DISCLAIMER: Star Trek 'Enterprise' is the property of Paramount, no infringement is intended.
AUTHOR'S NOTE: I quit watching Enterprise early in the third season, which may mean that this strays from canon. If so, consider it AU.
ARCHIVING: Only with the permission of the author.
Time and Again
By Della Street
"T'Pol to Enterprise. Medical emergency two for immediate transport."
Archer rose instinctively from his command chair at the urgency in T'Pol's voice. He pressed a button on the arm of his chair. "Transporter room, lock onto Subcommander T'Pol's signal. Two to beam up."
"I can't, sir." Lt. Anderson was on duty. "The transporter is down for maintenance."
Damn. He remembered the lieutenant mentioning something about that yesterday.
"Medical emergency!" T'Pol repeated. "We need transport immediately."
"Lieutenant, disengage maintenance. We need the transporter," Archer directed. To T'Pol, he added, "We're working on it, Subcommander. What's happened?"
He received no answer, but T'Pol's communicator was still open, and the bridge was silent as everyone strained to hear. "No! Do not remove it." T'Pol was giving direction to someone. "Press here. We must stop the bleeding." For a moment, only muffled sounds could be detected, and then the Vulcan spoke again. "Where is your healer?"
Archer pressed another button. "Archer to Phlox." No answer. "Computer, where is Dr. Phlox?"
"Dr. Phlox is entering shuttle bay one," the metallic voice duly reported.
The captain nodded, appreciating the doctor's efficiency. The words "medical emergency" would have activated Phlox's communicator automatically.
"Patch everyone in," Archer directed his temporary communications officer. "How much longer for transport?" he practically shouted into the intercom.
"I'm sorry, Captain." Anderson did sound distressed. "The control panel's in pieces. It'll take me twenty minutes to get it back together."
"We do not have that long." The strain in T'Pol's voice was unmistakable.
"If I rush it, your molecules could end up scattered everywhere," Anderson replied.
"I don't care!" the Vulcan growled. "We'll risk it."
"Shuttle launched," Mayweather announced.
"Hoshi." T'Pol's voice was softer now. "Hoshi, can you hear me?"
Archer paled. In his heart, he had known who was probably with her, but hearing the name was still a blow.
"This is soaked. Get me another one."
"Subcommander." It was a new voice, not one the captain recognized. "Subcommander."
"Subcommander. She is gone."
It hadn't seemed possible, but the bridge became even more still.
"What?" The Vulcan seemed displeased at the interruption.
"She is gone."
"Human physiology is different from yours. She . . . might . . . ."
A long moment passed, and then a subdued voice came across the communicator. "Subcommander T'Pol to Captain Archer."
Archer swallowed at the formality. "Yes."
"I regret to inform you that Ensign Hoshi Sato died at 1420 hours on the planet Stalscha 4."
Tears filled the veteran officer's eyes.
The lift door slid open. ". . . a piece of crap like that." Trip Tucker's voice resonated harshly as he vented to Malcolm Reed. "That engine hadn't been--" His complaint ended abruptly as he took in the scene around him an unnatural quiet, except for a couple of crew members openly crying. Archer's face was buried in his hands. Mayweather gripped his console rigidly, as if bracing for an impact.
The new arrivals looked at each other. "What's"
Tucker's question was interrupted by the chirp of a communicator. "Phlox to Archer. We will be landing shortly. I'll prepare a death certificate, after which we will transport the transport her back to the ship."
T'Pol's voice followed. "Captain, in deference to Ensign Sato's feelings regarding the transporter, I request permission to return her body to the ship by shuttle."
Reed felt ill. "Hoshi?" He lowered himself slowly into his seat.
An hour later, T'Pol stood beside the biobed on which Hoshi's body lay. Around the table were the captain, Tucker, Reed, Mayweather, Ensign Cutler, and other crew members whose somber presence barely registered with her.
She focused her gaze on the dark bloodstain over Hoshi's chest. It covered her heart, where the wooden spike, released from its springhold by some unknown motion, had impaled her without warning, the remnant of some ancient defense system that predated the planet's current peacefulness.
"You should probably change."
She didn't respond.
"You'll feel better if you change," Ensign Cutler said again.
"I do not . . . feel." T'Pol looked down, noticing for the first time the blood caking her uniform. And her hands. She looked down at them, at the reddish tinge that coated them.
The subcommander didn't seem to be paying attention. She was staring at her hands.
She looked up. "Ambassador."
"Will you be joining us?"
Soval and his entourage were waiting at the lift, and T'Pol realized that the Vulcan ship had arrived at its destination.
"Of course. I apologize." T'Pol would have felt slight embarrassment at her inattentiveness, but as she had reminded herself many times, Vulcans didn't feel. She walked toward the men.
"Perhaps you will meet some of your human acquaintances," Soval's aide said, not unkindly. "I understand that Stalscha 4 is a popular respite for Federation vessels. The Enterprise stopped here when you were assigned to it, did it not?"
"Yes." T'Pol did not wish to discuss it, but she was not to be so fortunate.
"Ah." Ambassador Soval seemed to be interested. "Wasn't that your last planetary visit before rejoining us on Vulcan?"
T'Pol nodded once. She suspected that Soval was well aware of what had happened to her to Hoshi on Stalscha 4.
"And how long ago was that, Subcommander?"
Activation of the transporter relieved her from having to give the ambassador an answer that he probably already knew. To her dismay, though, the patter continued on the planet surface. She responded politely: Yes, she had visited many Terran outposts over the years. Yes, she did occasionally run across human acquaintances. No, she had not encountered Captain Archer since leaving Enterprise. Eventually, Soval tired of questioning her, and began discussing an upcoming High Council meeting.
Wandering with her two companions amid the commotion of the market, T'Pol listened casually to the conversation, then halted abruptly. At that moment, she acknowledged the extreme irony that Vulcans did not believe in fate. There, not fifty meters away
"Ambassador," she interrupted whatever Soval was saying. "If I may be excused, I believe I have indeed observed a former acquaintance."
Soval waved a hand. "By all means." If T'Pol wanted to waste time conversing with Terrans, it was of no import to him. She was far from essential to their mission. That thought occupied him briefly. Before her service aboard Enterprise, he never would have predicted that T'Pol's time with the humans would be the pinnacle of her career. The Subcommander would have risen to commander and likely higher by this time, but she had instead returned from the Enterprise seemingly devoid of her earlier ambitions. It was one of many undesirable consequences of serving with humans, he concluded; given what had happened to T'Pol, he would not be recommending the presence of Vulcans on earth ships in the foreseeable future.
"I can't do it, Subcommander," the man said. "You know that."
"Crewman Daniels or whatever you are presently calling yourself--"
"Daniels is fine."
"I do not make this request lightly," T'Pol pointed out.
He laughed. "I'm sure you don't. I thought the"
"The Vulcan High Command has determined that time travel is not possible," T'Pol finished for him.
"Well, then . . . ." He began to turn away, but she grasped his arm.
"I require your assistance," she insisted.
"Look, I'm sympathetic," he said. "Really. But I can't. It's been, what, ten years?"
He shook his head. "Too much disruption."
T'Pol recognized the finality of his decision. It was, however, unacceptable. Before he knew what was happening, she had him in a death grip, and something scraped across his throat.
Daniels panicked; was she going to kill him? He hadn't even finished the thought when T'Pol retreated again. She pressed a button, and the sharp edge retracted into a small hand-held device.
"You leave me no choice, Crewman." She activated a few keystrokes. "I see no reason why you should exist when Ensign Sato does not."
What? That was totally illogical. What was the matter with this Vulcan? Against his better instincts, the crewman's eyes were drawn to the device.
"Now that I have a sample of your human DNA," T'Pol announced, "I shall make it my task to eliminate your bloodline."
Daniels shook his head. "You can't do that. That technology won't be available for another seventy years."
He could have sworn that the Vulcan seemed almost smug. "You apparently are not aware of what has occupied my interests for the past eleven years," she said.
Daniels looked up from the device into cold eyes.
"So, I hear you're going to partake of our much-anticipated shore leave, Subcommander."
She recognized the jovial inquisitor without raising her head from the science station. "I am reconsidering," she informed the captain.
"Now, don't be a fuddy duddy, T'Pol," Tucker admonished her from across the room.
The Vulcan did not know what a 'fuddy duddy' was, but it would not affect her plans in any event.
Archer wagged a playful finger at her. "Hoshi's not going to be happy," he said. "She thinks you'll be spelunking with them this afternoon."
"Sato to T'Pol."
Archer smiled. "Speak of the devil . . . ."
T'Pol paused. She had not realized how disconcerting it would be to hear that voice again. Meanwhile, all of the bridge personnel were watching her, apparently anticipating what they assumed would be a lecture from the popular ensign. Humans like to "watch people squirm," Hoshi had once said, and T'Pol now saw the truth of that statement.
"Sato to T'Pol." Hoshi seemed a bit impatient.
"What are you doing? Actually, forget that; it doesn't matter. You were supposed to be here" T'Pol envisioned the young woman checking her chronometer "twelve minutes ago."
The subcommander noticed Archer and Tucker smiling broadly at her discomfort. She was indeed uncomfortable, but not for the reason they assumed. "I will meet you in the shuttle bay," she replied.
"Fifteen minutes," Hoshi declared. "If you're late, you're entertaining all of us tonight at the campfire. And I mean it. I have a database of Vulcan party songs with me."
T'Pol headed for the lift while the others laughed behind her. She walked quickly although there was no such thing as a Vulcan "party song," she didn't rule out Hoshi bringing some sort of vocal piece with her. She hoped the threat would soon become moot, but she did not want to take a chance. If Hoshi refused to listen to her, T'Pol did not plan on letting the Terran out of her sight for the next four days.
Fourteen minutes after their communication, the shuttle bay doors opened to admit the ship's second in command, a small duffle bag in hand. T'Pol slowed her pace when she saw Hoshi, wearing a green short-sleeved shirt and black climbing pants, surrounded by four other crew members, apparently the last of the first round of shore leave.
"Ensign," she said. "May I have a word with you?"
"Oh, no, you don't." Corporal Paterson began to chastise T'Pol about holding them up with shop talk, but the subcommander's stern expression quickly improved his judgment. "Nevermind," he finished meekly.
The two women stepped away from the group to avoid being overheard.
Hoshi would have teased the Vulcan about her serious demeanor, but something about the look on T'Pol's face gave her pause. "What's the matter?" she said instead.
"Hoshi." T'Pol had given much thought to her intentions; now she realized that she should have rehearsed the words as well. "I would prefer that you and I remain on board Enterprise."
"What?" Hoshi was annoyed. "Stay on board? Do you know how long it's been since we had shore leave?"
"Six months, three days."
"Whatever." She hadn't really wanted the information. "No way I'm going to be stuck here. Who knows how long it'll be before we get another shot? I read your scouting report; this place sounds great."
"I . . . have an uncomfortable feeling about this visit," T'Pol said.
"A feeling?" Hoshi was confused. "What are you talking about, T'Pol?" When the subcommander didn't reply, she frowned. "Look, if you don't want to be around us, that's OK. I was surprised when you agreed to go in the first place. But why don't you give it a chance? You can leave after the first cave if you want."
T'Pol met the young ensign's gaze. She didn't know what to say. Hoshi would likely be skeptical if she tried to explain what might happen if they went down to Stalscha 4, especially given the Vulcan's consistent refusal to acknowledge the possibility of time travel. "I was hoping for your assistance in cataloging the databases that we received recently from the Dssarkans," she said.
Hoshi stared at her, wide eyed, and T'Pol guessed correctly that she was about to be turned down in rather graphic terms.
"I would like to spend time with you," she added quietly. T'Pol hadn't planned to say it; the words just slipped out.
"Well, that's what--" Realization set in, and whatever Hoshi had planned to say, it was quickly forgotten. "Spend time. . .?"
T'Pol couldn't bring herself to repeat it. Instead, she glanced over at the small group milling around the shuttle, who were paying no attention to what they assumed was a last-minute ship issue. Meeting Hoshi's gaze, she laid a hand on the other woman's bare forearm, and tried to convey her sincerity without words. It wasn't difficult; she truly was gratified to see Hoshi again after so many years. So many years.
She could tell that Hoshi was trying to read her. She had shared more of herself with the Terran than she had intended, but she would not go back now.
"You mean work together on the bridge?" Hoshi said slowly.
T'Pol left her hand on Hoshi's arm. "Or . . . perhaps in my quarters."
A shy smile spread across the ensign's face. "I would love to help you catalog databases, T'Pol," she announced finally. Toning down her grin a bit, she headed over to tell the group to take off without them.
T'Pol found herself almost smiling as well.
Leaving four friends groaning behind her, Hoshi quickly returned. "Lead on, Subcommander," she said. "My life is in your hands."
This time, T'Pol did smile.
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