"Final Graduation" Part
Author - bat400 | Genre - Alternate Universe | Genre - Angst
| Genre - Deathfic | Main Story | Rating - PG-13
Trip * Malcolm Fanfic
Sequel to: Final
Graduation (Part 6)
Part: NEW, 7/8
Rating: PG-13, for some violent
Codes: R, Tu, A, Hayes violent images, deathfic, AU to canon Xindi
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.
I measure every Grief I meet
With narrow, probing, Eyes--
if It weighs like Mine--
Or has an Easier size.
I note that
Some--gone patient long--
At length, renew their smile--
An imitation of
That has so little Oil--
I wonder if when Years have piled--
Some Thousands--on the Harm--
That hurt them early--such a
Could give them any Balm--
Reed had not made an appointment, but took the chance and headed for
Archer's office at a time that had been blank on his former captain's public
schedule. Better to see him personally. Equally by chance he saw Jonathan Archer
heading out the building, carrying a small bag in one hand.
"Admiral Archer," Reed called out, "Sir!"
Archer turned scanning for the voice and smiled as Reed approached him.
"Malcolm," he said, "It's good to see you again." And he looked as if he did
think that it was good. Reed tried to hide the mental wince that he felt sure
this body must be showing. Archer had, almost from the very beginning, called
most of his crew by their first names. Only a few of the older personnel escaped
"How are you?" Archer asked, and Reed managed what he hoped was a fairly
natural sounding, "Well, sir. And you?"
"Fine, fine," he answered. "Except that I feel like I've left something back
on Andoria. I think I'm getting too old for this much travel. What brings you
over on this side of the campus?"
"Admiral, I wanted to speak to you about the information I forwarded to you.
The proposal for a portion of the new academy curriculum."
Archer nodded, but seemed preoccupied. "Yes, yes. I skimmed through it,
Malcolm. You're looking for some support to try to change the training. I'd like
to talk but, there's someone I have to see. We'll have to … ah, can you come
with me? I'm going over to the Convalescent Center."
"Starfleet Medical, sir?"
"Yes." Now Archer looked decidedly less tentative. "Yes. Yes, why don't you
come with me? Yes, that would be fine. We can talk on the way." And Reed
followed Archer in the direction he had turned to.
Archer continued, "I'm sure Jim Hayes would like to have another
Reed stopped abruptly. "Major Hayes?" he said, dubiously. "I'm not sure
that's such a good idea, sir. You remember how he always reacted to me, then,
"Malcolm," Archer chided, as if this were only a minor problem. "That was two
years ago. Jim is much better these days. His wife and son have even come to
visit him lately."
Reed cautiously followed Archer and caught up to him walking. Reed had not
seen Major Hayes since he had gone off the Enterprise at Jupiter station with
the other casualties. Chang had gone with him to get him to go easily. Reed had
not said good-bye. It would have been hard on both of them, and Chang had had
his hands full as it was.
Reed came back to his purpose as they walked. "Admiral, I feel these
suggested courses and training modules would have a great deal of support if
they were presented correctly. They're the result of more than my advisement
"Yes," interrupted Archer, "I saw the list of names you included as
contributors. A lot of good people -- Starfleet and the military. The problem is
that we may need to be giving more consideration to presenting a more open and
'positive' stance in our exploration. Not every species are the Xindi. Not
everyone we meet will be an aggressor, ready to attack us without provocation,
or because of ignorance or a mistaken impression of us."
Reed had told himself before that he had to remain calm and logical, and as
friendly as possible. But how could a man who had seen what Archer had remain as
stubbornly naive? "But Admiral, we can't determine how another species will
react to us on a first contact. Sir, an 'open' and 'positive' stance results
from the confidence that familiarity with tactics and security produces. It
isn't that we're hiding anything; it's that we're prepared to handle anything.
I'm sure General Shran would find that to be a familiar and comfortable
Archer smiled and gave Reed an appreciative glance. "I'm sure you're right in
that. The Andorians consider a good offense to be the best defense."
"It's served them well, sir."
"But we're Human, not Andorian. We've got other more -- recent --
"With respect, sir, it's because we were forced into an untenable position
that we had to make the choices -- hard choices -- that were made." Reed
thought, choices you made, Captain Archer, some good, some desperate, some
utterly wasteful. "We ought to give the academy graduates the best possible
foundation, the widest latitude to find the best solutions possible in missions
of exploration. That's what a heightened training in tactical advantage could
bring." Reed suddenly realized the strain of emotion coming into his voice.
Archer stopped and turned. He had that sympathetic, yet somehow
condescending, look on his face. "You really have your heart set on this, don't
you, Malcolm?" Archer reached out with his free hand and placed it on Reed's
upper arm. "I know the mission into Xindi space was hard for you. It was hard
for all of us, but I'll always regret what happened to you down there on the
It wasn't as hard for me as it was for others, Reed thought, trying not to
flinch under Archer's hand. Dammit, what was the matter with the man that he
couldn't see? When Archer had saved him out in the Romulan minefield Reed had
been doped to the gills to allow him to function, and had foolishly revealed all
sorts of personal information he never would have normally shared with Archer.
Ever since then his commanding officer had somehow felt free, felt, what?
Obligated to try to comfort him. It had happened several times with these damn
little touches. The worst was when they were both still suffering the immediate
aftereffects of the Loquek virus. And Archer's touch, "something" rolling off
him had done nothing but send a silent alarm into Reed of "cower, hide, placate,
fear." Phlox had speculated that some sort of pheromones had affected the three
of them, made them act out some level of "pack" behavior. The thought was
sickening to Reed. He was glad that the whole episode was as dim and
insubstantial in his memory as it was.
But he still remembered pacing the decon chamber, and a voice, a strange,
alien voice, trying to speak to him. Trip had told him later that it had been
him. "Damn, I'm glad you're okay now!" Trip had said. And Reed had thought at
the time, I'm glad you saved us.
Reed focused back to Archer, repeating a variation of one of the many
possible phrases he'd gone over ahead of time, "I wished it hadn't happened,
sir, but surely you want those who follow you to be able to respond as well as
you did, and better, to the dangers they'll face?"
Archer let go of him and they continued to walk. It was in late fall, but
only slightly damp, and still pleasant enough to be out in shirtsleeves.
"So, you and Captain Bromhead think a year's worth of training in place of
the current plans is the best course?"
"At this point, yes sir," said Reed, his hopes racing.
Archer fell silent. They had reached the big research hospital of Starfleet
Medical. The Convalescent Center was on the grounds. They passed through a
security gate, into an interior courtyard. There was a staff member there who
obviously recognized Archer. Her face fell and became guarded. But she responded
to Archer's hello, saying, "Yes, Admiral Archer. Tuesday. I think Jimmy is out
in the garden waiting for you now."
Reed's apprehension was high. He recognized the Major immediately among the
figures out in the garden, but more for what Hayes wasn't anymore than what he
was. Hayes wasn't confident, still, mature. Hayes wasn't someone Reed might have
ever been envious of, someone Reed might have worried might take his place,
Hayes was sitting on the edge of a stone wall, sort of a planter, with
riotous colorful flowers and shrubs behind him. The wall was high enough that
his feet did not touch the ground, and he idly swung his legs and drummed his
heels against the stones. He ducked his head slightly and repeatedly, and
carefully watched the other patients, doctors, aides, and visitors, his mouth
hanging open a bit. It looked like the scar tissue at the back of his neck and
head had been removed. Hair was growing there normally, but had come in white,
giving him an odd bicolor look.
Hayes saw Archer from across the courtyard, and his face lit up in joyous,
childish happiness. He jumped down from the wall and ran toward them. Reed
flinched when those eyes caught hold on him, and Hayes jerked to a stop about
three meters away from them. Hayes half turned as if he were going to run, and a
frightened, cringing shiver ran through him.
Archer slowly advanced, "It's all right, Jim."
"Hello, Major Hayes," Reed said.
Hayes slowly raised a trembling hand and pointed at Reed. "You were there,"
he said, "You were there when they caught us."
Archer stood between them, but close to Hayes. "Now, Jim, it's okay. Malcolm
has just come to visit you."
"They caught us," Hayes whimpered, "They caught us and hurt us."
Archer continued in a soothing, low voice, "Yes, it was really bad there.
But, Jim, what did Malcolm tell you, hmm? What did Malcolm say?"
Hayes stood still. He looked at Archer and cautiously said, "Lieutenant Reed
said, someone would come and get us. Someone would come and take us back to the
"That's right," Archer said, nodding encouragingly to Reed.
"Yes," Reed said, "Major, I told you that Sergeant Chang and the others would
come and find us."
Reed had said that, anything to quiet the frightened wails Hayes had let out
in his pain and fear. Reed would have told Hayes anything to keep the level of
hysteria in himself at low ebb. He had known that his own people and the other
MACOs would certainly want to mount a rescue, but he had not known if it was
remotely possible. He had desperately hoped that Archer wouldn't throw anyone
else to their deaths if there was no chance of getting them back.
"See," said Archer, smiling at Hayes. "See? Malcolm was right, wasn't he?
T'Pol and the others came, didn't they?"
Hayes started to smile a little bit, and visibly relaxed. "Yeah, he was
right. You were right. They came and got us. We even brought Marino back,
Reed smiled uneasily at Hayes. This might have been me, he thought. Poor
bastard. Cole had insisted on retrieving Marino's body. Hayes had been horribly
frightened by the corpse when he had first seen it. But he had abruptly stopped
screaming when Chang had pleaded, Be quiet or the Xindi will come back.
That had stopped him. Stopped him so completely that it had taken Phlox and the
MACOs two days after their return to the ship to get the Major to speak
Now that Hayes's fears had suddenly abated, he turned to Archer. "Did you
bring me something today? Something good?"
"Yes," Archer said, bringing up the bag. "I found some nice, ripe pears."
Hayes eagerly took the package, licking his lips, and immediately took out
and bit into one of the pears, making loud, appreciative noises and rocking
slightly on his feet as he took big juicy bites. After momentarily ignoring
Archer and Reed, he looked up, a bit shamed faced. "Let's go sit down," he said,
and reached out with a sticky hand and grabbed Archer by one wrist and tugged
him over to a bench.
Reed followed, noting how Archer went along with Hayes' impulsive actions.
When Hayes had finished the first pear, he reached for another, and Archer
gently suggested he save it for later. "You'll get a stomachache if you eat too
much at once," Archer said. And then he listened carefully as Hayes began a
rambling description of the things he'd done since the Archer's last visit.
"They say I'm getting better at the anger thing. We pretend to get angry and
then we think of the things to stop us getting angry." Hayes abruptly turned to
Reed. "I have no inhibitions," he said loudly and brightly, a bit like an eight
year old might say, I have a red bicycle. And Reed nodded, as if it were news to
Phlox had said that the Major's intelligence had not really been diminished
by the brain damage, but that parts of the brain that controlled judgment and
inhibition were simply gone. Overnight he had gone from being a man with supreme
control to a lad with almost none. A boy who was just under two meters tall, who
could drop you with a few kicks or punches, and who was knowledgeable enough to
operate complex weapons. They hadn't been able to leave him alone for a moment
on Enterprise, except at night, when Phlox gave him sedatives to keep him
sleeping. Phlox had stopped prescribing alternative therapies.
Archer now asked, "Did you see your wife and Paul this week?"
Hayes suddenly went pale and then his face fell, the mouth turning down, his
eyes squeezing shut. He began to weep with great heaving sobs. Reed felt
horribly embarrassed to see the Major in this state, but he took his cue from
Archer and sat still, waiting. When the tears finally slowed a little, Hayes was
able to choke out, "We were playing, and Paul did something dumb. I got mad at
him, and yelled at him, and he was scared of me." And Hayes began to cry
Archer turned to Reed and said, "Paul is Jim's son --"
"He's only six," Hayes interrupted, tears still tracking down his face, "he
doesn't understand. Maybe Roberta won't bring him back any more.”
This was almost more than Reed felt he could take. Everywhere he looked,
everywhere he thought, from the scars on his own body when he looked into the
mirror in the morning, to the lists of casualties in the news casts, to Major
Hayes acting out a cruel parody of himself with the shards of personality he had
left, everything was twisted and wasted and wrong. Reed again was moved to say
almost anything to Hayes, just to stop this flow of fear.
"Major Hayes, I'm sure your wife will explain it to him. I'm sure he's a very
bright boy, and he'll understand."
Hayes gulped and nodded, and then catching sight of something, he suddenly
reached across Archer and grabbed Reed's left hand. The Major's grip was as
strong as ever. The tears were stopping; something new had attracted his
Hayes gripped Reed's hand. "You ought to stop doing this," he said, "it won't
help if you have to keep on doing it."
"Doing what?" asked Archer.
"The exercise," Hayes said. "The exercise with your fingers and thumb." He
curiously examined Reed's hand. "I bet you think about him all the time, don't
Reed just starred at Hayes. Yes. Of course, it had been Hayes. Now he
remembered. In some strange way he had let Hayes share a tiny bit of his grief,
years before, by merely admitting to him that he had needed help. Hayes had been
a practical man and had offered him a practical solution. It hadn't worked
completely, or for very long, but there it was.
"What are you talking about?" said Archer.
Reed pulled his hand back and said to Hayes, "Yes, it doesn't work anymore,"
and acknowledging Archer again, "Something the Major taught me, years ago, on
the Enterprise. Just something. "
"Oh, right," said Hayes mischievously, "Yeah. A secret. Not for the CO. It
might make him worry. Like when we fought. God, that hurt when you kicked me.
But I got you back. Your face looked like crap for days." And he laughed.
Reed suddenly smiled and nodded, "Yes, you got me back. That was a stupid
fight, wasn't it?"
"You were being a real asshole," said Hayes. "But I'd been sneaky. I wanted
to really show you guys up. Make you pay attention to us."
"I know," said Reed. "I was an arse. And you were a sneak."
Then he asked Hayes, "Major? Is there anywhere around here where we could get
something to drink?"
"Oh, there's a coffee mess, just inside."
"Would you go get us some coffee?"
Catching Reed's drift, Archer nodded. And Hayes jumped up and ran off.
Archer said, "See, I told you it would be fine. He's less afraid now."
"You visit him regularly, sir?"
"Yes," Archer looked at the ground for a moment. "I owe it to him."
Reed thought, the tip of the iceberg. He said, "It's something you can repay.
The Major can use your help; he's still here. There are people we can't help
anymore. The crew we lost in the Expanse."
Please, he thought, agree with me.
Archer nodded. He said, "You shouldn't feel guilty, Malcolm. You did your
best, we all did."
Reed bit down on his anger and outrage. Don't bugger this up, he thought.
Don't get angry.
"But sir, the crews and officers that are coming after us, don't they deserve
to learn from our mistakes?"
"Your curriculum? For the new Academy?"
"It's a large set of coursework and drill. Practically a school by
"There's going to be a school of Engineering. Why not one for Tactical
"A school for warfare?" Archer said incredulously.
"For avoiding it, sir. And if unavoidable, for dealing with it in the
quickest, most appropriate way, so the real mission of Starfleet can go on. This
is the set of skills that can support the real mission: exploration. You can
make this happen, sir. People will listen to you. You've commanded; if you say
this would have made your job easier, more effective, with fewer lives lost
"I understand." Archer said, sighing heavily. "I'm just not sure, it's a
"Don't you think we owe it to them, sir? To the friends we've lost? This
'school,' if that is the best way to present these courses, it's for them. The
people who wanted to explore. And who had trained to be explorers, but had to
fight a war instead. This can be a memorial to them."
Archer was thinking. He was still with Reed.
"Sir, who? Who among those we lost on the Enterprise; who had the greatest
love of exploration? Who joined for that reason? Who was the most amazed and
full of wonder? Who wanted to make your father's engine take us out, out to
explore the stars?"
Archer had a moist look in his eyes. Reed steeled himself for the inevitable
hand on his shoulder.
Archer said, "I know you miss Trip, too, Malcolm. I know you feel guilty
about that ship getting away, but you shouldn't. You did everything you
Everything short of mutiny, Reed thought. Everything short of throwing you in
the brig and keeping Trip off that ship. I can't do this, Reed thought, his head
hanging, not looking at Archer now. He wanted to do nothing so much as grab that
hand off his shoulder and break every bone in it.
Finally, Reed looked back to Archer. He spoke softly, and he could hear his
voice shake a bit and he tried to keep his anger out of it. "Admiral Archer, I
know he was your best friend." Just keep going, Reed thought, tell Archer what
he needs to hear. "What Trip wanted to do -- exploration -- it needn't be put
aside or forgotten in either an effort to improve our defenses or our diplomatic
skills. Trip shouldn't be forgotten. Tactical Studies aren't 'for' the
tacticians, in command or in security. They are for the explorers. You want us
to explore. This will let Humanity do just that. And a school would be a
practical, undying memorial to those that we lost."
"A memorial for Trip?" Archer furrowed his brow. His tone was serious,
questioning, but somehow, positive. "Malcolm," he said, "the exact curriculum,
that will take experts, but do you think I could convince the committee?"
"Sir," Reed said, alight with expectation, "with your advocacy and the
support of the specialists I've already collaborated with, I know this line of
study can be added to the training in some way. Maybe not by the opening of the
Academy, but within a few years."
"The Tucker School," Archer mused aloud.
"To support the dreams of exploration," Reed pressed.
Reed could imagine Archer, asking for better security and tactical training,
asking for improvements, asking for lessons to be learned. The object lesson
personified. He didn't care what Archer thought. He didn't care if Archer wanted
to believe that he had been the best possible man for the job. If Reed and
Bromhead and Wojnar could get this training begun, none of the rest would
Suddenly Hayes came running up, slopping coffee everywhere from the three
cups he was gripping together.
"Hey, hey!" he shouted. "Something's happened! Something with the war!"
Reed saw that people were rushing into the building entrance. The three of
them hurried to join the crowd. The entryway was packed, but somewhere just out
of sight there was a monitor of some kind, and the volume was turned up on a
"… USS Columbia and the cruisers Baltic and Caspian are
in a 'stand-down' condition at the edge of the disputed border, fourteen
light-years out from Andorian space. USS Enterprise and a battle group of
frigates and support vessels are behind the lines, along with light cruisers
from Andor. The Baltic, commanded by Captain Saad Jabr, reported
approximately four hours ago, just received by Echo, that a ceasefire has been
negotiated with the Romulan fleet --"
The crowd erupted in excited conversation. As the broadcast continued, it was
revealed that a ceasefire had been announced and verified by other Earth ships,
as well as independent Tellarite merchant vessels that appeared to have been
mysteriously in the area. It was the first ceasefire in the three-year-old
Eventually it was obvious that any other news would be slow in coming, and
the crowd began to disperse. Back outside, Hayes could hardly contain his
excitement and ran to other patients and staff to speak to them.
Archer had a look of happy satisfaction as he said to Reed, "Perhaps the days
of exploration are going to be back sooner than we thought, Malcolm."
"I hope so, sir, but it's going to take a lot, I'd imagine, to get to the end
of this war. I find it hard to imagine real peace with an alien species who've
apparently destroyed every ship that’s come into their hands, and self-destruct
rather than be taken prisoner."
"Malcolm," said Archer, shaking his head, "you've got to learn to have some
level of trust. But --" he cocked his head, "perhaps it's best not to get our
hopes up." He let out a sigh, "I wish I was out there instead of Greenberg."
I'm terribly glad you're not, thought Reed. But on a certain level he
commiserated with Archer. Reed wished he was there, too. He hoped that this was
a good sign. He hoped Travis and Hoshi were all right.
Turning to Archer, he said, "But we have things to do here, sir." And he held
his breath waiting for Archer's answer.
Archer squared his shoulders and said, "Yes, you're right. The Tucker School.
How do we get started?"
A fire, a bright blazing fire was in his heart as Reed answered, "I suggest
you meet, very soon, with Captain Bromhead and myself. And ex-committee meeting
of the curriculum group just as soon as we can arrange one."
Archer said his good-bye to Hayes, but as he and Reed began to leave the
courtyard, Hayes called out, "Lieutenant! Lieutenant Reed! I want to talk to
you." And Archer went ahead.
"What is it, Major?" Reed asked.
Hayes earnestly asked, "Will you come back and see me, again?"
Reed was surprised. "Well, ah, I could, Major. Is there something you want?
Something you need here?"
"No," said Hayes in a small pitiful voice. "It's just. It's just. You're the
only one who's called me 'Major' in a long time. Everyone here calls me 'Jim,'
or even 'Jimmy.' I hate that. They all treat me like a little kid." Tears had
started in Hayes' eyes, and there was a catch in his voice.
Reed heard himself saying, "I wouldn't treat you like a child. You don't
Hayes sniffed loudly. He smiled at Reed and said, "Maybe if you come back we
can talk about the war; what's going on. We can talk about the force field work
It was hard to keep in mind that Hayes hadn't lost the knowledge he'd gained
over his life, just the judgment. Reed said, "I will come back and visit, but I
don't think I can do it very often."
"We can talk about the Enterprise," continued Hayes, headlong and chattering.
"We can talk about the people we knew, we can talk about what happened. The
doctors here, they don't want me to talk about it; they just think I get all
upset. It's like they want me to forget everything, just because some of it's
bad. That's stupid." And a worried, fretful look came over Hayes. "Do you think
Reed was silent for a moment, and then said, "No, Major, I think you're
right. There were good things, too." I don't want to forget them, Reed thought.
Even if it hurts, I don't want to forget.
It appeared that the ceasefire would hold, and a few days later Ensign Liu
decided it was a good enough reason for a party, and set one up in a public park
one evening after work. Reed had not planned on going, but after exercising at
the gym, he turned in the direction away from his apartment and toward the
place. As he approached the block of trees and lawns it was getting dark and
there was just a touch of chill. Reed considered that it was late enough in the
year for a jacket.
He heard the sounds of laughter, and could see the silhouettes of his
co-workers surrounding a small glow. This park allowed open flames most of the
year in special fire pits. They were gathered around one now.
Reed paused. Perhaps he shouldn't intrude. He had told Liu that he wouldn't
attend. He was very busy, arranging for the ex-committee meeting of the Academy
Curriculum group. Archer had agreed to most of the details Reed and Wojnar had
stressed. Reed was worried, but he had a good feeling about the effort -- the
first good feelings about it he had had since he had started this endeavor. He
couldn't let Trip down. It was too important.
A party seemed so frivolous. He had work to do. When he was busy, things
didn't hurt so bad.
Crewmen Bennet and Witlow came up on him in the dark. "Lieutenant Commander,"
Bennet cried out, "I'm glad you came."
Reed stammered a greeting and before he could say that, no, he wasn't coming
to the party, he'd taken a bowl of something fruit-smelling from her as she
awkwardly balanced it and a small cooler. The people at the fire heard their
voices, and called out to them.
"Come on! Everyone is here."
Reed found himself following the women, coming into the glow. It wasn't the
same. Maybe it would never be the same. The other hearths were not as cheering.
The fires were not as bright. But Reed thought that Trip would have busted him
down to a second class crewman if he'd just stayed out in the dark and frozen to
death. Maybe, slowly, Reed felt he might be able to get warm at these other,
lesser, hearths. The light of the fire still seemed a very long distance ahead
And he had work to do. Maybe making some light for someone else. Reed didn't
think he could ever do as good a job at it as Trip had done. But maybe he could
try. There were a lot of people freezing out in the dark. He should try to help
End of part 7.
Final Graduation (Part 8) is a
continuation of this story.
material is posted here with the author's express permission. Please do not
repost this material without permission directly from the author.
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