Title: Alive at Last

Author: Starbaby

Series: Enterprise!

Disclaimer: They rock, but they're not mine.

Summary: Just a little post-ep vignette for "Sleeping Dogs" to ease my disappointment over Trip not being in the shower, too. Feedback is better than pineapple birthday cake. Oh, I just guestimated how long they've been flying around aimlessly. Don't flame me if I'm wrong.

Alive at Last


The courage it takes to stay tight in the bud is more painful than the courage it takes to blossom--

Anais Nin

I leave the decontamination chamber precisely thirty minutes after the Doctor's first call.

Five months, two days, and ten hours ago--before Enterprise-I wouldn't have remained a moment longer than was strictly necessary for health and sanitation, would never have agreed that the shower experience was…pleasant. This is yet another example of the disturbing trend in my behavior that is taking place. As a native of Vulcan, I should not take…satisfaction…from frivolous things like hot showers, camaraderie, or sweet foods that promote tooth decay.

Five months, two days, and ten hours ago I wouldn't have found myself drifting toward the shuttle bay in search of answers about humanity. I didn't want to understand them, then, to know why they board sinking vessels, despite being filled with fear and flu, and why they are determined to take Earth to the stars. Why this manifest destiny that stirs the hearts of men?

I find him repairing the shuttle that was damaged by the grappler, whistling something lively.

Five months, two days, and ten hours ago, I wouldn't have come to the most human of men for an objective viewpoint on his species, but many things have changed since then. In that time, we have clashed, and conversed, faced Andorians, fought Suliban, slept in the open, inhaled spores, and regarded each other across a candle flame. He is the first human I ever really touched.

I watch him for a moment, the way his competent hands move over metal. Hands, heart, mind--the three ways by which humans grasp the world and change it. I think about Ensign Sato, with her languages, and Lieutenant Reed, with his weapons. I wonder if the ones who come after will know how they struggled so.

Finally, I ask, "Commander Tucker, why are you in space?"

Why, when there is majesty here, but little welcome? Why would so earthy a person willingly leave that pearl of a planet set for a sea of forbidding black? Why expand when what lies beyond may, ultimately, prove too harsh an environment? Why go farther than anyone has gone before?

He pauses thoughtfully, still the boy-man I met five months, two days, and nearly ten hours ago.

"Because it's there."

His answer strikes me as whimsical at first, until I think about these days on Enterprise, the people I have met, and how the Vulcan High Council doubted they would survive a month. It's possible that this mad, desperate desire to explore is what keeps them always moving forward. Were I to return to Vulcan today, I would have to tell my superiors that the humans I knew were arrogant and foolhardy-- but not insane.

Overall, they were bright, vigorous, and strong.

Five months, two days, and nine hours ago, I wouldn't have neglected my work to watch Commander Tucker do his.

I wouldn't have stayed to hear him whistle something lively.