"Final Graduation" Part II

Author - bat400 | Genre - Alternate Universe | Genre - Angst | Genre - Deathfic | Main Story | Rating - PG-13
Trip * Malcolm Fanfic Home

Sequel to: Final Graduation
Author: bat400
E-mail: batfic400@yahoo.com
Part: NEW, 2/8
Rating: PG-13, for some violent images, deathfic, AU to canon Xindi Arc.
Betas: Quiz Mistress, M.S.
Archive: Any houseoftucker, Warp Five Complex, EntST*. All others request please.

Summary: The full measure of devotion. Alternate ending of the Xindi Arc. A shorter version of this story appeared under the title, "Graduation Day."

Disclaimer: Characters, places, and various incidents belong to Paramount. No monies were requested or received for this fiction. Header quotations from the works of Dickinson.



He fought like those Who've nought to lose --
Bestowed Himself to Balls
As One who for a further Life
Had not a further Use --

His Comrades, shifted like the Flakes
When Gusts reverse the Snow --
But He -- was left alive Because
Of Greediness to die –

Part 2.

They had accomplished their mission. And most of them did make it back, out of the Expanse. At least more than half, if you included the six crewmembers blinded. And T’Pol had completely withdrawn into some sort of morose ill-tempered caricature of a Vulcan. And Major Hayes still would sometimes still burst into a horrifying, child-like terror when he saw Reed in a corridor, one of the still-healthy MACOs having to comfort the poor bastard and return him to the galley where he could be kept occupied.

On their return they docked at Jupiter Station and immediately off-loaded the worst of the casualties. Their messages and reports had preceded them, and the Captain, who had become even more uncommunative over time, was kept in meetings with Admirals Forrest, Williams, and Leonard, and with the Terran and Colony political leaders. Reed had sunk into an automatic acceptance of extraordinary circumstances for so long that he, like many of the crew, was unprepared for the reactions of their peers operating “normally.”

They were all scheduled for physicals, in order of precedence. They had all been exposed to radiation, microbes, and chemical compounds unknown to previous space flight. They had been reduced to eating whatever whole foods they could find or trade for on the return trip, along with, for the last month, either the vegetative, citrus-like pudding or the somewhat gravy-like pudding that had been all that Chef had been able to coax out of the failing support systems. Reed was scheduled to see a Starfleet doctor two days after their arrival.

The doctor examining him, a human doctor, quite a change, had received Phlox’s records, but Reed noticed how the man started when he examined the scars on Reed’s torso.

“And the dermal regenerator was unable to remove the scar tissue?”

“Doctor Phlox said the tissue surrounding each incision had been chemically damaged in such a way that only a removal of the surrounding skin and muscle and replacement with grafts would help. Enterprise didn’t have the facilities to do that.”

The doctor was scanning while a young medical aide manipulated the data and put it on a screen. On the read-out Reed could see the line of the healed bone tissue across all of his attached ribs on the left, the smoky haze that surrounded the scarred incision sites.

The doctor noted, "The incisions are very -- neat."

"They drugged each of us. Something that paralyzed voluntary muscle function."

"Not -- a general anesthetic?"

"No." He had lost consciousness just after they had opened his chest cavity. When he had woken, sewn back together, hanging suspended by his ankles in that dark, humid compartment, he had heard Major Hayes whimpering somewhere behind him. Crewman Marino had been there too; they just hadn’t realized it

“And here,” Reed noticed to his surprise that the doctor’s hand shook when he traced the injury, not on the display, but on his skin itself, “this is where they broke the ribs to remove the left lung?”

Reed made a conscious effort not to defend himself by knocking the doctor across the room. He didn’t like being touched right now; that was one good thing about Phlox, at least. Phlox didn’t try to touch you, and if he had to he used those big clunky gray gloves that always made Reed think about veterinarians. Reed had managed it, but Phlox had been hard to get used to, that jarring sing-song cheerful voice, even when things had gone to hell in a handbasket – like some demented Hobbit, whistling on his way to Modor. Reed hoped he could get used to a human doctor again.


“And the medial lobe of the liver, here?”

“Yes, they left about half of it. I’ve not had any problems – the liver’s a big organ. Doctor Phlox didn’t think it would be a problem.”

“Turn please. And this incision – your left kidney?”

“I suppose they thought the organs must be redundant. We don't think they were trying to kill us, just then.”

Then the man was silent while he ran a scanner. The doctor cleared his throat. “There’s a substantial amount of relative displacement of your remaining organs. You favor your left side and there’s a definite twist you’ve taken to your gait to compensate. How much pain do you have when walking or running?”

“Not much.”

“Even with the bone spurs? Please sit back down on the examination table.”

The doctor had gone pale. Reed had felt very uncomfortable. He tried to make a joke.

“Doctor, you should see the other fellow.”

But the doctor didn’t laugh. There was a loud beeping from the monitoring equipment. The aide had stopped manipulating the data and was standing with his hands on the keyboard, pressing multiple keys at once. His eyes were screwed shut and he was shaking. Reed looked at the aide; he seemed to be no more than a boy. The doctor took the young man by the shoulder and guided him toward the door. “Go out and take a walk,” said the doctor in a low voice. Then he came back and continued the examination.

“I’m sorry,” Reed said.

“I’m sorry, too,” said the doctor.

What is wrong with these people? Reed thought.

Strictly speaking there was no other “fellow.” The Insectoids that had captured him along with Hayes and Merino were all hive warriors. After they had covered the escape of T’Pol and the other crew from sciences, the three of them had backed themselves into a corner and fired until they had no ammunition left, no energy in the backpacks, and their attackers were pulling back the massed piles of their dead in order to reach them.

And "you should see the other fellow" was an impossibility now. As far that they could be sure there were no Xindi Insectoids anymore. The Hive World was still inhabited, though. All the Insectoid warriors and their ships had been recalled. When the Hive had been infected with the Loquek virus, the telepathic call to return to home had been overpowering. Now the ships floated in orbit, or rusted on the surface as the random steps of the inhabitants led them to ceaselessly search for their lost city.

Starfleet Medical had wanted to put Reed and quite a few other people on medical leave with corrective surgery and therapies to start immediately. He had protested and asked for a delay. There was too much to do, debriefings to attend, repair orders to initiate. Archer had backed him up. Archer got his way. Everyone seemed to be afraid of Archer, and to a lesser extent, of all of them.


As the full impact of their actions sank in, it was decided to have the debriefings conducted on Jupiter Station, and delay their return to Earth. Reed’s debriefing was like waking from a dream. A very bad dream.

It was in the de-briefing that Reed had been answering questions on that incident, and he’d suddenly realized that the officers questioning him had gone surprisingly quiet and that their faces looked ashy.

Reed stopped speaking. What was wrong? Had he said something wrong?

“Lieutenant,” Commander Chard had finally spoken again, “Do you mean that Captain Archer rejected the suggestion that a robotic probe could have performed the reconnaissance?”

“Yes, sir,” Reed had said a bit uneasily. “The informant indicated that the area would be empty during that period of the planet’s climatic ‘winter’.”

“But you and Sub-Commander T’Pol advised against it?”

“Yes, sir. The science sensors indicated some biosigns, although the readings were not very clear. Captain Archer tended to discount some sensor readings. By that time, the repairs were often incomplete and the accuracy was suspect.”

“Because the Engineering staff was so depleted?”

“Lieutenant Hess and Ensign Rostov did the best they could with the limited supplies at hand, sir.”

Captain Bromhead had not asked him many questions. She had been one of his instructors when he had first gone through Starfleet training. He couldn’t imagine that he had ever been afraid of her; now she reminded him of his Aunt Sherry. Now she spoke up. “Lieutenant Reed. Are you aware that Captain Archer termed the reconnaissance of the Xindi Hive a success?”

“Yes, ma’am.” Where was all this going, he had thought at the time, as he watched them turning to look and each other, baffled and angry. “We determined the location of the brood chambers for the Queens.”

“But it was completely by luck that you and Major Hayes and the dead crewman were recovered. If you had not been that information would have died with you.”

He was silent.

“Lieutenant,” Bromhead continued. “Did you realize that in the early days of your mission into the Expanse, Captain Archer had made frequent notations into the record that you were overly cautious in your advisory capacity?”

It didn’t surprise him in the least. “No, ma’am, I didn’t know that,” he said.

“And that such notations ceased after a certain time period, despite the fact that your own reports don’t show much of a change in your advisements? Did you ever tell Captain Archer that the mission into the Xindi Hive was an acceptable risk?”

No, I never told Archer that, Reed thought. That’s what I told Trip about the phase cannons and bypassing the EPS grid. That’s when he got angry with me and accused me of risking the lives of the crew. And that's when we talked about it and worked together to get the cannons installed. And later they brought me a birthday cake -- the first one anyone had given me in over fifteen years.

“No, ma’am, I didn’t tell the Captain that.” They were waiting for something. “Perhaps, I did not emphasize my own – feelings about the advisability of certain courses of action in the same manner, although I told the Captain what my suggested first course of action would be. I had – grown used to the Captain’s -- command style over time.”

What had he done? He thought. What was wrong?

“You said that Captain Archer mistrusted the sensor readings. But you and Sub-Commander T’Pol did not? Why was that?”

“I think we both recognized the reliability of the sensors based on the type of conditions. It was just one more factor be had to consider. We felt that disregarding them comple – without some additional factors depending on the specific conditions wasn’t -- the best course of action.”

“But the Captain did disregard them completely? Under what circumstances did he disregard the sensors and your advice?”

Whenever it kept him from getting what he wanted immediately, Reed thought. “I’m not sure I can say, ma’am.”

Why were they staring at him like that? Commander Chard said, “Lieutenant, would you like to take a break and resume the debriefing later?”

“No, sir.”

Bromhead continued, “So, Engineering was operating with limited capabilities by then?”

“We all were, ma’am.”

“Was the Enterprise was suffering from not being able to count on Commander Tucker’s expertise?”

He didn’t answer for a moment. He didn’t know where the questioning was going. Of course they weren’t doing as well without Tucker, of course they weren’t. After Charles Tucker had been killed in an impulsive, ill-planned attempt to make friends with dubious aliens the Captain had only clapped eyes on a few hours before, they had all been suffering in one way or another.

“Yes, ma’am. We’d had system failures that we couldn’t fix. Trip – Commander Tucker was very good at using technology we found or traded for interface with our own systems. He was the best engineer I’ve ever worked alongside.

“Also, the Commander had always helped morale on the Enterprise. Sub-Commander T’Pol, she is second in command, but she’s not human. If people felt they needed to speak to someone about something not strictly pertaining to the mission – you don’t want to bother the Captain and the Sub-Commander might not understand. So people would talk to Commander Tucker. And he listens -- would listen and help you.

“And Captain Archer and he were friends. Things changed a bit as time went on, and the mission into the Expanse put both of them in very stressful positions, but you could still tell that the Captain appreciated just knowing that he was there, that he could talk to -- Commander Tucker if he needed to –“

Bromhead interrupted him. “It appears that quite a few people were harmed by Commander Tucker’s absence.”


Bromhead looked to Captain Hicks and Captain Evans. Captain Hicks said, “We’ll resume the debriefing after a meal. 1330?”

Before Reed could stand Captain Bromhead had risen and hurried to him. She leaned down, keeping him from rising, and produced a handkerchief and held it out.

“Reed,” she said in a low voice. “You’re weeping.”

He started guiltily and wiped at his face. He now realized that his cheeks and collar were wet. What was wrong with him?

“Let’s get out of here, son,” she said, and they left the room together.

For a while they just walked down the corridors in the Station, silently. She’s letting me get hold of myself, Reed thought. I’m falling apart.


Bromhead took him by a circuitous route to one of the messes on the station. She told him to get them "something hot, anything with caffeine," and when he brought a pot of tea, hot water, and two cups to the table in a far corner, Reed saw the older woman had brought two dishes for them.

"It's pudding. Bread pudding. They actually make it out of, well, bread, here."

He shook his head, thinking of sweet desserts, and meal times, and Trip positively scraping a plate with his fork, trying to get the last bits off without actually picking it up and licking it clean. When he looked up, Bromhead was watching him.

"Commander Tucker was your friend."

"A lot of them were. Fuller, Bastlin, Cutler..."

"But there are friends and friends. When I lost a school mate when I was young, I kept thinking I saw him. I saw him everywhere."

Reed sat still. He had thought he must have been going crazy. Ever since they had gotten “home” he couldn’t stop thinking about Trip.

"I didn't -- until this week. But when I'm in the station, there are so many people. I keep -- I thought I saw him. I followed someone until he turned a corner and I saw his face."

"I don't think we're the only ones that has ever happened to. It's hard to believe that someone is really gone."

"Oh, Trip is dead," Reed said bitterly. "Travis and I put the lid on his coffin."

He started to shake, "We did it twice. We closed his body up in a coffin twice."

Bromhead didn't try to stop him, but instead let him sit and tremble for some little while. He finally mastered himself. He found her pressing the cup of tea into his hand and he automatically drank.

"Reed," she said. "We're going to be asking you about that. About the clone. Do you want to tell me anything about it now, off the record?"

He swallowed hard. "I'm not sure what you mean. Shouldn't you only talk about the debriefing items officially?"

"Officially? Well, 'official' is not going to be this conversation I'm having with you, Reed. I'm a Captain. The rarified birds up the line may get my summaries and my recommendations, but they may not want to realize that we sowed this crop when we didn't bring the NX-01 back directly after you dropped that Kingon off.

"The Vulcan morality and total policy of non-interference isn't human, and I don't think we can live with it, 'as is.' But it's obvious now that we should have tried to get more out of the message even if we ignored the manner they used when they delivered it to us."

"You mean, making trouble for ourselves?"

She nodded. "I will tell you now. Archer may have done the best he could have. No one is going to fault him, officially, because he got the results. He, all of you, saved our sorry asses and gave us some time to get ourselves in order. But the instruction, to 'Do anything; even if it's wrong' appears to have been taken a bit too literally. Serves us right for loving Henry Archer's memory too much.

“But your own reports are very clear. You had limited options, and genocide was one of them. An example that made the rest of the Xindi stop and listen long enough for all the pieces to be examined on one table."

Reed interrupted, "So that makes it all right and just, Captain? 'Limited' options? It felt like we had no options at all."

"Reed," she said, “after what the Xindi did and what they were trying to do, we can’t put blame on anyone’s head. The feelings are too raw, the passion is too high. It’s impossible to be understanding about an enemy that was about to destroy our home planet. An enemy so willing to see us as ‘alien’ that they would do, would do what happened to you and Major Hayes."

Reed felt anger boiling up in him. “We’re still alive. Why does everyone get so outraged by this and forget about all those who are dead? I’ve got no interest in serving as the poster boy in support of wiping out an entire species.”

He had shouted. The mess had gone silent, but when he looked around, most of the faces were pointedly turned away.

“Reed,” Bromhead said quietly, “That Xindi planet, they’re all still alive too. Or are you making the case that there are worse things that a quick brutal death?”

Reed thought, there is nothing worse than that, nothing at all. Quick and brutal. As brutal as a blow to the base of the skull, as quick as the time it takes to cycle an airlock, and leave a body in space between you and your pursuers. He had to stop thinking about this. He had to stop, or he would go mad.

"Ma'am. Why are you telling me this?"

She looked at him grimly. And then said, "Because Malcolm, I remember you, and I've been reading your reports for the last three years. I've seen serious men and women make a determination that they should have seen every bad event in some cosmic crystal ball and prevented them all from happening. It's bad enough when it's the commanding officer that thinks that. It's downright tragic when he doesn't and one or more of his subordinates decides to do it for him. I want you to know, now, that if Archer isn’t going to be censured for any of this, none of his officers will be either."

Reed stared into the tabletop between them. He wasn’t sure he knew what he thought of that.

"I don't know what exactly to say about Sim -- the clone. The Captain didn’t consult with me before he – had been ‘made.’ Captain Archer and Doctor Phlox are the only ones who know it all, I think. Perhaps the Sub-Commander."

"And that is why I am asking you. Now. Off the record. Doctor Phlox and Sub-Commander T'Pol are no longer on this Station, and soon, neither one of them is going to be within the confines of this solar system."

Reed was shocked. "Why?" He asked. "What's happened?" He had not seen either one of them that day. Even as much a T’Pol had changed in the past few months, he had never supposed that she wouldn’t have said goodbye.

"The Vulcans requested T'Pol's immediate recall. Captain Archer and Starfleet protested that she had resigned her commission, but they asked to speak to her. Shortly after that conversation, she left Enterprise, resigned her position, which was not as a member of Starfleet, so we had very little control. She has already left detailed reports, but sometimes they say surprisingly little.

"Phlox, as you recall, was also not officially a member of Starfleet. His association was actually with the Vulcan Medical Exchange. He apparently had been sending messages to both the Vulcans and members of his own – family – on your way back. He’s resigned from both his association with Starfleet and the Medical Exchange. He left Jupiter Station a few hours ago. There was some sort of ‘scene’ at immigration control and Archer was there within a few minutes.”


"And the Doctor departed," Bromhead finished dryly. "Archer is too big right now to fit into any category, we’re all treating him like a force of nature, but that’s going to change. It’s just not going to change much, not right away.

"So you see, all we have are the official logs and reports. You’ve seen those. I thought you might know more, or perhaps even Tucker himself might have known and told you.

"Was there ever any request by either the Doctor or the Captain that the clone might have to be," she paused, as if hunting for the right way to say something, "restrained?"

"No, never!" Reed said immediately. "There was an incident with the shuttlepod -- that’s in the record -- but the Captain told us it was all an error, a misunderstanding."

“What did the Commander say about his clone?”

Reed wasn’t sure what he ought to say. He had never seriously considered a hidden meaning to anything Trip had said about it. The implication of Bromhead’s words made him wonder all over again.

"I’m not sure what Trip thought about it. Sometimes he even made bad jokes about it, as if it didn’t matter to him one way or another. You have to remember, he never saw Sim alive. He never knew anything about it until after the fact. Trip didn’t have any say in the matter.

"But sometimes it seemed as if it bothered and worried him a great deal, that Sim had died during the operation. Captain Archer told us all that that wasn’t supposed to happen; it was a complication. But Trip signed his ‘medical will’ over to me afterwards. He never really told me in any detail how he wanted me to act. He just thought I’d do the right thing. He kept saying, ‘I’m not that important. The mission is, but I’m not.’ "

“Did he ever say anything else?”

"Once we were talking about the casualties. I said something about sometimes having no option but to sacrifice lives, but that we had to avoid it. It really made him angry. He said that when we shipped out on this mission, anyone wearing a uniform knew that, but otherwise sacrifice was just murder.

"I asked him what he meant. He said something -- I thought he meant that the Xindi were murderers. That the firefights we were having with them weren’t somehow battle casualties because we had to come and defend ourselves -- we were threatened. Trip said, ‘If someone has no choice but to sacrifice his life because he’s been threatened, then it’s no different than if he were tied down and executed.’"

Reed stopped. He suddenly thought about Trip’s hands. How they were tied tight together behind his back when they retrieved his body. How when he had cut the restraints off, held Tucker's dead hands and cut the bands off, they were tight against his skin. The restraint had protected them from damage in the vacuum. A band about an inch wide around each of his wrists.

“And now you’re not sure,” prompted Bromhead.

Reed shook his head. “I’m not sure about anything now.” And he held himself very tight to keep from shaking again.

When he looked up again, she was pushing a bowl toward him.

He tried to wave off the desert, but she said softly, "They used to claim that a hot tea and four sugars was a cure for 'shell shock,' but you don't strike me as someone who'd take tea with sugar, Lieutenant. Try the pud."

It was actually very good.

Finally, Reed spoke, "Do you think that's what's wrong with me? With us?"

"Shell shock?" she said, softly. "Oh, that's rather old fashioned. PTSD? That's out of style too. I don't know what they might call it, but no, 'I' think you're perfectly -- normal. It's the situation that's crazy."

He looked at her. "Ma'am?"

"It's called grief, Reed. You, your crewmates, you're all suddenly coming to the surface, and you've got the bends. You've lived a year completely isolated in enemy territory. Home, the normal, safe world, this one is coming too fast. I've seen the logs; you've had no time at all, until now, to grieve."

"It was a war, Ma'am." And he stopped, not sure what else to say.

"Yes. Yes, it was. 'It's not like home,' all the letters say, from all the wars we've ever known. But now you are home. And you, and we, are safe for the moment. Now it's time to decompress, and not everyone is going to do it in the same way.

"And you. The Enterprise. No one else can really judge you. That's what these debriefings are already showing us. We'll pick apart the Xindi mission and your exploration before the attack from now until we're so sick of it that we'll try to forget it entirely. If we're smart we'll glean what we can to improve things. If not, we'll just do it all over again."

Reed tried to mull this over in his head. "What's Starfleet's official position, Ma’am?"

"We’ll try harder next time. And next time starts right now."


The immediate job was to repair the ship and re-fit. From time to time there were de-briefings and Captain Archer coming and going from the ship. Archer was apologetic when he asked if Reed would appreciate an officer being brought in to help arrange duty rosters and general operations, so that Reed could focus on the weapon systems. He said he would happy to make Reed acting executive officer, but wanted to give him the choice. Reed was glad to remain as he was; he had no need to arrange for strangers coming on and off the Enterprise. An extremely competent systems engineer, Commander Du Page, was brought in for the engine work, and Reed found himself hating her with all his heart, but even that hate was surreal and exhausting, and when Rostov told him that Du Page was responsible, humble, and technically savvy, Reed let the hate go.

They had been insulated from the initial euphoria on Earth, greeting their return, and so they were also insulated from stunned shock, grief over the dead, and politicians and Starfleet alternating blaming each other or denying that they had anything at all to be ashamed of. Archer did make a general announcement and have a public viewing of taped vids from Andoria, showing congratulations of their government, and a personal message saluting their victory from General Shran, who called them something that was awkwardly translated as "weapon siblings of the same odor," which made Hoshi laugh out loud on the bridge. It was the first time in months that Reed had seen her laugh at all.

He continued to see Commander Tucker. Never on the ship; always on the station. A face in half light. Someone leaving a room. Laughter heard from down a corridor. He understood that he wasn't going crazy. Phlox had said it didn't necessarily mean that. And Bromhead had said it was just grief. You got over it eventually. But Reed sometimes found if hard not to follow these ghosts, grab them by the arm, demand to know why they were still alive when Tucker was dead.

One day while working he was particularly distracted; couldn't focus at all, and suddenly there was blood all over the spanner he had in his hand. When he went to sickbay, the doctor they had been assigned temporarily told him that he had merely torn open a callous. After repairing the wound, the commander curiously examined Reed's hand.

"These are awfully thick callouses on your left hand. Are they from a particular control panel or a weapon grip?" Reed looked at them. He wasn't sure what they were. He didn't have similar pads on his right hand.


After four months the Earth seemed to have decided that Starfleet had its full support. And Starfleet said that the Enterprise, her Captain, and crew had its full support. It just didn't quite feel that way.

They returned the ship to Earth orbit for an official visit, and to reassign replacement crew. And that was when Reed received word that he was being re-assigned to Starfleet Weapons and Shipboard Systems Research and Development. He would not ship out on the Enterprise to continue a series of exploratory missions. He was needed to head a project to qualify and produce workable force field generators, specifically to be used in shipboard security and possible weapon systems. He stood blinking at his computer reading it. The message had come immediately on the heels of one from Starfleet Medical, re-classifying him to "limited duty due to medical impairment."

It was as if he'd been struck in the face. Before Enterprise he'd been the weapons officer on the Smedley Darlington Butler. He'd done research and development before, but ship board as part of active assignments. They couldn't do this to him.

He'd worked himself up into a rolling boil by the time he reached Archer's workroom and thumbed the COM. He was caught up short by the sound of female weeping in the background when Archer answered.

Reed stammered out, "I'm sorry, sir, it's not important. I'll come back later."

Archer had immediately appeared at the door and grabbed his arm, pulling him inside.

Ensign Sato was sunk in a chair, bitterly weeping. The Captain's dog trotted around her feet, looking anxious.

"Malcolm," said Archer, "I'm glad you've come. So you got the same message?"

When Archer saw his puzzled expression he continued, "The medical report. About the Loquek virus." Archer had crossed over to where Hoshi sat and placed his hands on her shoulders.

"I, I don't know, sir, but I've been re-assigned off the Enterprise. Light duty, Captain. What about the virus?"

It certainly took some of the starch out of his outrage. He could hardly demand that Archer explain if he had had anything to do his re-assignment. Not with Hoshi crying her eyes out right here. But she seemed to snap out of her own sorrow when she heard him.

"Oh Malcolm," she said, "I'm so sorry."

"But what about you, Hoshi? You're not disabled -- are you?"

And her face crinkled up and she started crying again.

"It's the virus," said Archer, looking guilty. "I imagine your report has the same information. There's still too much of that stuff latched on to our DNA. The reports advise none of us to contemplate having children -- there's no telling what sort of defects and mutations it will cause."

Oh. Oh, that was why she was upset. Reed hardly knew what to do. He uncomfortably approached her and she impulsively jumped up and hugged him.

"Oh, Malcolm," she said, blinking back tears, "here I am moaning and crying. It's nothing. I'm so sorry. Surely they aren't going to make you leave Starfleet? They can't!"

And Reed found himself calmly and quietly telling them about the re-assignment. Archer rushed to his own computer and there was a copy of the order. He'd just not read it yet. And immediately below that was an order that Archer was being assigned to the Warp Seven Development Program. He, too, was leaving Enterprise.

And they had all stood and starred at each other.

Later, Reed and Sato had left. Archer had held him back for a moment, said how much he regretted the re-assignment, the medical re-classification, the fact that he'd been robbed of the chance of parenthood. How sorry he was for Reed and Sato.

Of all the things Jonathan Archer had to be sorry about, this wasn't it. But Reed found he could not say that, not after the emotional wringing they'd just had.

Instead he said, "I'm fine, sir. I just feel sorry for Hoshi. It's different for a woman."

But as he walked back to his station he found that all he could think about was Trip telling him that they couldn't die because he was confident there would be a Charles Tucker the Fourth.

End Part 2

Final Graduation (Part 3) is a continuation of this story.


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