"Long Time Gone"

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

E-mail: batfic400@yahoo.com
Part: NEW, 1/1
Rating: PG. (P-13 category added by Li)
Betas: Quiz Mistress.
Archive: Any houseoftucker, Warp Five Complex, EntST*. All others request please.

Summary: The Temporial Cold War was won. Do we know how? Will we know?

Disclaimer: Characters, places, and various incidents belong to Paramount. No monies were requested or received for this fiction.



The first time Trip Tucker remembered the small yellow room with the sloping ceiling, he had been stuck in sickbay for a long, boring afternoon. It was about a year after Enterprise came out of the Expanse. Engineering was installing new amplifiers for the main electrical supply trunk and someone had allowed the winch to drop very rapidly. With his foot under it. The protective toe and arch guard in his boot kept his foot from being sheared away; several bones broke. It was easily mended, but the bones were weak for hours.

He'd been lying with his foot propped up, warm and bored, and a little drowsy. He thought, I'm glad we've got the regenerators. On medication alone it would take a week at least, just like when I broke my leg.

And then Tucker realized that he couldn't remember breaking his leg, but he did remember the room he stayed in while it healed. Very small. The single bed. Malcolm had slept on the floor at night. During the day the little curly-headed girl would come and sit against that one wall where the chimney came up from the kitchen below. And Tucker knew that was why she sat in that spot: because it was warm.

It wasn't a room that he recognized. There were no electric or chemical lights. There were no radiant heaters in the floor or walls. There were no COM ports and no computer terminal. There was a scratchy wool blanket on the bed, the stub of a candle on the window sill, and a ceramic pot with a tight-fitting lid under the bed.

Where was that room? What happened to the people he'd known there? The little girl didn't speak, although she looked to be about four years old. Voices came rising up from the kitchen. But they weren't English-speaking voices, and they weren't translated by UT. Why couldn't he remember how he got there?

For reasons he didn't quite understand, Tucker told no one about the strange memory until about a week later. He'd been eating with the Captain. Crewman Mueller, one of the science specialists (geology, maybe?) was working his swing shift in the galley and brought them their meal. And it was that combination, the steward, the name, that suddenly made Tucker ask Captain Archer the question.

"Cap'n," he said, "when we came out of the Expanse, back to Earth; didn't some of us have to go back more than the one time? You know, back where Daniels sent us?"

Archer looked up, startled. He was silent for a few moments, and then said, very quietly, "Trip, you know that we've been told not to discuss that part of the mission. It's a bit too sensitive. And Starfleet --"

"Never really believed us anyway." Tucker finished. It was a sore spot, and would always be one. They both were silent then, and ate a bit more, although Tucker was starting to feel nauseated.

Finally Archer said, with concern in his voice, "Why are you asking me that, Trip?"

"Because I remember the mission, what we had to do, really clearly. But then I remembered -- something else -- a while ago. But I don't remember anything before or after it. It's like a, a scene out of a play, just dropped in my mind. I know all about what's going on in that --place. But nothing else. It's Earth. It's a long time ago. It's a place I've never been."

"But you think you were there? It's not a dream."

"No, Cap'n. It was real. A real place."

"Is it just the one place?

Tucker nodded.

"Trip," Archer said, "You're going to have to trust me on this one. Be glad it's just the one place."



One day it had been very cold. Usually the room was a barely adequate temperature from the heat that came up through the floor and walls from the kitchen. But the wind must have been blowing, because both Tucker and Reed were freezing.

After Reed helped Tucker that morning and then got him back into the bed with both his own blankets and ones from Reed's vacated bedroll, the armory officer disappeared to the kitchen. He came back later with a small metal box and a length of tin tubing. Mrs. Hogerhaus came with him. She seemed to agree that the room was too cold. Reed, with guidance coming from her, removed a plate in the wall covering the kitchen chimney and set up the little tin stove. Malcolm fed it with wood and shavings and then added a few more substantial sticks.

During the day, as she had before, his little visitor came in, and sat down on the floor by the stove. Tucker tried not to speak to her, except for the few words in Dutch that he seemed to have been taught -- maybe by Hoshi -- and a smattering of words he'd picked up. Reed had warned him that the uniforms they'd been in when the accident occurred had been burnt. But the less contact they had with the Hogerhaus family the safer it would be for them, and for Reed and Tucker.

The little girl played with the bits of kindling, and watched him with her round dark eyes. She was a charmer. Tucker motioned her to give him a flat piece of wood, maybe an old shingle, about the size of his hand. He took out the pocket knife -- had the quartermaster made it for him, just like the RAF flight suit and uniform? -- and began to carve on the wood. More to pass the time that anything else. When the knife got dull, Reed had to show him how to sharpen it. He'd never had a knife that got dull before.

Mrs. Hogerhaus was astonished how rapidly he was healing. But she didn't know, and couldn't be let known, that Reed had given Tucker the bone-knitting medication they had in their emergency packet. In another week, Reed and Tucker would get out of there, do what they had been sent back to do, and everything would be right again.


After Now.

Tucker couldn't leave it alone. He asked Malcolm Reed about it, because he remembered, or rather, his memory included Malcolm in the same room. He told Reed what he remembered, and what Archer said.

Reed kept on servicing the pistol he had partially disassembled as he listened to Tucker describe the room. He was quiet for so long Tucker thought that Reed was going to refuse to talk about it at all. They were not supposed to discuss it, even among themselves. Jonathan Archer was right about that.

Finally, Reed said, "Were the people Dutch? A woman in her late thirties? The man a bit older? There were daughters, and then the little dark-headed girl, the orphan?"

"You remember something, too, then?' asked Tucker.

Reed just nodded. "I don't remember the room you describe, but I remember some things."

"Like what?"

Reed twisted up his face as if he really did not want to talk about it, but would, at least a little.

"Trip," he said. "Do you really think we were traveling in time when we got back to Earth?"

"What else makes any sense? That sure as hell was a real P-51 shooting real bullets at Travis and me."

Reed nodded. "What if it hadn't worked? What we did. Remember, we had to affect things before they happened. Do you think we could have gone back, farther? Influenced other things to cancel out things that went wrong the first time?"

"But if we fixed something the second time we went back, would we have ever had to have tried to fix it the first time? And would we remember it?"

"That's a good question, Trip. And I'm not smart enough to figure it out."

They argued about it, very quietly under their breaths. They could come to no good explanation.

They finally decided to let it lie. Everyone wanted them to forget about it. Tucker was willing to try.


The Earliest.

The older man, the farmer, Mr. Hogerhaus, had examined his leg when they first had brought him into the small yellow room, lamp light casting huge shadows on the walls. Earlier, Tucker couldn't remember where, but he remembered the agony, Reed had split the leg of the RAF flight uniform up past Tucker's knee, set the break and splinted his leg with thin planks of a snow fence he'd found and pulled down. Hogerhaus had nodded in agreement over the rough first aid. They had then gotten Tucker out of the uniform -- more pain -- and wrapped his leg tightly in a bandage while Tucker grabbed hold of the headboard and Reed whispered once or twice, "Hang on, Trip. Almost done."

He had finally slept like the dead after Reed carefully slipped him another pain killer. When he woke, one of the older Hogerhaus daughters brought him some thin broth. His leg ached like a summabitch, now. Tucker knew that when it started to itch, he'd be in the clear.

He felt horrible, but he knew that some of it wasn't his leg. It was the utter feeling of hopelessness. They had thought they had saved their planet, the Human race. And instead, it seemed that nothing was saved.


Much Later.

Tucker hated California. At least this part of the state, near the old Edwards Air Force Base, where he was now living with his family and running his own consulting design firm. Janet had grown up around here. She loved the high desert. She'd been so familiar with resources, available facilities when he was starting the business. Even engineers in the area who'd like to work with him. It had seemed natural to start the business here.

"You'll love it," she'd said. "It's hot, just like Florida. But it's a dry heat."

People always said that like it was a good thing. Tucker loved humidity. A steam bath was his idea of relaxing. He didn't mind stewing in his own sweat for a reasonable period. Like seven or eight months out of the year. Now he turned up the humidifier in their house whenever he got the chance. Generally in between Janet turning it back down.

Now, he did love watching the kids scramble around outside. His "desert rats" he thought. Tough little guys, both of them. Smart as whips. Tucker thought John Malcolm was bound to do something technical when he was older; it was the way he looked at things and asked questions. Charlie was a bit less analytical, but hell, how could he tell yet? His oldest was only seven.

But my, they did tire him out sometimes. And Janet, too, sometimes. He sometimes thought he'd waited too long to retire from Starfleet and start a family. He loved his wife half to death, but damn, she could sometimes get so, well, silly on him. She'd get upset over the strangest things, like breaking down a cycle engine on the dining room table with the kids helping. He'd put down a drop cloth. Or that whole thing with T'Pol.

Janet had known how close he kept with the people he'd served with on the Enterprise. He'd retired to start a family, not retired to rid himself of all his friends. She knew that he sent a lot of COM messages, and she'd met a lot of them at the wedding. She knew most of them by sight. But Tucker should have realized that one night, early on in their marriage when Janet had asked (after a really fantastic lovemaking session, too; that should have tipped him off) about "women he'd known before."

Well, hell, he'd heard about some of Janet's old boyfriends. It hadn't bothered him any; he'd been the one she cared enough about to want to marry. He should have known better. Hearing a few names of people she never knew didn't bother her at all, but oh, the look on her face when he said that name. Mistake. Mistake.

"The Vulcan?" Janet had said in a voice that was just a few bat screeches short of an industrial grindstone. It had taken weeks to get through that. And it still popped up from time to time, even though he was sure that he'd convinced his wife that he and T'Pol had known almost immediately that this was something that wouldn't work. Sex wasn't love, and hell, sometimes it wasn't even really sex, if you defined "sex" as something fun and joyous and worth repeating.

It wasn't that it had made Janet so mad and maybe a bit jealous on some level, when it was all said and done, it was that tone in her voice that bothered Tucker. It surprised him that his wife had had a touch of disgust in her voice. That she thought a Human and a Vulcan together was somehow -- unnatural, like he'd admitted to lusting after farm animals, or something. Tucker didn't dare ever return to the subject. He loved Janet. She was a fine mother, a wonderful woman. He was lucky to have her. He didn't like to think that she had that level of prejudice. Tucker didn't like to remember that he had once felt, at least something, like that himself.

So one summer when he thought he'd dry up and the wind would carry his fifty-five year old bones tumbling out over the salt pans, when he'd just lost a bid to work on a new project that he'd been drooling over ever since he saw the Request for Proposal, when the kids had decided to declare unending hatred toward each other, and when Janet announced her sister was coming to visit, that little message from T'Pol was the steamy Florida sunrise Trip Tucker had been waiting for.

"I will be attending a conference in Washington, District of Columbia, for one week and I have considered staying and touring the area. I've heard quite a bit about its history and cultural sites. Have you ever visited there yourself?"

"Just once when I as a kid. It is a really interesting place, 'specially the things that date back before the War. Real pretty, too. I'd love to see it again."

"It is obviously a location known for historic collections. Commander Reed was quite voluble on collections of military and historic interest available for a visitor to examine."

"He's still at Jupiter Station, isn't he? The Nike is still there while the engines are being upgraded?"

"That is correct."

"I wonder if he has any leave available. It might be fun to try to have a little reunion."

"I was unaware that three people could qualify for the definition of a 'reunion.'"

Tucker was sure the three of them could manage it.


Back then; long before.

Tucker felt useless. He knew that the dates were in their favor. But he was mortified that he'd managed to injure himself and jeopardize everything. Lying in a bed, putting Reed and these poor primitive people (Tucker couldn't help but think of it that way) at risk.

Reed had urged him to just rest and try not to worry. "We've got all the time in the world," he said, smirking. In some ways Reed almost seemed to be enjoying this. But then he was active, helping assemble some clothing that wouldn't attract attention, concocting reasonable explanations as to why their rescuers hadn't been able to find any of the other "downed" bomber crew. And most importantly, finding the way they'd have to leave the village and get to the occupation administrative office, where Malcolm would get them in the building and Tucker would use the radio equipment. Tucker was the one lying in bed, a dead weight, with his leg itching like a thousand ants were crawling on him.

He whittled to pass the time, but pretty quickly started to make a toy for the little girl. He'd had one like it when he was little; his grandpa had made it for him. Just a little four-bar mechanism; two pieces of wood that slid past each other, passing through uprights. 'Course a kid didn't care about that; the important thing was that the figures looked like something. A man and a bear, chopping alternately at a piece of wood. She came a little closer to the bed each hour, watching his hands. She might not talk, but she was a sharp one, Tucker thought.

Making the toy kept his hands occupied. When he gave it to her, finished, the next day, she didn't say anything, but she tried it out. She grinned, a sweet little smile, when she made the "axes" click hard on the "log." He knew that she understood what it was supposed to be; everyday Tucker could hear kindling being split outside the house, outside the little yellow room.

Tucker began, with Reed's help, to get up on his feet and try to put a little weight on the leg. The next day, he could gingerly pace around the room. The Hogerhaus husband and wife were amazed. And eight days after he'd entered the yellow room, it, and the Dutch couple, and the little girl who looked so little like them, vanished as soon as he stepped outside the room and left it.


Later still.

Washington was still beautiful. And in June, it was blissfully humid. Tucker could feel his pores soaking up the moisture, even as T'Pol occasionally complained about "a stiflingly thick atmosphere." Reed said he didn't mind it. "It's got nothing on a monsoon."

T'Pol's conference was about planned Federation responses to a rebuilding effort on a recently joined system, Yandar. They were coming out of a period of intense interplanetary warfare, and had come far on their own. But she said that a great deal remained before they might be able to renew faster-than-light technologies that they had temporarily abandoned. That certainly sounded interesting enough, but relayed second-hand in T'Pol's intensely technical description, Tucker felt like he hadn't missed much.

Tucker had gotten them two rooms on the same floor in a nice hotel south of the Capitol building, toward the river. Reed looked a bit annoyed when he found out that Tucker had the two of them sharing a room. "If it's a problem, we can get a third. Damn, the idea was for us to all visit, not for you to pick up a date to entertain. T'Pol and I are old married people, after all." A bit formally Reed answered that sharing a room would be fine, but Tucker caught a glimpse of his friend buying a set of ear plugs in the hotel shop.

It was great to catch up with the two of them, to hear small bits of the events of their lives, some things too inconsequential to have been put into messages or calls. Tucker sometime thought T'Pol and he were starting to bore Reed with too much talk about spouses and children. But he claimed not to mind. Tucker was surprised to hear how much a certain female Andorian weapons officer, now a Federation liaison, came up in Reed's conversation.

Touring the city was a diverting backdrop to their conversations. The rebuilt city had kept its low-rise, garden-filled atmosphere. On Capitol Hill, not far from their hotel, the large public buildings looked just like old historic photos, even though they were reproductions, less than a hundred years old. The city museums were still world- (and even Federation-) renowned, even though a lot of the nineteenth through twenty-first century collections were only noted briefly, with holographic reproductions and brief descriptions on placards. Much of the old Air and Space Museum had been lost, but there was still a section devoted to pre-warp craft.

Tucker did not find it terribly surprising that T'Pol was interested in seeing the original documents of the American Constitution. She announced it "an amazing document, with striking parallels to the Andorian Code of Freedom," and the public guard was so taken by her interest that he called in a security request to the master security office, and they temporarily lifted the polarizing force field so the three of them could examine several pages with only the environmental screens in place. Later, her equal interest in a collection of antique dresses was surprising.

The three of them toured the museums, galleries, and gardens by day. At night they took turns picking different styles of restaurants, both Human and extra-terrestrial. One night they went to an open air concert, and T'Pol suggested one evening that she had to "perform specific toiletry functions" on her hair, and left the men to visit several bars.

Toward the end of the week, Reed talked his friends into a side trip up into Pennsylvania to see a nineteenth-century battlefield. They were certainly less interested than he was, but it was a cooler day, and T'Pol wanted to see "typical temperate-zone rural landscapes." The area was beautiful, although Tucker could have done without Reed's happy insistence that they walk the route of the rebel army across a boulder-strewn field and up an exceedingly steep, heavily wooded hill. Then they had to climb even higher and work their way back down in the opposite direction, to recreate the defender's actions. I'm too old for this, Tucker thought.

As they rode the train back to the city late that afternoon, T'Pol remarked on how much of "history" was tied up in battles, conflict, and even subjugation.

"Do you mean Human history?" Tucker asked, a bit defensively.

"Not necessarily," T'Pol answered. "Vulcan also has its battlefields. The one we just visited can, at least, be said to have been part of a war that had a definite initial cause, perhaps even a laudable one involving a nation freeing itself from the institution of slavery, as opposed to merely dividing into two weaker nations with one retaining that method of economics."

"It was still a god-awful war," said Tucker.

"Civil wars are always the most horrid," Reed suggested. "Just look at the one the Yandari are recovering from. T'Pol, you've described how terrible that was."

"Yes," said T'Pol, "it combined both a civil war and elements of a racial genocide. Very barbaric and cruel.

"In fact, I was interested in visiting a museum in the District of Columbia, precisely because of my work with the Yandari. I hesitated to mention it because I was unsure of your interest." She gave her two Human friends an opened-eye, appraising look.

Tucker shifted a little uneasily and looked over at Reed. "You mean the Twentieth Century Genocide Museum?" Trip asked. "It's not exactly the most pleasant place to visit, I guess. When I was a kid we had curriculum they'd developed on the Eugenics Wars."

"So did we," said Reed. He looked over to T'Pol, sitting facing the two men. "I don't mind going along. The twentieth century was a fascinating time period. It's hard to believe Humans made such technical advances when our behavior was so barbaric to each other. The beginnings of the exploration of the Solar System and the first two world wars."

"Yes, an intriguing juxtaposition," said T'Pol. She turned toward Tucker. "But it is not important that we visit the collection together."

"No," Tucker protested, looking out the window into the dusk dimmed countryside spinning passed, "let's do it. Ah suppose it's something all Humans ought to see. Yeah, Ah'll go, too."

Tucker felt a bit uneasy about visiting the museum. He knew there were exhibits covering the whole grim catalog of violence of one group of Humans towards another, but the Enterprise crew's involvement with the mid-twentieth century made those particular genocidal spasms somehow more personal. Not that he or any of his crewmates had seen that aspect of the Second World War during the strange and disturbing visit they had made into the past. But he supposed that Reed and T'Pol weren't concerned.

They didn't go out for a big meal or do anything after a quick supper together at a café between the train station and their hotel. All three of them were tired. Reed and Tucker cleaned up in their room and spent a good half hour ranging through music selections to find something both of them wanted to listen to. They chatted briefly. Reed read an article from Energy Weapons Quarterlybefore climbing into his bed and wishing Tucker goodnight. Tucker turned out his light as well and silenced the music but lay awake for a long time.

The next day was heavily overcast and very hot, so that when they went into the museum, the air conditioning was downright uncomfortable for a while. The central hall of the building was lit by natural light coming through a glass roof, but the various galleries were dark and narrow, claustrophobic.

The twenty-first century had dimmed some of the horrors of the previous hundred years, but the death and destruction Nazi Germany had visited on the outsiders within its own population and those of its conquered territories still was a gruesome nadir in Human history. The other periods and incidents still did not touch it. Galleries had exhibits that touched on those other atrocities, but the core of the museum's collection was still the attempted destruction of all European Jewry.

T'Pol said, "But other incidents resulted in more deaths -- the Japanese occupation of China. Or more interethnic conflict -- the Khmer Rouge. You could even make the case that other conflicts exhibited more disinterest from the rest of Humanity -- the Turks in Albania."

Staying in front of a graphic that showed levels of administration for concentration camps, Tucker countered, "You're right, T'Pol, but there's something about what the Nazis did that just is almost too vile to compare with those other things. Just look at how much calculation they put into it. This didn't start with the some battle, or some crazy orgy whipped up by politicians or priests or somesuch."

Reed said, "There's something about the logistical care, the passionless planning, and --" here Reed hesitated before continuing, "-- the logic behind it, that made the Nazi attack on Jews and others so horrific. It wasn't a wild attack. It was a careful plan."

"So if six million beings were wiped out in a blind fit of rage, it is different than if it were carefully considered?" T'Pol asked.

Reed said, "Think about how technologically backward most of the twentieth century was, T'Pol. Random, semi-spontaneous events couldn't kill that many people. We Humans really had to put our minds to it to achieve that." And he gestured to a display of photographs of what was found in the camps when they were liberated.

They had now reached the galleries showing the most brutal and horrific evidence. An actual train car used for transporting the detained, an iron gate from one of the concentration camps. There were models of killing chambers, photos of those worked and starved to death. But perhaps more disturbing were exhibits that helped define a mindset that those in power had had, and the mindset those in the chain of command had followed. There were several piles of artifacts, taken from death camps, and grouped, as they had been by the camp guards, for reuse.

Once Reed had been hiking through the forest in Sabah and had found the hoard of a bower bird. Dozens of collects bits of trash, common in their shiny silver finish: wrapping film, metal foil, bits of broken metal plated rubbish, coins. That's what these piles reminded him of. Here was one of clothing, another of leather shoes, all deteriorated by age with mold and dust. There was a bin of eyeglasses, and another of brushes: hairbrushes, toothbrushes, clothing brushes. It was as if some demented, thieving lunatic had stolen these things and carefully hidden them away. But no, he could imagine guards, carefully instructing people to deposit their belongings in these bins. The calculation of it was stunning and sickening.

T'Pol suddenly came up behind Reed. "Mister Tucker has left."

"Left?" Reed scanned the room. "Did he say anything?"

T'Pol seemed concerned. "I approached him. He was quite -- agitated. He said that the temperature was uncomfortably low and he would be waiting for us outside."

"Agitated?" asked Reed. "Did he seem unwell?"

"His respiration was high, but not abnormal. I am concerned."

"Then we should go find Trip."

When they did not find Tucker immediately outside the building, Reed suggested they walk toward the Mall. They found him there, sitting on a bench under some trees, in shaded, but still stifling heat. His head was bowed and he did not see his friends until they were close beside him.

"Trip," said Reed as he sat down on the bench. "What's wrong?"

T'Pol sat at the other side. Tucker shook his head from side to side, but at first said nothing. T'Pol reached out and took his hand in hers and Tucker gripped it tightly. Then Tucker sat up straight, his eyes squeezed shut for a moment, before he turned to her, and then to Reed, a look of utter despair on his face.

Finally, he spoke. "Ah'm sorry. Ah must be getting old an' -- silly -- ta be this upset by it. You don't need ta worry about me. Ah'm sorry."

Reed was relieved that there didn't seem to be anything physically wrong with Tucker. He did not seem to be flushed or chilled, although there was a slight tremor to his movements, and he seemed to be on the verge of tears. Reed said, a bit embarrassed, "Trip, you don't need to be sorry. It's a pretty horrible display." And Reed sat a bit closer, as if T'Pol and he might be able to give Trip some emotional support by their presence.

T'Pol said, "A strong emotional reaction would not be unusual for a Human. And the power of sentiment varies widely according to age, mood and circumstances." And then as the thought struck her, she asked, "Have you called your wife and children?"

Tucker smiled a bit and said, "Well, T'Pol, you're gonna have me thinkin' that Vulcans are mind readers. Ah did call Janet; got her outta bed. Why did you think ta ask that?"

T'Pol looked at Tucker gravely, placing their clasped hands on Tucker's knee. "Because after seeing those displays, I too, find it frightening to consider anyone I may know or care for might be similarly threatened. Illogical, thought it may be, in this time and place."

Tucker seemed to calm somewhat. "Maybe Ah just ought to go back to the hotel for the afternoon. I'm feeling pretty tired. You two were talking about going out to visit that fort, downriver. Why don't you do that? We can meet up for a late supper, when it gets cooler."

It was agreed, but T'Pol suggested that Reed meet her at the water taxi, and take Tucker back to the hotel. He protested most of the way, although he could not shake Reed's insistence to make sure he got to the room.

"You two are treating me like Ah'm some kinda old fossil."

"Trip, just relax, T'Pol is just giving you a chance to speak to me privately if there's something wrong."

Tucker did look for a moment as if he was going to say something more, but decided against it. So Reed merely clasped the other man about one shoulder at the door of their room and said, "Just rest a while, Trip." And the other man nodded before closing the door.

Reed returned as the sun was on its slow summer dip to the horizon. He was surprised to find the room full of that slanting summer light, and the humid heat of the outside. Trip had somehow managed to get the window opened. Trip was standing there, looking out, and clad only in his briefs.

"I finally got comfortable. The air conditioning was too cold."

"Are you feeling better now?"

Trip nodded. He seemed somehow resolute.

Tucker turned to Reed and spoke. "I saw something at the museum today. That's what bothered me."

"What was it?" asked Reed, and somehow he was ready for almost anything.

"Something I made."

Reed looked around the room, looked at Tucker again, and then crossed the room and closed the drapes at the window. "You need some exercise," Reed said. "Get dressed. I'll call T'Pol and tell her that we'll see her at breakfast in the morning."

They did not speak again until they were outside, walking at a steady pace toward the Mall with it's shaded pathways and the massive buildings on either side. They stopped at one corner of the reflecting pool, the Capitol Dome, flooded with the light of the setting sun, rippling in the surface.

"All right," said Reed. "Tell me about it."

Tucker shrugged a bit, and perched himself on the edge of the pool. "Aren't you being a little paranoid about taking us out of the hotel to hear this?"

Throwing his head back in exasperation, Reed said, "Trip! We're not supposed talk about what I know you're going to talk about. This is a measured response. I can either assume the warnings Starfleet gave us to be null and void and we can speak anywhere, or I can assume that even here, in an open, public plaza, that time-traveling squirrel assassins are listening to us, and the moment you speak, we'll both find ourselves at the bottom of the Potomac!

"Now, for goodness sake," and he reached out and took Tucker by the arm, "tell me what is troubling you."

Tucker nodded and reached out and clapped Reed on the shoulder. "Let's walk," he said.

As they slowly walked along the emptying pathways, Tucker began.

"Do you remember me asking you, years ago, about a room in a Dutch house, and my leg being broken?"

"Yes, I do. I told you I didn't remember the room, but I remembered other things about that place, even though none of that fits into what we remember as the mission when we got back to Earth in the hold of Aquatic Xindi ship."

"Do you remember a toy? A wooden toy I made for a little girl in the house?"

"It was of people chopping wood?"

"Not quite. The figures were a man and a bear. But you do remember it?"

"I remember her playing with it in the big kitchen, and Frau Hogerhaus asking her if 'Cousin' made it. They told the children that we were visiting cousins, even though the older girls 'knew' we were Allied airmen." There was a long pause. "Trip, do you think you saw that toy in the museum?"

"Yeah," and his voice broke. "It was in one of those big bins. The piles of stuff the camp guards took offa' people they were about to gas to death."

"How can you be sure it was the same toy?"

"I made it. I know.

"But what I don't understand is how something we did, even showed up in history -- real history. It all should have been fixed, as if we'd never even been there. That's why I asked, you, Malcolm, all those years ago, how it was that we remember this stuff."

They were walking toward the west, squinting into the sun on the horizon. Reed said, "Trip, I still don't have a good answer for you. If we did perform more than one mission, if we did go back into time -- more than once, I don't think we ought to be able to remember it.

"But, that's not what is bothering you."

"Hell, no! What's bothering me is knowing that we messed up that family. That somehow, we got them turned in to the Nazis, and that little kid, maybe all of them sent to the gas chambers. That little girl -- the orphan -- they were takin' care of her, if she was hiding there, hiding with a non-Jewish family, and they all got arrested --"

And Tucker stopped still on the path and covered his face with his hands. Malcolm looked around in the twilight and took his friend by the arm and led him to one of the park benches lining the pathways. They sat there silently for some time.

Tucker clutched his arms about himself and rocked forward on the bench. "I can't imagine what I'd do if I lost one of the kids or Janet. For a while I thought I was goin' crazy when 'Lizabeth was killed. Sometimes it still hurts so bad, but, at least it was probably quick. It just makes me sick, Malcolm. What if they died? What if that little girl died -- that way -- because of us? Because they took care of me while my leg healed up?"

"Trip," Reed started slowly, "it was horrible what happened back in history, what people did to each other, but even if that was the toy you remember making --" Tucker shot him a look that said it was. "Even if that is what you saw in the museum, you don't know that it was there because that child at the house was put into the camps. And you don't know if she died there or if she survived. But it's not something we'll be able to ever be sure about."

The two men sat together and Reed desperately wanted to rid his friend of this aching worry.

He said, "That kind of calculated death, Humans killing Humans, that can't happen anymore. It won't happen anymore. Because the Enterprise kept an even worse history from becoming real. We kept that horror from becoming the template for the rest of Human history."

Tucker was still for a moment. Then he slightly slumped forward. "I suppose you're right," he said. "But it's just so damn horrible. It was a shock to see it there, just for an instant. Then I just ran away from that display an' I had to get out of there."

"So you only caught a glimpse of it?"

Tucker nodded.

"Then maybe it wasn't even what you thought it was. You were uneasy ever since we decided to visit the museum, but I didn't know why. Is it possible you were already thinking about your memories when you saw the wooden toy?"

Tucker considered this, and finally said, "I -- I really thought it was the toy I made."

"Maybe it wasn't."

They walked back to the hotel and stopped in a little noodle shop and got something to eat. As they were getting ready for bed, Reed asked, "What if I went back there, early tomorrow, and check? You don't need to see all that stuff again. Let me go back. If I can clear this up, it would make our last day together much more enjoyable."

Tucker agreed. He called his family again and spoke to both the children, even getting the namesake of Reed and Archer to tentatively speak over the COM. When the lights were put out, Tucker fell asleep immediately. Reed lay awake and could hear him breathing.

The next morning they shared their breakfast table and Tucker and T'Pol thought a visit to the Arboretum would be pleasant because it was cloudy and a bit cooler. Reed agreed, and suggested that he meet them at the entrance where the bike rental was. He had something to do first. Tucker and Reed exchanged a glance that T'Pol noticed, but merely raised an eyebrow at.

Reed walked through the doors of the museum as soon as they opened. He went straight to the last gallery they had visited, and to the bins of the collected belongings. He was the only person there. He found the one Tucker must have been looking at: a miscellany of personal effects, small medicine bottles, pencils, nail files, newspapers, dolls, most blackened with age and decaying away. He spotted it fairly quickly, although it was smaller than he remembered. It was the toy Tucker had carved from wood. Reed could clearly remember the small hands working it. There was a man, in a billed cap, the outlines of clothing only slightly hinted at, and across from him, a bulky animal shape with a stub tail and ears. The man's axe was down resting on a small knob of wood. The bear's axe had been broken off.

Reed could imagine an adult hand pulling the toy from those small fingers and tossing it into a pile, the child being pushed toward a line of people being forced to surrender their clothing. He felt frozen. He had hoped that Tucker had been wrong.

He was starring down at the toy when a museum worker appeared at his elbow. The older woman's shirt bore a tag with the name "Ruth" on it and "Conservator" in smaller letters.

"I don't mean to pry." She said. "But you were looking so intently; is there something I can answer or explain?"

"I was looking at that toy," Reed said, gesturing.

"Ah, yes that sort of thing is always heartrending, isn't it? It makes me angry, and I've worked here for twenty-five years."

"There don't seem to be environmental controls on these items?" Reed said.

"No. Many individual artifacts are preserved in that way. But these --" and she gestured over the piles in the large display. " -- many years back it was decided to just let these sink in on themselves, go back into dust, so to speak." She gave Reed an appraising look. There was still no one else in the gallery. "Would you like to see it, close?"

"Yes, if that would be all right."

The woman pulled a pair of gloves from her pocket and slipped them on. She went to an unobtrusive cabinet on one wall, unlocked it, and removed a long probe with a gripper on one end.

As Ruth reached over the clear partition surrounding the artifacts, Reed said, "This is my first visit to Washington. I noticed placards explaining how the early collections at some museums were destroyed in the War. Did this one lose anything?"

"Actually, no. The building wasn't in the fire zone. And," she glanced over her shoulder at Reed, "someone might want to loot a museum of jewelry, gems, ancient paintings or pottery. No one wants to steal these things." She carefully grasped the toy with the gripper and pulled it up and to them. She held it in her gloved hands for Reed to see.

"Yes. Very sad. And look. Just picking it up, this piece has come loose from the other. So very dry. That's odd …"


"Well, I'm very familiar with this period of European history. When you first pointed this out to me, I thought it was an eastern European toy. Bears appear in many toys, but this -- I'm not sure I've seen this design before."

Reed said nothing. Ruth glanced to him for some assent, and she turned and reached down over the partition with her own hand and placed the toy on the pile. The one piece slid away with a dry clatter, out of sight completely. The other piece tipped up and became lodged under a broken umbrella.

"Thank you, Ruth." Reed said.

"I appreciate people still taking an interest," she said. "One day, most of this will just disappear into dust."

Good, thought Reed.


Mark … Now.

Reed met T'Pol and Tucker. They had not been waiting long. Reed checked one of the bikes out of the locker facility. He came up to Tucker and as he bent over checking the bike controls, Reed said quietly, "I saw it. Trip, it wasn't the one you made. This one had a bear and a fox; their heads would have nodded when it was new." When he rose up the look of relief on Tucker's face was like a salve on a burn. "We still don't know what happened to that little girl." Reed said.

"Ah know," said Tucker, dashing the back of his hand across his eyes. "But it still makes me feel better. You don't know how much better, Malcolm."

T'Pol's interest in particular sections of the wood and gardens was always couched in technical terms, but watching her lift her graceful face toward the dappled sunlight coming through the leaves overhead, it was hard not to imagine that she wasn't "enjoying" the arboretum on a basic emotional level. She was still beautiful, both the men thought, as they watched her riding. She looked only slightly younger than either of them now. Her eyes had a craze of wrinkles at the corners, her hands looked a bit worn. But as they continued to visibly age at a much more rapid pace, she would only slowly mature. She'd see them both to the grave. Reed actually found it a comforting thought, especially as he had no children, that a friend would definitely be around to help arrange things and see him out.

The arboretum was beautiful and lush, and even though the most spectacular displays of spring blooming shrubs had ended, there were still many flowering plants, and of course, towering specimen trees, many of them hundreds of years old. Tucker thought he'd never get enough of the green. He wanted to soak it up before going back to California. He'd let little things, unimportant things get him down back home. He couldn't wait to see the kids and Janet again.

Reed had never particularly minded life on board a starship. But he enjoyed the life of this wood, the green growing plants. He tried to consider that all this was living matter, all around him. And it was here, and now. It was concrete; he could reach out and touch it. He could feel confident that it was really happening now.

He hoped Trip could forget about the little room again. That seemed to be the only thing he remembered that was out-of-place in time. That was good. Reed mostly tried to keep his own stray memories tucked away. The Hogerhaus farm was actually pleasant. The farmer putting him to cutting wood; the wife handing him a bowl of bread and thick creamy milk as he sat by the fireplace. Trip's fall -- that was a bad memory. Reed certainly had had the training, but setting a compound fracture had been frightening as Trip tried to keep from making any noise. The other memories were much worse, though.

The Polish forest, so cold that trees were cracking like explosives as the cold burst their trunks. The bullet hit him before he even heard the report. He had been paralyzed, lying facedown in the snow. He couldn't feel T'Pol's hands when they tried to lift him. The sound of German voices off in the distance.

Walking through the streets of the city at night, looking for Archer. The air raid sirens. And then the fire bombs falling out of the sky.

And Daniels and the Captain. Telling him what he had to do as he finished fastening the buckles and buttons on the ill-fitting uniform. He had to go into the meeting room, and find a brief case under the main table. All he had to do was move the case from one side of the table to the other, behind the heavy table leg. He walked through the door of the briefing room -- and then he was back again, with new memories. He was screaming at the Captain and Trip and T'Pol were trying to hold him back. Do you know who was in that room? he remembered yelling. Do you know if I'd left that bomb where it was planted it would have killed him? Why did you ask me to do that? Why? They'll find out and kill the conspirators now! It's all my fault! He would have been dead; the War would have ended years earlier!

They rode the bikes through the pathways in the forest. At one point Trip and T'Pol began weaving their bikes from one side of the path to the other, never colliding, but slipping by each other, playing. Reed's memories folded in on each other. The true ones, the false ones, the ones he had to live with. Reed did understand why Trip felt so much better.


Feedback? Comments? Thanks! Drop us a few lines: tm_comments@gmx.net

Three people have made comments

This was a truly wonderful story. This seems so plausible, considering how the end of Season 3 went. And the last part, about the bomb, taking a piece of real history and incorporating it was such a neat touch. *applauds*

I never felt a need to make a comment before, (even though I've read everything on this site, and a few others) but that was smart, deep, powerfully calm wile unnerving. I could practically see the museum exhibits. WOW...... just wow.

um.. wow, powerful imagery, i could see that little room with the child. playing with the toy. bet it wuda been beautiful.

i love the way you analysed the nazi era and compared it to other event throughout our history.

we truely are a destructive race aint we? glad theres people like us out there that despice it. I found the way you wrote this to be amazingly heartfelt.

thanks 4 posting it.



T*M Home :: Image Gallery :: FanFiction :: Miscellany :: Bulletin Board :: Contact


Content by Li, wychwood and sky-fits-heaven unless otherwise stated. Part of the House of Tucker.
We don't own Trek; Paramount does (please read our disclaimer).