A quick note:
Originally each section was posted indiviually but now I've put them all in one story. Part 2 has been edited to fit in with guidelines... the full NC17 version of this (and part 5 when it is finished) can be found at Warp 5 Complex... the best Enterprise fanfic site out there! Any trouble finding it just send me a nessage and I'll point you in the right direction :)
Title: Too Stubborn To Die
Author: Hel Bee
Spoilers: Set Six months after 'These are the Voyages…'
Beta: Rakina and Charlene
Summary: Phlox has a secret, and he's ready to tell.
Disclaimer: I don't own Star Trek – any of it!
A/N: Having only recently seen the entire of Enterprise I am in denial over the end. This is my answer to what really happened. Influenced by the idea in the novel 'The Good That Men Do' which I have not read but was intrigued by the premise… in my depraved mind when I say Trip goes undercover, I meant it in the lewdest sense.
A/N2: This is my first Star Trek fic, although not my first slash or fanfiction by a long shot. All feedback is appreciated. Thanks for your patience and for being a great fandom to play in.
The message had been piggy-backed onto a routine medical communiqué. If Phlox hadn't been desperately waiting for it the carrier wave would have gone unnoticed. Six months, six months of constant worry and deception, but now he knew his friend had safely infiltrated the Senate he could share his secret and remedy the sickness caused by grief for two other officers – two men that he would also count as friends.
He moved over to the safe in his office housed in the research centre he had worked at since the decommissioning of NX01. His retina scan caused the locking device to beep and the door to the small safe to open. Amongst papers and a few personal items he found the black, velvet pouch he was looking for. Snatching it from its resting place, he returned to his desk and activated the view screen. A shrill beep told him his call had been answered.
"Good evening, Commander Reed. I hope I am not disturbing your evening."
"Not at all, Doctor Phlox. How can I be of assistance?" asked Malcolm Reed, newly promoted commander and weapons developer for Starfleet in San Francisco.
"I know it is late, but I really need to speak with you and the admiral – face to face." Phlox saw Reed's brow crinkle. "I really must insist."
"Then I will tell Jon we are expecting company. Reed out."
Phlox bustled out of his office, collecting a few papers as he went and hurried downstairs and hailed a flitter-taxi. Within thirty minutes he was standing outside the apartment of Admiral Archer and his husband, Commander Reed.
The door to the apartment opened with a gentle hiss a few moments after he had pressed the buzzer. Jonathon Archer smiled at him and invited him in, guiding Phlox to the lounge. "Just what is so important, doctor?" Archer asked gesturing Phlox to sit. Phlox still found it odd to see Archer in civilian dress, and when Reed joined them it seemed doubly strange.
"I do apologise for the late hour but, like I said, this really isn't something that can wait." Phlox waved away the coffee that Malcolm offered and removed the velvet pouch from his inside coat pocket. He untied its drawstring and tipped its contents into the palm of his hand. "I believe you recognise this."
It was a plain, titanium ring. Nothing overtly ornate, designed to be durable and understated. Phlox saw the tremor in Archer's hand as he reached over and picked it up, holding it out to Reed as if it was a precious artefact. "This is Trip's." Archer's and Pholx's eyes locked. "What the hell are you doing with it?"
"I can explain everything – including the significance of why I'm giving it to you now," Phlox said in a conciliatory fashion. "But anything I tell you tonight is in the strictest confidence." A nod from each man was all the assurance Phlox needed. "I was extremely honoured when the three of you chose to complete your wedding vows on Denobula, even though your relationship is hardly conventional as far as Starfleet is concerned, I was glad you decided to publicly acknowledge your close association."
"Doctor," interrupted Reed, "just what does this have to do with Trip's wedding ring?"
"I am coming to that," said Phlox patiently. "Trip was put in an untenable position. He chose the only outcome he thought was possible. Section 31 approached Trip when they needed an operative to infiltrate the Romulan Senate. He knew the stakes, and he also didn't like the other options."
"What?" snapped Reed, getting to his feet.
Phlox instinctively leant away and raised his hands in placation. "Please, calm down, Commander. I have so much to tell you. But most importantly, Trip is alive." Although for how long is another matter, he thought darkly.
Malcolm staggered backwards and landed back in the armchair he had just leapt out of. "Alive," he whispered.
"I was ordered to help fake Trip's death, but he was adamant that once he had successfully taken on the mantle of his cover that I should tell you he wasn't dead. The ring was his idea, to make sure you believed me."
Until now Archer had been silent, sitting forward in an armchair, his hands clasped tightly together, knuckles almost white from the pressure. "Where is he?"
"And what has the fool-headed idiot got himself into now?"
Phlox smiled; it was the reaction he had expected from his ex-captain. No shouts of denial, but straight to the point of how to get his errant husband out of whatever trouble he was in. Although Phlox doubted Archer would want to hear exactly what Trip's new role on Romulus involved, now was not the time to keep any more secrets. "He didn't consider he was given a real choice, Admiral. The head of Section 31 made it quite clear to Trip that it was either him or someone else, someone they knew he would try to protect."
Malcolm groaned. "They were intending to approach me, weren't they?"
Phlox nodded. "Trip decided that you and the admiral would survive, that your relationship would be sound. I tried to persuade him to talk to you both, but you know how stubborn he can be…"
"Very, is the answer to that," Archer said fondly.
Reed scowled and muttered something under his breath that Phlox didn't quite catch. But it sounded like: 'when I get my hands on him I am going to kick his arse from here to Kuala Lumpur.'
"You must understand that his mission is vital to Starfleet and your planet's security. There can be no question of you racing out to Romulus to rescue him," warned Phlox. "Trip knows what is expected of him; he knows his duty."
"You can't expect us to do nothing," demanded Reed. "You can't just sit there and tell us that the man we married, who we thought has been dead for six months, is alive and not think we'd go after him."
"I did warn Trip that this would be your immediate reaction when he first asked me to deliver the ring. Trip told me to tell you not to do anything stupid."
"Why should he have the sole right to act stupid?" snarled Reed, who was once again on his feet and pacing
"You know what Trip is doing," stated Archer plainly, a little too calm for Phlox's liking.
"Yes," he said simply.
"Tell me." It wasn't a request.
"He has been surgically altered to resemble a Romulan, including some internal modifications necessary to fool their medical scanners.
"Trip with pointy ears?" said Archer incredulously.
"Indeed, Admiral. But that is not the limit of the surgery. He has been implanted with sub-dermal emitters that will alter the secretions of his sebaceous glands. His secretions will act as a sedative on normal Romulan physiology."
Malcolm scowled. "Why would Trip be in the position to sweat all over a Romulan, especially – if I understand you correctly – a Senate member?"
Phlox saw Archer's eyes widen, he knew the admiral was party to more information than the commander. New intelligence from the potential foe came in daily and Phlox could tell that Archer had worked out exactly what his husband would be doing. "Please tell me he's not…"
Phlox hung his head. "I am sorry, Admiral. But there really wasn't any other way, and Trip was insistent that his husband would not be put in that position."
Malcolm glared at the two men. "What? Come on – tell me!"
Jon sighed loudly. "The Romulan Senate is rumoured to have, for the lack of a better word for it, a harem – a collection of concubines for their pleasure. The only way Trip could deploy his sweat would to be to –"
"He's a Romulan whore!" bellowed Malcolm. "Jesus Christ, Jon, We've got to get him home!"
Archer bowed his head. "Trip must know what he is doing. Phlox is right: we can't interfere. I suspect he has already contravened a whole load of orders by even letting us know he is alive."
"I can't emphasise enough how important it is that the Trip completes his mission. He has an emergency transponder and Section 31 operatives are ready to pull him out at any time," Phlox assured.
"So are you Section 31 too?" asked Malcolm, a sour look gracing his face.
Phlox stood up, it was time for him to leave. "No. Trip needed someone he could trust."
"And he couldn't trust us?" snorted Malcolm disbelievingly.
"Commander Reed," Phlox said sharply, "I think you know the answer to that yourself. Trip wanted to protect you both; he did it the only way he could."
"So what are we meant to do now?" Malcolm said turning to Jon.
Archer stood and pulled his husband into his arms. "We wait."
"We know he is alive. Yesterday we would have given anything to have heard that. Now we have to let Trip do what he has to. He's proved to us again that he is too stubborn to die."
FIN (for now)