The Force

By Asso

Rating: PG

Genres: drama romance

Keywords:

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By Asso - WHISPER CHALLENGE – December 2008

Rating: PG

Genre: Romance, be sure. And drama. Oh yes, there’s a big deal of drama, here. But…

Summary: BUT… THERE’S A FORCE IN THE UNIVERSE…

Spoilers: Some time after Borderland.

Disclaimer: Star Trek: Enterprise is owned by Paramount, not me. (DAMN! DAMN! DAMN! AND DAMN!) No infringement intended, no profit made.

AND AGAIN…

A great, great, great thank to Aquarius, and to her wise advices and suggestions.

Author’s note: The words in Italic between round brackets and asterisks are the thoughts.



The door chime shakes me from the gloomy thoughts that burden my mind, hindering my sleep.

My voice resounds dismal, as I talk. “Come in.”

The door opens and the unmistakable shape of doctor Phlox appears in the doorway. He advances slowly through the room, toward my desk, where I’m sitting in dreary abeyance, while the door closes behind him.

I feel a tightening in my stomach. It’s late, and there’s no reason for the doctor to come to me directly, to speak to me personally, without using OC.

(*Unless…*) - I try to be positive – (*It's not automatically going to be bad news. It's not! *)

I look at the way Phlox is walking.

He sounds… heavy, and not only there’s not the lightest shadow of a smile on his face. On the contrary his expression is dreary and somber.

He stops in front of me, staring at me.

I stand up slowly, mirroring his look.

My voice is weak when I speak.

“Doc?”

“Captain… I think she’s…”

His voice breaks off, while he lowers his eyes. Then he recovers. He looks at me again and finishes his sentence.

“I think she’s going, Captain.”

Rage! It flies at me, untamable! I can't control it! I can't help speaking harshly to the doctor. I blow up. “You said she was able to resume her duties the same afternoon we rescued her from the Orion Slave Market!”

There’s no resentment on Phlox’s face or in his words, while he answers me. There’s only sadness. And a lot of despondency and of heartsickness. “That was true, Captain. She was doing absolutely well, as the others. Nothing made me imagine…”

I anticipate the doctor, finishing his sentence in his stead, still harshly, almost I would want to reproach him for what happened. “… That some time after she would have collapsed to the floor, totally unconscious…”

“Captain…”

I can’t help expressing myself with anger, again. “And thank goodness, Trip was there, near her, when she fell apart, and he brought her to you in a jiffy!”

“Captain…”

“Because, otherwise, she probably would've just died then!”

“Captain, please…”

I finish my speaking in a bitter whisper - “Instead of having to wait until now.” - looking at Phlox in dismay, as he does.

“Captain…”. Phlox’s voice is a whisper, too. An uncertain whisper in search of the right words.

I sit down slowly, lowering my eyes. “Why, Phlox?”

“Captain, I…”

I interrupt the doctor. If I keep talking, maybe the sorrow will go away; maybe none of it will be true. "How can we lose her like this? In less than twenty-four hours? She was fine! Why can't we do anything?"

“Captain…” It’s a sad refrain, my name on Phlox’s mouth, a sad refrain to my useless questions.

“Why, Phlox? Why was that Orion device so deadly to her?”

“Captain, I told you. The Pa'nar syndrome…”

I raise my hand with a feeble gesture. “I know. I know, Phlox.” My chest hurts. I'm powerless. I'm smiling, but I'm miserable. "Sorry. That was stupid. You… you know how stupidly Humans act, sometimes."

“Captain…”

Once again that word on doctor’s lips, that word which means my power. And my solitude.

“Yeah. I know. Damn syndrome! Damn device! DAMN ORIONS! DAMN DESTINY! DAMN!!”

“Captain!” Phlox’s voice is harsh, now, like he's trying to shake me.

But I’m tired of that name.

I’m tired of being the Captain.

I snap to my feet, speaking with angry voice. "Damn the day she threw her lot in with ours! This is how we repay her for her friendship!"

“That’s enough, Captain!” Phlox's harsh tone brings me back. He gazes steadily at me. Solemnly. “She’s going, Captain. She’s…” Phlox swallows, with clear effort. “She’s dying, Captain.”

I stare at him in a daze.

He goes on. Weakly. Purposely. “I think you should go to her, Captain.”

I keep my eyes fixed with the doctor's. I feel so numb.

“Before… it’s too late, Captain.”

I shake myself, nodding. Without voice.

Then I gather myself. I speak, with poise and collectedness. With cocksureness. Like the Captain has to do. “Right, doctor.” I start to walk toward the door, the doctor behind me. I reach the door and open it, but I turn back to the doctor before I go through, looking strangely at him. “Let’s go, Phlox.”

His eyes are locked with mine.

“She’s waiting, and I don’t want…” – (*What’s this lump in my throat? *) - “I don’t want to disappoint her. And…” – (*And what’s this sudden and strange though in my mind? *) - “…I don’t want Trip to think I don’t care for her.”

Phlox’s eyes tighten at my words, but he doesn’t say anything.

We go toward the sickbay… where my First Officer is dying.

My friend. The Vulcan woman who’s losing her life because she wanted to share her destiny with ours.


I open the sickbay’s door in the chilly silence of the Enterprise's artificial night. The dark and the silence inside the room affect me more than in the corridor. It sounds wrong, as an ominous omen. Only the nighttime lighting and the indicator lights of the medical devices are working, and the miscellaneous specimens of the Doctor’s zoo are oddly quiet.

The only noise is the monotonous sound of her respiratory device.

I enter the lonely room with Phlox behind me, heading reluctantly for the bed where she lies.

And I see him.

I stop suddenly. The doctor almost bumps into me.

Stiff, silent, motionless he is standing at the bed's side, and I… I‘m not surprised to see him here. And now. Like if I was expecting that. Because…Because… what?

And what will happen… now?

His stare is fixed on the quiescent form of the woman on the bed, on her inert visage, with his arms crossed on his chest and a hard expression on his face.

Softly, nearly fearfully, I call him.

I whisper his name.

“Trip.”

He doesn’t make the smallest movement. Engrossed. Lost in his contemplation, like if nothing else existed for him but the woman dying on that bed.

I call him again, with a new, low-pitched whisper. The doctor is still standing close to me; I hear his feeble breath in my ears.

“Trip.”

With an endless, painful slowness, he raises his head, turning his face toward us and looking at us with vacant eyes.

A long instant of bated silence, then he turns back to her.

He uncrosses his arms, bringing his right hand to rest on her stock-still face, and his fingers begin to caress her cheek, delicately, - (*Why am I not surprised to see him do that? *) - while he turns once more his empty eyes at us.

I try to speak, his name again on my mouth, again a low whisper that attempts to break his … yes… his despair. “Trip…”

I can’t go on. His eyes stop me.

His fingers are still fondly stroking her face - (*What’s this pang inside me? Is it confusion? Only that? Is it… is it…? *) - when he talks, finally, in a voice I don't recognize.

A dead voice.

“She’s dying, Jon.”

It resounds tragic, at this moment, my name on his lips. - (*What’s… what’s this pang inside me? Is it confusion? Really that? ONLY THAT? Is it… is it… WHAT? *).

"Commander..." I hear the doctor whisper this call from behind me.

Those glazed eyes turn upon Phlox, who stops at Trip's look. A look which rives the soul.

“I know it, doctor.” - It’s a faint whisper of pure desperation. - “I know, because…" - I imagine the words he’s going to say. - (*What’s this pang inside me? What does it mean? *) - “… because…” - The truth I suspected long since, it blossoms… sweet and bitter… on his mouth. - “… I love her.” - (*What is this which I'm feeling inside? What does it mean ? What do I feel? *)

I don't dare do or say anything. I can only listen to this heartbreaking declaration of love, made just as we're— he's—losing her.

“I love her, Jon, and she…” - Those dead eyes squint a little, as though my friend were searching the strength. - “…she loves me.”

(*Is it… JEALOUSY? JEALOUSY?!? *)

I hear the doctor breathe a long sigh to my side without saying anything, while I call my friend once more. “Trip…”

That look stops me again.

"We love each other, Jon."

I can’t help but listen, repressing shamefully a guilty twinge inside me, a twinge even more odious now, in these circumstances. Now, while she is going. Because now I recognize perfectly what this is, absolutely clearly. Jealousy! Yes! I can’t deceive myself any more. Stupid, disgraceful, jealousy, because Trip has…what I would have wanted.

And what he’s going to lose!

My friend’s voice shakes me. He levels a stare at me when he speaks again, his words bitter and laboured. “This… this stubborn… woman won’t… ever… say it, but… it’s so. We…” - His eyes get red. - “… we’re… in love…”

Red, red… his eyes get more and more red… - “… and now…”

His eyes fill up with tears. - “… now… I… ”

His voice breaks down. A whisper of inexpressible pain. - “…lose... her!”

The doctor and I aren't there any more as Trip turns his focus back to T'Pol, slowly leaning upon her and tenderly caressing her hair. I notice her hand is so pale as he takes it into one of his. He talks to her, oblivious of us and of any else thing.

“I’m losing you… my know-it-all, pig-headed love!”

I don't know what to do. I've never seen Trip so broken. So lost. So hopelessly desperate.

(*And I don’t know how to handle what I feel inside. *)

Phlox and I exchange a powerless glance.

The disjointed words of our friend compel us to pay attention to him again, and to the mournful scene that's occurring under our eyes.

“I lose you for real, Hon. I… I'll see you... never again!”

(*HON!!! *)

A remorseful expression, sad, almost angry, pops up suddenly on his face. His voice lowers to such an extent that I almost can’t hear it; it’s like he wants to tell her something that he’s unable to not tell, but that he doesn’t want others to know.

The overwhelming pain of this moments brings him to behave like this, to say things that shouldn’t be said aloud, to disclose things that should be private, clashing with his usual ability to control himself… with the way she would want him to behave.

I should stop him, take him to reality.

I should. But I want to know.

And I catch a few words.

“…Stupid me… Romeo and Juliet … won’t see his Juliet…”

I don’t dare to understand what it means. I don’t dare!

Other words, meaningful and private, that Trip is incapable of restraining, now, before the woman he loves. – (*And who loves him. And who dies! The… the Juliet he won’t see any more! *)

And, even if mistily, I understand a great deal of things.

And the grovelling pang inside me grows up, insuppressible, while the truth I wanted to ignore reveals itself in its entirety.

“….shotgun wedding… ”

Dreariness, dire and sore, is now on his face.

“…another man…”

I've never seen Trip this way before. Never seen him so smashed. I never could've imagined him like this.

“But you…”

His voice gets now more lower, if possible. Only some words, bitty and drawled, resound understandable, but even if I can’t hear plainly, I’m able to notice their tone.

It’s desperate.

“…you…mine! ... cannot…”

DESPERATE!

“… without you!”

All of a sudden I feel shamefaced and blameworthy. Guilty. Powerfully guilty!

What am I doing, God damn it? What am I doing? I’m intruding! I’m intruding, profiting by the situation. I’m… vile. Vile.

I look at the doctor. He moved back a few steps, and lowered his face, trying to not share something that is not his.

Or mine.

It’s not mine. I have no right. I have no right!

But…

I must know.

I WANT TO KNOW!

And I look again at my friend. And listen to some other words.

“How… live without you? …die! …go crazy! ... I KNOW!”

A sort of stifled noise comes from Phlox, a choked exclamation which forces me to avert my attention from the scene.

I look at the doctor, and somehow the stunned expression I see on his face, an expression that I don't understand but that speaks volumes… that expression shakes me.

What the hell am I doing, for Pete's sake? How can I intrude so badly on things which belong only to my friend? How can I begrudge him his feelings? How can I begrudge him his privacy? How can I feel jealous of him? Instead of feeling compassion? Comprehension? Instead of trying to do something to alleviate his sorrow? How can I feel this sort of… of envy, while she, my Vulcan friend, my trustworthy First Officer is… is…

Words which sounds as sobs drag my eyes back to the couple.

”Don’t go Hon. Don’t go! I beg you! Don’t go Hon!”

Enough now! ENOUGH! I have to do something. I can't stand to see him this way. I call him. A whisper again. “Trip…”

But he doesn't hear me. He doesn't know I'm there any more.

My voice bursts out powerfully!

“TRIP!”

His body stiffens up suddenly. Like he was emerging from the fog, he stands up slowly, taking his hands away from her.

Then he turns towards us, crossing his arms. There's a rigid mask on his face now; a... coldness… which frightens me more than his previous frenzy.

And his voice echoes glacial in the room. “I’m sorry, Captain.”

I’m alarmed. This is not Trip. This is not the man I know.

I call his name again. “Trip…”

Those eyes, those red and vacuous eyes, no longer are shedding tears. They seem to watch me from another, distant dimension.

He repeats the phrase, as an automaton. “I’m sorry, Captain.”

“Trip.”

“I’m sorry, Captain.”

“TRIP!”

“I’m sorry, Captain.”

“Commander!!”

“I’m sorry, Captain.”

MISTER TUCKER! ” Phlox’s voice, hard and loud like never I heard it, all of a sudden fills air around us. “Mister Tucker, enough now!”

Trip’s eyes turn slowly on the doctor, who spoke for the first time since we entered the sickbay.

They are glassy, far.

Wicked.

I see the doctor shuddering! I swear!

Like me!

He seems to recognize the doctor. A deadly voice... a hatred voice ... comes out from Trip’s mouth.

“Ah, doctor… I’m glad to see you.”

“Mister Tucker…”

“Yeah. I’m glad…”

I’m thinking if the doctor is going to sedate my friend, but he seems quiet now, even if frighteningly glacial. And Phlox only seems to want to scrutinize him, with keen attention, while he keeps on speaking.

“… I’m glad, because you’re the right person.”

“Commander, what do you mean?”

I follow the dialogue between the doctor and my friend. The shadow of my friend.

My back is sweaty.

A man that I don’t recognize speaks softly in the air.

His voice is… cruel.

“Oh, doctor… I think you have to save her life.”

“Commander, I…”

“I… think… you… must… do… it…”

A frightful quiver runs along my spine.

What… what is now my old friend? What did the evil destiny to him?

A doctor I don’t know…a scared doctor … speaks weakly in response.

“I… did my best.”

“You… have… to… do… more, Phlox… More.”

I try to take the control, to draw his attention.

“Trip, listen to me…”

But he’s on another world.

His voice resounds far.... unworldly ... while he speaks, talking to the doctor again.

“Doctor, you have to save her. Who knows… Maybe this might save… a lot of lives.”

I advance toward my friend.

I speak hard.

I’m the Captain, after all! A damn Captain who doesn’t want to send for security. I can’t do this to my friend, can't add the humiliation to his pain! Even in the middle of the storm which is fidgeting inside me, I cannot do this!

“Explain, Trip!”

That dead look which is capable of perforating your soul reverts on me.

And I boggle.

It’s not the look of a sane man, the look I see on his face. -(*It’s not! *)

I hear the doctor murmuring something. “Could it be ever possible?”

(*What? What could be possible? *) - But I haven’t time to ask anything.

The… mad… - yes, mad! - voice of Trip arises again, and the words I hear from him… they are not the words of a sane man. - (*They’re not! *)

“That Orion device I modified… it’s interesting. Really.”

It’s not the voice of a sane man, the voice which talks –icy– to us. - (*It’s not!*)

“It could be very interesting to find the manner to make those devices work… the other way around.”

I feel like a stab inside me.

I speak to my…- (*… to my friend? * ) - with a wary tone, almost scared of what he’ll reply to my question.

“Trip! What you mean?”

It’s not a sane smile, the smile he smirks with, while replying to me. - (*It’s not!*)

“Well, Jon. I think it would be really fun to see the looks on the faces of those who’re using these devices in case I do that. Sure!”

(*I don’t want to send for security. I DON’T WANT TO! *)

A pause, loaded with tense suspense. Then, he continues, his eyes burning with a coruscant flame.

“It should be really fun to see their expression… while they are feeling the pain that should be experienced by their slaves!

“Trip!”

It’s infernal – now – the look on his face. - (*It is! *)

“And I don’t know, Captain… No. It isn’t true. I know… perfectly… what could happen to those who’re using these devices, in case she goes dying.”

(*NO! I don’t want to send for security. I DON’T WANT TO! I don’t want the doctor do anything to him! I WANT MY FRIEND BACK! NOW! HERE! *)

I place myself in front of him, grabbing his shoulders with force.

I shake them violently, while I gaze at his eyes mortally blank, asking him with a sombre voice what I’m afraid to hear.

“What, Commander? What… could happen to them?”

The eyes of the unknown man who’s looking at me… insanely … those eyes shine evilly, while he gives me the response.

They could die. All of them!

His voice lowers till an ominous hiss.

His eyes sparkle with a blaze of insanity.

Among the most atrocious torments!

I remain speechless, frozen, still holding him by his shoulders, unable even to think.

His pupils dilate.

He grinds his teeth.

The bloodcurdling sibilance of his voice freezes me again.

“But not Soong! He wouldn’t have such a rosy destiny.

His following words seem incendiary bullets.

As for him... I'll take care of him… personally!

(*It’s not true! It’s a dream! A NIGHTMARE! *)

I hear myself ask with a voice that isn’t mine. “ Trip! Are you going… “ - I whisper this word with dumbfounded, abrupt awareness. - “crazy?!?

Phlox’s voice - low, stunned and dazed - resounds behind me. “Is it really possible? And so strong? So strong that… he's gone… mad!

I remain frozen for a short instant, then my brain starts to function again, under necessity’s whip.

Once more I don’t understand what the doctor means, but I don’t care, now. Now I have to bring back my friend.

I have to prevent him from destroying himself with his own hands.

I know he doesn’t speak vainly. He’s capable of doing what he says! And I can’t conceive that I have to be forced to proclaim his condemnation.

I tighten my hold on his shoulders and stare hotly at that dead face.

I bark on his face. “TRIP! YOU CANNOT DO THIS! You cannot think to take such a revenge, to kill so many people like this! YOU CANNOT DESTROY YOUR LIFE SO!

His lips close abruptly.

His eyes become two slits.

A deep rumble starts to boom in his chest, then in his throat, until it explodes ear-splitting on his mouth…“AAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH”…while his arms dart up suddenly, breaking off my hold on him, hurling me to the ground as a weak wisp of straw!

(*Soong wouldn't have a prayer against him! *)

I stare at him from the ground, cautiously, amidst the ruckus of the calls of the animals awakened by this beastly scream.

With the corner of my eye I see Phlox fling himself toward the OC, while brandishing a hypodermic device, with the clear intention to call for help and sedate my friend.

The doctor looks at me uncertainly as I put my hand up to stop him.

(*Not yet. NOT YET! There must be something we can do! There must be, before everything is lost! *)

I stand up slowly under the look of Trip’s wild eyes, his breath harsh and deep, his hands clenched like vises.

I move toward him little by little, careful not to make any sudden movement capable of provoking any blindly hostile reaction from him.

His eyes follow all of my gestures.

Savage, furious and frosty, like the eyes of a feral and mortal beast.

I halt in front of him in the weighty silence fallen in the room again, and I speak softly, searching his face for something of the man he used to be.

The doctor following attentively our dance of death.

The motionless woman at the centre of all this, lying unaware on her death bed.

I look gingerly into the demoniac twinkle of Trip’s - (*Trip’s? *) – eyes.

I call him, very lowly, with extreme caution. An apprehensive, fearful whisper. “Trip!”

His eyes shine even more.

His mouth trembles.

His fists open and close… open and close… open and close…

He speaks, a voice from the netherworld. But there’s a… a weird consciousness, now, in his words, and I don't know whether to be relieved or even more worried, while I listen to him. “My life? Destroyed? By me?”

He peers at me, his eyes clearer and aware. His hands relax, lightly. His face puts on an expression more… human.

He talks to me, to his old friend. And the bleak duskiness of his tone freezes my heart.

“If she dies… I’ll die.”

It seems to me that the world has stopped, because somehow I… I feel that what he says is not an empty phrase.

“But, first, I'll go crazy.”

I go on listening - appalled – to his words.

“I know it. I don’t know the whys and wherefores… but It’s true.”

The doctor’s voice. Again. Incredulous. Bemused. An abashed whisper of stunned astonishment. “So… damnedly… powerful!

I have no time to think of all these enigmas, because a sudden, long, inhuman howl bursts out from Trip, his mouth contorted. Even the beasts in the Doctor's zoo don't dare make a peep. It’s made with discernable words, but it sounds like a yell.

AAAAHHHHNOOOOOO!!! ” An agonizing yell of tenebrous, mad, despair! “I-WON'T-DESTROY-MY-LIFE!-IT-WILL-BE-ALREADY-DESTROYED-WITHOUT-HER!!!

A heavy silence descends upon us.

The doctor watches me attentively, waiting for my order, the order that I can’t delay any more.

I raise weakly my voice - “Doctor…” - while I watch my old friend, the last time, before I condemn him to his destiny.

His body is taut, fists clenching spasmodically. His harsh and ragged breath nearly drowns out the sounds of the life-support equipment.

Then something seemed to snap inside him.

His eyes widen.

His breath drops to a feeble panting.

His hands slowly cover his mouth.

And finally, as his eyes fix on something distant and indefinite, his arms drop to his sides, and his mouth barely moves as he whisper. “Without… her…”

His eyes seem to focus on me, to recognize me. They look at me strangely.

His whole person seems to go limp.

He recoils slowly several steps, then turns toward the bed, gazing at her unstirring form.

A soft, almost incredulous, doleful sigh emerges from his mouth.

“Without… you…

And then, at this moment, I understand what I have to do.

I call him again. Strongly. - “TRIP!” - He faces me, his eyes full of tears again.

Once more. Sweetly. - “Trip.” - I talk to him, slowly and affectionately. - “Trip… she wouldn’t want… this.

He looks at me agaze, at my words, his breath practically stopped.

I scrutinize his look. It’s dreary. Heartsick. Desperate. But… it’s his look. The blue in those eyes is the blue of Trip’s eyes. My friend is back. It’s him!

I speak again. “She would want the Trip…” I emphasize strongly my words. “…she loves.

He opens his eyes more, if that's possible, then he closes them slowly, keeping them shut for some instants. Finally, he opens them almost with effort, taking a deep sigh. He turns slowly toward her and stares at her steadily.

He advances toward the bed, his eyes not abandoning her face.

He stops to her side and bends over, lowering his face on her face until his lips nearly are touching hers, his hands holding amorously her pale visage.

The doctor silently withdraws from the other side of the bed, ashamed of intruding such a intimate moment.

The last goodbye. The farewell greeting.

Not me. I stay where I’m. Close to Trip and to T’Pol.

I want to see.

I want to hear.

I’m his…

I’m… their … friend.

My friend, my old, hapless, ill-fated friend talks on her lips, with such a low voice that it sounds like a iffy sigh, but I understand perfectly what he’s murmuring to… his love.

And I feel my heart torn to minuscule shreds.

“Don’t go, T’Pol. Stay here. I won’t watch you any more, I’ll steer clear of you, forever, I swear. But… please... please! Don’t go! Live, Hon! Only that!”

His mouth goes down, imperceptibly, even more, then, suddenly, he stops, like realizing what he’s doing, now and here, in front of the doctor and of me, acting like she wouldn't ever want him to do, showing so openly an intimacy which belongs only to them.

He lifts his head and turns his face toward me, ashamed, but all at once determined, nearly defiant, impudent -watching me with a look which speaks volumes.

And once more, I understand.

This is the last occasion. My friend won’t be able to do it any more. Only now! And nevermore!

I feel a hand on my shoulder and I turn slightly, seeing the doctor gazing designedly at me. His voice is almost hard when he speaks. “Let’s go, Captain. I think we should stay out for a little while.”

I lower my eyes, shamefacedly, then I nod uncertainly and let Phlox lead me, and together we exit the sickbay. We stay firm in the corridor, in front of the sickbay door, in silence, each of us engrossed in our thoughts. The doctor observes me with keen eyes, and I know the why, what he thinks. He’s not a mere physician, he’s capable of deciphering the minds. He knows the somber turmoil inside me. (*There, beyond that door, Trip is giving T’Pol the last kiss of love. *)

Tonight I lose T’Pol. For real. And also in my never said desires.

(*There, beyond that door, Trip is giving T’Pol the last kiss of love. *)

Tonight I was coerced to confront with myself. With my feelings and with my jealousy. With the unknown man hidden in my soul.

(*Beyond that door, Trip is giving T’Pol the last kiss of love. *)

Tonight I have learned the truth. About Trip and about T’Pol. And about me.

(*Beyond that door, Trip is giving T’Pol the last kiss of love. *)

Tonight I have almost lost also Trip, and my fight – for him and inside me – has been fearsome. And I don't know which his destiny will be. And mine.

(*Trip is giving T’Pol the last kiss of love. *)

This night will mark me forever.

(*Their last kiss of love! *)

This night will mark our destinies, forever. This night all will finish. T’Pol. And Trip. And somehow also me. T’Pol will take Trip away together with her in some way or other - I know, I understood - and the solitude I surrounded myself with, little by little, foolishly, since the Expanse, will be my only path.

Seconds pass, slowly. I and the doctor look at each other, hesitantly, while my impatience increases, until I decide time arrived we have to break the wait.

I scowl at Phlox and push decisively the door's opening button. We enter the room, side by side, and we watch inside.

Trip is standing, near the bed, holding T’Pol’s hand between his. He realizes we went back in the sickbay and casts a quick glance at us, directing straight after his attention to the pale visage of the woman he loves.

He bends down slightly again upon her, looking at her closed eyes, while Phlox and I approach them little by little.

Now I’m close to them and I hear him talk softly. It’s a sort of - I don’t know - a sort of harrowing request, a trepid… prayer … which rolls quietly between his lips and her lips, through the short distance that separates them.

“Think of this, Hon. Only that. Think of this.

Finally he straightens up slowly, and stares at her face for a long instant.

His last words, even if very lowly murmured, echo perfectly understandable in the silence of the room.

“Think of it, Hon. Think of it.

One moment yet.

Then he gathers himself.

He turns his head towards me, looking at me with sad… aware … eyes.

He shakes his head.

He gazes again at the motionless figure on the bed.

And then…

He begins to recoil, little by little, without turning around, his shoulders oriented towards the door, still staring at her.

Still whispering, like in a trance.

“Think of it. ”

One step backward.

“Think of it.”

Another step backward.

“Think of it.”

Another one.

“Think of it.”

Another one yet.

“Think of it.”

Now he’s on the doorway; he opened the door without looking.

I wake and follow him swiftly, halting abruptly in front of him. I call him. "Trip..."

He looks poignantly at me and speaks, his voice taking on an unknown, strange tone, like he wanted to mean deeper and altogether different things than those that can seem. “I’m sorry, Jon.”

Then his chest heaves and he starts to run.

He caught me off guard. I jump to stop him, but he's already distant, and I remain firm, looking at him who runs away, until he disappears from my sight beyond the corridor's corner; and in the dead quietness of the ship they resound clear, the pounding of his feet on the deck plates, and the mantra he chants with a mesmerizing cadence.

“Think of it.”

“Think of it.”

“Think of it.”

“Think of it.”

“Think of it.”

I remain motionless and silent for some instants, while I’m debating what to do. The last events whirl in my brain, as the thought about what will happen now. Then I decide to not follow him, because it’s righter that I stay here, and because I believe to know where my friend is going. Engine rooms, yes, there. There he’ll try to face his fate, surrounded by the engines he loves, and there I’ll find him… after all will end.

All this swirls boisterously in my mind, as I back up toward the door, until it hits my backside and I open it without looking, and while the doctor’s cryptic half-phrase echo in my head again.

What they mean? What do Trip’s actions mean?

I need to know and there’s only one person who can help me figure these things out.

“Doc…”. Strangely, in contrast with his usual habit, he doesn’t answer.

I feel suddenly unquiet. More than earlier, if possible.

I call again, softly, without moving, suddenly conscious of the unnatural silence the doctor displayed during these latest moments. “Phlox?”

No response.

I turn around slowly, afraid of what I’ll see.

The end!

Her end!

And… I see the doctor stare alternately at her control screen device and at her, with an incredulous, astonished expression on his face.

I go closer step by step, my eyes locked on the screen. It sparkles and resounds. There’s on it an untidy turmoil of lines which go up and down, of lights which flash with vigour. It’s like if it’s resounding with life! It boils. More and more, more and more!

My bemused – madly hopeful - look lowers to meet the doctor’s look, and I read in his eyes the same dazed – madly hopeful - marvel.

Phlox and I hold our breaths, and at the same time, together, we look down at her, with bated expectancy.

She moves.

Imperceptibly.

She stirs.

Slightly.

Her arms tremble.

Almost unnoticeably.

Her mouth quakes.

Observably!

Her… her bosom rises up…

With a long… deep… breath!

The doctor and I lift our eyes to exchange an amazed - madly hopeful – stare!

Then we gaze again at the woman… who’s regaining her place in the life.

Her eyelids shiver.

They open slowly.

Her eyes look again at the world.

Confused.

Fuzzy.

Befogged.

ALIVE!

Her right hand quivers.

It attempts to move.

It rises up, with difficulty. With great effort.

Slowly, little by little, it goes up, until it reaches her mouth.

Slowly, delicately, its fingers begin to brush her lips.

Slowly, dreamy… rapt! ... a soft sigh makes its road through her mouth.

It’s a hushed whisper.

It’s a deafening shout.

It’s a name.

“TRIP!”

The End

 


There’s a Force in the Universe…

It’s a hushed whisper.

It’s a deafening shout.

It has a name.

“LOVE!”


Comments:

Asso
Thanks for all your comments. Now I think: what the hell could he do, the Prince Charming who wakened his Snow White, without knowing he achieved his aim, because something (fear? something else?) prompted him to go away before he realized he reached success?;)
panyasan
This was really intense. Very well written, compliments Asso. I was really annoyed by Archer's behaviour, I would like to scream to him "Get out of the way, you prying in something very private, something you don't been a part of, you selfish person." Asso sure can provoke emotions. Loved the ending.
Blacknblue
So he used the bond to bring her back, giving her from his own life energy. I got that much. Now he is going to do something. But what? Indeterminate endings like this are fascinating, when they are as well done as this one. :)
Reanok
This story certainly has an operatic quality to it really differnt Asso's usual stories. This story shows that Asso's talent to write totally differents tories than we expect from him.
Dinah
If you were trying to make your story cryptic, [b]Asso[/b], you sure succeeded. This is so sad. It's interesting that Archer realized that he was jealous. I hope Trip found a way to keep T'Pol alive. If Trip decided to give up his life to save T'Pol then :s...uh...wouldn't that put T'Pol right back into danger. Or maybe not. :s Wow, this is deep. Nice job, [b]Asso[/b].
bluetiger
I am not sure how I feel. Is Trip about to do something desperate fearing TPol is dead? Where did he go? Did he cause her recovery? Many questions. Much emotion.
Asso
Oh I love when I realize I have taken people to lift the eyebrow, searching for something that is, maybe, hidden in the depth of my writing! And, obviously, I love when I manage to stir emotions. [b]Alelou[/b], perhaps you can not believe me, but I'm glad you got lost. That was exactly what I wanted to do: Archer is lost, Trip is lost, T'POL IS LOST! And Phlox too. The writer and the readers have to be lost! And sure: you have to look at this story with your ear taut and tense to a doleful and unknown song. A sort of underground (and sometimes scary) musical sound beats life's time. And death's time. Who knows: maybe Pavarotti knew this.:p [b]Evcake[/b], Joyce? Lloyd Webber? Do you want my ego to inflate tremendously?:D Anyway, yes, you're free to think what you want to: some kind of mystical exchange? Maybe, and maybe not. Feelings and emotions (and actions) are often unfathomable. Here I didn't want to show the light: I wanted to keep all in the penumbra. In any case I'm happy you found good the idea of somehow making the Orion device work the other way around. And here is the point: I had an exciting debate with [b]Aquarius[/b]. She thought Trip is out-character. We made together many adjustments, till she and I decided we were unable to do anything else. You have to think that, initially, in my story, Trip had already made the Orion Device operate in order to work the other way around. [b]Aquarius[/b] told me that this one wasn't the true Trip, and I followed her wise advice. But I ask you: really is Trip like this? What could a man do when life strikes him very badly? Terribly, unfairly badly? [b]Linda[/b], dear [b]Linda[/b], as always you are capable of fully understanding my ways and my intentions, and of making me abysmally proud. Allow me to say something that I hope people doesn’t take as wrong. Here we’re in the habit of saying this: Do you want to taste some splendid action scenes? Watch American movies. Do you want to know what there’s under the actions? Put together Americans and Europeans. Do you want waters to get roiled? Add Italians. Who knows: maybe Byzantines didn’t pass in vain here.:p [b]anaM[/b], your words make me proud. If you felt a slightly hypnotizing effect , I reached one of my aims. You want to know why Trip left? But, honestly, can you think Trip can be rational in these circumstances? Perhaps he is merely unable to bear all this, or who knows what the hell. And you have to think that it's Archer who thinks Trip is going to Engine rooms, but is this true? I think Trip is trying to survive. Or maybe not only that?;)
anaM
This had a slightly hypnotizing effect on me... I felt both Trip's and Archer's despair. But I also don't understand the ending, Trip left because he had to give up something in order to save T'Pols' life? Maybe his life?
Linda
This is a differently paced story than a lot of us write. It is slower, lingers in emotional states, uses repetition to sustain or build these states. It moves at the pace at which emotions happen in real life, I think. Most of us write so we make scenes go faster, skipping small details to make action scenes exciting to grip the readers and shock them. I love action scenes. But for a change of pace I enjoy a slowly evolving scene like Asso can write. That is his gift to us.
evcake
Yes, it does have an operatic quality, doesn't it? As if Joyce wrote the book and Lloyd Webber wrote the score. OK, Asso: if Trip brought T'Pol back to life with an almost kiss and an incantation, why run off to Engineering? Does some kind of mystical exchange take place? I really like the idea of somehow making the Orion device work the other way around. :p
Alelou
I'm afraid you just lost me on this one. It's more drama and repetition than I can handle, especially from Archer. Maybe if I could hear it sung by Pavarotti...:)

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