Title: Becalmed

Author: Kalita Kasar

Author's Contact: kalita@bonbon.net

Author's URL: http://kalkasar.ussimperator.com/


Category: slash

Fandom: Ent

Spoilers: Strong for Similitude

First Posted: 11/23/2003

Archives permissions: Archers_Enterprise, ReedsArmory, Tim Ruben and the author's personal site

Pairing: Tucker/Reed

Beta: none

Series: Could fit with the Reassurance Series, but is not a follow on necessarily

Disclaimer: I don't own them, but they're fun toys. ;)

Summary: He's lying there so still and quiet. His face is pale in the glaring lights of sickbay, his head neatly bandaged. There are two small discs applied to his temples—to read brain activity, Phlox explains.

As ships becalmed at eve, that lay With canvas drooping, side by side, Two towers of sail, at dawn of day Are scarce, long leagues apart, descried. —*Qua Cursum Ventus.*

—Arthur Hugh Clough, http://plagiarist.com/poetry/?wid=6020



In theory the whole thing looked simple; not to mention beautiful. I ran dozens of simulations, testing my idea again and again, and everything 'on paper,' as they used to say, looked perfect. I was real pleased when the cap'n agreed to let me put my idea for compressin' the warp stream into practice.

But reality has a way of jumpin' up to bite ya in the ass.

Flames flicker all around me as I race to the top of the warp drive to initiate a manual override, shutting the engine down in hopes of containin' the fire. It works, and I head back down to grab a fire extinguisher.

There's a roar behind me and I feel weightless as I'm lifted off my feet and hurled across the engine room. Something slams into my side, I feel my ribs go again, and then I'm falling. Everything seems to slow down; I take what feels like an hour to hit the deck; I feel a sharp crack to the back of my head.

Everything goes black.


"Fires reported on B and C deck…emergency crews are en route." I report.

I listen to T'Pol as she speaks of a polaric field that 'logically' is what stopped our progress.

We haven't heard anything from Trip since he called over the comm that the engines had not responded when he tried to shut them down. He no doubt has his own problems to deal with in engineering. I'll hear all about it at dinner, I'm sure. He will want to lick his wounds…at least it's not due to any flaw in his design.

"Numerous injuries throughout the ship," Hoshi's voice cuts across my thoughts. "Mostly minor…except for one." The ensign looks up and meets my eyes for an instant before she looks to the captain.

"Commander Tucker has been taken to sickbay."

I feel my heart stop at her words. She has the status of every 'casualty' right there in front of her and she doesn't have to say it for me to know; the line next to Tucker reads critical. I shake my head in denial, my eyes seeking the captain's face.

Archer looks at me, nods slightly and that is all I need to bring me to my feet. I only barely remember to let him precede me off the bridge. I need to see Trip. I need to know he's alive.

He's lying there so still and quiet. His face is pale in the glaring lights of sickbay, his head neatly bandaged. There are two small discs applied to his temples—to read brain activity, Phlox explains.

I can only stare at him in mute horror. I had breakfast with him a few hours before.

We talked about the test that was scheduled for later today. I teased him about *Enterprise* being 'the other woman,' and how jealous I was. I can still see the flashing grin he gave at my words. I can still hear his voice whispering to me as he leaned over the table.

"*Enterprise* is a fine lady, Malcolm, but she can't give me what you can." His blue eyes locked with mine as he briefly touched my hand. "No one else has ever come close to you in my heart."

"Smooth talker!" I quipped, but I parted company with him after breakfast with warmth in my heart that I thought nothing could quench.

Looking at him now I feel cold.

Phlox is talking; I can barely hear him above the roaring of blood in my ears. Something about Trip being comatose, something about neural tissue damage. Something about me losing Trip…he doesn't say so exactly, but the thought is there, behind his words.

And only a few short days ago, we managed to put the tatters of our love back together again. This is so unfair. This is wrong. This is what I should have known would happen.

I look from Phlox to the captain and then back to the still, calm face of my lover. I turn on my heel and flee from sickbay as though a fury pursues me. I can't accept this. I won't.

***Becalmed II


I know this is wrong; somewhere deep inside I know. There is something that niggles at the back of my mind when I am not really thinking about it, but it's an illusive thought. It's there until I look at it square on, niggling and telling me something is not quite right with this picture, but when I turn my full attention to the situation, I am met with the stark need that won't quiet down long enough to let my ethical side speak up.

*Enterprise* needs Trip. I need Trip.

So I told the doctor to create a clone. God help me, am I mad? I know the kind of furore this would create on Earth. The cases from the past, the stem cell research, the controversy over cloning, I know all of that; I'm more than familiar with the history…but I need Trip, and right now, I'm willing to go to any lengths to make sure he lives and that this mission continues *with* him alive and well.

So why do I feel sick when I look at that baby lying in Phlox' arms, contentedly nursing from a bottle of formula? Why do I feel like this is so goddamned wrong that I will never forgive myself for it. My only solace is that the operation to harvest his brain tissues won't harm him, and it will help Trip. That's what I cling to.



There's an infant in a crib next door to where Trip is lying. I can hear its snuffling, rapid breaths. It grunts and the crib rattles as it squirms. Phlox says its name is Sim he says I should look at it…he says it is a rare opportunity to see Trip as a baby. I won't look at it. I can't even fathom that it is human. It most certainly is *not* Trip.

Forget the fact that cloning is still a hotly debated issue on Earth, beyond stem cells for certain medical procedures; the entire practice of cloning is outlawed where humans are concerned. The captain knows that, and I'm sure that Phlox must know as well. I can't begin to imagine what possessed Captain Archer to authorize the creation of this…life form. How can it be human, anyway, when it grew out of some kind of alien grub?

I'm content to spend what spare time I have here, with Trip. I've asked Phlox to keep "Sim" away from me, and he reluctantly complies with my wishes. I don't want to know about it. I don't need to understand it. If it helps Trip then, I suppose I will be grateful, but I have already drafted a report to Starfleet outlining my personal objections to this situation.

Trip is deep in a coma, I have to keep reminding myself of that, and that any movements or response I may notice are just reflexes and not voluntary.

I talk to him a lot. Tell him how the repairs are progressing, how my day has been. I tell him the little things, what chef had on the menu for lunch, what recreational activities have been organised for the crew.

I tell him I love him. I tell him I need him to come back to me, but I don't mention Sim. I don't tell him anything about that because to tell him would be, in my mind, the same as condoning it.

I wonder if Captain Archer has even considered Trip's wants and needs. I wonder if, even in his mind, he has had that conversation with Trip where he asked him what *he* wants?

I doubt that he has. All that the captain can think of is how he needs to have his engineer for the rest of this mission.

I feel stinging pain in the palms of my hands, and I realize I've been balling my fists so hard as my mind pursued that train of thought, that my fingernails have bitten into the flesh. I frown at my hands and then look up with a start when Phlox pushes the privacy screen aside and steps in to examine Trip.

"Good evening, Lieutenant." Phlox smiles at me, and then turns his attention to the medical readouts from the machines around Trip's bed.

I nod an acknowledgement, not speaking. I watch the doctor's face, searching for clues.

After a few moments, Phlox looks at me.

"No change," he says sadly.

I sigh and let my head droop forward.

"I hadn't really expected there would be."

"You should try to get some rest," Phlox says. "There's little you can do, and wearing yourself out isn't going to help the commander."

"I'll go soon," I say.

"Lieutenant," Phlox speaks so softly I almost miss it. His blue eyes rest on me with an expression I can't quite decipher.

"You know, don't you, that if there were any other way to help him, I would take it."

"Of course." I let my gaze slide away. I don't know if I really believe that or not. I get to my feet.

"I don't agree with, or condone what is happening here," I tell him, "But ultimately, my opinion doesn't matter. I'm not the one who must give account for any of this." I wave a hand, encompassing Trip, Sim, and the doctor in the gesture and then I step past Phlox and slip quietly through the privacy screen.

"Good night, Doctor."

***Becalmed III


I woke up early this morning. I'm hungry again. Phlox says that's because I grow so fast. He says it's a good thing he doesn't need to sleep. He says he's been getting me snacks and such in the middle of the night, and takin' care of me ever since I was born. I don't know about that, I remember my mom, she always reads to me when I go to bed at night and she tucks me in and I'm pretty sure, she was there when I was a baby too I can't ever a remember a time when she wasn't there.

I can't ever remember a time Phlox wasn't there either. Or Captain Archer, or Hoshi, they've always been there too, but they're from Enterprise. Mom is from Earth. I have a daddy there, too and a sister and a dog named Bedford.

Most of the time I stay in sickbay. I'm not allowed to wander round the ship on my own, and no one has much time to take me anywhere. Sometimes I go to the messhall with Phlox and get milk and cookies. But sickbay is mostly my home.

There's a part of sickbay I'm not allowed to go though, not even if I lose my ball and it rolls in there…If that happens, I hafta ask Phlox or Crewman Cutler or another grownup to go get it. I've been wonderin' what's in there behind that curtain. Today, I think I might take the chance to find out.

No one's around right now, and I am staring at that curtain. The one that the man they call Lootenant Reed comes and goes through every day. I've been told not to talk to him. He doesn't look very happy, and the one time I tried smilin' and sayin' hello, he just looked at me and then walked right by. I've been told it's reeel important to stay away, from Mister Reed and not to go through that curtain. Momma says I should mind when grown ups say things like that…but I gotta know what's in there.

I take a step forward and put my hand on the screen. I sure wish Lizzie was on board *Enterprise*, I know she'd just march right on through and call me sissy for standing here listening to my heart thumpin' in my ears. I swallow hard and then I pull the screen aside and whisper Lizzie's name as I step through.

There's a man lying on a bed. He looks real sick. His head has a bandage around it and he doesn't move at all. I wonder what happened to him, what his name is. I take another step forward. Now that I know it's just a man, I feel a little braver. He's breathing, so he's not dead. That's good. I don't think I'd like to see a dead man. I saw a dead raccoon once. That was pretty scary.

I step up to him, and put out a hand and touch one of his fingers. His hands are big, like my daddy's hands. Oh I don't mean Phlox. I mean my other daddy, the one who isn't here. They look like strong hands, workin' hands. Not the kind of hands that should be lyin' in here sick. I wonder why Phlox doesn't make him better.

"Sim!" a voice behind me makes me yell and spin around.

"I'm sorry!" I hurry out of there, and look up at Hoshi. She looks…well, not mad, but not happy either. "I…I didn't I…well I guess I did mean to but I…I…I'm sorry!"

Hoshi shakes her head at me and then she crouches down in front of me.

"Commander Tucker is very ill," she tells me. "He needs rest and quiet, and you've been told not to go in there."

"I know." I hang my head and bite my lip. "I just thought…I wanted to know who was in there."

Hoshi pats my shoulder and then she gets a kinda sad look on her face. "He's our engineer," she says. "He had an accident."

"Is he your friend?"

"Yes…he's my friend. He has a lot of friends on board *Enterprise*."

I nod my head and glance over my shoulder at the commander, and then I look at Hoshi. "Are you gonna tell my dad?"

Hoshi looks even sadder still and she pulls me close and hugs me. "I won't tell your dad, but I think we *will* have to tell Phlox."

I like Hoshi, she's the only one apart from Phlox, who really understands how hard it is, having a mom and dad, but not ever gettin' to see em or even talk to em. She's the only one who doesn't just make like I should accept Phlox as my 'father'.

"Come on," Hoshi says. "It's time for your reading lessons." She takes hold of my hand, and before we walk away, she gently pulls the curtain closed around Commander Tucker again.


So far, I've done quite well at avoiding Sim. He has only attempted to speak to me once. A few days ago when he looked about—6 years old, I suppose. I didn't say anything to him. It's better in my mind, if I don't get to know him in any way at all.

Even though everything in me objects to the idea that this child…and I have to admit, he is just a child, even if he's an alien one, was brought into existence as a cure; there is *nothing* I can do to change it.

I was surprised to receive a comm from him earlier this morning, asking if I would meet him in the messhall at lunchtime. His voice was more mature, and distressingly familiar. I agreed, although I have no idea why he would want to speak with me.

I know Phlox and the captain have explained his purpose to him. That happened when he was still an adolescent and from what little I have heard, he accepted it with the kind of stoicism any young boy would have.

I walk through the messhall doors and almost stop in my tracks. For a heartstopping moment, I think that Trip is sitting at the table eating a dessert as though it is his last meal.

He moves his head and the angle of the light changes. I realize it's not Trip. I have to tell myself Trip…*my* Trip is still lying in sickbay in a coma.

I walk over to him, as casually as I can and glance at the dessert he's eating.

"Keylime Pie."

"I suddenly realized it was my favourite dessert," he replies. "Now I know why."

Trip's favourite desert is Pecan Pie. I don't tell Sim that. I just glance away, trying to think of something to say.

We make some small talk about his memories, and then I decide to come to the point.

"You asked to see me about something?"

He has conceived of an idea to get *Enterprise* out of it's current predicament, that is nothing short of brilliant. I have to give him that.

God if only he weren't wearing Trip's face. If only he didn't have that same, earnest, puppy dog expression as he asks for my help. It would be easy to turn him down then and remain aloof. But his blue eyes meet mine and I feel something melt inside me.

I agree to his plan and then I stay there with him, talking to him. I may not have wanted to see Trip as a baby when Phlox offered me the opportunity, but looking at this man I realize, this is the Trip I have missed and longed for since Elizabeth died.

He obviously hasn't remembered, yet, what happened to her, and this is the Trip of old. I watch him talking; sipping his coffee, laughing and my heart begins to crumble away to dust inside my chest. This is who I have really lost.

This man could drive *me* to kill for a chance to get him back. I begin to understand a little of what drives Captain Archer and then…then I realize where my thoughts are going and I push my chair away from the table and get up so fast that he blinks in surprise.

"Is somethin' wrong, Malcolm?" He looks up at me, his eyes filled with concern.

I shake my head and he stands up. Looking into his eyes I see realization begin to dawn, and with it, the light of confusion.

"No. I'm fine. It's fine." I take a stumbling backwards step away from him and turn towards the doors.

"Malcolm!" His voice almost stops me. That pleading note. I've heard it so many times.

Before I can let my heart take over and rule my head, I bolt.

I have to get away. That's *not* Trip I tell myself sternly as I make my way into the corridor. I lean against a bulkhead, fighting to calm the tumult in my heart and mind.

Trip is in sickbay, he's dying, and that man in there is the only thing that can save him. Dear God, the thought almost seems welcome. I choke down bile and start to walk. I have to get to sickbay. I have to be with Trip. I need to ground myself.

I wish Trip would wake up. I wish a miracle would occur and Sim's neural tissue wouldn't be needed. I wish so many things, but most of all I just wish that none of this had ever happened.

***Becalmed IV


I was a fool to believe that we could do this and that the universe would let us get away with it scot-free. I was a fool to think that fate, or God or whoever wouldn't exact a higher price than I wanted to pay. A life for a life.

When Phlox told me that Sim will die from this procedure I felt as though I'd been sucker punched. The flimsy straw I'd clung to throughout the short days of Sim's life was snatched away from me in that moment. I felt as though I was choking I couldn't breathe, I thought, for a moment I was going to pass out.

Since then, my mind has regained some focus. I don't like this situation. I know I'm never going to sleep easy again, knowing what I have done, but my mind is made up. We're going through with this. I need Trip for this mission I wish things didn't have to be the way they are, but I have no alternative.

I stand outside Sim's cabin door and press the door chime. After several seconds, when he doesn't answer I press a comm panel.

"Archer to the Bridge."

"Bridge here sir," Hoshi responds.

"Where is Sim?"

After a moment, her voice comes back, puzzled. "He's in Commander Tucker's cabin, sir."

Frowning, I turn in the direction of Trip's cabin. A part of me bristles with anger at what feels like an invasion of something personal. My best friend's cabin. What's he doing there?


I can't stop thinkin' about Trip. I guess I've been thinking about him ever since that first time I sneaked in there behind the screen.

I'm him. I have his memories, I've lived his whole life in just a few days, but I'm not him—I feel like I *am* him. It's all a tangled mess in my head and I know I'm just me too. I'm Sim and I've had a life of my own here on *Enterprise* and I have friends; his friends, our friends. Thinkin' about all this makes me want to cry, but I can't.

Last night, instead of going to my own room I came to my—his cabin. I haven't slept much; I've spent the time lookin' around, touchin' the pictures and things I—he has around in here to make it more homey.

I'm sitting at his desk, the place where I like to sit and play the harmonica. I don't have that anymore; he traded it for a horse on some planet a few weeks ago.

There's somethin' else. Lizzie's dead. I don't want to let my mind stay there too long. I understand from it, though, why Cap'n Archer is so determined to let nothin' stop this mission. I understand Trip's determination too, but I don't like the feeling that hatin' gives me.

There's other things I've remembered that are confusin'. I love T'Pol, but then there's Malcolm. Which one does Trip love? The feelin's I have for both of them are equal, but I know I—*he* asked Malcolm to marry him.

So maybe my feelin's for her *are* mine after-all.

I wish I could talk to someone. I wish I had a friend I could turn to, that I could pour all this confusion and hurt out to.

I remember a few days ago, when the captain told me about Trip and how he got hurt and why I'm here. I'm supposed to give some brain tissue to Trip so he can get well. I swallow hard at that memory. It was the first time Phlox ever lied to me. He told me that when I had the operation I wouldn't feel a thing. Since then, I found out that wasn't true. The Captain and Phlox both lied to me that day; because this operation is goin' t'kill me.

I scrub a hand across my face. I'm so tired, but I can't sleep. Since the memories about Lizzie came back whenever I sleep I have bad dreams. It's not only that, though, I can't sleep because I don't want to waste what little time I have left.

I got into the library files here last night, and did some research. There's a way that I might be able to live a long and good life if I can convince Phlox to try it. It's a simple procedure and *Enterprise* would still have an engineer. People like me and accept me. I could take Trip's place. They'd get used to me.

I pick up a photograph off Trip's desk…my desk and stare into the faces in the picture. It's me with Malcolm. Taken on a planet where he and I had shoreleave not long after we got together. I smile, rememberin' those happy times. Malcolm's behind me in the picture. I'm sittin' down and he's leanin' forward to drape his arms around my shoulders, his face close to mine, our cheeks almost touching. We both wear huge smiles and I remember that Travis took the picture. I remember him teasin' us about our wild romance.

I put the picture down and consider goin' t'see Malcolm. Maybe he would understand, or at least just listen if I told him all the things that are in my heart?

I'm about to get up when the door bell stops me.

"Come in," I call. The door opens and Captain Archer steps in. He doesn't look happy to see me here.

"How long have you been staying here?"

His tone is sharp and holds a challenge.

"I was on my way to my room last night, but…I came here instead."

He walks over to the desk and picks up the photograph I was lookin at, the one of Trip and Malcolm. He puts it back where I took it from.

"These are *Trip's* quarters!"

"Which is where *I* belong! I have his memories, I have his feelings, I have his *body*! How'm I not Trip?"

"Commander Tucker is lying in sickbay," he says.

I can see the pain in his eyes. A deep pain, I know how much it must be cuttin' him up to think his best friend is dyin' but why can't he see that…I *am* Trip?" I get to my feet and confront him.

"Then what am I? Just somethin' you grew in a lab?"

I know this man, he's my best friend, and his coldness to me, his hardened features are about to break my heart. I wanna grab him and shake him; I wanna make him see it's me in here…Trip. TRIP! He turns away from me, his eyes roving towards the viewport, and the stars I know he loves to stare at when he needs to think. I know this is killin' him every bit as much as it is me, but I can't allow that to sway me. I go on the attack. "Does that make it easier for you to condemn me to death?"

"If you refuse to go through with this, you'd be condemning *Trip* to death!"

"I didn't put him in a coma!"

"No! But you can save him."

"In a way, I will…by saving myself."

I watch the refusal forming in his face even while I'm talkin' I can't believe this is the same Jonathan Archer who, just a few days before, taught me how to fly a model shuttle in the launch bay, the same man I talked to about my mom and dad. I can't believe this is the same man I have shared at least the last ten years of my life with.

"Phlox says there's almost no chance that the enzyme will work." He turns away as he speaks, shutting me out. I can't let him do this.

"My *life* is at stake!" I'm yellin' now and I don't care who hears me. I'm fighting…*pleading* for my life. If there is a shred of reason left in him…he hasta see this my way. "*Any* chance is worth taking!"

"But at what cost?" he rounds on me, striding up to me til we're nose to nose. I can hear his harsh, heavy breathing, and looking into his eyes, I am chilled by the hardness in them. "It'll take a day to synthesize the enzyme, by that time your neural tissue won't be compatible with Trip's anymore. He'll die!"

"I know!"

"I can't let that happen."

So what're you gonna do? Drag me down to sickbay; force me onto a biobed at gunpoint?"

"If you truly have all of Trip's memories, you know the answer to that. I don't have to tell you what's at stake. I *must* complete this mission and to do that, I need Trip. *Trip!* I'll take whatever steps necessary to save him."

"Even if it means killing me?" I stare at him in disbelief and a part of me is glad Trip isn't able to see this; to watch the man he admires and trusts as his friend and commander stoop so low. My heart is pounding and I'm shakin' and I take an involuntary backward step as he nods slightly and speaks in a low, rough voice.

"Even if it means killing you."

"You're not a murderer."

"Don't make me one."

And then, I know it's not gonna work. I can't make him accept me. I can't get him to see that I *am* Trip and I probably wouldn't have much chance of makin' anyone else on this ship see it either. I'm going to die and these people, my friends and all the family I have really ever known, will stand by and let me die because they all want Trip back. I've been a fool, I let them deceive me. I went passively along with everythin' they wanted and now…now they want me to die. But I'm damned if I'm gonna go along with *that!* they can't really force me to die. I'm not a weak little kid anymore. I'm not helpless. I have enough of Trip's memories to get myself out of this.

The one thing I have goin' for me is that they trust me. They don't think that I will ever do anythin' other than what *they* want. I pretty much have the run of the ship, and I have Trip's command codes. I stare into Archer's eyes, and I let him think I am backin' down. I nod slightly, and I wait, watchin' as he leaves.

A few moments after he has gone, I walk out of *Trip's* quarters and head for engineerin' I know T'Pol's down there, helping with the repairs to the engines.

I'm gonna get away. I'm not gonna stay here and die, at anyone's behest. When I die, it will be on *my* terms.


I had to admire his spirit. In that respect, Sim was just like Trip. His courage in facing up to me when we argued over…when he pleaded and fought with me for his life. I'll never forget it, or the way it twisted my guts to know there was no way I could grant him his last wish and not sacrifice Trip.

I know I broke his heart, and destroyed not only Sim's trust in me, but Trip's as well. I know, had it really been Trip standing in front of me in those moments, I would have lost his friendship forever then and there.

There's a part of me that fears Trip will somehow know, that he will remember; some ghost of Sim will stay with him, and he will know how low I stooped in the name of our mission and to save his life. If he remembers, will he understand? Will he forgive me?

I won't know that until he wakes up.

Sim demonstrated that same spirit when he tried to steal a shuttlepod and get away from *Enterprise.* And it was the same courage that I've always loved and respected in my best friend, that had him think better of his actions and stay. I'm not fool enough to flatter myself that it was anything to do with me, which made him change his mind. Sim told me himself, the only reason he did this was Elizabeth Tucker. His death was a tribute to her and nothing else.

I let Sim spend the last couple of hours in Trip's cabin with Porthos. Was it for his sake or a salve to my conscience? I don't know. I only know I needed to do *something* to try and let him see that I'm not…heartless.

I'm not heartless, am I?

It's a question I will ask myself for the rest of my life. One I can never answer.

***Becalmed V


I don't think I have ever been so conflicted in my life. When I reported to the captain that someone had taken control of the launch bay and effectively locked us out, I knew it had to be Sim. The overrides he'd used are only available to senior staff, and before I could bypass those, he'd made a thorough job of changing several protocols securely enough that it would take me some time to break through them.

A part of me wanted him to succeed. I wanted him to escape, to make it more difficult, and yet another part of me cried out for him to change his mind. The part of me, that, even now I don't like to face. The part that was willing to see Sim die so that Trip could live.

Sim came to see me before the final procedure. I looked into his eyes when I opened my cabin door and I understood that he knew all of what has passed between Trip and I this past year. He understood it all; held all the knowledge and all the love. I could see it in his face.

"Come in," I said, waving him into the room.

"I won't stay long," he said. His voice was low and even; I remember thinking he was facing this whole thing with far more courage than I think I could have found.

His eyes held a million unspoken things as he turned to look at me.

"There's a lot, I could say," he said. "I've been thinkin' about what to say now for…a couple hours." He broke off and looked away and I waited, shifting my weight uneasily from one foot to the other.

"Trip loves you," he said, meeting my eyes again after a moment. "I know I probly don't hafta tell ya so, but I wanted to because I love you too. I wanted you to know from someone who's lookin' at his feelin's from the inside out. No matter what he does, or what he says, Malcolm, never believe for one minute that it's because he doesn't love you."

I felt tears well to my eyes. I couldn't reply because of a hard, painful lump in my throat.

Sim smiled, shifted his weight a little and then stepped closer. He leaned in and briefly brushed his lips across mine.

"Don't waste this," he said.

Before I could say anything, he was gone. I stared at the door for a long moment before I was able to find my voice.

"I won't. I promise."



I always thought that when someone was in a coma, they didn't know anythin' or feel anythin'. That was before I experienced it for myself. I dreamed a lot while I was out.

I dreamed I heard a baby cryin' and I dreamed about a young boy who touched my hand. I dreamed about my momma, reading *The War of the Worlds* to me. It was weird.

I dreamed that Malcolm told me all about the things that were happenin' on the ship while I was sleepin' and I dreamed that Jon came by late one night and begged me to understand and forgive him for…I dunno what.

Did the cap'n blame himself for what happened to me? I figured I'd have to ask him once I could make my eyes open.

Bein' in a coma is just like bein' in that half awake state before you fall asleep; except you can't come out of it.

I woke up this morning with Malcolm sitting by me and holding my hand. I felt tired and weak, like I'd done a hard day's work, but without ever movin' off the bed. I blinked a few times, trying to get my bearings and Malcolm leaned closer to me.

"Trip?" His voice was kinda distorted and I shook my head.


"Doctor!" Malcolm stepped away for a moment, but he was right back, gripping my hand in his so hard it almost hurt.

"Trip!" he said, laughing and crying at the same time. "Thank God!"

Then Phlox appeared, smilin' down at me while he ran a scanner over me.

"Welcome back, Commander."

"Wh…What happened?"

"There was an accident, in engineering." The doctor laid the scanner down, and patted my shoulder. That was when I noticed the shadows in the depths of his eyes for the first time. I frowned and looked at Malcolm.

"I remember…" I said. "The engines…"

"The repairs are almost done," Malcolm said, and his gaze flickered away from me for an instant as he looked at the doc.

"What's wrong?" I struggled to sit up. "What…" Before I could say more, Malcolm and Phlox both pressed me back down on the bed.

"Everything's fine, Trip." Malcolm soothed. "Just relax and concentrate on getting well."

There was something they weren't telling me, but I could see it was no use trying to get anything out of either of them. I lay back on the bed and closed my eyes.

Phlox left a few minutes later, but Malcolm stayed with me, holding my hand and talking softly about nothing in particular. It was soothing, and I drifted to sleep listening to his voice.

***Becalmed VI


I walk into my cabin for the first time since wakin' up in sickbay. I look around, a little uneasy. I've been told a few sketchy details of how I come to be livin' and breathin and walking around right now, and I'm not sure I like it.

He was in my cabin, they tell me…for the night before, and then for the last few hours of his life.

I still can't get my head around this and maybe I won't ever be able to. Someone lived my entire life in seven days, knew all about me, had all my memories, all my feelings, everything, and now he's dead…died so I could live?

I haven't seen him yet, although Phlox offered me the chance. I just can't bring myself to that right now. I've got an uneasy, sick feeling in my stomach. Now, at least, I know what Jon was beggin' my forgiveness for. I don't think he was askin' the right person for that, though.

I can feel that someone's been here. There's little hints everywhere, a picture not quite straight on my desk, a PADD on the desktop that I didn't put there. The bed's a little rumpled as though someone lay on it not so long ago. I swallow hard and move further into this haunted room.

Malcolm wanted to come with me, but it was something I needed to do alone.

I wonder what he thought about, those last few hours. I wonder how he felt. I wonder if he hated me?

Moving to the desk, I pick up the PADD that he must've left there, and turn it on.

I'm surprised to see the screen filled with text. It's a letter, and it's addressed to me.

I start to read.

You don't know me, Commander, but I feel as though I know you real well. I feel as though you and I are one and the same.

That's because I was created to save your life.

My name is Sim. I was born and grew up, here on *Enterprise*, surrounded by your friends and the people who love you. I was also born, and grew up in Florida, surrounded by your family and those back on Earth who love you too. Ain't that the strangest thing?

I don't know why I'm writin' this, maybe just to kill time before…I give you back your life, but I felt the need to reach out to you, because you and I will never meet properly or have the chance to talk.

You're a lucky sonuvva bitch, Commander Tucker, and you probably don't even realize how lucky you are. Not many people can claim to be respected and loved so deeply that people are willing to go to such great lengths to save your hide. I hope like hell you appreciate it.

I wasn't gonna go through with this. I tried to run away, but...in the end, our sister wouldn't let me go. I did this for her and no one else, no sir, not even for you.

I feel my eyes startin' to well up with the feelin' that this man has put into his words. I blink tback the tears and make myself read on.

There's an old book, on Earth that not many people seem to read much anymore, but you and I have read some of it, because Momma likes it…in it there is a story about a man who gave up his life to save mankind. Maybe I'm doin' something similar here.

That man said these words: "Greater love has no man, than this, that he lay down his life for his friends."

Maybe, you and I know different, Commander, maybe you and I know there's a greater love than that…a love that could make a man lay down his life for a stranger.

I don't pretend to be any kind of a hero, Sir. I'm just doin' what I was meant to do.

Please do me a favour?

Make it count.


I turn off the PADD and move to the viewport, staring out at the stars. The PADD is still in my hand, and I stand there for a long time just letting Sim's words flow across my mind. I knida regret not ever havin' met him. I wish I coulda said thanks.

I figure, the best way I can do that, is by granting him his favour and makin' it count for something.

I'm still standing by the viewport when the doorchime rings.

I draw a deep breath, but don't turn around. I just call out.

"Come in."

"Trip?" It's the Cap'n.

I glance at him over my shoulder, nod an acknowledgement, and then turn back to the stars.

He's silent for a moment, and then he comes over to lay a hand on my shoulder.

"I'm glad you're okay," he says quietly.

"Me too." I turn to look at him then, meeting his eyes, noting the new lines of worry and strain in his face. He seems to be waitin' on me to say, or do something and I smile a little and then I reach out to pull him into my arms and hug him.

"We both forgive you, Jon," I whisper, and then I hold him while he cries.

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