Trip Of A Lifetime
I owe a big Thank You to Linda, who edited the original version of this story and another one goes to WarpGirl, who challenged my creativity and gently tore me to pieces for any failed attempt at improving. Thank you very much ladies :-)
Update (June 2010) : Re-Upload with minor cosmetic changes
Having lost all sense of space and time, the two grieving parents of baby Elizabeth sat side by side, their hands desperately clasped one in another. The little baby, the first ever Vulcan/human hybrid, did only live for a short 6 months, a result of Paxton's evil plans to prove an alleged incompatibility between Vulcan and human genomes. What Doctor Phlox had identified as a mistake of Paxton's medics was in reality a deliberately engineered defect to make sure the baby would never survive infancy.
If only anyone could see the two people who had their DNA profiles stolen from Enterprise's sickbay to create the little child, Paxton's so-called message would crumble into the bigotry it so truly was. Even without the visual manifestation of just how compatible that human engineer and the Vulcan science officer really were, Paxton's plans did never work out. Even most Terra-Prime members turned their backs on Paxton's mad ideas, when they learned about his actions.
An innocent baby like Elizabeth stirred parental passion in the vast majority of human kind and when the news surfaced that the child died several hours after it had been freed, the tide turned completely. Spontaneous mass protests against Terra Prime supplanted the hate rallies of the days before. Although many of the protesters were still anxious about the presence of aliens and had still vivid memories of the attack of the Xindi prototype, no human in his right mind could condone the creation of a baby for the sole purpose to die after a few months.
The sheer shame to be of the same race as the devil, who committed this heinous crime against the innocent infant and her parents, drove millions out on the street and many of the protesters rightly remembered that the child's mother, an alien, had stood up against her own people to help Earth in its fight against the Xindi. It was she, who commanded Enterprise, when the pivotal Sphere 41 was destroyed, the final move that turned the Xindi from enemies to allies.
Terra Prime activity almost dried up completely. Many of the less influential members just went on with their lives, ashamed to once having believed in Paxton's xenophobic ideas. United Earth Government released a public appeal for Terra Prime members to turn themselves over to the authorities and help to dissolve the organization in exchange for being paroled and many followed this path.
Commanders Charles Tucker III and T'Pol of Vulcan were oblivious to what happened on Earth - just mere hours ago their child's lungs had stopped working because of the deliberately engineered genetic defect. T'Pol had been almost overwhelmed by the pain and agony of a severed maternal bond and she had left sickbay for her quarters. Although Captain Archer had tried to console his friend, Trip was still crying hard about the loss. Instead of listening to Archers stilted efforts of expressing commiseration, Trip had gone to see the only person, who was able to understand his pain – T'Pol.
As they sat side by side, Trip took comfort from the petite Vulcan's hand that had searched his just moments ago. T'Pol remembered their time in the Expanse, just after Trip had lost his sister Elisabeth. He did not sleep for days in fear of the hideous nightmares that came to him; he neglected his own health in the attempt to work himself to shreds. She remembered how Doctor Phlox had talked her into administering Vulcan neuropressure to the human engineer and how surprisingly effective that had been. She was still trying to understand, how it came to the point that she, the alien among humans, was the one who helped Trip overcome his grief, to finally write the letter to Crewman Taylor's parents and to finally realize that Lizzy had not been just one of 7 million faceless victims, but a special person, who deserved special memories.
Her mind raced through the last years. Much had happened between her first encounter with Trip in Archer's ready room and the moment she impulsively kissed him to get him back on Enterprise, after the Orion girls had left the ship. Especially the last months had taken its toll. It had been an endless string of events, which led to them misunderstanding and hurting each other. She remembered her meditation session of the night before they learned about Elizabeth, when her father V'Nur's image had appeared in her white space.
"My child, you appear to be in need of counsel. Do I correctly believe your thoughts are with the human Charles Tucker?"
"You are correct father. I have a great deal of questions and no answers."
"What are your questions, child?"
"My logic fails to explain his actions and mine. I do not know if you can answer them. You died before I met him for the first time. "
"T'Pol, my image is with you as the voice who expresses those thoughts that you suppress and disregard. You have all the answers to your questions; you merely fail or refuse to express and accept them."
"I do not understand."
"You do not understand why Charles acts the way he does?"
"Yes. When I decided to marry Koss, he stayed for the ceremony, yet left immediately afterward and avoided me once I returned to the ship."
"Look into your mind. You have the answer." V'Nur urged her sternly.
"He stayed to show his support. Humans often find symbolic gestures important. By staying he showed, that he does not condemn me for what I had done to him."
"Proceed child. You have the answers. What is his nature? Why did he leave so rapidly after the ceremony? Answer your own questions," ordered the image of her father.
"He did harbor a deep affection for me. I aggrieved him by my decision to marry Koss. He left after demonstrating his support so he could deal with his suffering away from my view. He did not wish to distress me any further."
"Continue child that does not explain his avoidance. You know him well. Why did he react that way? Tell me why you reacted improperly."
"I do not understand, father?"
"Stop using this statement to hide. T'Pol, you have hidden too often behind feigned misunderstanding. Speak the truth and accept it. After Koss released you from marriage, you reacted improperly. Tell me why," V'Nur commanded with stern authority.
"My assessment, that his affection for me would subside after my marriage to Koss, was incorrect. Trip follows a historic pattern of behavior called 'gentleman manners'. This behavior prohibits showing affection for another persons mate. It is my belief that he also found it difficult to act neutrally towards me. He avoided me to avoid distress."
"You are still avoiding admittance of your own mistakes, child. Proceed."
"When I returned to the ship after mother's death, I questioned everything including the relationship with Trip. He offered to help me, but I refused his help. I distanced myself from him and aggrieved him again."
"Correct child. Now you also know that his decision to leave the ship was your fault as well. He does love you and you continue to aggrieve him. The human concept of love is not exclusive to them. Vulcans know it as well. We use different words, yet the concept is the same."
"I do know that."
"Then explain to me. Do you reciprocate that human's affection?"
"I do father."
"Tilek svi'khaf-spol t'vathu - tilek svi'sha'veh," V'Nur lectured
"The spear in the others heart is the spear in your own," T'Pol translated. "I believe I do understand Surak's meaning. Whenever I experience pain, so does he. And only we together can resolve it."
"You are correct. Now live by the teachings of Surak, child."
Returning from her memories, she noticed the trembling human hand that she felt in her hers. She sensed the pain and longing for comfort that the telepathic link - established by her touch – transmitted. Slowly she lifted their connected hands and directed his arm around her neck before resting her head on his uninjured shoulder. Immediately she could sense the comfort that this gave him. His breathing started to match her frequency and his sobs got quieter. Her logic had no answer however for the fact that the unusual embrace did also comfort her. It was not a typically Vulcan gesture, yet she drew as much strength and comfort from it as he did. After almost two hours, Trip broke the silence.
"T'Pol, I was thinking; when we give her official name… for the ceremony... I think she should also have a Vulcan name."
"That would be most appropriate. Do you have a proposal?"
"I was thinking about your mother's name. How does Elizabeth T'Les Tucker sound?"
"That is most agreeable. We shall follow your proposed course of action."
"Trip, I need to meditate now," she said softly and freed herself from the embrace. Trip sighed slightly and stood up to leave.
"There is no need to leave," T'Pol offered and indicated him back to the bunk. "You need to rest."
"Are you sure, I mean, in your bed?"
"Trip, I do not wish to be alone during the night," she admitted openly, much to his surprise. This was quite a change from the Vulcan woman he had to wind up for minutes to get her to admit, that she wanted him to come back to the ship.
"I also wouldn't want to be alone," he answered and tried to wiggle himself out of the uniform.
"I shall assist you."
Carefully she helped him to undo the sling and slowly stripped him out of the uniform. Surprised by the sudden change of her demeanor he just let it happen and gladly accepted her help to get him settled in.
"It is advisable to sleep on your back. I do not wish to inadvertently touch your injured arm, when I join you after my meditation."
Surprise and exhaustion prevented him from asking her about the sudden change, so he only nodded weakly and tried to smile, when she gently brushed two fingers over his cheek, before turning to her meditation.
After almost three hours of meditation T'Pol found herself back in Paxton's Prison holding baby Elizabeth. One of Paxton's guards pointed a phase pistol at her head. Suddenly the door was opened and a guard shoved in Trips beaten up body. Blood ran down his face.
"I should have known it," Paxton growled. "It is time for you to learn that Terra Prime does not make empty promises, Mr. Tucker."
"What have you done to him?" T'Pol asked sternly.
Without answering Paxton tilted his head towards the guard and the tall black man pointed his phase pistol at Elizabeth. The beam cut through child and mother when he pulled the trigger.
"NO!" An earsplitting cry from the bunk tore T'Pol out of the shared nightmare. She shot up from her meditation pillow and raced over to the bed. Trip was sitting wide-eyed, shaking and sweating profoundly. His breathing was rapid and erratic.
"It was a dream," she said softly. "We're safe Trip." He looked at her, lost in the horror of the images that he had just seen.
She gently pushed him back down again and brushed a few sweat soaked strains of blond hair from his forehead.
"Yeah, safe and awake. Might as well head down to engineering," he grunted sadly. "I don't think I wanna sleep again."
"You need to rest and I shall make sure that you can," T'Pol said softly and let her Vulcan robe slip off her shoulders. Clad in gray stretch underwear she went to the bathroom and returned with a wet rag and gently started to wipe the cold sweat of his forehead and face.
Her gentle ministrations soon calmed him down again and she put the rag aside. Carefully avoiding any accidental contact with his injured arm, she climbed in under the sheets and slung her arm around his waist. Resting her head on his chest she carefully listened how his racing heartbeat calmed back to a normal frequency.
Ten minutes later she noticed how his breathing again subconsciously matched her frequency and soon after he fell back to sleep, protected by her embrace.