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Trip has an extended chat with the Doctor while Malcolm spends time with his daughter. The two men return to the Enterprise, in their own time, and decide to start the new year, 2156, off right.

Spoilers: ENT: "Carbon Creek"
DW: "The Doctor's Daughter", "The Last of the Time Lords"

This is the final chapter of this adventure...though Time goes on. Will there be a sequel? Ssshhh...SPOILERS!

Relative Time to Enterprise (January 2156)

Infinity (∞) within the TARDIS

Trip spent several hours talking with the Doctor and found him quite the conversationalist. They chatted about all subjects, including technology, temporal physics and the TARDIS. The Doctor seemed both amused and chagrined that Trip and the TARDIS were so close, but he confirmed the reason why She had chosen Trip, out of all the Enterprise crew, to be her pilot.

“You're a unique person, Trip. Vulcans and Gallifreyans are similar in one way...once we find the 'right person', there's a mental bond that links them together. You already have one with T'Pol, one that defies all usual understanding.”

The Doctor smiled as he lounged in one of the bucket seats. It was one of the few times that Trip actually saw him relaxing since they'd started 'the grand tour of the universe' several relative days before.

“You and the TARDIS have a special bond, too. She showed me that...I kinda envy it.”

“Like I said, similar to T'Pol. You know, I met her second foremother, T'Mir, out by Carbon Creek. Charming woman; T'Pol's very much like her. And Doctor Mestral...he's definitely a character.”

Trip gazed at him and tried not to betray his shock. “You actually met them?”

“Briefly, yeah.” The Doctor grinned and shrugged. “How do you think Mestral managed to stay hidden for so long? A Vulcan among Humans? Maggie knew, and she kept the secret.”

“You mean, Mestral had a perception filter, so everyone would think he was Human too?”

“He used it only when he was in public. Mestral never forgot where he came from...and he always remembered. Like I said, he was a character.” The Doctor chuckled and shook his head. “Martha and I also met the great Surak himself. Did Martha ever tell you the story about how we nearly got done in by one of those lirpa thingies? Nasty weapons, those. Not even elegant in design...a product of the times.”

“Martha mentioned the story, but didn't go into any details.”

“Aw...I gotta tell you that one. Martha Jones, the brilliant woman, actually saved the day there. And did you know that Surak actually had a pet sehlat that had more empathy than a Deltan and a Betazoid together--”

“A who? What?”

“Ah, people you haven't met yet, but you will, eventually. Anyway, the sehlat sniffed out the TARDIS, and Surak knocked on the door--” The Doctor retold the story in that lightning-fast, rambling manner. Trip was now used to his strange style and followed the narrative relatively easily.

Laughter floated from the spiral staircase, and Trip glanced at the other end of the control room. To Malcolm's embarrassment, Elizabeth Reed and Donna Noble got along like a house on fire. The Doctor paused in his story as outraged voices echoed from the second floor of the TARDIS.

“I wonder how much Risa has changed in forty years. What do you say to a short detour on the way home, Captain Reed?”

“Be careful, Captain Harkness. This is my daughter you're propositioning to.”

“He's harmless, Dad. You taught me everything I know about self-defense. I can handle him if he gets too obnoxious.”

“Jack, obnoxious? Oi, that's like saying Earth's skies are blue, LisBeth, my dear. Though if he does get too rowdy, I'll set him straight after your father gets a whack at him first.”

“Thank you for the moral support, Donna.”

“Anytime, Bomb Boy. We're on the same side, you know. I can see where your girl gets her personality from. How her mother managed to survive the two of you with her sanity intact, I have no idea...”

LisBeth laughed, and Trip could imagine the expression on Malcolm's face. “Mom's a patient woman, Donna.”

“I suppose she's gotta be--”

Jack and LisBeth laughed, while Malcolm's snort of exasperation could be heard all over the TARDIS. Trip exchanged grins with the Doctor, and murmured, “Thank you, for Malcolm's sake.”

“I think he deserves to know what kind of brilliant woman his daughter has become. Will become.” A shadow briefly passed over his face, one that lifted just as quickly. “Timey-whimey and all that.”

“Yeah.” Trip leaned against the edge of the TARDIS console with his arms crossed. “Got a question for you--”

“I hope I have an answer.”

“When Malcolm and I get back to our time, to our Enterprise...will we forget all this? You know, so we don't screw up our timeline?”

The Doctor chuckled and shook his head in response. “Time traveling changes how you see things, Trip. You and Malcolm—and your crew—were already time travelers, but now the two of you see things with new eyes. No, once you're a Companion, you remember...with a couple of important exceptions.”

“Exceptions?” Trip asked, as the Doctor's face darkened again. “Like what?”

“It hasn't happened yet, so I'd rather not say.” A quirky smile passed over his face. “Just because you're aware of other possibilities doesn't necessarily mean those particular ones will happen to you. Life has to be lived, Trip. It's a grand adventure, and it still holds surprises for everyone.”

“Infinite possibilities?”

“Yeah. Surak thought it was a brilliant concept too.”

“ advance previews?”

“Nope.” The Doctor smirked. “Spoilers.”

“Had to ask anyway. Sorry.”

“Naw, that's all's only natural to be curious. Even when you have all of Time and Space as your backyard, there's always the one thing that crops up that you've never expected to see. It's only when it all becomes boring and routine that it becomes a problem. Having Companions keeps me from getting too jaded about the same-old.”

Trip nodded in understanding. “Because, like you said, they see it with new eyes.”

“Yes, exactly!” The Doctor grinned widely and got up from the bucket seat. “And speaking of new eyes...I do hope you and Malcolm realize the opportunities that lie ahead of you, especially concerning a certain Vulcan and a certain communications officer.”

“Yeah, I think we do.”

“Good.” He winked and said, “Well, as much as I hate to say it, you two need to get back to Enterprise. Some things are...ahem...time-sensitive, so to speak.”

“Time-sensitive?” Trip was confused until the Doctor waggled his eyebrows in the direction of the ceiling. Trip smirked and added, “Ah, gotcha.”

As if summoned, Jack, Donna and LisBeth trooped down the spiral staircase. Donna and LisBeth were still chattering and giggling among themselves, Jack was teasing Malcolm about his daughter dating 'a Vulcan man with blond hair'. Poor Malcolm didn't look amused.

“Dad, for God's sake, by my point in time, I'm almost forty years old. I'm not sixteen anymore.”

“You're not sixteen, six years, or six weeks old in my timeline. I rather think I'm entitled.”

Donna rolled her eyes. “Lay off, Bomb Boy. She's a grown woman.”

The Doctor laughed and shook his head. “If you could hear yourself,'ve gone domestic.”

Malcolm flushed crimson, but then he started laughing. Trip's smirk widened and he commented, “When this happens in 'real life', I'm gonna remind you of this moment.”

“I'm sure you will, Mister Tucker, and we two will be the only ones to get the humor of it.”

Rose Tyler and Martha Jones came into the Control Room from the spiral staircase. They both heard Trip's comment and laughed along with the rest of them. Rose commented, “That's somethin' only Companions can understand, y'know.”

“Yeah.” Trip heard the TARDIS's voice in his head. We're here. The thirty-first of December, 2155, eleven fifty nine and thirty seconds, exactly.

“Eleven fifty-nine and thirty seconds? We were still in the Mess Hall, a few hours before we discovered the TARDIS,” Malcolm said. Trip swore there was a glint of understanding in his eyes.

Yes, Malcolm.

Trip took a deep breath and smiled at everyone. “Well, I guess this is it.”

“It's 'see you later', not 'goodbye', Trip.” Rose hugged him. “You'll see us again around the universe.”

“See you later, Rose.” He hugged her back, then accepted hugs from Martha and Donna, and a firm handshake from Jack. LisBeth also hugged him and let him go with a wink.

“I'll see you sooner than you think, Uncle Trip,” she murmured.

He grinned; it was the first time he'd heard her call him that. “'Kay, Squirt.”

Malcolm put aside British propriety and returned LisBeth's kiss on the cheek. “See you later, Dad,” she said. “Tell Mom I said hello...later.”

“I will.” Malcolm squeezed her shoulder. “And you behave yourself when I'm not around.”

She winked again. “I will.”

Malcolm gave Trip a suspicious look. “I know where she picked that up, 'Uncle Trip'.”

Trip shrugged comically and smiled at her. The Doctor tapped the controls, then nodded at the double doors. “You'll step right back into the Mess Hall at that exact moment.”

“Thanks, Doc.” Trip felt the TARDIS's warmth one last time and he patted the console. “Okay, let's go.”

Malcolm joined him at the doors and together, they pulled them open and stepped into their own time.

At last.

Enterprise NX-01

December 31, 2155/January 1, 2156

“Commander Tucker! Lieutenant Reed! Where have you two been? Thirty seconds!” Travis shouted from across the room. He sat at a table with Liz Cutler, Ethan Navokovich and Michael Rostov. The four of them looked more than a little buzzed from Chef's 'special libations'.

Trip exchanged a broad grin with Malcolm, who only shrugged and joined Hoshi at a table near the door. Trip glanced back at Travis and shouted back, “Hey, we're here now! Wouldn't miss it for the world!”

Captain Archer and Commander T'Pol stood by the punch bowl. She raised an eyebrow at Trip and he went over to join them there. “Cap'n. T'Pol. Not long till the New Year.”

Jon raised his cup of spirits. “To a new year to come.”

“To new adventures.” Trip grabbed one of the remaining cups from the table and returned the salute. “Got any resolutions, Cap'n?”

“One or two. Whether or not I'll actually keep them this time...we'll see.” Jon smiled and inclined his head at T'Pol, who seemed fascinated by the goings-on in the Mess Hall. “By the way, T'Pol had a question for you, concerning tradition.”

“Tradition?” Trip glanced over at her as she gave him his full attention. “I'll answer it if I can.”

T'Pol nodded; Trip nearly started at the mischievous glint in her eyes, but it was gone before he could be sure. “ some cultures, individuals—and couples—celebrate the new year in certain manners.”

“Uh, yeah. How do Vulcans do it?”

She raised an eyebrow at him before replying, “Some spend the final moments of the old year in deep meditation, others consider it merely a transition from one minute to the next. Bonded couples find it an ideal time to renew their psychic connection.”

Trip smirked. “How?”

She raised two fingers of her right hand and he matched it with the corresponding fingers on his hand. The moment their skin touched, he felt a definite jolt between them. His eyes widened as he felt a wave flow into him, warming him from the top of his head to the tips of his toes.

“ New Year!” The Mess Hall erupted into loud noise as the crew blew horns and threw streamers. Captain Archer exchanged toasts with Doctor Phlox and Travis, and other people broke into a drunken rendition of 'Auld Lang Syne.”

Trip didn't see or hear any of them. His gaze was locked on T'Pol's as the chaos went on around them, but he was only aware of her presence in his mind.

I'll be damned. Is this the equivalent of a Vulcan kiss at midnight?

Her eyes softened as she answered, I suppose you might consider it that. There are other ways that bonded couples indulge in celebration.

I bet I know how. C'mon, no one's gonna notice if we slip out quietly.

I concur.

Trip wasn't quite right; he saw Jon's knowing look as they left the Mess Hall. As they approached Deck B, Trip heard low voices and a woman's giggle. He put out a hand to stop T'Pol from rounding the corner.

“Hang on a minute,” he whispered.

Cautiously, he craned his neck around the corner...and stared at the sight of Malcolm and Hoshi in front of Malcolm's quarters, both locked in a passionate kiss. The Armory Officer broke away only long enough to hit the door control. The door slid open, Hoshi literally kiss-walked him inside, and the door slid shut after them.

“I see that Mister Reed has also chosen to take advantage of certain opportunities.”

Trip suppressed a snort of laughter. He remembered the Doctor's words: “Some things are...ahem...time-sensitive, so to speak.” It was going to be a busy year for certain people, that was for sure.

“About damn time, if you ask me.” Trip smiled and inclined his head towards his own quarters. “And I'm gonna do the same. As long as I don't hear any objections, that is.”

She raised an eyebrow and said, “It is illogical to object, Trip.”

“Good.” He hit the door control and ushered T'Pol inside.

Yes, it was going to be a very good New Year.


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