Disclaimer: I don't own Enterprise, it belongs to Paramount.
Author's note: Please enjoy the last chapter of "Remembering", it's longer to make up for the last of updating this week since I've been busy. It's been wonderful to read all of your kind reviews and I thank all of you. There's still a poll on my profile if you'd like to know what my next story will be about and would like to vote if you like the idea. Thanks again! Please leave a final review!
And Jessica, yes I couldn't help putting in that part that you will laugh at me for. I tried, but it just fit so well. :)
"Please… please…" Trip muttered in his sleep, rolling onto his stomach again.
The nightmare ended swiftly with Trip sitting up, gasping and shaking. He remembered. The last of his memories had returned and everything had become clear, each tear and every hit was engrained in his memory. He stumbled from his bed and into the bathroom, turning on the cold water. Trip splashed it on his face and looked at the haunted face he saw in the mirror. It was too hard; too hard to be normal again. Dressed only in his pajamas pants, he could see all the fading bruises, the healing cuts, and the faint outline of his ribs. Choking back a sob, Trip stumbled back to his bed, pulling the blanket around his body as he curled up in the center of his bed. Reaching up, he pushed the com button.
At first there was no response and since it was four in the morning Trip didn't expect him to answer.
"Mal…" his voice choked out. "Are you awake?"
"Commander, is everything okay?" Malcolm answered. He sounded exhausted and as if he'd been woken up.
"I'll be right there," his friend responded before Trip could ask what was on his mind.
Trip tried to breathe evenly as he waited for Malcolm to arrive. He focused on staying calm. Each moment was playing over in his mind like a tape on repeat. Trip wished that he could block the images and not hear his own voice anymore, speaking the words that he couldn't stop. The door to his quarters chimed, but Trip felt too weak and tired to move. Malcolm admitted himself and hurried to Trip's side, kneeling beside the bed.
"Trip, what's the matter?" Mr. Reed inquired, placing a hand on the sheets.
Trip gave a weak smile at the look of Malcolm's disarray. He was dressed in a t-shirt and blue pajama pants, lacking socks and shoes. His hair stuck out at odd angles and it was obvious that he'd been asleep. Trip felt slight guilt for waking him up, but it couldn't stop the painful images from surfacing again. He placed both hands on the side of his head and clenched his eyes tightly. Malcolm grabbed his hands and tried to get Trip to look at him.
"Are you alright Trip?" Malcolm repeated.
"Malcolm… I remember… I remember how I betrayed Enterprise."
He coughed harshly and choked back a sob. Malcolm helped him sit up and fetched a glass of cold water from the bathroom for him to drink. Trip drank it greedily and lay back against his pillow, keeping his eyes away from Malcolm's.
"It was so cold and I couldn't stop throwing up. The pain… was excruciating. I just wanted it to end. They came in a pair, like always; one to hold you and the other to inject the needles. At this point, the extra man wasn't needed anymore. I could barely move. They took me to another room down the hallway where I was strapped to a chair… they asked me so many questions. I couldn't stop answering them. I tried but…" Tears dripped down Trip's face and he didn't bother to wipe them away. "I told them about the security systems, the warp drive, even how Captain Archer likes his coffee and scrambled eggs for breakfast. Malcolm, I failed everyone."
Malcolm let the words fall upon his ears, concealing the pain in his eyes before Trip could see. Trip sobbed, rolling onto his side. His shirt had worked its way up partially and Malcolm could see the fading bruises and scars; the price that Trip had paid for resisting and in the end, it wasn't enough. It was a terrible price to pay, almost too great of a price. Malcolm placed a hand on Trip's arm.
"It's not your fault Trip. You couldn't control what they did to you. A lesser man would have caved under their torture within the first few hours. You had to be drugged and your memories erased. You are strong."
"I'm a coward," Trip whispered, avoiding eye contact with Malcolm again.
"No you are not!" Malcolm disagreed. "You lived Trip and the aliens were destroyed, taking their secrets with them to death. They cannot harm us. You're safe."
Trip kept his face pressed to his pillow as the tears trailed down his cheeks. There was nothing that he wanted more than to disappear and forget everything. "How do I survive and move on when everything I've done has been known? I have broken the trust of everyone that I care about. I don't deserve your friendship."
With those words, Malcolm helped Trip sit up and he looked him sternly in the eyes.
"It's not your fault. You cannot blame yourself."
"I can't move on… how do I live after such pain? I'm so ashamed of what I did."
Malcolm kept his hand on Trip's shoulder, giving it a light squeeze. "Live your life, because that's all any of us can do. "
"I can't Malcolm. I can't."
"I believe in you Trip. You are the man that endured pregnancy, that creepy web-like thing, the desert twice, Shuttlepod One, and so many other things. You can make it through this."
Trip pulled his knees to his chest, resting his chin on them. No smile broke through his tortured features and he kept looking away from Malcolm's cautious gaze. Time passed and Malcolm sat with him, not speaking a word, just giving him the comfort he needed in the form of being with him. For almost an hour they sat in silence with Malcolm's hand on Trip's shoulder as a constant reminder of his friendship. Finally, Trip got the courage to speak to his friend again.
"Do you think that I can heal?" he whispered with the tears barely keeping bay in his eyes.
"Yes, you're Commander Tucker; my closest friend. We have many more disasters to get in together."
Trip nodded, closing his eyes with the image of Malcolm and him sitting in the mess hall planning their next adventure. He didn't wake again until he vaguely heard his door slide open and someone enter. Something was in his face when he reached up to rub his eyes. A voice laughed quietly and Trip realized that it belonged to Jonathan. At first he couldn't remember what happened, but a groan alerted him to the presence of someone else. Opening his eyes, Trip was greeted with the sight of a pale and hairy foot. He quickly sat up, startling the sleeping Malcolm into awareness. He had been sleeping with his feet in Malcolm's face and Malcolm's feet in his face. The blanket was covering Trip's back and part of Malcolm's back side. It looked extremely awkward.
"Did you sleep well?" Jonathan teased.
Malcolm hung his head and Trip could see the blush spreading across his cheeks. This scene triggered a memory that was faint and didn't make much sense to him. It was from the first time that he woke up in sickbay. Malcolm and Jonathan had been there, but they were sleeping…
"This is familiar," Trip mused, causing Jonathan to frown and suddenly look uncomfortable.
"What's familiar?" Malcolm inquired.
"Didn't I see you sleeping like this once?"
Jonathan's face turned red and he shook his head. So, he was going to deny it. This greatly amused Trip and he cracked a wide smile. Malcolm had suddenly become interested in the texture of the blanket and fixing his appearance for Captain Archer's sake.
"No, I think I remember this moment, but it was different. Cap'n, were you using Malcolm's butt as a pillow?"
Both men looked extremely embarrassed and couldn't look at each other with their bright red faces. In spite of his nightmare the night before and his conversation with Malcolm, Trip couldn't help it. In spite of everything, he started to laugh.
Two weeks passed quickly and slowly. Trip's health increased by leaps and bounds, but his mental stability and emotions were on a roller coaster. Jonathan and Malcolm kept him company when his nightmares became too much and when he needed someone's shoulder to cry on. Trip spent a few hours a week with Doctor Phlox in counseling to appease Starfleet and allow him to remain on Enterprise. He was slowly healing and began to laugh again. Commander Tucker adjusted his uniform in the mirror and ran his fingers through his damp hair. Today he was allowed to finally return to half-time duty. This would be the first time that he stepped into Engineering in a month. His crew had visited him in sickbay and he'd seen them in the mess hall, but this would be the first time that he was to be Commander to them again. He finished getting ready, pulling on his boots and headed towards the mess hall.
His stomach was a bit queasy and the sight of all the food didn't make him hungry. Trip fetched a cup of coffee from the drink dispenser and looked around the mess hall. The crew was smiling in his direction and a few of them offered seats to him. Trip only had eyes for the three sitting in the middle of the room. Travis, Malcolm, and Hoshi were laughing at the joke that the helmsman was telling. Hoshi's laugh reached him and it gave him more confidence to join them. Malcolm scooted his chair over slightly when he saw Trip coming.
"Good morning Trip," Malcolm greeted.
"Morning," Trip said sitting down next to Malcolm and Hoshi.
"Are you excited for your first day back?" Hoshi asked, giving him a warm smile and touching his arm gently.
Trip simply nodded, not wanting to tell them that he was terrified of freaking out at work or being uncomfortable, though he doubted any of his team would ask him personal questions about what happened. Malcolm took a bite of his food and studied Trip's body language from the corner of his eyes.
"It seems like you're a bit nervous; not going to eat breakfast?" Malcolm asked. "I don't think that Phlox would approve."
"Nah, I'm feeling a little queasy."
"Everything will be fine," Travis piped up. "Anyway, Chef made some homemade cinnamon rolls this morning. It's his special recipe; you should try it."
Trip nodded, but didn't make any effort to get up. Hoshi slipped away from the table for a moment and returned with some orange juice a plate with a warm cinnamon roll on it. He thanked her and quietly ate the food while he listened to them talk about a planet on their present course. It seemed that Captain Archer thought the crew could use a little shore leave to relax. Malcolm finished his food and gave Trip an encouraging smile.
"Are you coming to the movie tonight?" Travis asked, getting Trip's attention.
"What movie is showing?"
"Something about a good western with explosions," Malcolm added, hinting that Trip should spend some time outside his quarters and sickbay.
"Sounds good to me, I'll be there."
Trip went back to finishing his coffee and cinnamon roll, glancing around the room at the smiling faces. He looked over at Malcolm, seeing him shift in his seat and peek over at Hoshi. His cheeks turned a faint pink color before he spoke.
"Would you like to join us?" he asked, smiling widely at her.
"I'd like that," she responded with a smile. She laughed softly and winked at Trip when Malcolm couldn't see it.
Trip covered his mouth with his hand to hide his grin. So, the Lieutenant did feel something towards Hoshi. He knew it. Hoshi and Travis excused themselves with wishes of good luck and headed to the bridge. Malcolm waited patiently for Trip to finish and the two walked toward Engineering together. They stopped outside the door and Trip turned to face his best friend.
"Malcolm… I can't thank you for everything you've done for me…" His voice choked up and he had to stop, not wanting to have red eyes when he stepped back into Engineering.
"It was not a problem Trip. I was just helping a friend."
"You have no idea how much you've helped me, without you…"
"Trip, I would do it again if I was given the choice."
There was a moment of silence and Trip suddenly burst out in a smile.
"After my shift today, would you like to make some plans this evening before the movie? I've been thinking of a good prank to get myself back into a more regular pattern. Would you like to help me?" Trip inquired.
"Sounds interesting, I think I can make time for you." Malcolm smiled and then gave Trip a more serious look. "Good luck today, if you need anything just call me or Captain Archer."
"Thanks Malcolm, for everything."
Trip opened the door to Engineering and Malcolm headed towards the armory to get to work before Captain Archer complained that he was late to his shift. He stopped when Trip called out his name. Malcolm turned around and smiled at the sight of the grin on Trip's face.
"Yes, Commander?" Malcolm asked, not sure why his friend was laughing at him.
"You have frosting on your face," he chuckled.
"Is that why Hoshi was laughing…" His voice trailed off as he realized why she'd giggled after looking at him when he invited her to the movie. Malcolm lifted a hand and found it on his cheek. Using his handkerchief he cleaned it off, shaking his head at his own mistake.
"Have a nice day Loo-tenant."
"Same to you Trip."
What lies within us can break us, but what lies within our friends and those that love us will make us stronger.
Thanks again and please review!