Missing Scenes from Season Four: The Forge

By Alelou

Rating: PG

Genres: angst family missing scene

Keywords:

This story has been read by 449 people.
This story has been read 762 times.

This story is number 7 in the series Missing Scenes from Season Four


DISCLAIMER: All things Star Trek belong to CBS/Paramount. "The Forge" was written by Judith Reeves-Stevens and Garfield Reeves-Stevens.

AUTHOR'S NOTES: Well, my spring break is over and one of these days it will actually be warm enough to do yard work again, so these will likely come more slowly now. Many thanks as always, reviewers.


Something was wrong with Commander Tucker.

Phlox had long held a particular fondness for the young man. Partly this was because Tucker was one of those rare beings who seemed truly open and accepting of those who were different than him. Of course, Phlox had also raised his mimetic clone from infancy. However scientifically inexplicable that process had been, it had given him a unique window into Commander Tucker's essential nature, and inspired a paternal sense of attachment to him. Not that he ever spoke of this to Tucker. Sim was dead, and Tucker apparently had none of Sim's own memories and therefore no reason to return those feelings. Phlox understood that Tucker was friendly with him simply because he was friendly with everyone.

This did not take away from Phlox's appreciation of him. Tucker was brilliant, confident, egalitarian, good-natured, plainspoken, generous. Of course, like any sentient being, he also had his weaknesses: He could be impulsive, stubborn, and overly sensitive; he was also prone to depression, insomnia and injury. Most frustrating, he was supremely reluctant to discuss any pain that could not be treated with an analgesic.

The last time Tucker had been notably afflicted, it had been from the loss of his sister, and it had literally made him ill: he couldn't sleep; he lost his appetite; he lacked energy; he lost his good humor. The man was obviously clinically depressed, but refused counseling, and it was only a matter of time before Phlox was going to have to force him into treatment. Fortunately, the passage of time and T'Pol's generous provision of Vulcan neuro-pressure had brought Tucker some solace before Phlox had needed to intervene.

Indeed, those two had found great solace in each other. Phlox had not intended that, of course; shipboard romances among those in the same chain of the command were seldom a good idea, even if they did have a knack for reawakening a certain enthusiasm for life in the parties involved. If he'd guessed that there might be some attraction there – and he had – he'd also assumed that T'Pol's Vulcan discipline and Trip's native good sense would keep them from letting it develop into anything too disruptive.

Perhaps he should have tried to inoculate them against it by calling attention to those latent feelings earlier, much as he had tried to do with the captain at one point.

Perhaps he should have noticed their first officer's spiral into addiction earlier.

Perhaps he should never have suggested the neuro-pressure in the first place.

Well. Phlox had not practiced medicine for as long as he had without developing a philosophical attitude towards his mistakes. Sometimes even disaster might produce some greater good in the long term, just as sometimes his most logical, best-intentioned action, consistent with every standard of care in the known universe, would unexpectedly result in tragedy. Such was the arbitrary nature of life. He could only do his best, and hope it would all work out somehow.

In any case, it was clear that the second and third officers' attempt at an interspecies romance had not been successful. T'Pol had come back from Vulcan married to another man. Tucker had even been at the wedding. At first Phlox wondered if Tucker had suddenly developed Denobulan flexibility in his romantic arrangements, but it soon became clear that he had not. Although as far as he could tell, the two officers still worked together well, he had noticed an increasingly marked distance between them. T'Pol was losing weight and looked tired. Tucker, meanwhile, had not sunk into the obvious depression he'd suffered over the loss of his sister, but that did not mean he was well.

Tucker was brittle. Tucker was hyper-active. He kept organizing new activities – activities unlikely to attract Vulcan participation. He'd started up a regular sports night for the senior staff. He'd tried to organize a musical coffee house. He'd suggested that the crew put on a talent show. He'd tried - unsuccessfully - to resurrect movie night with a series of bombastic war epics. He'd nagged Lieutenant Reed to start a boxing tournament. Reed, wisely, had put him off and set up extra practices with the MACOs instead.

Phlox would always go along to whatever Tucker was trying to get started, partly out of curiosity about the activity, and partly to keep an eye on Tucker. Only the sports night had attracted enough interest to keep going for more than a few weeks, and Phlox wondered if the other officers participated because they were enjoying it, or because they sensed that their chief engineer desperately needed that outlet for his energy.

"Has Trip talked to you at all?" the captain asked him one day.

"About…?"

Archer scowled. "Unless I give him a direct order, he won't come eat with me and T'Pol. The last time I ordered him to show, he fell off that ladder in engineering. This is getting ridiculous."

"Is his behavior unprofessional in duty situations?"

Archer shook his head. "No. As far as I can see, he's unfailingly polite with her. Too polite. I can't believe I actually miss their bickering, but I do. Sometimes all that arguing back and forth gets us a better solution than we'll get without it. "

"I'll see what I can do, Captain," Phlox said. "But it may not be much."

The next time Tucker showed up with a plasma burn – one of those minor injuries that had become all too common for him – Phlox worked on dressing it, and said, "I hear you no longer join the captain and T'Pol for meals."

Tucker's expression immediately turned mulish. "You hear?"

"The captain has expressed some concern about you."

"I'm fine. I don't know why he refuses to take my word on that."

"No doubt he misses the camaraderie the three of you used to share."

"I'm just trying to survive here, doc. I'm doing the best I can. I don't know what he expects from me."

"Perhaps, rather than simply avoiding your feelings, it would be better to talk about them."

"I don't think so. I just need some time."

"How much time? Are you feeling better now than you did two months ago?"

Tucker scowled.

Phlox said, "If not, I'd say you may need to find another approach. You could talk one-on-one with me, or we could arrange mutual sessions with Commander T'Pol, or with Captain Archer…"

"The cap'n should just be relieved he can stay the hell out of it. And I'm not interested in talking about it with you or anybody. I'm doing my job, I'm being professional, and the rest of it is nobody's business but mine."

Phlox said, "I could make that an order, Commander."

"You could, if you didn't know how pointless that would be." Tucker sighed. "Are we done here?"

"For now," Phlox said.

x x x

More time passed. Tucker stepped back a little on the frenetic activity and stopped injuring himself quite so often, but Archer reported that he still avoided the captain's table if he knew T'Pol was going to be there.

"You do find opportunities to be with him without her there, don't you?" Phlox asked.

Archer said. "Sure, we still hang out and watch sports. He stays focused on the game. He clearly doesn't want to talk about anything personal. And to tell you the truth, who am I to expect that? It's not like I keep him informed about my personal life."

Phlox said, "Goodness! Does this mean you have a personal life, Captain?"

Archer grinned. "I do. And that's all you're going to hear about it."

Well, it was nice to see that at least one member of the command crew was happy. T'Pol's weight had stabilized, so he felt relatively certain that she would be fine. Vulcan discipline could be quite useful in unpleasant personal circumstances.

Perhaps Tucker was right. Perhaps time was all that was really required. Perhaps he would bounce back eventually, as he had after the loss of his sister.

But time spent in pain could do bad things to people.

Phlox thought about this when the ship was in orbit around Vulcan and one of the guards from the United Earth embassy was lying in sickbay, dying. "I don't care about his body, Doc," Tucker said. "We need what's in his mind."

The man he'd known before would never have been so callous about the fellow lying there. How could he even be certain the man couldn't hear him? Archer might have been that cold. T'Pol, too. Essentially decent as they were, they nonetheless possessed that quality of considered ruthlessness that command in difficult circumstances tended to produce. But not Tucker. Phlox had seen him make brutal decisions before, but it had been clear he'd found it painful.

This time, he hadn't even noticed his own lack of compassion.

Phlox knew that even negative changes in a person could have positive results. He could imagine Tucker in command of his own ship, now. This Tucker was implacable. This Tucker would do what needed to be done. And this was quite convenient, perhaps, since this Tucker had been left in command during what appeared to be a situation fraught with peril.

But Phlox nonetheless mourned the loss of the sweet little boy he'd once held in his arms.


 

The END


Comments:

Leocentaur

Oh, this is amazingly well written, and from a most unexpected and unique angle.  One tends to forget how observant those big blue Denobulan eyes are.  It sets the scene for his sorrow in 'Terra Prime' so beautifully. 

Cogito

As Phlox does, I mourn him too. :(

Alelou

Thanks again!

panyasan

You make doctor Phlox a real person - and the thoughts and feelings he has of Sim/Trip are complex and very well written. I am so sorry for Trip - running so he can't feel and Phlox mourning about what Trip has lost in the process. The joke between Phlox and Jon was great (you mean you have a person life?) and cracked me up. 

Weeble

I concur with Distracted and then some. I think we forget sometimes how the medical profession has to deal with humans who are unfailingly unique in every way. Also liked your portrayal of Archer who is still mostly aloof.

weeble

aka Steelchaser

Alelou

Thanks, ladies! 

Distracted

A very real Phlox. I like this man. Your insights about doctors and mistakes are right on the money, too.

Mary

Wow, this was so deep and insightful on so many levels. This was interesting having it be Phlox's point of view. Analysing his feelings for Tucker realizing that he had changed. More authoritative and private than before, socializing less- command capable BUT losing some of his compassion and sensitivity and  as you said " sweetness". Amazing introspective. Sad  buut not despirate.

I really liked this

 

 

justTripn

This is VERY VERY nice. One of my favorites.

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