Summary: T'Pol returns home to Enterprise after a difficult away mission.
Disclaimer: Star Trek: Enterpriseand its characters are copyright CBS/Paramount. No copyright infringement is intended by the author of this story, which is solely for the purpose of entertainment and is not for profit.
He watched as she limped into sickbay, Phlox following close behind.
"I don't need 'observation'," she continued hotly. "I just need …" Her voice trailed off as she saw Trip waiting for her.
Phlox looked between the two of them before continuing. "Just the same, Sub-Commander, I must insist that you remain here for at least six hours. Your neurolytic levels are far too high and I need you to remain under observation until I'm sure you aren't going to suffer any further …" he hesitated and glanced at Tucker, "… damage."
"That is simply a symptom of excessive fatigue," she objected. "As you are aware, conditions in the Forge were far from ideal and I have not had sufficient opportunity to meditate for several days."
"Nevertheless, …" he said sternly, gesturing towards the nearest biobed.
She gave him a sour look but reluctantly limped over to the biobed. Trip watched anxiously, but knew better than to try to help as she climbed stiffly onto the bed and perched on the edge, legs dangling over the side. In her current mood, trying to help would only make things worse.
She glowered at Phlox as he ran the hand scanner over her, tutting at the readings. "Just try to get some rest, hmm?" He closed the privacy curtains around them before withdrawing.
"How was it?" he asked softly. "Are you …?"
She tilted her head noncommittally. "It has been a difficult few days," she admitted.
That wasn't a good sign. Normally she had to be at gunpoint before she would admit there was a problem.
He looked at her closely. She looked better now that she was cleaned up, but the scrubs didn't hide the abrasions on her cheek or the stress lines around her eyes.
"She's gone," she said suddenly, eyes still on her hands clasped in her lap.
He looked at her blankly, trying to work out who she was referring to. "Gone?"
"M'aih," she explained. She searched his eyes briefly before looking down again. "She's gone. She was killed in the Forge."
"Oh, T'Pol. I'm so sorry." She didn't resist as he stepped close and pulled her into a hug. "I know we had our differences, but she was a fine lady and I'll miss her."
She nodded stiffly against his shoulder, and he was suddenly aware that she was trembling against him. He leaned back and put his hands on her shoulders, waiting until she met his eyes.
"Would you …" he began hesitantly.
"Yes," she interrupted. "Yes, please."
Their normal neuropressure posture was out of the question in such a public place, but the biobed was at more or less the right height. She wrapped her arms around his neck while he reached behind her and slipped his hands inside her scrubs. As usual, he felt a tremor run through her as his fingers traced up her spine. By the time he had counted down her vertebrae to the first node she had settled into her usual position with her face buried against the side of his neck.
"Remember to breath," he said. He felt rather than heard the snort against his neck. She always had to remind him, and he took a childish delight in telling her the same.
She was much quieter than normal, no doubt aware of Phlox just a few yards away, but he heard a long breathy sigh as he completed each sequence. By the time he completed the final relaxation sequence she was slumped bonelessly against him, all tension gone. He waited a few minutes, hands lightly holding her against him, but she still didn't make a move. Then he felt the breath on his neck deepen into a gentle snore and grinned as he realised what had happened. She always seemed relaxed afterward but she'd never literally fallen asleep in his arms before.
She was already on the bed so he should be able to lay her down without waking her. Unfortunately she was sitting on the blanket, but no doubt he could find another one somewhere. He started to lower her to the pillow, but as soon as he moved he felt her arms and legs tighten about him and she mumbled an incoherent objection against his neck. He pulled her back against him and waited while her breathing settled back into a steady rhythm.
OK, it would have to be plan 'B' then.
It seemed he would be here for a while.
There wasn't anywhere he'd rather be.