"Tears in Heaven"
Authorís Note: This short story kind of bugged me while I was trying to work on chapter 3 of my other fic until I wrote it down. And I got the title for this story, of course, from the song of the same name. I am almost done with that chapter, for those who are following that story arc, even though I only currently have that story at ff.net. And hopefully, since Iím going on a 10+ hours trip on Friday and Sunday this weekend (while en route to and from my uncleís memorial service), I will get that chapter (and maybe more of chapter 4, which is half-done) written while in the car.
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The room at Starfleet Command was partitioned off, with the smaller outer chamber, which was currently filled with delegates from a number of different planets, the media, Starfleet brass, and assorted shipmates of Commanders Tucker and TíPol. The larger portion contained just five living people at the moment, and the body of the little one who had caused such a fuss simply by existing.
The Vulcan priest finished the last of the traditional rites that would be performed, though he would repeat some of them in the more public setting humans preferred in a short time. His final words to the two grieving parents were the traditional phrase, ďI grieve with thee,Ē before he departed to allow them a short time to themselves to prepare for what was still to come. The other two occupants of the room quietly stepped forward to offer their own condolences, having been with Trip and TíPol when their daughter had perished on Enterprise, then the captain and Dr. Phlox exited the room as well.
Alone now, Trip clutched TíPolís hand almost as a lifeline, as tears streamed once more down his face. He gazed down at the still form of his daughter, a serene expression on her tiny face. He was doing the crying for both of them, he knew, because TíPol couldnít let go of her control to express her feelings in such a fashion. He felt her grief as a tangible force, sensed it surrounding her, even if her face would appear to be as unemotional as ever to someone who didnít know her. And if he doubted it, the grip she had on his hand as if he was the only thing keeping her standing would have told him otherwise. She leaned into his chest, trying to offer him the comfort he craved with her touch, and maybe needing his own touch just a little herself.
He squeezed his eyes shut and wrapped his arms around her as he recalled the one time he had been able to hold his daughter--an all too brief time when he still had hope for a future for the three of them together. It had been after the daring rescue attempt led by Jon.
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A few days earlierÖ
Theyíd found TíPol, still holding the baby--Elizabeth, he corrected himself. Her maternal instincts had kicked in, and she was protecting her child. The unconscious form of one of the Terra Primers who had decided to kill Elizabeth in retribution for Enterpriseís interference in their plans lying a short distance from her was proof of that. At the sight of her, Trip broke away from Jonís support and went to make certain that his girls were okay. Travis stood not too far away, still shocked by what heíd seen her do.
TíPol met the silent question in his eyes with her own worry-filled ones, even as she spoke aloud, telling him she was unharmed. Then she offered Elizabeth to him, and Trip gladly took his daughter from TíPol, cradling her in his arms. He rested most of her weight on his good right arm, with twinges of pain as he bent his left arm to help support her evident on his face. TíPol thought briefly of taking the child back from him after spying the pain he was in, but he shook his head at her. ďIíll be fine, TíPol. Donít worry, I wonít drop her,Ē he reassured her, as TíPol watched him cuddle the infant closer, smiling tenderly down at her.
Phlox was busy scanning the child, a frown deepening on his face as he noted the readings. Trip didnít notice at the time, but TíPol had, knowing what the doctor was picking up. Hope had flared in TíPolís chest for a moment that the doctor would be able to save her daughter, that she and Trip would not have to endure yet another loss to their respective families. ďWe need to get her to Enterprise. Iím afraid I canít do very much for her here.Ē
Then followed an interminable shuttle ride back to Enterprise, during which Archer had requested a security team come down in the second shuttlepod to aid in rounding up the Terra Prime terrorists who remained at the station. Trip didnít let his daughter leave his arms for an instant, and TíPol sat next to him, gently caressing her daughterís face with one finger. Phlox continued to take readings on the trip back, his expression growing grimmer with each successive scan.
Trip sensed the worry from TíPol but pushed it aside, not wanting to think about that now. Their daughter was safe, out of Terra Primeís hands, and they were on their way home. He leaned his head back, resting it against the bulkhead while still admiring his daughter, and watched as TíPol stroked her cheek. He was bonded to the woman he loved with all his heart, and they had a child together. Even if she hadnít been conceived by them, she was still a part of them. Phlox would make sure that she lived; he had to believe that, that they wouldnít lose her now. And then, well, he wasnít exactly sure what theyíd do then, but they would do it together--all three of them.
When they finally reached Enterprise, he and TíPol, side by side, followed Phlox to sickbay, while the captain trailed behind. Malcolm remained in the launch bay with Travis, investigating why the shuttlepod had suffered a failure on their way to Mars. Trip didnít care right then about someone messing about with the equipment on Enterprise, his daughter was his first priority. He reluctantly relinquished her to Phloxís care once in sickbay, and the doctor began running more extensive scans on her with the more sophisticated equipment available.
An ensign who helped Phlox out in sickbay wrapped up Tripís arm and gave him a sling. He kept trying to peer around the ensign as she treated him, wanting to see what Phlox was doing to his daughter, even though he knew the doctor would do his best. When she finally finished, he once more joined TíPol next to their daughterís bed and gazed down into her beautiful eyes. A heartbreaker, just like her momma. Neither wanted to leave her side, and finally the captain shooed the worried parents out of sickbay, overriding their protests, ordering them to go clean up, change, and get something to eat before coming back, well aware that they would just be in Phloxís way otherwise.
Reluctantly they left and did the first two, meeting up in the mess hall a short time later. Trip pushed his meal around his plate, not very hungry, his thoughts still with their daughter. TíPol was just as anxious as he to get back to sickbay, but still managed to eat about half of her salad. Trip barely ate more than a few bites, though. She frowned at him, about to remind him that it was illogical not to eat, but refrained when he looked up at her. The worry heíd felt from TíPol earlier, and the docís continued insistence on running more extensive scans on their daughter was eating at him. A gnawing fear grew inside him that something was wrong, and that was what kept TíPol from chiding him. But he didnít ask what she was worried about, hoping against hope for a happy ending for them all. Phlox wonít let anything happen to her, if somethingís wrong, heíll fix it.
They were back in sickbay barely half an hour after theyíd left. Captain Archer was privately amazed that it had taken them that long to come back. Heíd expected that heíd find them hovering outside the doors only a couple minutes after heíd ordered them out, considering how attached they appeared to be to the baby.
Trip and TíPol knelt next to the bed she lay on, watching her through the glass. Tripís face had a small smile on it as TíPol hung her motherís IDIC pendant along the side. He was vaguely aware of Phlox and the captain in background, but his world right now consisted of TíPol, the baby and himself. The doctor approached, hesitant to disturb them, but knowing that they needed to know the results of his scans. Trip and TíPol were softly discussing what to name their daughter, and when TíPol suggested Elizabeth, it brought a subdued grin to Tripís face as he told her that his sister would have liked that.
The two parents glanced up at Phlox when he stopped a short distance from them, expectant expressions on their faces. Heartbroken, Phlox informed them that the problem was genetic, a deliberate flaw introduced by Paxtonís scientists, and he couldnít do anything to save her. Tripís world crashed around him in that instant. No, his mind protested, we rescued her. She canít die. Sheís only a baby. He didnít want to listen, didnít want to believe the doctor, but Trip knew, in his heart, that the doctor had done all he could.
They stayed by her side, and the captain kept the rest of the crew from bothering them. Jon and Phlox stood quietly talking on the far side of sickbay, and when Trip raised his head from his near constant stare at his daughter, almost instantly followed by TíPol shifting her gaze away from the bed, it was a clear sign that they knew baby Elizabeth was gone. They spoke briefly with Phlox, thanking him for trying, and the doctor promised that he would take care of things on this end. Grief-stricken, they walked out of sickbay, almost visibly leaning on each other for support to Jon and Phloxís eyes.
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Trip came back to himself, glancing over at TíPol, silently asking if she was ready for this. She nodded once, and Trip walked over to the door, opening it and telling Jon that they were ready, before joining TíPol in the first row of seats. Captain Archer informed the chaplain, and the word spread swiftly through the chamber and the sound diminished as the news spread. A couple of ensigns opened the doors, and the mourners passed into the inner chamber.
Enterpriseís senior officers surrounded Trip and TíPol in the first row, shielding them from any more unwanted attention, along with Tripís parents, who were still a bit dazed at learning they were grandparents and then lost said granddaughter in the space of a few days. The genuine grief that shone on their sonís face dissolved any trepidation they might have had in this bizarre situation they found themselves in. All they knew was that their son was hurting, and they knew the pain of losing a child all too well. TíPol didnít seem to them to be suffering as much as Trip, at least not until they saw her do something they thought they would never see a Vulcan do--she willingly reached over and grasped his hand, and Trip gave her a sad smile, pulling her head to his shoulder, as he spoke softly to her. And she didnít pull away.
The service passed in a haze for Trip. He was thinking of all the things heíd never get to see his daughter do, things that heíd barely thought of the past few days as he and TíPol had rushed to rescue her. But now they filled his mind, and he couldnít help but wonder why she had to suffer such a fate. She hadnít asked to be brought into this universe, and he couldnít understand why she had to leave it so soon. TíPol had told him that she was important, and that was true. More than the symbol of unity that these delegates saw her as being, she had given him hope that there could be a future for him and TíPol, a future that included children if they wanted them.
At the end of the service, he and TíPol stood next to the casket, and the delegates, admirals and their shipmates passed by, giving them their condolences. None of the journalists had been allowed near them, thanks to Malcolmís security team. The last thing either of them wanted was to be interviewed about what they felt about the past few daysí events. While they would have to undergo questioning at Starfleet Command, and again at the trials for those members of Terra Prime which had been captured, that was still days or months off.
The graveside service was just a handful of Enterprise crewmen, who respectfully left TíPol and him alone to say their final goodbyes in the quiet cemetery, out of the spotlight of an all too nosy media and public. They walked off together, after the service was over, determined that they would get through their grief together. Nothing would keep them apart ever again, Trip silently vowed to himself, a sentiment that he was certain that TíPol shared. And we will make something worthwhile come from Elizabethís lifeÖ and death.
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