Title: Hard to Port
Author: Joules Mer
Rating: PG
Pairing: A/T
Spoilers: Major Twilight spoilers.  You'll have to be familiar with that episode for this to make sense.  Also Expanse, Xindi, etc.
Disclaimer: Enterprise is the property of Paramount.  No profit was made, no copyright infringement is intended.
Archive: Yes to EntSTCommunity, Tim Ruben, and BLTS.
A/N (to avoid confused comments by movie buffs and the like): In 1912 the order "hard a-starboard" corresponded to the motion of the tiller so you were actually steering the ship to port.  In at least one case it didn't turn rapidly enough.  The old order essentially meant the same thing as "hard to port" means now.

Hard to Port

    There were times when I'd wondered what my lover would look like as an old man.  From surreptitious sideways glances over dinners in the captain's mess I'd painted a picture of the two of us, old and grey.  Together.  It had seemed so right.

    When T'Pol suggested I might think I'm the victim of a Xindi plot she was right, but not because I found the whole situation unbelievable.  In truth, the only thing I couldn't understand at first was where Trip was.  I'd have thought T'Pol would have returned to Vulcan, I guess I didn't know her as well as I thought I did.

    When she explained that Trip was in command of Enterprise, it all made sense.  I'd be lying if I said I didn't feel relieved as well.  When we entered the Expanse we kind of, lost track of each other, I suppose.  He was hurting more deeply than I was able to deal with at the time.  If it had been just the two of us I think we could have dealt with it, but with the mission at hand I just couldn't devote the time that he needed with me.  His insomnia didn't help either.  Nor did the nightmares.  We tried sleeping together for a while, but in the end he packed up his stuff and headed back to his own cabin.  At the time it seemed for the best.


    The door before me slides open and he's standing right in front of me again.  Older, greyer, and with a shadow hanging over him.  He pushes it aside and gives me a real smile though.  I can't help but thinking that it's the first one in a long time, but for all I know that's not true.  It does make me feel better though, I suppose I was afraid he wasn't looking after me because we never sorted out our issues.  Captain Tucker.  I always thought I'd see the day, but never like this.  He calls me sir and I can't help but smile.  Nine years in command of Enterprise have left him cool and collected.  I want nothing more than to sweep him into a hug, but I settle for Hoshi instead.  Travis is conspicuous in his absence.  I mourn the memory of our gregarious boomer.  Perhaps he should have stayed on the Horizon with his family.  My old crew lines the hallway and I greet each one in turn.  There are so few of them, I suppose I should be thankful I didn't lose any more of my close friends.  Captain Reed walks us down to engineering before going on ahead to the mess hall.  I must say I get a kick out of Malcolm being a captain.  He's almost the same.  His voice is a bit rougher now, and he's sporting some interesting facial hair.  Not quite something I'd ever pictured on my clear shaven armoury officer.  If Enterprise has the best engine, the Intrepid will have the smoothest running armoury in the fleet.  Or what's left of the fleet.


    I left the reception early.  It was too strange to be there with everyone, always painfully aware of who was missing.  I suppose they are used to it now, but imagine walking into  a room and finding that over half the people you saw a few hours ago are gone.  The way that the remaining people have aged didn't help either.  In some ways, each person was something of a ghost of their former self.  T'Pol managed to track me down.  I suppose she's been doing it for over a decade now.

    I try to talk to her, but the words come awkwardly at best.  I want her to understand, though, because if this works I want to ask Trip to marry me.  If this works I might be able to live on Enterprise again, this time as the captain's husband.  If this works, she can go back to Vulcan, and I might be able to be with my love again.


    The bridge has been destroyed.  It hits me like a punch in the gut.  They're all gone.  He's gone.  When the schematics for Enterprise were being created one of the engineers questioned having the bridge so close to the outer hull.  Lieutenant Jones had wanted to place the bridge in a more central area, thus protecting it from attack.  At the time, we dismissed it as overly grim speculation.  We actually called him an alarmist.  Now I'm not so sure.

    T'Pol is taking me down to engineering, explaining that there's still hope for all of us.  I want to die right here, but as long as there's hope I have to keep going.


    There are two constants in this universe:  If you're on a ship and you steer hard to port to avoid something, you'll crash, but if the odds against you are a million to one, you'll succeed.  Another shot slammed into him and he fell hard onto the console before bouncing back onto the railing and dropping the phase pistol.  The invading reptilians were shooting their way through engineering.  The odds were a million to one.  No Xindi knew how he garnered the energy to do it, but he reached up and with the strength of a dying man managed to push the switch upwards before he collapsed.  


    I'm woken by a terrific throbbing pain in my head.  I open my eyes, frowning and blinking against the sudden light.  I'm in sickbay.  T'Pol and Phlox join me, the latter insisting on keeping me overnight for observation.  Normally I'd complain, but to tell the truth I'm feeling pretty tired right now.

    I look at the padd T'Pol left me.  Rosemary's Baby, it's more Trip's kind of movie than mine.  I'm actually willing to bet that he put it on the schedule.  I'm glad, as it's a sign he's starting to feel just a little bit better.  I don't know why I think of it at a time like this, but I do anyway.  Deep in my sock drawer I've buried a small box.  Hidden in the box are a pair of gold rings with wide, plain bands.  Perhaps I should put them to good use soon.