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New Fic: An Innocent Mistake

An Innocent Mistake
Fandom: Star Trek Enterprise
Rated: PG
Category: Humor, Trip/T’Pol Implied, with a heavy dose of Trip/Archer Friendship.
Season: Future Season. (Post-Terra Prime, Pre-TATV)
Spoilers: None.
Summary: A friend will lend you a cover. A true friend helps with a cover-up.
Disclaimer: Why bicker about who owns what? Can’t we all just live long and prosper?
Note: Mild Christmas references.

xxx

Captain Jonathan Archer nervously paced the waiting area of his ship’s sickbay.

As he ran one hand through his hair for the millionth time that hour, he glanced at his chief engineer, who, if anything, looked even more nervous than the captain.

Trip Tucker was sitting in one corner of the small room, and at first glance, he appeared calm and collected. But a closer look revealed telltale signs of worry.

Trip’s hands were clenched in his lap so tightly that his knuckles were white, and he constantly tapped one foot to an unknown and erratic rhythm. His attention never wavered from an invisible spot on the floor between his feet, and whenever Archer tried to engage the younger man in conversation, Trip answered with an uncharacteristic minimal word count.

Archer sighed, and just as he was about to try to ease Trip out of his funk again, Phlox emerged from a curtained area deeper in sickbay.

“Well, gentleman, it appears T’Pol is going to be okay,” he announced, much to the relief of both men. “I’ve managed to control the vomiting, and with time she should make a full recovery.”

Archer turned to Phlox. “That’s good news, Doc. Thanks.”

“Just doing my job, Captain,” acknowledged Phlox.

“All the same, I appreciate you letting us know,” said Archer. “Now, I’ve got to get back up to the bridge. Keep me posted on any changes.”

“Certainly,” answered Phlox.

Archer turned to leave, and Phlox started to return to his patient, when both men suddenly remembered Trip. He was still sitting in the corner but seemed much more relaxed. His head leaned back against the wall so that his eyes focused on the ceiling, his hands were open, and his feet were still. His entire body seemed to radiate relief - almost as if he had deflated right there in the chair.

“Trip? You okay?” asked Archer, turning back around to face his friend.

“Yeah. I’m fine, Cap’n. Thanks. I’ll just see if T’Pol needs anything, then I’ll get back to engineering, if you don’t mind. I want to look in on that new warp coil assembly again.”

“Fine by me,” said Archer, deciding to ignore Trip’s apparent need to check on T’Pol himself, since he‘d long since learned that ignoring most of what happened between his science officer and his chief engineer was best for the entire ship.

Archer started to leave again, but as sickbay’s doors whisked open in front of him, he heard something that spun him around on the spot.

“What I want to know is how T’Pol managed to eat this “mistletoe” to begin with,” muttered Phlox.

Trip’s head jerked up so rapidly that he only barely managed not to sprain his neck, but Phlox was so busy thinking he didn’t notice. Archer, however, did. His eyes narrowed at Trip and a slow grin spread across his face. He caught Trip’s eye, and the engineer’s ears reddened visibly. Trip bit his lower lip and looked up at Archer with the expression of a kid caught with his hand in the cookie jar.

Phlox, for his part, just continued to putter around sickbay and mumble to himself.

Suddenly, Archer’s grin blossomed into a full-fledged smile, and Trip’s eyes grew wide. He knew that look. He’d seen it far too many times in far too many bars to not know what it meant. He was in for it.

Trip put his face in his hands as Archer called out to the doctor.

“Phlox? You said it was mistletoe T’Pol ate? You’re sure?”

“Yes, Captain,” said Phlox without turning around. “Apparently, it’s a decorative plant from Earth. Though why it would be present on Enterprise and why T’Pol would think it edible is beyond me.”

Archer chuckled to himself. So Phlox had no idea that mistletoe had a certain cultural significance for humans.

Interesting.

Archer found himself faced with a decision. He risked a glance at Trip, who was looking up at him again with a panicked expression now firmly in place on his face.

Right then, looking down at Trip and trying not to laugh, Archer made his choice.

“Well,” he drawled, enjoying every second of Trip’s discomfort, “she is a vegetarian, Doc. It was probably just an innocent mistake.”

Phlox looked skeptical. “I suppose that’s possible, Captain. Regardless, I must apologize. I should not have spoken that aloud. Please be sure this does not leave this room. I take my oath of doctor-patient confidentiality most seriously, you know.”

Archer’s smile grew even wider as Trip stood up and ran a hand through his hair. “Oh, you can be sure of that, Doc,” said Archer. “Sorry to have overheard.”

“Not a problem, Captain. Not a problem. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to my patient again. Innocent mistake or not, T’Pol is lucky she did not became even more ill.”

“Go ahead, Doctor,” said Archer. “But go easy on her, will you? We all make mistakes.”

Phlox nodded and left, and Archer turned to Trip, one eyebrow raised.

Trip met Jon’s eyes and started to stammer. “Look, Cap’n, I can explain.”

Jon held up one hand and affected a mock serious tone, complete with mirroring Trip’s use of rank. “No need, Commander. Like I said, it was probably just an innocent mistake.”

Archer gave Trip the tiniest of winks and then calmly walked out of sickbay without another word. He waited until the doors had fully closed behind him before he laughed out loud as he imagined the expression on Trip’s face now.

Experience told him it was part chagrined at being found out, part amused at the entire thing, and a whole lot of “oh no, you didn’t.”

But yes, he had - and he was glad of it. He wasn’t entirely sure (yet) how T’Pol had ended up eating what Trip had probably meant as a romantic surprise, but he would keep Trip’s little secret. After all, he might need this juicy bit of intel in the future for blackmail purposes. He was tickled pink to have something to lord over Trip - even though it was barely December, this was like his very own early Christmas! He saw no need to share his present with anyone - at least not right now. He was enjoying himself far too much for that.

And besides, keeping Phlox in the dark seemed the kindest thing to do for his old friend, because while he didn’t know the whole story here (yet), he was absolutely certain of one thing.

Trip would get more than enough punishment from T’Pol for this one.

Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
graygale
Dec. 13th, 2010 06:03 pm (UTC)
Well this proved to be a very interesting story to read.

Also, good thing that T'Pol wasn't human, or else the mistletoe would've killed her. After all, isn't mistletoe supposed to be poisonous?

In any case, this was good to read, overall.
jackwabbit
Dec. 13th, 2010 06:13 pm (UTC)
Mistletoe causes vomiting, nausea, and diarrhea in humans, but is not generally fatal. Yes, it is more poisonous than, say, poinsettias, which everyone seems to know are toxic but which cause little more than GI upset in most cases, but it usually isn't horribly bad. It can be, if one eats a ton of it/depending on the species/part of the plant eaten/season, but it's not fatal in most cases. Most folks don't go eating more than a few berries, so they are fine, minus a few days of stomach cramps and perhaps some neuro deficits.

(I knew that as an occupational hazard, since my canine patients seem quite fond of it, but I also looked it up for the story to be sure I was accurate. I considered having T'Pol react differently to mistletoe (ie, seizures or inebriation), but decided to go with a typical human reaction just because it worked better for the story. I'm apparently sticking to a theme with poor T'Pol lately.)

Anyway...I'm rambling. Sorry. Thanks so much for reading, and I'm glad you liked it!
(Deleted comment)
jackwabbit
Dec. 16th, 2010 05:19 pm (UTC)
Thanks!
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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