Name: Della Street
Email: (none)
Title: TIME AND AGAIN
Disclaimer: References to a F/F relationship, nothing explicit
Fandom: Star Trek: Enterprise
Pairing: TíPol/Sato
Rating: PG
Summary: An accident changes TíPolís perspective
Spoilers: None

TIME AND AGAIN

"TíPol to Enterprise. Medical emergency Ė two for immediate transport."

Archer rose instinctively from his command chair at the urgency in TíPolís voice. He pressed a button on the arm of his chair. "Transporter room, lock onto Subcommander TíPolís signal. Two to beam up."

"I canít, sir." Lt. Anderson was on duty. "The transporter is down for maintenance."

Shit. He remembered the lieutenant mentioning something about that yesterday.

"Medical emergency!" TíPol repeated. "We need transport immediately."

"Lieutenant, disengage maintenance. We need the transporter," Archer directed. To TíPol, he added, "Weíre working on it, Subcommander. Whatís happened?"

He received no answer, but TíPolís communicator was still open, and the bridge was silent as everyone strained to hear. "No! Do not remove it!" TíPol was giving direction to someone. "Press here. We must stop the bleeding." For a moment, only muffled sounds could be detected, and then she 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 doctorís efficiency. The words "medical emergency" would have activated Phloxís communicator automatically.

"Patch everyone in," Archer directed his temporary communications officer. "How much longer for transport?" he practically shouted into the intercom.

"Iím sorry, Captain." Anderson did sound distressed. "The control panelís in pieces. Itíll take me half an hour to get it back together."

"We do not have that long." The strain in TíPolís voice was unmistakable.

"If I rush it, your molecules could end up scattered everywhere," Anderson replied.

"I donít care!" the Vulcan growled. "Weíll risk it."

"Shuttle launched," Mayweather announced.

"Hoshi." TíPolís 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."

"Another cloth!"

"Subcommander. She is gone."

It hadnít seemed possible, but the bridge became even more still as several of the crew held their breath.

"Subcommander."

"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 TíPol 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 officerís eyes.

The lift door slid open. ". . . a piece of crap like that." Trip Tuckerís voice resonated harshly as he vented to Malcolm Reed. "That engine hadnít been--" His complaint ended abruptly as he took in the scene around him Ė an unnatural quiet, except for several crew members openly crying. Archerís face was buried in his hands. Mayweather gripped his console rigidly, as if bracing for an impact.

The two newcomers looked at each other. "Whatís--"

Tuckerís question was interrupted by the chirp of a communicator. "Phlox to Archer. We are approaching the planet surface. I will prepare a death certificate, after which we will transport the Ė transport her back to the ship."

TíPolís voice followed. "Captain, in deference to Ensign Satoís feelings regarding the transporter, I request permission to return her body to the ship by shuttle."

"Permission granted."

Reed felt ill. "Hoshi?" He lowered himself slowly into his seat.

An hour later, TíPol stood beside the biobed on which Hoshiís 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 Hoshiís 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 planetís current peacefulness.

"You should probably change."

She didnít respond.

"Youíll feel better if you change," Ensign Cutler said again.

"I do not . . . feel." TíPol 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.

* * * * *

"TíPol?"

The subcommander didnít seem to be paying attention. She was staring at her hands.

"TíPol?"

She looked up. "Ambassador."

"Will you be joining us?"

Soval and his entourage were waiting at the lift, and TíPol realized that the Vulcan ship had arrived at its destination.

"Of course. I apologize." TíPol would have felt slight embarrassment at her inattentiveness, but as she had reminded herself many times, Vulcans didnít feel. She walked toward the men.

"Perhaps you will meet some of your human acquaintances," Sovalís 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." TíPol did not wish to discuss it, but she was not to be so fortunate.

"Ah." Ambassador Soval seemed to be interested. "Wasnít that your last planetary visit before rejoining us on Vulcan?"

TíPol nodded once. She suspected that Soval was well aware of what had happened to her Ė to Hoshi Ė 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, TíPol listened casually to the conversation, then halted abruptly. At that moment, TíPol recognized the extreme irony that Vulcans did not believe in fate. There, not fifty meters awayĖ

"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 TíPol 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 would never have predicted that TíPolís 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 TíPol, he would not be recommending the presence of Vulcans on earth ships in the foreseeable future.

* * * * *

"I canít do it, Subcommander. You know that."

"Crewman Daniels Ė or whatever name youíre presently using--"

"Daniels is fine."

"I do not make this request lightly."

He laughed. "Iím sure you donít. I thought theĖ"

"The Vulcan High Command has determined that time travel is not possible," TíPol finished for him.

"Well, then . . . ." He began to turn away, but she grasped his arm.

"I require your assistance."

"Look, Iím sympathetic. Really. But I canít. Itís been, what, ten years?"

"Eleven."

He shook his head. "Too much disruption."

TíPol recognized the finality of his decision, but that was simply unacceptable. Before he knew what was happening, she had him in a death grip, and a sharp edge scraped across his throat.

Daniels panicked; was she going to kill him? He hadnít even finished the thought when TíPol 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 crewmanís eyes were drawn to the device.

"Now that I have a sample of your human DNA," TíPol announced, "I will make it my task to eliminate your bloodline."

Daniels shook his head. "You canít do that. That technology wonít be available for another ninety 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 heard youíre going to partake of our much-anticipated shore leave, Subcommander."

She recognized the jovial questioner before raising her head from the science station. "I am reconsidering," she informed the captain.

"Now, donít be a fuddy duddy, TíPol," Tucker admonished her from across the room.

The Vulcan had no idea what a Ďfuddy duddyí was, but it would not affect her plans in any event.

Archer wagged a playful finger at her. "Hoshiís not going to be happy. She thinks youíll be spelunking with them this afternoon."

"Sato to TíPol."

Archer smiled. "Speak of the devil . . . ."

TíPol 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 TíPol now saw the truth of that statement.

"Sato to TíPol." Hoshi seemed a bit impatient.

"TíPol here."

"What are you doing? Actually, forget that; it doesnít matter. You were supposed to be here" Ė TíPol envisioned the young woman checking her chronometer Ė "twelve minutes ago."

TíPol looked around to see 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 youíre late, youíre entertaining all of us tonight at the campfire. And I mean it. I have a database of Vulcan party songs with me."

TíPol headed for the lift while the others laughed behind her. She walked quickly -- there was no such thing as a Vulcan "party song," but she didnít 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, TíPol 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 shipís second in command, a small duffle bag in hand. TíPol 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 donít." Corporal Paterson began to chastise TíPol about holding them up with shop talk, but the Subcommanderís 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 TíPolís face gave her pause. "Whatís the matter?" she said instead.

"Hoshi." TíPol had given much thought to her intentions, but 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 itís been since we had shore leave?"

"Six months, three days."

"Whatever." She hadnít really wanted the information. "No way Iím going to be stuck here. Who knows how long itíll be before we get another shot? I read your scouting report; this place sounds great."

"I . . . have an uncomfortable feeling about this visit," TíPol said.

"A feeling?" Hoshi was confused. "What are you talking about, TíPol?" When the subcommander didnít reply, she frowned. "Look, if you donít want to be around us, thatís OK. I was surprised when you agreed to go in the first place. But why donít you give it a chance? You can leave after the first cave if you want."

TíPol met the young ensignís gaze. She didnít 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 Vulcanís 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 TíPol 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. TíPol hadnít planned to say it; the words just slipped out.

"Well, thatís what--" Realization set in, and whatever Hoshi had planned to say, it was quickly forgotten. "Spend time. . .?"

TíPol couldnít 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 Hoshiís gaze, she laid a hand on the other womanís bare forearm, and tried to convey her sincerity without words. It wasnít 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?"

TíPol left her hand on Hoshiís arm. "Or . . . perhaps in my quarters."

A shy smile spread across Hoshiís face. "I would love to help you catalog databases, TíPol," she announced finally. Toning down her grin a bit, she headed over to tell the group to take off without them.

TíPol 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, TíPol did smile.

###

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