Notes: A trio of drabbles, focusing on Hoshi, Malcolm and Trip during their final moments on the Enterprise bridge in “Twilight”. Yeah, it’s kinda tragic, but this idea wouldn’t let go, and I wrote this in one stretch. Spoilers: ENT "Twilight".
Warning: Major character deaths ahead.
Pairings: R/S and TnT (implied)
My heart jumps to my throat and stays there. I can’t report the damage fast enough; about a third of the ship’s graphic on my console is a bloody red, and there’s nothing I can do...
I look over at Captain Tucker. Trip. He’s still standing by the helmsman, his expression grim as the Xindi’s shots hit home. When was the last time I heard him laugh? Saw him smile? I can’t remember. The weight of command has made Trip a hard man, not by choice, but by necessity. I remember the brief joy in his eyes when Jon Archer, T’Pol and Phlox stepped on board. His friend had come back, just for a little while. But like a dark curtain, I saw the anguish, the resignation that he would never say aloud.
Only the shell of Jon Archer had returned. The man, who had been his friend, our friend, our commanding officer, had died twelve years ago. For the past nine, Trip has taken up the mantle that Jon left behind, since T’Pol couldn’t. Fleetingly, briefly, I wonder again: Did Trip resent T’Pol for ramming the ship, for resigning her commission, for living on the planet with Jon? If he did...if he does...he hides it well. He’s gotten quite skilled at hiding his emotions. A different man from the Chief Engineer of so long ago.
Trip meets my gaze and the tiniest quirk of his lips lifts my heart. Yes, there’s still a glimmer of the fun-loving Trip, who had played the harmonica and had eaten Chef’s pecan pie. He’s still in there. I remember him; he hasn’t completely disappeared.
Again, the deck pitches under our feet. My eyes snap back to the readouts...more hull breaches, more decks open to space. Engineering is still intact, as well on Sickbay, and the Armory, on E Deck...
I sneak a glance at Malcolm. Commander—no, Captain Reed now. I always joke that the goatee would make him look more like a starship captain. Malcolm only smiles, but I’ve noticed he never contradicts me. He’s asked me to go with him, to Intrepid, when he replaces Captain Ramirez. You know, I can’t exactly refuse a request from a senior officer, especially when said senior officer is also your husband.
The Bridge rocks again. Malcolm looks over at Trip, and reports, with just a hint of concern, “Our forward shield’s collapsing!” He meets my gaze, briefly. I see the anger, the fury in his eyes, but it’s for the Xindi. I see the frustration at not being able to protect the ship from this attack. At being able to protect me. I’m fully aware that if the Bridge had had some sort of escape pod, he would grab me from my post, stuff me into the pod, and jettison me towards the planet without hesitation.
Of course, I’d be cursing him in every language I knew, if he did something like that.
And in that second, stretched into heartbeats, I see all his love, his regret. If the Xindi hadn’t destroyed our world, would our future be different?
He mouths, I’m sorry, luv.
I smile, as I feel the tears stinging my eyes, It’s all right, Malcolm. It’s okay. I understand.
We’re on opposite sides of the Bridge, too far away from each other, but I know he’ll always be there for me.
A shrill alarm erupts from Malcolm’s board, and his next words are tinged with strident panic, “They’re targeting the Bridge!” Without the new shields, we were going to die.
Trip glances down at the helmsman, still determined to the end. “Hard to port—“ Maybe, if we were fast enough, we might be able to avoid it—
My eyes never leave Malcolm’s. I stretch my hand out to him, and in seconds, the bulkhead next to me crumples and collapses like tissue paper, and I hear a roaring wind as the air is sucked out into space. The ceiling of the Bridge is sliced off, and I hang on to my chair as long as I can, but it’s so cold and my vision’s starting to blur...
And impossibly, I feel a hand close upon mine. And in that last second, I realize that somehow, through some kind of superhuman effort, Malcolm’s defied gravity and space shear and managed to reach my side. He holds me close as we finally surrender to free fall. It’s cold in space, and my thoughts are dissolving like mist, but before my eyes close for the final time, I imagine his voice in my ear, saying,
“I love you. Never forget that.”
“I won’t, Malcolm, I prom—“
“I like how you think, pinkskin,” he’d told me on more than one occasion. “A warrior must be prepared for every contingency, but still leave a few things to chance. If you cannot adjust, you will be dead. You and I think the same.”
I’d chuckled and wiped grease and grime off my face from the installation of said aft cannon. “Is that a compliment, Shran?” I asked him.
“I suppose it is.” His antennae spiked up in humor. “I would welcome you into an Imperial Guard any day, my brother.”
“Thank you.” I knew that was the highest honor, coming from Shran. He later came aboard when he’d received word of my promotion and he, Trip, Hoshi and I toasted each other with Andorian ale. Eat, drink and be merry, for one day...
The shaking of the decks jolts me out of my thoughts. I’m woolgathering in the midst of battle! It’s the damn beard...Hoshi had joked that it would make me look “more like a captain”, whatever the hell that meant. I’m not that old. Yet. And I certainly am not senile. Yet.
I look over at her, calmly analyzing and tracking battle transmissions from Intrepid and other ships. She’s always been beautiful to me, even with her hair cut short. I’m sad to admit that it was my fault that she had to get her long locks shorn, after a rather unfortunate accident in the Armory. She’s never forgiven me for it.
But I’ve loved her anyway.
Trip Tucker stands there, not too far away, looking at me with sidelong glances. I’ve been his First Officer for so long; sometimes we know what each other is thinking, what each other is planning. Nine long years. We’ve come a long way from being Archer’s Chief Engineer and Armory Officer. He’s changed, I’ve changed, we’ve all changed. Commander Tucker wouldn’t have threatened to space the extra Xindi out the air lock or slice the spy’s ship into tiny pieces. But we’ve become hardened after Earth was destroyed. It’s us or them.
It took me a while to accept the promotion and transfer, but Trip was right when he said to me, “There aren’t many of us left who’re qualified for the job, Malcolm. You deserve it.” He’s always been so strong, so supportive. I suppose I knew it from the beginning, when we’d gotten stuck on that infernal shuttlepod together. Yes, the optimism had given way to realism, but he was still that stubborn Southerner with the annoying accent.
Trip gives me the tiniest of nods. There’s nothing further to be said. I nod back, warrior to warrior. A benediction? A farewell? There’s still the slightest glimmer of hope deep within his eyes, hope that we would survive.
Another alarm and my fingers dance over the console, trying to shunt power. “Our forward shield’s collapsing!” Even with Shran’s help, the new shields aren’t enough to withstand the fury of several Xindi ships attacking at once. A sense of fear and dread passes through me as the damage reports come in. It’s bad, very bad. For the first time in a long time, I question whether or not we would survive this engagement to fight another day.
My eyes catch Hoshi’s as she gazes back at me. I wish we’d had more time. I wish there was some way to get her off the ship and to safety. If wishes were horses...
“I’m sorry, luv,” I whisper.
I can’t hear her reply, with all the electronics exploding around us and sparks flaring, but I can see the forgiveness in her eyes. It’s all right, Malcolm. It’s okay. I understand.
Then the targeting scanners show me the final message: “They’re targeting the Bridge!” My eyes snap back up and meet my wife’s. At this point, we all know what that means. Reeds stay at their post, even when the ship’s sinking around them. To hell with tradition. I’m out of my seat, rushing past the turbolift, as I feel the vibrations through the walls.
And I believe Trip saw me, but allowed me that last indulgence. He ordered the helmsman, “Hard to port—“
Hoshi’s holding her hand out to me, and just as my fingers brush against hers, the bulkhead next to her station explodes. The shockwave pushes her into me; I grab her hand and pull her close, even as I hear the tearing of metal and see the blackness beyond it. The air is sucked out of my lungs, I can’t breathe, my lungs feel like they’re going to explode.
God, I’m going to drown after all...but at least, I’m not alone, as I’d imagined in my worst nightmares. I manage to hold her against me, shielding her, burying my face in her shoulder.
I love you, never forget that.
Strangely enough, my vision isn’t going black, but growing brighter and brighter...
The stars are so blindingly bright.
In another time, another place, I would’ve jumped at the idea. I owe Jon my life, and I’d give anything to save his, but in this time and place, I have to rearrange my priorities. Nine years of lonely command’ll do that to you. I can’t blame Jon ‘cause he didn’t ask for these parasite things in his head. I used to blame T’Pol, for ramming us into that Xindi ship and messing up the warp drive, then going with Jon down to the planet. The few times I visited ‘em, I saw the guilt and the haunted memory in her beautiful eyes.
She punishes herself every day, telling Jon about Earth’s destruction. Over and over. She doesn’t need me to throw it in her face. Contrary to popular belief, I still have feelings for her. Not the heady romantic love it used to be. Like I said, nine years’ll change people. So I don’t do it, and instead, give her as much support as I can, considering I’m up here in space and she’s down there on the surface.
It was weird, seeing Jon and T’Pol when they came aboard. T’Pol, still looking pretty much the same. Jon, giving me that smile and saying, “Captain Tucker.” Gotta admit, it threw me when he asked me how long I’d been in command. I hesitated for a moment before I told him. It’s gotta be hell not remembering and having to relieve the same things. The glimpse of the old Jon still got through, though, and I’m glad.
“Did everyone get their own ship while I was gone?” Jon had joked, after hearing Malcolm’s a captain now, and due to take command of Intrepid. I don’t think Jon was as surprised to hear it. He knew (knows?) Malcolm is the best Armory officer of the fleet, and the best First Officer a Captain can have. He and I have commanded Enterprise longer than Jon has, and I wouldn’t leave the ship in more capable hands than Malcolm’s.
He’s not only my First Officer. He’s my friend. Funny, I wouldn’t have thought that stubborn Brit would play such a huge part in my life. We must be the strangest pair of brothers in the universe. He watches my back, I watch his. When I’d told him to cut the guy’s ship into little pieces and “use a torch”, I had no doubt he’d do it. Malcolm knows the fine line between darkness and light; we both have to walk it all the time.
And Malcolm keeps me from falling head-over-ass into the abyss.
I look over at Hoshi as she reports, “Hull breaches on B Deck, C Deck—“ The Xindi shots are rocking the Bridge continuously now. She adds that Intrepid’s lost her port nacelle, and I tell her to tell Ramirez to withdraw. He can’t do anything now except get himself and his crew killed.
I’m proud of how she’s keeping her cool, even in the middle of the battle for our lives. Such a change from the terrified Ensign, who wanted to go back to Earth. I’d convinced her to stay because we needed her. I’ve watched her grow, guided her like an older brother. You know, she reminds me of Lizzie...they’ve both got the same fire. I wonder how they’d react if they met each other, in another time.
And her and Malcolm...you’d never seen a cuter couple. I nearly broke my neck trying to get ‘em to admit their feelings for each other. (If we get outta this, remind me to tell the story later, okay?). Even now, they’re giving each other those little glances across the Bridge. I married ‘em, and they’ve been a beacon of hope ever since. Still brings a tear to this softie’s eye.
“Our forward cannon is down,” Malcolm reports.
I nod and quietly give the helmsman his orders. We need to give Malcolm the chance to use the other cannons on the hull. Granted, it’s awkward as hell, but if anyone can fire at a ninety degree angle and blindfolded, it’s Malcolm. The Xindi know we’re in trouble, but damned if I’m going to let them take this ship or destroy what’s left of humanity.
Sparks fly all around me, but I stay fast. We’ve gotten out of sticky situations before...all we need is a little more time...I see Malcolm glance at me and I give him a nod. Keep going, we’re gonna make it. He nods back.
Then Malcolm’s board screeches and he shouts, “Our forward shield’s collapsing!” My mind races; we’ve got to compensate for the devastating loss, but I get the bad feeling this might be it. And a second after that, Malcolm yells, “They’re targeting the Bridge!”
I make the decision...out of the corner of my eye, I realize Malcolm’s running across the upper deck, heading towards Hoshi. She’s holding her hand out for him. I can’t help but smile. Nah, let him go. They belong together. And in that moment, I feel a pang of pride for this crew, for everything they’ve done. We’ll go down swinging, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Still, I gotta try to save as many of ‘em as I can, so I look down at the helmsman—Rogers, his name was, he’d been one of Travis’s people, years ago—and I tell him,
Several shots rock the Bridge. I feel my feet go out from under me and I grab hold of the back of Rogers’s chair. The wall to my left’s blown out...right next to Hoshi and Malcolm, and I see both of ‘em being hurled away from me, out into the blackness of space. Malcolm’s holding her close, shielding her, protecting her to the very end.
The ceiling of the Bridge is sheared off, like it’s been ripped by a galactic can-opener. Air rushes out, my teeth chatter, space is damn cold. Deep in my brain, I hear a scream of agony and despair, and I know where it’s coming from.
T’Pol, I’m sorry. Don’t forget I still love—The bond between us engulfs me, I didn’t know it was still there (maybe I'd denied it, to protect myself) but it gives me a small bit of warm comfort, even in the chill of space.
I stare out into the stars, and I can almost brush them with my fingertips...just a little more...