This version has been edited for this archive. The full NC-17 version can be found at the Warp 5 Complex.
Author: Hel Bee
Spoilers: Set several months after 'These are the Voyages…'
Beta: Rakina and Charlene
Summary: Back on Earth, can Trip put his mission behind him to save his marriage?
Disclaimer: I don't own Star Trek – any of it!
AN: Fifth (and final) in my 'Too Stubborn To Die' series
Phlox had been true to his word. All the augmentations that had been made to his body had been removed without trace. Trip ran his fingers over his forehead, his eyes skirting his face in the mirror. His skin was once again fair, his hair blond and, much to his relief, his eyes were blue. The reversal had taken over a week, Phlox refusing to carry out too much surgery in on one go, and the drugs to rework his blood chemistry couldn't be rushed. He'd cut himself shaving that morning, his blood had been red and he'd been ecstatic.
Trip stepped away from the mirror and padded over to the closet in his hopefully temporary quarters. He dressed carefully, stopping to examine the scars his Romulan mission had left him with. Phlox would remove them when he was back to full health, but for now they remained as a reminder of the last year.
Today he was going to go against the advice of his Starfleet appointed psychiatrist. He was going to contact Jon and Malcolm. The shrink had told him he wasn't ready for such an emotional event, but Trip knew himself better than Dr Ripley. Running from his demons was not an option; cowardice would not help him heal. If he wanted his old life back he would have to fight for it; even if there was the possibility that his husbands no longer wanted him.
At least Phlox had agreed with him, though he had stated the caveat that he wasn't an expert in human psychology, something Trip had dismissed saying that Phlox knew more about him and his needs than any appointed Starfleet quack. To that end, Phlox had contacted Jon and Malcolm, warning them of Trip's intentions and so they wouldboth be at the apartment when he called.
He couldn't believe his own nervousness, worse than when he had finally plucked up the courage to tell his parents that we was about to embark on a marriage to two men. For once his parents' eccentricity had worked to his advantage, his mother quite calmly stated that Trip needed a firm hand, and two pairs would be a distinct advantage. His father had just smiled and patted him on the shoulder, saying that the Tucker clan would welcome anyone who was his choice.
His parents were all too a painful reminder that in the eyes of the Earth he was still dead, a situation Starfleet, in particular Section 31, wanted to maintain. Trip knew it had to be the case, but he was still petitioning for the right to at least tell his folks he was alive.
Trip sat down in front of the viewscreen, wiping his sweaty palms on his jeans. With a few touches to the screen his call connected and he stared into his husbands' apprehensive faces.
Malcolm, his brow creased with worry, spoke first: "Trip?"
"Hey," Tripreplied softly, "you two look great."
Jon smiled, but Trip could see that his older husband's concerns kept the smile from his eyes. "How are you doing?"
"Finally beginning to feel human again," he admitted. Trip sighed deeply and ran his hands nervously through his hair. "God, I've missed you both so much."
Malcolm looked suspiciously close to tears. "I though we'd never see you again. Trip, we need you here. I need totouch you, just to make sure that you're really alive!"
"I'm so sorry. Can you ever forgive me?" His plea was impassioned, and he knew he sounded desperate, almost needy. This need was almost suffocating, so different from how he had been before he'd gone to Romulus. But now he had to hope that they could forgive him. Not just the lies, the betrayal of his wedding vows, but of keeping his distance. Creeping away to lick his wounds, like a coward, he chastised himself, a coward unworthy of the love he saw on the faces of the men on the viewscreen.
"There is nothing to forgive," insisted Malcolm, and Trip saw him lean closer to the screen. "We know what happened and why you had to do what you did. I know at the moment you probably won't believe me, but I am very grateful – I couldn't have done it."
"We need you, Trip. We always have." It was Jon was had spoken. "Is there somewhere we can meet face to face?"
"I suppose so." His answer was uncommitted, uncertain if he was ready for that yet.
"We need this, Trip. I know things can't go back to how they were before –"
Trip interrupted Jon. "I understand that you mightn't want to continue what we had."
"No!" The cry came simultaneously from Malcolm and Jon.
Malcolm laid a hand on Jon's forearm, a clear signal that he wanted to speak. "Listen, you stupid yank. We just want to give you time to adjust, there is no way on Earth I'm going to allow this marriage to end."
It was the unexpected term of endearment that had grabbed his attention. Trip smiled slightly, although both of Malcolm's husbands were American, he reserved 'stupid yank' solely for Trip. "Give me a week, and then we'll meet. I promise."
Jon returned his smile. "Take as long as you want, Trip. Just let us know when and where."
Although seeing Trip walk away after the debriefing was hard, Malcolm understood his husband's need to retreat; however, he also knew Trip well enough to know that the man would no doubt castigate himself for it. Trip had, for all his outward southern charm, been essentially a private man. He internalised things, preferring his own counsel before turning to someone else for advice. Jon said it was because Trip was so stubborn, but then the three of them had in the past argued long and hard about each others coping mechanisms. Trip was hard as nails – rarely shaken – but even with the small amount of time they had seen him Malcolm could tell he was falling apart. And now it was Jon and his responsibility to put their engineer back together again. Even from the start, Trip had been hard to win over, to accept that both Jon and Malcolm wanted him, and now Malcolm hoped they didn't face another battle to persuade him that they very much wanted to keep him in their lives. And if it took knocking the stupid yank out stone cold and dragging him back to their apartment so be it.
Trip had surprised them with where he had wanted them to meet. Although with careful consideration it made sense, which was why Jon and Malcolm were heading to the captains quarters of the now decommissioned NX-01.
Malcolm guessed that Trip was owed more favours than anyone else in Starfleet – even Jon – and he had called in at least one of them. Enterprise was now in permanent orbit around Earth, with plans currently underway to make her into a museum ship. She certainly seemed perfectly preserved, thought Malcolm as they had come aboard. He could think of nowhere better to attempt to salvage their marriage than place their relationship had begun.
It was strange to beaboard without the rest of the crew; there was a small security team who patrolled the desks but once the warp engine had finally been taken off line Enterprise had been allowed to rest. Jon grabbed his hand as they stopped outside the captain's quarters. Trip was already here, the presence of a Starfleet shuttlepod was testament to that. He squeezed Jon's hand. "It'll be all right."
"Should I be the one saying that?" chuckled Jon. Malcolm smiled and lifted Jon's hand to his face, gently kissing his knuckles, then reached out and opened the door.
The door slid back to reveal Trip, he'd been staring out of the porthole but had turned to face them once the door had opened. Malcolm heart raced faster and before he knew it Jon had closed the distance and now held Trip firmly in his arms. Not to beout done Malcolm joined them, wrapping his arms around the two men he loved.
"Bloody hell, you feel good," purred Malcolm.
"Been far too long," agreed Jon, who seemed as set as Malcolm on not wanting to let go of Trip.
Somehow Trip managed to extricate himself from his husbands' clutches and stepped back. "I was worried you wouldn't come."
Jon stroked Trip's cheek and smiled. "Wild Klingons couldn't have kept us away."
"Glad to hear it."
Malcolm took hold of one of Trip's hands and Jon did the same. "Come home, Trip."
Trip smiled weakly. "I want to, but I need some time, a bit of space."
"Whatever you want," said Jon sincerely, "we know it's been difficult for you. But together we can solve anything."
Trip licked his lips and Malcolm could sense his nervousness. "I don't think I'm ready to be your husband… er… physically this is."
Malcolm grabbed him, puling Trip so he looked directly in his eyes. "Only when you're ready. We won't push you."
"You could have the spare room, if you want," offered Jon, and Malcolm knew it was not the solution either ofthem wanted, but it was good idea.
Trip slumped forward, laying his head on Malcolm's shoulder, and Malcolm felt the sobs wrack his husband's body. Jon tried to comfort him by stroking his back and they all dissolved together into a heap on the floor, Trip's larger frame too heavily for Malcolm to support on his own.
Trip looked up and stared between his husbands, his eyes red from the tears but his blue eyes sparkling with hope and relief. "I want to come home."
Sometimes it was hard for him to believe he had been back six months. There were moments, when he was alone with his eyes closed, that he thought he was still on Romulus, expecting the call to attend the Senate. But they were few and far between now, as were the insidious feelings of self-loathing thanks to his counselling sessions and his husband' considerate attentions.
They had celebrated the anniversary of their marriage in style: an extravagant dinner at an impressive restaurant and now, back at their apartment, Trip lay with his head on Jon's lap. His older husband stroked his hair while Malcolm sat under his feet on the large comfortable couch. He stretched languorously, not missing the spark of heat in Jon's eyes as he did so. Neither of them had pushed him when he had returned, allowing him to spend the first few awkward weeks in the spare room before crawling into bed between them late one night after a particularly vivid nightmare. Over the months the intimacy had slowly returned, but he yet to let either of husbands take him. But now relaxed, happy and safe Trip decided he was ready.
With a supreme effort he got off the sofa, Jon and Malcolm muttering in disappointment as he did so. "Stop your moaning," he grinned seductively, "and come to bed."
Trip was already in the bedroom and had removed several items of clothing before the other two men had joined him. He was in control here, he got want he wanted and tonight would be no exception. Jon and Malcolm were undressing too and, naked, Trip crawled onto their large bed, beckoning them to join him.
He pointed at Malcolm. "Lie down," he ordered. "Feet towards the pillows."
Malcolm, he reflected had always been very good at following orders, and he rewarded him with deep and passionate kiss. He knelt up on the bed and looked at Jon, a hungry expression on his features. "Do you know what we're gonna do?"
Dumbstruck, Jon just shook his head.
"Me and Mal are gonna suck each other, and you're gonna fuck me."
Jon strode forward and grabbed him hard as he knelt on the bed. "Are you absolutely sure."
Jon's kiss was demanding and wild. "Then you'd better take your place."
Later, once cleaned and his husbands assured he was more than all right, thank you very much, Trip cuddled close to Jon as Malcolm wrapped himself behind him. He smiled into Jon's chest hair and sighed happily. There was still much to work through, after all he was still officially dead, although he thought he was real close to getting Starfleet's permission to tell his folks he was alive. Then there were potential new assignments to consider. But for now everything else could wait, he was home.