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The Sacrifice-Ch 14
It’d taken them all nearly half an hour to get back to the base. Jonathan Archer paced back and forth waiting for the doctors to come out. Rodney Wayne was going to be okay thankfully. He was already recovering. The doctor’s still hadn’t come out yet though for Trip. T’Pol stood in the corner waiting while Hayes had gone to see the MACO. Hayes hadn’t argued although Jon could tell the man was more concerned with Commander Tucker.
Jon wondered if perhaps he’d been selfish to order Hayes to check on the MACO so he could see how Trip was doing but he was the captain… he knew how the MACO was but he had no idea about Trip. Although it was probably better that Hayes check on his man. The less people to crowd Trip the better. Finally he stopped pacing and he looked over at T’Pol. She hadn’t moved for an hour. “You okay T’Pol?” he asked her, his concern coming out far more than it should have. T’Pol opened her eyes and looked at him.
“I was attempting to meditate,” she explained calmly. She had told him about what the Xindi did to her and doctors had checked her out too. She was fine although the Trellium D had done some damage but the doctors corrected it with ease. Apparently the Trellium D was changed somehow for Vulcan anatomy. It caused the same effects as when they’d been on that ship although Archer wasn’t exactly sure how. She’d been uneasy ever since and Archer was worried.
“Any luck?” Archer asked her.
T’Pol shook her head. “I am in distress… I am unable to mediate at this moment. The Trellium D affected me more than I had originally thought. I will be fine… I just need time to calm myself,” T’Pol explained as coolly as she could. Archer nodded.
At last the door swung open and Ambassador Vassion walked out. Archer’s heart sank at the grim expression on his face. “My doctors have done everything they can to save the implant.”
“And?” Archer pushed the man to go on.
“I’m sorry. There was nothing they could do.”
T’Pol walked over to them. “There’s got to be something we can do. Give him a new implant perhaps?”
Vassion shook his head. “There’s no time. The implant is too severely damaged… it would take time to remove it and then we’d have to put in the new one… he’d be dead by the time we were ready to give him the new implant.” Vassion reported as if he were telling Archer and T’Pol the time. Archer’s annoyance grew. “The implant is still working… but not for long.”
Archer took a step forward. “Then there’s still a chance Trip could survive?”
Vassion nodded. “Yes, but it is a very slim chance. Even if the radiation has dissipated by the time the implant turns off the residue would do a lot of damage… it would eventually kill him.”
“But there’s still a chance,” Archer muttered then tried hard to think of something else they could do to raise Trip’s chances.
“Yes… but as I said before… a slim one. I couldn’t say for sure whether he’d survive or not,” was Vassion’s answer. “When the implant finally turns off, the radiation will begin to shut down his brain’s functions if it has not dissipated. But even if the radiation does dissipate before the implant shuts down, the residue that is left behind, which most toxic would destroy brain cells. Normally the implant would destroy the residue so that it doesn’t affect the brain but the implant damaged as I said before. When it shuts down Trip will have no way of protecting himself from the residue.”
“How long until it turns off?” Archer asked with effort.
“An hour… maybe two. I couldn’t say for sure. He’ll feel intense headaches in that time. There’s nothing we can do but make him comfortable. Other than that… once the implant goes offline either the radiation will kill him or the residue.”
Archer felt his knees go weak but he fought too keep standing. He was getting sick and tired of hearing this! Trip would not die! There was no way he was going to lose him again. “No! I let him go before… I won’t let him go again! We’ll take him to Enterprise… maybe Phlox can do something. There’s got to be some way to save Trip!” Jonathan wasn’t ready to admit to defeat. Not yet, when there was still a chance.
“Can I see him?” T’Pol asked. Archer looked over at her. She had something in her eyes… desperation? Could it be? Jonathan was thrown off guard by the look. He wasn’t used to T’Pol showing emotion… but with Trip it seemed like she did it far too often. Vassion tried to smile at her but failed.
“Of course… in fact… he asked for you.” Vassion led her into Trip’s room then walked out and shut the door. “We have a shuttle that can take you all back to Enterprise. I’ll have it ready for you within the hour.”
Archer wanted to make sure Trip was okay but knew that T’Pol would need to talk to Trip alone for a while. “Thank you Ambassador Vassion. Thanks for all your help.”
“It was nothing, Captain. I was glad to do it. If it helps… I hope your doctor will be able to help the commander. He is a good man. I do not want to see him hurt because of me.”
Archer smiled genuinely. “I’m sure the doctor will be able to help. He’s a great doctor. I wouldn’t worry,” he assured the man. Jonathan just hoped it was true.
T’Pol took in a breath when she saw Tucker on the bed. His clothes had been stripped away leaving only a blanket to cover up. His eyes were fluttering open and close. He was hardly awake. “T’Pol?” His voice was soft and weak. She tried hard to control her emotion but it was even harder with the look on Tucker’s face. His eyes brightened up as soon as he saw her.
“I am here.”
“T’Pol.” He said the name with a slight smile on his face then moved his hand out from under the covers. She took the hand and moved closer to him.
“How do you feel?”
“Gotta hell of a headache. But other than that I’m okay. It’s hard ta stay awake… ta concentrate. I can’t see much… everything’s a blur,” he told her.
“You must rest.” She moved her hand to his face and caressed him. “You will be fine soon.”
“T’Pol… the implant's damaged, you don’t know if I’ll be fine or not. Vassion told me what the prognosis was. I know I might not make it,” T’Pol was surprised at how calm he was. It had been her experience that humans tended to panic at such a time… but yet he hadn’t panicked before. Or perhaps Charles was simply hiding his fear.
“You are again giving up too easily. You were revived from death… if you can escape that then you are sure to escape this,” T’Pol assured him. Charles chuckled.
“I never said anythin’ bout givin’ up T’Pol, but I am tired. I don’t have enough fight left in me to fight this and after everything that’s happened… death is startin’ to seem much more peaceful. I don’t wanna die… but I just can’t fight it anymore,” he told her with a long sigh.
His eyes began to flutter close. He was tired. T’Pol felt a stab of pain in the back of her eyes. She blinked back tears as her hand moved back wet hair. “Rest Charles. Just rest. I will fight for you. I am not tired just yet. I will fight for you… for us.” She wouldn’t let him die… just as the captain wouldn’t. She too would not let him go once again.
Jonathan Archer walked into the dark room to find T’Pol sitting beside Trip. Trip seemed to be sleeping while T’Pol brushed his hair. Jonathan moved beside her. “How is he?”
“Alive… but the commander is tired. He’s hurting.”
“Vassion has promised to give us a ship to take him back to Enterprise. I’m sure Phlox will find a way to save him,” Jonathan told her.
Archer nodded at her then looked back at Trip. She had moved her hands away from him and had the hands resting in her lap. He didn’t know what to think when it came to Trip and T’Pol’ relationship but it was becoming quite clear that there were feelings. He couldn’t be sure if it was love… but something was there. “Yeah… it’s Trip’s only hope now. If Phlox can get rid of the residue from the radiation then Trip could have a chance for survival. It’s his only chance now.”
“Have you contacted Enterprise?” was her next question. T’Pol seemed to have transformed into his science officer almost immediately.
“I can’t… the field prevents any contact with the ship. They’re all probably worried about now. It’s been a while.”
T’Pol looked down at the sleeping engineer. There was something in her eyes that betrayed her but Archer wasn’t sure what it was. It seemed that the cool she usually had was now coming back and the Vulcan mask that had nearly been destroyed had been rebuilt. “The ship will be ready within the hour… you should rest until then.”
“I wish to stay with the commander.”
Archer nodded and stood. “I understand. I’m gonna go check on Wayne while we wait. Tell me if he wakes up.” T’Pol nodded just before Archer left her and Trip alone.
An hour later and Trip Tucker was awake. His head was hurting but he could see all right and he could stand. The implant was still working although it wasn’t working well. Trip had been given medication for the pain, but the medication was beginning to wear off.
Jonathan Archer, T’Pol and Trip stood in front of Ambassador Vassion, Assistant Utaine and Guard Kalore. “Thank you Vassion… for everything,” Trip said first.
Vassion smiled kindly. “It was a pleasure to help Commander. Promise me that you’ll find that weapon and save your planet. I don’t want Roelor to be responsible for the destruction of Earth.” Vassion’s smile grew. “I have contacted my planet’s leader. Judge Corrow’s execution for his little deal with the Xindi will be in three days. And all the Xindi officers on our planet have been dealt with. Now that Utaine and I have been brought back to life all your charges were dropped. I’m sorry for all the trouble we have caused.”
Jonathan Archer shook his head. “It’s not your fault. We’re just glad you could help us save Trip… and T’Pol.”
After their goodbyes Archer, Tucker, T’Pol, Hayes and Wayne boarded the ship and headed towards Enterprise. They had to recalibrate for the barrier surrounding the planet but other than that it was a smooth ride. As soon as they crossed the barrier they hailed Enterprise.
Malcolm Reed had been worrying about the away team for what felt like forever and when the shuttle hailed them, his worry grew. But as soon as he saw the face of his captain it disappeared just as fast as it had came. “Captain! I was beginning to get worried.”
“We’re all fine here Malcolm. Open the launch bay… we uh… have an addition to the crew,” Archer stated.
“Oh? An addition you say?” questioned Malcolm.
Archer smiled warmly then said, “I’ll explain when you meet us in the launch bay. Bring Hoshi and Travis with you… I’m sure they’ll find the new addition quite encouraging.”
“Encouraging?” Malcolm was beginning to wonder about this new addition.
“Just do it Malcolm… you'll understand when you come,” Archer told him then broke the communication.
Malcolm sighed then nodded at Hoshi and Travis. “You heard the captain… let’s go.”
When Malcolm Reed saw the captain walk out of the shuttle he smiled. Next was Hayes and Wayne, then T’Pol and finally the addition. Malcolm noticed how familiar he looked immediately but didn’t realize who it was until he came closer. Hoshi gasped the covered her mouth while Travis just looked at him wide-eyed. Malcolm on the other hand was beginning to wonder if their addition was the ghost of Charles Tucker the third there to haunt them. He couldn’t be Trip. It wasn’t possible. Trip Tucker was dead. “Captain? Who…” Malcolm began but could not finish the question as he watched the man that could not be real.
Trip smiled as he looked at the three shocked friends. “It’s me Mal… I’m no ghost.”
Malcolm’s expression moved from disbelief to shock. “But you're dead!”
With that, Trip chuckled and looked at Archer who was hiding a smile himself. Trip’s headache was growing worse and he didn’t quite feel like fighting once again to prove that he was alive. Archer’s smile soon disappeared as he looked at Malcolm. “Trip’s very much alive Malcolm… but he won’t be for long if we don’t get him to Phlox.”
Malcolm nodded, not quite getting it. “What happened? I watched on the screen… I watched him die.”
“Malcolm, it’s a very long story. I’ll tell all three of you what happened along with the rest of the crew soon enough. In the meantime we need to get Trip to sickbay,” Archer said sternly. Finally Malcolm broke eye contact with Trip and looked at the captain nodding.
“Well?” Archer had been tired of waiting while Phlox looked at the scans he’d just taken. Phlox looked at Archer frowning then back at Trip.
“I’m afraid I won’t be able to do much. He’s already been weakened from not sleeping and eating before. The implants close to shutting down… I can’t fix it. I could try to rid his body of any radiation that’s left but because of how badly damaged the implant is the residue would still end up killing him. I don’t know if there’s much I can do,” Phlox told Archer, Trip and T’Pol. Trip closed his eyes and looked down.
“Am I gonna die?” Trip asked the doctor.
“I don’t know,” was Phlox’s answer. Archer sighed and T’Pol was moving over next to Trip. Trip absently took her hand and held it tight. She did not resist.
“So this is all you can do for him?! What are Trip’s chances… that he’ll survive?” Archer then asked.
Phlox closed his eyes for a second to gather himself. He then opened them and looked straight at the captain. Jonathan had a bad feeling he knew what the answer was. “Not good, Captain. As I told you… even if I can successfully rid him of the radiation the residue would still begin destroying brain cells. It’s already beginning to affect him.”
“How so?” Trip asked looking back up.
Phlox looked back at Trip. “Mainly your memory, Commander. That’s the first thing that will go. First short term… then long term. If the residue isn’t stopped… you’ll forget everything… you won’t even know your own name. After that it will start affecting other systems in the body. I’m not sure what I can do to stop the residue from killing you… but I will see what I can do. In the mean time we have to get the remaining radiation in your system out before the implant breaks down.”
Archer was looking at Trip for a second then he looked back at Phlox for his next question. “How long does he have after that… after the radiation is gone?”
Phlox looked back at his scans. “If I successfully take the radiation out of his body before the implant shuts down… a matter of twelve hours.”
It was 0900 when Phlox finally called Archer and T’Pol back into sickbay to update them on Trip’s condition. The radiation had been successfully removed but the residue was already working on Trip’s memory. He had completely forgotten about the mission to save T’Pol from the Xindi base. And knew nothing about the implant being damaged or returning to Enterprise. Phlox had told him what had happened from what Trip already remembered but the residue was already beginning to block out short-term memory. He remembered what Phlox had said but the memories were broken… as if he’d only heard bits and pieces.
T’Pol watched Trip who was sitting on the bio bed reading. He was reading the report she’d made on what had happened over and over again, trying to remember but with no use. The memory was completely gone. T’Pol was fighting hard against the fear developing inside her. It was becoming apparent that although it had been awhile since T’Pol had been exposed to the Trellium D that it was still affecting her. Her emotions were still a whirlwind that would take over every once in a while.
T’Pol walked towards him. Trip looked up at her and smiled. “Hey T’Pol,” he greeted. His smile was fake and T’Pol could tell he was upset.
“How are you feeling?” she asked.
Trip’s smile faded. “I wish people would stop askin’ me that. It’s really startin’ ta get on my nerves,” he replied.
Trip sighed loudly then jumped off the bio bed. “The doc said I could leave sickbay and sleep in my own bed. I still have a few hours before I forget everything. I’m only gettin’ in the way here. I was just about to head towards ma quarters. Join me? I think we need to talk.”
T’Pol nodded and the two began to walk. After the doctor gave Trip a hypospray for the pain they left and walked into the turbolift. Archer had already headed back to the bridge. “What do you wish to talk about?”
Trip took a deep breath as the turbolift doors opened and the two walked to his quarters. For a second he wondered if he’d remember how to get inside. Thankfully the residue had not affected him that bad. The two walked in and Trip sat on his bed. His back was still hurting and his neck was stiff. He needed rest but he wanted to talk to T’Pol. “I kissed you… twice. I told you I love you. I just want to know where we stand.”
“I do not know.”
Trip cocked his head. “What do you mean you don’t know? You must have somethin’ in your mind tellin’ ya what you want.”
“I think it best that we make sure you are fully healed before we decide what we are going to do next,” said T’Pol evenly.
Trip stood. “Are you kiddin’ me? I’m dead T’Pol! I still remember what it was like to be dead! The doc won’t find a way to save me! No one can… not this time!”
T’Pol’s confused look was growing every second. “Why do you give up? Why have you been accepting this so easily?”
Trip’s anger flared. “I’m tired T’Pol! I told you that! I said it before and I’ll say it again! I’m tired of this. I get hurt, then I’m saved, then hurt again, then saved… it seems like I’m being pulled on both ends. Archer and you pulling my left arm while the grim reaper takes the right! Like we’re playin’ tug of war and I’m the rope! I just want one to let go! And if the grim reaper won’t let go then Archer and you will have to let go of your end!”
“Are you saying you wish to die?”
“I never said that! Stop asking me that! I don’t want to die but T’Pol… for god sakes… I want this to end! I’m tired. I’m tired of my butt bein’ in danger every second. I’m tired of seein’ everyone I love suffer. I’m tired of dreams that remind me of everything bad in my life. I’m tired of wakin’ up to nothin’! I’m tired of bein’ alone. I just want it to stop.” Trip was shouting at the top of his lungs, his anger growing every second.
“Calm yourself. I understand you're upset but I have done nothing wrong to you,” T’Pol paused and guided him back to sit on the bed. She sat next to him and looked him in the eyes. “You are not alone. I told you before… I will fight for you if you’re tired. But to surrender to this… ‘Grim reaper’ is one thing I will never do. I will not give up on you… nor will I let you give up yourself. This is no time to give up. Enterprise needs you more than you realize. When we thought you were dead… the entire ship went into mourning. This crew needs you. I need you.”
Trip’s eyes went wide. He’d never heard her say anything like that before… not like that. To say that she needed him… it seemed to change everything. “Why? Why would you need me?”
“Because I cannot let go as you say I should. Not yet. You are more important to me than any other person. To lose you would be to lose part of myself. The captain says you told him that death is something you never get over. Like a pain in your chest that doesn’t go away… but simply dulls in time. Do you wish to cause me such pain? Do you wish to cause the entire crew and your family on Earth such pain? Your parents have already lost one child… do you really want to let them lose another?” T’Pol’s words hit him hard as if she’d punched him with every sentence. Trip smiled.
“I’m sorry. I know… I know it’s stupid, illogical to feel this way. I guess I’m just scared. I don’t know why I feel like this. I don’t know why I feel like givin’ up. I guess I’m havin’ more trouble with all this than I thought. I’m not fine T’Pol… and I’m not sure I’ll ever be fine again.”
T’Pol had never before wanted to help someone as much as she wanted to help Charles Tucker at that moment. She gently moved her hand to his back. Trip straightened. “Did I hurt you?” she asked moving the hand away from his back.
Trip smiled while shaking his head. “No… it’s just… I’ve never seen you like this before. It’s strange,” he confessed.
T’Pol’s eyebrow moved up as it always would. “Like what Charles?”
“I dunno… comfortin’. Vulcans don’t comfort… and I don’t think they’d ever be tryin’ to convince a human that life is worth livin’,” he told her.
“I am no ordinary Vulcan.”
Trip chuckled. “Yeah… I got that much.” He yawned slightly then rubbed his eyes.
“You are tired.”
He looked back up at her. “What was your first clue, Sherlock?” he teased.
“Who is Sherlock?” she asked, genuinely confused.
Again Trip laughed. “Nevermind.”
“I should go and let you rest,” with that she stood and began to walk to the door. Trip stood.
She turned back around. “Yes Charles?”
“Uh… I realize this may be an inappropriate question to ask. I mean… I guess. But… is it all right if… maybe you could… stay with me tonight. It isn’t sex I’m after! Honest! I just… I just really don’t want to be alone.” T’Pol shifted her weight, hesitating. He held his breath. Would she say ‘no’? He had a bad feeling she would, but to his surprise that was not her answer.
“All right. If it will ease your mind then I will stay.” She told him and walked away from the door. Trip and T’Pol both took their shoes off. Then Trip got into bed, T’Pol after him. She moved the covers over them both. Trip had been expecting her to stay as far away as possible. He was somewhat sorry that he had taken off his shirt before. He had expected that she would keep away.
Instead she moved her head on his shoulder as her right hand rested on his chest. He took in a sharp breath and smiled. Then he slowly moved his right arm around her and caressed her arm. Her touch was doing something to him already but it wasn’t just sexual in nature. His headache seemed to dull almost immediately by her touch. As if her touch was the medicine he needed. Trip moved his body closer to hers until it seemed as if they were one person instead of two. He closed his eyes and let out a slow calm breath. To even his surprise he then gently kissed her forehead. “Thank you T’Pol.”
Her right hand moved around on his chest for a second, then stilled. “It was only logical. You are in pain. I simply did what I could to help. Is that not what people do when they care for one another?”
“Well yeah… it just… I just want to thank you… for this… for everything. It’s nice not bein’ alone for once.”
T’Pol’s head moved up to look at him and their eyes locked. “You will never be alone again Charles. I promise you that.”
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