Title: A Minimal Solution

Author: Joules Mer

Author's e-mail: julia_ocean_child@yahoo.co.uk

Author's URL: http://jmenterprise.popullus.net

Date: Posted to EntSTSlash 05/18/2004

Archive: Yes to EntSTCommunity.  Everyone else please ask first.

Fandom: Star Trek Enterprise

Category: Slash

Rating: PG-13

Pairing: T/R

Summary:  The beginning of a new future.

Series:  The Grandfather Paradox (second in series, sequel to i Squared)

Beta: None

Spoilers: E^2 (major spoilers), very minor for The Expanse, Future Tense, Two Days and Two Nights, and Shuttlepod One.

Disclaimer: Enterprise is the property of Paramount.  Characters just borrowed for fun.  No profit was, or will be, made by this story.  

A/N:  Once again written between 12 and 1 am (or maybe more like 12 and 2) ... and people wonder why I look tired during the day.  The series will be more AU later on.

    Finding out I married T'Pol really through me for a loop.  I once, very briefly, thought I had a chance with her.  I suppose it was immediately after our first kiss, but our morning after conversation made those hopes evaporate.  It also coincided with Samantha starting to avoid me, I guess the mess hall wasn't the best place for a talk like that.  When I mentioned our son to her she reminded me I was merely some experiment in human sexuality, whatever the hell that's supposed to mean.  Just when I think I might be starting to understand her, she knocks me on my ass.

    Meeting Lorian was without a doubt the strangest thing that has ever happened to me.  It made me nostalgic in a bittersweet and kinda sad way.  When we were younger, she just about to start university and me just finishing, Lizzy and I  made a pact to utterly spoil each other's children.  For some reason that day stuck with me.  I'd come home from university for the weekend and everyone else had gone out leaving the two of us home alone.  The next door neighbour came over, he had to run out somewhere and was hoping my mom could look after his kids until his wife got home from work.  Since it was only going to be an hour or so we volunteered, we'd both babysat a fair bit when we were younger.  There was something about goofing around playing hide and seek with little kids which made us start to think about our futures, if only in playful and wild speculation.  She told me I should name my son Charles so our family could have it's own mini-dynasty of Charleses.  Lizzy had some funny names in mind for her kids, stuff like Viola, Nathaniel, Lennox, and Mariana.  She liked Shakespeare way too much for someone her age.

    Damn, just thinking about her makes my chest hurt.  I give up and put away my tools.  It's about time I took Phlox's advice and got something to eat followed by some sleep, repairs will have to wait until tomorrow.  My stomach seems to growl all the way to what's left of the mess hall.  The door that someone made today opens with a lurch and I make a beeline for the cabinets, selecting some kind of pasta dish.  At this point I'm too tired to care what it is so long as it's edible.  

    I scan the room looking for somewhere to sit and a flash of motion catches my eye.  Malcolm climbs to his feet and surprises me by calling across the crowded room, "Commander!"  I give him the best smile I can manage and he waves at the empty chair next to his, "This seat is available."  My grin widens a bit and I amble over, plunking my plate onto the table and collapsing into the chair.  

    I get a good look at his plate and can't help but comment, "Geez, Malcolm, what did your dinner ever do to you?"

    He looks at the mash of cold pasta and makes a face. "I guess I got caught in thought for a minute there."

    I raise an eyebrow. "Don't hurt yourself."

    He gives a short laugh at that and I can't help but grin too, my earlier gloom completely dispelled.  "Given what you read on a regular basis I think that's more of a worry for you."

    I can't help but settle into the old argument, "I'll have you know that..."

    He cuts me off before I can finish.  "Superman is laced with metaphor."  Damn, where did he learn to do my accent like that?

    I laugh it off and decide that maybe I should find out what's really up.  "So what were you thinking about that was so enthralling you did that."  I wave at his pasta.  

    Malcolm grimaces and just as I think he's going to tell me it was nothing important or to mind my own business he surprises me. "The other ship and her crew."

    "Oh."  I guess I should have expected that answer, but I'm still caught off guard.

    "I didn't get married or have any children.  You're looking at the last of the Reeds.  A rather unceremonious end."

    He seems really melancholy about it, and guess I would be too if I were in his place.  "T'Pol and I had a son.  I died when he was fourteen, but I guess since he was half Vulcan he'd have seemed younger than that.  I dunno if that sounds much better."

    "At least you had a son."

    I can't keep the frown from my face.  "With T'Pol."

    Malcolm gives me this funny look.  "You wouldn't want to have a child with T'Pol?"

    I consider the question for a moment before answering, "No.  Not like that."  I take a few bites of my pasta and continue, "For a little while I was kinda... infatuated with her.  She doesn't feel the same, hell, she doesn't let herself feel at all.  Although she has been kinda squirrelly lately.  Now I guess I think of her as a friend.  A friend with really nice... assets."  Malcolm smirks at that so I carry on, "I don't know how I feel about Lorian.  He's not quite what I pictured my son being like, in a few ways.  I always thought my son would be called Charles."
    He nods.  "It's a nice name."

    I give him a sharp look at the off hand comment, but he's just taking a sip of his drink as if he hadn't said anything.  Still kind of off balance I just grunt out, "Yeah, it is."  I sit there in silence for a moment before I decide what the hell, "I promised Lizzy I'd call my son Charles.  It was her idea."

    "You can still have a son called Charles."  

    "But I didn't, or I won't."  I spear a hapless piece of pasta in frustration, time travel always makes my head hurt.  "The fact that he was called Lorian kinda makes me think I'd given up on my dream, and my promise to Lizzy."  I scrub a hand over my face.  "I never thought I'd do that."

    "It's not our future, Trip.  Not anymore."  Malcolm gives me a weak but encouraging smile.  "I for one intend to make sure it turns out differently."

    Malcolm's like a rock.  He anchors me through whatever storm envelopes us.  I suppose he's right, we've already veered from that path already.  I can almost feel a weight lifting off my shoulders.  "Me too, Malcolm.  Me too."

    After that we stray from the serious.  While I had originally planned on just grabbing a quick bite to eat, my dinner stretches to over an hour as Malcolm and I sit and chat.  A yawn that is impossible to stifle causes him to stop mid sentence and fix me with an assessing gaze.  "When did you last sleep?"

    I squirm uncomfortably in my seat and try to remember.  "Oh, I dunno, a while ago.  I'm okay, though."  I don't really want this evening to end.

    He isn't buying it.  "Right."  Malcolm fixes me with this skeptical look and it's like he can see clear through me.  "I think it's time we got some sleep.  It will be a busy day tomorrow."

    I roll my eyes theatrically and nod my acquiescence, I can't argue with that.  "Fine, fine."  I heave myself out of my chair and gather together my dishes, Malcolm doing the same.  We put our dirty dishes in the receptor and head towards our quarters, resuming the conversation that my yawn had so rudely interrupted.  I'd forgotten how easy Malcolm is to talk to, I haven't felt this relaxed since before we entered the Expanse.  We stop at the door to his quarters and I give him a smile and clap him on the back before I carry on to my cabin.  There's a spring in my step that has been missing since Lizzy was killed.  An unbidden thought strays into my mind: I wonder how Malcolm feels about kids?