Fever Fatale

By ginamr

Rating: R

Genres: angst au drama romance

Keywords: Koss

This story has been read by 1375 people.
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Chapter 1

Summary: Trip becomes desperately ill and is fading with each day. T'Pol rushes to his side, planning to confess her need for him. Will the doctors find a cure? Will T'Pol finally tell Trip how she feels? While Trip struggles for his life,
Pairings: Trip/T'Pol, Reed/Sato, Archer/Other Female Character
Rating: Varies By Chapter
Genres: Angst, Drama, Mystery, Romance, AU

Author's Note: I don't know what inspired this, really. But I guess the thought "what would happen if Trip got really sick?" crossed my mind. I hope I don't make Trip suffer for long!!! Also, keep in mind that this takes place three years T'Pol has returned to Koss. This is an AU of what would have happened if T'Pol had stayed with Koss after Home. Also a warning: THIS FIC CONTAINS A GREAT DEAL OF ANGST.

Also, thanks so much to my wonderful betas justTrip'n and Distracted!! You both were awesome. Please do be sure to thank these two wonderful peeps in your reviews!!

Part One, Chapter 1 rated PG-13 for adult language.

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Chapter 1

T'Pol wandered past the dozens of shuttle passengers heading toward the gates. The occupants of the corridors were wearing face masks over their noses and mouths. The masks gave them a cadaverous appearance. Their faces were pale and ghostly, and their eyes were red-rimmed with dark circles surrounding them. It was disconcerting to look at, and the eerie silence made T'Pol feel vulnerable. She hadn't experienced this particular emotion in such volume since her use of trellium.

At last, she reached the San Francisco airport doors that led to the world outside. The noise that usually surrounded the city like a thick blanket was suppressed by uncharacteristic silence, giving the city a sepulchral air. The streets, usually crowded with humanoids rushing toward their differing destinations, were devoid of any living sentient being. The heavy clank of her heels on the sidewalk echoed between the buildings, sending a chill up her spine. Though it took some time, she finally reached the Zephram Cochrane Medical Center.

Upon entering the front room, she found herself surround by Human children sitting with their parents. She jumped slightly as the little girl next to her coughed. Turning, she watched with empathetic eyes as the girl's mother tipped some liquid down the child's throat. Feeling somewhat agitated by her surroundings, she moved toward the nurse's station and tried her best to wait patiently.

At last, one of the nurses noticed her and came to assist her. "May I help you, honey?" he asked. His brown eyes were filled with pity and just a hint of kindness. His well-groomed dark hair hung softly about his head.

She arched an eyebrow. "Yes, I am looking for Charles Tucker the Third," she replied.

The nurse nodded. "Are you family?"

She hesitated before nodding. "I am his wife," she replied.

The bond they shared made this, in essence, true. The lie was necessary and would do no lasting harm. Mild surprise registered on his features before he smiled kindly and looked through the check-in records.

"He's on the third floor, in room 352," the nurse said.

She inclined her head. "Thank you." She then made her way toward the lift, and the doors closed behind her. "Level three," she instructed.

The thought of seeing Trip again after nearly three years apart was illogically unsettling. She couldn't comprehend why she was equally dreading and anticipating seeing him. Doubtless he would be angry with her for not returning to Enterprise. She'd said that she would be permitted to do so. Little had she known that Koss's words were little more than a deception meant only to retrieve his honour from her previous dismissal of their betrothal.

Moments later, the lift arrived at the specified level and she exited, striding down the corridors toward room 352.

As she approached the room, she saw the senior bridge crew—minus Trip—waiting outside. The captain and Ensign Sato were pacing while Doctor Phlox, Lieutenant Reed, and Ensign Mayweather were seated in chairs along the wall. Beside the door. Reed had his face buried in his hands, and she heard him draw in a deep, shaky breath. She paused in front of the lieutenant and laid a comforting hand on his shoulder.

He started slightly and looked up, his worried eyes meeting hers. A weak smile crossed his lips, and she barely managed to contain the answering smile that threatened her hard-won appearance of control. T'Pol then turned to the captain and Ensign Sato, who had stopped their pacing and were now acknowledging her arrival. She clasped her hands tightly in front of her. "I booked passage to return the moment I received the news," she said. Archer nodded and there was a moment of silence between them. "Will he recover?"

Archer grinned wryly, avoiding her eyes. "They don't know the cause of the epidemic, and they can't find a cure until they do. All that they know is that his case is a little bit more advanced then the others." He paused. "We're all praying for him."

She nodded and bowed her head to hide the moisture in her eyes. Yet again, a momentary silence hung between them. "May I see him?" she asked.

Archer looked away and nodded. "The doctor said one at a time. He's slightly delusional and more than one visitor may confuse him," Archer replied.

T'Pol inclined her head in acknowledgement and walked to the rolling cart in the hallway by the door, reading the instructions for contact and respiratory isolation with a sinking heart. She donned gloves, a mask, and a gown and stepped through the doorway. She paused for a moment in order to regain control. She could sense him again through the bond. Her eyes closed as she took in the sensations of once again being connected to him on such a profound level. Fear was one of the many emotions coming to her through the bond. There was a unique color to them that allowed her to recognize that they were not her own. Trip needed her to be strong. He didn't need to exhaust his remaining energy feeling concern for her. She reached up a hand to wipe the moisture from the corners of her eyes before making her way slowly toward his bedside.

"T'Pol?" he called, his voice hoarse and strained.

She halted, sucking in a breath. His eyes weren't even open, yet he was aware of her. It must be the bond, she knew. He recognized her presence as though they'd never been parted. Her pulse and respiration increased and she felt slightly feverish.

"T'Pol?" he called again.

She moved toward him, the lingering scent of him that she had smelled before entering the room growing stronger with each step. At last, she reached his bedside and slid gracefully into the soft, cushioned chair next to it.

"I am here, Trip," she replied, laying one hand gently on top of his, fighting back the moisture gathering once again in her eyes.

His eyes opened instantly and he gazed at her as though he'd never seen her before. "Don't cry, T'Pol. Please," he whispered, reaching out to wipe the tears from her eyes. He stopped, as if he was reluctant to risk infecting her, but even without the touch, his presence was reassuring, even comforting. She could feel the hurt he was experiencing through the bond as well as the anger. She had expected as much, but she knew she would come to his side no matter the detriment to her own peace of mind.

He cleared his throat, looking suddenly awkward. "Why are ya here?"

Hesitating for a moment, she replied. "I heard that you were unwell and was concerned for you."

In the silence that followed, her gaze slid over his features. His skin had begun to wrinkle in the years since she'd last seen him, though he had aged with a grace that, to her, was unparalleled. Also, the hair at his temples was slightly greyer than she remembered, and she noted the formation of what humans referred to as crow's feet at the outer corners of his eyes. The warmth that had once filled his brilliant blue eyes was gone, replaced by the depth of his pain.

"Why did ya leave?" he choked.

She turned away for a moment, fighting to control her own emotional reaction. "For my duty and for my mother," she managed shakily.

He shook his head and sat forward in bed with a great deal of effort, trying to get her to look at him. "Ya said he was goin' ta let ya come back to Enterprise for a little while. Ya never came back."

Looking at her hands, she remained silent for several moments, unsure of how to respond. He could no doubt feel the strength of her regret through the bond, yet she couldn't bring herself to speak aloud how much she wished she'd stayed aboard Enterprise and how his absence from her life had plagued her dreams.

"T'Pol," he said softly, and she lifted her gaze to find Trip's eyes filled with emotion. "He doesn't know you're here, does he?"

She shook her head. "It doesn't matter. He and I . . . are no longer joined," she replied, a note of relief in her voice. Looking directly into his eyes, she added. "He learned of my Pa'Nar Syndrome and ordered that the marriage be dissolved. He is now raising our daughter T'Lin with his mother's assistance."

Through the bond, she felt his sympathy. "I'm sorry," he said softly.

"As am I," she replied. "But only for the sake of our daughter. Koss is not the one to whom I am bound." Their gazes locked and held for several moments before she continued. "You, Trip. You are the one to whom I am bound."

He gazed at her, stunned. "Bound?"

She paused before explaining. "Yes. Our sexual encounter three years ago deepened a psychic bond that had begun forming as we grew more companionable."

His eyes grew wide as he attempted to take in the full implications of her words. As he was working out the puzzle in his mind, realization dawned on him. His anger followed quickly at its heels. "Ya knew about this," he accused, his tone angry. "Ya knew when ya decided ta stay with Koss."

"I did not decide…" she begun feebly, but he cut her off.

He glared at her. "The hell ya didn't!" he growled. "Ya told me he was goin' ta let ya come back. Ya wanted ta stay with him!"

She swallowed roughly. "Trip, he is not the one that I . . ." she began, trying to reason with him. She gasped aloud as the surge of anger and hurt she felt through the bond nearly brought her to her knees.

"Just get the hell out of my…," he began before trailing off into a coughing fit.

She stared at him, torn between the desire to hold him to her and the desire to run. The dam she'd constructed to hold back the flood of emotions within her crumbled and anger surged through her, consuming her. Glaring coldly at him, she stormed from the room, stripping gloves, mask and gown from her body in a single movement, shoving them into the waste receptacle, and shutting the door hard behind her. She strode quickly past the captain, who wore a stunned expression on his face. She didn't care that everyone was staring at her. She needed to be alone so that she could regain control.

Breathing heavily, seething, she found an empty room and closed the door behind her. She then collapsed into the chair by the window, offering a silent thank you for the heavy curtains covering the windows, which blocked any sunlight. The darkness that filled the little room reflected the darkness inside of her and brought her an odd comfort. Her breathing slowly returned to normal, and her control began to return.

Extricating herself from the chair, she lowered herself to the floor and sat cross-legged, attempting a light meditative state. Her eyes closed and she focused on the rhythm of her breathing, each breath slower and softer than the last until she was aware of nothing but a peace that had settled itself within her.

Flames of dark red grew larger before her, and she begun to feel their heat as though the fire were burning within her. The flames continued to grow until the heat was almost unbearable. Slowly, the flames faded. But the heat did not. She saw a hand reach out and she closed her eyes, waiting anxiously to feel it against her skin. A shiver of need ran through her as he stroked her cheek, whispering her name. She opened her eyes to find Trip there before her, his chest bare, his lips so inviting. Her lips were millimeters from his when an urgent grip on her left arm brought her sharply out of her meditation.

"T'Pol," a voice called softly. Her eyes opened abruptly and Captain Archer was in front of her, looking directly into her eyes, his face millimeters from hers. "Are you alright?"

She hesitated, still slightly disoriented from being brought back so suddenly. "I'm fine," she replied, a slight growl in her tone.

Archer frowned in concern. "You sure aren't acting fine. What the hell happened?"

Her features became stony. "It's none of your concern," she said sharply, jerking her arm from his grip and striding toward the far wall, simply staring at it.

She felt his stare. Several long moments later she heard the door open and then close. Then she fell apart, collapsing into a heap on the floor, biting her lip to stop the sobs threatening to escape as the tears rolled down her cheeks. Her neural pathways were corroding quickly. She'd barely managed to keep it under control for these last few years. If Doctor Phlox didn't find a cure soon, it would be too late.

A shudder of fear ran up her spine as memories of the Seleya incident ran through her mind. She would become like them, she knew, if the damage wasn't repaired or at least halted. Her hands shook as she hugged herself tightly, closing her eyes in an attempt to regain control. Moments later, she slipped into a fitful sleep as she sat leaning against the wall and was surrounded by the unconscious, nightmarish imaginings of her mind.

******

Despite their altercation the previous night, T'Pol once again found herself sitting masked, gowned and gloved at Trip's bedside, studying his unconscious form. Somewhere in the night, her control had returned and she had become even more determined that she would not allow his emotional displays to affect her. He was behaving like an infant in the midst of a temper tantrum, as he always did when a misfortune befell him. She couldn't allow him to invoke a reaction from her. She had to be the voice of logic.

He hadn't opened his eyes since she had entered the room, but she could sense through the bond that he wasn't asleep. Exercising careful control over her emotions, she sat beside him, waiting for him to speak to her. After several hours of this, her patience was severely tested, and yet she continued to wait patiently. If there was one thing she'd learned about him in the last few years, it was that his stubborn nature often overrode his logic, but also that he would concede in his own time.

As she waited, she attempted a light meditative state. She had found that, in addition to calming her, meditation seemed to cause time to pass more quickly. Her emotions still struggled against each other, but she found Trip's physical presence to be a comfort despite their displeasure with one another.

Within moments, she had entered the white room within her mind and was slightly bewildered to find Trip there as well. When he caught sight of her, he rolled his eyes.

"Peachy," he muttered. "Now I see her when I'm day-dreamin'."

She caught the muttered words and arched a brow tolerantly. "You are being obstinate and illogical. There is no need to treat me with such hostility. I was attempting to repair an error in judgment on my part."

Trip snorted. "'Error in judgment'? Which one? Makin' love with me or marrying Koss?"

She hesitated and, sensing that Trip was about to lash out at her again, cut him off before he could speak. "In completing my obligation to Koss, I was doing my duty. By . . ." She paused and, deciding that Trip's phrasing was most accurately used, continued. "...making love with you, I was…"

"Satisfying your curiosity," he drawled, his tone resentful. He looked up, meeting her gaze. "I heard the spiel the first time. But I still think that whole thing was a load of horseshit."

Her eyebrows arched slightly higher. "If you will allow me to finish…"

Trip sighed and nodded. "Yeah, go ahead. Might as well get it over with."

She inclined her head before continuing. "By making love with you, I was satisfying myself." His brow furrowed at the finished sentence and his gaze locked with hers. "The error in judgment I am referring to is not discussing the events of that evening with you afterwards as I should have. The thoughts that I was entertaining puzzled me, and it has taken me an extended period of time to understand my own actions. Additionally, until you fell ill, I was not certain about the extent of our bond."

He hesitated, simply staring at her for several moments before asking, "So what are ya sayin'? What is this bond thing anyway?"

Sensing that he would allow her to speak uninterrupted, she explained. By the time that she'd finished, he was gaping at her with a bewildered expression on his face. For several moments, he simply stared at her, unable to speak.

"So . . ."he began slowly. "This thing . . . this bond. . . we can read each other's minds?"

She paused. "To say that we can sense one another's emotions and, with tremendous effort, exchange categorized audio and visual stimuli . . . memories . . . would be more accurate."

He frowned slightly. "Ya said somethin' about marriage . . ."

Again, she paused. "The bond that we have formed could be more accurately termed an early telsu bond. The closest equivalent in your language would be a ‘betrothal'. We are promised to one another."

He stared hard at her, and she could sense his smugness from having just been proven correct. She bowed her head slightly and closed her eyes. Her actions three years ago were still presenting their consequences to her to this day. "I apologize, Trip. I should have told you this long ago," she said softly. "My logic was flawed."

Trip grinned. "Darlin', my logic must be flawed, because I want you back, and you're trouble." He cupped her chin gently and lifted her face so that her gaze locked with his. "You're not goin' ta turn ‘round and run this time if ya get scared, right? And don't give me any of that ‘Vulcan's don't get scared' bullshit. If somethin's ever botherin' ya about us…about anythin'…come talk ta me and we'll work it out together. Ya can't outrun a hurricane, but ya can outsmart one."

She nodded and paused before leaning forward and brushing her lips against his. "We must get you well. Rest, telsu."

He smiled broadly. "I love ya, T'Pol." A soft laugh of pure joy escaped his lips as he leaned his forehead against hers, his warm breath making her lips tingle. "Good lord, I never thought I'd be able ta tell ya that. I love ya so much."

"And I you," she whispered.

******

An hour later, he awoke and felt the absence of her warm hand atop his. He figured she must have gone to get a bite to eat as she hadn't left his side all morning. A goofy grin spread over his features, and he felt warm on the inside. He hadn't felt this content since the cold, rainy days back home when he'd lain snuggled under the covers pouring over engineering manuals as the rain pitter-pattered against the roof and Bedford lay on the bed begging for a scratching behind the ears.

T'Pol loved him. His heart was swollen fit to burst at the mere thought that she'd said three words that he'd been longing to hear since Christmas three years ago. Nothing else seemed to matter, not even this damned sickness that was slowly draining his remaining energy.

He sat up, coughing harshly as he reached blindly for the tissue beside the bed. When at last he gripped it, he pulled it toward him and covered his mouth, letting loose a few more harsh coughs. Upon looking down at the tissue a moment later, he saw a mucus-textured spot of blood and his eyes widened, his heart racing.

Not a few moments later, T'Pol burst into the room looking worried. She pulled up the mask dangling around her neck and collapsed into the chair next to him, still pulling on her gloves. "What is it?" she asked breathlessly, taking his hand tightly in hers.

His brows furrowed. "What…?"

"You experienced panic a moment ago," she began.

He nodded, stunned. "How the hell did you…?" He trailed off, realizing that he must have somehow sent his panic to her. Clearing his throat, he winced slightly at how raw it was from coughing. "Just a sore throat from all that coughin' is all. I didn't mean ta scare ya."

She looked at him disbelievingly for a moment before inclining her head. "It is all right?"

He smiled weakly. "I'm glad ya cared enough ta come check on me, though," he added. A tense silence hung in the air between them before Trip broke it. "So . . . do they have any idea what's goin' on with me yet?"

She gazed at him, her expression thoughtful. "They have informed us that many are suffering from a similar ailment. Were it not for your normal body temperature, they would diagnose the ailment as a cold."

He nodded. "My granddad told me about a bout of the flu he had. This sure isn't anythin' like that."

"They are unsure as to what is causing your illness," she continued. "Until they can find the reason for your body's improper functioning, they will be able to offer neither a diagnosis nor any sort of treatment."

He paused, staring at her. "So what's goin' ta happen? Am I dyin'?"

Her throat tightened and she inclined her head, not meeting his eyes. "It's highly probable . . . if a treatment cannot be found soon.... that you..." The words came out as a breathy whisper. She couldn't bring herself to complete the thought.

His eyes widened and a jumble of emotions surged through the bond to her. He was angry, afraid, confused, and stunned. Drawing a deep breath, she looked up, meeting his gaze. She could see the emotion in his eyes as well. Usually a brilliant blue, they were now a stormy gray-blue.

She was unsure how to comfort him, as any of the things that she could say would perhaps seem callous and illogical. For humans, there was no comfort in death unless one believed in a higher deity who would look after the soul following its departure from the physical body. Even then, they were discomforted by the idea of leaving their loved ones behind.

"We will do all that it is within our power to do to find a treatment," she said softly. "You have my assurance."


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