Beyond Death

By Escriba

Rating: R

Genres: adventure angst au drama episode rewrites romance

Keywords: Sim Xindi

This story has been read by 670 people.
This story has been read 1918 times.


Chapter 1

Disclaimer: Enterprise and its characters belong to CBS/Paramount. Some of the lines are taken from their corresponding episode and belong to their authors.

Genre: AU/Romance/Drama

Rating: R (just to be safe)

Thanks: to Alelou, who is conscientiously editing this story and to Lady Rainbow, who was the first to read the unfinished draft and encouraged me saying, "Cool! You can continue it."

Summary and Author’s notes: The premise of this story is not mine, it's from dialee who mentioned it in one of the reviews, so if somebody likes the premise, praise dialee, not me. The carrying out of the premise, however, is mine, so if somebody wants to blame somebody for its quality, blame me.

The idea is: What would happen if Archer had died naturally in the “Twilight” universe? Because the parasite has some host-parasitic relationship, we could assume that if Archer died the parasite would die as well, and time would go back. But Archer would be dead. So that’s how the story begins: Archer dies in the “Twilight” universe and remains dead in the RU. So the rest of the third and fourth season should happen without him.

By the way, in the beginning this story was going to be a one-shot, so I can proudly say that it's finished. Just be a little patient while the busy Alelou edits the rest of it.



Prologue: the Beginning of the End

He is dying.

There is no doubt about it.

Phlox has tried everything he can, but it’s too late. Too late to save him. Too late to find a last-minute cure. Too late to regret.

The Denobulan looks at T’Pol, who is sitting in a chair near the bunk bed while she gazes at her hands on her lap. She doesn’t show any expression. Her eyes are empty, but they were empty before the news. T’Pol was drained years ago. Caring for the amnesic Jonathan Archer has been a great burden, too great even for a Vulcan female.

Phlox has to admire her strength of character; she has done it with no complaint, with no resentment. She’s been his caretaker, his only support, his confidante, for almost ten years.

The problem is, he doesn’t remember anything about it. He remembers what happened ten years ago, just before the accident, but he can’t remember what he ate yesterday. And, of course, he can’t remember if he was in pain a day before, or two days before, or a month before, until the day he can’t get out the bed because the agony is so profound that he can’t even breathe.

T’Pol called Phlox immediately, but the damage was already done: the illness had spread inside him like a starving pack of hounds. The only thing Phlox could do was alleviate his pain.

And wait for his death.

At the back of the room is Trip. Phlox can’t help it, he can’t think of him as Captain Tucker. Or he couldn’t before. Now, with his arms folded, his blue gaze darkened by the anguish and that weird grimace on his mouth, Phlox can’t remember the usual cheerfulness in him that used to make him “Trip”. His eyes are dry. Like T’Pol’s. It’s ironic that Archer’s two greatest supports, the woman who takes care of him and his best friend, can’t muster a tear for him.

Phlox wonders once more what kind of universe this is — a place so full of pain that a good man can’t be cried for.

The sedatives will do their work soon. Everything will end soon.

Phlox turns away and fixes his eyes on the scans hanging on the wall. The heart beat is getting slower.

Until it’s just a flat line and one long, steady tone.

And then, it’s as if time stops. Just for a second. A subtle ripple passes through the room. In the twinkling of an eye Phlox goes from Archer’s room on Ceti Alpha V to the Enterprise’s infirmary.

Just like that.

He notices the change, at least for a heartbeat. For a moment he thinks ‘Wait a minute, I was on other planet. I wasn’t on Enterprise. Have I used the transporter?’ But it doesn’t last long. Any thought of Ceti Alpha V vanishes from his mind as if it never existed.

In Enterprise’s infirmary, Doctor Phlox has to certify Captain Archer’s death. An anomaly caught him when he tried to save T’Pol. At first Phlox had thought there were just some brain injuries, apparently provoked by a type of parasite…

Phlox pauses.

He can’t remember what he was saying. Something with a parasite? Impossible. There is no parasite in Archer’s body. The anomaly did something to the Captain, but Phlox hasn’t been able to determine what, exactly. Captain Archer has died and he doesn’t know why.

Phlox turns and looks at Trip and T’Pol. The blond Commander is crying his heart out. The Vulcan Sub-Commander is very still, almost in shock.

Captain Archer’s corpse is on the narrow bed. It looks extremely fragile. ‘This was a man who could make Andorians tremble,’ Phlox thinks, ‘and now he seems as dangerous as Porthos.’

The Denobulan doctor sighs. He has to do his job.

“Time of death: 1052.”

And it hits him suddenly: Captain Archer is dead.


Memorial

Trip wanted to make a memorable speech. He wanted to talk about his friend and captain. He wanted to make Jon proud of him, wherever he was.

But, when it comes down to it, he forgets everything and ends up babbling about their old times at the Starfleet Academy. He laughs and he swallows his tears. He doesn’t talk about what a great captain he was, about his missions or about his gift for command; he talks about how he stuttered when he was drunk and how he used to flirt shamelessly with his sister Elizabeth. He talks about his friend.

His friend, who is dead. Like his sister is.

When he saw Jon’s corpse at the infirmary he exploded. It was like reliving that loss again. It hurt too much.

Thank heavens for T’Pol and her neuro-pressure. T’Pol and her calm voice. T’Pol and her comforting shoulder. T’Pol and her sedating company.

Trip owes her his life. If it wasn’t for her, he would have given up long ago.

And it’s been just a couple of days since the death.

So, after they put Captain Archer’s casket into the torpedo launcher, he puts his hand on T’Pol’s shoulder. She looks at him, a little startled. Trip smiles at her and tries to express to her all his gratitude with this gesture. She nods, understanding.

Trip knows the captain’s casket is traveling through empty space, but he doesn’t feel alone in this new existence anymore.


Reparation

It’s her fault, all her fault. He’s going to die and she’s the one to blame.

When Commander Tucker told her he had a plan to stabilise the warp field, she should have stopped him. She should have seen the potential danger. But he was so thrilled and she was so in need of more speed that she didn’t say no.

And now he is in a coma and she is falling apart. He can’t die. Not like this. Not now. Not after the Captain.

But Phlox’s idea… The Lyssarrian Prime Conclave has banned the creation of symbiots. She can’t do it, can she? It’s unethical. It’s barbaric.

It’s their only hope.

Commander Tucker is their best engineer. Without him, Enterprise will fail. Without him, Earth is condemned. Without him, she…

T’Pol sighs.

The needs of the many…

x x x

T’Pol thinks of Commander Tucker while Sim is confessing his love.

She thinks that he wouldn’t like anything about this. She thinks he would be ashamed if he heard about it. She thinks he would be angry at her for making poor Sim feel as he feels. She thinks she has to tell him all this when he recovers. But she knows that will only happen if the operation turns out right. She knows they need Sim for that. She knows nothing about this will matter if Commander Tucker dies.

And the idea of the Commander dying isn’t an idea T’Pol wants even to consider.

So she waits until Sim finishes. She tries to look convincingly strong and she says goodbye to him very politely. And when he is gone, she leans on the closed door with her head and her soul absolutely empty.

x x x

“He was going to die in a short time anyway,” Phlox says.

T’Pol doesn’t know if he is trying to convince her or himself.

“But we weren’t going to kill him,” she points out.

“I’m sorry, Captain.” He can’t say anything more.

T’Pol feels her heart sink. If Sim lives, Commander Tucker dies; and if Commander Tucker lives, Sim dies.

It’s as simple as that. It’s as complicated as that.

x x x

“Will you cry, if he dies?” Sim asks her after a full quiet minute.

Of all the questions she expected following her news, that’s the last one.

“Vulcans do not cry,” she answers, a little too tense.

Sim cracks a smile. T’Pol can read “I don’t believe you” in it.

“I love you,” he says, as if his genuine confession could convince her.

“I know. I’m sorry.” All her replies seem empty to her.

“Do you love him?”

T’Pol bows her head and is surprised to feel ashamed. “I… I don’t think so. Vulcans don’t feel…” She sighs. “I care for him.”

“I’m not gonna die just because you care for him.”

T’Pol swallows. An inner shadow tries to tamper with her willpower. But she stops it by using her trained logical mind, because she knows that if she lets it free it will destroy everything she has sworn to protect.

“I’m sorry,” she says again.

“It doesn’t have to be like this,” he pleads. “I’ve read about the Velandran Circle and—”

“The development of an enzyme to stop the rapid aging, yes, I’ve read about that too. I’ve even discussed it with Phlox. There is no evidence that it works.”

“It’s my life we are talking about!”

“It’s the Commander’s life too.”

“I have his feelings, I have his memories. I am him.”

“No, you aren’t.” Her harsh voice shocks him into silence. “He is in a biobed, in a coma. He is dying and he needs your neural tissue.”

“But I… He…” Sim breathes in hard. “If Phlox can get a way to make me live longer, it’ll be as if he survived.”

“The possibility of your survival is minimal. On the contrary, if you allow the surgical procedure, Commander Tucker has an almost 80 percent chance of survival.”

“So, numbers. That’s what we are.”

“No.”

Her tone is firm with a slight compassion in it.

“I don’t want to die,” he confesses.

“An understandable sentiment.”

She walks toward him because she knows physical proximity makes Humans more comfortable sometimes. “There is a Vulcan maxim: the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one. Your death is unfair, but necessary. It will save Earth.”

T’Pol feels a sudden impulse and takes his hands in hers.

“My… Trip’s parents are still there,” he murmurs. “I don’t want them to end up like Lizzie.”

“They won’t,” she promises, although she knows it’s illogical to make such a vow.

He stares at his thumbs drawing circles on the back of her hands.

“If I asked you, you know, what...what would you say?”

“I would consent.”

Sim smiles and T’Pol tries not to think of Commander Tucker and how his smile looks even softer. She has to forget about that, so she stands on tiptoe.

But when their lips are about to touch, he stops.

“Why?” he asks, a little surprised “Why do you say yes?”

“Because I have nothing else to give you.”

x x x

Trip sits very still, as if moving would break something. Maybe it would break his heart. Because if he moves it is because he can and if he can it is because a clone died for him.

Survivor’s guilt.

Porthos looks sadly at him from his place at the floor. Since he lost his best friend, he’s been crawling around the ship like a ghost. Trip pats his head with his undamaged hand.

The door chimes.

“Come in,” he answers, although he really wants to be alone.

T’Pol enters with her hands clasped behind her back in that professional manner of hers that hides her awkwardness. After all this time, he knows how to decipher her states of mind.

“Did you want to see me, Captain?” he asks when the silence is too overwhelming.

“How… are you doing?”

“Fine… Fine…” He sighs, too tired to lie. “Considering, you know, that a clone died for me.”

T’Pol nods and leans against the table opposite him. She looks very small and vulnerable and Trip feels a sudden need to embrace and protect her. Probably she would kick his ass if he tried.

“I want you to know that I had no other option,” she confesses in a small voice. “If I’d have been able to cure you without creating a symbiot or if I’d have been able to save his life…”

“I know you would have.” He laughs against his will. “Three years ago I wouldn’t have believed you and I’d have thought you were indifferent, but now…” He looks her in the eye. “Now I know better.”

Her eyes enlarge and her mouth twitches just as it does every time she has to control her emotions. He knows that, too. He knows her.

“He didn’t suffer,” she declares after two long and heavy breaths.

“I appreciate that.”

It sounds too harsh and T’Pol’s mouth twitches again.

“Was he a good… man?” he asks.

“Commander, you don’t have to do this to yourself.”

“Yes, I do have to.”

T’Pol clenches her jaw and Trip notices her hands are gripping the desk. “He was an extraordinary human being.” She swallows. “Then again, he was your clone.”

Trip blinks. Wow, T’Pol has complimented him.

“He sacrificed his life for me, for Enterprise,” he says.

“As you would.”

Trip feels his face burn and bows his head. He hears T’Pol walking toward the window.

He changes the subject. “I suppose the crew’s morale is very low. After the Cap’n…”

“It’s been hard,” she answers, then pauses. “For this reason I’ve ordered “movie nights” to start up again.”

Trip lifts his head and gapes. “Really?”

“Yes. I’ve heard that some comedy can do wonders for Humans’ moods.”

Trip can’t stop his smile.

“What about Vulcans?” he teases. “Can they be persuaded to go to this “therapeutic activity”?”

“As a Captain I suppose I should attend.”

“I’ll save you a chair.”

T’Pol turns and looks at him with an arched brow. Trip laughs hard. It feels good. Suddenly something seems to bother the Vulcan. She turns pale.

“What?” he asks.

“I… I have to tell you something…”

She stops talking.

“Yes?” he pressures her.

“I…”

For the first time in his life he can see clear doubt on her face. She’s fighting against something. In the end, Vulcan logic seems to win and she recovers her usual calm demeanour. “I'm glad you survived.”


Experimental Terrain

“He is dead,” Commander Tucker says again.

“That’s not… possible,” Shran stutters. “When did it happen?”

Commander Tucker fails to find the right words, so T’Pol helps him.

“About two months ago. He was hit by an anomaly and didn’t survive.”

Shran grimaces and turns away. T’Pol can see his fists clenched and his shoulders shaking. When he turns round again, his grief is evident.

“I’m… I’m sorry for your loss.” He nods as if he was trying to convince himself. “He was a good Captain, a good warrior. I feel… felt honoured to be considered his friend.” He inhales hard. “Our intention to help the Enterprise looks even more appropriate now. We will support his legacy.”

“We don’t need your—”

Commander Tucker approaches her and puts his index finger on his lips to express silence. T’Pol is about to shout at him when he grabs her arm and takes her aside.

“We need their help,” he whispers.

“No, we can handle any setback ourselves.”

“Don’t be… illogical.”

T’Pol is taken aback. How dare he!

“You can’t let your prejudices to control you. I know you’re Vulcan and I know you have a history with them, but you’re Captain of the Enterprise now and I tell you we need their help.”

“They can’t be trusted.”

“I don’t trust them either.” He sighs and looks stern. “If it makes you feel better you can ask Malcolm to keep a discreet eye on them.”

T’Pol has to nod yes. It is the only viable plan. So she swallows her preconceptions (before they swallow her) and turns toward Shran.

“Very well, we accept any assistance you can give us.”

“You won’t regret it Sub— Captain.” He punches his chest in a military salute. “You have my word that with our help Enterprise will hunt those Xindi down. It’s the least I can do for Captain Archer.”

x x x

T’Pol remembers Shran’s vow on the bridge, after they have disabled the Kumari and destroyed the Xindi weapon. She remembers each and every word. It serves her right. Never trust an Andorian. If Soval finds out she’ll receive the reprimand of her life.

The comm. beeps. When she answers she discovers it’s Hoshi calling from the Command Centre. The Ensign informs her they’ve received a transmission.

Apparently it’s a transmission from the Andorian vessel.

After decoding it, they discover it’s scans of the Xindi weapon. Detailed scans. At the end of the designs there is a message. From Shran. It reads. “In Captain Archer’s memory.”

T’Pol thinks that this is what humans call “irony”. To receive the greatest sign of respect to her late captain from someone who should be one of her greatest enemies.

Even dead, Captain Archer can work wonders.


Deception

“I’m not going to do it!” Trip yells.

“It was almost entirely your plan,” Travis says.

“I can’t do it. I can’t look any of them at their faces; even less talking to them. I wish they were dead!”

“Commander, that’s enough,” T’Pol warns.

Trip clenches his fists and grits his teeth. He’s swimming with rage, but there is something almost sedating in T’Pol’s gaze.

“I would do it myself,” she says, “but acting isn’t one of Vulcans’ areas of expertise.”

“I’m afraid it isn’t one of my strengths either,” Travis admits. “I mean, I can lie like the best, but not to that extent.”

“I could do it,” Hoshi offers with her shy “good girl” voice. “I have a good memory, so memorizing all those false facts won’t be a problem. And as for the acting… I think I can deceive Degra.”

“I don’t think leaving you alone with him would be a wise idea,” Malcolm protests.

“Any other suggestion then, Lieutenant?” Hoshi asks, not very nicely.

“Uh… Well… If it is of any use… I took some drama classes in my youth,” Malcolm confesses, his face red.

He could say he was in truth American and the shock wouldn’t be greater.

“In that case,” T’Pol says, “I see no problem in assigning you the task.”

Malcolm nods emphatically. His usual smirk is nicer.

Trip stands still while everyone leaves the Situation Room. He feels tired, unable to move his legs. T’Pol is the last one to pass near him. She doesn’t go too far. She waits until the others are at their seats, too busy to notice them. Then she turns toward him and puts a hand on his shoulder.

“I know this is hard for you,” she says.

“I’ll survive.”

“I hope so.”

He smiles. He never thought he would hear that word come from a Vulcan.


Comments:

Aquarius
I know I'm late to the party but I have to say how much I adore this. This exchange just stopped my heart: [i]“If I asked you, you know, what...what would you say?” “I would consent.” Sim smiles and T’Pol tries not to think of Commander Tucker and how his smile looks even softer. She has to forget about that, so she stands on tiptoe. But when their lips are about to touch, he stops. “Why?” he asks, a little surprised “Why do you say yes?” “Because I have nothing else to give you.”[/i] I can't wait to read the next part. Sadly, it probably won't be tonight as I need to get to bed...but my goodness, I'm so hooked!
Escriba
*Aheam*... Wait until you read the next (very controversial) part. Then you'll tell me...
justTrip'n
I LOVE it. The characters are so true to themselves and each scene is familiar with a twist. AND THERE ARE NO BORING PARTS. I love the way you are telling this story in these short, intense blasts. You know these characters so well. Their strenghts and their flaws. How would Trip and T'Pol react to all these situations minus Archer? So far it all rings exactly true. I like how when Archer dies in on Ceti Alpha V, Trip and T'Pol are worn out and dry-eyed and then you pop back to the regular universe were they are more soft-hearted. I am totally into this.
Escriba
Thanks for the reviews. And about the speed, [i]Charming Unknown Fan[/i] ;), I think it looks like they speeding too much because the parts are small, but we are in "Stratagem" already and we all know what happened in RU in the next episode, don't we? :D If you were talking about making the scenes too short, well, it's because I'm taking [i]so much[/i] time with "Disruption" that I have to compensate :p
intriguing indeed. One regret perhaps though: you are speeding too much ;-)
Asso
Fantasy doesn't know limits. This is a fact. How many ways exist for getting together Trip and T'Pol? Your way is really intriguing, and - as always - your touch is sweet and indeed agreeable. And then... I feel your writing close to mine.;)
Dinah
You've put Trip and T'Pol in a very difficult situation. It's nice to know that they're finding ways to get through it together. I also really like the idea that Archer isn't the one and only person in the whole universe who could bring an end to the Xindi conflict and bring the other species together. Good job.
panyasan
This is a really good fic. As some one who dislikes Twilight, that's a hugh compliment. I love the little signs of trust and comfort between Trip and T'pol and the way you handled Sims story.
Alelou
I've had the pleasure of reading it through to the end already and I LOVE IT. It's amazing what respectfully taking Archer out of the picture does for the rest of the third and fourth seasons. This is a really interesting and satisfying AU!

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