Missing Scenes from Season Four: United

By Alelou

Rating: PG-13

Genres: adventure angst drama missing scene romance

Keywords: Andorians bond Shran

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This story is number 13 in the series Missing Scenes from Season Four


DISCLAIMER: All things Star Trek belong to CBS/Paramount. "United" was written by Manny Coto, Judith Reeves-Stevens and Garfield Reeves-Stevens.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: I'm covering some of the same ground that Drogna already did quite nicely in her series that begins with "Contamination" (available at this web site – just use the search function). Like her, I can't help wanting to make some sort of faintly plausible connection between a Trip who passed out from radiation poisoning (a death sentence in the real world) with the guy we later see horsing around with Malcolm, especially since in the next episode he appears to be recovering from a serious illness and at about as low an ebb as we ever see him. Making all this plausible isn't actually possible, of course, but I gave it the old college try, complete with outrageous pseudo-medical technobabble. I can only beg your indulgence on that. Many thanks as always, reviewers!


In the decon shower, after joking around with Malcolm – he really was such an easy target - a terrible prickling chill suddenly enveloped Trip. Without time even to think "I'm going to be sick," he was on his hands and knees, vomiting.

He retched again and again, until there was little more coming up than blood. As each bright red drop hit the wet floor of the shower it blossomed pink and then ran towards the drain in bands that reminded him vaguely of the dust rings on Jupiter.

"Trip!" he heard Malcolm say, as if from very far away, and then the water was turned off, and he was being toweled off and dragged into decon proper. He lay on the floor and spat out more blood. It didn't wash away on the dry floor, just collected in a nasty clotting puddle.

They were talking about him, but Trip was too ill and too preoccupied to follow the conversation. How could he have felt so fine one moment and so like death the next?

He had passed out from radiation. He'd known at the time that meant he was as good as dead. But then, somehow, his adrenaline had kicked in, and carried him home, and then … what? Had he simply gone into denial?

He hoped Malcolm would be all right. He must have gotten exposed to some radiation, too, though not nearly as much, of course. Not a fatal dose, hopefully.

Not like his.

He'd sure as hell been dying a lot lately. Maybe this time it would finally stick.

Would she even miss him?

Vaguely, he felt the hiss of a hypo spray against his neck, and then the light went, and then the rest.

x x x

"How is Commander Tucker?" T'Pol asked.

Phlox looked up from the screen he was reading intently. He'd already stabilized his patient, but he wanted to make sure he hadn't missed out on any recent new treatments for ionizing radiation exposure in Humans.

Somehow Phlox wasn't surprised to see her there in the middle of ship's night, long after visits by Archer and Reed and Sato and others, all wanting to know about Tucker. "As I hope the captain told you, he'll survive, but I'm keeping him in a coma for now while he recovers from the worst of it." He decided it would be best not to describe Tucker's symptoms or treatment in all its gory detail. Of course, knowing T'Pol, she had probably already researched the matter. Indeed, she was probably wondering why the prognosis was so unaccountably good.

What T'Pol couldn't know and Phlox would just as soon she never knew was that he had quietly saved a bank of tissue and body parts from Sim in stasis for just such a crisis as this. Without that ready supply of what were essentially his own healthy tissues, Tucker would indeed be dead or dying now.

The easy part had been the cleaning and filtering of the commander's blood; it was also easy, thanks to Sim, to supply new blood cells and immune factors that would help Tucker's body finish the job of healing itself. The rest was more labor-intensive: Phlox had transplanted Sim's lungs, trachea, esophagus and even corneas into Tucker and, after the painstaking removal of burned tissue, supplied new membranes to his breathing passages and a fresh lattice of healthy epidermis to his face and head. He'd replaced his thyroid gland, and debated replacing the pituitary, but ultimately decided in favor of watchful waiting and ongoing anti-mutagenic treatment. It had been painstaking and exhausting work. The final touch had also been simple: hair growth factor to quickly re-grow what had fallen out, hopefully before the patient could even notice it had gone. His research suggested that Humans were often greatly traumatized by hair loss, of all things, and Phlox doubted that Tucker would be an exception. (For a man forced to maintain such a short regulation cut, he clearly put quite a bit of effort into altering his natural hair color.)

As he'd worked, Phlox had reflected once again on how intimately he had been forced to become acquainted with this one young man. He'd seen him grow from a single cell into a blastocyst, a fetus, an infant, a child, a teenager, a man. He'd seen him die. He'd seen the inside and outside of practically every major organ, including the brain. He'd spent hours meticulously cleaning and replacing skin. At this point the one-sided intimacy of this relationship had taken on an almost nightmarish quality, as if the universe was saying: Oh, you're fond of this one? You thought you could save him? But can you save him from this? What about this?

"May I see him?" T'Pol asked, and Phlox blinked. He was really quite tired, although he was stills weeks from his next sleep cycle.

"I'm sorry," he said. "But you can't. He needs to stay in isolation. His immune system can't handle any exposures quite yet."

"I could put on an isolation suit."

"T'Pol, I assure you, he wouldn't even know you're there. Come back tomorrow afternoon. He'll probably be conscious by then." He'd have his hair back, too.

"The captain has requested a full analysis of all data from the drone. I may not be able to come tomorrow afternoon."

"Then I'll tell him you were here, Commander. I don't know what else I can do."

She stood there, apparently unwilling to give ground, and it suddenly occurred to him that Tucker wasn't the only one whose hair sometimes changed color. "You appear to have lightened your natural hair color quite significantly, Commander," he said. "Is that common practice among Vulcans?" It hardly seemed very logical.

T'Pol folded her arms. "Crewman Wong insists that this is the proper color for my skin tone. I have come to the conclusion that it generally requires less time and effort to allow him to do as he wishes."

"Ah," Phlox said. "Well, it does look rather fetching." Perhaps Crewman Wong was the source of Tucker's lightened hair, too? "Denobulan hair never grows beyond its natural length, so I've never needed to seek out Crewman Wong's services."

"Consider yourself fortunate."

"You wouldn't say that if you saw me during a heat wave. The shedding can get quite ridiculous."

An eyebrow went up. "I'll say good night, then, doctor."

Phlox smirked. He'd rather suspected that hair talk could chase her off.

x x x

Trip awoke to a strange white space.

"Am I dead?" he said.

"No." Her voice sounded as if it was coming from somewhere behind him, but he was too tired to move his head. "Phlox says you will fully recover."

"I don't see how."

"I don't either, yet apparently you will. That is good news, surely?"

"I guess so. I'm so tired, T'Pol."

"I know, Trip. Sleep."

Touch me, he thought.

A soft brush of fingertips across the back of his head answered him, and he sighed, and slept.

x x x

The next time Trip awoke he was in decon, on a cot, under a blanket.

Phlox entered with a whoosh of changing air pressure. "You're awake!" he said jovially.

"Guess I'm not dead."

"Indeed not. You have made a rather remarkable recovery, Commander."

Trip wasn't sure what to say. Thanks? Congratulations?

"How do you feel?" Phlox said.

"Tired. Confused."

"That is a normal reaction. You've just experienced significant radiation poisoning, especially to the head and pulmonary system, and rather extensive surgery and therapy. It may be weeks or even months before you feel completely normal. In the meantime, you may find that your memory is somewhat impaired and your cognition slower. Your emotions may feel a little out of sorts and your impulses harder to control. You will need to be patient and give yourself time to recover."

Trip blinked. That had way more information than he could follow. "Can I still do my job?"

Phlox frowned at him. "Did you understand anything I just told you?"

"I think so." Cognition ... memory ... those were scary words. "Are you saying I can't be Chief Engineer anymore?"

Phlox shook his head. "No, I'm saying you need time to recover. At least a week, possibly longer."

"Oh." Trip sighed in relief. "Jeez, doc, you scared me. A week … that's okay. But I really don't feel that bad. Are you sure it will take a whole week?"

"There are certain cognitive tests I can give you. If you score acceptably on them, and your energy level is not too low, I will allow you to resume a partial duty schedule earlier than that. I'm afraid that's the best I can offer. But why don't we see if you can simply keep down some liquids first, hmmm?"

x x x

Trip spent the next day in sickbay proper, which meant he could have visitors; it seemed as if everyone stopped in - everyone except T'Pol, though Phlox assured him that she had visited him when he was unconscious. He wondered if that was just possibly a therapeutic lie. Every time a visitor came in, Phlox made him take a walk with that person, either around sickbay or around the deck outside, to help him recover his strength and balance.

Thanks to all the comings and goings, as well as various chirps and rustlings and Phlox's intermittent off-key humming, Trip got only interrupted sleep that day and night, which perhaps contributed to his poor score the next day on Phlox's first cognitive test.

"What if I'm permanently brain damaged?" Trip said.

"There's no particular reason to think you are, and it's far too early to tell. You must have patience."

"You want me to be patient when this could be the end of my career?"

"I want you to be patient when your doctor tells you that you need time to recover."

"I don't know what I'd do if I can't be an engineer anymore."

"There's no point to even thinking about that yet."

"How can I not think about that? Can you guarantee me that won't happen?"

Phlox released him to his own cabin shortly after that.

x x x

That was where he finally got a visit from her.

"How are you feeling?" she asked.

He shrugged. "I'm all right. A little woozy." A little stupid. He sat down on his bed.

She sat in his desk chair. "We are meeting to discuss the findings from the drone ship tomorrow morning, if you'd like to join us."

"I'll see if I can," he said. He'd have to pester Phlox to give him another one of those tests. Hopefully, he'd do better. He wanted to be back on duty. It was boring and mildly terrifying to just lie about, wondering if this might be the rest of his life. "Come up with anything interesting?"

"Yes, very interesting," she said. "But I am still analyzing the data, and Phlox is investigating some brain wave patterns we detected."

Brain wave patterns? Was his puzzlement over this another sign of his own brain's impairment? Rather than betray that, he said, "You look a little tired." She had circles under her eyes, which was unusual for her. Maybe she'd been working longer hours with all that data. Maybe she was just beginning to show a little of her age at last. The idea made him sad.

"There is a great deal of data to analyze," she said. "And very little time. The captain is concerned that we may soon face that ship again."

"Well, don't let me keep you away from your work," he said. "Though I do appreciate the visit."

She regarded him for what felt like a long moment, though perhaps it wasn't really. He no longer trusted his perception of anything that had to do with her.

He thought of the odd dream he'd had, the one with the white space. It had been quite comforting at the time.

Touch me, he thought, experimentally.

But she didn't, of course. She just got up and left.

Trip lay down and curled up with his arms around a pillow.

It had been a ridiculous thought.


The END


Comments:

panyasan

It had been a ridiculous thought. Great last line. I am happy that this chapter shows more about how Trip feels. He misses T'Pol. He thinks he sees things about her and then dismisses it, because he doesn't trust his feelings. And this chapter is right on time: I became to wonder if Trip still cared about T'Pol. I do feel sorry for him that he has been so ill. It does make more sense than what we have seen on the show. 

Distracted

Excellent research. I'm impressed. : )

Alelou

If a doctor likes my technobabble, I'm very happy.  (I did actually do some research on this, but I don't think that's any substitute for knowing what the hell I'm talking about.)  :)

Distracted

Love the technobabble. : )

Alelou

I dunno, Cogito, that sounds like another missing missing (AND canon-subverting) scene for you.  :)

How hard up is Trip that you consider vomiting his ion-fried guts out and nearly dying "a great antidote to the angst?"  :p Poor Trip!

 

Cogito

This is a great antidote to the angst of the last couple of episodes. :D

They aren't together by a long shot, but I believe they're both aknowledging to themselves that they want to be. I very relieved that Trip and T'Pol both seem to remember their meeting in the whitespace, and that they both welcomed it. You're hinting that T'Pol hasn't been sleeping well while Trip was in the coma, which is highly illogical but conveys the depth of her feelings.

And now I'm left wondering: if we looked at the name tag on that pillow would it read "Tucker", or "T'Pol"? :p

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