An Education in Darkness
Disclaimer: All things Trek belong to CBS/Paramount.
Author's Note: This is a little AU coda to my missing scene from "Twilight," sparked by a discussion on the Triaxian Silk forum of what would happen if at least some of the crew remembered what had happened. Aquarius's writing prompt for the month ("Education") helped inspire it, too. It's just a little 'what if'. It makes more sense if you read the missing scene first (in which T'Pol remembers her 'dream'), but you can probably follow along without it. Comments are most welcome. And many thanks to my beta JustTripn for working overtime on a holiday!
"How ya feelin' this morning, Cap'n?" Trip asked, seating himself at the table.
Jon passed him the coffee carafe. "Much better, thank you. Are we all shipshape again?"
"All shipshape, sir – especially if you're back on your feet."
Jon smiled. He hadn't seen Trip this sunny in awhile. But then, they'd both been preoccupied with the mission. And, of course, Trip had suffered a profound personal loss on top of that. "And how are you doing?" he asked, with enough emphasis that he hoped Trip understood it was a real inquiry rather than simple politeness.
"I'm doing better," Trip said, with a smile. "Sleeping a lot better, for one."
"Yes, you look a lot more rested."
"T'Pol's been a big help."
Jon raised his eyebrows. He had overheard enough of the scuttlebutt about the two of them spending time together every evening to be surprised that Trip had brought it up so casually.
Trip continued on, talking a little fast and perhaps a little nervously. "She's been giving me something called Vulcan neuro-pressure." He waved his hand around vaguely. "I don't pretend to understand the theory, but it's very good at getting the kinks out after a long day. Makes me sleep like a baby, too." Trip took a sip of coffee. "Of course, most people assume we're doing a lot more than that."
"Yes, I know," Jon said. "I'm not always privy to all the gossip, but that item was a little hard to miss." He gave his engineer a bland smile.
Trip blushed. "I don't think you need to worry. Vulcans only have sex every seven years, remember?"
"Trip." Jon had already brooded about this one and considered himself over it. "I'm not going to stand in the way of any comfort people can find out here. I know you can keep it professional during duty hours. What you do on your own time is your own business."
Trip stared at him. "So … if any of my people came in confidence to me and asked if it was okay, I could quietly let them know it is … just as long as they can keep it together?"
"Yeah, if you think they can," Jon said. "I'm not sure I'd want Chef pining over anybody. We might all starve to death."
Trip chuckled. The steward brought them their plates, and they both dug in.
"Interesting that T'Pol is helping you like that," Jon said. "Who'd have guessed she could be so nurturing?"
"Phlox asked her to do it. He didn't like me depending on the hyposprays."
"Yes, but she can be surprisingly thoughtful in other ways, too. She brought me a copy of Rosemary's Baby to watch last night."
Trip's smile in response to that was so tight that Jon decided the rumors might not be that far off the mark after all. He said, "You know, while I was out I had the weirdest nightmare with her in it. I woke up years older in a strange place, and she was there, serving me breakfast, and she told me this horrifying story about me losing my short-term memory, and Earth being destroyed. And then we went back to Enterprise – where you were the captain – because Phlox had brought a cure, but instead the Xindi found us and…" He shrugged. "Well, it was definitely a nightmare." He shook his head slightly and drank some orange juice.
And realized that Trip was staring at him.
"Pretty weird, huh?" he said, thinking that Trip's reaction was also pretty damned weird.
"You said in this dream you lost your short-term memory?"
Trip got up and went to the comm, where he requested that T'Pol join them.
"What's this about, Trip?"
"She told me she had a dream, too," Trip said. He looked sick.
x x x
Damn, this was awkward. It was impossible not to notice that his first officer had sacrificed everything for him. And that she was extremely embarrassed about admitting it.
It was also impossible not to notice that his second officer had looked more and more devastated as they had uncovered the details of their shared "dream" – especially the one about T'Pol leaving Enterprise to take care of her old captain.
He'd fallen hard all right. Poor Trip.
And then, of course, there was that part about Earth being destroyed.
On the plus side, this bizarre experience meant they had a wealth of information to draw on. They knew where the Xindi were building their weapon. They knew exactly how they were planning to deploy it.
Unfortunately, it wasn't going to be easy to put that information to use. Clearly, the Xindi were a formidable enemy.
And perhaps they should also warn Starfleet to develop a better back-up plan in case of failure. It was depressing to consider how efficiently the Xindi had wiped out a species that had already spread thriving colonies across space. Clearly they faced not only a capable enemy, but an obsessively thorough one.
Why? What the hell had them so spooked? And how the hell were they supposed to prove that they weren't going to do something they hadn't done yet?
Another inevitable question had come up during their little dream summit that morning: had anyone else in the crew 'remembered' those twelve years of defeat? And if so, how best should they handle the possible morale issues?
He hit the comm. "Hoshi, could you join me in the ready room?" Maybe she would know if any discussion had begun to circulate. Or maybe she'd dreamed something.
He hoped not. He hoped the only morale issue he was going to have to cope with was a chief engineer with a broken heart.
As for T'Pol … well, he obviously owed her a huge debt of gratitude. She must have formed far more of an attachment to him over the years than he had ever thought possible. It was flattering – and definitely intriguing – but not really something he had any time to focus on right now. His number one priority had only become more urgent: they must stop the weapon from destroying Earth before it was too late. By any means necessary.
Perhaps later there would be time to explore … other possibilities.
x x x
T'Pol paced her quarters. He hadn't come. The time for neuro-pressure had come and gone, and he hadn't come.
The nightmare of twelve years in defeat that she and Archer somehow remembered might be over, but it seemed another, different nightmare was just beginning.
She blew out her candles and dressed quickly. Better to act now, before she lost her courage.
When the door to his quarters slid open, he just stared back at her. He didn't say anything.
She pushed past him into his room and took a deep breath. His familiar scent permeated the space in a way she might have found soothing if it were not for what she had come to do. She turned back to face him. "You didn't come for neuro-pressure."
Still, he said nothing.
"Why didn't you come?"
He ran his hand through his mussed hair and dropped down onto his bunk. "I was thinking. Sorry. I guess I lost track of time."
"You were thinking about what Captain Archer and I remembered."
He nodded, eyes bleak.
"The captain only remembers one day. He only remembers what I chose to tell him. I remember twelve years."
Still, he didn't speak, just watched her.
"I remember that you blamed me for everything that went wrong after the captain was hurt, including the destruction of your planet. You didn't formally protest my decisions, but you didn't support them, either. For months, you only spoke to me if you had to."
He looked taken aback, but still he said nothing.
"You moved past your anger, eventually, but our relationship was never as close as it had once been. It was fairly easy for me to decide to leave Enterprise to care for Archer. Once we'd reached Ceti Alpha, I felt that he needed me far more than anyone on the ship did."
Tucker opened his mouth, but didn't speak.
She swallowed. "When I told you about my decision, you said 'I don't want to have to do this without you.' I was never sure exactly what you meant by that, but in any case the decision had been made. I went to the planet. You stayed here. You moved on. I … never did."
"Do you love him?" he asked.
"You asked me that then, too. And the answer then, and now, is no. I do have some affection for him. I feel…I felt… a genuine debt of gratitude to him. But I never loved him."
"Because Vulcans don't love?"
She glared at him.
He glared right back.
She paced his small cabin. "I don't know how long you regretted my absence. Perhaps not very long. But I regretted losing your companionship for the rest of my life."
She went and kneeled at his feet, looking up into his startled face. "You didn't say it soon enough, Trip, so I'm going to say it for you: I don't want to have to do this without you. Please don't make me." And she buried her face between his knees and held on tight, until she felt his hands tugging her up and his arms wrapping her in his embrace.
x x x
"How's she doing, Trip?"
Trip looked up from the warp engine console he was monitoring and smiled down. "Purring like a kitten, Cap'n."
Archer tilted his head; he looked surprised. "Glad to hear it."
Trip climbed down. "What's up?"
"Just checking in," Archer said. "I thought…"
Trip smiled. "Yes?"
Archer shook his head. "I don't know what I thought. Obviously, everything's fine." He smiled, but still looked a little puzzled.
"Oh, I'd say we're better than fine," Trip said. "I'd say things are definitely looking up."
"Yes?" Archer said.
Trip grinned. Archer had as much as given them his blessing, but he doubted he really wanted official notification that his first officer and his chief engineer were giddily exploring every centimeter of each other in every moment of their spare time. Instead, he said, "I've got an idea how we could squeeze more speed out of her by compressing the antimatter stream."
"Really? I'll take anything I can get."
"Yeah, T'Pol and I are working out the details. We'll let you know when it's ready to go. But I'm really excited about it."
"Well, I'll look forward to hearing more," Archer said, and gave him another odd look before he walked away.
Trip smiled again. It was going to be great.
Nothing could go wrong now.
(Bwa ha ha ha.)
Okay, yes, I know T'Pol would never do that ... normally. After remembering all those lonely years of playing nursemaid to a guy who can't remember what she said to him the day before, while pumped up on Trellium-D in THIS timeline, and with her favorite engineer suddenly pulling away in THIS timeline, I think she might just be desperate enough.