It was the last two weeks that were the hardest. Lirael had grown to a healthy normal infant size, this was putting enough stress on Trip's chest that he was confined to bed rest with short walks, and he slept sitting up, there was no way he could lay down. He looked tired, everyone had noticed the shadows under his eyes by now. He was pale too, but it wasn't so bad that people thought he might pass out.

Jon tried to make a joke out of it. "Pregnancy doesn't suit you Trip," he'd said it with a smile. But the Commander was in one of those moods where it was hard to predict his reaction. Jon realized his mistake too late. He instantly regretted the teasing.

"Yeah well you try this." He snapped.

"I didn't mean to offend you," Archer replied.

"Well, maybe you should have kept it to yourself." Trip was angry, it was no wonder, they had been refused the chance to search for the Klingons further. The trail had been lost a few weeks before and Forrest had made it clear they weren't in space to hunt murderers.

"Ok," Jon replied quietly and Trip apologized.

"I'm sorry Cap'n. I just don't understand my own emotions right now."

"I know. But you'll be done with this soon enough."

Everything was just so annoying. And Lirael constantly felt confined, trapped, even claustrophobic. This tinged Trip's own emotions and often he would become paranoid that the walls were closing in on him. Something he tried to keep to himself. Although Archer had caught him once or twice staring at the walls his blue eyes wide.

Phlox had made the IV permanent and he found himself fiddling with it a lot. For one thing it hurt, having a needle stuck into his hand constantly. Then there was the fact

People visited him often. Usually bringing gifts for Lirael, or providing a film or book to entertain the Commander. Phlox announced that the tendril that had tapped into his heart was slowly pulling away, allowing the pericardium to heal properly.

Hoshi came in the afternoon for the last few lessons. "You've taken to this faster than I imagined." She commented.

"I just don't have much else to do." Trip replied. "At least this gives me a challenge. I can't read another book or watch another movie."

"Good, at least you'll have it down when she's born." Hoshi replied with a smile. "Now today I thought we'd try some more conjugations. Just to make sure you have them down."

"Try me," Trip smiled. He'd spent the previous night unable to sleep. And as he said the only thing he had was his language lessons.

At the end of the twelve weeks Phlox had made it clear that surgery was the only way Lirael was going to come out of Trip. So begrudgingly Trip had spent the night before hungry. And still very uncomfortable.

Jon walked Trip to sickbay. The two were silent the walk there. Phlox was waiting. "Guess it's finally over." Trip murmured.

"You aren't getting sentimental are you?" Jon asked.

Trip looked at him. "No." He replied. "I'm glad to get this over with." He sighed. "I wonder what would have happened if the Xyrillian ship had…" he trailed off solemnly.

"I don't know." Jon answered. "But it's pointless to think about it now."

"Guess it is." Trip smiled. "See ya when this is all over."

"See you later Trip," Archer said with a smile. The Captain wasn't staying. He had other work to do, and while he was worried, he trusted Phlox would take care of things.

Phlox and Trip went into the surgery room after he was dressed in the surgical gown. Trip didn't much like wearing the thing, he felt like he wasn't wearing anything at all. "Now Commander I do hope you know that I will be giving you a full anesthetic."

"Yeah sure." Trip shrugged.

"If you're quite ready?"

"Lets do this." Trip nodded. He really was ready to be done with it all. He wanted to feel like himself.

Phlox gave him a hypo spray. Trip began to feel his eyes close. His thoughts which were a mixture of worries and curiosities faded away one by one till he was lost in dreamless sleep.

Trip woke up with a sharp pain in his chest for a moment he thought maybe he had only been dreaming or that somehow he woke up before he was supposed to. But when he opened his eyes and put a hand on his chest there was no bulge. There was only a line of scarred flesh.

"Doc?" he queried groggily. He wanted to know how it went.

"Yes?" Phlox replied appearing above him.

"How'd it go?" Trip asked. He was slightly worried by the fact that Phlox wasn't grinning.

"I'd say it went rather well." Phlox replied finally smiling.

"Where is she?" Trip asked.

"She is in the other room sleeping. I think you'll be happy to learn that these are merely a reaction to hormones." He gestured to the nipples that had grown on Trip's wrist.

"Thank goodness." Trip sighed.

"In fact your daughter's dietary needs are easily provided in a formula." Phlox added.

"Sounds easy enough to me." Trip replied.

"How are you feeling?" Phlox asked.

"Actually not too bad. Trip answered. "I can breath again." Phlox smiled.

"Most of the hormones have already left your body seeing as I removed the glands that had grown around Lireal that produced them. You should have no further issues with mood swings."

"Good." Trip grinned as he sat up and he was surprised by how weightless he felt. He looked at Phlox. "I'm allowed to walk around right?" He asked warily.

"Certainly." Phlox replied. "You are more than welcome to stretch."

Trip wanted to walk around so he could see Lireal. He had a feeling Phlox wasn't telling him something.

He turned so his feet almost touched the floor. He put his bare feet on the cold floor and shuddered. Of course hospital pajamas weren't exactly very warm. He glanced around hoping there was no one else was in sickbay. He seemed to be lucky this once and walked over to the glass wall separating the two rooms.

There beyond the glass was Lireal. Something surged through him at the sight of her sleeping form. She was tiny, paler than he imagined, with a crop of short blond hair and just a touch of scales. She looked perfectly healthy. There was a rosy tinge to her slightly tanned skin and she was breathing calmly.

"Can I hold her?" Trip asked turning to Phlox.

"Certainly." Phlox replied grinning. "She is in perfect health I was worried she would have trouble with our atmosphere but it seems she's quite comfortable."

Trip went into the room unsure of what he would do. He put his hands on the lip of the plastic bin she was sleeping in. He stared. "Lireal," he breathed. With a thought he realized that she was his. His alone. He had no one to share her with, and she was indeed his daughter. Who cared if she was half Xyrillian, and that she had been born backwards by human standards. She was healthy and beautiful, and she needed him. Just as he realized he needed her.

He understood now, all those times he'd talked to her, that feeling of pride when he'd gotten that first glimpse, it was because he did love her. He would have said it was impossible, at first he had hated her, and he regretted that.

Phlox came in behind and picked her up. She opened up her eyes and looked at Trip. Phlox handed the baby to Trip who took her carefully, tentatively and he surged with pride. He felt something in his mind, something akin to happiness. He looked at down at her and smiled. "Hello Lireal." Trip whispered.