Author’s Note: Thanks to Captain Average for the beta, DebC and Medie for convincing me to give the show a second chance, encouraging me to take a chance on this fic when I first typed it up late one night…and for making sure I restored Trip to his proper rank. (Oops.) 😉 And to the Mad HaTters’ website–before I visited your page, I couldn’t see myself supporting any pairings on this show or writing fic for it…and then I discovered Trip/Hoshi. Written and set during season 1 of Enterprise.
Every now and then, she needed the illusion. The escape.
It was strange, Hoshi reflected, as she stepped into the hydroponic garden. At home, on Earth, she’d always been a city girl. Sure, she loved the out-of-doors, but there were certain things she could never stand to be too far away from. Regular facilities, for one. Or even more important, a library–preferably one stocked with lots of books in a variety of languages. Plus, she didn’t do well with dirt–there were too many creepy-crawly things that lived in dirt and not all of them were as benign as her much-missed Sluggo had been.
But in spite of all that, out here, surrounded by technology and modern convenience, the height of human achievement…sometimes she needed to be here among the earth-born plants and dirt to forget that the solid ground beneath her feet was hurtling through space at warp speed.
Maybe it wasn’t modern conveniences or the lack thereof at all. Maybe it all boiled down to the same thing–she was just chicken.
Taking a deep breath, Hoshi sighed and found her usual seat. Closing her eyes as she sank down, she took a deep breath of the naturally-recycled air. Going planet-side on an away mission just wasn’t the same–the plants and the air didn’t smell right.
She’d only been sitting for a few minutes when she was surprised by the sound of the doors parting. She opened her eyes just in time to see Commander Tucker come around the edge of the leafy plant that served as her favorite hiding place. He fell back a step when he saw her.
“Sorry, I didn’t know anyone was here,” he muttered, embarrassed. “I’ll just…”
“No, it’s okay!” Hoshi interrupted quickly. “I always come here when I need a place to hide. It’s good for that.”
One eyebrow shot up. “And what exactly makes you think I’m lookin’ to hide?”
I know I would if I’d been forced to humiliate myself in front of the entire ship, she thought sympathetically, but said nothing. Instead she just looked at him.
The blush started at his ears and spread inward. “Okay, yer right. I’m hidin’.”
Hoshi smiled, tipping her head to indicate that he should have a seat beside her. “This one’s tall enough that if you sit down nobody can see you from the doorway.”
“So I noticed,” was the amused reply. He plopped down beside her and ran one pensive hand through his hair. “So…what are you hidin’ from?”
She hesitated. Commander Tucker was the one who’d persuaded her to stay on-board because of the “grand adventure” they were on–she wasn’t sure how he’d take it that she still wasn’t “adjusted.”
A sideways glance at him, though, made her reconsider. He’d been forced to reveal what could’ve been the most embarrassing secret of his life to the entire crew. If anyone could be trusted with such a secret right now, it was him.
“Reality,” she admitted. “I’m hiding from reality.”
“Meanin’ what exactly?” Trip frowned.
“Meaning, in here I can forget where I am for a little while. I’m getting used to being out here,” she hurried to add, “but sometimes I still need…”
“…a break?” He nodded. “Understandable. Though if you ask me, you’re doin’ damned well, considerin’ how much you didn’t want to come in the first place. Lotta people in your position woulda turned tail and run by now.”
“If it makes you feel any better, so would most men in yours.”
The chief engineer looked over at her. “I did turn tail and run. Soon as I could, I did.”
“You had to do what you did,” she argued. “A starship is no place for a child, especially a child of a species we barely understand. How would you have known what to feed it? Or how quickly it would grow, when it would hit puberty? Or what to do when it did?”
“She. What to do when she did,” he corrected. A look of unexpected loss came over his face. He sighed. “I still feel like a deadbeat dad.”
Hoshi frowned. For someone who was supposed to be gifted at communicating, her attempts at comfort were sure falling flat. Maybe she should just stop trying, before she shoved her foot any further into her mouth.
Unfortunately, said mouth didn’t seem to get the message from her brain, because suddenly she heard herself saying: “Well, look on the bright side. You now have an insight into the female psyche that most men would give anything for.”
“Not if they knew what it involved,” he retorted. Blue eyes turned to fasten on her. “How do you do it? When Cap’n Archer and the Doc started talkin’ about delivery and post-natal responsibilities, I freaked out. I can’t even imagine goin’ through my whole life knowin’ all that was somethin’ I might have to deal with one day.”
Hoshi shrugged. “Well, I’ve never had a baby so I can’t say for sure, but…I guess it’s like what you told me about this mission. It’s an adventure, an adventure unlike anything else you can ever experience. And there may be some parts of the adventure that will be painful, maybe even scary, but it’s worth it.”
The Commander’s eyes were thoughtful and a little sad as he nodded. “I’ll have to remember that.”
A pensive silence fell between them as Trip let his eyes drift to the opposite wall. He turned back a few minutes later.
“You didn’t laugh.”
She frowned. “Huh?”
“On the bridge. Everyone else was just bustin’ up–I think even the Cap’n was holdin’ back a smile even though he already knew, but you didn’t laugh. So, unless you’re part Vulcan, I figure there’s gotta be a reason for that.”
Hoshi grimaced. “When I was in high school…I had a friend who got pregnant our junior year. It changed her life. The baby’s father didn’t want anything to do with her after that, so she had to drop out of school, get her GED, and start working to support them both. She never even got to attend our senior prom, because she didn’t have a senior year.”
“So I guess you could say I didn’t laugh because I knew it wasn’t funny.”
“So why didn’t she–?”
“Have an abortion?” The linguist smiled. “She fell in love with the baby. She couldn’t give him up. And she never once regretted having her son, but I could see the other regrets in her eyes. Things she knew she’d lost forever.”
“Forever…” he echoed, his own voice uncertain.
Another silence followed, again broken by Trip.
“I didn’t just come here ’cause of them,” he confessed, nodding towards the exit. “Part of it…well, part of me kinda wonders ‘what if,’ y’know? What would it’ve been like?”
“To have the baby?”
“To be a father…mother…whatever the hell I woulda been to her.”
“You’ll have another chance someday,” she offered.
He snorted. “Not like that.”
Hoshi fought a smile. “No…probably not.”
“I think I miss her. Hell, I don’t even know what her name is gonna be. I could run into her years from now and never even know she was…almost my daughter.”
The young woman shook her head. “You’ll know.”
“You think so?”
“I’m sure of it.”
The Commander sighed again. “I woulda called her Estella. Latin for–”
“Yeah.” He grinned at her. “Guess you would know that, wouldn’t you?”
Hoshi smiled. “Especially since that’s what my name means. In Japanese.”
“Well I’ll be damned.” Trip smiled again. “Maybe I woulda named her after you, then.”
The Ensign dropped her head, feeling her own face begin to warm in the beginnings of a blush. “Thank you.”
“You’re a brave woman, Star. I know you probably don’t believe that, but you are. Courage ain’t about not bein’ scared, it’s about bein’ scared and facin’ whatever you’re scared of anyway. And you’ve done that just ’bout every day since we got out here.”
The color in her face deepened, both at the compliment and the nickname.
“And you’re a brave man, Commander. Some men can’t handle a girlfriend’s pregnancy–their own would probably cause a complete mental breakdown.”
He laughed. “Well, if it’s all the same, I think next time I’ll be happy to do things the human way.”
“Just so long as you promise to remember,” she told him. “Remember what it’s like to be in that position and make allowances accordingly. Trust me, the mother of your child will be eternally grateful for it.”
Hoshi mentally kicked her imagination, which had suddenly decided to wonder if it meant anything that he looked straight into her eyes when he said that. Just because most women would give anything to have a man who understood pregnancy didn’t mean she should suddenly start fantasizing about this one.
Who’s starting? a smug little corner of her mind piped up.
Standing abruptly, she gave the chief engineer an awkward smile. “Well…I probably ought to go. I want to take another look at the Universal Translator, make sure it recorded the Xyrillian language properly.”
It was a weak excuse, but it was the best she could come up with when she was having a mild panic attack over the direction her thoughts were taking.
Trip looked confused, but nodded. “Okay. Think I’ll stay here for a while, see if I can’t clear my head a little more.”
You’re not the only one who needs to clear your head, Hoshi thought wryly. “It was good talking to you, Commander.”
“Trip. If we’re gonna be confidantes, call me Trip.”
He smiled again and she smiled back. She couldn’t help it. “Thanks, Star. Thanks for helpin’ me put a few things in perspective.”