Title: Reunions and Secrets

Author: Tim Ruben

E-mail: timruben@writeme.com

URL: http://members.tripod.com/enterpriseslash

Date: 03/08/03

Archive: Yes to Entslash; anyone else just ask.

Rating: R for mild language and violence.

Status: Complete

Pairing: Archer/Tucker…of course

Summary: Trip meets up with an old friend, learning a secret of his past that could change one of his most important friendships.

Spoilers: Night in Sickbay, Future Tense

Author's Note: This is my first fan fiction story in a year. I would love it if you were able to send my feedback…please…pretty please!


"I won't do it Cap'n." Commander Charles Tucker sat at the head of the table, staring at his commanding officer. Why did he always end up in these crazy situations? He should have listened to Lieutenant Reed, that way he never would have gotten into this mess.

"Come on Trip, a bet's a bet." Captain Jonathan Archer responded, desperately trying not to show the amusement he felt watching Trip sweat like this. "You lost, so it's time to pay up."

"I won't do it!" Trip pushed his plate the center of the table. "I'll do anythin' else, but not that." He studied the face of his friend. He had known Archer for years and there was no way in hell he would hold Trip to this bet. Sure, he might tease Trip about it for weeks, but he would never force him to into actually doing it…would he?

Archer left the table to grab another pitcher of beer. He bent over his engineer, pouring him another glass. "We had a deal, Trip." Putting the pitcher down, he moved back to his seat. "You're going to go through with it and that's an order." Trip was shaking in his boots, but he knew better then to show his fear. "Ya can't order me to do that. I'll take my case to the board of directors if I have to."

"I doubt you'd get very far. Admiral Jarvis is a good friend of mine and he owes me one hell of a big favor."

"Then you'll have to throw me in the brig." He knew that Archer had to be kidding. If he allowed Trip to go through with it, he could be putting his captaincy on the line.

"What are you so afraid of?" Archer paused, allowing his eyes to survey the Commander's body. "You're in great shape. There are a million men who would kill to have a body like that."

Trip blushed slightly. "So I don't have to go through with it?"

Archer frowned. "Fine, but it would have been fun and I know Hoshi would have loved it."

"But I would never have lived it down." Trip took a sip of beer, relived he wouldn't have to jump out of cake and perform a little strip tease for Hoshi's birthday.

"Maybe not, but it would have been fun."

Before Trip could reply, Hoshi's voice came over the comm. "Senior officers to the bridge."

Trip followed Archer out of the dinning room as he laughed to himself. Stripping wasn't what he had a problem with; it was the fact Hoshi wasn't the person he wanted to strip for.

The bridge was buzzing with activity as Archer and Trip entered. T'Pol looked up from her readings to acknowledge her superior officer. "We are picking up a small vessel on long range sensors." T'Pol finished studying her readings. "It appears to have taken damage, Captain."

Archer sat in his chair, starting at the tiny vessel rapidly approaching them. "Life signs?"

"Seven." T'Pol raised her brow.

"What is it?" Tucker asked, as he peered over her shoulder.

"They appear to be human," she said, coldly.

Archer sprang from his chair heading to T'Pol. "Human? We're over twenty light years from the nearest trade route, there shouldn't be any humans out here."

"True, nevertheless I have verified the reading, Captain." She paused, looking up at him. "There is no doubt, there are seven humans on board that ship."

"Hoshi, hail them." Hoshi attempted to comply, but something was wrong. "There's some sort of EM interference sir, I can't open a channel."

"Are we in grappling range, Mr. Reed?"

Reed checked his readings. "Yes, sir."

"Tow that ship to docking port two. Bridge to Phlox meet us at docking port two." Archer headed for the lift. "Trip you're with me. T'Pol you have the bridge."

***

"I don't get it Cap'n, how could humans get out this far? Do ya think they could be from the future, like our last human visitor?"

"Maybe. But whoever they are, they appear to need our help." The lift's doors open allowing the two men to enter the corridor, which was filed with the sounds of panicked voices. Several medics quickly walked passed him, assisting several injured people towards sickbay.

"Do ya smell that, Cap'n?"

"It smells like plasma gas." The two men turned the corner to see Phlox and Cutler helping what looked like the last of the wounded. The air lock door was open, allowing a small stream of plasma to flow into Enterprise. Archer suppressed a cough as he approached his chief medical officer.

"I have to go back!" The woman screamed. She was young, tall, with long curly blonde hair, and the most amazing blue eyes Archer had ever seen, well next to Trip's.

"Calm down, Ma'am." Phlox held her by the shoulders as Crewman Cutler scanned her.

"She has a severe burns to her hands, other then that she's fine." Cutler reported.

"Please, I have to go back. My daughter, she was trapped in my quarters, I couldn't get to her."

Archer nodded to Cutler. "Report."

"We've managed to get six members of the crew." She said, putting away her tricorder and gently grabbing the arm of the young woman. "Ma'am, we've got to get you to sickbay."

Trip meanwhile studied the read outs from his tricorder. "Cap'n that ship is goin' blow. There's a core breach in progress."

The woman screamed. "My daughter!"

"Where are your quarters?" Archer asked as he headed into the airlock.

"Deck two section fourteen."

"I'll get her. Trip get this woman to sickbay." Archer ran into the thick smoke covering his mouth. If he inhaled too much of that gas, his lungs would be burnt to a crisp.

"Aye cap'n." Tucker eyes followed Jon as long as he could. The captain was being a fool again, putting his and the entire crew's lives in danger. Then again, Trip knew that if he were in Jon's shoes he would have done the same thing. He sighed as he turned to the woman standing next to him. "Would ya please…" Trip gasped as he got his first view of the woman. "Trish?"

Trish gasped in return. "Charles…Charles Tucker?" Before he could reply she grabbed him, hugging him tightly. "It's been too long."

***

Archer ran threw the corridor as fast as he could. The ship was falling apart at the seams. He knew that it was only a matter of minutes before Enterprise would have to disconnect from the tiny vessel in order to move to a safe distance.

The lights began to dim as the ship began to rumble harder. Archer grabbed hold of a railing to avoid falling on his ass. He had almost reached his goal when…BAAM…the corridor in front of him was enveloped in flame. Archer was tossed through the air and landed hard against the cold steel of the aft wall. He moaned loudly as blood trickled down his forehead, stinging his eyes, then the captain gathered his strength and stumbled forward.

Finally, after what seemed like centuries, he managed to find the young woman's quarters. The room was a blaze, but he could make out a small figure. "Mommy?" It belonged to a young girl, who sounded to be no more then three or four years of age.

Archer had no time to explain things he grabbed his communicator. "Archer to sickbay, I've found the girl, I want you standing by with a burn cart."

"Is she badly burned, captain?" Phlox replied.

"No, but I will be." Jon grabbed a large piece of medal debris. Holding it in front of him like a shield, he dashed through the fire. The little girl shrieked as Archer approached her. He couldn't speak; the heat had been over whelming. He could tell by the intense pain in his feet and lower legs that he was severely burned. Between heavy breaths he quickly grabbed the girl, placed her between him and the shield and again dashed through the fire.

***

Trip paced up and down the corridor outside of the air lock. What the hell was taking Jon so long? They had less then a minute before he would have to blow the hatch and move Enterprise away. Phlox appeared ready to say something, but Trip shot him the evil eye. He didn't want to be calmed down. This day had taken one unexpected turn already, and he didn't want the death of his best friend to be another.

"Reed to Commander Tucker. That ship's core will breach in less then fifty-two seconds, we must separate."

"The cap'n isn't back yet. Just a few more seconds."

"Commander we do not have time." T'Pol's voice came over the comm. "The logical thing to do…"

"Fuck logic! We're talkin' about the cap'n."

T'Pol had come to learn not to provoke Tucker any further then necessary. "We will give him twenty seconds."

Tucker looked at the read out screen next to the door. Suddenly the indicator blinked. "There are two life signs approachin'." The air lock door opened. A little girl with short blonde hair ran out, coughing slightly. Phlox immediately ran to her aid, tricorder in hand. Trip gasped as Jon walked out. His clothes were burned, covered in soot, sweat and blood. Tucker ran to his aid as he yelled to the comm. "Bridge they're out." Tucker grabbed Archer, holding him up firmly. The left side of his face was covered in blisters, and the skin was peeling away, like the skin on an over cooked chicken. "Jon, for Christ's sake are you alright?"

"That was fun." Archer whispered as he collapsed into Trip's arms.

Phlox ran his tricorder over his injured captain. "We have to get him to sickbay now!"

***

"These'll be your quarters. Ensign Sato is attempting to contact the nearest Vulcan ship. With any luck, we'll have you guys on course for Earth in no time."

"Thank you, Charles." Trish was just as Trip had remembered. Shy, funny, extremely polite and ravishingly beautiful.

"Wow, Mommy!" The little girl dashed through Trip's legs and began to jump up and down on the bed.

"Laura, stop that!" Trish gently grabbed her daughter, helping her off the bed. "You should know better. Now, go and wash up." She gently kissed her daughter's forehead then watched her enter the bathroom.

"She's adorable, Trish."

"Oh, thank you." She stared at the commander. "God, you haven't changed a bit. You're still as handsome as ever."

"Neither have you. How long has it been?"

"Almost four years." Trish moved to the closet trying not to look as awkward as she felt. "How's your Captain, Archer isn't it?"

Trip frowned. "Yeah, he was burned pretty bad. Doctor Phlox says he'll need extensive re-constructive surgery, but should make a full recovery."

She turned to face him, smiling politely. "Please Charles, have a seat."

Trip smiled slightly, as he took a seat at the foot of the bed. Trish joined him. "I wish you wouldn't call me that, my name's Trip." She laughed nervously. They stared at each other in a moment of silence. Trip suddenly averted his gaze, looking instead at the stars streaking by at warp. "So, how the hell did ya end up all the way out here?"

"I don't know. We were traveling along at warp three and then suddenly we hit some sort of turbulence. The core began to overload and then next thing I knew, there you were." She gently moved her hand through Trip's hair. He blushed slightly. "It's so good to see you again."

Trip was over run by memories. The two had meet around six years earlier during a holiday to Greece. There was a mix up at the front desk of their hotel and they ended up having to share the same room for the first night. At first Trip couldn't stand the sight of her. She was so up tight about everything, and so proper and formal in public. But after a few days Trip began to realize he had misjudged her. She had a sense of adventure, and a desire to explore the unknown, just like him. It wasn't long before they were exploring each other.

However, before long their careers began to drive them apart. Trish was a scientist assigned to study the rings of Jupiter, while he was assigned to long but fulfilling hours getting Enterprise ready for launch. He became lonely…well horny was a better word for it. One night he and Jon ended up going out and within hours he was wasted. He didn't really know what happened that night, but he woke up naked, tied to his bedpost with several lubricated sex toys flung around, and Trish yelling at him. He had tried to apologize to her, but she didn't want anything to do with him. They never saw each other again. He cleared his throat, trying to erase the pain of those memories. "So that's your daughter?"

"Oh yes. She was a bit of a surprise."

"Where's her father?" Trish jumped up from the bed. "I'm sorry I had no right to ask."

Trish paced the room. "No, No." She stopped at the window. Then slowly faced Trip. "After you…well you know…I was on the rebound…I had an affair with a married man. Six weeks later, I found out I was pregnant. The DNA test confirmed he was the father."

Trip got up and gently laid a hand on Trish's shoulder. "I'm sorry. I have no right to intrude, but where is he…Laura's father?"

Her face grew cold, her eyes filled with tears. "He didn't want anything to do with her."

"Trish, I'm sorry."

"It's not your fault Trip, I mean Laura is the best thing that could have ever happened to me."

Trip smiled. "I had better get goin'. I should check up on the Cap'n."

Trish frowned slightly. "Some things never change."

"What?"

"Oh, sorry just thinking to myself. Be sure to give your captain my regards."

***

Phlox passed the mirror to his commanding officer. "There you are captain, good as new. I even took the liberty of removing some crows feet I noticed forming around your eyes."

Archer tried to laugh, but instead he coughed heavily. "Easy know captain, your lungs are still recovering."

Archer nodded, whispering. "Thank you Doctor." Phlox smiled broadly just as Commander Tucker entered. "Cap'n you're up."

Phlox turned to Trip as he was preparing to leave. "Don't over work him Commander, he needs his rest."

"Understood, I won't be too long." Tucker pulled up a chair next to Archer's bio bed. "Jesus Jon, you scared us half to death! We almost left you behind. And if you died who the hell was I supposed to get to watch Water Polo with me."

Archer's voice was weak and horse, but he was up from some mild teasing. "You could have got Mr. Reed."

"Please Cap'n, he is one fine tactician, but he doesn't know jack about sports."

"What about T'Pol?" Trip laughed, but stopped when Archer coughed.

Trip grabbed a glass of water from the nightstand handing it to Jon. Trip hated seeing Jon helpless like this, yet at the same time he enjoyed taking care of him. He had always been protective of Jon, even though he was the younger, inexperienced one. He had never connected with any one like he had with Jon and after their first meeting, it wasn't long before they were spending almost every waking moment together. He knew, although he would never allow himself to admit it, that behind his friendship feelings for Jon, there was on his part an underlying sexual attraction or even something more.

Jon was physically extremely attractive and his personality was even more of a turn on. But there were many reasons why Trip was too afraid to totally confront his real feelings, whatever they may be. The fear of rejection, destroying their friendship, and the list went on. His thoughts turned back to Trish. Was he still in love, or for that matter did he really ever love her. There relationship was so physical that maybe it was all just lust. But he would never really know thanks to that one night, a night he couldn't for the life of him remember.

Archer finished drinking the water in time to see the concerned look of his friends face. "Penny for thoughts."

"It's nothin'."

Archer put the glass a side and sat up to face Trip. "Doctor Phlox told me that you know one of the passengers."

"Yes Trish."

"Trish?"

"Yes."

"Didn't you used to date a girl named Trish?"

"Christ you remember that?"

"Where is she?"

"In her quarters, with her daughter."

Archer was stunned. "Daughter?"

"Long story."

"Apparently." Archer laid back down, folding his arms across his muscular chest. "I want to talk with her. Can you arrange that?"

"Of course, but why?"

"I'd like to talk to her, that's all." Archer smiled at his friend, hoping the panic that he felt wasn't showing. "Just talk. I don't recall ever meeting her."

Trip was lost. Why did Jon want to talk to Trish, and why did Jon seem almost petrified at the prospect? Maybe it was some kind of post-injury stress syndrome, but Trip suddenly felt very nervous. "Well I know she wants to thank you for saving her daughter. I'll see if I can arrange somethin'."

***

Ensign Hoshi Sato quietly sipped a cup of tea as she quickly skimmed through the comm. log. The Mess Hall was unusually quite for the early evening hours. She suspected that most of the crew was showing their new arrivals around Enterprise and repairing some systems that took damage when the other ship was destroyed.

Her train of thought was interrupted as the doors to the mess opened. Lt. Malcolm Reed strolled in, fatigue written all over his face. "Good evening, Ensign."

"Malcolm, what have you been doing?" Hoshi put aside her work as Reed took a seat across from her.

"Oh, just working out. The crew was so busy with our new guests I figured the gym would be empty."

Hoshi smiled. "Well at least you found something to do. I've been sitting here by myself for at least a hour reading the same paragraph over and over again."

"You should go visit the Captain. I hear he's doing better."

Hoshi shook her head. "I tried, but he was busy talking with Commander Tucker about something personal so I decided not to intrude."

Malcolm nodded. "I guess the commander knows one of the passengers."

"That's what Cutler was saying. She said they seemed very close." She winked. "I wonder how close?"

Malcolm rolled his eyes. "Hoshi I think you should mind your own business."

Before Hoshi could reply, the doors opened. Commander Tucker strolled in with Trish holding his arm. She smiled up at him. "This is a lovely ship you have here. So much more advanced then ours."

"She's the pride of the fleet."

Trish smiled. "I can see that!" Tucker led her to a table in the far corner, deliberately avoiding the curious gazes of Hoshi and Malcolm. Trish noticed their gazes. "Do you know those two?"

"Sort of."

Hoshi waved at him. "Good evening Commander, come and join us."

Before Trip could reply, Trish grabbed his hand, moving to Hoshi's table. "Hello everyone. My name is Trish."

"Hoshi." She replied extending her hand to firmly grab Trish's. "Nice to meet you."

"Malcolm. Please seat down."

Trish smiled, taking a seat next to Hoshi. "Thanks. So how long have you known Charles?"

"Over a year now. I meet him during Enterprise's commissioning ceremonies." Hoshi replied, sipping from her tea. "How long have you known him?"

"About six years, though we haven't seen each other for around four years."

"Imagine meeting up here all these light-years from Earth." Malcolm stated, noting that Tucker appeared to extremely tense.

"Yes, how did you guys get all the way out here?" Hoshi began. "We thought we were the only humans out this far." "We're still tryin' to figure that one out." Trip interrupted, pulling at his collar. He knew exactly what Hoshi was trying to do. First she would make pleasant chitchat, then she would slowly move in for the kill. Asking them if they dated, for how long, how was the sex and of course why did it end. He did like Hoshi a lot, but she tended to love to gossip and the last thing he wanted was the crew to know he was caught tied to his bed, not even knowing who he had slept with. The funny thing was even though he didn't remember whom he slept with, he did remember it as the best sex he had ever had. All he did know was he had slept with a man, since he ass was sore for days after that.

"What's wrong Charles?" Trish gently touched his hand.

"Sorry, just lost in thought."

"Oh, do share." Hoshi said grinning broadly as she noticed that Trish was still holding his hand.

"It's none of our business, Hoshi." Malcolm interrupted. "You know I am exhausted I think I'm going to turn in." Malcolm rose from his seat. "It was nice meeting you Trish."

"Same here, Malcolm. Sleep tight." Malcolm smiled, gave Hoshi a stern look then exited.

Hoshi got the hint. "Well I think I should turn in too. Night guys."

Trip sighed a breath of relief as she left. Trish laughed. "You seemed worried there."

"Just a little."

Trish squeezed his arm. "Don't worry I wouldn't have told them anything about…you know."

Trip sighed. "I was meaning to talk to you about that."

"Charles, that was along time ago. Besides things wouldn't have worked out anyway."

Trip took her hand. "How do you know that? If I hadn't been so stupid…"

She brushed his lips softly with her hand. "Something would have happened sooner or later. We weren't the most friendly couple at times"

"True, but I've always wondered what would have happened had I never…You know." Trip lowered his head. "And the bitch is…I hardly remember that night."

Trish was silent for several seconds, clearly at a loss for words. "So you remember nothing?"

Trip turned beat red. Why was he telling her this? He didn't want to upset her any further then she already was, but he needed to get this off his chest. He had thought about that night for years. "Only waking up to see you staring at me…and I do remember the sex…just not who I with."

Trish got up from the table. She stared out the window look at the stars streaking by, tears obstructing her view. "I see." Tucker got up from his chair and gently wiped away the tears that had flowed down her cheek.

"I'm so sorry, Trish."

"What the hell am I doing? Crying!" She broke away from Trip. "That was such a long time ago and I've moved…"she paused, looking into Trip's eyes. "At least I thought I'd moved on, but seeing you has brought back so many memories."

Trip gently brushed aside a strand of hair that had fallen down her forehead. "I know the feeling." Their lips met. They explored each other's mouth, losing track of where they where. All they could focus on was each other and the increasing intensity of the kiss. Several seconds passed before Trish could force herself to break away from her. "Stop Trip. I don't need this, I don't need to go through this all over again."

Trish released herself from Trip's embrace, heading for the door. Trip suddenly remembered part of the reason he wanted to speak to her tonight. "Trish, I almost forgot."

"What is it?" She asked.

"The cap'n told me he would like to met with you later."

She froze dead in her tracks. "He does. Well I'll try to get around to that tomorrow morning."

"I could take you to him tomorrow if ya'd like."

"No!" Trip nearly jumped in the air. Trish cleared her throat. "Sorry, what I meant was I don't want to keep you from your duties, besides, I know where sickbay is." She smiled then left, rather quickly Trip thought.

***

The bridge was calm and quite as Lieutenant Reed entered for his morning shift. Hoshi was already at her station, reading over the nightly comm traffic. Travis Mayweather was busy piloting Enterprise towards the nearest Vulcan ship, and T'Pol was sitting in the captain chair, filling in for him as he recovered in sickbay.

"Mr. Reed." T'Pol acknowledge him then turned back to reading a report.

"Sub-Commander." Reed took his station, starting his usual routine. First he would run a standard diagnostic on the weapons systems, then check over the latest reports from his security teams, but before he could began, the computer began to signal a perimeter alert. "Sub-Commander, long range sensors are picking up three ships on an intercept course."

"Can you identify them?"

Reed attempted to comply, but the ships were too far away for positive identification. "Negative."

"Time until intercept?"

"At their present speed, four hours and thirty-six minutes."

"Ensign Sato, hail them." T'Pol moved to the science station. She began to review to the data.

"They're not responding."

"Keep trying." T'Pol looked down at the scanner below her. "I will continue to monitor."

"Aye, sir." Reed said, trying to ignore the growing worry building inside him. He didn't know why but he had a bad feeling about these ships.

***

Jonathan Archer slowly paced the length of sickbay. He hated being confined to this room. There was nothing to do. He had spent the night listening to Phlox clipping his nails, and making what sounded like squealing noises. This was the second time during his year on Enterprise that he had to spend the night in sickbay. The first was when Porthos had come down with some sort of alien virus and nearly died. But like the last time Archer had a lot of his mind, particularly Trip and Trish.

Jon was racked with guilt for lying to Trip. He had told him that he didn't recall meeting Trish, but that was not true at all. He had met her once and the occasion was anything but a happy one. He was regretting asking Trip to arrange a meeting with her; their reunion would most likely be anything but a happy one. There were still plenty of unresolved issues and he was in no condition to confront any of them.

Before he could think things through any further, Doctor Phlox entered the room carrying a tray full of medical instruments. "Ah Captain, you've woken up." He smiled broadly, putting the tray down on the bio-bed next to Archer's. "How did you sleep?"

"Not well actually."

Phlox loaded a hypospray. "Would you please have a seat, sir." Archer complied by sitting on the end of the bio-bed rolling up his sleeve. Phlox injected him with a blueish compound. "That'll help fight off any infections." Phlox picked up the tray, heading for the diagnostic station. "You'll be pleased to know that Commander Tucker is keeping an eye on Porthos for you."

"Good." Archer laid back down, staring up at the ceiling. "How long do you think I'll have to stay here, Doctor?"

Phlox looked into a microscope as he responded. "I want to keep you here for observation for at least another forty-eight hours."

"Forty-eight hours!" Archer replied, sitting up suddenly.

"I don't want you to over excite yourself. You're lungs are still not fully recovered." Phlox turned to the captain, sympathizing with his situation. "I could arrange for Sub-Commander T'Pol to bring you some paper work to keep you busy."

Archer frowned; just want he wanted a desk full of paper work. He sighed. "I guess that's better then nothing and it'll certainly help me keep my mind of things."

Phlox rolled his chair next to Archer's bed. "What's been bothering you, sir? Your injuries were severe, but I realize that your are troubled by something other than Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome."

Archer chuckled. "Am I that transparent?"

"No, I just know human behavior."

Archer shook his head. "It's nothing you need to concern yourself with."

"Commander Tucker."

"What?"

"It's your attraction to Commander Tucker isn't it?"

Archer paused, stunned. How the hell did Phlox know about that? He had never done anything to Trip in front of Phlox that could suggest he was attracted to him. "I don't what you're talking about."

Phlox sighed. Humans were so stubborn. Instead of telling people their true feelings, they tended to keep things bottled up which ended up making the situation much worse. "Captain, I couldn't help but notice that when you are in proximity of the commander, your eyes dilate, your breathing becomes harder, you flush slightly from the change in body temperature and on one occasion I noticed that you had become…aroused."

"I see. With all do respect Doctor, it's none of your business."

"The mental health of the crew is my business." Phlox objected. "Now, as the commander in question would say, spill the beans."

"It's stupid really."

"You're jealous of his relationship with the female."

"In a nutshell." Archer sighed. "It goes a lot deeper then that."

"Yes it does." Phlox and Archer both turned to see Trish standing there as the doors closed behind her.

"Trish." Archer attempted to get out of bed.

"Don't get up." Trish said, moving to his bedside. "I'm sorry for intruding, but I couldn't help over hearing your conversation."

Phlox got up from his seat. "I'll leave you two alone."

"I didn't think you were going to come."

"I didn't think I was either, but I you did save my daughter's life." She paused staring at the floor. "I guess that warrants a visit."

Archer pointed to the empty chair Phlox had left. Trish nodded slightly taking a seat. The two merely stared at each other for a few minutes. Jon was just as she had remembered him, minus a few extra wrinkles here and there. She could make out what looked to be a few blisters on his left temple, probably all that was left of the severe burns he had suffered. They managed several minutes of small talk, mostly about Laura and Porthos. She found his attachment to his dog to be cute, yet at the same time it was kind of scary for a man his age. But then again most men she met were always kids at heart.

Finally after much avoidance, Trip was mentioned. Jon had spent the whole conversation, if you could call it that, ducking the subject, but he knew better then anyone it was bound to come up. Trish played with her nails, trying to avoid eye contact. "So you never told him, did you?"

"What was I supposed to say?"

Trish looked at him coldly. He was the captain of the most powerful starship known to exist, responsible for over eighty lives. Yet he was too chicken to confront his best friend about something that happened years earlier. "You could've told him the truth."

"And destroy one of the most important friendships in my life. No thank you."

Trish eyed him for a moment. There was a part of her that just wanted to leap on that bed and strangle him to death, but a larger part of her sympathized with him. If the roles were reversed she may have done the exact same thing. Wait, she was supposed to be furious with him, but she wasn't. He seemed so lonely, haunted by a mistake he had made years earlier. Then again, he might not have viewed it as a mistake; rather Trish began to realize that he probably thought of it as a missed opportunity. "I see your point." She paused. "Well, I think I had better let you get some rest."

Trish smiled, got up and headed for the door. "Trish, wait." Archer slowly got up from his bed. He stood next to her, gently putting his hand on her arm. "I want you to know that I am sorry."

"He loves you, more then he ever loved me." Trish's eyes welled up with tears.

"What?"

"What happened that night only vindicated my original suspicions." Trish put her hand in Jon's. Despite everything that had happened she knew he was a good man and didn't want guilt clouding his conscience anymore.

"I don't understand."

"Jon, when I met Charles you two were extremely close. At first I figured that Charles wasn't used to being in a relationship and he just needed time to adjust. But as time went by…I used to plan the most romantic dates I could think of. I would spend days arranging every little detail and at the last minute Charles would call me to say that he had to help you finish some work or you had invited him to go skiing in Switzerland."

Jon nodded. He knew exactly what she was saying. "You felt like a third wheel."

"Exactly. I was to na´ve at the time to allow myself to see it, but I was always second best to him. He didn't think he could have you so he came after me."

Archer touched her shoulder. "That's not true. I know he loved…hell I am sure he still loves you."

"No he doesn't and I don't think he ever did. Deep down I know he was just trying to prove to himself that he only thinks of you as a friend." Trish turned to leave but stopped. "It's not to late Jon, he has a right to know."

Archer sighed. As much as he hated to admit it, she was right. He would have to confront Trip and sooner then he wanted to.

***

Hoshi nearly slammed her fist into the computer. No matter how hard she tried the approaching ships wouldn't answer her. "It's no use Sub-Commander," she sighed. "I've hailed them on every frequency I can think of and they refuse to respond. Have you been able to learn anything else about those ships?"

T'Pol raised her brow. "Negative. They do not appear to be listed in the Vulcan database."

Reed chimed in. "Well who ever they are, they appear to be heavily armed. It appears that each ship has a complement of six phase canons, four torpedo bays and multi-phasic shields. We're no match for them."

"They obviously want something from us," Mayweather pointed out.

"Well they could just respond to hails and tell us," Hoshi replied, frustrated.

"We have recently taken on seven passengers. Perhaps they are interested in them," T'Pol said.

"What could they possibly want from seven humans?" Reed asked.

"Perhaps we should ask our guests."

***

Trish stood at the head of the table reviewing the faces of Malcolm and Hoshi, who she had met earlier, Sub-Commander T'Pol and Tucker. T'Pol handed her a padd which contained all the data she had collected on the approaching vessels. "Do they look familiar to you?"

Trish shook her head, handing the padd back to T'Pol. "Not that I can recall. We were a small cargo ship; we came across a lot of vessels. It's possible we could have done business with them." Trish paused, turning her glaze to Trip. "You should ask Captain MacDonald, he might know."

Reed sighed. "We already talked to him. You were the ship's science officer?"

"Yes." Trish's anger began to show. "Am I being accused of something here?"

Tucker put his hand on her shoulder. "Of course not. We're just tryin' to get some clues."

T'Pol moved to her. "You said you were a cargo ship."

"That's right."

"What were you transporting?"

"We were carrying medical supplies to a Vulcan colony on the edge of the Decampa system. There was an outbreak of the Tarillen flu."

Hoshi nodded. "Yes there was something about that on the comm channels last week."

"And you're sure that's all you were carrying?" Reed asked.

"I'm positive."

T'Pol nodded. "Thank you. If we need anything further will contact you."

"Alright."

Trish walked along side Trip as they entered the lift. Tucker smiled at her. "See that wasn't so bad."

"No." Trish sighed, as Tucker ordered the lift to deck four. "I talked with your captain this morning."

"Oh, how's he doin'. I meant to visit him, but I was loaded down with work."

Trish forced a smile. "I think he's doing better. He was able to walk around a bit."

Trip was relived. He hardly got any sleep last night. Jon was all he could think about. "That's good to hear. What was it he wanted to talk to you about anyway?"

"Nothing important really." Trish smiled as the lift opened allowing her to leave this awkward situation. "Well, have a good day, Charles."

Trip waved as Trish exited. What did she and the captain talk about, he wondered. He knew it had to be about him, but why? Maybe Jon was just curious about Trish, since they had never met. Well, Trip didn't have time to think about it right now. There were three ships converging on Enterprise ready to attack. He thought back to the meeting with Trish and the rest of the senior staff. He knew her too well to not notice she was worried about something. Ah, it was probably nothing.

***

Archer studied the padd. "How many ships?"

"Three," T'Pol reported as she took a seat across from the captain's bed. "Ensign Sato has tried haling them on forty different frequencies, but they have yet to respond. As well, no ships meet these specifications in the Vulcan or Starfleet databases. We have talked to our guest but they did not seem to know anything either."

Archer threw the padd down. He hated this. His ship was in danger and he wasn't allowed to be on the bridge defending her. "Have you tried contacting any Vulcan ships for back up?"

"Yes, but the nearest battle cruiser is nearly six hours away. Mister Reed is attempting to increase power to the phasers, however, Commander Tucker is worried that we could overload the entire defense system."

Archer sighed. "Have Reed do what he can."

"There is one other thing, sir."

"What's that?"

"I am not entirely convinced that the crew of the cargo ship is being entirely honest. I noted that Mister Tucker's companion's heart rate increased dramatically while we questioned her."

"Maybe she was just nervous. No offence T'Pol, but you're not the most comforting person in the galaxy."

"No offence taken, Captain, however, I am well versed in human behavior. Perhaps Commander Tucker could talk to her."

Archer rubbed his temples. "I guess it's worth a shot."

Doctor Phlox strolled into the room carry a large cage that contained what looked like a large snake. "Sorry Sub-Commander, your time is up. The captain needs his rest."

Archer smiled. "Thanks T'Pol, keep me informed."

"Aye, Captain." She nodded to Phlox and left.

Phlox put down the cage he was carrying, grabbed a tricorder and began to scan Archer. "Well, your lungs are looking much better, you maybe able to leave sickbay earlier then expected."

"That's the first bit of good news I've heard all day."

"Forgive me Captain, but I am curious."

"About?"

Phlox set a side the tricorder, folding his hands in his lap. "I was wondering how your conversation with Trish went. You've seemed slightly distracted since then."

Archer smiled slightly. He had to give Phlox credit; he certainly knew how to read him. "You could say that." Archer rolled on his side. "She seems to think that Trip has the same feeling towards me that I have for him."

Phlox laughed. "I could have told you that."

"You saw it too. Then why the hell didn't you tell me?" Archer asked, frustrated. Did everyone else on this ship notice this? Was he that clueless that he couldn't read his best friend?

"Simple, you never asked me," Phlox laughed. Archer rolled his eyes, rolling back onto his back to stare up at the ceiling. "But that's not the reason you're upset, is it? There something else."

"Yes, but with all due respect doctor, I don't want to talk about it."

"Then may I suggest you talk to Commander Tucker about it. The last thing you need right now is to slip into a depression. You humans are such odd creatures. You have such a hard time facing up to your true feelings. It so much more healthy to bring them out into the open."

"That's easy for you to say Doctor, you're not the captain of a starship."

"Well if the captain of one of the most advanced starships known to exist can't face his feelings, what kind of captain is he?" Phlox got up and left before Archer could respond.

He was right. Why was he so afraid to tell Trip the truth? Then again what he had to say could potentially put an end to one of the most important friendships he ever had. But didn't he already change it all those years ago?

***

T'Pol sat in the captain's ready room reading over the latest battle readiness reports. In less then an hour she suspect the crew would be in battle and not only would they be out gunned, but their captain would not be able to lead the fight. Although she was not trained for military situations, she was confident she could lead the crew effectively.

She did not understand why the approaching vessel had not as yet communicated with Enterprise. Surely if Enterprise possessed something they wanted, the logical course of action would be to hail and make demands.

As she continued to postulate the reason for the impending attack, Commander Tucker walked in. His uniform was wrinkled and covered in what look like oil of some sort. T'Pol set aside her computer padd. "Commander, thank you for being prompt."

Tucker wiped his hands off with a rag that was hanging out of a front pocket. "Sub-Commander I hope this important, we're really busy in engineering."

"I will attempt to be as brief as possible." T'Pol moved from behind the desk. Out of all the crew she understood Commander Tucker the least. His emotions often overran his judgment, particularly when it came to Captain Archer, making him rather disagreeable. But she did see that behind all those archaic human emotions, there was a highly competent engineer. "You've known Ms. Pennington for quite some time have you not?"

"Oh, Trish. Yeah we meet six years ago, why?"

"Have you known her to lie?"

"Well…" Trip began, wiping the sweat and oil off his forehead. "I've never known her to tell an outright lie if that's what you mean. But she's been known to bend the truth slightly, usually to get what she wants."

T'Pol nodded. "I see."

"Why'd ya ask?"

"I do not entirely believe the testimony Ms. Pennington gave earlier today. She seemed distracted and rather uncomfortable."

Trip sighed. He couldn't lie to T'Pol. "I noticed that to actually, but I am sure it had nothin' to do with those ships. She just has a lot on her mind. She had a meetin' of some sort with the cap'n this morning which she had reservations about."

"Reservations, curious."

Trip agreed. "I don't get either. As far as I know they've never even met before. But I don't think Trish would lie about not recognizing those ships. Maybe we've just crossed into their space and they don't trust other species."

"No, if this was their space the Vulcan High Command would have been aware of their existence for several centuries. Everything seems to point to the cargo crew."

"I can try talkin' to her if ya'd like, but I doubt I'd be able to get anything out of her."

"She does trust you more then anyone else aboard Commander, please see what you can do."

"Yes Ma'am."

***

"Come in." Trish sat at the foot of her bed, watching her daughter play with some wooden blocks that Doctor Phlox had given to her. She couldn't help but wonder what was about to happen to herself and her daughter. They were in grave danger and Enterprise was their only protection and even she was out matched. Trish focused on the door as Trip entered. He had quickly cleaned himself before he came.

"Can I come in?"

"Of course, Charles." She pointed towards a chair that was across from her. "I'd have thought you'd be preparing for battle."

"I should be, but Sub-Commander T'Pol wanted me to talk with you."

"Oh, Why?"

"She doesn't entirely believe your story."

"I see." Trish got up from the bed. "Laura why don't you go and visit Captain MacDonald next door."

"But Mama!"

"Now Laura!" Laura threw a block across the room, folded her arms then left the room. "Sorry about that."

Trip laughed slightly. "No problem."

"So T'Pol doesn't believe me?"

"It's not that she doesn't believe you, she thought you seemed…distracted when she questioned you."

"I told her everything I know."

"Are you absolutely sure?"

Trish got up from the bed; Trip could tell she was angry. "Are you accusing me of something, Charles?"

"Of course not. But I know you're hidin' something."

Trish rubbed her temples. "It's nothing Charles, now I would really like to be left alone."

"Trish, you've never lied to me before."

"Are you sure about that?"

Trip got up from his seat. What was she talking about? Despite the way their relationship ended, they had always been totally honest with each other. She couldn't have lied to him…could she have? "What are you talkin' about?"

"It's nothing to concern yourself with."

Trip was ready to scream. She was just leading him on. What had she done? Was she the reason these aliens were ready to attack Enterprise? Had she lied to him in the past? He glanced at her; tears were rolling down her face. "Trish," he gently grabbed her by the shoulders. "I need to know what's goin' on. Maybe I can help."

"There is nothing anyone can do to help me Charles, it's too late. I've ruined myself."

"Ruined yourself?" Trip was totally puzzled. "I don't understand."

Trish looked at him. What would have happened to her if things had worked out between the two of them, if Jonathan Archer had never existed? Maybe she would have chosen a totally different path a calmer life, one where she didn't have to run so much. She could have stayed put, had the stereotypical brick house, with children, a dog, a white picket fence and the perfect marriage. But any chances of that happened ended one night several years back.

She knew she had to tell Charles. No matter what he had done to her, she still loved him. If she didn't tell she would be putting his life in danger and she couldn't do that. She took a deep breath…here goes nothing. "Charles I'm involved in a smuggling operation."

Trip's knees nearly gave way. He slumped back down into the chair he had occupied several minutes earlier. "What?"

"It's been going on for years."

"How long?" Trip couldn't believe. He had thought Trish to be one of the most perfect people he had ever met and now she drops this bombshell. He had always prided himself on being a good judge of character, but now he doubted that.

"Long before we met, Charles." She began pacing the room. She could see the pain written across Trip's face. "When I met you, you made me realize what I was missing from my life: love, companionship, continuity. I vowed after we started dating that I would never go back to smuggling again. But then…"

"I cheated on you…" Trip cut her off.

Trish nodded. "But the thing was I wasn't angry at you, in fact I suspected it would happen. I knew you never loved me."

Trip was shocked. How could she say that? Of course he had loved her…of course he did. "That's not true Trish and you know it."

"Maybe for a time you did, but there was always someone else who overshadowed me."

"What? Before that night, I had never looked at another person besides you."

Trish chuckled to herself. "Except Jonathan Archer."

"The cap'n? That's not true…Jon and I are friends nothin' else." "That's why you slept with him?" Trish covered her mouth. She couldn't believe what she just said. But in a way it felt good to finally spit out after all these years. She was bitter towards Archer for ruining what could have been her last chance to change her life around, though her meeting with him earlier changed her opinion of him slightly. Trip temporarily forgot where he was. Could it be true? Was that one night stand he had years ago have been with Jon? I couldn't have been, Jon would have told him a long time ago and besides Jon had never shown any sexual interest in him before. Then again they were both so tanked that night that anything was possible and maybe Jon didn't remember either. "What are you talkin' about Trish?"

Trish wiped her sweaty palms along her sweater. "Well you see…" BOOM!! Before she could finish the room shook heavily.

Hoshi's voice came over the comm. "Tactical alert, all hands to battle stations!"

Trip grabbed hold of the chair as the room shook again. Sadly, this conversation would have to wait to later. "Trish if you know why these people are attackin' you better come with me."

***

The bridge rocked violently, sending two crewmen hard against the deck platting. Lieutenant Reed continued to target the attacking vessels, but they were so fast and maneuverable that it was almost impossible to get a positive target lock.

Hoshi meanwhile, continued to try and raise the ships, but the refused to respond. She didn't get it. Why didn't they at least make demands? Her train of thought was interrupted by another direct hit and Hoshi grabbed hold of her station. She hated battles, all the rocking made her sick to her stomach.

T'Pol sat calmly in the captain's chair watching the approaching vessels. She knew better then anyone that Enterprise could not with stand an assault by three heavily armed ships for long. "Weapons status?"

Reed sighed. "They've managed to damage three of our phase canons, I'm trying to work around it." Another hit. The lights dimmed slightly.

Mayweather turned to T'Pol. "They've taken out navigation. We're sitting ducks."

Reed studied his readouts. "They're coming around for another pass."

Tucker ran onto the bridge. "Sub-Commander." Trish followed him, reluctantly.

T'Pol turned her chair to face Tucker. "Report."

"Tell her, Trish."

Trish moved next to T'Pol. "We weren't carry medical supplies. We were carrying a load of dilithium."

T'Pol raised her left eyebrow. "I assume that this dilithium was not your own."

"No. We beamed it out of the cargo bay of a disabled vessel we encountered several weeks ago." The room shook as the aliens began another round. "We later found out that it belonged to a species call the Benzarians. They're a highly xenophobic species from the Toscana Belt." The ship was hit again, this time disabling main power. It wouldn't be too long before Enterprise was totally helpless. "They attacked us several times, but we managed to evade them."

The bridge went totally black for several seconds before power was restored. Reed looked up from his station. "Hull breach on deck two. Emergency procedures going into effect."

T'Pol nodded. "Ensign Sato, evacuate deck two."

"Yes ma'am."

Trish grabbed hold of Tucker as Enterprise was hit again. "They have a strict criminal code. If you're accused of stealing from them death is automatic."

"Enterprise's crew did not steal from them however."

"That's true Sub-Commander, but you provided us with aid…in their eyes that makes you just a guilty."

Hoshi frowned. "Then there's nothing we can do."

Another hit. Reed could barely hold on. "They just took out the weapons array."

Tucker moved to the engineering station. "I'll see what I can do." Tucker worked the controls. "I think I can give six torpedo blasts, but that's it."

T'Pol moved to tactical. "Mr. Reed hold your fire until they are within five hundred meters."

"Five hundred meters? With all due respect that's nearly point blank range. They could easily breach the hull."

T'Pol nodded. "Once they are in range, target their engines. Mr. Tucker stand by to activate the self destruct program."

"Sub-Commander!"

"That's an order, Commander." Tucker nodded. "Ensign Sato standby hailing frequencies."

"Here they come." Reed reported. Enterprise shook hard as they took three direct hits. Then another volley of torpedoes hit, send Reed to the floor. Another hit.

"Commander Tucker," Hoshi began. "There is a rupture in the plasma conduit behind your counsel, get away from that that station."

"Hold on." BOOM. The ship was hit again. The plasma behind Trip's station ignited, sending him flying over his computer station, down onto the deck.

Ensign Mayweather ran to his aid. He was face was covered in plasma burns and it looked to Travis as if he wasn't breathing. "We need a medical team!"

***

Sickbay was being over run by injured. Archer helped as best he could, getting Phlox hyposprays, helping the wounded to beds and so on. He hated it. His place was on the bridge, but Phlox ordered against it.

Cutler ran into the room carrying a burn kit. "Doctor there's been a plasma explosion on the bridge. The wounded are on their way."

Phlox sighed. "We'll try to make room somehow." He turned to Archer. "I need a blood gas infuser. It's the donut shaped object in the third draw of medical storage unit delta."

Archer ran to the storage room. At least this was getting his mind of his conversation with Trish. The room shook again. Why wasn't this battle over? T'Pol should have thought about something by now. Another hit. Archer balanced himself as he ran back into sickbay.

He nearly dropped the equipment as he saw Trip lying on the surgical bed. Phlox stood over him. "Cortical stimulator." Cutler placed the stimulator on the Commander's forehead. "Start at fifty-five micro-volts." Cutler nodded and activated the device. Trip's body jolted, but it had no effect. "Increase to sixty-five micro-volts." Again Trip's body jolted…nothing.

Archer began to fight tears. "Come on Trip," he muttered to himself. Phlox ordered Cutler to increase the voltage. Trip jolted.

"We've got a heart beat." Cutler said. "We need that blood gas infuser." Archer ran to Cutler's side. "What blood type are you, sir?"

"Um…A positive."

"Good!" Phlox said. "Would you be willing to donate to Commander Tucker?" As if he needed to ask.

"Of course."

***

Hoshi's head pounded as damage reports came in on every channel. Another hit. "Ma'am engineering reports the plasma coolant tanks over starting to over heat. We could be looking at a breach."

"Range Mr. Reed?"

"One thousand meters." Reed put his finger over the firing button…just a few more seconds. Then the computer beeped, they at five hundred meters. "FIRING!" Six torpedoes blasted out of Enterprise, directly into the enemy's engines. Reed smiled. "Their engines are off-line."

"Open a channel on wide ban sub-space," T'Pol ordered.

"Channel opened."

T'Pol took a seat. "This is Sub-Commander T'Pol in command of the starship Enterprise. Stand down." BOOM another hit. "If you do not stand down I will destroy this ship. The subsequent shock wave will undoubtedly destroy your vessels as well." Nothing. T'Pol raised her brow, just as she suspected. "If you do not stand down immediately, I will transmit the location of your home world to both the Vulcan High Command and Starfleet Command. It is logical to assume that highly xenophobic species such as yourself would not enjoy other species visiting your territory."

"Sub-Commander," Reed began. "They're powering down their weapons."

"We've got helm control." Travis reported.

"Mr. Mayweather take us out of here maximum available warp."

"Yes Ma'am."

Enterprise leapt to warp two leaving the Benzarian vessels behind. "Mr. Reed, stand down from tactical alert. Ensign Sato, I want a full damage report within the hour and start assigning repair crews." She turned to face Trish, who was still standing at the back of the bridge. "Ms. Pennington I am afraid I will have to place you and the entire crew of your ship in custody until we reach the nearest Vulcan ship."

Trish was surprised at her reaction. If that this had happened even a month ago, she would have been furious. But seeing Trip had brought back so many memories of the past. Maybe it wasn't too late to turn over a new leaf. "What about my daughter?"

"I'll take care of her." Hoshi said.

Reed walked over to Trish gently taking her arm. "Follow me please."

***

Captain's Log Supplemental: We've rendezvoused with the Vulcan transport ship S'Lor. They will be taking the cargo ship's crew back to Earth, where they will stand trial for theft, and knowingly endangering the crew of Enterprise. We sustained heavy damage during the Benzarian attack; however, repairs are well ahead of schedule. Commander Tucker is recovering in his quarters and is expected to return to duty in three days. I have been released from sickbay on the condition that I don't over work myself.

Jon finished flipping through Lieutenant Reed's tactical report. He couldn't hide his sense of pride for this ship and crew. They had handled the situation well, like they always did. But his pride was tinged with a sense of worry and nervousness. He would have to confront Trip about that night several years back. He kept going through possible outcomes in his head. He tried to think of every possible reaction, and thereby calculate a response.

How much detail should he divulge about that night? Should he tell Trip he was in love with him, or should he put those feelings aside for the time being and focus on his duty as captain? He had to remember that Enterprise came first and a relationship with any member of his crew wouldn't be logical…to borrow a phrase from T'Pol.

Before he could think about it anymore the door chimed, bringing him back to reality. It was most likely Lieutenant Reed wanting to know what he thought of the tactical report. "Enter." Archer's smile disappeared as Trip slowly walked into the room. "Trip…I thought Phlox ordered you to stay in your quarters."

Trip smiled as he took a seat in front of Archer's desk. "Well, I won't tell him if you don't."

"My lips are sealed." Archer put aside the report. His stomach began to dance around as he began to form his words. "Trip, we need to talk."

Trip took a deep breath. "I know, Cap'n." They started to talk at the same time, then stopped and laughed. "Cap'n I would really like to go first."

Archer sighed. He had a few minutes left to think things over. "Of course."

Trip clasped his hands together. "I don't know how to put this, so I'm just going to spit it out." He took a deep breath…here goes nothing. "Have we ever…had sex?"

Archer's eyes nearly bugged out of their sockets. "Well, let me be just as blunt…yes." He was stunned. "How did you know?"

"Trish said that she caught us together that night." There was silence. Trip could see the pain in Jon's eyes. He didn't want his friend, lover…whatever the hell he was, to feel bad. Tucker touched his hand lightly. "Jon, I don't want you feelin' guilty. I should be the one feelin' guilty."

"You? I'm the one that started it. You looked so damn good that night…I couldn't keep my eyes off you." Archer's mind flowed back to that night. "We were a bar…I can't remember the name. We had a few too many and decided to make a scene on the dance floor. Apparently we started to get too physical and we were asked to leave." Trip chuckled. It sure sounded like something he would do. "We went back to your place…and well, one thing led to another and well, you can picture the rest."

"You'd think I would've remember that." Tucker laughed. "Cap'n the more I picture it the more I realize that it would never have happened if I hadn't wanted it too. I just wish I could remember it."

Archer nodded, he had to admit he felt hurt that Trip didn't remember it. "This is going to change things…isn't it?"

"Maybe." Trip paused. "Jon, why the hell didn't you tell me earlier?"

"What the hell was I supposed to say Trip…hey one night I took you back to your apartment and fucked your brains out!"

"Well it could have avoided me years of guilt wonderin' if I had lost my chance for true love and happiness."

"That's part of the reason I didn't tell you. If you knew that you had slept with me, you would have blamed me for ending your relationship with Trish." Trip slammed his fist into Archer's desk. "I'm not talkin' about Trish."

"What?"

"I'm talkin' about us!"

Archer's jaw dropped. "What did you say?"

Trip could feel a lump in his throat, as tears began to obstruct his view. "It's taken me all these years to realize that I am utterly and hopelessly in love with you." There it was out in the open. After years of denying it to himself, he finally admitted the true nature of his feelings. He could see that Jon was fighting for words and knew what would be next…'Oh Trip, I'm flattered, but I don't feel that way about you. What happened was just a night of drunken passion…I'm so sorry." It was karma coming full circle. Trip had used the same line on a dozen different people before and now it was his turn to hear it.

Archer sat back in his chair. "Trip, why didn't you ever tell me how you feel?"

"For the same reasons you didn't tell me about that night…I was scared." Trip sighed. "I understand if you don't feel the same way, but I just need…" He was cut off as Archer moved in closer allowing his lips to brush against Trip's.

"Shh!" Archer kissed Trip deeply forgetting that there was a piece of furniture in-between them. Trip moved back, forcing Jon's chin to slam against the top of his desk.

"Jon, I'm sorry."

Archer began to laugh until tears rolled down his cheeks. "I do love you Trip, I have for a long time."

"Really?"

"Really." Archer sighed. "Well, what do we do now?"

"Well I see two options…one I walk out that door and pretend we never had this discussion."

"Or two?"

"You meet me in my quarters in twenty minutes."

"Trip?"

Tucker smiled. "We had a night of passion that I don't remember…I think it's time we make a new memory. One I'll get to keep this time." He winked at Archer.

"I like the second plan best."

Tucker kissed his forehead. "Twenty minutes…don't be late!"

Captain Jonathan Archer smiled. Maybe Trish and Phlox were right. Maybe being open about your feelings and secrets of your past was the best policy after all.


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