For those of you who read my other story "The Dream" you will be familiar with one original character, Aisling, and her culture and powers. If you haven't read "The Dream" I suggest that you do but you don't have to before you read this. Just so you know I only own Aisling, Jenna, and this idea, all else is Roddenberry territory. Enjoy!
Oh this was the life! Malcolm stretched his back as he lay on his stomach, basking in the quiet sunlight. There were no worries here, no time constraints or missions. He could completely let down his guard, open up completely, and just be himself. He had no one to impress, no one to follow orders from. It was just him and-
Malcolm rolled over to look at his beautiful companion, whose long arms and legs were splayed across the sand, "What?"
"I heard from Jenna." She smiled at him before continuing. "She's just as talkative and random as ever."
Malcolm raised his eyebrows, "How? I didn't know that you could still communicate with her now that you're technically inside me."
"Well," Aisling smiled, "I was unaware of that ability as well but apparently since we're still on the Enterprise and that was where the dreamscape was originally created, Jenna just tracked down the Enterprise in her own dreamscape and contacted me through the traces of my dreamscape."
"Traces of your dreamscape?" Malcolm frowned for a moment, "What does that mean exactly?"
Aisling smiled as she idly traced her fingertips across Malcolm's chest, "Any time one of my people creates a dreamscape there will always be a part of that dreamscape in existence, even after the creator leaves it behind. It's like cutting a hole in a piece of paper I suppose. Even if you put the cut out piece back in the hole, the hole is still there, just not as readily seen or accessed." She shrugged, her movements causing her shoulders to dig deeper into the warm sand beneath them. "A lot of our powers are difficult even for us to explain to one another so we've come to just accept them as fact."
"Well I don't suppose the people back on your home planet have a lot of outside visitors." Malcolm remembered the fact that her planet could travel like a starship and even had an artificial sun that traveled with it. "Unless they happen to find your world and are granted access, which if I remember correctly they aren't very often."
Aisling smiled, "Since the wars have ended and the instigating generals have been caught and disciplined the world has calmed down considerably and visitors are allowed now. At least that's what Jenna told me this morning." Aisling stretched her body, her long limbs tightening then slowly relaxing once more, the purple dots on her neck darkening then lightening again. "She said she was going to stick around until after the birth."
Malcolm smiled down at Aisling's swollen belly, the reminder making him go all warm and fuzzy inside. She was due in about a week or so, if they'd counted the months and weeks correctly, and he was already acting like a proud father rooster, his feathers spread and his chest thrust out.
In the years since they met, Malcolm had managed to tell Trip, Phlox, and the captain about Aisling and her dreamscapes. Of course at first they'd all doubted his sanity but then Aisling had managed to project herself into the real Enterprise and appear to the others. Of course even then Trip still had his reservations and the captain only smiled and nodded.
Since that time Malcolm had been able to keep them up to date on their relationship, though he didn't often open up about it. The crew did know that he was expecting a child, though they believed his girl and mother-to-be were back on Earth, and Phlox had already given him lessons on how to deliver a baby as well as a crash course in parenting. Malcolm found himself cornered by crew members he didn't often associate with, all wanting to offer him parenting advice.
"Well that's great." Malcolm smiled, one of his hands resting on her belly. "Has she gotten her own body yet or is she still in that man's?"
Aisling giggled, "They made a trip back to our home world and while there they found a comatose body that had been without a consciousness for a few months. She gave her friend his body back and went into the new one. She came by herself in a single ship, so he is still back on the home world with his family." She giggled again. "Jenna told me he nearly danced a jig once he had his body to himself again but then nearly cried when she left to come here. I guess he was so used to having her inside him that the thought of her without him was odd and upsetting."
"I'm sure it was like loosing a personality complex." Aisling tsked at him and he only smiled. "Will she be present at the birth or will you have to go back into the original dreamscape for her to see?" Malcolm was still confused over her powers even after all this time together.
Aisling tipped her head to the side as she pondered his question, "I honestly don't know. I mean she has the ability to create a dreamscape in your mind but with my presence already here I don't know if that will affect it or not."
Malcolm nodded, stretching his body as well. They had at least thirty more minutes before he woke up in the Enterprise again. She'd wanted to go to the tropics lately so before he'd fallen asleep he'd made sure to think of one of the beaches in the Virgin Islands that he'd enjoyed years ago on shore leave. So here they were lounging naked on a deserted beach in a deserted world with all the privacy they could possibly want.
"Are you worried about the birth?" Malcolm looked over to Aisling once he finished his stretch.
She smiled, "Not really. You're here, Phlox gave you instructions, and I know some as well from my own research. There's not a lot to worry about. I suppose my only worry would be Jenna shooting to the moon in her excitement."
"Yes I remember she is quite energetic."
Aisling snorted, "To say the least. Her mother, my late sister, was one of the happiest most energetic people I know. Somehow, Jenna surpasses her in her ability to ramble though. It's quite a feat, let me tell you."
Malcolm chuckled, turning on his side and draping his arm across her, holding her close to his chest. She sighed as she turned to face him, her belly pressing into his. He smiled and she giggled at the contact but neither said anything. They contentedly lay there, soaking up the sun and each others presence. Malcolm was very happy just to lay there for hours.
The ship had just rescued Shran's daughter from some of his "associates" and now it was heading back to earth for the charter to be signed. The captain was nervous about his speech; even without talking to him Malcolm knew that as fact. Trip was a bit put out about leaving all his friends, probably especially T'Pol. Malcolm had to admit as well that it was going to be a bit rough changing from the Enterprise to his next duty. It'd taken him this long to get used to everyone and finally "open" up to some of them, namely Trip, but still that counted.
"Are you worried about the charter?"
Aisling's voice brought him out of his idle thoughts. He thought for a moment, honestly searching himself, before shaking his head.
"I only feel a little odd about separating from a crew I've grown accustomed to." He smiled slightly. "I only just recently allowed myself to actually open up with Trip."
Aisling nodded, "I understand, Mal, and it's normal. You're moving on to a completely new part of your life, both in reality and here." She smiled down at her belly before looking back up at him. "You can at least take comfort in the knowledge that Trip will always keep in contact, whether you want him to or not," Malcolm smiled and chuckled at the truth in her words, "and I'm always here as well. So you're never going to be alone."
"Oh I know that and that wasn't what bothered me about leaving the Enterprise," he sighed, "I suppose I've gotten attached to it."
Aisling giggled, "Maybe my hormones have rubbed off on you and you're turning into a simpering female."
Malcolm poked her in the side and she giggled. He knew not to press too hard, since she did bruise VERY easily, but he still continued to poke her until she was near crying from giggling so hard. When she sobered, once he stopped, she wiped the tears from her eyes and smiled at him.
"You ready to wake up now?"
Malcolm sighed, "I suppose I must."
Aisling kissed him softly and gave him a tight hug before she rolled away and Malcolm woke up in his bed, alone. He swore he could still smell lavender, her smell, on his hands from where he held her. He smiled as he stood and got ready for the day. It was always easier to face the day when he knew he was going to see Aisling again that night.
The day started out perfectly fine but then hell broke out and it ended in death. Shran's associates had tracked them down and boarded. They'd demanded to be taken to Shran and the captain had refused. Trip, being the hero that he always had to be, said he'd take them. He'd duped them though, and blown them up, himself included. He'd been critically wounded and now Phlox worked desperately over him, trying to save his life.
Malcolm stayed at his post while he knew his friend lay dying in sickbay. He reached for Aisling in desperation. Over the years they'd managed to develop a direct link between the two realities and could now directly communicate.
"What is it Malcolm? Why are you so distressed?"
Malcolm showed Aisling his memories and he heard her gasp and knew she had tears in her eyes. She felt the same feelings he had, experienced the same sensations he did, and because of such she had similar friendly attachments as he did.
"Is there anything you can do Aisling?"
Malcolm knew he was desperate to ask his wife this question. He usually just accepted her powers, as she did, and didn't ask to push them or have her display them. But now, with his best friend near death, he wondered if maybe there was a power she hadn't revealed to him.
"I cannot heal him without transferring myself into him. I can't transfer into him because I'd loose the baby, since his body is not compatible with the pregnancy. And yours is only because the baby is yours." Aisling sighed. "The best I can do is steal his consciousness before he dies and place it within the dreamscape I left behind."
Malcolm sat up straighter, his mind completely alert. So in a way, she could save him.
"I could save his consciousness and place it within my old dreamscape. However, that would mean he would forever be stuck there. Besides me and you via me, he would be isolated from everything and everyone he once knew. He'd live out the rest of eternity on board the Enterprise, alone. Do you want to do that to him?"
Malcolm frowned and clenched his hands into fists. The thought of loosing Trip nearly cut his heart in two. He hadn't realized he'd appreciated the engineer's friendship so much until now, when he was threatened with the possibility of loosing him forever. However, it would be terribly selfish of him to ask Aisling to save Trip from complete death only to condemn him to isolation. For a social creature like Trip, that would be a fate worse than death. He sighed and shook his head, his body slouching for a moment. Then he remembered Jenna.
"Yes she is in my old dreamscape, but what does she have to do with this?"
Malcolm smiled. Maybe if her sister could come into Aisling's old dreamscape others of their kind could as well. Maybe Jenna could make friends with him and somehow take Trip back to their home world and get him a new body, of sorts. Or maybe even take him into her own body. Aisling was silent for a few agonizingly long minutes after his projected thoughts and in that time frame Malcolm felt his heart skip at least a half a dozen beats.
"I think that's possible. However, both Trip and Jenna would have to agree to this. If I transfer him into the dreamscape and he doesn't want to go with her, or become a part of her, or doesn't want to live even in that way, then Jenna would have to 'kill' him. He can't do it on his own, since he lacks our powers."
Malcolm sighed and finally relaxed a bit, though he refused to slouch in his chair again. He knew Trip would probably not like the situation completely, but as long as Trip was alive and well somewhere in someway, Malcolm was happy. This whole idea was selfish and immature; he was smart enough to admit that, however it was also Trip's only hope. Trip didn't deserve to die young, no one did, but especially not Trip. Malcolm nodded his head and prayed that Aisling was successful.
Aisling was quiet again but Malcolm felt her caress him, her scent lingering in his nostrils as if she'd just walked by.
"I'll let you know when all is done."
Just then the captain came onto the bridge, his face haggard and tired. Hoshi stood and T'Pol looked up from her station. Malcolm knew without the captain having to speak what had happened.
"Trip's-" the captain's voice broke and he had to pause before continuing, "Tucker is dead."
Hoshi started to cry, T'Pol looked back to her station, Mayweather concentrated on his controls though Malcolm noticed his jaw quiver slightly. Malcolm felt sick in his stomach but he reached for Aisling. When he felt her reassurance he relaxed a bit. However he was still full of grief because the friend he'd grown to love as a brother was dead to him in this reality and would soon only become a dream like his own Aisling.
That night, after all the debris had been cleared away and Trip's body cared for, Malcolm went back to his quarters and sat on his bed, not even bothering with the light. He reminisced over his years with Trip, remembering all the frustrations and funny times. He continued this bittersweet nostalgia as he got undressed for bed. He was sure the rest of the crew was doing the same thing. Remembering how Trip had affected their lives and so on. He knew everyone was evaluating their past relationship with the late engineer and wondering what could've been different if he hadn't died.
Malcolm sighed as he crawled into bed and lay on his back. He, for one, knew that his life had been enriched by the outgoing, fun loving, mischief making engineer. He also knew that even if he was gone from this reality, knowing that his "essence" was alive somewhere made coping with the grief of his passing that much easier.
Malcolm was right, in assuming that everyone was evaluating their relationships with Trip. Archer stared at his picture and pondered what he'd write to Trip's family; Hoshi cried bittersweet tears as she watched one of Trip's favorite movies; Mayweather kept himself from crying as he ate apple pie; T'Pol tried to meditate but kept remembering different qualities about Trip that had always tempted her to smile. Trip had affected all of them in subtle yet strong ways. Now that he was gone, it was like a light was turned out, and the Enterprise was no longer whole.
Please let me know what you think!