The door swung open. “Good to see you, T’Pol. Let me help you.” She rushed in, stood next to T’Pol and took some of Trip’s weight by holding the lower part of his body. Very slowly, and very carefully, they laid him down on the bed. “If you weren’t a Vulcan, I would give you a hug.” T’Pol was utterly bemused. The woman stood next to her in the plain blue rap dress was a complete mystery. Indeed, everything was a mystery.
“There isn’t much time but everything is arranged.” T’Pol lifted her eyes from Trip’s stricken body on the bed and took in the bedroom which was furnished with what looked like antique furniture. She was naturally drawn to the light from the double set of windows which were framed by beautiful drapes. It felt… comfortable. Safe, but any further thoughts or analysis were driven from her mind as she once again listened to the woman. “The Doctor will be here within a minute or two and Madam Bouvier is a poppet. She will look after both of you.”
Almost on cue, the door opened again. A short stout lady in a black dress, her hair scraped back in a neat bun, scampered in. “Bonjour! Bienvenue! Oh Mon Dieu – epouvantable!!”
She carried pans of hot water and towels and immediately began cutting away Trip’s filthy skivvies and cleaning his body. “As you can see, T’Pol, you’re in good hands. Now, my only advice is to take each day as it comes. Just focus on your man’s recovery.” T’Pol still had no way ‘in’ to the situation: it made no sense. As if her mind was being read, the answer came. “It doesn’t but it will. Ah! Here’s the doctor. I will say goodbye, T’Pol. And good luck.”
T’Pol managed one thing, “They are speaking French. I cannot understand them.” The woman turned and frowned implying ‘that’s easy to deal with’. “Use the Universal Translators. Your things are in the next room,” pointing to a door behind T’Pol. “Now, I must go.”
T’Pol went into the next room, an adjoining room. The woman was correct, both their bags were there. She found the Translators and went back to find the Doctor had arrived. Before he could say anything, she clipped the translator on him. “Good Morning Madam, Duvall,” and, looking at the young woman,” Nurse Amilie. I have been briefed as to his condition and, if you will excuse me, we will begin immediately. Time is of the essence.”
T’Pol sat down hard on one of the chairs at the back of the room and tried to collect herself. Whilst what was happening was not logical, it was real.
The Doctor scanned Trip with a mobile device and administered a hypo-spray. Over the next two hours it became obvious to T’Pol that, wherever they were, they had the most extraordinarily advanced technology for resolving medical challenges. Surgery was non-invasive, medication was non-invasive. A Dermal Regenerator was being used to heal Trip’s many cuts and burns. They had begun with a Delta Wave Inducer, which kept Trip asleep and increased the pace of the endorphin production to speed up the healing process. Most important of all, the Doctor was able to stop the internal bleeding with a Vascular Regenerator. Logic told T’Pol he was in the right place. She went to find Madam Bouvier to organise a chamomile tea.
On her return, the Doctor spoke with T’Pol. “He is now out of danger. We have administered Polyadrenaline, a stimulant I use for seriously ill patients. Several of his ribs had been broken and other bone fractures were discovered, so we have used an Osteogenic Stimulator. For his eyesight I have prescribed Retinax 5. The Nurse will monitor carefully for any allergic reaction. We are so lucky to have these kind of treatments today. Even one hundred years ago, I could not have saved him.” T’Pol nodded.
She took the woman’s advice: one step at a time. “We have further procedures to carry out; probably be another hour. When I am finished, we will then induce a Coma to improve the recovery. My Nurse will watch over him. I suggest you get some rest. I will visit each day, until his recovery is well underway.”
The Nurse interrupted them, “Excusez moi.” The Nurse handed the Doctor a small yellow piece of cloth. “Oh yes. He was clutching this in his hand when we examined him. We had to prize his fingers back to remove it. It obviously has personal value; you should keep it for him.” She looked hard at the Japanese Charm. “I will. And thank you both. Your treatment of him is most impressive.”
She looked at Trip one more time and at the array of instruments attached to his forehead and his abdomen. Many of the abrasions had been healed, but he was pale and seemed absent in someway. She nodded at them and went to her room and sat on the edge of the bed. She simply shut her mind to the bigger questions. Where were they? How did they get there? She looked around the room. It really was very charming. Beautiful drapes, a French bed, delightful paintings. It was then she noticed, on a dressing table, an envelope addressed to her. She opened it carefully and unfolded the single piece of writing paper inside. It was from the woman in the blue dress.
Trip was about to die. Please reflect on that when you come to realise the decision we made for you. Believe me, the decision wasn’t taken lightly. Trip will recover physically, but he is going to need a lot from you.
There is an old friend of mine living close by. I have left his card. When you feel the time is right, I am sure he will be able to help both of you. He has a lifetime of unusual experiences to call on. Someone once said to you ‘rely on Trip’ and by the look of it, you have some things you need help with. So my advice is: do not hold back as you have before.
Forgive the unsolicited advice. I never took any I was offered, but you just might.
Best of Luck With Everything.
The woman’s signature gave no clue as to her name but it was a single word.
PS There is a great boutique down the road when you are both ready. You might want to check it out for some ‘contemporary’ clothes. It’s just down the street, out the door, turn left.
T’Pol realised, a little like the encounter with her Guide that day in Romulus, there was more going on here than first met the eye. Much more. She needed to meditate like she had never meditated before.
Location : Madam Bouvier’s
Five Days Later. Evening
T’Pol picked up his right hand and stroked his little finger and looked down on it, a contemplative look on her face. She wasn’t deep in thought, it was much simpler than that. She now knew another consequence of the Bond was that whilst he was in a coma, shut down, so was she. She could not share her feelings with him about what had happened to them on Romulus. It was as if someone had built an implacable wall in front of his mind and she was simply staring at it, unable to move on; helpless.
Hour after hour she had sat by his side holding his hands, encouraging him to come back to her. Every day the frustration built up. It wasn’t very Vulcan of her, but then she was only half Vulcan and, of course, all of that needed to be discussed. Despite her needs, she knew when he woke later that day she needed to set aside all her frustrations and feelings of the last five days and simply focus on him and aid his recovery.
The Doctor had removed the Pulmonary Support Unit and adjusted Trip’s medication to bring him out of the coma. He was sleeping peacefully, his breathing regular. It was just a matter of time.
The time came when she saw a single tear emerge and fall down his cheek.
Trip was aware he had gained consciousness, but he kept his eyes firmly closed. Someone was holding his left hand and stroking the small outer finger. His eyes flickered open, took in the scene briefly and then closed tight again. He began to weep.
“Trip, it’s me.” “We are in the Space aren’t we? I can’t face going back any more. I am done.” “No. This is real. I am with you. Trust me, you’re safe” “No, you’re just trying to protect me. I don’t recognise anything. The light’s wrong. Everything is wrong.” “Trip, I am going to put something in your left hand. When we found you, you were griping it tightly and we had to prize it off you.” He felt a small piece of cloth in his hand and T’Pol pressed his fingers over it. “Feel it, Trip. It’s real. And look: it’s been cleaned and repaired. It’s Hoshi Sato’s Charm.” Trip still would not open his eyes. He was terrified that if he began experiencing where he was, it would dissolve and he would be back in the cell, on the floor, looking at the appalling image of himself. Back in a living hell.
T’Pol knew that they had to resolve this between them before stepping out into… wherever they were. She knew a Meld or the Space would only add a layer of confusion. In fact, it would make matters worse. She had to get him to accept that his physical surroundings were real. It had to be physical reassurance. She went to the door, locked it and began undressing. She lifted the sheets and slipped in beside him. She turned on her side and whispered to him. “Trip, it’s me. I am not going anywhere. I am here with you for as long as it takes.” She placed her hand across his chest and nuzzled into him. He began weeping and did not stop until he fell asleep. She lifted her left hand to the side of his face and held him.
Trip & T’Pol
Early Hours of The Morning
Trip awoke. It was pitch black. He lay there for many minutes, until he realised he had woken because there was pressure on his bladder. He began moving and woke T’Pol. “What is it?” “I need the bathroom.” T’Pol put the light on, bleary eyed and pointed over him. “It’s back round there, in a recess.” T’Pol heard the door open and close. She slipped away to her room to get her night clothes. When she came back, he hadn’t returned. She knocked on the door of the bathroom. Nothing. “Are you all right?” No answer. She opened the door and looked in. He was sat in the shower, leant against the wall inside, weeping. T’Pol passed inside and sat down next to him. He leaned against her and she managed to move her arm around him and pulled him to her. His head moved into her for comfort. “What was it?” Trip’s weeping became intermittent. “When…I.., um, went to… wash my hands… I got it wrong… It was, um, cold and it reminded me… ahhh, of those bastards, blasting me with jets of icy water.” It started again. ‘God, am I ever gonna stop crying?’ he thought. T’Pol sighed, “You’re safe now.” and pulled him to her even tighter. She kissed the side of his head and caressed him, giving constant physical reassurance. She knew, as she sat cradling him for minutes on end, she had got through. Trip knew this was real, they had made the first step.
The Next Morning
Trip woke up and worked out two things: he was hungry and T’Pol was in his bed. He sat up, taking in his surroundings, pulled back the sheets, swung his legs out of the bed and tiptoed over to the window, lifted the shutters and looked out. The sun was out and people were beginning their day, coming and going to what looked liked commercial outlets.
Inadvertently, he had woken her. She roused herself and looked over at him. He turned to look at her, a wry smile on his face, thinking about her in his bed. She had that intense frown she always wore when she felt uncomfortable, slightly shy. She looked down. “It is good to see you awake.” He raised his hands in the air in a gesture of puzzlement. “Where are we?” T’Pol looked up at him with a kind of matter of fact sense of bemusement. “I don’t know. France?” He shook his head, “Well, it’s a hell of a lot better than where we were. Is there some place we can get something to eat?”
Madam Bouvier arrived in a flurry. In fact, she did everything in a flurry of words and motion. Her staff set up a food console for each of them and laid them with plates, baskets of bread and butter, glasses and a jug of water. “Ah bonjour, Monsieur Trip. C’est merveilleux de vous voir, réveillé. Voici votre soup et Madame T’Pol, votre bouillon Vulcain comme d’habitude.” Trip looked at Madam Bouvier with a warm smile on his face. “Merci beaucoup, je suis affamé.”
T’Pol dashed off to her room, picked up a Universal Translator and attached it to Madam Bouvier’s belt and looked at Trip. “I don’t speak French.” She tossed Trip the other one. Madam Bouvier asked a question of them both which T’Pol could finally understand. “Some wine, perhaps?” Trip looked at her, “That’s kind, but I think we will take a rain check, thanks.” She passed the translator back to T’Pol and turned to Trip. “D’accord. Je reviendrai avec tarte tatin,” smiled at them both and headed for the door. Trip watched her rapidly disappearing form and looked at T’Pol, “Quite the character.” T’Pol looked over her soup at Trip. “A rain check?” Trip laughed and stopped. “My God, that felt good.” He looked at her questioningly. “So I guess it’s time to do some catching up?”
One Hour Later
The food had come and gone and Trip was sat up in bed, T’Pol was sat on a chair facing him. “Thank God for the Bond, T’Pol. I don’t think I could ever have come to terms with Valhoth if it wasn’t for what you did.”
T’Pol explained that she had passed the Khatra of Valhoth to M’ret. T’Pol stood up and moved in on Trip and sat on the edge of the bed she was very close now. He was transfixed by her gaze. “One day you and her will meet at Mount Salaya, but for now: be at peace.” She sounded knowing, certain confident.
Trip looked towards the window but his mind passed out and soared across the heavens to the Mount and the Hall of Ancient Truth. M”ret the Romulan was carrying an arc across the bridge to the sacred circle. He shook his head not disbelievingly but in wonder at the image.
He fingered T’Pols hand for many minutes and they sat in silence as he took in the extraordinary person opposite him.
The conversation turned from profoundly psychological to political. Trip was summary, reflective. “It’s pretty clear now Valdore and others wanted to use me to discredit the Praetor. M’ret and Atare were looking for me. When the search teams were almost there, Valdore and his thugs abandoned me to save their skins. It’s pretty ironic because I was quite prepared, if necessary, to tell the Senate of my involvement in the Drone Incident. It would have shown them how resourceful we were and yet still we wanted peace.”
T’Pol responded, “Yes, but they could not afford an admission on your terms. It would have led to Valdore and his accomplices’ deaths. Failure comes with a high price on Romulus.” Trip summarised, “What it comes down to is this: there were too many forces working against us. But at least we bought the Alliance two vital benefits: time and certainty,” “Agreed.” “And we had to try.” Trip reached for T’Pol’s hand.”Oh, yes. We did. Let’s not forget, my treatment was unauthorised, we were probably closer than we might think to pulling it off.”
Trip changed tack, “I know there are many things to get our heads around,” looking around the room, “but I am going with this woman’s advice: one day at a time.” T’Pol looked at him. “I said last night ‘as long as it takes. I meant it. We have had three what you would call ‘hells’ to deal with: the Xindi, Elizabeth and now this. It’s time to stop.” Trip nodded in agreement, “But what about this woman, the MACOs and then this other chap you described. Where do they fit in?” T’Pol got up, went to the other room and brought back the letter from the woman. She read the paragraph to him about the friend. “That’s pretty clear advice. Let’s park it all until we are ready to meet this friend of hers.” One word: “Agreed.”
Trip was sat up in bed whilst the Doctor performed his daily check. He asked Trip how he felt mentally. “Oh you know, back and forth.” The Doctor nodded agreement, “Physically, given the extent of your injuries, you are making remarkable progress. I judge you to be a man of considerable mental resilience but you are going to need time. A lot of it. In order to deal with the psychological effects it can only do you good to return to doing those things you would ordinarily. Physical exercise, though light to begin with. Your partner mentioned you’re a novice adept, so meditation. In other words, Mr Tucker, it’s time to get up. I would also recommend you sample more of Madam Bouvier’s food. It is excellent!” Trip offered a gentle smile, “Sounds fine to me, Doc. One thing: I would like to tidy up… ” he said, feeling his beard growth and running his hand through his hair. “Ah yes. Leave that with me.”
T’Pol had taken a walk in the small town, with its cobbled streets, old buildings and colourful, old-fashioned outlets. She passed the outlet that the woman had recommended and looked at the Men’s display. Yes, she thought, she would bring Trip there soon. He would love this town. It was so full of life, colour and history.
She walked back into the Hotel Le Cep, spoke with the staff and made a reservation for supper. Her instinct, maybe her Bond, told her Trip was ready to be out and about. She passed back up stairs and, as always, opened the door into Trip’s room first.
To her horror, Trip’s eyes were closed. He was sat up in a chair with white foam on his face and Nurse Amilie was brandishing a knife. “What are you doing?!” Trip opened his eyes and laughed at her, “T’Pol, Amilie is giving me a wet shave.” He couldn’t stop laughing. T’Pol walked over, her look of intensity could not have been greater. Trip spoke to Amilie, “Continuez, s’il vous plaît.” The Nurse had always found T’Pol intimidating and none more so than now and rather nervously replied, “D’Accord.” T’Pol watched intently as Amilie began moving the blade up Trip’s chin, taking the hair and soap, then cleaning the knife in the bowl before returning to his face. After several strokes she finally requested the inevitable, “I would like to carry out the procedure,” gesturing at the blade. Amilie handed the blade to T’Pol. She heard a voice, “You be careful now.” Trip smiled to himself, Vulcan woman certainly are possessive.