Missing Scenes from Season Three - Countdown

By Alelou

Rating: G

Genres: adventure

Keywords: Xindi

This story has been read by 648 people.
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This story is number 24 in the series Missing Scenes from Season Three


Spoilers: "Countdown" and prior episodes in Season 3, and it will probably make little sense without them.

Disclaimer: All things Star Trek belong to CBS/Paramount. "Countdown" was written by André Bormanis and Chris Black, and a tiny portion of their original dialogue has been included here.

Author's Note: Took awhile to get this one done, because I started out in Trip's POV and started agonizing over starship engineering technobabble way more than any English major ever should. All I can say is: be thankful I eventually realized all that needed to go in the trash. And many, many thanks to you lovely reviewers.


T'Pol looked down as the first fresh food she'd seen in weeks was delivered to her place.

"You're never going to want that risotto now," Trip said, but his tone was light. He appeared to be in high spirits, possibly out of sheer joy at once again having fresh animal flesh to ingest.

Or maybe it was because she'd called him Trip again.

In either case, it clearly it didn't take a great deal to please the man.

"I wouldn't dispose of it yet," she said, and looked over at the captain, whose look in return was appropriately sober.

Trip didn't seem to realize how remarkable it would be if all of them survived the next 24 hours. She knew that Archer did, for she was there with him in his ready room when - with a fairly significant glance at her - he'd made his last log entry about the crew's readiness "no matter what it takes, no matter what the cost."

She chewed a carrot - it was indeed agreeable to eat something with real texture and natural sweetness again - and eyed their oddly ebullient chief engineer. Had he figured out a way to avoid destruction? Or had he perhaps exaggerated the problem with the EPS grid in the first place? But that wasn't like him, especially given the level of detail they'd been working at recently.

She wanted to ask him if he'd found a solution, but it would have to wait. She had already decided that the less Archer knew about their challenges, the better. She turned her gaze on the captain as he sawed at his steak. He had made it fairly clear he didn't want any details. He just wanted to be able to tell the Aquatics they could disable the spheres, and mean it.

She glanced at Trip again, who had his eyes closed and was chewing his meat with worshipful intensity.

It was Trip who had first described to her the fine art of managing up. That was, at least in part, what she was doing with Archer now. Was it possible it was also what Trip was doing with her?

A soft whine came from the floor. Porthos had been allowed to join them, something that was not at all customary.

Why now? Did Archer wish to celebrate the renewed availability of freshly-cooked animal flesh with his pet? Or was this a subtle acknowledgment that this might be a final gathering of the beings he cared about most?

At the least, it suggested that he wasn't too concerned about T'Pol's personal sensibilities. Though, in truth, after surviving weeks of rationed showers and no working laundry in the closed environment of a starship, not even the sharp smell of beagle was enough to put her off her dinner.

So she ate.

x x x

T'Pol watched from behind as Ensign Sato was carried into Degra's ship by two MACOs. The captain and his team were leaving.

Even now, after the new losses and destruction of their most recent battle, with the armed Xindi weapon streaking towards Earth and their own fates sealed by the need to disable the spheres at all costs, Trip still struck her as oddly sanguine - or so she was forced to judge from the way he asked Reed to bring him back a souvenir and assured the captain they would be at the rendezvous coordinates.

Perhaps this was just one of Trip's peculiar talents - the ability to pretend that success was certain. Just as, perhaps, he felt his staff could be distracted from the certainty of chaos and destruction if they were focused on that drink at the 602 Club. "You need to offer the people you lead a vision of what success looks like," Archer had told her once, before they departed for the Expanse, when she had resisted his suggestion that she give three new ensigns an inspirational welcome.

Was it possible to define success as simply as a drink in a bar?

She supposed it would mean, at least, that the bar still existed, and therefore the planet it sat on as well.

"I expect you to keep him in line," Archer told her.

"I'll do my best," she said, and the airlock door slid shut.

Archer had offered the remark as a kind of joke, judging from his tone, but in reality, she feared it might become all too necessary. And perhaps the captain did, too. Trip had already refused to consider the one sure method of destroying Sphere 41, an intentional warp containment breach.

That would obviously have sacrificed Enterprise, but at least it would have been a fast sacrifice.

So it was not beyond the realm of possibility that if he truly believed it would guarantee their own destruction, Trip would refuse to initiate the deflector pulse as well.

"As soon as they have departed, take us to Sphere 41," she told Mayweather, via the com. "Maximum warp."

"How long does that give us?" Trip asked her.

"Just over three hours. Are your modifications complete?"

"The deflector pulse should be ready to go within the hour. What I still can't figure out is how to have any ship left when we're done."

"Then I suggest you continue working on the problem to any extent you can without impacting our readiness."

He scowled. "Look, obviously there's a critical deadline to defeating the weapon, but what's the big rush with these spheres? They've already been here for nearly a thousand years."

She stepped closer to him. "We made an agreement with the Aquatics. It also became clear during the last battle that the spheres are far more capable of transforming the space around them than we had assumed. We must strike now, before the sphere-builders realize what we are doing and take further steps against us. Indeed, it's possible that the entire Expanse is at imminent risk of transformation."

He stared down at her, blue eyes serious and assessing, until his mouth quirked. "Do you suppose there's any chance Cunningham saved me the rest of that steak?"

She felt an eyebrow rise. Was this an example of psychological denial, or of his odd Human sense of humor? Or was he simply still hungry?

She should not allow herself to be distracted by such an ephemeral matter. "I'll be on the bridge," she said, and departed.

Once she'd checked in on the bridge and made her way into the ready room, however, she found herself with time to spare and was overcome by an odd impulse. She tabbed the comm. "T'Pol to Cunningham."

"Cunningham here."

"Crewman, what did you do with our leftover meals?"

"I put it all in stasis, ma'm. Will you be returning?"

"Could you take the commander's meal down to Engineering and deliver it to him with my compliments?"

"Yes ma'm. Would you like me to add a slice of the pie as well?"

"Yes, thank you," she said. "He'll probably want a glass of milk with that."

It was likely Trip would be working too hard to eat more than a bite or two. But she suspected he'd appreciate the gesture anyway.

"Would you like your meal as well, ma'am?"

She started to say no - she hadn't had much salad left, after all - and then thought again.

Perhaps, when it came down to it, life truly could be that simple.

"I'll take a slice of the pie and a cup of chamomile tea, Cunningham. Thank you."

Why not? Who could say what the future would bring?

Perhaps she would even get to have that drink at the 602 Club.


Comments:

Alelou

Thanks, ladies.  Yeah, Brandyjane, with a boss like Archer, some managing up is definitely going to be required.  It might even save the universe someday.

Panyasan, when I'm in T'Pol's POV I'm probably never going to examine why she does anything too emotional -- IMO she wouldn't allow herself to actually analyze a process as emotionally desperate as, "He's not stopping!  He really has had enough!  I'm losing MY MAN!!!  Quick, call him Trip before it's too late!"

Brandyjane

I love this part: It was Trip who had first described to her the fine art of managing up. That was, at least in part, what she was doing with Archer now. Was it possible it was also what Trip was doing with her?

I'd like to have overheard that conversation! I can just imagine an irritated T'Pol griping to Trip about not being able to get Archer to agree to something perfectly logical, only to have Trip agree with her and explain "managing up." And I think Trip has been "managing up" with both Archer and T'Pol for a long time!

panyasan

Real food! Working showers! What else could a Human or Vulcan want? I really like how T'Pol is so focussed in her mind on Trip. Is she in love or something? ;) The gesture of sending him food was very nice. As SB said, love in action. I liked how you made a completly different missing scene and yet so fitting in your story line and fitting with the episode. But I wished you had answered more why she had called him Trip.  Maybe it's because she is so focussed on him. :)

Alelou

Oh lookee here. Thanks for the reviews, SB. 

Silverbullet

T'Pol should have a little more confidence in Trip. She had seen his abilities and knowledge. But it was nice of her to send down the rest of his Steak and Pie too. Little things like that is love in action.

SB

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