's working on some scheme to modify the impulse manifolds to keep them from triggering the time displacement in the corridor. We both know your mom's no fool. Neither is Captain Archer. If they think this is our best shot, then I say it's worth taking."

Slowly, the possibilities sank in, and hope began to war with uncertainty on Lorian's face. Trip gave him an encouraging smile. "Y'know, if there's one thing I've learned on Enterprise, it's that the future isn't written in stone."

Lorian searched Trip's face—for validation? strength? It was hard to tell. Finally he drew himself up with a resolute nod. "Very well, then. We will...'take the shot'." His demeanor returned to its typical Vulcan calm, and Trip was glad to see a flash of the old self-confidence in his eyes. "I'm ready to speak with Captain Archer."

"Good enough." Trip started out of the holding cell to call the captain.

"Father..."

Trip turned back. "Thank you," Lorian said. "For the reminder."

It was the first time he had called Trip "Father." Trip found himself liking the sound of it. "Any time," he replied as he headed out.

-end-