Title: Stalking the Enemy

Notes: Sequel to "A Fine Mess". You can read it as a stand alone, but wouldn't you like to know why Trip is unconscious in sickbay and T'Pol is letting the occasional Tripism slip? Author: Chianna (oceans63@swbell.com) Pairings: Trip/T'Pol, Hoshi/Malcolm Archive: Just ask first. BLTS, as always has permission. Date: 5/14/02 Rating: [PG] language just a bit

Disclaimer: Paramount owns the Star Trek universe. Me, I just own Rook, the bad guy and the headache of making this story come together. You hear me story? Come together.

Chapter 1 - While You Were Sleeping

Malcolm had an itch between his shoulder blades for the last two days. Adventurer, the captain might be. Curious about other races and worlds would be an understatement. Extending the hand of friendship was all well and good. But frankly I can do without aliens walking all over the bloody ship. I'm not head of security. I'm a blasted cruise ship director who is only occasionally able to deflect the VIPs from visiting the ship's more sensitive areas.

In fact, he was on his way to diplomatically expel a couple of overly inquisitive Aviarians from the Armory. His Armory. The crew made way as Lt. Reed plowed his way through the corridors. No one wanted to accidentally deflect the lieutenant's sour mood back in his or her direction.

If Malcolm could find a way, somehow he'd lay the blame at Commander Tucker's doorstep. The Aviarians were treating them all like ruddy heroes. Someone on the planet had gotten a hold of the story that a human had befriended a young orphaned Aviarian. Then the child had started talking about his friend Trip.

When it leaked that said human had been seriously wounded in the 'battle' to defend their planet, there was a media feeding frenzy. Aviarians wanted to send their best doctors and Malcolm Reed's most orderly life was turned topsy-turvy.

If truth be told, Malcolm did understand the fuss. Over 200,000 Aviarians had died in the week and a half that it took to get aid to their planet. Grief and discouragement had been their bread and butter for so long that grasping for a happy ending was an almost world wide imperative.

And they would get it if the blasted yank would get over the sleeping beauty routine and just wake up.

****************

Rook had arrived on the human starship almost one full cycle ago. He even spent the night on the ship in Commander Tucker's quarters. The captain, at first, had seemed very big and serious the first day as he showed Rook and the ambassadors from his planet around the ship. T'Pol had been with them and Rook had asked her why the Captain frowned so much. He did not seem like Trip at all.

T'Pol had told him that the Captain and Trip were good friends that the Captain would be happy when his friend woke up. Rook simply said, "Me, too. Could I see him T'Pol, even if he is sleeping?"

Dr. Phlox had assured T'Pol that morning that Commander Tucker's condition had stabilized. Yet when she had last visited, Mr. Tucker had still looked the worse for his experiences. T'Pol looked at the boy. And concluded that Rook had dealt with far worse.

"I will forward your request to the doctor and captain. If they agree, I will take you to see Mr. Tucker." True to her word, T'Pol did get permission. She was not surprised to find the captain seated at his friend's bedside when they arrived at sickbay. Preoccupied with his thoughts, Archer did not hear the pair come to his side.

Rook thought the captain was looked sad. He placed a hand on the captain's arm and bent over and whispered, "Trip is gonna be fine. T'Pol said so. And Trip told me that she doesn't lie." His voice dropped even lower as he drew closer to Archer's ear. "It's a Vulcan thing. 'Ya know?" Archer laughed. He could have sworn that that the kid did a drop-dead impersonation of his friend.

Archer looked over the boy's head and gave T'Pol a big apple-pie-eating grin. "Why, I think that I have heard that said before."

The Denobulan doctor approached the trio. "Captain, I'm going to keep the commander under sedation until tomorrow. When you visit tomorrow he may even be up for a small piece of pecan pie."

"Alright then. Let's all head to the mess and get some dinner. What's this, young man, that I hear about Trip wanting to award you with a field commission as a Starfleet Cadet?"

"He said I could get a medal, too." Archer could see how Trip could be so taken with this little fellow. Rook's almost coal black eyes shined with excitement. The captain placed a hand on the small thin shoulder.

Archer scratched his chin pensively. "Upon reviewing your courageous actions, I can only think that you deserve the highest honor awarded to cadets on the Enterprise - the Order of Porthos for Meritorious Service."

Rooks eyes widened appreciatively. "Really?"

T'Pol looked the captain directly in the eye and took a deep breath as she added, "This is indeed an honor Rook. No cadet on Enterprise has ever received this award before." Archer noted that she did not add that Starfleet did not have an "Order of Porthos" medal or any cadets serving on Enterprise. But strictly speaking, she did not lie. Stretching the truth, he thought. That's a human 'thing' he thought. He could not wait to point that out to T'Pol at the first opportunity.

Rook looked at the Captain for a moment with a care worn expression that belied his obvious age. "Could we wait for the Commander.to get better, I mean." Rook blinked a couple times and then seemed to contemplate the Captain's boots. "I would like Trip to be there when I get my medal."

"I don't think that wild horses could keep him away."

"Wild hoses?"

"Horses. Big earth animals. It's an expression. Uh, let's get some dinner and I'll explain."

After dinner, the Captain introduced Rook to a small quadruped named Porthos that he called a 'dog.' He must be a very important member of the crew, Rook thought, to be named after the medal the Captain and T'Pol told him about. Like the humans, the dog had the fine strange feathers, but all over his body. And big, soft floppy ears that Rook liked stroking. Captain Archer said that Porthos and Rook could have a sleepover in Trip's quarters if they both behaved themselves. Secretly, the Captain passed a small package of a yellow substance to Rook and whispered that this was a treat for Porthos, but that it was Top Secret.

Rook just did not understand why the Captain said that he could not tell the doctor.

******************************************************************

Trip woke up by degrees. Mentally, he took an inventory of the assorted aches and pains and figured that his luck had finally turned the corner. He'd put in more than his fair share of time in the sickbay and he recognized the sounds and smells even before he opened his eyes. He recognized all the sounds but one - a soft even breathing coming from somewhere to the right side of Trip's biobed.

Dr. Phlox noted that Mr. Tucker's metabolic rates had increased, signaling his imminent arrival to consciousness. The chief engineer's serious injuries had stressed the abilities of sickbay's osmotic eel population, but now both eels and Mr. Tucker were doing much better. The doctor glanced at the chair next to the Commander's bed. T'Pol had been a silent sentry, guarding his bedside every hour that she was off duty. Occasionally she meditated or, as now, was sleeping next to the commander's bed. The doctor requested sickbay lights dimmed fifty percent.

Even with the dimmed light, Tuckers eyes seemed sensitive. Through a fuzzy focus he could make out T'Pol asleep next to him. Gingerly, he turned to the doctor on his other side.

The normally booming Denobulan's voice was reduced to a whisper in response to Trip's unanswered question.

"Yes commander, she has only left your side to go about ship's business. She seems to be the president of an ever growing fan club that you have here on the Enterprise."

Their attention was diverted when T'Pol rose from the chair with cat-like grace. "Currently the president of the fan club is residing in Mr. Tucker's quarter's with the Captain's dog." After a look of confusion from Trip, T'Pol added, "Rook came on board after he found out that you were injured in Engineering. He was accompanied by most of the Aviarian high council, the chief engineer of the Vulcan Science vessel San'Jeen and several of the engineering staff of the Vulcan Combat Cruiser Shiran."

"Whoa, wait just one minute." Trip attempted to sit up and decided against that plan when he felt a painful pull from his side. "What are they all doing on Enterprise?"

"They are not just on Enterprise, commander. They are currently in engineering working with our team to effect repairs." From the sour look on the Commander's face, T'Pol surmised that human's have yet to overcome some of their inherent territorial instincts. She also successfully believed that she had diverted Mr. Tucker's attention from her presence in sickbay.

She was so very wrong - an unusual miscalculation for a Vulcan. Of course she was treading in the treacherous waters of human emotion.