Commander Tucker Has a Baby
Authors's note: This story takes off from the point in Unexpected where Archer nearly gets the Xyrillians and his own crew killed by Klingons, who then become strangely cooperative. The final act of this otherwise charming episode seems so wrong to me that I wondered what would happen if Archer wasn't an idiot at this key point...which led me to wonder what would happen if Trip actually had to deliver that kid. And so that's what you have here. It goes AU for only one episode without changing any later plots in the canon. No overt romance here, but key relationships are developing (especially Trip & T'Pol) or being tested (Trip & Archer). Rated PG for mild cussing.
Disclaimer: CBS/Paramount owns Star Trek Enterprise and everything about it. Unexpected was written by Rick Berman and Brannon Braga.
x x x
"Sir, with all due respect, do you think this is a wise idea?"
Clearly, Malcolm Reed had no confidence in his weapons up against that Klingon battle cruiser.
Jon was hoping it wouldn't come to that. "If we're going to speak to the Xyrillians, we can't do it without the Klingons knowing about it," Jon said, and turned to Hoshi. "Open a..."
"Captain!" T'Pol said, interrupting him. "Alerting the Klingons to the presence of the Xyrillians is likely to result in their immediate destruction."
"But they're completely harmless," Jon said.
T'Pol assumed the tone he thought of as 'urgent condescension'. He particularly resented the short sentences, as if she wasn't sure he could handle more complicated ones. "We already know they are causing malfunctions on the Klingon ship. The Klingons will consider that an act of war. They have little patience or interest in establishing diplomatic relationships with alien races. Indeed, we are at considerable risk ourselves."
"They vastly out-gun us, sir," Reed said.
Jon glanced at Trip, who looked, if possible, even greener around the gills than usual. His chief engineer was understandably desperate for this contact with the Xyrillians.
Reed added, "I also don't think we particularly want the Klingons to get their hands on that stealth technology."
Jon sighed. "Travis, back off to the edge of sensor range but don't lose sight of them. Trip, T'Pol." He headed for his ready room.
x x x
Archer said, "We need a way to communicate with them that the Klingons won't detect."
Trip sank down into the chair on the other side of the ready room. His energy level was dropping fast as hope gave way to frustration. To be this close and yet be unable to hail the mother of this kid he was carrying was maddening.
"Can you think of anything?" Archer prompted him.
"How about something helpful?"
Trip sighed. "Maybe the Klingon com is down the way our visual was when they were sucking up our plasma wake. They might not even notice we're sending a message."
"Even if it was down we'd have no way of knowing when it might come back up," T'Pol pointed out. "It would be safer to disguise the message."
"If we disguise it from the Klingons the XYRILLIANS might not recognize it either!"
"Trip!" Archer said. Trip grimaced an apology. He knew his frustration was getting the better of him.
"I think we need Hoshi in this discussion," Archer said. "Which means that we need to include one more person in this matter, Trip."
"Hoshi?" Trip was horrified. "Why don't you just announce it to the whole ship while you're at it?"
T'Pol said, "I believe Lieutenant Sato is quite capable of discretion."
"Like you? You've already blabbed it to anybody you could!"
T'Pol drew herself up. "I have not 'blabbed' anything."
"Oh yeah? Then how come everybody's looking at me funny?"
Her eyes narrowed. "Perhaps your elevated hormone levels are causing paranoia."
Archer said. "Trip, if people are staring at you it's because you're out of uniform and behaving oddly. And frankly, if we can't make contact with the Xyrillians, you're not going to be able to keep this a secret for much longer anyway."
"Fine!" Trip snarled. "Get Hoshi." He blinked back tears of frustration. Nobody seemed to be taking this situation seriously enough. It was like a big joke to them: Trip Tucker, The Pregnant Engineer with a Line of Nipples Growing Up His Arm.
Archer gave him an assessing look. "Why don't you go take a break while I explain the situation to her? I have a feeling you wouldn't mind skipping that part."
"You got that right," Trip grumbled. "I'll be in the mess hall."
x x x
"Milk, cold," he said to the beverage dispenser. He had already grabbed two pieces of pie.
To his annoyance, T'Pol was right behind him.
"May I?" She stood at his table, clearly awaiting permission to join him.
"Yeah, sure," he said, good manners winning out over his bad mood.
"Usually at this time of day you drink coffee," she said.
"Phlox said caffeine might not be good for the baby." Belatedly, he looked around to see if anyone was likely to have overheard. Fortunately the only other crewmen there were at some distance, and busy talking to each other. "Of course, for all he knows, milk is even worse for it. But I guess I might as well try to do the right thing."
"A laudable attitude," T'Pol said.
Had she actually complimented him? He felt an odd rush of warmth.
T'Pol was studying him.
"What?" he said.
"You are reacting more emotionally than usual, even for you," she said.
He scowled. "Maybe you should try growing an alien baby on your rib cage!"
"I am sure I would find it distressing."
He blinked, surprised again. She was also the last person he expected any sympathy from. "We have to find a way to contact them, T'Pol. I really don't want to find out the hard way how this baby's supposed to get born."
"Ensign Sato will come up with a strategy for communicating with them. But if necessary, I have no doubt that Dr. Phlox will choose your well-being over the fetus's."
"I don't want it to get hurt either!"
T'Pol tilted her head and regarded him. "It appears you may be developing a maternal attachment to the unborn child."
"Paternal!" Trip said angrily. "Paternal! I'm still a man, in case you've forgotten."
"I haven't forgotten."
He frowned at her. Something about that comment surprised him too.
x x x
They didn't succeed in contacting the Xyrillians. Hoshi had indeed come up with a plan, but she hadn't managed to implement it before the Klingons suddenly jumped to warp.
"I'm sorry, Trip. There's no way we can keep up with them." Archer had asked Trip, who'd been in engineering, to meet him in his quarters. Trip suspected he was a little worried about how explosive his reaction might be; he wasn't exactly a picture of restraint these days.
"Of course," Archer said, still watching him with concern, "it's entirely possible that malfunctions cause them to drop out of warp again. And we'll track them for as long as we can. At some the Xyrillian ship may fall back and we'll be able to pick up their trail."
Trip sighed. "You know, Cap'n, next time we offer free engineering services to an alien race that's been caught sucking our plasma exhaust, let's insist on a valid home address first."
Archer smiled. "Good point. I wish we'd insisted on downloading their database. Phlox could really use it right now."
"That's for damned sure." Trip's hand went automatically to the bulge on his chest.
"This whole thing kind of fits their modus operandi, don't you think? Hide in a wake and suck up plasma exhaust? Deposit your DNA on an unsuspecting alien? It's like those birds that lay their eggs in another species' nest."
Trip sighed. Archer wasn't exactly cheering him up.
"You know," Archer said, lowering his voice, "If we do lose them, I wouldn't think any less of you if you wanted to take care of this problem another way."
Trip scowled. "You heard Phlox. There's no way the baby would survive."
"Trip, we're not positive you'll survive if you have it. Or that we'll even be able to keep it alive after it's born. You're going far beyond the call of duty here."
Trip sighed. "I'd be lying if I didn't say I've thought about it. Phlox did discuss it with me. But I just can't see doing that. It's not like I didn't like Ah'len, or her people. I did. They were nice folks. We just need to find them, that's all."
"Well, hopefully we'll catch up with them soon," Archer said. "I really don't want to spend the rest of our mission chasing these guys across the galaxy."
Trip looked up, suddenly wary. "You're not gonna quit on me, are you?"
"No. Not until Starfleet calls us off."
"I know it's inconvenient. I really appreciate everyone's efforts."
Archer clapped a hand on his shoulder. "You didn't ask for this. And in an odd sort of way, it does fit our mission. You're definitely going where no man has gone before."
x x x
Two weeks later his door signal chirped, waking Trip from his doze. He hadn't been sleeping well and tended to drop into cat naps whenever he could, which was exactly what Phlox had recommended.
"Come in," he said, blinking the sleep from his eyes.
Archer and T'Pol walked in, bearing trays from the mess hall. "We thought we'd bring you some food," Archer said. "Phlox said you didn't feel comfortable leaving your cabin anymore."
"Everyone either looks at me like I'm a freak or tries to touch my belly." In the last week, the baby had 'dropped' toward his abdomen, where it was using the additional space to grow significantly larger. He'd begun to feel little kicks. Just that morning he'd noticed what could only be a little hand or foot pushing out his skin.
The fatigue was hitting him hardest. Trip hadn't even tried to put up a fight when Phlox had taken him off duty.
Besides, he had things to do, when he could summon the energy. For one, he was trying to make grass grow in his quarters. He wished he'd brought some of that weird wall food back with him; he would have tried to grow that too. Ensign Novakovich had told him the hydroponics lab was really the only place on the ship with enough light to grow anything reliably, but he should have known better than to tell an engineer that. Trip had been fiddling with a contraption he hoped would generate enough light and circulate enough water to sustain at least a few square meters of real, green grass.
He could kick himself now for not having paid more attention when he was aboard the Xyrillian ship. What exactly were their humidity levels? And just what kind of grass was it they grew there? Novakovich had perplexed him by telling him there were thousands of varieties of plants commonly known as grass. It hadn't helped when Trip had asked which ones might give off a gas that would help a Xyrillian metabolize its food.
"How can you stand it in here?" Archer asked. His brow was perspiring.
Trip looked up, surprised. "Stand what?"
T'Pol said, "I believe this level of humidity could have a negative impact on the performance of the electronics in your cabin."
"Oh. Well, yeah, maybe eventually," Trip said. "Right now I just want to make sure she has a comfortable environment."
Archer raised his eyebrows. "She?"
Trip grinned. "It's a girl. You want to see?" He brought the scan up on his monitor.
Archer gave him a concerned look. "Are you actually getting excited about this?"
Trip shrugged. "I never said I didn't want to have kids someday."
"Alien kids, Trip?"
Trip automatically glanced at T'Pol, who met his eyes for a moment before turning to examine his grass-growing contraption.
"As my momma always says, if life gives you lemons, make lemonade." He sniffed the food they'd brought. "And if life gives you pecan pie, for God's sake sit down and eat it. You want to join me?"
"We already ate," T'Pol said.
Archer helped himself to a breadstick and waved it around in the air. "Don't forget that you're still going to have to let this baby go if we find the Xyrillians."
"I'm not forgetting. Any progress on that?" Trip asked, with his mouth full.
Archer said, "We've lost all trace of the Klingons. However, we think we may have found an impulse trail that could be Xyrillian. We're following that. If it is them, we should know very soon."
T'Pol said, "There is less than a fifty per cent chance it is actually their ship, Commander."
"Still better than nothing," Trip said, between mouthfuls. This was going to bring on some heartburn, but it was worth it.
Archer shook his head. "You know, this all seemed pretty funny to me when it first happened."
"I noticed," Trip said sourly.
"It's not that funny anymore. This seems like it might really change your life. I don't want to lose my chief engineer."
Trip grimaced. "I don't want you to either. Set up some decent day care for me, and maybe you won't have to."
Archer grinned and shook his head. "I can't believe we're having this conversation."
"Has the doctor determined how to deliver you yet?" T'Pol asked.
"He says he'll try to be ready for anything. And he wants me in sickbay round the clock starting next week, just in case. You want to water my grass for me while I'm gone?"
T'Pol looked perplexed.
Trip smiled. "Ah, never mind. Ethan will do it for me."
"I would be happy to do it for you if you feel it is important," T'Pol said.
"It's not. Don't worry about it." Trip smiled warmly at her. She'd used the word happy and somehow this seemed like progress even if it was just a social courtesy.
Archer smirked. "You know, Trip, I think pregnancy agrees with you. You're glowing."
x x x
Not very many hours later, Trip woke up and thought: I'm going to die.
He hit the lights next to his bunk and buzzed Phlox. "It feels like something's stabbing me!"
"Do you see any blood?" Phlox asked, ever practical. He'd already had a couple of false alarms from Trip.
Trip gasped at another sudden, sharp pain and looked down at himself. Something small and sharp had just pushed through the skin on his belly. "YES!"
To be continued...