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Title: Unbreakable?
Category: Angst, Drama, Tragedy
Rating: R
Summary: When the unbreakable breaks, everything else begins to shatter as well.
Author's Note: This is what the notice about the WARNINGS is all about... it's a damn dark piece, even by my standards. The rating is there for a reason, and I strongly suggest you do NOT read this unless you take this into account. The song lyrics that formed part of the basis for the plot of this story are at the end.
And contrary to "popular" belief, I did not write this with the intent of doing what I have done to either Trip or Malcolm... I wrote this to work off personal problems that I would otherwise have dealt with in a self-damaging manner. Take this notice as you will.

We've been in the Expanse for all of three weeks. Three weeks, and sensors haven't picked up so much as a hundred-year-old piece of space debris. Three weeks, and already it feels as though we've been out here for three years. Three weeks, and all of a sudden it hit me like a cannon in the arse.

I haven't seen Trip outside of engineering, the armoury or the bridge in over two weeks. This... well, over the past year, at least, it feels as though there hasn't been a single day when he hasn't barrelled his way through the mess to join me for meals, even if once there conversation flounders or is even non-existent. I've become so accustomed to his presence that when it came to me this time, I was surprised that I'd missed the absence, thought nothing of it.

But of the... the seclusion itself, I still thought nothing. I suppose I was all too aware of the touchiness of the subject of Elizabeth, his younger sister, who had died when the Xindi weapon razed through Florida. He didn't like to be reminded of it - understandable enough - but at the same time he seemed to expect everyone else around him to be at least, I suppose, sub-consciously aware of both the relevance of Elizabeth's death and at the same time that it was taboo.

He wanted comfort but refused to acknowledge why he needed the comforting. And for his friends, us, it was Catch-22 time.

To an extent, I think Trip dug his own grave, but we never saw the spade or the topsoil dislodged during the digging. He dug his own grave but instead of dying and staying there, he seemed to just... just be content with sitting on the edge of it and dangling his legs into the precipice beneath him. All the time never knowing if - or maybe even when - he was going to take a tumble and disappear down the rabbit hole forever.

But in the beginning - looking back, I can see now that there was a beginning - it wasn't so much a tumble down the rabbit hole as a crumbly edge. There would be mornings that Trip would show up a few minutes late on the bridge or in the new command centre down below decks; nothing more than two or three minutes later than the rest of us, but it was just enough to be noticeable to the rest of us - and again it was something silently attributed to the death of Elizabeth and the strain of the new mission combined with each other.

Then there were... episodes in Engineering. I'd go down there with the intent of finding Trip to discuss the armoury upgrades and the repercussive effects they would have on ship's systems in general. I'd arrive down there and immediately one of the lieutenants would be in my way - either Hess or Bathurst, usually the latter - and try to fob me off with excuses. Commander Tucker's busy, they'd say, or he was out of communication range at the moment, working in an access tunnel with no handheld communicator with him, that sort of thing.

Complete plausibility.

Except that internal sensors from the confines of the armoury would reveal that Trip was nowhere near any of the places his team said he was. Some days he was in his quarters, some days he was in obscure places in the deepest bowels of the maintenance conduits and passages. Again I never thought too much of it, that he was just overworking and maybe didn't feel much like talking to other people for the time being.

And then there was Trip himself. Problems within his department, all stemming from him. I only came to know about this particular detail through my own department. Several of my armoury rotations have especially good pals down in the engine room, and it doesn't take much for people at my end to talk amongst themselves - it takes even less for me to pick up on what's going on. Through the Alpha shift ensigns I learned that there were... altercations between Trip and various members of his team. Trip losing his temper with some of the ensigns and enlisteds over minor, even unimportant things. Trip demanding higher and more extensive workloads from the teams. Trip reaching the point of only coming into Engineering some mornings; the others, which became more and more frequent, he would do everything from his quarters - rotas, schedules, the lot.

Even given Trip's circumstances at the beginning of this mission, the growing friction between the engineers themselves was perhaps too much, which was when things came to the attention of Captain Archer. A man already pissed off with the fact that we had so far achieved about as much as a team of adventurous snowmen in the fiery pits of Hell. Going nowhere fast in what was virtually uncharted space, and then the captain learned that his chief engineer - and a friend of ten plus years - was, well, beginning to rip things apart at the very seams of Enterprise. Starting with the chief engineer himself. And quite understandably, the captain was more than just a little pissed, although all that had happened so far was a little less camaraderie down in Engineering.

And being the kind of captain that he was, he called a senior staff meeting in the command centre. Minus Trip, of course.

I was the last person to arrive, for no other reason than there were a series of fluctuations in one of the new torpedoes' targeting systems which needed addressing and sorting out. By the time I arrived at the meeting, the captain was already pacing.

Not a good sign.

"I said oh-nine-hundred exactly, Lieutenant," he snapped at me, completing a circuit of the small room. "You're late."

Somewhat taken aback by this, I cited the torpedo and the need for perfection, and he seemed appeased. But only a little.

Archer completed another round of the centre. "It has come to my attention that Commander Tucker has been... slipping in his standards lately."

He paused, and I looked around at the other people in the room; Travis, Hoshi, Phlox and Sub-commander T'Pol. I think it safe to say on their behalf that "slipping in his standards" was a gross understatement, but none of us said anything. Meanwhile, the captain was still talking. "I know that these past few weeks haven't exactly been easy for Trip, but we need to be able to focus on this new objective."

Find the Xindi and blow the shit out of them and their super-weapon. My, how could I have forgotten that?

"I don't know how much of... how much Trip's been talking about what he's been going through," Archer continued, looking at each of us in turn, "but something has to be done about it. If Commander Tucker continues to act this irrationally, be it in his quarters or on duty, it could provide basis for a serious detriment to this crew and this ship."

He stopped pacing and came to face us. "All I'm asking is that one of you... one of you make the extra effort to keep an eye on him. Get him out of his shell and back onto solid decking again. Get him... get him back to normal."

The five of us shared another look again; I think we all knew full well that Trip was by no means in any kind of mood for milk-and-cookie sessions with any of us right about now.

"Any volunteers?" Archer added dryly, again eyeballing each of us in turn.

Almost as one, Hoshi and Travis shook their heads, claiming various commitments and too much time being taken up by other - vital, naturally - duties. Phlox smiled apologetically and informed the captain quite jovially that he was essentially snowed under with the MACO contingent, keeping abreast of both their medical files, some of which are apparently quite extensive - and the spacesickness that still pestered about half of them.

This left myself and T'Pol as candidates to play nursemaid. I looked at her for a second. Although Trip was my friend, and as a friend I cared about him and his welfare, I... I don't think I could have spared the time it would have taken to coax Trip back to some - any - sense of normality. There were still teething problems with the armoury upgrades taking up most of my working hours, and then there was the tiny, near insignificant matter of trying to break Major Hayes into the way that my team and I did things in terms of the armoury itself, weapons training and maintenance, security matters and the issue of basic respect - namely, that he did not have any for my armoury team, claiming that we were too different to work together efficiently enough.

However, before I could say anything out loud, T'Pol spoke up. "I believe that Lieutenant Reed has ample commitments of his own without adding anything else to them," she said. "Therefore it would be logical for myself to bring this matter to solution." I don't know, but the way she said it... is sounded so much like an unwanted chore coming from her lips, but I didn't say anything.



And I felt like an utter wanker for that. But I couldn't go back and change any of it, because then Archer was nodding. "Very well, then," he said, sounding less than pleased about the outcome. Perhaps he had been expecting me to volunteer as well. "I'll leave him in your capable hands, Sub-commander. Everyone dismissed."

On my way back to the armoury, again a thought hit me. Before this mission, before the Xindi - I think before the Cogenitor and the other happenings after that, Captain Archer would not have called that meeting. He would have taken it upon himself to help his friend through the problems he was experiencing. He certainly wouldn't have expected T'Pol - a Vulcan - to help Trip through what was so clearly an emotional issue.

But, it seemed, he did.

And after that meeting, things began to change even more. The next morning, Trip did not report for duty, either in Engineering or anywhere else - and this time nobody in the engine room could tell me where he was when something came up with the upgrades again. Further probing revealed that he had not shown up in the mess hall for anything to eat or drink that morning, although Philip claimed that he saw the sub-commander - now a nursemaid, for all intents and purposes - leaving the mess hall with a small breakfast that was perfectly suited to a Southern American's needs and tastes. She wouldn't have eaten it, at any rate. Far too much resequenced sugar and fatty components for her liking.

Later on, after a day of terse hours spent on the bridge and in the armoury, another visit to the mess, this time with Lieutenant Bathurst, who wanted to throw a couple of ideas my way. I agreed, and we sat in the mess, with our meals, and he began to explain to me what it was exactly that he had in mind.

A few minutes into it, however, and there was an interruption in the form of T'Pol and Trip entering the mess hall, he no more than a few steps behind her. There was something about the way he was acting, something that... I couldn't put my finger on it until T'Pol left him by the door to go get some food. The instant she turned her back on him he looked... uncertain. Lost.

Even scared.

Then T'Pol returned with two trays, and the look disappeared. Trip followed her through the room until they reached an empty table and sat opposite each other. Occasionally they would talk, although for the most part they simply sat and ate, but again there was something about the commander that, well, didn't sit quite right with me.

The way he was partly hunched over as he ate. The way he rarely looked up from his plate, even during the intermittent moments of chat between the two of them. The way he was trying to make himself as small as possible in the chair, like he didn't want anybody else to see him, notice him, recognise him.

Bathurst and I both watched that table for some minutes, both of us watching and taking in the same cycle; eat, talk, eat, mooch, eat, talk... and all of it without Trip's eyes rising from his plate. It reminded me of the time my sister was being bullied at primary school; the same cowed behaviour every time she was in the playground, as though she knew something was coming to get her and she wanted to hide beneath the painted asphalt surface. Hide from the two Year Sixes who tormented her for three months, although it was not through brute or physical force. No... with Talia and Janey it was more psychological. A year above me and three years older than Madeleine - and not much bigger than me, either - they preferred to use words to force my sister into submission - it worked as well, at least until I intervened, breaking the unspoken Rule of Reed: thou shalt not hit a female, however much that female is being a royal pain in the arse and insulting another Reed's honour.

It was a little similar to the way Trip was now, but something my sister went through years ago had nothing to do with this in the here and now. Assumptions like that tend to smack of paranoia, and I should know - according to popular opinion on this ship I practically invented the word.

After maybe ten or fifteen minutes both Trip and T'Pol got up from the table, disposed of their trays and left the mess; again, he was half a step behind her, but I don't know why I picked up on that.

I turned back to Bathurst. "Is that the first time you've seen him today?"

He nodded. "Yep," he said. "Got orders through the intercommunications grid at oh eight hundred, nothing else since." He hesitated. "Never seen him like that, though."

At least I wasn't the only person. "What do you mean?" I asked.

Bathurst shook his head. "I don't know exactly," he said, "but... he's changed. And not for the better... I..." he broke off for a second. "I've even stopped the cuss pool," he continued after a second or two. "Didn't seem fair to score off him swearing when it was us he was swearing at instead of the equipment."

I smiled, remembering the one time I'd come up against the pool; must have been six or eight months ago, but it was still an experience I remembered vividly. "I think he enjoyed that, you know," I said suddenly.


I grinned. "After that abstinence day - whatever you want to call it - I got the impression that, well, that Trip rather enjoyed it. The attention, I mean. I think. He got a kick out of making you wait for that all important first swear."

Bathurst grinned suddenly. "And there was me thinking he was actually cleaning up his act," he said, chuckling, before sobering up again. "But yeah, I think the commander's changed."

"You're not the only one," I said darkly. I stood up. "I've got to be going."

"Yeah, okay." Bathurst seemed unfazed. "How about another evening, then?"

"Alright, but I can't make any promises," I told him. "I'm up to my eyeballs with paperwork at the moment."

He nodded, and I left him and the mess behind. Maybe something was happening, maybe it wasn't, in which case I was likely just being far too paranoid again. But still, if Bathurst had picked up on something as well, then maybe there was something there after all. But I wouldn't get any answers thinking inside the box like this.

I'd have to go straight to the source.

My first opportunity came early the next morning, when a dry coughing fit at around oh three hundred left me unable to sleep. A couple of hours and a few hundred pages of Mark Billingham later, and I was showered, dressed and ready to go. My quarters are on B-deck, the same as some of the senior staff plus the other lieutenants on the ship - Bathurst and Hess in Engineering, Sandford and Monteya in the science department. Trip's quarters are five doors and two turns of a corridor away from me, and from mine it's only a thirty second walk.

It was around oh five hundred by this time, and I wasn't expecting an answer, which made it all the more surprising when a muffled "c'min" coupled up with the door opening up right in front of me.

I stepped inside, hearing rather than seeing the door close behind me. It was pitch dark in here, much, much darker than the lighting out in the corridor. I turned up the lights a little, and through the gloom there was a lump on the bed, buried underneath mounds of quilt, blankets and pillows. A lump that was decidedly human shaped.

A few seconds later a head emerged from one end of the bump, and Trip looked at me. "What're you doin' here?"

"I came to see how you were doing."


"I'm worried about you," I told him, taking a seat on the chair behind me.

Again, "Why?"

"You've been... a little off lately. Like I said, I came to see how you were doing."

"What time is it?"


"Why're you here? You're not s'posed ta be here."

That was unexpected. "What do you mean?" I asked.

"You," Trip told me, bringing himself a little further out from underneath the mound of covers. He shook his head rapidly, almost jerkily. "You're not s'posed ta be here?"

"Why not?"

"Nobody's s'posed ta be here," he said seriously, as if stating a simple fact. "Jus' her."

"Sub-commander T'Pol."


"Why her?"

Trip shrugged, although most of the motion was lost underneath one of the blankets. I couldn't see his face very clearly through the dim lights, but what I could make out was disturbingly blank - almost like in the mess the evening before. "Tha's what she said," Trip said. "She comes in, takes care o' me, what I need doin'. Duty shifts, crew rotations, that sorta thing. Sometimes she talks to me, sometimes she doesn't. S'no pattern to it."

"How long has she been doing that?" I asked.

Trip shrugged again. "Jus' over a day."

Ever since the meeting with the captain in the command centre, although I didn't say that out loud. But... "If she brought you your meals in here, then why did you go to the mess last night?" I asked him, more out of sheer morbid curiosity than anything else.

It'll be the death of me one day.

"I wanted to," Trip said. "She was all fer bringin' me dinner in here, where nobody else would be, but I wanted ta get out for half an hour, an hour, whatever. She gave in, took me to the mess."

I raised my eyebrows. "And are you not capable of doing that on your own any more?"

"I dunno," he replied, and the lack of anything in his voice was... well, disturbing. "But I know I think I need her?"

"T'Pol?" I asked. "What for?"

"Safety," Trip said, sounding again as if he was reciting another basic fact. Two times two is four. The sun (on Earth) always rises in the east. Trip needs T'Pol.

When did the last one ever resemble the truth?

"She'll be here soon," Trip said suddenly. "You should go."


He shook his head. "She doesn't like anybody else seein' me," he said. "You should go."

I stood up and moved, but instead of going out of the main door, I instead went over to the door leading to the tiny bathroom area. Trip behind me said nothing, but I think he was watching me as I opened the door and went in, leaving just enough of it open to be able to see and hear sufficiently what was going on - what would be going on - outside.

As it turned out, I didn't have to wait long. I was sitting on the head, waiting patiently for something I wasn't entirely sure was going to happen - but it did happen. The door to Trip's quarters hissed open and in walked T'Pol, a tiny sliver of her visible to me through the crack in the door.

"You turned up the lighting," she observed, a faint trace of disapproval in her voice.

"Yeah," Trip replied quietly.


There was a small pause. "Felt like it," Trip said. "Makes a change ta bein' in the dark all night."

"Having a light on is not necessary," T'Pol stated flatly, "and it is a wasteful drain of the ship's energy."

"Yeah," Trip said, even quieter than before. I could barely hear him, but at the same time I didn't dare move from the head.

"Have you prepared the work schedules for today's engineering teams?" T'Pol asked after a painful silence - well, it was painful to me. I was starting to lose all feeling in my nether regions.

"Yeah," Trip said again. "They're on the computer, waitin' ta go out."


"I think I'd like ta go to the mess for breakfast this mornin'," Trip said.

T'Pol. "Why?"

"Stretch my legs," Trip said. "An' there's only so much I can do with the engine from a small room on B-deck. I need somethin' ta do," he said, almost plaintively.

"That would not be a good idea," T'Pol told him. "I have already told you that Captain Archer does not consider you fully fit to continue working in your original capacity."

"I know," Trip said. "But it still feels like I'm doin' all the work, but not gettin' to see what the boys an' girls are doin' ta the engine."

"You should remain here until you are ready to deal with everything," T'Pol stated as flatly as Trip had when I had talked to him before her arrival. "Lieutenants Hess and Bathurst are more than capable of running the department between them."

"Yeah," Trip said, even more softly this time. "Yeah, you're right."

"I must return to my quarters," T'Pol said. "I will bring you breakfast shortly."

"Okay." Through the crack in the doorway I watched the sliver of science officer go from right to left before leaving the room completely. I quickly got up and tried to get some feeling back in my arse before...

"Oh, shit." Pins and needles. Really, really bad pins and needles. I left the bathroom, only to find Trip dug further into his covering bundle than he had been when I'd got there. "Trip?"

There was no response. "Trip?" I repeated, a little louder this time.

A muffled, "You should go." came from underneath the mass somewhere.

"Trip!" I repeated.

Finally he pushed his head out again. He said nothing, just looked at me, and once again I noted the empty, hollow look on his face as he seemed to just stare right through me. "You're still here," he said.


"Why?" It was almost exactly the same as before.

"I'm worried about you," I told him again.

Trip shook his head. "Tha's not what she says," he told me. "She says most of you've given up on me ever bein'... bein' normal again. That's why I hafta stay in here. Where nobody'll see me, where I won't make people realise I'm a failure."

"What?!" I took a step closer to the bed. "Is that what she's been saying to you?"


I shook my head. "Trip, that's bullshit and you know it. You're one of the best engineers in the fleet, if not the best. Captain Archer needs you more than ever now, or else he would have got himself rid of you back on Earth. Think about it," I implored him. "You're no failure, Trip Tucker. Far bloody from it."

Trip shook his head in response. "No," he said quietly. "I'm not needed any more. Hess an' Bathurst can do things in Engineerin' without me, Jon's better off without me remindin' him all the time why we're out here at all, an' if it wasn't for me Lizzie'd still be alive."

"How can you say that?" I asked him.

"'Cause she moved out there when I moved away," Trip said. "If I'd stayed at home - even if I'd stayed on Earth, she woulda stayed up north an' she'd be alive now." He paused. "You should go, Loo-tenant."

"Not when you're like this," I tried. "You - you need someone human to help you through this, not her. Not T'Pol."

"No," he said. "That's not what she says. I need her, same as she needs me."

"Why does she need you?" I asked.

Trip shrugged. "She doesn't say," he told me. "Jus' that she needs ta look after me 'til I'm ready to go back out again, an' that I need ta be patient." There was a long pause before he added, "You should go, Loo-tenant." This time his voice brooked no argument at all, and reluctantly I turned to leave, the prickling sensations down south getting more annoying with every step. I reached the door, and when I looked back, there was nothing left to see of Trip except a vaguely human shape underneath an impossible mound of pillows, sheets, blankets and quilts.

After that, things happened fast, or at least faster than the boring monotony of events before that morning. Days passed, and Trip didn't come out of his quarters even once. Through the Alpha shift ensigns in the armoury I learned that now Hess was chief engineer in every way but name; Commander Tucker hadn't communicated with the outside world pretty much since the day of my early morning conversation with him, and as a result Hess had taken more and more of the burden of being boss down below decks.

T'Pol was the only person who visited Trip; the few times I had managed to catch her on her own and ask her about Trip, I was rebuffed with the tried and tested Vulcan version of, "Piss off or I'll make sure you never have children." And every time I neared his quarters, even if it was genuinely an innocent act of getting from A-nywhere to B-eing somewhere else on the ship, I was either commed by someone on the science team or intercepted by T'Pol. Eventually I got the unspoken message and began to avoid that section of the deck altogether. Strangely enough, after doing that I no longer had such interest from the science department, which was almost a disappointment.

And as to how Trip himself was doing, nobody else seemed to know, or even care. Archer interacted with Lieutenant Hess in almost exactly the same way he had with Trip, although with Hess it was a hell of a lot less informal. Travis and Hoshi didn't seem interested or even particularly aware of the fact that Trip had all but left the Enterprise, which again struck me as strange.

But the strangest and perhaps the most disturbing thing of all was that I seemed to be heading down the same route as well. The absence of Trip from my daily routine became more common as the days went by, and soon it was as though nothing had ever changed, although I still tried to convince myself from time to time that there had been a time when Trip Tucker had roamed the corridors of the ship.

Perhaps it was one of the darker effects of this Expanse, not being able to remember what it had been like with Trip around all of the time. Perhaps there had never been a time when there had been a Trip Tucker on this ship. Or perhaps that was our way of coping with Trip's decline: pretend that the better times had never happened in order to prevent the bad times from hurting us too much.

And after that early morning conversation with Trip in his quarters, I never saw him again, until one night in the armoury. It was late, I think later than I thought, and I was finishing up on some simulations before calling the night shift in - there were some things I preferred to work on with nobody else around.

I was finishing up on one particular scenario based on the limited information Captain Archer had gained from the Xindi corpse back on Earth when a shadow came into my line of vision.

It was Trip. Through the dim armoury lighting I couldn't see much of his face, but even from this distance and in this light he looked thin, gaunt.

"What are you doing here?" I asked.

He said nothing, and I took a few steps closer. Trip responded by silently backing away from me as I tried to get closer to him until he was up against the wall with nowhere further back to go, and he made no effort to move out either side of me as I closed the distance between the both of us. It was when I was only a few feet away from him that I could see his eyes properly.

They were dull, a pathetic shade of the blue I dimly remembered from another lifetime, and his face held little expression other than muted fear, anxiety and something else, something I couldn't quite put my finger on, or would want to. "What are you doing here?" I asked again, quieter this time. Again he said nothing, but kept looking at me with the same unreadable look in his eyes. And that was when I realised what it was.


It was a defeated look he held in his eyes. The look of a man left broken by his experiences and everything that has brought, or dragged, him to this one moment in time. It was the look of someone who had been broken by something or someone.

"Loo-tenant." It was barely above a whisper.


"You gotta help me, Loo-tenant," he whispered. "She doesn't know I'm here... you gotta help me... please..."

So that was what I did. I'm not an armoury officer for nothing, after all.

There was a lot made of it afterwards, though... at least on the surface. Gallant sounding speeches about the burdens of tragedy and the difficulty of coping with loss. Much noise was made about previous outstanding commitment and dedication to work, duty and colleagues before the downfall everybody witnessed close up in front of them. There was so much squeaking and squealing before, during and for some time after that it soon became a matter of merely working how far up the arses of various brass Captain Archer was, as opposed to whether he actually was or not.

The speech, when it came, sounded impressive. Befitting a man such as this, a man who had once been... who had been. And in some bitterly ironic way, the speech befitted a man who had been through all of this - to Hell and back several dozen times in the space of a few weeks. And if you listened hard enough to Archer's words, read between the lines a little, then there was no need for the phoney gallantry at all. If you listened hard enough, you could pick out where Trip himself was blamed for the abrupt decline in himself, for the frayed temper exhibited on so many occasions... for the...

For killing himself. Listen to Jonathan Archer hard enough and any fool with half a brain cell could tell that the mighty Cap'n Archer blamed Trip for anything and everything that could possibly have contributed to... to suicide. Oh, he never said that, not in so many words, but like I said... listen hard enough and it blared out like a foghorn. Trip killed himself. Trip to blame. End of story.

I think in the past... back at the end of the twentieth and the beginning of the twenty-first century, they used to call it euthanasia. Mercy killings on behalf of people who couldn't do it themselves, but had nothing better to live for. Originally euthanasia was only linked with medical cases; terminal diseases, that sort of thing, but I remember reading about cases of severe depression where the person suffering asked someone to help them end it.

Mercy killing.

Honour their last wishes.

Pull the trigger.

End the suffering.

By the laws of the early twenty-first century I'm a cold-blooded murderer now.

By the laws of today, I don't know what I am. And maybe I don't want to know. Maybe I want nothing more than to just hide the truth from everybody, because like the old cliché goes - they couldn't handle the truth even if they wanted to, or thought they could.

I used to wonder sometimes what would have happened if Trip hadn't asked me that one favour late at night in the armoury. From what I knew and could tell, T'Pol was a large factor in this... in this mess, but that wasn't something I liked to dwell on. Did she manipulate him when he was down? Twist the facts so much that he no longer knew which way was up, which way was down... which way was out?

Bugger me, but I still don't know.

But I do know this: somewhere in the Expanse, Trip's unbreakable spirit broke and when it did, it shattered, taking some of us with it. Hess died weeks later in an explosion in Engineering, during an experiment to try to sustain Warp 5. Bathurst and the others on the engineering team were never quite the same after Hess' funeral, and neither were the rest of us. We lost more people the deeper we got into the Expanse, and still it all stemmed from one thing, one event... one person.

When the unbreakable breaks, everything else begins to shatter as well.

And that was something I would always have to live with.

o o o o o o o o o o o o o o o

"don't leave home" by Dido

like a ghost don't need a key
your best friend I've come to be
and please don't think of getting up for me
you don't even need to speak

when I've been here for just one day
you'll already miss me if I go away
so close the blinds and shut the door
you won't need other friends any more
oh don't leave home, oh don't leave home

and if you're cold, I'll keep you warm
and if you're low, just hold on
cos I will be your safety
oh don't leave home

and I arrived when you were weak
I'll make you weaker, like a child
now all your love you give to me
when your heart is all I need
oh don't leave home, oh don't leave home

and if you're cold, I'll keep you warm
and if you're low, just hold on
cos I will be your safety
oh don't leave home

oh how quiet, quiet the world can be
when it's just you and little me
everything is clear, everything is new
so you won't be leaving will you

and if you're cold, I'll keep you warm
and if you're low, just hold on
cos I will be your safety
oh don't leave home

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