ENT WIP: Finding Home 2/? RS (R)

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Philippe de la Matraque

Jul 1, 2020, 12:39:24 AM7/1/20
Title: Finding Home
Author: Philippe de la Matraque
Part: 2/?
Series: ENT
Rating: R (for discussion of violence and torture)
Pairing: R/S light
Archive: Yes to Trekiverse.org, otherwise, please ask.
Contact: pdelam...@gmail.com
Web: http://gabrielle.sytes.net/Trek/stories/findinghome1.html
Summary: Sequel to Alien Us. Malcolm Reed barely survived to see to be
reunited with Hoshi Sato. But things have taken a downturn and now he
needs a new heart and a way to heal.
Author's note: I deliberately use italics like this *in text** just
because it makes conversion to HTML so much easier.

Star Trek: Enterprise

Finding Home
by Philippe de la Matraque
Sequel to *Alien Us**

Chapter Two

***Four months in the past****

*"Mother is bes--be--beside her," Madeleine took a breath, then
finished her thought, "herself." She had hoped the spell had passed.
The spells robbed her of the words to match her thoughts most times.
Other times, they muddled those thoughts altogether and only gibberish
came out. Mother had witnessed one of those. And then other times,
they made her body forget how to move right. Or rather, her brain
forgot how to control her body. She might simply freeze or she might
shake or she might appear to be seizing.

This latest spell had been that most common one. She had thoughts.
Most made sense to her, but she couldn't find the words for them. She
closed her eyes and took four deep breaths. Then she turned back to the
camera. "She fusses over me when she visits, and she visits more often.
I know it's only because she cares, but it makes me feel like a child
again. I don't want to feel like a child again. Not yet anyway. Maybe
not ever. I want to be me--grown-up Madeleine--for as long as I can.

"I admit that's a little less every week or so. Mother wants me to
move home. I don't. I have a nurse to check on me every day. She gets
an alert if something goes wrong, physically. And that's only happened
once. I fell. Lost my balance completely. One of my less frequent

The thoughts and words came easier now. "Our parents call every
morning. Probably to see if I'm still breathing. Mother wants me to
see another doctor every week, but they all say the same thing. The
tumor is growing, branching out, it's killing brain cells, and there's
nothing they can do. They don't know how long I have left as they had
never seen tumors like these until recovery efforts started in the Zone.
They suggest choosing one doctor who can monitor the growth of the
tumor over time."

She took another breath. "Maybe I should have joined the Navy in your
place. Father would have approved though Reed women don't have the
obligation the Reed men do. I might have been safer. But that wasn't
my dream for me. Architecture was my dream, the way Starfleet was for you.

"I wanted to build homes for families, grand buildings to
bols--bols--bolster the skyline. In my mind, that last one was
beautiful and elegant yet practical. But my mind was already affected.
I couldn't see the issues."

She had to stop or she would cry again. At times like these, she
needed happy things so she asked the computer to show her kitten videos.
New star systems, new planets, new cultures, and cat videos were still
the most popular thing on the net on Earth.

She particularly liked the ones where they were playing. She figured
five-week-olds were the cutest. Their proportions--bigger heads, little
cone-shaped tails, fur sticking out all fuzzy--mixed with their
not-quite-adult skills in movement and prey catching just overwhelmed
her sometimes. Six and seven-week-olds were still cute. Just not **as*
cute. She wished father had let her and Malcolm keep that one they'd
found outside. But Father didn't like pets. Cats were only good for
catching mice, and there were no mice to catch in their home.

Cats were also good for snuggling and playing and purring. But what
Father said was law growing up. And that thought reminded her of
Malcolm. Father had been unbending with Malcolm. Ever since the
incident, anyway. Before that, Malcolm was a happy big brother, basking
in Father's affection and guidance. He could swim like a fish, Mother
had told her friends. By ten, he could name every kind of ship and all
their specs. He was headed straight for the Navy.

After the incident, he changed. Father changed, and Mother always went
where Father led. Maddie was too young back then but she eventually
learned about post-traumatic stress disorder and therapy. She
appreciated the therapist she spoke to every week, especially now.
Malcolm was never given the chance at it. He was never the same.

"Computer, continue journal entry." The computer beeped in response.

"I know you have always hoped that Father would finally relent. That
you could gain his approval and affection again. But our father is
nothing if not rigid. Starfleet is not the Navy. Your fear of water is
a character flaw, something to overcome. It didn't matter that you
helped to save the world from the Xindi superweapon. No matter your
decorations. No matter any of it, because it wasn't the Navy.

"Make no mistake, brother. **I* am proud of you. **I* approved of
your choice to serve in Starfleet. I have proudly told my friends and
colleagues that my--my--my brother played a large part--and maybe I even
exager--er--rate--rated--in saving the planet. You, big brother, matter
to me. More so now that I am coming to grips with my mortality. I was
hoping to see you make captain someday. I think you will. I just won't
get to see it.

"Well. " She rolled her eyes, "Mother's at the door. End recording."**

Hoshi lay on her bed crying. Her quarters were too quiet. Her mind
was too quiet in the way that mattered most and too noisy in ways she
didn't want. She was back in Buftanis, separated from Malcolm by a
hemisphere. He was dying in a desert, and she was sitting in the snow
waiting to freeze to death.

Her door chimed and she didn't move to answer it. It opened anyway and
Phlox stepped in. "Hoshi, I can see that you're upset. Would you care
to talk to me?"

Hoshi took a shaky breath and sighed it out again. Then she sat up.
"I can't hear him."

He came toward her. "He's unconscious," Phlox reminded her, "and
perhaps too far away."

"I know, but it's too quiet."

"You're used to having him with you." Phlox sat on the edge of the bed
beside her. "He had that gift for most of the year."

She sniffed and nodded. "I think I loved him before that," she told
him. "Like I could look back and see all these times when he was good
to me even before the crash. Years back. When that telepath contacted
me, he took me seriously even when there was no evidence. After the
Reptilians, he tried to keep the captain from pushing me too hard."

"It is possible he could look back too and find he loved you then."

That made her smile. But she sniffed. "What if it's all just the
trauma we went through together? What if he gets better and finds he
doesn't love me anymore?"

"Think of this last year in that light," Phlox suggested. "Does that
ring true? Do you think if you heal enough, you will find you don't
love him?"

"It wouldn't hurt this much if it weren't real," she answered after a
few minutes.

"I have found that love can be very pleasant," he told her, "and
equally as painful. Can we talk about why you tried to commit suicide?"

"You worried I might again?" She looked over at him but he kept his
expression even. "He was dying," she explained. "We didn't know
*Enterprise** was coming. We gave up on that. There was no future
there, except as a slave and a science project. I had nothing to live
for except him."

Phlox nodded. "And now?"

"Now I know he's gone to Earth to get better. I can imagine a future
for us."

"With any surgery, there is risk," he suggested. "If the worst should

"I don't even want to think of that," she sobbed and turned away.
There was a deep ache in her chest. She turned back. "But even then, I
have my family. I have a future."

"I'm glad to hear it." Phlox laid a hand on her shoulder. "Would you
like to talk about what happened on Sharu?"

Hoshi had told Malcolm that it was important to talk about it. She
knew it was. She nodded. "But not yet. It hurts too much today."

"Physically?" He looked concerned. "Are you unwell?"

"I don't think it's that," she told him. She felt it was sadness and
loneliness and being without Malcolm.

But Phlox took out his scanner anyway. He waved it over her briefly
then snapped it closed again. "Emotional distress can have a physical
component. But try and let me know if something distinctly physical
should ail you."

Hoshi nodded. Then she started crying harder. She needed to be held.
"Can I have a hug?" she whispered.

Phlox pulled her to him and wrapped his arms around her back. "Of
course, you may. You suffered alone--physically alone--for a long time.
And I shall do my best, in the lieutenant's absence, to keep the
captain from pushing you too hard in this mission."

It felt good to have another person's touch, but it still hurt. So she
let herself hug him back and cry some more. She decided she'd work as
hard as she could, then maybe they could finish this mission quickly and
get back to Malcolm.

It was mostly a boring trip for Commander Charles Tucker III. The
Vulcans on this ship were particularly rigid. T'Pol had softened
somewhat during her years on *Enterprise** with a crew almost completely
human. V'Ret was the worst. Trip could hardly even look in on Malcolm.
He was sedated so V'Ret saw no logical reason for Trip to be there.
Malcolm had no need of him.

Well, he needed Malcolm. So he waited until V'Ret was off-duty and
went and sat with Malcolm for an hour or two each night, telling him
about his day. It didn't matter so much that Malcolm couldn't hear him.
He would have just been bored as well anyway.

Trip didn't particularly know how to read the displays around Malcolm.
But no alarms were blaring, so it seemed he was doing as well as
possible. Seeing him like that, though, brought back memories of him
when he had just been rescued and had very nearly died. He sincerely
hoped Starfleet Medical would find a heart for Malcolm before he himself
had to rejoin *Enterprise**. Malcolm didn't need to wake up alone on
the other side of that, and Trip didn't think he could be effective in
his duty wondering when his best friend would get his new chance at
life. He kind of felt guilty for that. Someone would have to die for a
heart to become available.

Sometimes, Trip called home to check in with his folks. He told his
mom some about Malcolm. She was always the one he felt he could talk to
about anything, but he didn't want to give too much of Malcolm's story
away. Malcolm wouldn't appreciate that. But he could tell her that he
was worried about his friend, that his friend was in really bad condition.

The rest of the time, he studied Malcolm's report on the stable force
field. Trip remembered why Malcolm had improved on Starfleet's designs.
He and the captain had been trapped by a web-like being. The force
field kept it from spreading or capturing any more people while Hoshi
and T'Pol worked out how to communicate with it. Malcolm would never
call himself an engineer, and Trip would never tell him so, but he was
smart and skilled enough to be one. Malcolm was very intelligent for a
guy who loved to blow stuff up.

It also reminded Trip that he had had a spell of telepathy while
trapped in that web. And that was trippy, to say the least. The
captain and he could think one another's thoughts. But Malcolm and
Hoshi seemed to do it differently. They communicated, told each other
stories. The captain hadn't had to tell him a thought for Trip to know
it. He'd love to ask Malcolm about it, but that wouldn't be possible
for a while at least. Not on this trip, certainly. Maybe after he got
that new heart and began to recover.

He was surprised when a crewman came to find him to tell him he had a
communications packet from *Enterprise**. *Enterprise** would have gone
silent an hour before. Trip told the crewman he'd take it in his
quarters and quickly made his way back there. Once the door had closed
behind him, he activated the computer and pulled up the packet.

It was a message from Hoshi. It had been sent out just over an hour
before, encrypted and attached to a sensor log of Malcolm tweaking that
force field in his Armory years ago. It took five minutes to
decrypt--he was working on a Vulcan computer after all--so Trip watched
the sensor log, impressed at how Malcolm decided the necessary changes.
His engineering professors back at the academy would have approved.
Finally, the message was decrypted.

Hoshi looked worried. And like she'd been crying. "Trip," she said.
"I forgot to tell you something. Something important. As Malcolm
starts to heal, they may send him home to recuperate. I don't think
that is good for him. I worry about his parents. He never said they
were abusive, but what he did say, well, something happened when he was
twelve. It left him aquaphobic. That changed everything between him
and his father. If his parents don't seem right to you, don't leave him
with them. Don't leave him where he can't heal. Hoshi out." The
screen went dark.

It made sense. Especially with Malcolm. It would be best if he could
leave the hospital environment as soon as possible. He'd be transferred
to the care of a hospital closer to his family and receive home health care.

Trip had felt like they were too hasty to take him off life support.
Had they just wanted to end his suffering, or was it something more? He
decided to call his mom. "Sorry if I woke you," he told her.

"I don't sleep as much as I used to," she replied. "Has something
happened to your friend?"

"No, no change in his condition, but a mutual friend called to say I
should be careful about his parents. I don't like them, Mom. I've
never even spoken to them, though, so maybe I'm judging them wrong."

"What don't you like about them?" She was off-screen but he could hear
her pouring boiling water. She came back with a mug of tea. "Decaff.
I'm still hoping to sleep a little tonight."

Trip felt terrible about that. She'd been having trouble sleeping
since the Xindi attack. "Well, early on, the captain spoke to them,
trying to find out what Malcolm's favorite food so he could surprise him
for his birthday. They didn't know. And he hadn't spoken to them in
two years. They didn't even know what post he had on what ship.
Captain said they seemed disinterested and kind of cold. Then I hear
Malcolm talk about his father from time to time, hoping he'll be proud
of him but kind of like he knew he wouldn't. And then, when we found
him and had him on life support...." He stopped to take a breath as the
memory of Malcolm not breathing in the cell ship rushed into focus. "We
weren't sure he'd pull through. His parents said to pull the plug. Not
in those words, but they didn't even want to see him. Phlox said it
didn't sit right with him but that it could simply be their way of

"But he didn't die," his mother said, drawing her eyebrows in
confusion. "He's on the ship with you."

"Right," Trip told her. "He just didn't die. He woke up. Captain
called his parents back to tell them the news. They were miffed,
thinking we'd gone behind their backs. They still didn't want to talk
to Malcolm."

"What more did you learn from this mutual friend?" she asked, sipping
her tea.

"She said something happened when Malcolm was twelve and it changed his
relationship with his father. She was worried about leaving him with
them to recuperate."

"Well, it does seem odd that they wouldn't know his favorite food," she
decided. "Even from before he was twelve. You loved peanut butter and
jelly sandwiches since you were five."

"Exactly!" Trip agreed, but he felt he should offer a counterpoint.
"But his dad is all Navy, retired admiral. Maybe he just ran a tight
ship, ya know. Eat what's in front of you and that's that."

"Could be," she said. "And it also could be that they wanted to
alleviate his suffering, though again, I find it odd they didn't want to
see him, before or after. If you were parked on death's door or just
backed out of that particular driveway, no admiral would dare get in my
way of talking to you. There could be something there. Maybe it's
where all his secrecy started. Parents weren't interested in his life,
so he thought no one else would be. Hide it. Why would they support
him now if they didn't then? But then, he's British, right. Maybe they
just don't show their concern, you know, stiff upper lip and all. Give
them the benefit of the doubt, but don't dismiss your gut. Hopefully,
they'll come to see him in the hospital. Try to be there when they do.
Then decide if your gut was right."

Trip nodded and yawned. On the screen, his mother yawned to. "Did I
bore you?"

Trip chuckled. "Naw. Nothing much to do on this Vulcan ship. Been
bored most of the day. But you yawned ,too. Maybe you should try
sleeping again. I love you, Mom."

"I love you, too, Trip. Try and carve out an hour or two for your
father and I when you get home, will you?"

"You got it. Should be there in two weeks' time."

"Goodnight, Sweetheart." The screen went dark. Twelve. What had
Malcolm missed out on from twelve on? He wondered what had happened and
what exactly had changed.

Madeleine Reed paced her living room. It had ben two weeks since her
parents had informed her that Malcolm hadn't died as expected. She'd
taken the news stoically for their benefit. But she was greatly
relieved. It had just seemed wrong that Malcolm would die before her.
She had to die. She had no say in it. The Xindi's prototype weapon was
still destroying lives like hers years after it had cut a wide swath
into the planet.

She stopped suddenly and stood still. Pain had flared in her head, and
stole away her thoughts. Her brain was no longer telling her legs to
move. Her knees buckled and she crumpled slowly to the floor.

She had no sense of time but when the pain subsided and her thoughts
returned, she was surprised to be laying on her side on the floor. The
device on her wrist changed from orange to yellow and back to green.
She knew it was safe then, to get back up.

Her computer chimed to let her know someone was calling. She went over
to it and pushed the button to answer.

"Madeleine, it's Darlene. Can you tell me what happened?"

Darlene. She always introduced herself like that, just in case
Madeleine had trouble remembering. It took a moment to place her as her
brain woke up fully. Yes, her nurse. The memories came back. "I was
thinking about my brother. Then I guess I had a spell. I woke up on
the floor."

"Are you hurt from the fall?"

Madeleine took stock. She'd been on her left side. No pain in her
leg or hip. None in her shoulder. "No, I think I'm fine. I'm green
again, see?" She held up the device on her wrist.

"That's good. Have you thought about calling your brother?"

That scared Madeleine. "What if I go red while we're talking? I don't
want him to worry about me right now. He nearly died."

"You normally stay green for at least an hour after a spell. If you
call him now, you should be fine."

She was still scared. "I've never called him on his ship."

"I'm sure he'd love to see a loving face right now. And I'm also sure
he's not real busy if he almost died."

Why hadn't she never called? She was an adult, no longer under her
parent's strict rules of discipline. "You're right. Of course. Thank
you, Darlene."

"You're welcome. I'll pop over in a couple of hours for your dinner.
Keep an eye on your wrist. It should show you when you change from
green so you have a little warning to get somewhere safe."

The screen flipped. She'd never been thinking to look at the device
before a spell hit. It just hit. The device was new. It was
synchronized with a small chip near the base of her skull. The chip
sent out information about her brain's functioning. Darlene and her
doctor received detailed notes. Madeleine got a color-coded indication
of her ability to think and move. Green was full cognition. Yellow
meant she had a hard time thinking her thoughts. In between,
yellow-green, was when she had those thoughts but couldn't find the
words for them. Between yellow and orange, she could potentially talk
but not make any sense at all. Orange meant she couldn't move right.
That's when she might shake but stay awake. Between orange and red, she
might freeze up entirely but still be awake. She had no thoughts in
red. But her autonomic functions still worked. She breathed, she
blinked. But as that red went dark toward black, it got dangerous.
Everything stopped at black. Too long at black and she'd be dead.

Darlene hadn't said which color this last spell had been but Madeleine
suspected red. Probably not black. She woke up after all. She didn't
remember anything she was doing beyond thinking of Malcolm before she
woke up on the floor.

Well, the device was green now, so she put in a call to *Enterprise.**
She expected the Asian communications officer to answer, instead she saw
an older man, an admiral. "Miss Reed, how may I help you?"

"I'm sorry. I must have made a mistake." She checked the device again
just to be sure. Still green.

"You called *Enterprise**," he said. "I'm sorry but she's on a very
important mission and can't take communications at this time. Perhaps I
can help you."

So it wasn't her. Good. "I wanted to speak to my brother. Lt.
Malcolm Reed. He's been hurt."

"Ah yes," the admiral said. "I don't know much about his condition but
I do know he's en route to Earth. I can put you through to the ship
he's coming in on though, if you like."

"He's coming here?" she asked. That had to be very bad. "Yes, please."

The screen changed to a Starfleet emblem and then to a Vulcan one that
changed to a Vulcan man's face. "I am Dr. V'Ret. How can I be of

A doctor. Good, he'd know about Malcolm. "My name is Madeleine Reed.
Lt. Malcolm Reed is my brother. I was told he was on your ship, headed
to Earth."

"That is true," the doctor replied. "He is sedated and will remain so
for the remainder of this journey."

"What happened? He hadn't died." She began to worry very deeply.

"He suffered a cardiac infarction. His heart cannot be healed and is
in danger of failing. It was determined he would be best treated with a
heart transplant. As he finds it distressing to be connected to tubes
and wires, we are keeping him under sedation."

Maldeline started to cry which must have flustered the doctor. "Perhaps
you would feel more comfortable talking to his human companion,
Commander Tucker."

Madeleine wiped her eyes and nodded. The screen went back to a Vulcan
emblem, then a light brown-haired man's face. He rubbed his eyes. "Can
I help you?" he asked.

"I'm Madeleine. Malcolm's sister."

He sat us straighter and blinked himself awake. "Madeleine, uh, hi.
I'm Trip. I'm his friend."

Madeleine smiled through her tears. "I'm glad he has you with him.
How is he, really?"

Trip sighed. "It's not good. But he's gonna be alright if he gets a
new heart."

She was tired of the mystery. Her parents hadn't said what was wrong
with Malcolm. Maybe they never even asked. "My parents told me he was
dying and then that he wasn't. What happened to him?"

"Maybe it would be better if you ask him, back on Earth."

She hesitated. Would she be around long enough to ask Malcolm? Would
she be in a state to do so? "I'm sick myself. I'm not sure they'll let
me see him. You don't have to give me all the details."

"I'm sorry to hear that. I hope it's nothing serious," Trip said. He
seemed like a nice person. "He was in a shuttle that crashed into a
pre-warp planet. It's complicated but it, uh, crashed a year in the
past. The scientists on the planet found him. They'd never seen a
human before. They, well, studied him. Invasively. Did experiments on
him. Things got real bad by the time time caught up with him. We got
him out but he was in real bad shape."

Madeleine was shocked. A whole year where his ship couldn't find him.
In the past. She felt a sinking feeling in her stomach. She'd been
feeling sorry for herself for six months. He was being 'invasively'
studied at the time.

"Hey, don't cry," Trip told her. "He's gonna get better. I'm sure he'd
like to see you while he's home on Earth. We should be there in twelve
days. He won't be much for conversation until after he gets that heart,
but he'll need people who care about him. Seems like you do."

Madeleine nodded. "I do. Very much. He's my big brother. Was he
alone all that year?"

"Well, no," Trip answered, looking a little uncomfortable. "Our
communications officer, Hoshi Sato, crashed with him. They, uh, got
kind of close down there."

"I remember her," Madeleine told him. "I talked to her years ago. How
is she?"

"Well, physically, she's better than him. But she had a rough time, too."

Madeleine rubbed her eyes. "Thank you for being honest with me. Is
she coming home, too?"

Trip shook his head. "Should be but *Enterprise** needs her for their
mission. I'll be there with him for a few weeks, then they'll ferry me
back to *Enterprise**."

Madeleine had a lot more questions but she could see he was tired. And
her device was changing color, fading toward yellow. "Maybe we can have
tea while you're here," she suggested. "I'll let you get back to sleep,
Commander. Good night."

"Goodnight," he returned. "And Madeleine, it was nice to meet you."

She smiled thin stopped the transmission. The device was definitely
showing yellow. She had a lot to think about but she couldn't trust
those thoughts. So she grabbed a PADD and jotted notes, questions,
ideas just in case she forgot, hoping she could make sense of them when
she was green again.

Darlene let herself in when Madeleine didn't answer the door. It had
only been forty minutes but Madeleine had gone orange again. It had
been a deep orange-red when she had fallen earlier. Darlene found
Madeleine safely lying on her sofa. Her eyes were open and blinking.
She had a PADD clutched in one hand. She didn't respond though, and
when Darlene turned over her wrist, she was met with a very red display.

Darlene checked Madeleine's vitals. She was breathing properly; her
pulse was strong and even. She would just have to wait it out. It had
taken ten minutes just to get to the apartment. She could see
Madeleine's eyes were wet, her cheeks tear-stained, and her nose runny.
Darlene grabbed a tissue and cleaned her up. She lifted the PADD and
began to read.

"I talked to your sister last night, Malcolm," Trip told him. Malcolm,
of course, did not reply, seeing as he was unconscious. "She seems nice
enough. She's pretty, too, and worried about you. Maybe your family
isn't as bad as I was making them out to be. But maybe you'll have to
tell me. I don't want to leave you with them if they won't help you heal."

"If you must insist on talking to an unconscious man..." V'Ret's voice
started him from behind. "...you can at least do something useful."

Trip turned to face the doctor. "I didn't think you'd be up and about."

"Ordinarily, I would not," V'Ret admitted. "But Dr. T'Sol was feeling
unwell, and it is time to check on our patient."

"How can I help?" Trip asked. He was a bit surprised V'Ret even
suggested it.

"I will assign you his hands. He is unable to move them. Left alone,
the muscles will atrophy and the joints stiffen. Bend and straighten
each finger." He demonstrated with one of Malcolm's hands. "Fifteen
times each, three times each day."

Trip nodded and took Malcolm's other hand. "I can do that." Malcolm's
wrists were still held in splints, and Trip knew that Malcolm could only
move the last two fingers on each hand. Hopefully, that, too, would be
fixed on Earth.

At present, Malcolm was lying on his back. They occasionally rolled
him onto one side or other to prevent bed sores. V'Ret untucked one leg
from under the sheet and began to bend and straighten it. For all his
brusqueness, V'Ret was taking good care of Malcolm, and Trip appreciated

"His injuries would indicate a traumatic incident," V'Ret said,
apparently making conversation. "I had not considered that you, too,
may have been traumatized by what was done to your friend."

"Because I'm an emotional human?" Trip asked, being careful to keep his
tone conversational. He wasn't trying to accuse the doctor. Rather, he
was testing the waters, so to speak.

"Even Vulcans can suffer traumatic stress," V'Ret replied.

Trip was aware. "I found him. Me and Lt. Woods. I don't think I'll
ever get that image out of my head."

V'Ret moved to the other leg and Trip to Malcolm's other hand. "You
may never. Though with counseling--and your friend's recovery--you may
find its power diminishes."

Trip nodded. V'Ret wasn't so bad after all. "Thank you," Trip offered.
"For letting me help."

"You may visit as often as you need," V'Ret told him as he covered
Malcolm's exposed leg again, "so long as you know when to get out of the

"Of course." Trip was quick to agree. V'Ret checked a few details on
the screens and, finding them satisfactory, he left the room.

"Turns out he's a good guy," Trip told Malcolm.

Madeleine looked at the notes she had made on the PADD the day before.
She found it on the kitchen counter. She'd forgotten all about it.
Darlene had told her she had been red for at least thirty minutes. She
was very concerned. Madeleine was as well, but she was also rather
pessimistic about the whole thing. There wasn't anything they could do
to change it or treat it. And she wasn't going to get any better.

Darlene had fixed her dinner then sent her to bed to rest. She'd
stayed the night. But when Madeleine had stayed green right through
breakfast, she convinced the nurse to go home and rest herself.

Some of the notes made no sense to her now, but a few stood out.
'Malcolm vivisected' was one. Trip had said he was invasively studied.
That was vivisection. It appalled her. She knew that before medical
technology had advanced to view bodies virtually through X-Rays, Cat
scans, and MRIs, an alien who found himself on Earth might have had a
similar fate. But this was her brother.

Another note stood out: 'My heart.' Despite her terminal illness, her
heart was fine. Only her brain was affected. The note scared her a
little, but it also excited her. Her own death had been looming over
her for half a year. It had seemed such a waste. Her life was really
only getting started. She was realizing her dreams then bam! All that
had come to a dismal stop. What would she accomplish but an almost
life? She was almost successful, almost a builder of magnificent buildings.

Her death would mean nothing. She'd be just another statistic, another
victim of the Xindi. But this could mean something different. She
could make her death mean something. Her body was fine. She could help
Malcolm and maybe others. Malcolm needed a heart, and she had one she
wouldn't need much longer. Someone else may needed a kidney. She had
two good ones. Organ donation had been going on for centuries. She was
shocked she hadn't thought of it sooner.

The part that scared her was the certainty. It came as something of a
relief but it also meant she couldn't postpone facing the fact that she
was definitely going to die. It was the transition that scared her.
The point when she went from being still alive to no longer existing as
a person.

The idea of helping her brother outweighed that fear. That transition
was going to happen anyway. Not donating her heart wouldn't change
that. But it might mean Malcolm died, too, or had to wait for another
heart to become available. He'd suffered longer than she had at this
point. He shouldn't be made to suffer longer just because she was
scared of the moment of dying.

The door chimed. She checked to see who it was. Mother was on the
other side of the door. Madeleine turned off the PADD and tucked it
between the arm of the sofa and the cushion, then she opened the door.

Mother kissed her on the cheek. "How are you today, Madeleine dear?"
she asked as she set her bag down on the kitchen counter.

"I feel good today, Mother," Madeleine told her. It was half-true, at
least. "I tried to call Malcolm last night. I spoke to his friend."

Mother's lips tightened and she looked away. "How is your brother?"

"Not good," she replied. Father wasn't here. She wanted to know how
far Mother's concern went for her only son. "He said Malcolm had been
studied, invasively, after crashing on an alien planet."

"That sounds unpleasant," Mother said. "You shouldn't focus on such
dreadful things. It can't help your depression."

"He's my brother," Madeleine argued. "And I may be depressed, but I'm
dying so I have good reason to be."

"You shouldn't talk that way," Mother replied. "They may find a cure
still. Some of the best researchers are trying to find a workable

"I was catatonic for thirty minutes last night, Mother." Madeleine sat
down at the table. "One must also be practical."

"Why don't we go out for ice cream," Mother suggested with a small
smile as she sat down opposite Madeleine.

"We'll have to order in," Madeleine countered. "I can't take the
chance of collapsing on the street." She had both arms on the table
which is how she caught the change in color in her peripheral vision.
She abruptly stood and went to the sofa. The pain was just starting to

"What is it?" Mother asked. Her voice was laced with panic.

Madeleine held up her wrist. She was yellow-orange and it was still
changing. She squeezed her eyes tight with the pain in her head.

When she opened her eyes again, Mother was placing an ice pack in her
kitchen towel. She brought it and held it to Madeleine's forehead. "My
poor baby," she cooed.

As the device's display changed to dark red-orange, Mary sat beside her
daughter and pulled her over to cradle her head in her lap. She cried
and studied Madeleine's slack face. "Come back to me, Madeleine. Don't
leave." But the device stayed orange-red. The door chimed but Mary
didn't leave her daughter to answer it.

Darlene, Madeleine's nurse, entered and quickly crossed to the sofa.
"It doesn't seem to be going any deeper," she commented after checking
Madeleine's wrist. "Did she see it coming?"

Mary nodded. "Why can't they help her?"

"I'm very sorry, Mrs. Reed," Darlene told her. "Everything we've ever
learned about cancer just doesn't apply to these tumors. As some
patients are dying, they are donating their brains to the research.
It's still a long way out, but we may find something someday."

"Too late for my daughter." Mary stroked her daughter's hair.

"Hard to say," Darlene replied. "We can't even offer a timeline. Just
that her symptoms will become worse and more frequent."

Madeleine twitched. Darlene checked the device. Orange and getting
lighter. "She's coming out of it. This was a short one."

"I don't know how you can say that so easily," Mary accused. "They're
all terrible. She loses herself."

Darlene put a hand on Mary's arm. "I understand. She's your daughter.
I like Madeleine, I really do. But I have to see these things

Madeleine heard them talking and recognized they were talking about
her. She brushed her mother's hands away and tried to sit up. Darlene
helped. She wanted to say something but she couldn't form any words.
She flopped her wrist over. Yellow-orange. "Pl--plea--please," she
finally said. "Wat--"

"Water!" Mother recognized it. She left and returned with a glass and
held it to Madeleine's lips. Madeleine got a hand on the glass and
helped tilt it so she could rink. She pushed it away when she had enough.

"Love you, Mother," she managed. "But go now. I--better." She stood
up straighter. She grabbed Darlene's hand.

"How can I leave you?" Mother asked, caressing her face.

"I want to talk." It was getting easier now. "Darlene."

Mother bent down and placed a kiss on Madeleine's forehead. "Alright.
I'll be back tomorrow."

*Maybe I won't,** Madeleine thought.

Mother left. Darlene didn't pull her hand away but she sat on the sofa
beside Madeleine. Madeleine used her other hand to retrieve the PADD.
"I've had an idea."

"Maybe you should discuss this with your parents," Darlene said after
Madeleine told her she wanted to donate her heart to her brother.

Madeleine held up her wrist. "Green. I know what I want. My parents
would only try to stop me."

"You can't be sure of that," Darlene said. "He's not just your
brother. He's their son."

"I don't normally air my family's dirty laundry in front of others.
But my parents don't love my brother."

Darlene wasn't sure she heard that right. She glanced at the device
just to be sure it wasn't a glitch in Madeleine's speech. "Why would
you think that?"

Madeleine sighed and stood up. "Reed men are Navy men. Have been for
centuries. Malcolm was destined for it. Father was so proud. Then,
when I was eight and he was twelve, three bullies held his head under a
fountain until he drowned."

"That's awful!" Darlene stood, too. "Someone must have saved him."

Madeleine nodded. "But he was left with a severe fear of water, of
drowning. He could no longer swim, no longer even stand on a pier. He
couldn't fathom the Navy." She started pacing. "And once that sunk in,
my Father withdrew his love, his affection and swapped that pride for
disdain. Again and again, he tried to force Malcolm to face his fears
and overcome them. When he didn't, or couldn't, Father saw it as a flaw
in his son. When Malcolm said he was joining Starfleet, well, they may
as well have disowned him. He turned his back on family tradition, a
capital sin for a Reed man."

Darlene opened her mouth but couldn't think what to say. It was
appalling. She decided to change the focus to the PADD Madeleine was
holding. "You wrote that he was vivisected."

Madeleine nodded again. "Studied 'invasively.' Isn't that what it is?"

"Yes," Darlene agreed. "It's been years. He's a hero. Maybe they've
forgiven him."

Madeleine stopped and faced her. "Three weeks ago, after my brother
was rescued and on life support, they ordered that he be removed. They
didn't even want to see him. Mother told me. Just as clinically as you
talked about my spells. Honestly, I don't think they'd approve of my
donating anything to anyone, but least of all my brother."

"I understand he needs a heart," Darlene said, hoping to test
Madeleine's resolve. "It doesn't have to be yours. You, obviously,
care about him. He could use you after the transplant. You could spend
time with him."

"Eleven days," Madeleine said. "He won't reach Earth for eleven days.
I could be dead in eleven days."

Darlene blew out a breath. "You know you'd have to be dead to donate--"

"Of course, I do," Madeleine snapped back. "Still green! What
difference does it make? The end is the same for me. Eleven days or
eleven weeks, I'm still going to die. But if I can help him, and maybe
others, well, then it's not all for nothing!"

Darlene felt she still needed to offer counterpoint, to help Madeleine
be sure of this course. "You won't see him heal," she reminded her.
"He'll learn eventually that you're not there anymore. It adds grief to
everything he's suffered."

"He'd grieve anyway. I'm still going to die." Madeleine sat at the
table. "But this way I know when it's coming. I can leave him a message
to let him know I wanted this." She looked up at Darlene. "Please,
help me save my brother."

Darlene took the chair beside her. "I've been wanting to ask you
something similar, actually."

Author's Note: I deliberately stayed in Madeleine's POV there in the
last scene, even when she had no POV. I never got the "camera" into
Mary or Darlene's head so I kept it all in one scene until Madeleine was
able to recapture her POV. And look at that, I pulled this journey where
Malcolm is unconscious all the way to Chapter 3 without him.
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