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A Fine Mess-Ch. 17
A Fine Mess
PG - Action/Adventure/Romance
Where All My Journeys End
"Weíre almost there TíPol. Trip, buddy, hang on for just a little while longer. Just another 15 minutes and youíll be tucked into a bed in sick bay safe and sound." Archer waited for an answer from his friend.
Instead TíPol replied, "The commander is now unconscious. His condition is worsening. Please progress with all haste."
Archer recognized TíPolís use of the word Ďpleaseí as quite a singular event. It added gravity to her typically understated comments. They redoubled their efforts.
This humanís heart rate was over 130 beats per minute. TíPol found it in true human character, instead of slowing as one would guess under these circumstances, even the organs of the human body would put forth a greater effort to fight to live. She was running out of options.
Then she remembered her ill-advised attempt at a mind meld with the renegade Vulcan, Tolaris. After that, she had reviewed all documentation on this new procedure. It had some success with treating elderly Vulcans with a rare form of emotional control dementia. They seemed to be able to regulate mental as well as some related organic systems. Maybe thus she could maintain the commander until help arrived.
She saw that they had very little to lose, though she knew that the commander had exhibited some squeamishness about intimate involvement with other aliens. Well, he was in no condition to pose an argument.
TíPol cleared a small area where she could sit closer to the chief engineer. She held her hands out cradling the commanderís head. Her head sunk toward her chest and she closed her eyes.
"My thoughts to your thoughts. Your thoughts to my thoughts..." Suddenly she was surrounded by a host of memories that she was not sure that she could either catalog or comprehend. As the swirling thoughts coalesced, she found herself on the shore of a large lake. The air was heavy, but a faint breeze, perfumed with oleander and jasmine, stirred the tall grass and cattails on the edge of the lake. The sky was pink and purple, red and gold - an unimaginably striking sunset. And then she saw the cabin on the hill overlooking the lake. The porch covered the entire front of the house.
She now knew that Trip had come home. Odd that she now thought of him as "Trip." It normally seemed improper aboard ship. Here, she could not consider thinking of him as anything else. And thinking of him was enough to bring him to her side.
He was barefoot in cutoff jeans and a faded T-shirt with the sleeves cut off that had the Florida State logo. He looked relaxed and at peace in this place. TíPol was mildly confused.
"You expected that Iíd be running around in circles, chasing my tail or somethiní?" TíPol looked at him, but did not immediately reply.
Trip added, "Your thoughts to my thoughts. Remember?"
"I did expect that the prospect of possibly dying would cause more...turmoil. Your mind right now seems to be a... surprisingly serene place."
He smiled and TíPol marveled at how clear and bright his eyes looked. In her mindís memory she saw only the pain of a few moments before.
"Well, it looks like you still have a few things to learn about humans. On the bridge before I left, I could tell when you saw the damage reports that you knew what I was getting myself into. And you know that I was aware of the risks."
"Sure, when the unexpected happens, humans can be caught in turmoil, denial or worse. But I was lucky enough to be given choice. And knowing that my actions saved my friends, how could I have any regrets?"
TíPol understood the concept of duty, but realized that possibly she was witnessing something more than that. Trip held out his hand, and after a momentís hesitation, TíPol place her small hand in his. It felt warm and firm in her grasp. There was also an odd sensation, as if the connection had just amplified itself.
"I have a promise Iíd like to keep. I told you that I would play that song for you." On the porch a couple appeared. An older man with dark hair, built like a battleship, sat on a chair with what TíPol surmised was a guitar. A woman, with hair shot through with more silver than the original gold, stood next to the man. She leaned lightly on the back of his chair. Even at this distance, TíPol could make out the same striking blue eyes as that of her companion. Tucked under her chin was a violin. Without any prelude, the couple began to play. The old man had a remarkable, tender tenor as the words to the song swirled around them.
**Oh, I've longed for you**
**And I have desired**
**To see your face, your smile**
**To be with you, **
**Wherever you are.**
TíPolís face looked thoughtful as she listened to the song.
"Yaí know, I wasnít quite truthful about not haviní regrets." For a moment, Trip did look dazed as he tried to put his feelings into words that would not put off the Vulcan. "I have, despite my better judgment, grown quite...fond of you TíPol. I would have deeply regretted not telling you this. And I guess Iíll regret that I might not be with you, even if itís just as shipmates... as friends."
**If you think of me**
**If you miss me once in a while**
**Then I'll return to you**
**I'll return and fill that space in your heart**
TíPol had sensed Tripís deeper feelings that he seemed loath to put into words. She could not help pointing out to him as he did to her earlier about the nature of their current link.
"Your thoughts to my thoughts. Remember, Commander?" TíPol sensed his confusion and dismay as he realized how much she probably understood. She reached out her hand and smoothed back a stray lock of his hair as she had done in the engineering bay.
**Remembering your touch, your kiss, your warm embrace**
**I'll find my way back to you**
**Please say you'll be waiting**
"You spoke of your grandparents favorite song quite accurately. It lacks the overblown emotionalism of many earth songs while portraying a bond and devotion admirable in any pair of lifemates. It is quite pleasing."
**If you wait for me**
**Then I'll come for you**
**Although I've traveled far**
**I always hold a place for you in my heart**
Trip couldnít help himself. He threw back his head and laughed. He felt like a weight had been lifted off his chest. Somehow she understood and accepted his blundering verbal and mental declarations. Suppressing the urge to grab her and twirl her around, he instead put his hand under her chin, tipping it up just so. He leaned forward and pressed a gentle kiss to her lips. TíPol looked back at him with her unblinking, unfathomable eyes. And Trip thought to himself and he guessed to her as well that, this could be enough. Almost enough. And almost, just almost - no regrets.
Soon TíPol heard the song continue, but with another voice. A stronger, more youthful version of the old manís crooning. When she looked back at her companion, she realized that the grandson had carried on with the song to the accompaniment of his grandparentís music.
**It would feel so good to be**
**In your arms**
**Where all my journeys end**
**If you can make a promise**
**If it's one that you can keep**
**I vow to come for you**
**If youíll wait for me**
From some distance they thought they heard voices. Captain Archer seemed to be telling someone that they got them or something like that. Trip listened harder. Looks like sheís using a Vulcan mind meld, he thought he heard the doctor say. Trip overheard the captainís concerned response. Archer seemed to remember the negative consequences of TíPolís first experiences with the mind meld. Trip felt TíPol withdrawing from him as his mindís eye closed.
The doctor worked feverishly as he explained, "On the contrary captain, until she broke the link, TíPol seemed to be maintaining and strengthening Mr. Tuckerís metabolic rate. Undoubtedly, he would not have lasted this long otherwise."
TíPol was slightly dazed and gentle hands, Mr. Reedís to her surprise, guided her to the side as a medical team enveloped the commander, blocking her view.
For a moment, Tripís eyes opened. He seemed to be viewing the scene above him from a distance. Whether he was able to express his concern out loud or the Captain just read his thoughts, he wasnít sure. But he got the response he needed nonetheless.
"Sheís fine Trip. Exhausted, but fine. Weíll be taking her to sickbay with you." Trip tried to focus, but everything started getting so far away. He heard Archer repeat urgently to stay with them. He felt himself slipping away and his last thought was of TíPol... back in his arms, as the darkness enveloped him and finally took him in its embrace.
(OK Ė now I have to admit that this whole story was inspired by this one marvelous song that was given to me with the billing that it might be "the most perfect love song ever written." I, being the twisted Star Trek junkie that I am, saw a song that would not offend a Vulcanís sensibilities and Ė yes, Dan - maybe the most perfect love song ever written. So for those of you that emailed or wrote in a review that youíd like to hear it - pull out a CD of Tracy Chapmanís called New Beginning and play #7.)
And now back to business. Did you think this was the end? Could I be so cruel? Some might say yes. But today Ė at least, I am not. Bear with me for just a while longer. Iím borrowing the title of the song for the name of the final chapter...
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