Author's Note: pre-Happy Medium Universe, post-Bound
1. The pathological state produced by a drug, serum, alcohol, or any toxic substance; poisoning.
2. Acute alcoholism.
3. A state of mental excitement or emotional frenzy.
Enterprise was maintaining station-keeping just outside the Sol system. Docked to its portside was the boomer ship Destiny, where crews were working to offload several dozen crates of borite onto the NX-01 for transport to Earth.
Trip crawled out from under the science station and shook his head vigorously in an effort to rid him of an overwhelming feeling of fogginess. When that didn't work, he rubbed his eyes with the heels of his hands. He looked up and was disturbed to realize his vision was still blurry.
From his location behind the tactical console on the Bridge, Lieutenant Malcolm Reed observed the Chief Engineer with some concern. "Are you alright, Commander?"
Reed's query signaled to the rest of the Bridge crew that a problem was afoot, and Captain Archer twisted around in his chair. "Trip?" He, too, noted the agitation in the engineer.
Trip blinked his eyes rapidly. "I'm fine, Cap'n. Just something's in my eye...I think." He rubbed at his eyes again and grew frustrated when the loss of focus persisted. "I don't know...maybe..." He stood, leaning hard on T'Pol's console in order to do so. "Uh...maybe I should go see Phlox, after all."
Archer leapt from his chair and crossed to his friend, reaching out to steady him when he got close enough. "Yeah, I think that's a good idea. You don't look so hot, pal."
"I don't know what's wrong," Trip muttered. He took three steps away from the science station before his legs collapsed beneath him.
"Whoa, there!" Archer grabbed at him but was not quick enough to prevent the engineer from landing in a heap at the foot of the console. "Hoshi, call down and get Phlox up here now!"
"On it," the Ensign called out as she quickly connected to sickbay. It took only seconds before she came back with, "He's on his way."
Trip maneuvered himself into a sitting position and rested his back against the station. His head felt like it weighed a ton, so he leaned that back, too. "Ugh."
Archer frowned down at him. "You were fine at breakfast. That was just a couple hours ago."
Reed approached the pair and kneeled down beside the stricken man. "What were you doing before you came up here to the Bridge, Commander?"
"Nothing unusual," Trip
murmured. "I was down in the
Phlox arrived a minute later, hustling over to his patient as soon as the 'lift doors opened. "What have we here, Commander? Hmm?"
Trip sighed. "Feel like my head's full of cotton, but I'm also dizzy. Can't see for shit. It's blurry and what I can see...there's three of everything." Trip was also starting to panic a little, but he didn't want anyone on the Bridge to know, so he remained silent on that point.
Phlox opened his hand scanner to take a reading of Commander Tucker's vitals.
"Well?" Archer prompted when the doctor remained silent.
"Hmm?" Phlox looked up. "Oh...well...there doesn't appear to be anything wrong with him."
"Excuse me?" Trip stared at the middle of the three Phloxes he saw. "Phlox, I'm lookin' at three of you. My head's stuck in the clouds, and I got no coordination. What d'ya mean there's nothing wrong with me!?"
"Easy, Commander," Phlox soothed. "It's merely that I can find nothing disturbing in your vital signs. Have you been in contact with anything unusual recently? We know you weren't affected by the Orion females. Anything else?"
"Uh...no. Other than the borite comin' on board right now. Could that be it?" Trip shook his muddled head, hoping to clear away some of the confusion.
"I'm afraid not." Phlox put away his scanner and prepared to assist the engineer to Sickbay for a more complete exam. "Borite is absolutely harmless to humans."
Trip allowed the doctor to help him stand up, only wobbling once in the effort. Once he was fully upright, a sick realization hit him in the guts. "Uh, Doc? What about any other species? Say...Vulcans?"
Phlox straightened abruptly. "Raw borite is quite toxic to Vulcans. Commander T'Pol is aware that as long as she isn't exposed to the actual ore, she should be fine. My understanding was that the ore was crated and sealed. Is the Commander involved in the transfer?"
Trip felt gut-punched. "Son of a bitch!" He shakily moved around the doctor and stumbled toward the 'lift. "She's overseein' the goddamn transfer!"
Dr. Phlox trailed after the engineer. "Well...there should be no problem. The ore is crated and sealed, is it not?"
"Yes!" Trip hissed. "But somethin's happened!" He practically fell into the 'lift; slapping the panel to select the appropriate deck. The doors slid shut on the shocked faces of Archer and Phlox.
The Captain turned to Phlox. "How could he possibly know that?"
The Denobulan smiled and shrugged his shoulders. Though he had a strong suspicion, he had no desire to speculate on something that was intensely private---should he prove to be correct. "I'm not sure, Captain, but if he's right, I need to get down there."
"Yes, of course. Keep
me informed." Archer stared after him with a frown lining his
features. He turned to his communications officer. "See who you can
get hold of in the
Trip staggered his way down the corridor as
quickly as he could, hugging the bulkhead on his way to the
Trip's panic rose. "Has something happened down here? Anybody open a crate?"
"Not to my knowledge. It's been a pretty smooth transfer so far."
"Ok...well...I need you to check every single crate in here. Every. Single. One," he stressed. "One of 'em is open, and I need you to find it...like now."
"Aye, sir," the crewman responded skeptically. He turned to carry out his orders.
"Hey, Mike," Trip called after him. "You know which way she went?"
Trip brushed by him and hurried toward the back. "Thanks," he absently called over his shoulder.
Trip rushed around a stack of crates and found her leaning against the bulkhead, arms wrapped around her torso. "T'Pol!" He ran up to her.
The Vulcan looked up, eyes wide in her elfin face. "Trip," she whispered. "Something is wrong with me."
"I know, darlin'. Come here." He pulled her against his frame. "I'm gonna take you to Phlox."
She collapsed against him. "I am very dizzy," she muttered.
A wry grin twisted across Trip's face. "Trust me, I know." Oddly enough, now that he'd found her, his dizziness had disappeared. His vision woes, however, remained. "Hey," he tipped her chin up. "Can you see me okay? Am I blurry?"
"You have blue eyes," she stated softly. "Very, very blue." She leaned in closer. "Very," she stressed...just in case he didn't get it the first time.
Trip chuckled. "They're supposed to be that way, T'Pol. Come on, we've got to get you to Phlox. You've been poisoned by the borite." He tried supporting her as they walked out of the corner, but her legs could not withstand her weight. He stooped down, hoisted her up in his arms, and turned to head for the exit.
"Wait," T'Pol called out. "I do not wish to be carried."
Trip gazed down at her. "How do ya suppose you're gonna get to sickbay if I don't? You can't walk."
T'Pol frowned in consternation. "You are enjoying this...with your blue eyes and human male machismo."
Trip's mouth fell open. A smile began to slowly creep across his face. The borite was destroying her impeccable control in a way that was...decidedly amusing, even if it was also somewhat alarming. And though he took pleasure in this glimpse of T'Pol, it was, in fact, wrong. It wasn't her; and it mitigated his enjoyment of her uninhibited musings.
"I'm not liking it as much
as ya think, so let's just hurry, okay?" Trip swung her around the crates
and started across the
Phlox said nothing as he took in the Vulcan's lack of coordination and pale features. He did an about-face and quickly led the way back to the 'lift. Minutes later they were approaching the doors to Sickbay when T'Pol started muttering. Phlox looked back. "What is she saying?"
"Nothing, Doc. She's a bit delirious; ignore her." Trip gazed down at T'Pol with a thoroughly exasperated expression on his face, a light blush creeping up his neck. "Hush, T'Pol. Ya hear me? Hush."
"...with your blue, blue eyes and your mighty hands..."
"T'Pol! Quiet down!"
"...intoxicating scent...intractable human..."
"...what you think you are doing with a scent like that..."
"Oh, man. Lady, you have got to stop now."
"...not fair...weakening my defenses..."
"...blue, blue eyes..."
"Enough with my eyes, T'Pol."
"They are very blue, Commander."
Trip could no longer help himself. He began laughing as he set her down on a biobed. "So it's gonna be like that, is it? Just my eyes and hands, huh?" He continued chuckling as he straightened her legs and looked toward Phlox. "Is she gonna be okay?"
"Hmmm." Phlox pushed some equipment close to the biobed. "She is still conscious, which tells me she was not exposed for long." He began efficiently hooking the machine up to T'Pol as he spoke. "I'm optimistic that she will fully recover once I run her blood through the dialyzer. I won't know for sure, of course, until all of the borite has been removed from her system."
Trip tried to step away from the bed but stopped when T'Pol grabbed at his forearm. She was still mumbling and muttering; some of it intelligible, most of it, thankfully, not. "You gotta make sure no one sees her or hears her like this, Phlox. She's too vulnerable."
Doctor Phlox looked up at the engineer with a very Phloxian smile on his face, now almost certain his suspicion regarding the two commanders was correct. "Agreed. It's very thoughtful of you to make note of that." He hummed as he finished starting T'Pol on the dialysis. "That would be your job, though, wouldn't it, Commander?" He noted the human's eyesight seemed to have returned to normal, as well has his lucidity and coordination; yet more confirmation.
Trip frowned. "Why do ya say that?"
"Oh, well...no reason, I suppose." He studied the screens above the biobed, checked her vitals, and recorded the changes. Could it be the Chief Engineer did not know he shared a Vulcan mating bond with the First Officer? "My mistake."
"No, no...I got it," Trip muttered. "We're friends, right? Friends look out for each other all the time." Trip shot a glance at the obviously amused Denobulan. "How long will this dialysis-thing take," he raised his voice slightly over T'Pol's continued utterances. "Anyone could walk in here while she's all hooked up."
Phlox loaded a hypospray and injected its contents into the Vulcan's neck. "That should help. I've given her something to quiet the speech centers of her brain, though it won't silence her completely. Hopefully," his grin grew wide, "it will just put a stop to her more embarrassing exclamations."
Trip rubbed his hand over his head and smiled sheepishly. "Yeah...about that..."
"Not to worry, Commander. Not to worry." Phlox flitted about his monitors, rapidly taking in the signs of T'Pol's immediate improvement, the dialysis working as expected. "My lips are sealed. The toxically-induced utterances of Commander T'Pol fall under the trappings of "doctor-patient confidentiality." I shall endeavor to forget them, as though they were never spoken." Perhaps the commanders merely wished to keep their bond private? Phlox made a mental note to watch for any future signs of a bond, such as those exhibited by the engineer earlier on the Bridge. He smirked a bit and continued, "T'Pol herself may not even remember them."
Trip glanced down at the ailing Vulcan and knew he always would. His gaze softened when he caught her looking at him, her eyes glassy and somber. He could sense her disorientation and unease through their bond. "Can you pull a curtain around for some privacy, Doc? She shouldn't be on display with her control compromised like this. It's...it's...wrong." He felt a wave of gratitude sweep into his mind and knew it was hers.
"Certainly." Phlox made an adjustment to the dialyzer before turning away. "I'll go update the Captain and be back in a little while to check on her progress. Just yell for me if you need me." He pulled a curtain closed around them and disappeared into his office with a soft smile on his face.
Trip pulled a chair close to the bed and sat down, glad the chair was close because T'Pol refused to release his arm. He leaned in and smiled down at her. "Just my eyes and my hands? That's it?" He laughed softly when she raised an eyebrow at him. He sat back and attempted to relax her by distracting her with ship's business. He detailed the improvements he made to her sensors and mapping tools and congratulated himself when her brows furrowed in concentration, rather than distress. "And then I rerouted the main..."
Phlox returned twenty minutes later and interrupted Trip's ramblings. "Let's check on the situation, shall we?" He gazed intensely at the overhead monitors and checked the smooth flow of T'Pol's blood through the dialyzer, pleased with all results. "Are you feeling better, Commander?"
"Yes," T'Pol softly replied, her voice quiet and subdued.
Phlox nodded, making some notes on a PADD. "Yes, this is going splendidly. I dare say another hour and your blood should be completely free of toxins." He took in his patient's features, noting her fatigue through studied practice. He loaded another hypospray and held it up to her. "I'd like to sedate you for a few hours to allow your neurological system to recover from today's trauma."
T'Pol nodded her assent and turned her head to allow him access.
"I'll leave you alone to rest. Commander Tucker should do the same," he hinted and walked away. "Call me if you need me."
Trip stood up. "Alright, guess I'm being kicked out." He sighed when T'Pol finally released his arm. He smiled down at her. "Your eyes are pretty damned distracting, too, ya know." He smirked and stepped back. "But then again...so are your ears, your nose, your lips, your...uh..." his eyes roamed down to her chest. "Ah, hell. Damned near all of you." He started laughing. "And the only things about me you can remember are my eyes and my hands. Just my eyes and my hands!" he teased. After another brief moment, his gaze softened. "I'll stop by and check on ya tonight, okay?" At her nod, he turned to head for the exit.
"Trip!" she called softly before he could disappear around the curtain.
He turned back and raised a brow in question.
Trip's eyes widened in understanding, and his lips twitched in bemusement. "Good to know," he murmured. Then he winked and walked away.
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