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“Observer Effect Revisited”

Rating: PG (some adult language and situations)
Disclaimer: CBS and Paramount own pretty much everything except the actual plot of this fic. I’m not making any money off of this; I’m just having some fun in my spare time.
Genre: Angst, Drama, Trip/T'Pol
Description: A “what if?” scenario for the ENT episode Observer Effect, the “what if?” being “what if it had been Archer and T’Pol who’d been infected by the silicon-based virus instead of Trip and Hoshi?”

Author’s Note: I only wrote up what would’ve been the last few minutes of the episode, so while I have a vague idea of how the episode would have gotten them to where I start, I have no idea why Archer and T’Pol would’ve been down on the planet to get infected to begin with. I might end up rewriting the whole episode someday, but for now this is it.

Trip and Phlox entered the corridor junction that would act as the airlock between the expanded quarantine zone and the rest of the deck, both dressed in environmental suits.

Trip was shaking. His heart felt like it would explode. His mind was racing, making calculations, predicting all the possible outcomes, and fearing most of them. Tamping those thoughts down, he quickly checked the computer readout mounted on the wall to confirm that the corridor between the decon chamber and sickbay was completely sealed off.

Wouldn’t do to have the rest of the ship infected because someone left a door open, Trip thought wryly to himself.

Phlox checked the PADD he’d brought with them to monitor Captain Archer and Commander T’Pol’s condition. He took a deep breath of his suit’s sterile air mixture as the readings indicated that both of his colleagues were within minutes of death.

“Their condition is deteriorating. We need to hurry,” Phlox warned as calmly as he could manage.

Trip cursed under his breath and quickly checked the seal on the door they’d just come through before entering his authorization code into the computer.

“Activating quarantine.”

The indicator lights on the monitor turned green.

“I confirm positive seal. Environmental systems are isolated,” Trip heard Reed’s voice come over the comm.

He opened the door.

“Entering quarantine zone,” Trip reported, and stepped into his worst fears.

Trip could hear Phlox follow behind him, their heavy boots clanking on the metal decking. Trip walked as quickly as he could manage in the bulky suit, every ounce of him screaming to throw caution to the wind and break into a run. Only the warning in the back of his mind that he might stumble in the massive boots of his EV suit stopped him.


T’Pol opened her eyes, but it took all of her concentration to focus. The decontamination chamber was bathed in its typical blue ultraviolet light. The buzz from the lights themselves threatened her sanity, her control slipping as her body and mind were attacked by the silicon virus that had infected her and her commanding officer.

She slowly turned her head to look at Captain Archer, lying on the bench directly across the small decontamination chamber. He appeared to be unconscious, breathing shallowly, but she had no way to tell. He could very well have been awake, but simply too weak to open his eyes, just as she had been mere minutes ago.

It took all of her effort just to breathe. The pain was overwhelming even her stout Vulcan discipline’s ability to suppress. Her chest ached with every breath she took, but she held on, only one thing giving her the will to live. Him.

T’Pol turned all of her thoughts to Commander Tucker, to Trip. She thought of all the mistakes she’d made, the ways she’d hurt him, the way she’d pushed him away. He’d come to her after Koss had dismissed her from their marriage, to be there for her, to comfort her after the loss of her mother, and maybe more. But she’d stubbornly pushed him away, so caught up in the Kir’Shara and rediscovering what it really meant to be a Vulcan that she’d missed out on an opportunity she’d never get again. Guilt and regret washed over her, beyond her fractured mind’s ability to suppress.

If I survived, would he still accept me?

A tear rolled down the side of her face, splashing against her ear.

And suddenly, he was standing before her.

No! Her eyes widened. What is he doing here? Is he foolish!?

Very weakly, T’Pol moved her lips, barely managing to get one word out. “Trip….”

“It’s all right T’Pol, we’re takin’ ya to sickbay,” she heard him say.

Suddenly her mind registered that he was in an environmental suit, and she became calmer – he would live. She felt his strong arms under her, and she felt safe. What was left of her rational mind thought it illogical that she should feel that way, but this quickly disappeared as she felt an overwhelming sense of peace wash over her. She felt her body being lifted, and let herself be taken by the darkness….

Trip took the slender Vulcan up in his arms. God, he hated seeing her like this!

He could’ve sworn that he saw her smile as he lifted her, her eyes closing as if drifting off to sleep. His guts dropped through the floor.

“We’re losin’ her!”

Without even waiting for a reply, Trip rushed for the exit. Phlox could only grunt in response as he hoisted a barely conscious Captain Archer off of the bench he’d been resting on, slinging the dying man’s arm around his neck. The two of them followed as best as they could manage.


Trip entered sickbay and gently laid T’Pol down on the bioscan bed. He stared at her placid face for a moment, wishing he could touch her with his own hands, just one last time.

“Commander!” Phlox grunted from the doorway. “Your assistance please!”

Trip quickly turned to see that the Denobulan was now supporting the captain’s full weight. Leaving T’Pol’s side, he went to the doctor’s aid, taking his dying friend’s other arm over his shoulder. Phlox and Trip both grunted with their exertion as they dragged Archer’s unconscious form the rest of the way into sickbay and lifted him onto one of the beds.

Phlox went for his medical instruments while Trip squeezed Archer’s arm.

“Stay with us, Cap’n,” he pleaded with the unconscious man.

Trip had a torrent of mixed feelings. His friend and his would-be lover were both dying, and it looked more and more like he was powerless to prevent it. Trip looked into the face of the man he’d once considered his best friend in all the universe. He’d once looked up to the man like the big brother he’d never had, but ever since the Cogenitor, and since the Expanse, they’d drifted apart, and their friendship had never really recovered. He knew part of that was his own fault, that he’d closed himself off since T’Pol went and got herself married to a guy she barely even knew…

His thoughts started to drift to T’Pol, but Phlox was at his side now, running a scanner over Archer’s body.

“He's going into cardiogenic shock. Commander, he's dying,” Phlox grimly reported.

A tone sounded on his scanner and Phlox quickly set it down and tried to open the medkit he’d carried with him. He struggled with its case, unable to open it with the bulky EV gloves on his hands. He reached for the release on his gloves.

Trip’s eyes widened with his shock. “What are you doing!?”

Phlox stared at him, in no mood to debate the matter. “This equipment's not designed for EV gloves.”

“I’ll be your hands,” Trip replied as he reached for his own glove releases.

“No!” Phlox tried to stop him, desperate to keep another one of his colleagues from getting infected.

Trip glared at him. “You’re the least expendable person on this ship!”

There was a slight hiss as Trip successfully broke the seal on his gloves. Phlox relented, any argument now pointless. Trip took off his gloves and helmet, then picked up the stubborn medkit and opened it.

“Attach the leads twenty centimeters apart.” Phlox pointed at the small defibrillators inside the medkit.

Trip fished the lifesaving devices out from their annoyingly small partition within the medkit. He unzipped the front of Archer’s uniform and unbuttoned the shirt underneath. Spreading the clothing apart, he stuck the coin-sized defibrillators to Archer’s pale skin, just like he’d been trained during the yearly first aid classes. Once he’d finished, he turned toward Phlox for the doctor’s further instructions.

“Clear.” Phlox reached for a small button on the monitor above Captain Archer’s head.

Trip edged away and Phlox pushed the button, jolting Archer with electricity. There was no response.

Trip was about to tell tell him to do it again, but Phlox instructed, “We need to inject him with forty units of trinephedrine, directly into his heart. “

Trip instinctively reached for the familiar shape of the hypospray, searching for the appropriate drug.

“No, no, no! That can’t go deep enough!” Phlox warned.

Trip quickly located something that looked like another hypospray, but had a long hypodermic needle on the business end of it. He lifted it and looked to Phlox for confirmation.

“A bit old-fashioned, but effective,” Phlox nodded.

Trip positioned the needle just beneath Archer’s ribs in the upper left side of his abdomen and angled it upward toward his heart.

“Angle it slightly more to the right,” Phlox motioned with his hands. With the needle now positioned correctly, he instructed Trip, “Now, in one quick motion, insert it three centimeters.”

Trip did so, suppressing a small wave of nausea.

“Press the activator.”

There was a small beep from the injector, indicating that its contents had been administered.

Phlox increased the charge. “Three hundred millijoules… Clear!”

Trip quickly withdrew the needle and took a step back. Archer’s body spasmed and was again still.

“Again!” Trip shouted at Phlox.

Phlox sighed in frustration but did as he’d been ordered. “Three hundred and forty…”

Archer’s body was contorted again by the electricity that passed through it, but his heart failed to start.


“He’s dead, Commander.”

Trip glared angrily at Phlox for a brief moment, but he knew that the doctor was right. Trip took one last look at the man that had been his friend so long, his forehead wrinkling with enormity of what had just happened.

An alarm sounded from the monitor above the bioscanner. Phlox hurried to T’Pol’s side to check on her.

“We need to move her into the scanner.”

Trip squeezed Archer’s arm one last time.

“Sorry, Jon…”

He turned and rushed to help Phlox. He couldn’t help but get another sinking feeling as he watched T’Pol’s petite form enter the bioscanner, the doors closing after her.

God, please let this work, Trip pleaded with all his soul.

The machine hummed as it bombarded T’Pol’s body with the radiation treatment Phlox had developed, ironically with her help during the initial stages of her confinement in the decontamination chamber. The humming ceased and the bioscanner opened, ejecting the bioscan bed and its Vulcan occupant.

Phlox ran his handheld scanner over T’Pol, studied the display, and then hung his head. Trip looked at him with pleading eyes.

“I’m sorry, Commander. It didn’t work.”

Nooooo!!!!! Trip’s mind screamed, but aloud he managed, “It’s not your fault, Doc. You gave it everything you had.”

Phlox looked at Trip with what little hope he had left. “There’s nothing more I can do for Commander T’Pol, but you… still have a few hours left. There has to be something else I can try…”

Phlox was really reaching, and he knew it. He knew the man he saw standing before him would probably die, and there wasn’t anything he could do about it.

Trip didn’t even look up at him, instead staring into T’Pol’s ashen, sweat-covered face.

“You should continue your work from the science lab,” he quietly replied. “Less chance of somethin’ goin’ wrong with your suit.”

Phlox knew he was right of course, but he didn’t want to admit it. He’d already lost two patients. He certainly didn’t want to lose a third. An irrational feeling that he should stay kept his feet planted right where they were as he watched Commander Tucker. He knew that the engineer had harbored feelings for T’Pol. After all, he was the one that had set them up. He didn’t know how close the two of them had come, but he’d noticed the change in Trip when he’d returned from Vulcan. Soon afterwards, he’d learned about T’Pol’s marriage and it hadn’t been hard to guess why Commander Tucker had been displaying the classic symptoms of depression.

“I won’t give up,” was all he could say.

“You know where to find me…” Trip replied sarcastically.

Phlox finally managed to will his feet to move, and he turned his back for what he thought would be the last time on the man he’d once broken his own medical ethics to save.

With sickbay now empty, it finally hit Trip that he would most likely soon be dead, just as the woman who’d once been his lover would be. He fought the tears with all his might, but he lost that battle, just like he’d failed to save T’Pol. The tears streamed silently down his face as he looked down at her still form. He finally worked up the courage to touch her serene face, which looked almost as if she’d just gone to sleep. Almost. How he wished that her eyes would fly open and she’d glare at him for his intrusion, or better yet, that she’d look at him the way she had before she’d gone off and gotten herself married.

Why T’Pol!? Why!?

He stroked her cheek, still warm, but now clammy, feeling nothing like he’d remembered. A memory flashed into his mind, of rubbing her cheek softly with his hand the way he was doing now, just after they’d made love for the first, and the last time. He remembered the look in her hazel eyes and remembered feeling like he could drown in them.

Trip’s nose began to run, and threatened to embarrass him. He sniffled, and was brought out of his reverie of a much happier time.

Not for the first time, he regretted how he’d closed himself off from her after her marriage. He remembered the pleading look in those hazel eyes as she came to him for help, and he was too hurt, too involved in his own pain to give her the support she needed. He was proud of her for making what he knew was a great sacrifice, but he could barely bring himself to look at her because he was sure that he’d lost her forever. And now he really had…

Trip sighed heavily, recalling how elated he’d been to learn that she’d divorced Koss. He’d lifted Hoshi clean off her feet with a big bear hug when she’d let him in on the transmission to the Vulcan government. But it was bittersweet, because he’d also heard about T’Pol’s mother.

Trip hadn’t gotten a chance to really get to know the impressive woman all that well, but he grieved all the same. He’d gone to T’Pol to give her his shoulder if she needed it, but then she’d withdrawn from him. Not long after that, she’d given him “the talk”. It tore his heart out, but he managed to act nonchalantly about it, figuring that it was exactly what he’d deserved for giving her the Romeo and Juliet speech.

How appropriate, he thought bitterly to himself.

She’d be dead in minutes, and it wouldn’t be long until he followed her. In a strange way, that brought him some comfort, because if God existed like he believed, he knew that despite everything, they’d meet again in heaven.

Trip managed a small smile at the thought, imagining what T’Pol would say to that, and how he’d tease her right back about Surak and logic.

He put his hand on her chest. She was starting to wheeze, her body fighting a losing battle to stay alive. He felt her chest shudder with its effort, and he poured out all his heart through his hand in the vain hope that it would somehow heal her, even if it meant his own life in exchange.

T’Pol’s chest shuddered one last time, and then, nothing.

A sob escaped Trip’s lips, as he was overwhelmed by his grief. For all his hope that some day they could’ve renewed their relationship, it was all for naught now. He let his body sag, and rested his head on her breasts. He looked into her face one last time before closing his eyes and weeping bitterly…


“I have such respect for you, Commander Tucker…”

Trip stiffened.

I must be losin’ it…

He could’ve sworn he’d heard Jon’s voice coming from behind him. He turned, expecting to see his friend still lying on the bed he’d placed him on, but instead he was sitting up, looking right at him.

Trip’s mouth dropped open. “Jon?”

“Not exactly,” came his reply. “I'm an Organian. A nonphysical life-form. Jon is my host.”

Trip’s face twisted with fury.

“What did you do to him!?”

“Nothing,” ‘Jon’ said as he drew himself up defensively. “We never interfere in the natural development of other species. We only observe.”

Bullshit! Trip worked his jaw, clenching his teeth. He wanted to hurt whatever that … thing was in Jon’s body, but he knew he had to be objective.

“Did you know about the silicon virus?” Trip asked ‘Jon’ pointedly.

“That's why we come here,” ‘Jon’ replied. “To see how different species react when they encounter it.”

Trip’s anger for the “thing” only grew. He literally saw red.

“You knew about the virus that killed my friends, and you didn't warn us!?”

‘His’ face grew sympathetic. “I wanted to, but it's not up to me.”

Trip was ready to strangle whatever “it” was that was desecrating his friend’s body. Instead he got the shock of his life as T’Pol sat up and glared angrily at “Archer”.

What the hell!?

“You're breaking every rule we have,” ‘she’ told ‘him’ coldly.

“Because they don't apply to this species,” ‘he’ pleaded back.

That is not our decision to make,” ‘she’ shot back at ‘him’.

Trip didn’t understand what was going on, but his shock was wearing off and he was getting angry again. He knew the appearance of the second “thing” now inhabiting T’Pol’s body and the argument “it” was having with the “thing” in Jon could be important, but his temper was getting the better of him. After all, now T’Pol’s body was being desecrated, and that was just too much for him to bear. Sorrow, anger, hatred, and fear built up inside of him.

‘Jon’ started to reply back, “If we don't challenge the rules-“

Trip lost it. “I don't give a damn about your rules!”

Both of “them” looked at him. Satisfied that he had their attention now, Trip continued, asking them coldly, “Tell me what happens to Jon and T’Pol when you're finished with their bodies.”

“She” looked at Trip as if the answer was completely obvious.

“We have to leave them as they are.”

“Dead?” Trip worked his jaw, biting back harsher words and carefully considering what he’d say next. In a lot of ways, it was actually ironic that this particular Organian had chosen to inhabit T’Pol. Trip could remember the real T’Pol making the same kind of argument more than a few times with him. Swallowing, Trip continued. “You know, I can understand why you won't get involved with a species' natural development. I've seen firsthand what the consequences can be.”

Trip relived the painful memory again. He still felt sorrow for the one that had named itself after him, only to kill itself because it could no longer take its servitude.

“She” arced her eyebrow in a surprisingly Vulcan manner.

“Then we agree.”

Trip shook his head.

“No, we don’t,” he uttered with as much malice as he could muster. “We happened upon this virus by accident, and you could’ve prevented it.”

“She” looked at him blankly.

“Then how would we ever learn about you?”

“Ever thought about just askin’?” Trip shook his head with disbelief. “Yer talkin’ to me now. Is it really that difficult?”

“Talking is a limited form of communication for us,” ‘she’ replied condescendingly. “We're much more advanced than humans.”

Trip saw red again.

“Not from where I’m standin’!”

Trip got a small bit of satisfaction from the slightly startled looks in “their” eyes before continuing.

“You might’ve evolved into beings with abilities I can't comprehend, but you've paid a helluva price!”

“They” looked at him questioningly.

“You've lost compassion,” Trip started passionately. “And empathy. Things that give life meanin’. And if that's what it takes to be advanced enough for you, I don't want to be.”

“We're leaving now, Commander,” came ‘her’ dispassionate reply. “You won't remember a thing about our presence. And in three hours, you will die as well.”

Trip’s face flushed with fury, his muscles tensing as he clenched his fists. He wasn’t sure exactly what he’d do, bashing in the skulls of his own dearly departed wouldn’t accomplish anything. He was in dire straights – damned angry, but at a complete loss of what to do about it.

“No,” ‘Jon’ said suddenly. “We have the power to save them all.”

‘T’Pol’s’ eyes widened. “Are you defying me?”

“I'm defying the entire protocol,” ‘he’ boldly replied. “What Tucker has done today, his act of compassion; you've never witnessed that before.”

Trip was genuinely surprised. His hands slackened. He was conflicted, because he didn’t trust either of these “Organians”, but somehow he knew that his only hope was for “Jon” to win this argument. Trip saw “T’Pol” blink, acknowledging what “Jon” had said.

“In time, we'll study other humans,” ‘she’ replied, otherwise unmoved.

“There's another way,” Trip butted in. “Experience compassion for yerself. If you want to know what it means to be human, you need to do more than observe.”

“She” seemed to consider him for a moment, “her” face completely unreadable.


A sob escaped Trip’s lips, as he was overwhelmed by his grief. For all his hope that some day they could’ve renewed their relationship, it was all for naught now. He let his body sag, and rested his head on her breasts. He looked into her face one last time before closing his eyes and weeping bitterly.

And suddenly, he felt her take another breath, a strong breath. A moment later, he felt her warm hand on the back of his head, her delicate fingers lacing through his hair. He opened his eyes, and saw her watching him. Her face wore a confused expression, at least for her, but otherwise she seemed completely normal.


He couldn’t breathe. She was alive!

Oh, thank God!


“Yes?” she answered him, “Where-“

He kissed her, with all the passion, joy, and other indescribable feelings that swelled within him.

T’Pol returned his kiss, though she didn’t fully understand why. The last thing she remembered was Trip, and being in his arms, and that was enough.

Why is his face wet? Why has he been crying?

Trip finally broke their kiss and looked into her eyes. T’Pol pondered what she saw in his blue eyes. She both saw and sensed his pain, and wondered what could have possibly caused it. Was it just because of her condition?

“What is wrong?”

He smiled back at her.

“You were dead…” he whispered back. “But now you’re not, and it’s a miracle.”

He kissed her forehead, happy beyond belief to feel her warm skin against his lips again.

It was then that T’Pol realized that she was no longer in pain. As Trip straightened up slightly to look at her, she let her hand slip off the back of his head. He put his hand on hers. She looked down at their hands, and back at his face, and noticed the sensor cluster above his head.


The two of them heard someone clearing his throat next to them.

Captain Archer patiently waited for Trip and T’Pol to acknowledge his presence.

He’d woken up at the same time T’Pol had, and was confused to find himself lying on a bed in sickbay. At first he’d been angry that Doctor Phlox would break quarantine against his orders, but he was also surprised to be in no pain. He’d taken a moment to inspect himself and he could find no sign that he’d ever been sick. As he’d looked around to ask Phlox how he’d managed to find a cure, he’d seen them kissing.

It made him a little uncomfortable, but he’d suspected since Trip came back from Vulcan that the two of them must’ve been involved. After all, why else would he be acting that way after T’Pol’s sudden marriage?

Their kiss had lasted longer than he’d thought it would, and even after they finally came up for air, it was like they didn’t even know he was in the room. So he’d decided that he would let them know they had an audience.

He almost felt like laughing at the expressions they gave him, like two teenagers caught making out behind the bleachers. He managed to limit his own reaction to a small smile, and tried to act blasé about it, but it was hard.

“I think we should think about contacting the bridge,” he said as flatly as he could manage.

“Indeed,” came the only response.

Trip was still speechless. He honestly couldn’t understand it. Both of them were alive now, even though minutes ago, both of them had been dead.

Finally he managed, “Jon…”

His friend pretended to be insulted.

“I was starting to think I was chopped liver…” Archer said wryly.

Trip finally lost his flabbergasted expression and smiled at his friend’s quip.

“No offense, Cap’n, but she’s a lot prettier than you are.”

Archer grinned at that and stood up. Trip straightened and faced him as he walked over to join him. He could tell that Trip was still overwhelmed.

“You look like you’ve just seen a ghost,” Archer said, sizing Trip up.

“You have no idea…” Trip replied, shaking his head.

Archer smiled at his friend and put a reassuring hand on the other man’s shoulder. After looking him in the eye for a moment, Archer let go and made his way to the comm. panel.

Time to find out just what’s going on here…

Archer thumbed the comm. panel.

“Archer to bridge…”


Trip barely even heard the conversation between Archer and the bridge. There was only one thing on his mind. Her.

Trip and T’Pol looked into each other’s eyes, searching each other, and searching themselves for the right words to say.

After a moment, Trip said, “so… What next?”

T’Pol looked at him with those beautiful eyes of hers and quirked her eyebrow.


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