Telaka, who wrote Goodnight Enterprise an incredible read, references a fight between Archer and Trip. This is it!
It had been a long day. The Kredarans, a race of people like the Tellarites – the kind that found everything objectionable - had requested assistance from Enterprise. Their ship was adrift, with their ruler onboard, and they were light years from their planet. Archer’s mission was to take them home.
Within five minutes of their arrival the complaints came in and made a beeline to Archer. The ship was too warm, the lights were too dim, the food was inedible, their bed wasn’t soft enough, the ship moved too quickly …. Every single problem made its way to him, and Starfleet ordered him to make the experience better for them. The Kredarans had too much influence in that quadrant and if the ruler of the planet was impressed, the aliens may help the newly formed interspecies alliance … the coalition that Samuels was leading.
So, he and Hoshi spent nearly 24 hours as the ruler’s assistant went over every request and asked them in particular detail to cater to their every whim.
Missing a night’s sleep and suffering a few skipped meals, wouldn’t have normally been a problem, but he hadn’t been sleeping well that week. Briefly his mind traveled to the events one week ago.
As he approached his door, late one night after interrogating an Orion caught – a stowaway with enough explosives on him to blow up Enterprise thrice – he saw something out of the corner of his eye: a figment of his imagination. On further inspection, he saw Trip and a woman. Normally, he would’ve grumbled and ignored the liaison, but something about this made him peer in the shadows at the two.
The woman leaned casually against the bulkhead as the engineer kissed her passionately – running his fingers in her hair as if he’d embraced her many times before. And then he heard a voice.
“Not here,” she said.
“I can’t get enough of ya,” Trip whispered.
“What about last night?” T’Pol whispered back.
“Can you blame a man for wanting to take you to his cabin every night?” he said.
Giving a small laugh at what Archer could only guess was her expression, Trip continued. “Come on. Let’s go back to my place.”
After cajoling her with kisses and more, he heard T’Pol give in.
“That sounds … acceptable,” she responded.
The two walked away, oblivious that anyone saw or heard them.
Archer’s head involuntarily hung to his chest – his brow furrowed and his eyes closed.
He wasn’t dense; the rumors about the two had been flying around since last year. He could pretend they didn’t exist though; he’d never spied anything more than the usual banter and bickering between the two. He certainly had never caught them wrapped in each other’s arms as if they were in love. Before now, he could lie to himself about whether they’d slept together.
The moment his door opened so he could slink into his quarters, he heard the comm blare.
“Bridge to Captain Archer!”
His feet fumbled forward across the hall.
“Sir, the Orion in Sickbay … he tried to commit suicide. Phlox isn’t sure --”
“On my way.” Archer frowned. They’d never determine whether it was the Syndicate who put him up to this.
At 1000, most of the halls were deserted – people were either at their workstation or in bed so they could take the late night shift – which meant that Archer had the corridors mostly to himself. As he rounded the corner to the Mess Hall to grab something to quiet his rumbling stomach, he heard two crewmen talking.
“I’m telling ya, they are definitely doing it,” said Ensign Alberts. “And I think the captain knows; he’s their friend.”
Before Ensign Roberts saw the captain appear, he responded with a wisecrack. “I wonder if the captain lets them get it on in Engineering. I bet it turns the Vulcan on to be with electronic parts. Hell probably turns Trip on, too.”
“Pardon me?” Archer asked, making his presence known.
Turning white, Roberts and Alberts both stammered simultaneously “nothing.”
Archer was about to confront them, but decided to talk with them later; his throbbing head, sleepy eyes and shot nerves precluded him from addressing the issue right away. Instead, he gave them a threatening look and told them in a harsh voice to get back to their post … which both did, scurrying away.
Satisfied, the captain walked into the cafeteria and saddled up to the meal station. After sliding back doors and peering inside, he noted the only thing left was a lukewarm plate of eggs – a plate that had been hot probably 30 minutes ago. Wrapping his weary fingers around it, he headed to a deserted table.
As the first fork full of congealed eggs headed for his mouth, he saw Trip saunter in for a refill on his coffee.
“Hey, Cap’n!” The man beamed a smile, holding up his coffee cup. “Just getting seconds. Late night.”
I bet, thought Archer.
The younger man sipped at his mug and headed over to Archer. “Everything going okay with the aliens? I heard they were pretty demanding.”
“Yeah. Fine,” Archer said abruptly.
“Oh. Well … hey … I wanted to let you know, T’Pol and I won’t be at dinner tonight. Early movie: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. I love that one.”
When Archer didn’t pipe up, the engineer stammered. “Well, you know. I’m just trying to show her the culture. That’s all.”
“Fine,” Archer replied.
“Right. Didn’t want to leave you in the lurch,” Trip said. “That’s all.”
Archer didn’t respond.
Thumbing the door, he explained. “Gotta get back to Engineering. T’Pol gets kinda cranky if I’m late for our debriefings. Something about humans and punctuality.”
Before the engineer could bolt for the door, he heard himself ask a question with menace in his voice. “Wanna tell me what’s going on?”
“Huh?” Trip’s mouth turned up in a nervous smile. “Nothing. Just heading back to Engineering.”
Trip’s eyes darted left then right as he swallowed deeply.
“Fraternization is against Starfleet regulations,” Archer said.
“Now hold on.” The Southerner frowned and crossed his arms as if to put up some resistance. “Did you catch us doing anythin’ we shouldn’t?”
Archer rolled his eyes. “I heard a couple of crewmen talking about you ….”
Trip shook his head. “Sir, with all due respect--”
He sighed loudly. “I saw you, Trip.”
Trip hung his head at his chest. “When?”
“About a week ago. It was late at night and you seemed interested in ….”
The blonde hung on the balls of his feet.
“You seemed interested in getting her back to your place.” His cheek twitched, and he found himself saying a few more words. “For … something that seemed more than just between friends.”
“You’re asking us to be more discreet, aren’t you?” Trip asked. He threw a wink. “Don’t worry, Cap’n. I think I can manage to show restraint.”
“It’s just … God, that woman –“
The captain cut him off. “You don’t get it, Commander, I’m telling you that dating your superior is against regulations.”
The man’s jaw dropped and he blinked, as if to test everything said was meant. When the captain remained stone-faced, Trip responded.
“You’re kiddin’, right?”
He stared back at his second officer, jaw clenched.
Trip’s eyebrows peaked near his forehead. “Why are you so caught up on protocol now? You’ve allowed regulations to be broken before.”
The captain shoved the plate back, leaving a pile of mostly uneaten cold eggs.
“This isn’t one I’m willing to look the other way on,” Archer said.
“Doesn’t make any sense.” Trip scratched his head. “Three months ago, you and I saw Rogers and Freeman together, kissin’ in the movie theatre. Ring a bell?”
Archer remembered the event clearly: he and Trip had been watching The Day the Earth Stood Still when two crewmen in front of them – unaware of the world around them – started kissing. The young man had taken one of her long, red tendrils in between his fingers, mesmerized by her beauty. Staring into each other’s eyes, as if they’d kissed many times before, they touched lips.
Trip and Archer had caught the lovers at the same time. Rather than launch into a reprimand, he’d leaned to Trip and made a comment that he couldn’t deny their happiness. Giving a lopsided smile, he’d even added, “Everyone deserves love, Trip.”
The captain now scowled. “Your point?”
“So, you’re saying it’s okay for Rogers and Freeman, but it’s not okay for me and T’Pol?”
Resolute, eyes fixed on the junior officer, he agreed. “Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying.”
Flummoxed, Trip scratched his blonde hair again. “That doesn’t make any sense.”
“You’re my two senior officers.”
“Captain, with all due respect, even officers need to ….”
Archer blinked, feeling his face flush. “Come on, you’re not some hormone-crazed teenager.”
“No … it’s not about my hormones, but hell … we’ve been out in space for four years!”
“Yeah, and in those four years you managed to satisfy those hormones more than a few times.”
A furrow rested between the younger man’s eyebrows. “Oh, come on. That’s not true!”
Archer wiped his hand over his face, sighed, and then stood – shoulders sagging. “Listen, this conversation is going nowhere. Let’s discuss it later. Right now, I’m tired and –“
“No, wait a minute,” Trip interrupted. “So, I can’t have a relationship with her because I’ve slept with other women?”
“No. I’ve already said --”
“Then what’s the reason?”
Frowning he clarified it, he finished his thought. “I’ve told you the reason. I’ve told you the reason several times.”
“Tell me again!”
“I don’t believe it. Not from Jonathan Archer.”
“Oh come on, Trip. I’ve known you a long time. You don’t really love her.”
Trip shook his head. “You got it all wrong. I do love her. It’s why I want to have a relationship with her.”
Archer rolled his eyes, but said nothing.
“You know what? The scary thing is: I think she feels the same. It’s why we’ve been getting close.”
Snapping, the comment came out more vitriolic than he’d intended. “She’s Vulcan. You don’t know how she feels.”
“I don’t think she’d sleep with me if she didn’t feel somethin’ deep … deeper than friendship.”
Archer’s mouth hung open and his heart thundered in his chest.
“Well … that’s too bad.” Archer’s hand skimmed through his hair. “I gave you an order, I expect you to follow it.”
He had every intention of punctuating that point by leaving. Instead, he’d made it about ten steps away from the door when he felt Trip’s hand reach around his bicep, stopping him.
The engineer stepped a few inches closer, distraught. “I’m not followin’ that order. I think it’s unfair.”
“I don’t care what you think. The rules are the rules.”
“I’m not followin’ it.” The engineer puffed out his chest. “It’s not right. It’s unfair.”
Archer’s eyes narrowed. “Want to talk about unfair? I don’t think it’s fair the other professionals onboard Enterprise worked late and focused on the mission to find the Xindi last year, while you and T’Pol--”
“What?” The blonde’s lower lip protruded and his deep blue eyes clouded with anger.
“I know it’s been going on for some time, Trip.”
“Oh, so you don’t think I spent enough time frettin’ about the Xinid? Hell, I couldn’t sleep most nights.”
“Well, I’m sure the neuropressure helped.” His lip curled as he said it, a sardonic smile.
Trip shook his head and threw his eyes to the floor. “No one wanted to get the Xindi more than me; my sister died, Captain.”
Archer’s eyes met the ground. “Commander –“
“So, you want me to have the same decorum you?” When he met silence he continued. “Decorum like torturing prisoners and stealing warp coils?”
Exploding a little, he countered that. “I did what I had to! I was focused on the mission.”
“You’re our friend. I don’t understand why you can’t just be happy for us.”
“I’m your captain.”
“What’s really eatin’ you?”
Archer snarled. “I told you what the reason was.”
The man’s blue eyes blinked slowly. “Is it that we found each other and you haven’t found anyone?”
Closing the distance between them, Archer responded. “Don’t be so pathetic.”
“I know you’ve had a four-year dry spell.”
“That’s none of your business!” He visibly rolled his eyes, neither agreeing nor disagreeing. “I told you the reason.”
The younger man fumed. “Something’s eatin’ at you. That’s for sure.”
“You have your orders.” Wiping a hand over his face, he took a deep breath. As he walked a little closer to the door, Trip said something to his back.
“You’re in love with her, too. That’s it, isn’t it?”
Stopping in his tracks, he narrowed his eyes and whipped his head around – turning back toward Trip. “I told you the reason!”
“You tried to tell me before we headed off for the Expanse. Didn’t you?”
His chest heaved. “No.”
“You’re mad that she might be in love with me, too.”
He shook his head slightly. “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“You’re pissed off that she slept with me.”
“So, you’re going to punish the two of us because she doesn’t want you … because she’ll never return your feelings?”
Rage. Explosive thunderous anger tore through his body, making his heart slam against his chest and burn like it was on fire. Balling up his hands until his knuckles were white, he threw a fist at Trip’s unsuspecting jaw; it was a right hook – a successful one – and knocked the man off his feet.
“I told you the reason!” Archer found himself yelling.
Looming over, he watched the blood gush from the engineer’s mouth satisfyingly, spraying Archer’s uniform and hand. He also heard a sound he hadn’t expected: a sharp intake of breath from T’Pol, who must’ve just entered the mess hall. Her face was pale.
Instead of ending the assault there, Archer turned his attention back to his engineer who’d made it to his feet. The two cursed at each other – insults that popped into their brains and lighted onto their tongues without thought. At the end of them, Trip threw a punch to Archer’s breadbasket as the captain wheezed. Trip smiled, blood still staining his lips, but Archer’s smile grew; he was going to win.
Circling each other, lobbing insults and verbal injuries, Archer flexed and threw his fist at Trip -- this one landing solidly at his nose. Although he didn’t hear the bone-crunching snap he was hoping for, the blow was enough to start a red stream down Trip’s face. It gave him enormous pleasure, until he heard T’Pol say something and turned to her.
“Captain,” she said. Her voice was laden with emotion, and her face was twisted into an expression like terror.
Robbed of his attention and focus, Archer felt another blow to the gut; it was lazy as if Trip’s heart wasn’t in it.
With all his strength, Archer reared back and jabbed again, crushing his knuckles into Trip’s mouth. The gush of blood was more than before, as if the engineer had bitten his tongue. As if to confirm, Trip grabbed at his jaw and moaned incoherently.
“Stop it!” T’Pol said. It was the loudest he’d ever heard the Vulcan yell.
Staring at the blonde – confusion and hurt painted on his face – Archer backed away.
T’Pol rushed to Trip’s side as he slid to the ground, blood rushing down his chin and neck, already marking his uniform. Her eyes wandered up at Archer’s in fear and disgust. He neither offered to call Dr. Phlox nor apologize for his actions, instead, he kept eyes trained on her, daring any action. Content no one would rebuke him, he spun on his heel and briskly walked out of the mess hall. As he rounded the first corridor he began to take in what he’d done.
The door to his cabin slid back and Porthos greeted him at the door, barking with excitement and hunger until his master turned on the little creature.
He kicked his dog bowl and the dish flew uncontrollably into the air, spilling kibble everywhere, and then smacked the little dog’s backside. Porthos cowered in a corner, whining quietly.
Changing out of his uniform, the one he’d been wearing for 24 hours, he threw on some clothes and then sat back on the bed. Staring at the back of his hand, still bloody, he felt tears roll down his cheeks and hoped they’d come to a halt. Embarrassed, he threw his eyes on the jeans he’d donned.
When his gaze lifted from his legs, he looked at his pup.
The dog couldn’t be budged, ignoring his master.