Chapter Twenty-Two:

What Was Lost Must Again Be Found

"To two of the best officers in Star Fleet. We are grateful for their safe return." said Captain Archer, toasting T'Pol and Trip. Phlox had elected not to join them for dinner. It was something about soaking a couple of mildly burnt fingers in some sort of unholy gross bile. The captain had wanted no details.
"Here, here." said Lieutenant Reed, clinking glasses with the rest. The captain was giving him credit for somehow managing the return of the three missing officers, and Malcolm was glad to accept it.
"I just wish I knew where I've been." laughed Tucker, feeling a perplexing flutter in his stomach as he looked at Sub-commander T'Pol.
"As do I." she agreed, reaching for a bowl of apple cobbler.
"No apples, sub-commander." said Tucker suddenly.
She arched an eyebrow and asked him, "Why not? You have eaten some of this dish."
"I just have a bad feeling about you and apples." said Trip, blushing and clearing his throat.
T'Pol hesitated and then drew her hand back.
"I will heed your advice." she decided.
"You know, we should really do something nice for the doc." said Captain Archer. "You know his birthday passed while the three of you were missing, right?" he questioned.
"And for all we know, we might have celebrated it." joked Trip.
"I am not certain that birthdays are celebrated on Denobula." said T'Pol.
"Well, they're celebrated here." said Archer firmly.
"We could always have Ensign Cutler jump out of a cake." Commander Tucker offered.
Archer and Reed turned and looked at him somewhat disapprovingly. But he didn't notice. What caught Trip's eye was T'Pol's hand suddenly clapping over her mouth. She had smiled.
"If that don't beat all!" murmured Commander Tucker.
"Commander?" questioned T'Pol, removing her hand. Her facial expression was placid and unemotional again.
"Those three days must have been something, even if you can't remember. I have never seen the two of you so civil. It's a nice change." chuckled Captain Archer.
"It is indeed." agreed Trip with a smile. "And it's good to be home."

The End


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