Author: Joules Mer
Author's e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Author's URL: http://jmenterprise.popullus.net
Date: Posted to EntSTSlash 1/13/2004
Archive: Permission to archive granted to EntSTCommunity and BLTS. All others
Fandom: Star Trek Enterprise
Summary: Courage in the face of fear.
Series: Sequel to Fear
Disclaimer: Enterprise is the property of Paramount. No profit was made,
no copyright infringement is intended.
A/N: Big thanks go to Leah without whom this fic wouldn't exist. This
one's for the monkey.
A soft rustling sound was the first thing he was aware of,
but it was immediately followed by a dull throbbing in his head. Trip moaned
softly and blinked his eyes open. An action he immediately regretted as
the bright light drove a painful spike through his forehead. He moaned again
and weakly attempted to turn away from the light. It was another action
he regretted as he was immediately assailed by an unpleasant urge, "I'm gonna
be sick." Hands gripped him under his armpits and hauled him upwards as
a basin was placed in his lap. Trip's vision swam as he retched and heaved,
wishing he could just pass out right then and there.
A sharp pinch at his neck accompanied by the hiss of a hypospray
was soon followed by a wonderful sense of relief. "That should help with
the pain and nausea, Commander. You've suffered a rather severe concussion."
The hands gently lowered him back down to the biobed as Trip blinked the involuntary
tears out of his eyes.
His captain's face swam into focus and Trip managed a weak
smile, "Hey Cap'n."
Jon smiled warmly at his friend, "Hey, Trip. You gave
us all quite a scare. Seems there's never a boring away mission with you
"I aim to please." Trip sighed and blinked his eyes sleepily
as he suppressed a yawn, "Malcolm alright?"
Jon indicated the biobed to Trip's right. "He wanted
to be here when you woke up, but he was absolutely exhausted. He sat with
you for a while, but Phlox finally made him pack it in."
"He saved my life." Jon abruptly turned back to his friend
at Trip's quiet statement. "He was scared out of his mind, but he saved
"Malcolm!" The shaking frees me from the clutches of
the nightmare. I take a gulping breath and snap my eyes open, quickly reduced
to squinting in the sudden light. "Whoa, Malcolm. Take it easy."
I bring a hand up and sweep the sleep from my eyes. Blue swims into view
in front of me and I almost panic again before I realize what it is. Blue
"Yeah." He shifts and I realize he'd had a hand near
my cheek. "Nightmare?" I nod slowly, it's not like I can deny it now.
"Want to talk about it?"
The automatic refusal dies on my lips and I surprise even myself,
it's what he does to me, "Water." Trip doesn't do anything so I continue,
"I was drowning." I feel myself begin to flush, but before I can feel foolish
Trip surprises me by reaching out and taking my hand. He's always been a
tactile person, but for some reason I'm so startled my eyes snap to his face and
I'm further surprised to find his normally expressive features strangely unreadable.
"Trip?" The word comes out as a funny croak as he leans closer.
His blue eyes sear into me as he speaks softly, "You saved
my life, Malcolm."
I squirm under his intense gaze, "It's my job." The weakly
muttered words do little to deflect his attention.
"Last I checked leaping off cliffs to fish foolhardy superior
officers out of alien oceans wasn't part of the job description." I can
feel myself blush and unable to do more than mumble something indistinct which
causes him to grip my hand more tightly as if afraid I'm going to pull away.
"I call that above and beyond, Malcolm, and I'm very grateful. His gaze
is so intense I sit up quickly to get a brief respite from it, instead I am confronted
by our entwined hands on the surface of the biobed. Slowly, a new idea presents
itself and I cautiously look up at the man in front of me.
He shuffles his feet, but doesn't release my hand. "This
has kinda made me realize some things."
I don't dare let myself hope. "What exactly?"
Trip runs his hand through his hair in a nervous gesture, "Hell,
Malcolm, you're smart, kind, and really brave..." He trails off for a moment
before continuing softly, "You're very special to me."
At that moment I feel my heart stop in my chest.
"Coward." The word echoed in the jeffries tube and Malcolm
winced. He thought he'd gotten over talking to himself. Malcolm wriggled
out from under the cannon assembly and carefully placed his spanner back in its
toolkit, it wasn't like he could really focus on work right now.
Malcolm could remember the only time he'd ever been called
a coward before by anyone, including himself. When he'd told his family
he was going to join Starfleet his shocked father had spat the word at him and
left the room. He'd told himself it wasn't true and tried to brush it off,
but it had hurt him. It was a wound that had smarted and festered for years.
When Malcolm had been sitting on that ledge he'd felt like a great weight had
been lifted from him. Now he wasn't so sure the feeling was justified.
"But it's true." The words echoed slightly in the confined
space, a fact which seemed to add more substance to their sentiment. "In
the instant that I saw him floating face down I realized that there is one thing
that I'm more afraid of than drowning." Malcolm let his head fall back and
hit the wall, "Did I overcome a fear or surrender to a greater one?" The
cold metal walls didn't offer any answers.
He sat that way for a while before his shoulders slumped at
a more recent memory, "And now what have I done?" He winced as he remembered
how he'd leapt off of the biobed and fled from sickbay. He fought the guilty
feeling that welled up inside him, "I did not hurt him! He had a concussion,
he wasn't thinking clearly! There's no way he'd say that otherwise."
But what if he did mean it? Malcolm didn't know where that niggling thought
came from, but he was determined to banish it. "Impossible! It was
the concussion and Phlox's drugs talking, the combination is bound to make people
silly." Malcolm toyed with the zipper on his sleeve and continued softly,
"He'd never mean that. It's just not possible."
I've barely seen him in the past few days. Phlox let
him come back on duty the day before yesterday, but he hasn't been to the bridge
at all. I actually went down to engineering this morning, on the pretence
of picking up a replacement part, and he was nowhere to be found. I asked
Crewman Rostov where I could find him, but the man didn't know. It seems
Trip did come in on time and hand out assignments, but then he'd said something
about completing some refits and vanished. I suppose I could comm him, but
I don't want to bother him if he's knee deep in repairs.
Maybe he's more embarrassed about his little concussed overture
than I thought he would be, but something like embarrassment never stopped him
from talking to me before. Honestly, the only other possibility I can come
up with to explain his behaviour is that... oh bloody hell.
My pulse is racing faster than it has any right to when I finally
track him down in engineering. "Commander!"
He spins around to face me and his eyes narrow dangerously,
"Lieutenant." The warning is clearly present in the icy tone. Back
"I was hoping to speak with you, Trip."
He blinks at the use of his name, but quickly schools his features
again. "I'm busy right now, Lieutenant."
"As soon as you're free is fine."
"I don't think I have time to chat today, Lieutenant.
Maybe tomorrow, or next week."
I can tell I'm tempting the Tucker temper, but this is too
important for me to care, "I'll wait until the end of your shift if I have to,
but I *will* talk with you today, Trip."
He scowls outright at that, but I refuse to back down.
When his best glare is met with a firm gaze he finally relents, "Fine."
He stormily leads the way to his small office and shuts the door behind us, "You've
got one minute."
"I need, want, to apologize for my behaviour in sickbay.
It was completely out of line." I wince inwardly at the stiffness of my
words, that's not quite what I want to say.
He positively snarls his next words at me, unable to keep the
hurt from his tone, "Most people have heard of letting someone down lightly."
"Oh, Trip." His angry face crumbles and he just looks
sad. In that instant I can tell he meant everything, and words just start
tumbling out of me, "I'm so sorry, Trip. You see, I do care about you, more
than I've ever really cared for someone else, well, besides my sister, but that's
different. I really care about you, Trip, that's why I could jump into that
bloody ocean. When you said all that stuff, I thought it was just the concussion
talking, I didn't think you could mean it. I wanted to stay, but I was afraid.
I thought you'd come to your senses in a few days and be horrified. I couldn't
bear to go through that. I was too afraid, so I ran for it." My voice
hitches and threatens to give out, but I manage to choke out my last few words,
"I'm just a coward, Trip."
He gapes at me dumbly for a moment before he finds his voice,
"Malcolm, you're the bravest person I've ever met! You volunteer to go out
on the hull and diffuse a mine or get beaten up by the Suliban, and you've saved
my sorry ass a few times. You sure as hell aren't a coward, Malcolm, and
I care deeply for you. Remember that."
"I'm not a coward?" There is a note of wonder in my voice
and I don't know where the tremble comes from, perhaps it's because no one's ever
told me that before. Not my superiors, not my instructors, not my cadet
leaders, not my parents.
"Oh no, Malcolm, not now, not ever." Something about
the expression on my face affects him because he suddenly steps forward and just
grabs me, crushing me into a tight embrace.
I stand there for a moment in shock before I tentatively encircle
him with my arms and relax into the embrace. I remember the forbidding,
icy look that had been in Trip's eyes and can't help but smile, maybe I have some
courage after all.