“Good morning dearest!” Jon said cheerfully as he brought her a cup of tea. Setting it down carefully on the table at her elbow he gently took her hand in his and bent to kiss her cheek. She smiled slightly in response and raised her shaking hand to touch his face. He settled himself on the sofa next to her, tucking the lap blanket around her more securely. “Why don’t we watch the sun rise together this morning?” he asked. Hoshi nodded, eyes on the rising sun, a smile on her face. She nestled into him and leaned her head against his shoulder. He smiled. This morning was starting well. As they sat there quietly, watching the sky change hues, he held her hand in his and wished this moment would last all day long.
As the rays of the sun came over the horizon his thumb rubbed across the back of her tiny hand, still so young and vital to him; he never missed a moment when he could touch her, or hold her hand. He recalled that there had been many other times that he had held her hand, and each and every one of those times were still so clear in his memory. He sat there musing about several of them, the first rays of the morning sun striking his pensive face.
The first time he held her hand had been so long ago. He was helping her out of a transport. They had been going out to dinner, her family, himself, and his father. The rest of their party had already entered the building and he had turned toward her. Dad had drilled him while growing up, always be a gentleman. When their hands touched he had felt a shock, something strange. He couldn’t explain it. She had a surprised look on her face, her mouth forming a little ‘o’. Jon felt as if he had stood there staring at her for far too long even though he knew it couldn’t have been more than a few seconds. He quickly released her hand, and though they never spoke of it again, he wondered occasionally what she had felt that night and what would have happened if he hadn’t let her go.
While Hoshi was going through Starfleet training he had made of point of seeking her out and taking her to a meal now and then. He always had to pry a book out of her hands and get her to eat. She was so occupied with getting through training as fast as possible. Sometimes their hands would touch as he laughingly pried the books away from her. Once, after he successfully got a hold the book, he had taken her hand in his and their eyes had locked. Hoshi’s laughter had been replaced by an unasked question. He could feel the lines of his face changing into regret. He gently released her hand and turned away; they didn’t speak of it again.
In Brazil, he couldn’t contain himself. She wouldn’t come, she was so stubborn. Roughly grasping her hand he made her sit and listen to his impassioned pleas for moving toward the stars. His words hadn’t worked, but the recording did. The new language touched something in her that he alone, could not. He released her hand realizing that she wasn’t even paying attention to him any longer. She was transfixed by the challenge of understanding a new language. She would go to the stars, but not for him.
Their hands had touched numerous times while serving together on Enterprise. Sometimes at meetings when he passed her a padd their hands would brush; her fingers always felt so cold against his skin. When they flew together he still insisted on helping her from the shuttle pod, despite her protestations. He felt the need to ever be the gentleman for her even when Trip gave him a hard time afterwards. There had even been an occasion or two when he steadied her when the grav plating was acting up. All those moments he treasured and they kept him going on the long mission.
Each and every time he still felt that small jolt of something undefinable. He was certain she felt it also. She may have been the linguist versed in all the ways of communication, but he could read her like a book and he knew that she felt something when they touched. She just got better at hiding it after all those years since that first time.
He recalled one of the rare times Hoshi had taken his hand first. They had saved Earth from the Xindi and made it back to tell the tale. She had consented to be his wife the day he had put in his retirement papers. She had taken his hand then, her head bowed, and started crying saying she never thought the day would come when he would give up his Enterprise. He had taken her in his arms and swore to never let her go again.
The sun was almost up now. Streaks of purple melted away into pinks and oranges. He smiled as he thought about the day they married. He had been so ecstatic. He had clasped her hands in his and had felt so much hope, so much promise for their future together. He could still clearly see her beaming face, her smile lighting up his whole universe. Her hand held his tightly as they marched down the aisle and onto the rest of their lives.
Jon had always known there was a core of steel in this tiny woman he loved and she proved it with each of the children she bore to him. Each time he held her hand throughout the birth. Each time it felt as if she almost ripped his hand off. The last time, she had squeezed so hard she actually broke one of his fingers. He chuckled at the memory, and he felt Hoshi stir against him. The sun was up now; it was time to start the rest of their day. But he lingered a few moments more. This was his favorite time of the day with her and he never wanted it to end.
Jon had held Hoshi’s hand at the marriage of each of their friends and colleagues. Trip and T’Pol married in a quiet service on Vulcan. Trip could never live again on Earth after what had happened to their little girl, Elizabeth. Travis and Malcolm eventually found people to share their lives. And when it came time for their own children to marry, he held her hand through each of those, when they weren’t handing each other tissues.
Now he held her hand every morning watching the sunrise. Her hand was thin, the skin papery and dry. His, he was sure, didn’t feel any better. He was surprised that she even allowed him that small pleasure any longer. But the mornings were her best time. She was cognizant and aware and so HER that it physically pained him to watch the day progress.
They spent their mornings talking and catching up on events both current and long past. Although she never recalled anything current, so everything was always a new surprise for her each day. By lunchtime she was tired and her mind would start to wander. By dinner, she hardly spoke and had to be fed occasionally. By sunset, she never remembered who he was; who she was. She would cry and sometimes rage, which was infinitely preferable to when she just sat lost in the emptiness of her own mind and torture sessions from long ago. But either way, she wouldn’t let him near her.
He cursed the Xindi and what they had done to her so many years ago. Their torture had been as brutal as it had been insidious. What they had done to her mind was only now beginning to show itself. He knew that it was incurable, once Phlox had finally, excruciatingly, succumbed to that reality after years of searching for a cure. Eventually she would be lost to him altogether. But for a while there was hope. He knew that the sunrise would bring her back to him. A full night’s sleep helped recharge her and she usually awoke herself again.
And then, he could hold her hand once more.