The Deepest Blues

By Elessar

Rating: PG

Genres: adventure drama family general missing scene

Keywords: Archer

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Summary:  This is a missing scene from Season 2's First Flight in which Archer learns his old friend A.G. Robinson has died.  This story focuses on the soul searching Archer had to do after A.G.'s first test flight of the NX-Alpha went wrong and the Vulcans and Starfleet Command canned the Warp 2 Prototype Project.  Archer seemed to decide off screen to approach A.G. and propose that they illegally take the NX-Beta out against orders and break the Warp 2 barrier successfully in order to provide irrefutable proof that the NX design was sound.  There seemed to be a fertile opportunity for some missing scene action.

 


 

The sun was just minutes from setting on San Francisco, and quite possibly, the future of Warp 5.  Archer was stepping through the doorway to his Sausalito apartment just as the sun's meridian leveled with the Earth's horizon and bathed the southern California landscape under a thick orange glow.  Loosening the neck of his uniform, he drew the zipper down to allow the cool air of his apartment to slip in and ease the hot, sticky tension in his neck and chest.  His ears rang with Commodore Forrest's angry order to leave his office.  He wouldn't hear any more appeals, arguments or plain-and-simple grief over the Vulcans' decision to pull the plug on the Warp 2 prototype.  Forty years in the uniform between the two of them couldn't budge the Vulcan High Command's position an inch.

His fingers crept up the bridge of his nose in the blackness of a weary sigh, and he remembered his father ... coming home from work one day, slamming his notebook down on the counter.  He vaguely remembered hesitantly creeping up to his father from his video games and asking what was wrong.  At just seven, he couldn't understand why his father was so angry ... or why he attempted to hide the twitches and shakes in his hands that were becoming much more frequent.

Jonathan moved on autopilot to the fridge and took the last beer out of a twelve pack.  A mirthless laugh escaped his lips as he twisted off the cap and knocked back a swig, cursing A.G. for hogging the whole case two nights ago.  They were celebrating what was to become the landmark success of the NX-Alpha as it sailed through the warp 2 barrier and on into the history books ... that is, until A.G. actually flew it, pushed the engine beyond the redline, exceeded every physical tolerance of the prototype and blew it into a million pieces.  Archer ground his jaw, wishing A.G.'d had the decency to blow up with it.

He stomped across the kitchen and into the bedroom.  His eyes landed immediately on a box in the corner.  Its corners folded inward, it hadn't been opened since he moved it from the old house, then to his officer's quarters, again to his state room at Jupiter Station, and then finally back to San Francisco.  Each time he laid hands on it, he had to send his mind elsewhere to resist the insistent temptation to open it and look at his father's things.  He drew another long swig as he recalled his mother's many pleas over the years for him to open it.  "Just look through it," she would say, as if a handful of leftovers could substitute for his dad... as if a few items could sum up the man.  For twelve years, the box had sat in their old house after his father died, while she kept pestering him to open it.  It was none of her business if he did or didn't. But, as the NX Project and the Warp Five Plan's only hope for existence hacked and choked on its death bed, Jonathan couldn't think of a more appropriate time lay these painful Archer-family ghosts to rest.  That damn box.

Dropping on the bed, he left the bottle on the nightstand and lifted the box into his lap.  He tore at the overlapping flaps quickly, as if the slightest hesitation would send his courage reeling into the brusque California winds.  The first thing he laid eyes on was a picture frame.  Turning it round, he found a dark wood frame surrounding an image of his mother and father on their wedding day.  It was an old-fashioned-style photograph captured only in the grays of black & white photography.  Still, Henry Archer's blue Starfleet dress uniform dated the photo far more recently than the World War 2-era photos it was meant to emulate.  A single silver bar punched out of the young officer's collar.  Throughout Jonathan's life, his father had carried the same strong shoulders, the same full head of hair, the same reserved smile.

Under a few other trinkets and remembrances - among them, a cherished photo of Henry's great-great-great-great grandfather Thomas Archer posing with his platoon shortly before he was killed in the Battle of Fallujah - Jonathan uncovered a disc.  His brow sank as he turned it over in his hands and realized the format was a few years too old to play in his console.  Forgetting the rest, he set the box on the bed and went directly to the drawer in the desk.  Searching under notes, tools, and everything else - he finally withdrew a multi-card adapter.  He stepped towards the door way and then stopped.  He retrieved his beer, and then stepped off curiously towards his console in the living room, taking the data disc with him.  As he stepped up to the console, he slipped the disc into his adapter and inserted it into the device.  The file menu appeared with a single video recording on it:  DearJonathan-2115-04-02

"I was two," Archer said aloud.  Eyes wide in wild curiosity, he hit 'Play' and sat on the couch.  The display came alive and Archer saw his father, almost thirty years ago, leaning back into his chair.  His blue Starfleet uniform with the red 'command' stripes had grown an additional pip since marrying his wife, Sally.  Jonathan had never seen pictures of his dad at this age.  It was strange to see him in a home he didn't remember living in.  His father smiled a little sheepishly before speaking.

This feels a little strange... making a video while you're in the next room sleeping. *laughter*.  I guess I hope that one day you watch this... His voice trailed off as he glanced toward the entry in the back of the camera shot.  ...And understand what kind of a man your dad was.  I hope that you get to find out for yourself... but I  just found out I may not be able to be around... all that long for you.  And... His father struggled to find the words... I'm sorry.  I don't know what exactly I want you to take away from this, but, I just thought you should know a little about me in case this... disease progresses faster than they say it will.

A few minutes later, Jonathan had listened to his father tell stories about Uncle Joe and Uncle Jake that he had heard every Thanksgiving since he could remember; describe the intricate workings of a warp engine; and twice reminded him to listen to his mother.  He told him that moral courage is more important than physical courage; that a man has to follow his own heart, listen to his own conscience.  Silence fell over the recording and Jonathan felt the same cold finality constricting his chest that he could see on his father's face as he struggled to finish the tape.

I want you to understand, son, that you don't have to... follow in my footsteps to make me proud.  A cry emanated from the other room as young Jonathan stirred in his sleep and mumbled something incoherent.  A moment later, he had quieted, drifting off to sleep again.  Henry turned and looked towards his son's room and smiled; his eyes as full of hope and pride as they were glistening with fear and uncertainty.  Whatever you choose to do, I want you to give it all you've got, and never give up.  The real commitment isn't *here*, Henry touched a finger to one of the silver studs along his collar.  It's here, his hand fell until it covered his heart.

There was a pause and a clatter in the back of the video.  Henry turned and a voice called out from the back of the house.

Henry, you ready or what?

Footsteps clacked across the wood floor and Archer's heart leapt as he realized Zefram Cochrane and his father were...

We've gotta' be there in fifteen minutes.  If we're late for the damn proposal the Vulcans'll never let us live it down!

Cochrane entered the camera's view from the side, the man's six-foot-plus height obscuring his face from view.

I know, Zef, I'm coming.

Turn that damn thing off.  Cochrane's voice grew deeper and closer as he knelt towards the monitor.  What're you doin, wavin' Sally goodbye?  Cochrane found only a dark screen.  Peering back at Archer through the decades, the father of warp drive frowned and slapped the side of the monitor, shaking it.  He had bright blue eyes, a wild head of dark gray hair and a long chiseled jaw, with just a hint of stubble.  With a quick, dissatisfied shake of his head he stood and walked into the background.

I swear to God, Henry, if it's the last thing I do, I'll prove to these bastards we can make warp 2! 

Zef...

If there's one thing Man was put on this Earth to do, Henry, it was break the damn warp barrier!  They have no right to tell us where and when to piss...

Zeph!

What?

Jonathan's sleeping!

...Oh, sorry Henry.  Can I go see the little tike?

*zip*

The display went dead.  Jonathan released a heavy breath he hadn't realized he had been holding and looked up to find the dark, empty room around him.  Foreboding and alien, the air between the walls seemed to actually compress and squish him towards away from the console.  He was already through the bedroom door when he realized he was stumbling backwards.  He turned and walked out of his apartment and on his way back to Starfleet Command.

Thoughts raced madly through his head... Had Cochrane disappeared trying to pilot an NX prototype thirty years ago?  How could he let Warp 2 slip through their fingers again after thirty years? Where was he going to find a co-pilot?

The door slid shut behind him and the soft California breeze worked like a masseuse to comb the jumbled mass of thoughts colliding madly in his brain into a slick, streaming flow of plan and action.

A.G.'s a crazy bastard, he thought.  Probably as crazy as Cochrane.

Clacking down the steps of his Sausalito apartment building, he smiled and thought of his dad... and wondered, if Cochrane did disappear in 2119 on a fateful mission to prove warp 2 could be broken... how did his father ever resist the urge to go with him?  He stopped and peered into a towering cloud formation that parted just enough to send a beam of sunlight licking across the glimmering San Francisco Bay.  A moment later he found his fingers fiddling with the pips on his uniform, sliding over the rigid collar, the breast, until finally his fingers came to rest over his heart.

 


Comments:

justTripn

I agree it's really well written, from the sun's meridian leveling with the Earth's horizon and bathing the southern California landscape under a thick orange glow, to Archer's fingers comming to rest over his heart. Neat idea too. Wow. 

Asso

What Linda said.

I'm unable to add more things.

Linda

Great writing.  I liked the opening paragraphs describing Archer, the details are very good, set the scene nicely, then continued to build so you get a full picture of Henry and of Jon.  It grabs you gut level!  The visual and sound details are great.  I think this is the best piece of writing I have seen from you! 

I like it too that this gets to the heart of a character that many people don't like very much.   There are many canon scenes with Jon Archer that I would have done differently and the character certainly deserved better from the canon writers.  If you had been one of them, more fans would like Jon Archer. 

 

Elessar

IDK, Archer's behavior in "Broken Bow" would suggest he's never been fond of Vulcans... yet strangely, Henry's behavior in "Broken Bow" suggests that by this time in his life, however old he is in that scene, he's gotten past it and just accepted it.  He doesn't seem all that upset by it anymore.

WarpGirl

Well yeah I guess he would be professionally annoyed with them, but I don't see him being a prejudiced JERK. Why don't you write something where Archer discovers daddy and Soval had been buddies for years. That would be good comic relief. And A Tolaris gutting would be nice. PLEASE! <pout>

Elessar

haha! I don't think Zef would have liked Vulcans, really.  That first scene, they're kind of meeting for the very first time, but if anybody would be the type to just be absolutely abhorrently against their controlling BS in the warp programs, it's Zefram.  He was a pretty free thinking crotchity old man, I just get that impression.

SavanaSahara

Elessar, Thanks for another great story. Loved it also. (I spelled your name right this time!) :)

WarpGirl

Dang! You're good. But I still hate the creep. Hey I thought Zefrem Cohcrane liked Vulcans. After all, they drank tequila with him. :p 

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