Disclaimer: *sniffle* Unfortunately, I don't own any of the Enterprise characters...though I wouldn't mind owning Archer, Tucker and Porthos. Cute Captain! Cute Engineer! Cute puppy! LoL. Anyway, no profit is being made off this story (like there could be), it's meerly for my own, and hopefully fellow Enterprise lovers enjoyment.

Author's Note: Not an AU, but some parts could be considered an Alternate possibility, or they are as of yet unknown, and may be revealed differently in future episodes. I'm sure you'll figure out which ones. This is basically a short story exploring a possibility of how Captain Archer and Trip met, and how Trip got his nickname...Trip. Pure fluff is what it is! LoL!!!
Just so you know, my beta reader already pointed out the unlikely hood of certain cadets behavior in this story. I realize that, but without it, I can't make the story work. I'm not a good enough writer to work around it. Sorry!
Thanks to Nevermore for beta reading this!
Please review. Constructive criticism welcome. This is my first Enterprise fic, so tips are appreciated. Thanks!


Mr. Tucker, isn't it?

By: Jaimi

"I mean it, Trip!" Captain Jonathan Archer, of the Starship Enterprise, told his Chief Engineer over the Comm link. Though he was safely out of his captain's sight, Lieutenant Commander Charles 'Trip' Tucker III nodded as he sipped his coffee, just as he would if Archer was sitting right in front of him. It was habit.

Lieutenant Malcolm Reed, seated across from him, raised his eyebrows. Trip was a little odd in his opinion, but he was a good engineer... the best, actually. That was all that mattered to him.

Trip hastily spoke up. "I heard ya, Cap'n, I heard ya. I'll get it done, I promise."

"Good. Archer out."

There was a moment's silence. Suddenly, Ensign Travis Mayweather asked something entirely out of the blue. "You know what I've been wondering?"

"Nah Travis, I don't. I forgot my psychic abilities at home, on Earth," Trip answered with a wry grin.

His friend scowled at him, but continued. "Where did you get a name like Trip? I mean, who was the hair-brained idiot that came up with that?"

Trip almost choked on the coffee he was drinking as he started to laugh. Swallowing, he grinned. "Well, my friend, the hair-brained idiot would be our own Captain Archer!"

Travis looked shocked, not to mention embarrassed. He looked around quickly, to be sure no one overheard his earlier comment. The only person sitting at the table with them he might have to worry about mentioning his slip-up would be Sub-Commander T'Pol.

Lieutenant Hoshi Sato, Reed and Doctor Phlox were laughing, enjoying the look of horror on their friend's face. T'Pol didn't look amused, but then, she didn't look anything. She just stared blandly at her fellow crewmembers. She spoke up, voice monotone. "Captain Archer gave you your nick name? I did not believe even he was that illogical."

"Illogical? What does logic have to do with it?"

"Nothing. That is the point. There is no logical purpose to... nick names."

"Sure there is," Hoshi offered. "Well, for humans anyway. It's kind of a term of endearment."

"Endearment? Is that not what is used between mates? I was not aware you two were mates."

Trip's jaw dropped, and he sputtered out. "We-we're not." T'Pol looked at him, undeterred, eyebrow raised. He cleared his throat and gained back some control. "Not that kind of mates. You could use mates in the slang term for friends, though."

"Mates means friends?" T'Pol asked, skeptically.

"In some cultures," Trip replied, indignantly.

Hoshi, after ceasing her giggles at T'Pol's assessment, continued her explanation. "Trip's right. Anyway, endearments can be used with friends as well. Besides, it isn't always just as an endearment. It can also signify something about the person. Something they did, something they do, a personality trait, a physical characteristic...."

"Have you had countless moments of clumsiness in the past, Commander?" Doctor Phlox asked, grinning goofily.

"Ha ha ha. No, I did not." Trip said, frowning.

"Not even when you were a pre-teen? All legs and no coordination?" Reed pushed.

"Well, a little. But I didn't know the Cap when I was a kid. That's not how I got the name."

"Well how?" Hoshi asked in earnest. "And when? When did the Captain start calling you Trip?"

Trip smiled. "The day we met. Long time ago. So, Malcolm, how are those-"

"Commander! Stop avoiding the question and tell us," Hoshi said, in mock sternness.

"Yeah, Trip. Tell them." The startled group looked up to see their Captain, grinning mischievously. He sat down next to Trip, and looked at his friend. "We're waiting."

Trip made a face at him. "Why don't you tell them?"

"Because I wanna hear your version. I'm sure it's so much more interesting."

Sighing, Trip turned to his friends. "What do you wanna know, exactly?"

"How did you guys meet?" Hoshi asked, figuring that would lead to how he got the nickname.

The others perked up, all of them were quite interested in the story. Even T'Pol set her cup down and appeared to be paying close attention.

Trip shrugged. He didn't know what the big deal was. "The Academy."

T'Pol raised her eyebrows skeptically. "So you've both said, but that does not seem logical. You are ten years younger than Captain Archer, and he is of higher rank. He would have been finished in the Academy several years before you."

Trip grinned. "That's true, Miss All Knowing One. I'm surprised you didn't narrow it down to the months and days." At a warning nudge in the ribs from Archer, he quit his teasing and continued. "Anyway, I never said he was a student. I was the student. He was doing lectures in a class of mine."

"Did the Captain befriend all his lecturees?" Doctor Phlox asked, looking at his captain with a smirk.

Trip chuckled. "No. Let's just say I kind of stood out..."

Archer snorted with laughter. "Yeah... Like a sore thumb."

"The southern twang?" Travis guessed.

Trip grinned. "Oh, that wasn't even the half of it..."


Nine Years earlier...

Thirty-one-year-old Lieutenant Jonathan Archer turned away from the board upon hearing giggles from a few of the young female cadets. Looking up into the rows of seats, his attention immediately caught on a good-looking young man with a lopsided grin. He was winking at some of the girls, twirling a paper ball in his hand. Archer glanced to see another one lying on the floor near Cadet Harracks, a quiet, brainy young man.

Sighing quietly and running a hand through his short, dark brown hair, Archer cleared his throat, looking right at the mischievous young man. He remembered his name from the teacher's reports. A class clown, a rebel...many had branded him a difficult case.

"Mr. Tucker, isn't it?" he spoke up.

The young man met his gaze, a slight challenge in his odd brown, blue-green eyes. Archer's own, intense green gaze never faltered. "No. Mr. Tucker is my father," he answered, flippantly.

"All right then. What should I call you? Charles? Charlie?"

"We usually just call him Jerk," a young woman spoke up.

The blonde haired man rolled his eyes, answering Archer with a grin, and a suddenly more noticeable southern accent. "Charles is my grandfather and Charlie is my uncle. I'm not that old, and I'm not that ugly."

Archer smirked before commenting on the youth's wry humor. "You're a real trip, young man."

The twenty-one-year-old grinned. "I'd rather be a trip than a Charles, Mr. Archer."

Archer smiled, and said conspiratorially. "Mr. Archer is my father."

There was laughter from the other cadets, and the young man rolled his eyes, but grinned.

"Tell me...Trip..." There was more laughter, and Jon continued after it was down to a few giggles. "What do you know about the late Mr. Cochrane?"

"Nothin'," Trip replied casually, tossing the paper ball in between his hands.

Another young woman spoke up. "Don't believe him, Sir. He's actually quite smart when he wants to be."

Archer dipped his head to the side once, and nodded slightly, saying, "I've noticed. However, there's a difference between being smart and being a smart ass."

More laughter and Trip just rolled his eyes again.

The girl finished giggling, then continued. "Seriously, Sir. He's an egotistical moron, but he is really bright."

"Among other things, right Ash?" Trip said suggestively, not caring for where this conversation was going.

Ashley rolls her eyes. "Whatever."

"So...your secret's out, Mr. Tucker." At Trip's withering look, he smiled. "Trip, then?" he asked.

"I don't care," Trip said nonchalantly, though he secretly liked the new nickname. "Just don't call me Mr. Tucker, Charles or Charlie...and don't even think about calling me Chuck."

Archer chuckled. "Wouldn't dream of it.... What do your friends call you then?"

"He doesn't have any friends." The first young woman spoke up.

"Don't be mean, Cindy." Ashley chastised. She got a glower in return.

"We call him Spike!" Another young man spoke up from one side of Trip, high-fiving the man on the other side of him.


"Yeah, but don't call me that either. It's stupid. I just let them cause they need to call me something."

"Other than asshole," came Cindy's nasty retort.

Archer glanced around at the woman, then turned to Trip. "I take it you rub some people the wrong way... Why am I not surprised?" he asked, slightly amused.

Trip shrugged carelessly. "She's just sensitive."

"Up yours Charles!" Cindy snapped, sneering his given name.

Trip rolled his eyes, before turning a charming grin to the pretty blonde woman. "That's not what you screamed last night, Doll."

The girl proceeded to flip him off, causing oohs, awwws and laughter.

"All right, that's enough. Trip, that's not how you treat a lady, or a fellow cadet." Archer broke in sternly.

"What lady?"

There was more oohing.

"Enough." Archer barked. He was then quiet for a moment, contemplating the seemingly careless young man. "Tell you what, Mr. Tucker...you behave in class, do your work, and be nice to the ladies...then I won't address you in any names you don't like."

"What the hell are you gonna call me then?" Trip asked, trying to sound like he really didn't care.

Archer grinned, "Trip... Is that all right with you?"

Trip sighed. "Whatever." Archer raised an eyebrow, waiting for a better response.

The young man sighed. "It's fine...Sir. Better than the others."

"Good." Archer stated, making his way back to the front of the class as he had moved forward to stand at the bottom of the rows during the exchange. Reaching his desk, he turned back, a mischievous look in his eyes. "Where'd you get a name like Spike, anyway?"

A group of guys around Trip broke out in chuckles, high-fiving each other.

Trip rolled his eyes. "It's stupid. Just some friends gave it to me during high school."

"Where did they get the idea?"

Trip glared at the snickering friends around him. "I don't know. I guess they just picked it out of the dark, empty recesses of their brains," he finally snapped. Several of the young men stopped laughing to frown at their 'friend', but no one challenged him. It was obvious who was the 'boss', so to speak.

Archer just nodded. "Uh-huh. All right then...Trip...I'll ask you again. What do you know about the late Mr. Cochrane?"

Trip looked evenly at him for a moment, sizing the older man up. The teachers and lecturers usually didn't bother with him. It was only his first year at the academy, but already he was a lost cause to them. This man though...this man just wouldn't give up. No one expected him to answer, so when he did, the place was silent, all eyes darting between their rebel peer and the well-known lecturer.

"He developed the Warp theory...brought it to life with the first space craft to travel at Warp speeds. His first trip ended up bringing about Earth's first encounter with the Vulcans..."

Trip carried on, answering the question more than adequately, impressing Archer. However, the older man merely nodded when the blonde was finished, and stated lightly, "Very good." Then the warning bell rang and the cadets began filing out.

"Trip!" Archer called out, not looking up as he gathered some papers together. He heard the class file out, but was aware that Trip had indeed halted and stood by the door.

Jon looked up. "Come here," he said, motioning with his head as he put things into his brief case.

He heard the Southerner sigh and walk toward him, stopping directly in front of his desk.


Archer raised his eyebrows, tilting his head to the side and waited for it. The kid was smart; he'd figure it out. And he did. Sighing again, Trip corrected himself. "Yes, Sir?"

Archer nodded his approval, and setting his brief case on the desk, he leaned his arms on it and looked Trip squarely in the eye.

"Your friend Ashley is right. You are a lot brighter then you let on. Why is that? Don't you want to be in Starfleet? I've seen your records. You keep this up, and you're not gonna graduate."

Trip just shrugged, looking past the older man to the formulas on the board behind him.

"Look at me, Trip." Archer said gently, but firmly.

Trip complied, face setting into a blank mask of indifference. "Yes, Sir."

Archer eyed him. "If you don't wanna be here, why did you come?"

Trip faltered. No one had ever questioned him on his reasons for applying. Though most knew that he put no effort in and appeared to have no interest, what they didn't know was that that had changed. Truth be told, he had had no interest in the beginning. Recently, however, he had become awe struck watching the construction of the Starships near the academy. And after reading about Cochrane, he was becoming more and more enthralled by the whole thing. The ships, the mechanics...the warp core. He had always enjoyed helping fix the tractor back home...

It was too late though. He had wasted precious time in the beginning. He could never catch up now. He had come to get away from home, and that's what he had done. When he didn't graduate, he would find a job lifting crates in some station cargo bay or something...anything to keep him from home, and from HIM.

If Trip's father had it his way, Trip would be back at the farm, baling hay, fixing tractors and rounding up cattle for the rest of his life. Not that he didn't love the farm or his home in general. He loved the small town he came from, the people...his mother... And, stubborn pride aside, he loved his father as well. However, they were too different to be able to live peacefully in the same country, let alone the same house. So, upon learning more about Starfleet, and knowing he had the intellegence and endurance to get in, he enrolled. It was a chance to get away from home, to get off the same planet as his father.

His father had been outraged. His mother however, had been secretly happy and proud. She knew how intelligent her only son was, and wanted him to go places, to reveal the potential he had hidden from everyone else.

Trip sighed inwardly. He couldn't tell Archer that. He would never understand. He and his father were close; he probably missed his home. The man truly loved what he did. He was following in his father's footsteps, helping him achieve his dream of flying at warp speeds through the universe on a magnificent starship.

Trip knew all this about the man, because he listened. The cadet may not appear to pay much attention to things, but there was always a part of him latching onto information. He absorbed every tidbit like a sponge.

His mother knew. She had been proud...so proud... He was letting himself fail, and failing his mother. She had faith in him and he had failed her.

Jonathan Archer was silent, watching the battle raging in the younger man's eyes. He could tell the cadet couldn't decide what to tell him. One thing Archer knew for sure, he would be able to tell if the younger man lied to him. His emotions played quite evidently in his eyes. Archer was cautious though, as he understood how easily the Southerner could hide it all. So he waited patiently. Wondering what this young man's story was...

The man's tri colored eyes suddenly looked guilty, and his gaze dropped down to stare at his hands.

Archer's own green eyes filled with concern. He didn't know why, but he felt a connection to the younger man, like the youth needed him.

"What's wrong?" he asked, gently.

Trip's gaze snapped up, and Jon hoped he hadn't startled the young man into retreating back behind his mask of comfortable indifference.

Trip stared into the older man's warm, sincere eyes. He didn't understand the sudden urge to explain to the older man that he did care. He wanted to graduate now...but it was too late...

The older man threw him for a loop as he seemed to read the cadet's thoughts. "It's not too late, Buddy."

Trip's jaw tightened and he looked away. "Yeah it is. I'm too far behind. I'm surprised they haven't kicked me out already."

Archer studied the young man for a moment before making a decision. "No, it's not. You're smart, Trip. It's gonna be difficult, but you can do it if you're willing to work at it. And if you're willing to work at it, I'm willing to help you."

The southerner looked at him, stunned. "W-why?" he stuttered out. "Why would you wanna help me?"

It was Archer's turn to shrug. "I guess I just see something in you. Untapped potential."

The words hit home, and Trip's defenses dropped. "My Mother thinks so too... that I have potential, that is."

Jon smiled. "Mother knows best," he quoted.

Trip smiled as well. "Yeah," he grudgingly agreed.

They were silent for a moment, then Archer spoke up again. "You got a class to get to?"

Trip shook his head. "Nah, this is my last class. I've got study time and then I'm free to go."

Archer grinned. "You make this sound like prison."

Trip smirked. "More like parole."

Archer laughed, and picked up his brief case. "Come on, Trip. Let's get some reading done. You and I will work together during your study time and after classes, and see if we can't get you caught up before finals."

"Mr. Archer, are you sure about this? I mean, it's not that I don't appreciate the effort, but this may do no good. You've read my reports. I'm a hopeless case, a lost cause. And I'm sure you're a very busy man. Don't waste your time on me."

"It's my time, Trip, and I don't think it'll be a waste. You've got to have more faith in yourself. You owe your Mom that much, don't you think?"

Trip nodded, a hesitant, unsure smile on his face. He still thought this would be a waste of time. However, he felt a sudden need to try harder not only for his Mother, but for this man as well.

"Good. Let's go," Archer said, putting a hand on the younger man's shoulder and guiding him out the door.



"Geez, you were a regular bad ass, weren't you?" Hoshi asked. Then, realising the informality of the statement to her superior, she added sheepishly, "Sir."

Trip grinned. He loved Hoshi's feisty, but at the same time timid demeanor. It was cute.

"I guess I was Hosh," he answered with a wink. The others were more concerned with another matter though.

"You didn't want to join Starfleet?" Travis asked, clearly shocked.

"Not in the beginning, no." Trip answered honestly.

"But the Captain changed your mind," Reed stated, looking at Archer for confirmation.

The man just smiled fondly, still caught up in the memories.

"Well, I became actually interested three quarters of the way through my first year, but by then, I felt it was too late. Then, yes, Jon helped me catch up. I really started to strive to do better, especially after we had another speaker in class a few days later..."


Nine years earlier...

Trip rolled his eyes at the stuffy Admiral at the front of the class. His gaze wandered to Lieutenant Archer, who sat perched on his desk, which he had pushed to the side of the room. He looked bored as well. This man was the all talk and no action type. He read all the books, and studied all the graphs, but he had never applied himself. He'd never even been in space before, probably never even seen the inside of a ship's engine. Now, here he was, giving a lesson on the warp drive. These Cadets had probably seen more of the inside of a ship than he had.

Trip grinned as Archer looked about ready to argue a point, but decided against it. The young man figured his mentor probably didn't want to show up the older man in front of the students. Trip however, didn't feel so sympathetic toward the stiff collared jerk.

He proceeded to speak up, knowing exactly what Archer had been tempted to argue.

"Actually Admiral, that's not an accurate assessment..."

Everyone's gaze turned to him. Jon gave him a slightly surprised look. He hadn't realized the younger man would recognize the uncommonly known fault. They had been working together for a week. He knew the kid was smart, but the only way to know about the error was by understanding the schematics themselves. It was something even most first year Lieutenants normally wouldn't catch. Archer himself had missed it, only seeing it after his father had shown him. Trip couldn't have heard it somewhere either, the error hadn't been made public yet. He suddenly worried that maybe the Southerner didn't know anything, but just decided to make trouble. They had made progress, but old habits died hard. Trip enjoyed testing new comers, no matter how high the rank.

Archer was now nervous the Cadet would say something to rile the Admiral and end up getting suspended. He was pleasantly surprised though, as the skeptical Admiral asked the young man to "enlighten" him, and Trip proceeded to politely and accurately correct the older man.

The Admiral WAS slightly put out, but he wasn't prepared to argue the younger man's intelligent reassessment. He only read the books. Attempting to keep the peace, Archer quickly spoke up.

"I believe Tr-" He stopped, realizing the Admiral probably wouldn't approve of nick names between cadets and their superiors. "That is, I believe Mr. Tucker is correct. My father pointed it out recently, but it's still fairly unknown. The texts are being modified and there is to be a statement released, correcting the error."

The Admiral nodded, still not pleased at being corrected by a Cadet, but he carried on. Archer was glad he didn't think to question how Trip had known. The young man obviously knew by figuring it out himself. The Admiral would be even less happy to learn the Cadet had figured it out before him.

Trip hid his smirk, which turned to a shy smile as Jon looked up at him, pride and approval evident in his handsome features. Trip felt a swell of happiness. It felt wonderful to have the older man's approval. He decided then and there to work his damnedest not to disappoint him.



Trip blushed as he confessed. "His approval came to mean the world to me."

He saw Archer smile out of the corner of his eye. He blushed deeper, his tanned cheeks flushed pink, but continued. He'd never really told the Captain how much it meant to him. He was a proud young man after all, and expressing himself so emotionally was hard. He was determined to let him know somehow, albiet subtly. "It still does. I just wanted to make him proud. I guess since my father never approved, I looked for it somewhere else."

Though he couldn't see the look on Jon's face, Trip knew the captain was displaying the pride that only a teacher's star pupil could ever really elicit.

Sensing Trip's discomfort, Hoshi moved on. "Your father must be proud now. You graduated with top honors, didn't you? And don't let this go to your head, but you're Starfleet's best engineer."

Trip was only slightly relieved by the subject change. This topic wasn't a favourite. "Thanks, Hosh. But I haven't spoken to my father since I enrolled. My mom stays in touch, but we don't talk about my Dad. He still feels the same way. I should be back home on the farm, tilling the land..." he trailed off.

"I'm sorry..." Hoshi said. She couldn't say she understood. Her parents had always been very supportive.

Trip shrugged, then grinned, trying to lighten to mood. "I'm over it."

The others didn't believe him, but decided not to press the issue. His father was another story, they were sure. Most likely one that few, if any of them, would hear. Maybe the Captain...maybe he already knew. His look portrayed as much. He locked eyes with Hoshi, a hinting gesture.

Understanding what her Captain wanted, she asked casually. "So, where'd you get a name like Spike, anyway?"

Trip groaned. The others burst out laughing, enjoying another priceless moment at Lt. Commander Tucker's expense.

The End

If you haven't already, please read the Author's Note at the beginning before reviewing. Thanks! Now go review away!

Jaimi Copyright@2001