"Affliction missing scene"
“T’Pol, can I talk to you a minute?”
“Certainly, Captain.” She rose from her seat at the science station and followed the captain into his ready room. She silently stood, waiting to see what he wished to discuss.
Archer, for his part, sank down into his chair and indicated that she should take a seat. After she did so, he sighed softly, wishing he didn’t have to say what was coming next. “There’s going to be a few changes, T’Pol, once we get back to Earth.” He handed her a PADD as he continued. “I’m going to have to find a new chief engineer. And a new second officer.”
T’Pol’s normal blank expression for a fleeting moment deepened into a frown, gazing at the PADD as the captain spoke. “I do not understand, Captain. Why has Commander Tucker requested a transfer?”
The captain leaned back, grimacing. “He said that he was too distracted here, and made an error which could have cost Jhamel her life on the telepresence unit. And he wanted to get away before he did cause someone to get hurt.” He eyed the Vulcan for a moment.
“That is illogical. This error is not significant enough to warrant such a reaction.” T’Pol answerd, finally meeting the captain’s eyes.
“I know. But he won’t tell me why he really wants to leave. He turned down that transfer to Columbia twice already. Something’s happened, and he’s shutting me out.” Jon’s frown deepened for a moment, as he mourned losing the closeness they had shared before Lizzie’s death at the hands of the Xindi. “I’m trying to be a good friend to him. He says he needs this, that’s why I gave him the transfer.” He looked away from T’Pol. “You’ve been closer to him that I have the past year,” he admitted finally. “I was hoping that maybe he might have shared something with you about whatever it is that’s bothering him. I just want to know that I did the right thing. I don’t want him to regret this decision.”
T’Pol sat stunned. Gathering her thoughts, “I am afraid that Commander Tucker has not confided any specific problems which would be cause for such an action on his part to me. We have not been… as close as we were in the Expanse… for several months now.” In her mind, she turned over this new information, trying to decipher why the Commander… why Trip… would leave. Was it because of her? He said he understood about her need to learn more about her heritage, now that the true Kir’shara had been found. Her thoughts flashed back to his statement to her a few weeks ago, Romeo and Juliet probably would’ve stood a better chance than us.
The captain studied her face for a moment. He couldn’t read her expressions as easily as Trip seemed to do at times, but he had learned enough to tell that she was as mystified as he was by Trip’s transfer request. If anything, he’d say that she was definitely not happy learning about the request from him, rather than hearing the news from Trip. Maybe they aren’t as close as I thought they were. “He didn’t tell you, did he.” It was a statement, not a question. “I’m sorry, T’Pol. I didn’t mean to…” He paused, trying to come up with a way to finish that sentence without implying something was going on between them.
“I was merely thinking, Captain. Attempting to discern if the Commander had given me any clues that he was unhappy here prior to this latest incident that I may have failed to notice.” T’Pol answered, smoothing her face back into her normal look of Vulcan calm. “Is there anything else, Captain?” she asked.
“No.” The captain looked miserable, even to her eyes. “You can go, T’Pol.”
Standing, she moved towards the door, then paused just before the sensor would have opened it for her. “Captain.”
“It is not your fault that Trip is leaving. It will do you little good to blame yourself.” Archer opened his mouth to deny he was doing that, but she continued before he could speak. “He values your friendship, even now, even though you have grown apart as was inevitable. You cannot be his friend first, and his captain second. He understands that and accepts it. Do not blame yourself. If he is determined to go, Captain, there is little any of us can say that will change his mind. And had you denied his request, you would have lost his friendship.” She stepped back towards him. “You did the right thing.”
Archer bowed his head for a moment, wondering how she knew what he was thinking, then decided he didn’t care. “Thanks, T’Pol. I still think I should have been able to talk him into staying.”
She nodded her head once, turned and exited the ready room. Unfortunately, the same speech she had just given the captain was not very effective in allaying her own suspicions that she was the cause of his request. The way things had changed between them ever since she had returned from Vulcan, married to Koss, was foremost on her mind. And his reference to two star-crossed lovers as being more likely to get together than they were would not leave her mind. I must talk to him, she decided. Before he leaves. To find out… here she paused, considering, find out if it is because of me as I suspect. And then what? Her conscience whispered softly to her. And to that, she didn’t have any answer. First I must find out why he is leaving, then the rest will take care of itself, she decided.
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