Story A Day May 31: “Views of a Wedding”

 

Notes:

POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT!

This story is a fan fiction extrapolation of an unwritten scene based upon the  Star Trek: Enterprise episode ,Home.

T’Pol and Trip are property of Paramount; no copyright infringement is intended.

A young woman knelt upon the pressed sands of her homeworld, her fingers lifting to cross to the precise center of the table. The man across from her mirrored the first posture, but their fingers hovered just at the range at which the bioelectric pulses could be sensed – the prelude to the joining. He felt – strange. Too calm; too still. She was required to meet the man’s blue eyes, but it was difficult to do so. She was aware of a deep, illogical desire to refuse, to rise, to flee…to burst into tears that would be understood by only one person here.

She was a Vulcan. She would not cry.

**

A little off, a man stood in borrowed finery, watching. He watched her fingers lift, in concert with the man. He wondered what she felt; was it different than what she felt with him? Was it better, with a Vulcan man – a man of her own people? He could only see her face in a thin slice of profile, made misty by the sheer cowl. She’d worn a cowl the first time he saw her, too – but he’d known. He was aware of an almost desperate need to charge across this damned sand garden, grab her, run away, pull out a communicator he didn’t have and demand a beamup from a ship that was 16 light-years away, in Spacedock. Instead, he stood there, and watched her preparing to sacrifice herself.

He was on Vulcan. He wouldn’t cry.

**

Aesthetically, she was beautiful. Almost, illogically, he could imagine that she had been sculpted by a master. He was privileged to have the chance to combine her genetics with his own. So his parents had declared, since they were children, and chosen for one another. He, however, was uncertain it was enough. Ought children not be raised in a home where a certain affection – or at the least regard? – existed between their parents, where both were available to them? He could feel the resistance, the distance, that separated them; she would never feel other than a stranger to him, and she wanted nothing more of him. In truth, she wanted this as little as he did. Perhaps he should end this, now, before the next posture began.

They were Vulcan. They must try.

**

She remembered a dimly lit room, and music that has pulled her in. A man who Awakened her, with his music, his smile, the covert interest, and the recognition. The way the music flowed through them both, weaving them into one another. She had imagined this day, then, with the fog of his world rising impossibly from the dry sands of hers. But he had been across from her then, and not behind. His blue eyes she would look into willingly, eagerly, and touch the life within him through their joined and trembling fingers…

How was she supposed to marry Koss, with the feel of Trip’s cool human cheek rough and cool upon her lips? With the clasp of his hand, around the small gift she offered secretly, still sending Awakened tingles sizzling through her?

How was she to bear it?

**

She was doing this for her mother. But, he knew, she was also doing it as a penance, for what she felt were the wrongs she’d done. Maybe that wasn’t very logical, and it wasn’t very likely anyone on this world would understand, but he did. It’s why he was standing here, feeling the heat of her soft hungry lips on his cheek, the press of whatever she’s slipped into his hand when she clasped it. Up on her toes again to kiss him – had he gotten around to telling her how incredibly sexy that was to him, as though she couldn’t wait for him to bend enough for her to reach? As though she couldn’t get enough, soon enough….

It had been so brief, so bold, so reactionary, for her to do such a thing, on her way to be married to someone picked for her when she was only a little girl. His heart swelled with pride, and with the sorrow of knowing it would be the last such touch, between them, the last time her sudden ardor would jolt through him like a plasma arc…

how was he going to bear it?

**

It was nearly time. Three more breaths, and it would be too late to stop; too late even for the challenge – but surely, she would not call it. Her young human, for whom she had dared show affection, even here, could not win. Koss would do as he must, as he had been commanded. He had no wish, though, to give her the body of her lover as tribute. He hoped, for them both, that, once the ceremony was complete, the formalities tended, they might go on with their lives as they had lived them. He wished her to have the human, when she left, if she desired him. He wished, too, to have his chosen – but it might be that his refusal to challenge the command to marry T’Pol had cost the chance at the life he would have chosen for himself .

The third breath was exhaled; the priest knelt into the waiting moment, and joined their fingers, sealing them. It was as it was.

He would bear it.

**

Her fingers were sealed to Koss’s – and all T’Pol could feel was Trip. His emotions lapped through her from behind and beneath the surfaces needed for this joining. Her emotions were not required. As well, since they would not leave Trip. She could feel his hurt, his pride, his pain…and, together, as the vows were spoken, binding her to another, their two minds, already deeply entwined, remembered…

She allowed herself the dream, the memories of their voyage here…

“The first meeting on Enterprise – you offered the touch only a lover might give. I was Awakened to you; had I touched you,then….”

“It would have been something like what happened in Decon, after Rigel 10?”

“Yes. Or, given the intimacy of the touch, perhaps something far more inappropriate – such as the incident in the airlock.”

“Wonder what the Captain would’ve said about that? And if I would have been brave enough then to do anything about it?”

“It’s perhaps as well that we didn’t find out. I imagine that Captain Archer might likely have replaced us both. It would have been – intensely uncomfortable – to have had to explain to Ambassador Soval.”

He’d laughed, then, and wrapped both arms around her, to pull her onto his lap – a new pleasure he had introduced her to. “You looked at my arm like it was attached to a considerably lower life form, you know. Hurt my feelings. All that smoldering interest in the club, all that connection – wait a minute! I just remembered something. It was the first time I smelled your citrus and sandalwood thing.”

She inclined her head in silent question; Trip took it as a reason to slip another morsel of pecan pie into her mouth. She nibbled and suckled contentedly at his fingers, seeking crumbs and deeper sweetness, he groaned softly, and shifted his weight – this form of touching did fascinating things in his lap.

“You smell different – well, hell, you never beat around the bush, so why should I? – you smell different, when you’re aroused. I don’t have an exact name for what you smell like – Vulcan desert things, maybe – but it reminds me of citrus and sandalwood. At any rate, that was the first time – I had to pretend I didn’t notice it, and, even so, I was mighty glad you left the room first, so I could avoid disgracing myself. Maybe if I knew then what it meant, I wouldn’t have worried so much.” He nuzzled her neck; a sensual counterpoint to the effect of the pie merging with their freedom and the new connections they’d forged over the last days…”Citrus and sandalwood again,” he murmured, and then they’d needed to say nothing, for some time…

The priest was signaling – the first level of joining completed. Koss’s fingers slipped up the length of her fingers, around, back again to the tips – an invitation to deeper connection. Three breaths, before she must give response.

She could refuse.

**

Trip watched her, waiting out those three breaths. Why was he sure she was debating it, that she was as tangled up in him and the memories as he was in her…?

But he’d studied the ceremony. All that would happen, if she refused, was that they would wait her out. Maybe once, long ago, she might have been that rarest of women who could outlast all that her world would bring to bear. She was certainly stubborn enough…but the last year had worn her down, worn them all down, damn near shattered her beyond repair or redemption. What she’d rebuilt, she’d rebuilt in the company of humans, and Phlox, and even Porthos. She was more like them than she’d been, before, and maybe she always would be, now.

He didn’t think she had the patience to win. Please, pepperpot, don’t make this any harder on yourself. You’ve suffered more than enough.

As though she heard him, she moved her fingers just as the third breath threatened to become a fourth. Trip stared at her moving fingers…remembering…

He’d been stunned when he saw what she meant by “transport” This was a sleek, swift, beautiful little Vulcan cruiser…she saw him eyeing the warp drive, and informed him that this was a private craft, and unclassified. He could tour the engine room, and access the specifications, too.

He was glad he did that right off, while she was stowing the large cases she’d brought- who would’ve thunk T’Pol, of all people, would be a heavy packer? – because, once they set foot into the guest cabin, they never left it again until it was time to leave. The place was – well, extraordinary. They had space, large windows, water features, growing things, access to an onboard servitor, and a stocked galley…and pilots to do the flying, too.

Oh, and a decadently large and comfortable bed.

“T’Pol – this is – incredible. How did you – ?”

“Ambassador Soval was pleased that I was returning to Vulcan, and suggested I might find his private craft pleasant, after so long amongst humans.”

“So you brought me along? Is that really fair?”

“Given that he almost certainly was motivated by a desire to be certain I returned to Vulcan, it seems an equitable use of the space. He stated that he wished my journey to be pleasurable and restoratative, a time for rest and reflection, and bid me to do as I will. It would be an insult to fail to do so.”

“Is that so?”

“It is. Trip, you said that you have no home to return to. For the next days, this could perhaps suffice.”

“Well, it’s already got you, pepperpot – and that looks like a very comfortable bed…”

They’d stripped one another, and hadn’t put on another stitch of clothing until they reached orbit around her world.

Her fingers returned to Koss’s fingertips. Trip could almost feel them, the faint scars of a baby who had dared to touch the flame, a woman who had dared to claim her own life…

And now chose to give it back…

He watched the priest gesture, take them through the next painstaking set of vows, and then Koss’s fingers were moving again.

“You honor T’Pol by standing for her.” T’Les, at his elbow. Probably had no idea how mad her was at her, for putting her daughter in this impossible position, for arranging such a damn foolish thing in the first place. He didn’t have to acknowledge her praise, now.

He could refuse.

**

The woman’s fingers trembled; her arousal scent wafted on the breeze. It was said to be the most delicately balanced fragrance on Vulcan, the pheremone release of an aroused woman. At a marriage ceremony, when the bride was brought to the point of so palpably signaling her sexual readiness, it was seen as the ultimate indicator of a successful pairing, one that could grow beyond the societally required, to encompass all that the Vulcan heart and soul and mind were capable of.

It was a scent that had always triggered nausea, in Koss.

He hadn’t understood why – until he first smelled the arousal scent of a man – and all that was within him had cleaved to it, sought after it…

And found it.

Now he scented the odor of T’Pol’s arousal, and swallowed back the bile that rose to the back of his throat. He held it back, he suspected, only because he knew beyond doubting that he had not stirred such arousal in her.

But her young human had – he had Awakened her, quickened her, mated with her – and it was he and only he that she wanted, that she had chosen. No, she had not merely been testing the flame of the humans. Koss remembered the story told about her – the only infant in memory to not trust the warning words, and to learn for herself what damage flame could bring. He had thought, when she first refused to return for the ceremony, then returned to Vulcan in the company of a human male, that she was – indulging her unseemly curiosity.

But, as the ritual deepened to the third level, allowing them to access one another’s telerotic centers, so that they would be Awakened to each other, above all others, he knew.

“Why did you agree to this marriage, T’Pol?”

She glowed and quivered with the urgency of the fires alighting within her. Wild fires, beyond what Vulcan could sustain. Fires born of and belonging to distant stars, other worlds…

She didn’t take her focus from her souldancing. Likely, she could not, with the intensity of her consummated Awakening.

Perhaps, she could not even hear him, as strange otherworldly music – human music? – wound through her, and the gold-haired man standing a little off, his eyes glinting with a strange light as he watched her, looked within… until now, Koss had not known that humans could be Awakened, joined with thus – but this one, this Commander Tucker, was within her, and she within him. Even at this level of joining, there could be no doubt.

Koss felt his own arousal surging, triggered by the delving, by the fierce wild power of hers…

It was too late to refuse.

**

They were standing on the fireplains, a woman of this world, and a man born on a world far different than this. How could he understand the choice she had made, when the reality of it was counter to all he knew, all he believed?

Could it be enough, that he believed in her?

Was this a foolish decision she was making? Was it founded upon logic, or emotion, or a combination? Could she trust this choice, and her own judgement in making it?

Could she truly inflict this hurt upon him, ask him to bear this one thing more, in the name of what was between them?

She knew the nature of Vulcan marriage. She had surmised something of the nature of human marriage; from him, from his movies, from the rest of the crew.

The two could scarcely be compared.

But he would approach this as a human marriage, assume that the emotional and sexual fidelity required were the same. They would be the same, for him. His personal prohibitions regarding such things were as much a part of him as his need to be moving, or his idealism.

There was no logic in wishing it was not so. Nor in delaying, attempting to enjoy this one day, this last day, before she must tell him.

It was not going to hurt either of them less.

He remarked that she was very quiet- it was an invitation. He always sensed when she was troubled; perhaps it was far less difficult, now, than it had once been. These years lived beside him had wrought changes.

Koss could never understand those changes, or the reasons behind them. She had decided, therefore, not to reveal them.

But Trip knew. Trip knew, and understood as much as a human was able, and perhaps more beyond that…they had shared most deeply, more deeply than she had known she could. With him, she had revealed much, and had thought that, in time, she would find great pleasure in revealing all…all she was, all she wished for, how she had dreamed of kneeling upon the sands as her foremothers had, touching her fingertips to his; Awakened to him in the first instant she saw him…

“Love at first sight,” he would say, and T’Pol has released the need to argue the presumption of his semantics. The spirit of the shift was close enough.

But now, she must speak different words, words that would slam emergency bulkheads down between them, in the heartbeat she spoke them. They would be left, hurting and in pain, on separate sides of her reality – a reality that might include him, almost as before. Except that his reality could not accept “almost”.

T’Pol took a deep breath, and spoke the words that brought the bulkheads down.

**

The priest moved them through the third level….the last level awaited, the one that would tug her away from him, break the connection that would sever him from her, give her to someone else, a man who scarcely knew her. He couldn’t, if he would do this to her, pull her away from her family, her anchor…

From him, dammit.

He still wasn’t sure how he was managing to stand her and let this gross injustice pass. Before her, he couldn’t have. But her little misshapen IDIC was in one hand, and the flat disk she’d slipped into his hand in the other. He didn’t have to see them, or her face, to draw comfort from them.

He remembered Charles, and how he’d interfered then, telling himself it was for her good, even though Charles had been neither he nor she as Trip understood them, and had asked for nothing of him. It had, as a matter of fact, told him he was wrong, that these things were wrong for it. He’d pushed Charles too far, and Chaarles had died.

T’Pol already knew something of what she was sacrificing. He’d decided, almost from the start, to make this as easy on her as he could.

It was the minutes of that almost, though, when he’d first argued, then turned and walked away, leaving her standing alone…

Damn, he wished he hadn’t done that.

Sure, he’d come back – it had only taken about ten minutes for the desert heat to get more powerful than his anger – at least, his anger at her. Her damned restrictive culture, though, and the way it pushed her around – not even a fireplain had enough heat to smother that seething rage.

They’d finally figured out a way to outsmart her, outlast her – and he’d left her there, stung by her defeat.

Aww, pepperpot, you fought them, as best you could. You were a supernova of resistance.

And you almost made it, almost got free of that invisible hold this damned planet has on you.

This damned planet was her homeworld. Nothing he could do or say would ever change that, change the way she belonged to this place, anymore than she could change the pull Earth had on him…

But humans were forgiving, and Vulcans were not.

Despite the heat, he ran all the way back to where she stood, staring out at the plains and into her soul, tears streaming down her face.

“Oh, pepperpot,” Trip said, even though he was huffing and puffing enough that she maybe couldn’t understand him.

“You came back.” T’Pol spoke in a choked whisper, and she was quivering visibly. Citrus and sandalwood floated up, combining with the strong mineral scents, complementing them, filling him up.

“Sorry – I left. Guess I could get – a hell of a lot better at – taking bad news.” He reached out paired fingers, the way she’d shown him, still trying to catch his breath. Running in the desert was stupid, but not as stupid as walking away had been.

T’Pol studied his fingers for a breath or two, then met them with her own, and that sizzling tingle jolted through him, hotter than the air over the fireplains. Inspiration came with it; not waiting to think it through, Trip sank to one knee before her, their fingers joined, hers caressing their way through the first posture.

“Marry me, pepperpot. They want you married, get married. To me, T’Pol, not to that guy who came to your door to coerce you.”

“You would marry me, Trip?”

“Well, you’re Cinderella, and I’m the Prince, remember? I married you in another timeline, didn’t I?” He could see her growing impatient with his fancies – this was too serious, and she didn’t quite get the hang of either gallows humor or gallantry. Failure to translate. He took a deep breath, and sobered up. “T’Pol, you’re so deep inside me. We’re a team. I’d be honored to marry you- and, nothing between us would have to change, if you didn’t want it to. You can keep your own quarters, and live your life as you see fit. Let me help out of this.”

But she’d shaken her head, slowly, not able to look at him, being pushed around by her feelings again. He could feel the force of them, through her dancing fingers. “Vulcan law would penalize me for any marriage contract entered into while my betrothal is still extant. By removing their objections to the pairing, Koss’s parents have renewed the obligation entered into when he and I were children.”

“And you don’t have an opt-out option?”

“No.” But there was something far back in her, something in the way she flinched, that said there was more to that answer, that she was trying to protect him from something even worse.

Worse than what amounted to a marriage of blackmail? What the hell could be worse.

“Are you going to be OK?” He got up; it was silly to keep kneeling on hot rocks. She’d already said no. “I mean, you won’t – “

She knew what he couldn’t ask. “I no longer need trellium to access my emotions, Trip.”

“What is this Koss guy going to think about – about who you are, now? I’m guessing he won’t be expecting a wife who yells at him when he pisses her off.”

“I attempted to warn him. He was not interested in learning specifics. Therefore, he assumes the – risk.”

That made Trip chuckle. “Serves him right. I hope he pisses you off plenty, then.” He used their joined fingers to draw her in, giving her lots of time to pull away if she needed to. She didn’t.

They held to one another under her blistering red sun, and Trip decided that he’d risk any sunburn for this moment, the aching bliss of holding her close, feeling the things she did to his body, breathing in the magic of citrus and sandalwood – his, just his, at least for now…

“When, T’Pol?”

“When?”

“When do you marry this guy?”

“It is customary for me to visit Koss at dawn, to inform him of my decision. The rest of the day will be spent in meditation, and, the following day, the ceremony will be held.”

“Can you wait a day to tell him?”

“What purpose is there in delaying, Trip?”

“To give us just one more day. Something to treasure, and hold onto. Something for when this is too much.”

Her eyes had been liquid as her gaze met his. “I will wait a day, Trip.”

The priest was giving the last incantation, and Koss had has hand damned near up to T’Pol’s elbow. Any second now, he would feel her sheared away from him – Trip braced himself for the pain of it.

**

The fourth and final level neared completion – but T’Pol still held to the human, still knelt across from him, her soul merged and dancing with his.

There was no way to reach her, where she’d gone; he would never have all of her, even if he wanted her. She had chosen for herself, even dared to reveal it openly, here.

Who was this human, that he would stand there, behind her, supporting her as she married him? Who was he, that he did not refuse to be here, as Koss’s own chosen had done.

Was it that the man was human, or that she had claimed her right to him, to her passions, to her choice, and to her life.

Koss’s chosen had wanted that of him. He had declared his choosing of Koss. It had led to a rift with his family, and a self-imposed exile from Vulcan that had lasted most of a decade. Upon his return, he said that he “had no regrets”. Koss thought it an odd turn of phrase, but his lover would not explain it. He would say only that, if Koss was unwilling to resist his parents’ determination that he marry the woman T’Pol, who seemed, in all ways, ill-suited as Koss’s wife, he could not bear to witness the joining.

He had been clear. If Koss would not resist tradition, or his parents’ will, then he must live with the consequences of compliance.

But now, as T’Pol danced away with her human, wearing her quivering arousal as her birthright, Koss felt someone else edging in, watching from the shadowy corner outside the wall of the sand garden.

“Beloved!” His surprise, his moment of delight, were unseemly.

“Beloved?” At last, he had something of the woman’s attention, and her human’s, as well.

The questions surged through, and between, the four, but could not be answered. Koss’s soul was consumed by his beloved…he did not reveal himself, except in the merging -together. T’Pol was a wiser woman than his parents had given him to believe- she returned to her own joining, allowing his to be as it would.

The priest entered into the mindlink, surveryed them all, and the manner of the joinings. “This is what thee hast wrought, here, today – the depth of your joining, and what you will carry forth, into your life as bondmates. Art thee content with what has been forged?”

The request was not for two, but all four. It encompassed what existed, rather than merely what the law pertained to.

The human looked around, his face telegraphing emotions the woman knew the meanings of. “What the hell’s going on here? How is this – and why the hell are you asking me? I object to this entire proceeding – and the practice of marrying off little kids as though that makes sense for the adults they’ll become.”

“Trip!” Koss had never known that her voice could sound so – so fragile. “If you object, you will be – ejected from this link.”

“I thought that was the basic idea.”

“Trip – not now. Please, trust me. Do not object. Let us have this much- if we can’t have more.”

“All right- I don’t object. I’m – what’d you say? Content. Yes. Put me down as content, heaven forbid any of the four of us get to be, I dunno, happy….”

“Commander Tucker, you are delaying the conclusion of the ceremony.” Why was there a wave of pleasure blending with her words?

“Sorry, pepperpot. Wasn’t trying to crash your wedding. I am content with – ‘ what has been forged’.”

The assent went more quickly through the Vulcans – and then, the priest declared the marriage valid, and the link satisfactory.

**

“Why did you never tell me?”

“Tell you? Have you lived so long amongst humans, T’Pol, that you would ask? Such things are a deeply personal matter.”

“Why did you agree to the marriage? Preferring one’s own gender is enough to secure an annulment. We need not have completed the ceremony.” T’Pol felt the emotion rising in her voice, and chose not to make the effort to suppress it. She was as she was, and Koss had said he wanted her.

Let him see what he had negotiated for, demanded.

“I honored my parents’ agreement. I complied with the law and custom of our people.”

“Did you not tell them?”

“What would it have profited?”

“It would have profited you, and I, and those to whom we’ve given ourselves!” She whirled on him. “By what right do Vulcan parents dictate the measure and scope of their childrens’ lives?”

He backed away a step, nearer the door. “It is custom, tradition, and law. What else is there?”

She moved closer. The long years of learning one another, of forging a connection based not upon someone else’s dictates, but instead who they were, upon shared experience, desire, concern…and this man had made them sacrifice it, so that he could appease his parents!

With a sudden flash of fury, she stalked up to him. He was taller than Trip, but he seemed to fear her – of course. Her reputation in the Security Mission was well known, before Enterprise added emotional volatility. “There is the fact that we now must live with what they have chosen for us – what you have. By what right did you do this to us – or to those we chose for ourselves?”

“You agreed.” He was pressed hard against the wall; T’Pol fought back the instinct to lash out, use Koss as the means of venting her emotions. “Is this the nature of your illness, T’Pol? Are you unable to control yourself?”

“I am more able at some times than others. However, I may choose not to exercise the ability. I have indeed been ill, husband. I have Pa’naar Syndrome, and I have been addicted to a potent neurotoxin, with moderate synaptic deterioration and resultant emotionalism.”

“You said nothing of this.”

“I told you I had been ill, and that recovery might be protracted, or even impossible. You asked nothing else.”

She was shaking now – it would be a simple matter to use him as the outlet he had denied her. Koss’s eyes were wide with fear – blue eyes, like Trip’s.

“I think it is best, husband, that I take some time to -adjust. I propose I go to Mount Seleya, to meditate at Gol. Do you concur?”

Koss only nodded. “May you find peace there, wife.”

**

Trip Tucker knew he ought to go- he shouldn’t be in T’Pol’s room when she wasn’t here…but he couldn’t help it.

And he was way too drunk to care.

He’d come back to the guest room – ready to pack up and get as far away from here as he could. But there was that gift she’d pressed into his hand – he hadn’t gotten her anything, but he decided he would, he’d think of something – not something for her to share with Koss, but something just ofr him, something that would say the things they couldn’t, anymore…

Or could they? The end of that ceremony-

Musta been the heat. Or the pain.

There were two bottles of Andorian ale on the bedside table, and a small food case from Enterprise. The ale the Captain had forced on her – Trip’s share was already gone, but T’Pol didn’t have the same interest in alcohol. There was no glass, as though she knew that his pain demanded nothing less than slugging from the bottle. And there was a little note in her precise and elegant handwriting.

Please be careful.

Aww, hell, pepperpot…

He decided he’d better fortify himself before he looked in the case. Three burning swigs….

Pecan pie -two slices. More than enough to get her soused and remarkably silly, if she’d been here. Silly, and aroused….oh, god.

The first bottle was gone almost before he knew it, and he was imagining feeding her the pie. He couldn’t eat it himself, not while remembering her licking it from his fingers…

How the hell was he going to work with her, live on the same ship, see her in the Mess Hall, or on Movie Night, and know that she was someone else’s wife? What was he supposed to do, just bottle up all his feelings?

He wasn’t Vulcan. He couldn’t.

If only he wasn’t sure that loving her was nothing like loving anyone else, and that losing her was the end, for him.

Please be careful.

“I’m tryin’ pepperpot,” he whispered, as he took the second bottle and the container of pie, and headed into her room – her room, where they’d spent most of the day before yesterday in bed, talking, crying, making love, storing up the moments like some secret treasure….

He could still smell her – citrus and sandalwood. Damn…

There were two more bottles of ale, here, and a note.

For after you’ve slept, and eaten, and explored your gift. Perhaps it is foolish to ask you to be careful.

The gift…

He hadn’t dared look at it, just slipped it into the sleeve pocket of the robe as the ceremony was winding down to a solemn close.

Now he did. Upon one side was etched a slipper, and on the other, the IDIC symbol, misshapen, made by a small child.

No, not one flat disk. Two – two disks, magnetically sealed…

She’d felt their polarity, too…damn.

It took pressure- considerable pressure, he heard in the echo of her voice – to separate the disks…

In the small hollowed place within was a data disk, small enough to fit a datapad-

Such as the one propped before her computer.

He looked at what he held, looked at the pad….

It couldn’t be a mistake.

He took the pad, and turned it on.

“A Human’s Guide to Popular Vulcan Culture,” he read. And then, another of her little notes. “Please insert data disk to proceed.”

He slipped in the disk, and there she was, in her wedding garb, looking delicate, lovely – and very near tears. They were in her voice, too, when she spoke.

“Trip. I know that what I have done today has hurt you, perhaps too deeply to allow us to recover even our friendship. That I wish not to hurt you is irrelevant; you are hurting now, and perhaps this – this impulse I have to share my own feelings with you will bring you no solace, only more pain. But another version of myself said I should ‘follow my heart’, and it has led me to this.”

Her tears broke free, but she didn’t cut the recording right away. Her open tears were a rare gift; he didn’t know if anyone else had ever seen them. They slipped silently down her face for a long moment, before she faded out – to be replaced with a younger, more rigid version of herself – dressed in a long jacket, tight leggings, boots, and a dark cowl intended to hide what she’d never hidden from him…

The young woman spoke a date, in Vulcan, and then dark troubled eyes met the camera. “Tonight, I broke protocol. My reasons were illogical; the cost if I am discovered will be high. I took considerable risk, in leaving the compound – “

And then, that calm facce evaporated, leaving her incandescent, transformed, the way she’d been, listening to the music, so long ago.

“It is illogical, but I find I do not care. For no consequence can undo what occurred tonight. Tonight, regardless of how impossible it seems, I was Awakened – to a human man named Trip. I don’t know what it means, or where it will lead. I am Promised to Koss; I am expected to marry him. And yet – this tremulous connection, with a man about whom I know almost nothing – a human man, with whom I share neither genetic nor cultural heritage – is already far more powerful than that I share with Koss.

“Even if I never see him again, if this is all there is, between us, a few moments of connection, I will hold to it, as the ideal of what a bond might be.

Query for Meditation:

Is it possible to undo an Awakening? If so, would it be logical to attempt it? What does it mean that I know already, before any consideration, that I will do nothing to threaten it? That I long to see this man Trip again, and learn of him? That I imagined kneeling upon the sands, with fog rising, and becoming his wife?”

“Oh, pepperpot….”

Trip opened the second bottle, and propped the datapad against the empty. One entry after another, she chronicled her journey to him. He watched her, as he drank. After a while, he stripped out of his clothes, tangled into the bedding – she hadn’t made the bed before she left, as though she needed to hold to this, too – and let himself go while pretending she was here, telling him stories, and not who-knows-where honeymooning with Koss…

 

Story A Day May 30: “#215″

Notes:

POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT!

This story is a fan fiction extrapolation of an unwrittenscene based upon the  Star Trek: Enterpriseepisode,Zero Hour.

T’Pol and Trip are property of Paramount; no copyright infringement is intended.

The view out the window had gone. All there was to see was the pearly almost dark that was the inner hull of the huge Aquatic ship’s cargo bay.

Swallowed whole.

There was, perhaps, a strange symmetry in it, in the timing of it. Irony, humans would call it. They tended to ascribe emotional value to everything, even the vagaries of random chance.

And yet, as the Xindi ship surrounded them, and sorrow and secrets pressed outward from within, T’Pol of Vulcan thought that there was, perhaps, considerable merit to the human interpretation.

Irony was a particularly logical form of humor.

So long as the force of it didn’t crush her.

Or Trip.

She felt as though she were held on the balance point between these forces. She wondered if she was strong enough, to hold the balance, and what would happen, if she wasn’t.

She had intended to report her addiction and her recovery to Captain Archer, once the Xindi mission was concluded. Loyalty to the captain, and her own personal accountability, seemed to require it. She expected to be put on report for her actions, and she would not choose to begin a Starfleet career without making her fallibility a matter of record.

Shed wanted to tell him first, because she was less fearful of his reaction than she was of Trip’s.

Jonathan Archer had been a friend, a mentor, an opponent when she needed one, a balance. She valued his judgment, relative thoughtfulness and willingness to examine other perspectives, his capacity for understanding – and his even temperament. While he would be upset, concerned, perhaps angry with her, she expected that he would control the force of those emotions, and deal with her conduct and her altered status in a sensible manner.

She had no idea what Trip would do. She was terrified of her ignorance, and the power of her need for him.

Jonathan Archer was dead. Trip had stepped into the void left behind – and now, already Awakened to him, she was also bound to him in grief. T’hy’la, indeed.

So far as she knew, no human had ever filled this sensitive function.

She must tell him. About Awakening. About the trellium, and the cost of what she had done. About Vulcans, and the manner of their grieving. About her need for an outlet, and all she felt that she didn’t understand.

She had prepared, as best she could, making a practice of it, hoping in would still the anomaly field she still carried within herself. Behind her, on the meditation table, were two scanners and the Vulcan hypospray device, loaded with the injection she’d prepared after that nightmarish expedition to Cargo Bay 2 – her memories of that experience were still wound with delusions; she wondered how she had survived.

How would Trip react?

She stared out the window, at the almost-nothing, into her depths, where she felt there was, at once, illogically, too little and far too much.

She didn’t expect that he would be calm. That would be to go against his nature.

The transforming device sat in her closet. T’Pol had asked herself, many times, why she hadn’t given it to Phlox. She suspected that she was unwilling to surrender it. There was a certain security in its presence here, in none knowing she had it. It bore examination, this need to keep it, and the three tubes of trellium-traced fragments within it.

But she was too tired examine it now.

Acid roiled in her stomach and up into her esophagus; T’Pol leaned her forehead against the smooth cool glass, and wondered why she couldn’t remember the last time she ate anything. Was she hungry, now?

She puzzled on this for a moment, but that led to a dull headache that promised to grow more powerful if she continued, so she released the thought before coming to any conclusion.

She was aware that she didn’t want to be here, leaning into the window but there seemed nowhere else that would be better, nor did she have volition to move from this spot.

She held tight to the journal; the one with today’s date. She hadn’t opened it.

She was certain of little, but T’Pol knew that she didn’t want to know how the other T’Pol had shared this news – not until she had spoken to Trip. It would mean little, beforehand- her Jonathan Archer hadn’t died. And they were not who their counterparts had been.

“Hey, T’Pol?”She would have whirled at the sudden shock of his voice at her shoulder, if she’d had any energy to do so. “You didn’t signal,” she said.

“Yes, I did. Three times. I thought maybe you fell asleep, or – well, it’s been a helluva day. I wanted to check on you.” He didn’t touch her, but came to stand within reach, and pressed his face to the glass, mirroring her pose. “Are you okay?”

No,” T’Pol answered, honestly.

Trip turned, just a little, toward her. He seemed – uncustomarily cautious.“Can I help?”

“I don’t know.”

“Whether I can help, or what help you need?” Soft words, offering a cushion, of sorts, against what she must say.

“Both.”

“Hmn.” Trip fell silent, and they stood there, together, faces pressed to the window. T’Pol knew she was delaying, that she had no idea how to broach the things she must say.

“Have you tried scientific analysis?”

“For what purpose?” She wanted to look at him, but didn’t dare. Her emotions tangled and twisted like the creature that had been trapped in the cargo bay.

“To figure out what you need, to be OK. Or more OK. Even a little more OK is something you can build on.”

He spoke from his own grief and pain, and she wondered if they would both be absorbed by hers, or his, or what had grown between them.

“How would this analysis proceed?”

She could feel the smile in his voice, could see, in her mind, the way it tugged up the corners of his mouth, carved little hollows into his cheeks. “Humans have something called the Hierarchy of Needs. Shaped like a pyramid, with the most basic needs at the bottom, and the more evolved ones up above. There’s a theory that needs need to be met from the base up, so let’s start there. The big five are food and water, shelter, sleep, and sex. The last one’s covered. so’s the third. When did you eat or sleep last?”

That’s a most logical approach.”

Don’t sound so surprised. We’re capable of logic, whether we use it or not. And this will only work if you answer the line of inquiry.”

“I last slept in the airlock with you – I don’t know the time.”

About 6 hours ago – and we were only in the airlock for half an hour, according to Hoshi. Seemed like a lot longer to me…” He was quiet, for a moment, and T’Pol thought that he was remembering…how much of the dreaming had he retained? Would he know what it meant? Could he? “So that hardly counts as a nap – what about before that?”

I’ve slept little, else. Perhaps for several days – or longer? I don’t remember when I last ate- or what I consumed.” It helped, addressing the issue in this way. It was somehow, a balm against the constant eruptions and lava flows of emotion.

“Then you need to sleep and eat, for sure. I know you’re tough – but you’re not a machine, pepperpot. And take it from an engineer – even if you were, you would break down under too little fuel and constant use. Which do you want to do first?”

“I’m not hungry. In actuality, I feel nauseated, and my head hurts.”

Hunger can do that to a person – well, a human one, anyway. My mother sips ginger tea when she needs to settle her stomach; have you ever tried it?”

No. I don’t wish to eat or drink anything, now.”

The man beside her considered this – he seemed, for once, to be considering everything she said before answering.“Neuropressure would help, maybe.” T’Pol heard the carefulness in his voice, and the longing – a longing she shared, but couldn’t indulge again – not until she had been wholly truthful with him.

“Perhaps – later.”

“My mama had a saying, to help me when I was little and feeling growly. “Trip, HALT,’ she’d say.”

T’Pol looked to his reflection in the glass. “She commanded you to stop?”

“No, not really” he smiled a little. “It’s an acronym – a memory device. She wanted to know if I was hungry, angry, lonely, or tired.” That’s two more for you. Are you angry or lonely, pepperpot?”

She imagined she could feel his urge to turn to her, to offer himself…but it wasn’t an offer she could accept any longer, with all that he didn’t yet know.

She must tell him. Even if she was still far too uncertain of how she was to do it. “I have been both, far too often, of late.”

His hand lifted, wiped his mouth in the way he had when he was surprised by her. “How often is too often? Seems to me that, if you feel that way, you do -”

“I am a Vulcan.”

You keep telling me that like I don’t know it.” He sighed. “Last I heard, you’re only supposed to be suppressing emotions. You’ve got them. It’s not like you can stop.” He stopped himself, somewhat remarkably, with a deep breath. “Sorry. My getting hot under the collar isn’t helping.”

“I am used to your emotional outbursts, t’hy’la. There are times when I even find them -palliative.”

Trip turned suddenly, put his hand on her shoulder as she had done to him, to soothe. “You’re used to my feelings, but not your own – that’s it, isn’t it- or part of it, anyway? You’re feeling things more than you thought you would, out here, and that scares you.”

Another time, I might have had the strength to deny it- but now I was too exhausted, too emotionally spent, to try. “Yes.”

“That offer I made you still stands. If you need to talk -about anything -, I’ll listen for as long as you need. I don’t care if you talk in Vulcan, or about something that doesn’t have anything to do with what’s scaring you. I don’t even care if you yell at me, or we just sit in the dark and don’t talk at all. But I can feel the hurt in you, T’Pol, and it hurts me too much not to try to make whatever’s wrong, right.”

“And if I am what’s wrong, Trip? What then?” T’Pol was slipping down the glass, sinking to the floor. She tried, but couldn’t muster energy to stop the descent. Trip caught her, easedher down, helpedher to sit propped against the wall, then settled beside her.

“You’re not the first person to ever be wrong. You won’t be the last. Believe me, you can get better at it – you just haven’t had much practice, is all.”

“What is there to practice?”

“Humility. Grace. Self -examination, to avoid further trouble. Making changes, if you need to. And moving on, even when it’s hard.” He took her hands. “We all fall down, T’Pol, sooner or later. It’s getting back up that counts- but you don’t have to do it alone.”

“What if – what I have done -?” She found she couldn’t go on.

“T’Pol, you live on a shipful of humans. Most of us like you – granted, some of us more than others.” That smile was back; she wondered how he could find something to smile about, with his best friend dead. “Humans help each other.”

“I’m not human.” What would it be, to belong to this people?

“When I say ‘each other’, I’m not just talking about my own species. You’re one of us. We want to help you.”

She lifted her gaze, but couldn’t manage to look at him directly. Her eyes flinched down and away, to study her knee. “Once, long ago, t’hy’la, you asked me if I had ever done anything by mistake that you were ashamed of, later. I told you no. I thought it was true, then.

“I remember. You’ll be happy to know I‘ve reformed. I don’t snoop into anyones’ mail, anymore.” He gave her hands a gentle squeeze, and T’Pol understood that he was offering humor as a way of soothing her.

“I can no longer truthfully make that answer, Trip. And what I have done, I can’t undo.” She felt tears beginning to well in her eyes. She put a hand to the new moistness, studied it.

“I’m sorry,” he said softly. “Whatever it is, I’m sorry it’s hurting you now.”

**

She was so lost. Trip could feel it – even more, since the Captain died. She was afraid, hurting, searching – and she needed help. Help she was trying desperately to ask for, even though it wasn’t part of her culture.

He wondered again what had happened to her. She seemed to think she’d done something unforgivable. Was it Azati Prime? He remembered what Malcolm had said. She’d been all but frozen, locked on him. She couldn’t have been expecting that – , and they’d thought the Captain was dead, then, too. Given her reaction to that news today, Trip had a better idea why she’d been hiding in the Ready Room, why she’d needed him so intensely. Why she’d been about to run.

It hadn’t occurred to him then that she might not know how to grieve – or at least, not how to do it when she was surrounded by humans and their emotions -humans relying on her to hold things together, even while she was falling apart.

He was getting the idea that, when Vulcans fell apart, they didn’t make a lot of noise about it. Typical. It was probably classified. It made him want to strangle Surak, or whoever the hell it was who’d locked her into a straitjacket that didn’t fit right.

Now, she stared at her fingers, where she’d wiped at her tears. She just looked, like she couldn’t get further than that in her own mind.

“Want me to help you to bed and tuck you in?”

“Bed?”

“You look like you’re about ready to collapse- thought maybe you’d be more comfortable in bed.”

Her gaze met his, her eyes catching the light from her candles. They were full of feelings he couldn’t decipher.

“I won’t sleep, any more than I have. No. Trip – I must speak to you.” It was barely a whisper. She started to use the wall to lever herself up; he caught her hands as he got up, and helped her. She seemed like she was on the edge of some unnamed cliff, teetering.

Whatever secret she’d been keeping was about to come out. She couldn’t hold it, anymore – it was destroying her. She made for her meditation table, already arranged- cushions on either side, a stone box and two scanners on top of it, with her candle. Trip kept hold of her elbow; she didn’t seem very steady. She made it to the cushion facing the door and settled herself, gesturing to the other side of the table. “Please, sit.”

Trip sat. I’m gonna keep my mouth shut, this time. Her eyes had gone off to the left again, and the frown was there. Her lips were trembling.

Time stretched out. The things she needed to say filled up the space between them. She seemed stuck, not knowing how to say them.

“This box is beautiful,” he said, when I couldn’t stand the quiet anymore. Slowly, he reached out to touch it, watching her, ready to stop if she said to. She followed the motion, tense, poised for something. The stone was cool and smooth. Trip stroked it slowly. T’Pol’s fingers darted out, captured his with that kissing touch – but there was something desperate in the way she clutched, and in her eyes. She was quivering again.

The box had something to do with this.

Slowly, shakily, she moved their hands to open the hinged lid.

Inside was her Vulcan hypospray – the one she’d said held her contraceptives. Pieces fell into place, their clicks deafening in their implications.

“Good lord, T’Pol – you’re pregnant, aren’t you?”

She stared at him wordlessly. Trip watched her, wondering what it had been like for her, to know…wondering what it meant for them now that he did, wondering how he felt…T’Pol was pregnant – or, maybe had been. Could an accidentally conceived human-Vulcan baby even be viable? Had she held onto this, all alone, because she didn’t know how to tell him? Did she want a baby? Did he? No wonder she’d been acting this way -

“No, Trip. I’ve never been pregnant.” Her voice was very soft, and her eyes held to his. Eloquent eyes, and beautiful. Trip felt a wave of -something – pass between them, through their fingers, as they both released the nonexistent child. There was a stab of regret, mixed with relief – his own, or shared?

“You might wish to scan the contents of the box.” She was moving again, in those little movements that always looked like her emotions were pushing and pulling at her.

Whatever was in the hypospray had something to do with whatever it was that was eating at her.

“You sure?” Trip reached his other hand toward the Starfleet scanner, but didn’t touch it. Trip watched her, felt her through their still clasped fingers.

T’Pol nodded. She was crying silently, her body hunching over the sobs, and she looked petrified. What the hell was it?

Trip picked up the scanner, turned it on. It was already set for chemical analysis. He swallowed, and stroked her shaking fingers. Her lips parted, and she didn’t seem to be breathing.

He aimed the scanner at the hypospray, and it peeped to let him know that it was analyzing. T’Pol jumped and trembled, like a wild animal who didn’t know which way to run. What is it, pepperpot?

Another peep, and a gasp from T’Pol-

Trip didn’t need the name that flashed on the screen. He’d looked at that formula for weeks; so had she. The stuff had damn near killed her; had killed over a hundred of her former crewmates.

“Why the hell is there trellium in your room, T’Pol?” He’d promised himself he’d stay calm, but, dammit, he was scared now. Scared, and confused.

“You’re hurting me.” He was squeezing her hand, hard. He loosened his grip, but didn’t let her go. She didn’t seem to want to try to get away, either.

And she hadn’t answered the question. But her head was turned, and tears rolled down her face.

Other pieces fell into place; another picture formed…

That dream – Surak statues collapsing, disintegrating into trellium-laced fragments.

Secure the trellium…and feel…

Her admission that she’d done something she couldn’t undo, and that she felt ashamed of…

Oh, pepperpot – oh please let me be wrong! Why couldn’t she just be pregnant?

“T’Pol?” He asked, softly, afraid to ask anything more; afraid to hear what she said next.

She drew in a sharp breath, as though he’d struck her, and, somewhere, she found her Vulcan armor, more or less. Her face, still streaked in tears, went emotionless in a way that he hadn’t seen it in a long time. “When it became prohibitively difficult to reach it in Cargo Bay 2, it seemed logical to secure it here.”

“How the hell is that logical? This stuff is poisonous to you – out of the whole crew, only you. This seems like the worst possible place to keep it – and why the hell do we need to secure it, anyway – and in a hypospray? T’Pol, there are things you’re still not telling me.”

Her stare fixed on him – no. She was focused on him, but her eyes were boarded up like windows before a hurricane, opaque, Vulcan.

“For over three months, I injected it, daily or more frequently, into my jugular vein. It would be difficult for me to achieve that objective if I could not reach the compound, or if it were not in a hypospray.” She sounded like she was giving a status update when she had nothing to report.

“Three months? Your jugular?! ” Trip couldn’t just sit there and watch her. She was perfectly still as she damned herself, as though this were all perfectly logical, as if it made sense, as if it was a matter of necessity. He was still missing something, dammit! He jumped up, only half aware that he’d jostled the table, and damned near knocked the candle over. He stood there for a minute, not knowing what the hell to do next. He couldn’t think past the crashing in his head, past her sitting there like one of those crumbling Surak statues from the dream. Statues made of trellium, goddammit- aww, hell, T’Pol – tell me it’s not going to kill you, tell me you’ve stopped tell me you- we- can get past this…

Tell me it’s not my fault you did this.

She just sat there, silent, still, a statue woman with feet of clay. Whatever he’d thought was beneath the changes in her, it wasn’t this…this….self-destruction. Like trying to negotiate with the Xindi at Azati Prime. Like hiding in here- oh, pepperpot, were you sitting here pushing this poison into your blood while I was out there, too scared to ring the bell?

He went to the window, but all there was too look at was the wall of the Aquatic ship. Belly of the whale. Sudden claustrophobic fear spun him around again, to the woman – was she actually meditating? After a declaration like that? Without giving him any answers?

He came back, grabbed her shoulders, pulled her up, surprised when she didn’t resist him. Or even open her eyes. “T’Pol! Don’t shut me out now – not like this. Why the fuck would you do such a damned suicidal thing? Have you got a deathwish? Talk to me, woman! Look at me!”

She twisted, too fast for him to react to, faster than he’d known she could be. Down and away, coming up on her knees, the hypospray in her hand. “No,” Trip yelled, going after her –

She held his gaze, went up on her knees, her lovely neck arching – and she slapped the device against the base of her jaw –

She gasped sharp and swift, and her eyes closed, the Vulcan mask slipping away as she opened them, staring first at him, then at the hypospray she held. She started to shake violently. “I -” She cut herself off, and picked up her own scanner. “ Number Two Hundred Fifteen, Enterprise, February 14, 2154. Record.”

She sounded so calm, so in control. But she was still shaking as she set the scanner down, and she was looking restlessly around the room, anywhere but at him.

He couldn’t watch her anymore. It was too raw, too real – one thing to hear what she’d been doing, another to see her do it, to know that poison was rushing through her blood right now, killing her, maybe. Hurting her, for sure…he could feel it. He was back at the window, and he drove his hands against it, remembering how’d they’d stood here, together, just a little while ago, before the bottom fell out of his life….

The hypospray clattered against the table, metal on wood. A choking sound, then movement…

Trip was afraid to turn around – and terrified not to.

He turned around. T’Pol was at her comm, leaning on the desk with shaking, stiff arms. “Phlox.” Her whisper was harsh. “There is – a sign of trouble.”

Her arms seemed to collapse, and she folded up again, there on the floor.

Trip realized her was being an ass. He was on his way to her when the comm whistled. “T’Pol?” Phlox’s voice sounded concerned.

She was crying. Trip didn’t even know if she could hear the comm, or understand it, now. How much trellium was in the hypo? Enough to make her the way she’d been, when the Captain brought her back from the Seleya. Or – the way she’d been at Azati Prime – hell, had she been doing this then? “It’s Trip, Doc. Can you come? Can you hurry?”

“What is the nature of the difficulty?”

“I’m not comfortable talkin’ about it on the comm. Just come quick. She needs you.”

“I am on my way.”

Trip sank down beside her, pulled her into his arms. “I’m sorry. I didn’t do that right, T’Pol. What do you need? Can you tell me?”

“This. And you.” She twisted again, and kissed him, with heat and urgency.

“Phlox is on his way.” She was quivering in his arms, all citrus and sandalwood again, her fingers hungry on his. Beautiful, needing him, broken and hurting.

**

“He was – supportive of my recovery -”

“Recover – so you’re not still – weren’t still? – doing this?”

“No. I’ve undone a great deal of struggle.” Her fingers lifted; she watched them as they found his face. The intensity of sensation brought gasping pleasure, surging regret. “Have I also undone what is between us, Trip?”

“Because you did something stupid? How many stupid things have I done, since you’ve known me?” He touched her face gently. “I told you; we all fall down – it’s whether you try to get up again that matters.” His hand stroked her hair. “I’ll be here, if you want me. You don’t have to do this alone. Would neuropressure help?”

The comm chimed. “Come in,” she said, then looked at Trip again. “We will ask the doctor. It might be unwise- I’ll have little control of my breathing or emotions.”

“You seem pretty calm, right now.”

“T’Pol?” Phlox closed the door behind him, and waited.

“I injected trellium – “

“Why? You were doing so well, T’Pol.”

“I -I didn’t intend – there was no forethought. The impulse came to quickly to repress.”

“Why were you keeping trellium here? You know your control is not certain; there’s no logic in tempting yourself.”

“No, I think you’re wrong there, Doc. It was a test, wasn’t it? To know if you were fit for duty? One you faced every second you were in here?”

“Yes.”

“Doc, can you help her?”

“T’Pol – do you want my assistance? This isn’t your choice, Commander Tucker, it is hers.”

“I’ll accept your counsel, Doctor.”

Phlox completed a scan. “We could chelate your blood, and clear the compound. But it will be painful, and will necessitate another full day of recovery. That would likely involve some explanation to Starfleet.”

“Is there another alternative?”

“Yes. You can, as the humans say, ‘weather the storm’. So long as you don’t ingest any more trellium,, you will sufficiently purge your system to return to duty in approximately 12 hours.” He looked toward Trip. “It would be best if you aren’t alone, and if you – indulge any reasonable emotional response.”

“Will you stay with me, Trip?”

Her answer was in his smile. ” Already said I would. You’re my Valentine, aren’t you?”

Story A Day May 29: “In the Airlock”

Notes:

POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT!

This story contains suggestive/erotic elements; reader discretion is advised.

This story is a fan fiction extrapolation of an unwrittenscene based upon the  Star Trek: Enterpriseepisode,Zero Hour.

T’Pol and Trip are property of Paramount; no copyright infringement is intended.

Hoshi was still trying to absorb Jon’s death, numbed by the heaviness of the Xindi parasites she’d been infected with. Trip’s shocked moment of grief pierced it like a phase pistol blast, pulling Hoshi into his embrace, his pain. The captain was - had been - his best friend. Now, he clung to her like he’d disintegrate if he didn’t -

But then he said, “Hang on,” in a choked voice, and nodded to his left -where T’Pol stood, alone, alien, outside. Her head was turned away, bowed, her whole body tense and shaking – clearly struggling with grief that, as a Vulcan, she couldn’t show openly.

She looked at Trip, and nodded. Together, they each reached out an arm, and drew the Vulcan woman into the hug. T’Pol’s shaking body was stiff for a breath, like she might break away -

And then she crumpled in gasping, choking sobs, clinging to them both…but, Hoshi noticed, mostly to Trip. “T’hy’la,”she whispered, so softly it was almost inaudible, and her body language shifted suddenly and dramatically.

Hoshi let go – she was pretty sure she’d be a fool to get in T’Pol’s way, right now. She could feel the imminent emotional collapse, and that Trip could offer comfort she couldn’t. T’hy’la, like most Vulcan words, had many levels and gradations. But the way Trip kissed her hair, the way his hands ran down her back, cradling her hips – those weren’t ambiguous at all. Neither was the way that T’Pol leaned into him, or the way she was moving as he held her.

She seemed competely lost in the moment, but Trip caught her gaze. “Hoshi – not a word?”

She smiled sadly. “Not one. This is between you.”

“We must – be – alone now.” T’Pol’s voice was strained and husky in a way Hoshi had never heard it, and ended in pleading.

“Just a minute, Valentine.” Trip looked at the airlock, and Hoshi. “Gotta take care of something, then I’m all yours. Hoshi – on your way to Sickbay, call Malcolm. Tell him to seal this airlock; no one in or out, and no communications, until he gets orders from me or her.” T’Pol went up on her toes, now, and clasped Trip’s head, pulling him down to claim his mouth. “Please….”

“Aww, hell…” Trip was almost grappling with her now; T’Pol seemed to be trying to undress him. “Tell the Xindi they gotta wait….and tell Malcolm – T’Pol! Wait one damned minute, woman!”

“I – can’t -” Gasping, breathy conviction in her tone.

“I think she means it, sir.”

“Tell ‘im – nothing about the cap’n, to anybody. It’s her duty to inform the crew – when she can. Not now.”

“Yes. Now.” There was a sound of tearing fabric, and Trip groaned and wrestled a hand loose to slam it against the airlock controls.

“If he gossips, he’ll land in the brig.”

The door opened, and T’Pol nearly launched them into the narrow tunnel linking the two ships, still tearing at clothing, her breath coming in panting gasps.

Hoshi watched the door slide closed as tangled feet barely got out of the way in time.Then she shook herself, and went to the comm, half-wondering if she’d imagined what just happened.

**

Trip wondered what the hell was going on with her – but not for long. There wasn’t time. All he could feel from T’Pol was this one need – the need for sex – and nothing else. It was raw and consuming, and there was no reasoning with it or her. She was somewhere beyond that, already, all that logic buried.

There was no putting her off, either.

So he gave himself to her, let her do what she needed to, for whatever reason she needed to.

I don’t have to understand her to help her. I just need to be here, be what she needs, till she doesn’t need it anymore. He remembered the old woman’s words. If this was the only way she could ask, he wasn’t going to ignore her.

She didn’t need finesse. She got him out of his uniform – it probably wasn’t salvageable – and shed her own clothes from her body – Vulcans apparently used tougher stuff; hers hadn’t torn. She shredded his underwear with raking nails and strafing teeth, panting and almost growling. At first, Trip tried to help her, thinking it’d be faster, but her frustrated snarls stopped him.

It reminded him of that first time, when he’d wanted to slow down, enjoy it, and she said she couldn’t. She was shuddering, shaking, somewhere beyond words. He wasn’t even sure she knew who she was with, or if it mattered at all, right now. Maybe any man would do -

“Only you, t’hy’la.”

She was kissing him, biting, tongue struck deep. There’s no way she’d spoken aloud. But her voice was clear, gasping – and certain.

“How – ?”

“T’hy’la. Only you, only you, only you, only – “

She shook and quivered as she straddled him, sheathed him, claimed him. Her stare held him, only him, looked deep into him, and he filled with her, with what she was feeling, layered over and through what he was, so that it seemed there was no end to her and beginning to himself, but rather one river, holding them both, flowing together, rushing in torrents…

Almost-citrus-and-sandalwood enveloped them, swirled through everything, and they were swept away, swept up, flowing together…

**

There was only this – only the frothing rush, the pleasure, the joining, the impact of each collision of physical forms, each barrier swept away beneath the force of their shared being.

Only this.

Nothing else….

“The Captain didn’t make it.”

No.

Nothing else. Certainly, not that.

They flowed on, rushing, ever rushing…

The riverbed was strewn with obsidian boulders that had fallen from the walls of the chasm they carved with their passion. Sharp, cutting moments of altered clarity –

“The weapon exploded -”

Earth safe…and an exhaled breath.

“Before he could beam -”

“No!” They shattered the boulder, and obsidian sands surrounded them.

“Microfractures forming throughout the hull. Structural integrity is compromised.”

Only this. Please. Let there be nothing else….let there be only this…

More, so much more.

Statues of Surak lined the chasm; shattering, crumbling to dust, falling upon them…..

“Lost – I am lost….” the statues shattered, crumbled, into gray rock, blue-veined, holding power, madness, feeling…..feeling…

I wanted more.”

Fractured to her core, she sat, back to door, locked in anguish…

“Secure the trellium….secure it, and feel….”

Feel icefire in their veins, feel emotions, intense, deep, rich- to feel passion, to open, to be flooded, gasping, yearning….yearning that had a name, a voice, a smile that compelled.

It meant something. Something important, a key to the locks she hid behind…

Awakened, Awakened to the sizzling tingle, embracing…Awakened to a human…

To me?”

T’hyla. Only you….”

Only this. Please. No more….nothing else…

**

They were on the Bridge. Naked, intimately intertwined, in the Captain’s chair.

Only this.

The river, choked with slicing shards of sand; flooding through them. Reality, slicing through the sharing…

“You can’t expect us to carry on while you two – canoodle!” Outraged Britishness in Malcolm’s voice. They didn’t bother to look at him – no. They were full of the joining, the river of need, the flowing-together…

On the Bridge?

That is where we are.

“That is exactly what we expect. We are as we are, where we are - in this instant and always.”

“What you aren’t – or shouldn’t be, either one of you, is in command of this ship! You shouldn’t be here, on the Bridge, if you can’t keep your hands off and your clothes on! Doctor! I want them both certified unfit, immediately. Get them a room, hose them down, sedate them, throw them in an airlock, – I don’t care which. But not here!”

The sharp-edged sand bit into the joining, pulling, tugging them apart.

No…only you only you only you…”

“Mr. Reed, I will do none of those. This is of vital importance for T’Pol, and, I suspect, also for Commander Tucker. I will do nothing to disrupt this connection- in whatever form it takes.”

“This is insanity!”

We rose, drew ourselves up, strode to Malcolm’s station. “Who are you to say?”

“Currently, the highest-ranking officer fit to command this ship, that’s who!”

“Are you Vulcan?”

He didn’t seem aware of the danger – rather surprising, for a Tactical Officer. How could he not know the fury of emotion in our souls? ” What the hell kind of question is that?”

“A particularly relevant one, I believe.” Doctor Phlox edged in – why was he on the Bridge, now that the mission was over, and the Sphere destroyed?

“I’m no Vulcan.” Why did he sound so proud of it? Surging of rage, deftly turned by the flowing river of emotion, “I’m human, T’Pol. As you well know.”

“Strictly speaking, I don’t believe this is T’Pol, nor Commander Tucker, Lieutenant. And you are, as the human phrase goes, playing with fire. I suggest you desist immediately.”

“What do you mean?” Travis asked.

“We do not grieve as you do, nor live as you do. We are in souldance -we are one.”

“Souldance? Mumbo-jumbo! I know that dance well, Commander – and you’re as human as I am, no matter what she is!”

“You know nothing!” Shearing, slicing separation; staggering, falling to the deck plating with this new wounding -

Trip throwing himself over the console at Malcolm, sneering. “You leave her the hell out of it, got it?”

Dark hand offered to help me up….Ensign Mayweather, keeping his eyes on my face, only. “Need a hand, ma’am?”

I shivered with need, but could touch no other, now. I shook my head, unable to respond, crouching, turning, wanting.

“I’ll not allow the two of you to jeopardize this ship for the sake of your – your carnal pleasures!”

“You don’t know what the hell you’re talking about! I oughtta clobber you!”

“Anyone accosting either T’Pol or Commander Tucker risks death or serious injury,” Why did the Doctor sound so concerned, and why was my blood searing through me, drawing me staggeringly up, to Trip…?

To joining….

“Only you only you only you….”

**

“What the hell’s she on about -”

I slugged him – he was staring at T’Pol, and I remembered his long-ago words. “I think she’s pretty. She’s got an awfully nice bum.”

Keep your eyes off her!”

The woman’s naked on the Bridge, and you want me not to see her?”

“‘Only you.’ That’s all she’s saying, over and over.” But I didn’t need Hoshi’s translation. I felt it in every breath. It drove me, drove me arm back, to force Malcolm not to look at her that way…

“Only you only you only you.” The flowing-together surged through me, pulling me in, swallowing me in her heat, her quivering desire…

Malcolm’s fist hit me, crashed me to the deck, and she was there, reaching for me, hungry as I was…

“Only you only you only you!”

Quivering – citrus and sandalwood, and the enchantment of her flowing-in….only you only you only you..

“Get them the hell off the Bridge!” Malcolm, again, interrupting the sweet passion of joining, her need to connect in this moment of deep loss….

“What the hell do you have against them, anyway?” Travis, coming to their aid.

“Might I remind you, Ensign, that this is the Bridge of Enterprise, the first Warp 5 starship? A starship mourning its recently deceased captain?”

“And it’s their home.” Hoshi…dear Hoshi, after all she’d been through, ready to help us…

Somehow, though we tangled as one on the floor, the sounds of slow, discordant jazz filling us, drowning out all else, binding us more tightly together, could still feel the life of the Bridge, as though we were above it, part of it, seeing all….

“Doesn’t decorum matter to any of you? Protocol?! Remember that word? T’Pol spouts it at us, all the time! Well, where’s hers, now?”

“Buried under grief, I should say,” Phlox said. “She said it herself. She’s not human, Lieutenant. She doesn’t grieve as you do. Neither do I. She’s different – Vulcans do not, as a rule, grieve publicly, if they grieve. From T’Pol’s reaction, I am certain she does. What she’s doing, I believe she is doing by instinct- and that it is wholly beyond her ability to control.”

“All right – let’s say we assume this is -somehow – necessary, for her. It’s not instinct for him!And I don’t see why it has to be here- “

“Lieutenant- you can’t be saying that you think they would do this here, if they didn’t have to!”

“I think Commander Tucker would do it anywhere, any time, so long as she’s involved. The man has neither self-control nor discretion.”

“That’s not fair – neither of them have ever been inappropriate on duty -”

Flashes, in our minds, exploding outward like photonic torpedoes. That smoldering kiss on Rigel 10. The Decon chamber; arguing and caressing, the gel slippery and arousing as we explored…Stolen moments, growing closer, learning one another..

“Well, now, it seems they have. I want them off the Bridge- and now. I will assign Security and have them pulled apart and put in the brig – in separate cells – if they don’t leave.”

“Leave us be!” We were one voice, one mind, one body, one soul. Entwined, breathing together, moving together. We held tight, flowing on, learning to absorb the pain of loss that had undone us before.

“We don’t know what effect moving, separating, or other distractions, will have upon them. It is more than likely that these interruptions, if this is an instinctive need that T’Pol is fulfilling, are impeding whatever benefit she’s intended to reap from it.”

“Maybe we’d better move to the situation room, and give them some space,” Travis said.

Flowing, we watched, and listened, from the vantage point on the ceiling….Captain on the ceiling, Trip in the doorbell. No logic.

What need did we have for logic?

“Now hold on. We thought the Captain was dead at Azati Prime, too. She didn’t tackle Commander Tucker, then.”

Azati Prime – and the shiver of remembered horror, of being shattered, fractured, fragmented. Of being lost, and of searching. Of the dead, the wounded, the ship broken, but not as broken as we had been, alone….so alone, so hollow…

“No. But she did almost go after him.”

“And it took Commander Tucker to get her out of the Ready Room…”

Hoshi’s voice was quiet. “You haven’t forgotten the battle, have you, Malcolm? The three of us were here with her; she wasn’t, not really. I think Phlox is right. She needs this.”

“We need this – “

The Bridge was gone. We were in a small space…blissfully alone…..

Airlock.

The Captain dead.

Dead?

No….

Yes. He is dead.

The beginnings of acceptance. Of reality.

She was warm, almost hot, against me. “T’hy’la,” she breathed, and we cried together in the aftermath of the strange shared dream. I tried to hold to the images, because they felt like they meant something – something important, something that had to do with whatever had cracked her open.

The pieces slipped away, beneath her hot lips, which teased at mine. Her eyes were still far-off, but closer than they had been.

I reached up, to the first neuropressure points she’d shown me, pressed inward with firm, steady pressure until she gasped and finally relaxed.

Her gaze found me, cleared. “T’hy’la. We are in an airlock?” It was halfway a question.

Yup. Closest place I could seal off. Didn’t seem like a good idea to try to get anywhere else.” I stroked her back, as she settled with her head on my shoulder. “What happened to you, Valentine?”

Captain Archer – Captain Archer was a close friend. His death leaves an inner void -” Her voice trailed off and she got that little frown, her eyes shifting to the left again, hiding, uncertain.

And – this- helped?”

Yes. I apologize -”

Hey, none of that. Sometimes, pepperpot, you’ve just gotta let it out. Even you, tough as you are.”

Was I – inappropriate?”

Just a little. Only Hoshi saw. But I don’t think I’ll be able to put my uniform back on.”

She looked faintly embarrassed – and beautifully vulnerable.

I can’t say anyone’s ever done that to me before, and certainly not on Valentine’s Day.”

Jonathan Archer is dead. I am in command. Has the crew been informed?”

No, not yet.” I tipped her chin up so I could kiss her, maybe give her a cushion against what was next. “It’s traditionally the acting captain’s duty.”

T’Pol drew a deep breath. It was only a little shaky. “It is my duty. I have left it too long, already -”

You needed this.”

The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few – or the one.”

Even when the needs of the one meet the needs of the many?”

Perhaps not then.”

Then it doesn’t do any good to blame yourself, does it? Here, let me help you untangle your clothes…”

Story A Day May 28: “Valentine’s Day”

Notes:

POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT!

This story contains some suggestive elements; reader discretion advised.

This story is a fan fiction extrapolation of an unwrittenscene based upon the  Star Trek: Enterpriseepisode,Zero Hour.

T’Pol and Trip are property of Paramount; no copyright infringement is intended.T’Pol looked around the Bridge. The humans’ joy was pervasive, and she was suddenly in danger of being overwhelmed by it. Logic wass of little use, against emotion of this magnitude.What might Captain Archer would do, in this moment? She could almost see him, moving around the Bridge, visiting with everyone, giving each a moment‘s attention.

She was not as adept at knowing the proper words as he; his parting words to her, for example, had given her a moment of humor and calm amidst fear and self-doubt, as she stood beside Trip. “I expect you to keep him in line.”

Something in his manner said he knewit would prove her largest challenge -and the most rewarding. The Captain was a perceptive man.

She began with Trip. How could she not? He was partner, accomplice, friend – and so many other things. He met her gaze, smiling. The epidermal decay seemed to only enhance his appeal. His satisfaction rolled through him, reached out, caught her up.

Thank you for allowing me to keep you, however marginally, in line.” His hands rested on her console, and T’Pol watched in fascination as her own fingertips reached out -

And brushed against his –

A tiny gasp broke from them both, at once. Her fingers quivered with the awareness of him, and his blue eyes glazed with latent emotion as his other hand reached up to wipe his mouth.

“Any time. At all.” He swallowed, seeming to come to some decision as his focus shifted to their fingers, now side by side. “You make a damn fine Captain.” In a low, rough whisper, he added, “Little pepperpot.”

She brushed her scarred fingertips to his again, intrigued by his voice, and the strange name he seemed to have adopted for her. Ever, she’d had the need to touch the flame, to know for herself. Her eyes closed, for a breath, and she found the strength to move away.

Doctor Phlox was watching, his eyes sparkling, missing nothing. T’Pol went to him. “Your abilities allowed this mission to succeed, Doctor.”

“I only enhanced the plan you and Commander Tucker conceived,” he said, gently. “Hope for the best, in all things, T’Pol, hmmn?”

T’Pol remembered that Denobulans were rather reknowned as matchmakers, and the significant glance Phlox made past her shoulder to where Trip sat gave the words deeper meaning.

She inclined her head. “Indeed.”

“I’m proud to call you ‘friend’,” he said, softly enough that only she could hear. It was acknowledgment, not only of this mission, but of her personal journey.

She nodded slightly. “And I you, as well.”

Once she’d moved around the Bridge, seeing everyone, she went to the captain’s chair – to find Trip standing with his hand on the back of it. “You’ve done your due diligence, and then some, Cap’n. And you’ve earned a little time to yourself…you’ve been working pretty damned near nonstop for at least the last two days.”

“As have you, Commander,” T’Pol said mildly.

“I suggest you both take a few hours.” Phlox said, mildly. “Of course, if you are unwilling to take my suggestion, I will make it an order.” That unflinching Denobulan determination was in his voice.

**

Trip shrugged. “I’m not gonna argue,” he said.

T’Pol just looked at him for a beat, then said, “Are you certain you’re feeling well, Commander?” She looked like she was being completely serious, but, as a run of light, relieved laughter circled the Bridge, she looked at him and gave a tiny little nod, her eyes bright.

He made a flourish toward the turbolift. “ I feel just fine. After you, Cap’n.” He wondered what she’d say if she knew that he was motivated more than a little by the view when she was in front of him.

Once the doors closed in front of them, though – it was hard to remember that he’d promised himself to give her a resting place, a place to be whatever she needed to be as she found her way back from whatever inner desolation she’d nearly been swallowed by.

Damn, her skin looked beautiful – like she was a rare work of art. Well, she was. To him, anyway. Now – a century from now. Different, but still lovely.

“What are you going to do with your free time? Bet you could use a long meditation – and some sleep.”

He could see her emotions in her face. Since the trellium, it had been easier to read her. He wondered if she knew that.

“I planned to -” her gaze fixed on his face, then darted off to the left the way it did when she felt too vulnerable. “I planned to open my gift.”

“Maybe you should brace yourself,” he said, thinking he should give her some kind of warning.

“Indeed?” He could feel her wanting to know, but her customs wouldn’t let her ask outright.

“Yeah. I made it as far as this turbolift – hell, I was alone, and that’s all she said was for sure.” The questions were still in her eyes, and he went on. “I took the lift offline, sat down right where you’re standing, and had myself a helluva good cry. Stupid, maybe, to cry for someone I barely know, in a timeline that maybe never happened.”

“Human. Compassionate. Not stupid. Caring is not the purview of the ignorant, Trip. Apathy is.”

“For a second there, you sounded like the Captain – or her.” He smiled. “Well- yourself, I guess. Now I have a little better an idea what it was like, for everyone, having Sim around.”

Are you – are you willing to -discuss -?”

Not yet – I don’t want to spoil it, if it’s the same. After you’ve opened yours, and absorbed it – then, maybe, if you want to talk, or want company – ” He worked hard to keep his voice neutral, offering her support without getting in her way. It required more restraint than he usually could muster, but, hell – if his meeting with her alter-ego had given him anything, it was a certainty that T’Pol did need him, even if she wasn’t able to say so…

The way she’d been in the Command Center; the way she’d been at the Captain’s table last night, when she so adorably gave him permission to buy her a drink (no, he wasn’t going to let her out of that one, and he’d be sure there was something sweet in the offing, too)…those things were her way of saying so. Clumsy, tentative – but so much more than she’d been able to give, or accept, a few days ago, when she’d locked herself away.

Thank you,” T’Pol said, her eyes shifting toward him, her gaze lifting, but not quite reaching him – Trip thought that one meant that she wanted to open up, but wasn’t sure how or whether she could trust him. She got that little moist-eyed crinkle in her forehead – that always meant that she was emotional and confused by it.

Anytime,” he said, and smiled as they left the lift together, and her sly fingers brushed his again, light, quick, but so exciting.

**

T’Pol studied the simple obsidian box, and wondered if the emotion she was experiencing was trepidation. She was at last beginningto understand why humans devoted so much of their language to nuanced gradations of emotion – she hadn’t been aware of how complex the weaving of disparate feelings could be.

This, whether trepidation or something else, was likely justified. If Trip had found his gift as traumatic as his words implied, hers was likely to be – unsettling, as well. Perhaps deeply so. The old woman wanted them together; it was plain in her words and her actions. Being who she was , she would not leave such an important goal to chance.

It was logical to assume that the gifts would be designed to draw them closer to one another.

She’d learned that these emotional surges only ended when she faced their sources. One deep breath, and she opened the box. There was a certain pleasure in seeing that she was correct in her assessment –

Three slender journals, made of Vulcan pressroot, lie within the cradle of the archival box. Each was embossed with her personal sigil; in this reality at least, they had been a recent gift from T’Les her mother, awaiting her when they returned to Earth before this mission. They had been intended to record her return to Vulcan; their counterparts were sitting, blank and until now, nearly forgotten, in the drawer of her small night table.

These were worn. She smelled the inks, and noted that the pages were rippled in the way that bespoke much rereading of what had been written within. There was a letter, in her own hand.

T’Pol,

I have given much thought, and a great deal of feeling, to the day when we might meet. I wished to bestow a gift upon you, one that will perhaps guide you as you learn what your heart contains.

It is my hope that the accounts of these three experiences, as I shared them with Trip, will allow you deeper insight into your heart, and his character. I understand that some of the details are likely to change; you and Trip have your own lives.

However, I know also who -we- were, before we entered the vortex – and I know the events that weighed upon us, the unanswered questions of our soul.

May you find clarity and knowing in these words.

T’Pol”

Her hands shook, rustling the paper.

What had her other self written here? She was nearly certain she new what events were contained – there were three, above all others, that had troubled her.

She was not certain that she was ready to learn what they had been, for the other T’Pol.

She was, in fact, certain of very little. There had been an – easing – with Trip, and she was more able, now, to be among others without the constant feeling that she was about to fall headlong off some emotional precipice she had no name for. It had been almost pleasant, to dine at the Captain’s table, with these two human men who had become her friends.

But, if they knew…would their regard survive learning what she had done, the ways in which she had risked them all, without logic or reason beyond the emotions she could not release?

She had dared to make the first step in telling Trip the reason for her recent ‘slight emotionalism’. She was infinitely thankful that he’d allowed her to keep hold of the illusion that he’d thought it anywhere near slight. She didn’t remember everything, but she remembered enough to know that damage had been done.

She touched the three books, withdrew the top from the box, and ran her fingers along the spine. It was marked with a line of glyphs….dates. A stardate, traditional timekeeping for spacefaring Vulcans. An “actual date”, which she assumed would correspond to the chronology of the E2′s timeline. The last was a “pre-vortex date”, measured in the human fashion of month, day, and year.

This volume was annotated, “February 14, 2152.”

Today’s date.

That precluded one of the events conclusively; another, presumptively.

It left only one.

T’Pol held to the book, and went to the comm. She was pacing, agitated as she had not been in days, when the doorchime sounded. Trip, her mind thought automatically, although she’d been too distracted to feel his approach. “Come in.

Trip stepped in, saw her pacing, and settled on the bench, presumably to give her room. He was carrying the box he had been given as though it were something greatly cherished. His gaze touched her for a moment, then moved off, giving her space in that way, as well.

Something had changed in him. He was only a few moments behind her, leaving Lorian’s ship, but whatever he had exchanged with her elder quasi-self had apparently given him a quietude he had needed.

She stopped by the window. She saw his reflected image in the glass, framed by stars…

“Would you rather I go?” he asked softly, and it was only then that she realized that they had not yet spoken. When had they become so close that words were superfluous, between them?

“No. I am – troubled? apprehensive? eager? afraid?” She turned to him, seeking his eyes, as though somehow, by doing so, she would come to understand and name her emotions.

He smiled, just a little, but he also frowned, at the same time. “Are you asking me how you feel?”

“Perhaps. Or perhaps I am asking myself….” But, no….surely it wasn’t yet time to divulge oit. No – not while his planet’s fate hung in the balance. She could feel his tension, his restless energy, his helplessness. They had done all they could. It occurred to her that she was more adept at reading his emotions than her own.

Trip took a deep breath asshe left the window to sit cross-legged on her bed; her fingers traced the embossed sigil, the first she had ever learned.

T’Pol, can I ask you something? You don’t have to answer if I’m, you know, violating a privacy taboo, or you just don’t want to.”

She impulsively pressed the book to her breasts. A shield, perhaps? “You may ask. Perhaps I will answer – but there are things that will require a great deal of explanation – more than I can give, or you can hear, at this time.”

It was a difficult mission, but Trip only nodded. “Fair enough. How about I make this one a simple yes, no, or maybe?”

“Yes.”

He took a deep breath. “What you’ve been going through, lately – whatever it is. Does it – I mean is it – well, did our – ‘explorations’ – are they the reason you’ve needed to hide away? That you look like you could shatter if someone breathed on you too hard?”

“No!”

Trip’s breath let out in a long slow sigh, a smile spreading – at the sudden force of her reply. “Thank God.”

“If you wish…”

“No, that’s an expression- or a prayer – I’m not sure which.”

“Did you think -?” She didn’t need to finish the question; it was clear in his response. “Trip – you’ve done nothing amiss. The crisis- the difficulty – is within myself.”

She was pacing again. When had she begun?

“Like I said, when this is over – if you want to talk…”

“There will be a great deal to discuss. It will no doubt prove – unsettling.”

“Then you’ve given me fair warning.”

There is a letter- she has given me accounts of three events integral to – to their connection.”

I think the lady has ideas about us. She gave me a datapad filled with things they shared with one another.” He touched the box, but didn’t lift the lid. “I’ve been – well, scared, I guess, to really let myself look at it. I guess that sounds pretty silly to you.”

I haven’t read the journals- beyond the date. They are he source of my current – ” she fell back on the word she had used, for so long, when she thought emotion was a relatively simple matter- “agitation.”

He nodded toward the book she held close to her chest. “Do you recognize the date? Does it mean anything to you?”

“February 14, 2152. Today.”

“February 14 – that’s today?”

“Yes. Does this date hold significance to you?”

“It’s pretty old-fashioned. Almost no one seems even to think about it anymore – it was always one of the murkiest holidays. But for those of us who are hopeless romantics…” He shrugged.

T’Pol tried to keep up, but the wandering speech carried little concrete enough to divine his meaning. “It is – a holiday, of some sort?”

“St. Valentine’s Day. It used to be a big deal, up till a century or so back. Made a lot of people who had a partner feel free to gloat and spend lots of money on flowers and candy and dinners out, and made a lot of people who didn’t have someone downright miserable and inferior feeling. Now that I think about it, it doesn’t sound nearly as romantic as I’d thought.”

T’Pol caressed the journal, and considered. “It seems a particularly human concept, to celebrate attachment in such a fashion.”

“Hey – you knockin’ my species, lady?”

“No. I have great respect for your species, Trip. I am honored – and chastened – to serve among you.”

“Maybe she and Trip became Valentines that day. Or something.”

She turned to look at him; the last time he had been here, his presence had been torment, her feelings far too chaotic. This time, there was a lightening within her, and a turning-toward…”Meaning?”

“They were -sweethearts? I don’t know if I can translate this to Vulcan-equivalent terms.” He put up his hands apologetically. “Sorry.”

“I can. T’hy’la. Souljoined. Beloved.”

“You mean – your people have words for these things?” He sounded rather intrigued.

“They are very old words. By Vulcan standards, not human.”

He took that in, and then a slow smile spread across his face. “Hey, T’Pol? I’ll be your t’hy’la if you’ll be my Valentine.”

“You are already t’hy’la, to me, Trip.” The words were out before she knew they were within her; a residual effect of her trellium use – and also truth.

The room was suddenly, stiflingly hot, and she was far too aware of her own blood in her veins, hot and swift… .and the sizzling tingle….

“You didn’t mean to say that, did you?” He seemed suddenly far too near, and far too distant…Her legs felt….uncertain –

“Oh, shit,” was the last thing she heard, before darkness rose in a sizzling, searing tingle, and wrapped her in its embrace….

Trip was leaning over her. His eyes were so vividly blue, like Earth’s sky on a bright day….she was Awakened to him.

She pulled him in, kissed him with deep hungry fervor –

And then there was nothing, for some time, except the explosive force of things that had been left undone for far too long. Nothing at all was said in words.

There was no need. Bodies and minds communicated far more effectively.

And one more fragment of her room was no longer free of exploration…

T’Pol recovered herself to find Trip was watching her. He seemed both very pleasantly surprised, and worried. Perhaps other things, as well.

“You feel so much, at once. Doesn’t it confuse you?”

“You’ve met me, right?” He grinned, butstudied her closely. “I’m doing this a bit ass-backwards, but, are you OK? You had me scared for a minute or two, there – I think you fainted – and then you made me forget that I was scared…”

“I am – perhaps more ‘OK”than I have been in – in far too long.” She pulled him in for another deep kiss. “I have missed this…t’hy’la.”

“Mind if I point out that you could have had it, anytime?”

“Only if you will accept my word that it’s not true in the sense you believe.”

“I’m suddenly getting the idea that there’s a lot I don’t know here.” His touch was gentle, and his concern deepened. “Am I making things worse again?”

“You are offering perhaps the deepest of healing.”

**

She meant it. He could almost feel it – the release of all that desperate control, the crumbling of the walls she’d held.

He wanted to charge in, storm the castle, and claim the lovely princess for his own…

But this was no fairy tale – and she’d been through hell – might still be in hell, even now, beneath the flush of release. At best, she was fragile – and in command. Aww, hell.

Trip found himself chuckling. “The Captain expects you to keep me in line, remember?”

Perhaps, then, I should evaluate your performance, and give him a comprehensive report?”

“Aww, pepperpot.” He embraced her, settled her head on his shoulder, and sighed. “You have no idea how much I’ve missed you.”

Damned if he was even gonna try to pin her down on this one. Nope. This time, he was just gonna enjoy the moment, and not try to make one thing out of it that it wasn’t.

Besides, soon, she was going to get up and get back to work – and he wanted her to be able to do that without worrying about him.

Now, she craned her neck to look at him upside down. “You’ve used that appellation before. I find myself – most curious as to its origin.”

“Good. Bout time I had you wondering about something, stead of the other way round. Hey, what time is it?”

She glanced at her monitor, and then he felt her start to gather herself. “We were due in the Command Center fifteen minutes ago,” she said, and stretched against him with a decadence that made him groan. “We are quite late – I had forgotten.” And still, she didn’t quite seem to be able to pull herself away….she kissed him again, and her paired fingers caught at his, in that delightful kissing that didn’t look like kissing, and her quiver made him wish, for a minute, that they were the two lowest peons in the chain of command, instead of the highest.

She seemed to have forgotten again, already, judging by her dreamy-sultry eyes. “Hey, pepperpot?”

“Mmmn?”

“You. Me. Clothes. Work.” He held her shoulders and formed each syllable distinctly; she seemed to need that. Whatever had broken down those walls she’d had up for so long seemed to have her feeling a hell of a lot more than thinking, and he hoped he hadn’t made it impossible for her to do her job.

T’Pol actually made a face as though she’d eaten an especially tart lemon whole. She met his eyes; hers held a teasing light. “Awww, hell.”

That sent Trip into raucous laughter; she gave him that special little head tip that said she thought his sanity was in serious question, and got up smoothly – just as the comm signaled. “Bridge to T’Pol.”

“Damn, pepperpot – they caught you.”

“This is true.” She walked, stark naked and delicious, to the comm. “But only you, Trip, can claim me as your Valentine. T’Pol here.”

She was all business as she acknowledged the call – except for that smoldering way she was looking at him, and the brazenness of the way she stood there, unabashedly nude.

That had to be a good sign, right? That they’d done what they set out to do, and the Captain, too, would accomplish his goal. Earth saved, the Expanse returning to normal, and his spicy little pepperpot finding her sensual way back to herself, and his arms….

He had a feeling this was going to be the best Valentine’s Day of his life…and he whistled all the way to the Command Center.

Story A Day May 27: Locked Within; Locked Without

Notes:

POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT!

This story contains some suggestive elements; reader discretion advised.

This story is a fan fiction extrapolation of an unwrittenscene based upon the  Star Trek: Enterpriseepisode,E2.

T’Pol and Trip are property of Paramount; no copyright infringement is intended.

On a battered and limping starship, in quarters lit only by the flickering flames of multiple candles, a young woman sat alone upon the floor, legs folded beneath her, attempting to still a mind that had become frightening in its wilfulness. She sat with her back to the door, in an effort, quite likely misguided, to prevent her watching it. Although it was true that she did not crane her head to look at the barrier, it would be as equally untrue that she was not profoundly aware of the door – the physical portal between this silent refuge-prison and the rest of the ship.

Before she had adjusted her positioning, it had been impossible to avoid focusing on the door rather than her single flame.

She’d been foolish, perhaps, to think that this shift, that even more flames, would tame the impulse.

The door had become the symbol – of all she denied herself, retreated from -

Wanted.

Even now, her desires -and the fears that shadowed them – pressed inward from that door. She could feel their force, omnipresent, overwhelming…

But nothing to what she felt when duty compelled her to breach the scant shield that door, and this room, offered. Considering that emotional tangle brought a vivid memory of the tentacled, single-cell creature that had come aboard so small as to be undetected, but which had eventually taken up nearly an entire cargo bay, and five crewman.

Apprehension. Longing. Fear. Shame. Guilt. The feelings of all those around her; emotional responses she’d thought she’d long since grown accustomed to – a necessity for living and working amongst ceaselessly emotive humans…

Particularly one.

The one now nearing the door. Would this be the time he attempted to breach the walls she’d tried to erect between them?

He’d come here before. She’d spoken nothing of it – what could she say, and how could she say it to him, when he’d already borne such loss, and had done nothing wrong? – but she had felt him.

Like the sharp piercing pain of their first sexual interaction, like a blade stabbing into her heart, she had felt him, five times, come to this door, reach his fingers toward the doorbell -

And hesitate a long moment before going away.

Each time, she had sat breathless, staring, knees drawn up to her chest, unable to decide whether she wanted him to press the signal, or what she would do when he did.

He would. Being who he was, he couldn’t restrain himself forever.

Nor, T’Pol feared, could she.

He reached the door; something within her leapt more richly to life. The many-tentacled being of her emotions swelled, growing more complex, as she waited – at least, with her back to the door, she could restrain the impulse to huddle in upon herself in a defensive posture he would certainly recognize.

The pause was less than three breaths – hers, sharp and quick although she tempted to smooth them back into the deep breathing needed for meditation.

Or the semblance of it, at any rate.

And then she felt his decisive breath; heard him mutter on the other side of the door, “Feel like I should be saying ‘once more into the breach’, or ‘Abandon all hope, ye who enter here’. Or, better yet, and maybe truer, ‘here there be dragons.’ Or one beautiful, confounding, elusive little fire-dweller, anyway.” Another breath. “Stop standing out here talking to yourself like an idiot, Trip. The lady’s hurting, and she needs help, and you’re friends. Just friends. Got it?”

Apparently, he did, because, in the silence that followed, the door chimed his arrival.

In the three swift heartbeats she allowed herself, T’Pol wondered how much larger the creature might have grown, had they not sealed it within the cargo bay? How much would her feelings? Was there a finite limit, as the ship would have been to the creature; or was she a singularity, with an endless capacity for holding new emotions, new tangles of feeling?

Trip.

T’Pol felt him, on the other side of the door – within her soul, tangling, twining, always with her, somehow.

He would not stay away, even if she denied him now. He couldn’t. The polarity between them wouldn’t let him.

Come in.”

The door slipped back…she felt it as much as heard it, smelled him, felt the tingle of Awakening, Awakening deepened by intimate contact, sizzle and tingle from her fingertips, up her arms, and through her entire body, one trembling damaged synapse at a time, exquisitely slowly

Trip!

There was no naming the bubbling anomaly field that burst to life within her, as he stepped inside. And no telling what form the emotional reaction would take; no knowing if she could withstand its force.

At least she was sitting, so that he would not know how weak he made her..

How terrified.

**

The way she evaded him, even while sitting still, told him, once again, that he’d read things right, but approached them all wrong. Here she was, telling him she thought they should stop the neuropressure sessions – but, dammitall, her voice was on the verge of tears.

Why?” He wasn’t asking only about neuropressure, he realized. He was pretty sure she knew it, too.

She hedged – not something she was noted for, and Trip caught a hint of a truth he couldn’t begin to understand, and which she couldn’t begin to talk about. He’d never felt at once so close to someone, and, in the same breath, so far apart.

He could feel her quivering from where he stood behind her. Not visibly; that delicious undercurrent that only came when she was aroused, when she was touching him, or wanting to…

Thrill of delight, stab of yearning. She still wants me….

Only then did he know that he hadn’t been sure. Something in him leapt up, intent, intense – and, dammit, he had to fight back a physical response he hadn’t dressed to conceal. Damn. Baseball scores. Fish tales.

Aw, hell – not the way she looked, sitting there, in blue. Damn, he loved the way she looked in that color. In any color, really. In nothing at all.

Wrong way, Trip! Grandmothers with mustaches, planting kisses on him. Lizzie, throwing swamp mud in his eye because he said her favorite imaginary friend Just Wasn’t Real…

Better. He could breathe again, without taking the chance it would become a pleading, embarrassing moan.

“I’ve taught you all I can.” She kept – almost – turning to face him, then flinching away as though his simply being here was more than she could face, right now. Maybe he should go, leave her to hide out until she’d had enough- but something in the way she bowed her head told him that, hard as this was for them both, letting it rest like this would only throw up another wall.

Aww, pepperpot. What the hell is scaring you?

Insight struck with the force of antimatter…

She’s afraid of you.

She’s afraid of intimacy.

Most of all, she’s afraid of herself.

Trip wanted to ask her why again, but, with the way she was defending herself already, he wasn’t sure she could take it.

Time to fess up, maybe?

At least time to face her. If he’d hurt her, somehow, if what they’d shared was scaring her, he could still be her friend, if she’d let him. He’d miss the neuropressure, and that easy flowing sharing that they’d developed while doing it – but he’d gotten used to missing that. Since Azati Prime, and whatever had happened to her there, she’d been – absent. No, it was more than that.

Vacant. On some strange sort of autopilot that didn’t seem to be able to adapt to the changes.

She needed a friend. He could be that – he though he could, at least – without pressuring her for anything more.

If she’d let him.

He came around behind her, trying not to notice how she sat perfectly straight, correct- trying harder not to remember laying in this same spot, with her straddling him, arching back in a lovely curve before all but throwing herself onto him in sheer ecstatic abandon, claiming him with that same offhand confidence that was such a part of her…

Or had been. And, damn, he was turned on by her, and there was almost literally nowhere to look that didn’t hold decidedly erotic memories…

Shit.

He’d planned to stay standing, but the vixen had a direct line of sight to how she was affecting him, and he sure as hell couldn’t go back, now that he was around her…besides, the way she was flinching, Trip had a strong sense that he needed to get in her way, if she was going to look at him at all.

He hitched up the legs of his sweats a little – he was pretty damned sure he was gonna need the extra room, no matter how hard he tried to resist…

Especially since he could still feel her low-grade quiver – when had he become more attuned to that than to the engine vibrations through the deck plating? And damn her, how could she look so vulnerable, so composed, and so utterly unaffected by the arousal he could feel roaring through her?

He’d been talking to her, but, honestly, he couldn’t remember what he’d said, only the way the candlelight flickered shadows over her lovely, troubled, flinching face. She looked like she was fighting her own impulse to open to him; or to run from him. Trip wished he knew which.

Where do you suggest I eat?”

There was pure Vulcan hautuer in that line, laced with anger. Trip had heard that voice before. The first time, he’d thought her arrogance was beyond bounds, intolerable…but then he had another memory..

I have other letters in my quarters. Would you like to read them, as well?”Oh, she’d been royally pissed at him, then, and she’d had every right to be. Between that damn forced marriage (arranged? You couldn’t arrange a marriage for a seven year old child – you could only force it on her wholesale, and that was a dirty enough little secret, without him sneaking around spying on her and all but accusing her of espionage in the process…).

But she’s also been vulnerable, her deepest secret and the ultimatum that went with it in his hands.

He’d started to understand her then; now, he was sure.

She was trapped. By what, Trip didn’t know. But she was embarrassed to be asking for any kind of special treatment – but she had to. Had to stay in here with whatever the hell had hold of her; had to stay away, isolate herself.

Oh, pepperpot, what’s wrong? I wish to hell you could just tell me…

Beautiful little fire-dweller. At least she was looking at him more, and getting her dander up a little. After the cringing remoteness, the passion raised Trip’s spirits – and predictable, another part of him as well…damn, but she was potent!

Time to tell her so, Trip reckoned. Trick was, though, to do it in a way that let her off the hook, that didn’t pressure her for anything more than they’d already shared.

Finally, she wasmeeting his eyes; but that direct regard of hers seemed like another door she was hiding behind, now…another hastily erected barrier. Scratch that. Hastily built. ‘Erected’ was not the best word to focus on right now, not when he could still feel the quiver, smell that special not-quite-cirus-and-sandalwood scent she got when they touched…

Predictably, he got tangled up in his feelings and whatever the hell it was he was trying to say, and the impossibility of labeling what they’d shared apparently not nearly enough to satisfy either of them.

Had sexual relations?” She made it sound almost clinical – except for the direct and unblinking way she gazed directly into his eyes, and the quivering, beneath her surface, rippling his depths…he had to tease her, or grab her and kiss her. There were no other options.

And, at last, she sparring with him, dancing warily around his words, calling it an ‘exploration’ again…

Oh, yeah. Exploration, expedition…followed by ecstasy, exhaustion, and then…more exploration. She could make it sound as sterile in the retelling as she wanted. Trip was there, and so was she, and they both knew better.

But her quicksilver wit was emerging, and her passion. Just a few weeks ago, she’d used those to spring the most delightful trap Trip had ever been ensnared in.

Dammit, he wanted to be trapped that way again. And again. And then again.

And more after that, too.

She darted a glance off to her left, lowering her lids, swallowing. Oh, pepperpot, you’re not a quarter as good at hiding your feelings from me as you think you are. You want more, as much as I do – and why do I get the feeling you need it even more?

Her eyes didn’t come back to his face until she got that damned Vulcan mask back on – well, sorta. “I’m fine.” she said, but her voice cracked into the hitch of an abortive sob.

What the hell had happened to her?

And was he responsible?

She was shattered, somehow, deep inside, her core fractured and in desperate need of attention. Structural integrity compromised, said all of his engineering instincts. Complete collapse imminent.

Whatever this was, it was bigger than she was, right now. And, somehow, while he was trying to make it better, he was actually making it worse.

She was pleading for him to believe her, to not press, to give her the space she needed…

Even if I explode – or implode. In his mind, a sudden image of that gooey tentacle-fella who’d wrapped him up, with the captain and three others…but this time, it was T’Pol who was being absorbed…from the inside out.

I want you to go. I want you to stay -

It hung there, in his mind, like a star. Not his thoughts, but hers. She didn’t seem to know what she’d done, and Trip did the best he could to cover his shock.

She couldn’t share this with him consciously, and his attempts to find out what it was were hurting her, confusing her. She’d turned her head to the left, now, shutting him out, slightly, after her false declaration.

He couldn’t bear the way she couldn’t bear to look at him. Dammit, he’d come to help, to comfort, not to put his foot in his damned mouth and make it all worse.

He nodded. Okay, pepperpot. I’ll let it be- for now. But you’re in desperate need of some TLC, no matter what you say….

He sighed a little at the barriers still standing between them. But it helped, just a little, to have an idea of how badly she needed them, right now…

He left her, locked inside with her candles and her pretense of mediation and her quivering, hidden desires, and spent the next two hours venting his frustrations on the one treadmill that had survived the attack.

She was locked in, and he was locked out. Damn.

**

T’Pol stared across the space to the battered craft – still bearing the wounds taken in her one abject failure, the one that no amount of time could exonerate her of. Lorian had suggested that she knew nothing of guilt – but T’Pol knew guilt; had known it for the last century, and more.

She had learned to live with it, function with its presence- but she’d never been freed from it.

Not the guilt – and not the emotion she had struggled with, then…

She wondered if the young woman she’d been would come. She had placed the invitation, in encrypted form, within the datapad she had given to Captain Archer.

She hadn’t added Trip’s name to the invitation. T’Pol, as she was now, would not pass it along, could not.

Nor was there a need. Trip would come. His need to know, his need to help T’Pol, his desire for her – a powerful combination of motivators, for a human. Combined with a persistence worthy of her own, these had broken down her barriers, long ago, created porous places where he flowed in, leaving her no need to hold herself apart or hidden.

More.

He would come, because T’Pol did. He would follow her, even though he wouldn’t know it, consciously.

And, in that certainty, perhaps, there was solace and healing for them both – and for her, as well.

She went to her closet. Most of the crew kept more in the way of familial mementos; most had had twice or even thrice her generations.

There had been little T’Pol deemed worth treasuring. The gifts they’d shared had been more in time, emotion, sharing a life and the raising of their one treasured child. But there had been the tokens, and the ephemeral. These she kept in a woven basket. She had long ago made her plans, as it seemed possible she might live long enough to rendezvous with Enterprise when the timelines merged once more.

She could help them. It must be done delicately, yet firmly, and with attention to the rawness and privacy of these two people.

Her hands trembled as she clutched the box, moving carefully. She’d grown accustomed to the shrinking of her reality- mostly, now, she was content to remain in this room, which had been her home for so long. She’d grown accustomed to the dimming of her eyes – but tears…

Why was it that, after all these years, tears always caught her by surprise?

T’Pol had long since learned to let them flow, and to embrace the way their anguish could shift, in some fashion, to a cleansing purge that brought healing.

An echo in her mind, a long-ago, beloved voice. Strong, young, sure of himself, and so gentle and shy and concerned, once he had learned her shame and her truth…words that had become her mantra, at times like this.

“Sometimes, pepperpot, you’ve just gotta let it out.”

It was a mantra; but it had also been the key, for her. For her, and for Trip. It had unlocked the walls between them, that matter-of-fact acceptance, the way he had never faulted her for ‘letting it out’, even when the results were far from pleasant. He’d said it whenever he could feel her churning with emotions she couldn’t hold or name; and he had been right.

He’d whispered it in her ear, the chill of his breath a thin glaze of ice over the molten lava of her blood, when the fevers took her, as she clutched at him and panted, trying desperately to hold to the tatters of control and reality, while all was being swept away in flame, and she thought she might kill him in her madness.

“Sometimes, pepperpot, you’ve just gotta let it out.”

Those had been the last words she’d understood for – days? Weeks? What matter?

What mattered was that, when clarity began to slip in, he was – mostly – undamaged. He’d held to her, weathered the firestorm with her, soothed her shuddering, erratic return to herself, and said, when she asked if it had been difficult, only, “No matter the price of the ticket; that’s a ride that’ll always be worth it. Yup. Got me my own sweet little fire-dweller, my pepperpot, my insatiable temptress…”

Somehow, that had made it – normal. Just another aspect of life; a deepening to her now-consummated Awakening. Forged in fire; tempered in time. Never and always touching and touched.

The old woman sank down onto her bed, and remembered. She was aware that her emotions could not possibly match his – but, as he would no doubt have said, were their situations reversed, “Damn, it’ll be good to see you again!”

**

This meeting was not going as T’Pol had expected. Perhaps it had been illogical to expect anything; the entire situation defied logic as she knew it.

She had a son with Trip. They had been married.

And he had died.

The stark certainty of that reality was more than she could face, now. She’d known it, from the moment she Awakened to him, of course- humans lived briefly and tumultuously, by Vulcan standards.

Excepting illness or accident, she would outlive him by many decades.

“That frightens you.”

How could she have forgotten that the old woman was in the room?

“He consumes you. You know nothing else, but him- him, and the emotions that have been roused. Eventually, you will find, if not balance, then at least- the manner of blending that will allow you to function. It will always be imperfect, but it will serve.”

It is too much.

“Such feelings always are, young one. And for humans, as well.”

How are you doing this?

“It’s not so hard, to know one’s own thoughts, or one’s memories, T’Pol. If you opened yourself, you might read me, as well. But I know – you can’t risk opening, now. Not yet. But soon, T’Pol. Soon.”

Her older self touched the place within her that vibrated to one pulse, waiting, growing. It was constant, now, and she could no more deny it than she could cease breathing, and yet live.

“Your Time is not so far off, T’Pol. Your heart will lead you – if you only allow yourself to attend to it. It holds one pulse, beats with one other, and one only. Even now, you feel him – as I do.”

It was true. Trip held her in thrall, there was no escaping him, now that they’d shared in the intimacies of coupling, the intimacies of neuropressure.

“Will you pour more tea, T’Pol?”

She hadn’t intended to stay; but she would not deny this request from her own older self.

She poured the tea, and the old woman settled back, eyes half closed, as they sipped together, in silent communion.

It occurred to T’Pol that it had been far too long since she had felt such peace.

**

Trip woke up from Lorian’s phase pistol blast with T’Pol in his mind.

T’Pol, locking herself into her room, back to the door, locking them all out.

T’Pol, backing herself up against the wall, eyes wide and troubled, as she accused him of wanting nothing more than a physical connection with him, then trying, it seemed, to back right through it-

To get away from his teasing about the absurdity of all this?

No.

He couldn’t be totally sure, but he had a real strong hunch that this was something else. Something that she couldn’t cope with, something that had exploded out of her at Azati Prime, on that shuttledeck staircase, when he grabbed her – and, from what people had heard from the Ready Room, with the Captain, too.

Something that had imploded on her, during that battle, and the early aftermath, when she’d seemed dazed – catatonic, almost.

He thought of that image he’d gotten from her mind – the tentacle-thing, growing from inside her.

Something was very, very wrong…

And there might just be someone who could help him figure this out.

He wondered, as he hauled himself up, why he wasn’t mad at Lorian for shooting him. But then he realized. Lorian would have had a good reason. A logical one. In that, he was, his mother’s son…but the willingness to shoot- that was maybe more him than her.

“Tucker to Bridge,” he said, when he realized that he and his people were in Sickbay. He didn’t see Phlox; he must be busy.

“Archer here. Good to hear from you, Trip. Everything’s under control, now – there’s a crew from your son’s ship in Engineering – Phlox says you have a mild concussion, and that you need to take a few hours off, for your own good. He didn’t stick around for you to argue with. It’s an order, Trip. Stay out of Engineering for at least 4 hours.”

“Hey, I’m not gonna argue. Just tell me – did he say I couldn’t drop over and visit the neighbors?”

“Lorian’s in Engineering, Trip. I’ll make sure you get to say goodbye before we get underway. ”

It’s not Lorian I’m goin’ to see.”

“Trip…?”

The Captain must have heard it in his voice, he’d only just now decided to go. He told himself he’d been too busy before, but, truth was, it scared the bejesus out of him to even think about going over there to meet – her.

“I think it’s time I met my wife, Captain.”

“You do realize that’s not who she is to you -?”

“Yeah. I know. But she is the mother of my child. DNA scans don’t lie, sir. She’s my son’s mother, and I need to see her.”

“Are you sure this is a good idea?”
“I’m actually pretty sure it isn’t. I still have to go, though.”

“All right. Just – do me a favor and take it easy. On her; on you.”

“On her, absolutely. I’m not into traumatizing little old ladies, be they Vulcan or otherwise. Me? Well…”

“The ‘little old lady’ in question, Trip, is still pretty damned formidable – so don’t say that you weren’t warned. Report back to Sickbay before you go to Engineering, or I’ll have you hauled out. Understand?”

“Got it, sir.”

Trip whistled his way to the airlock, a spring in his step he hadn’t had before. Phlox must have given him something to pick him up; he hadn’t felt so relaxed for a long time – not since…

Nope, not gonna think about it right now. He was going to see an old friend, and see if she could help him help that frightened little fire-dweller who thought locked doors and backing up against walls would be enough, when it was clear that the problem was inside her, and she couldn’t get away from it.

Whatever it was, she was going to have to deal with it, sooner or later.

And he needed a way to let her know that, whatever it is, she can count on him.

**

The two women waited. One knew she was waiting; the other, still wounded, still so new to her feeling life, knew only that this was an unexpected refuge. She had sipped the tea, and, eventually, lulled, had sunk into a restful sleep – the first she’d had in some time, as T’Pol recalled. She smiled slightly, and rose to cover the young woman she had once been.

“Trip,” she murmured, and one hand reached out, paired fingers extended.

“Soon enough, young one. Soon enough.”

It was, as it turned out, a matter of moments. She felt the bond, long dormant, singing to life- but she knew this was only an echo. This Trip belonged to the young T’Pol, not the one nearing death.

The younger woman sat up, still more asleep than not. “Trip? Those fingers darting out again, seeking, before she stilled them, with a small frown of chagrin. “I did not intend to fall asleep.”

“When the body and spirit can no longer persevere, sleep proves healing.”

She drew her knees up against her chest, wrapped arms around them, locking her fingers against their trembling need to touch…

She was watching the doorway, unblinking, intent. She scarcely moved, but her eyes were eloquent, holding all that she felt.

T’Pol wondered at her incandescent beauty as she waited. Had she truly looked so, when all of this was new…?

Together, they felt him nearing the door. “Trip,” they whispered as one.

The young woman’s urgent stare never left the door; T’Pol watched her with fascination.

The chime sounded, and she stirred; the young woman did not, frozen, holding tightly to herself, afraid to let go, to let it out. “Come in,” she said.

**

Trip felt like he’d walked into another trap, or a very personal Dali painting.

There was “his” T’Pol, on the bed, a blanket half-draped over her, her hair mussed from sleep – sleep she really needed, by the looks of her. She’d pulled her knees up and wrapped her arms around them, and she was staring at him with so many things in her eyes that he damned near grabbed her right then and there.

Aww, pepperpot…

He couldn’t quite get his eyes to focus anywhere else…she was so beautiful, so lost – so strong.

“Will you join us for tea, Trip?”

“Tea? You mean, we’re just gonna sit here, drink tea, and – what, chat about old times?”

“They would only be old for one of us.” At last, his gaze shifted to the ancient, slightly stooped woman. “You’re still beautiful,” he said, to one or both of them – and was rewarded by a tiny smile from that other T’Pol. “Damn. And here I thought our son had my smile…”

“He has his own smile. But your sense of humor.”

Trip decided he liked what old age had done for her.

He saw the teapot beside T’Pol – she still hadn’t moved, except that now her eyes shifted so that she could study first one of them, then the other. “I’ll pour.” He looked at both women in turn. “T’Pols?”

“I drink more slowly, these days,” the old woman said, then turned to the younger. “No, not yet. Attend me, just a short while more.”

Something in T’Pol relaxed, just the tiniest bit – and Trip felt her telltale quiver go whispering through him. Was that what she was holding in? “I will have more, Commander, thank you.”

“I didn’t mean to bust in,” he said. “I can go.”

“Please stay. Trip – it has been too long, and you must have questions. Let us share this tea, this brief time together, and then -”

“Then I will go, and leave you alone with – your wife.”

“Not technically. Mother of my child, though, for sure. So thanks for givin’ us a little time to get to know one another.” He took a deep breath. “Am I the only one this is weird for?”

“No,” came two responses.

“Good.”

“Sit by T’Pol,” said the old woman, setting down her tea, and picking up something beside her.

“Is that my old camera?” Trip stalled, trying to assess what T’Pol thought of him plopping himself beside her.

“It is. I have kept it, to chronicle the passing of time. I use it for special moments. This would seem to be one.”

T’Pol scooted over a bit, not inviting him, not exactly. “Comin’ in,” he warned her. Her breath caught, and the quiver grew harder to ignore as her sandalwood and citrus notes hit him. Awww, hell.

Once he was sitting, the older T’Pol snapped the image, then said, softly, “My husband and I had great pleasure, and great frustration, in our time together. We found that there were benefits to such things as pride, logic, and stubbornness – but that there were times when we must use these, not to protect ourselves, but to deepen our union. There is a price to holding to them, too tightly, and too rigidly. Now, both of you – there is another picture I want. Please – humor a woman with not much time left to live. Take three deep breaths, together, and then do – as you are inclined.”

“You willing?”

“If you are.” Her eyes were so wide, so expressive -

“On three, then.” They counted silently, holding the gaze, and breathed. Three slow, stretched-out breaths….

And then she leaned into him, as his arm reached to encircle her draw her in…

The camera snapped. “Sometimes, there is nothing to do, but to let it out. Will you remember, young one?”

“I will remember.” For this moment, she rested against him, letting him be her strength and support. Trip heard the click of the locks she’d held on herself releasing.

Another long, quiet moment. “T’Pol. I would speak – with the father of our child.” She reached to her table again, and lifted two shallow boxes. “I wish to give to each of you something that is rightly your own. Please, open then when you are alone- I would ask that you wait until this affair with the Xindi is settled, but I suspect, in your case, Trip, that that would be pointless.”

“You’re probably right. Damn, this feels good, pepperpot.”

“’Pepperpot?’”

“Later.” He stood up, still supporting her. She felt like she was exhausted, but that quivering…She took her weight, and separated from him with a sigh.

“Thank you. Both of you.” She took the box from her older self, and the two women touched fingers briefly.

And then she was gone, leaving her scent, and the quivering awareness.

And yet, she was still here, on the other side of a century, watching him…

Damn, he needed to relieve some tension!

“So, are you ready to tell me just how old you are?”

A soft little breath or two – a laugh? Could it be? Had she learned?

“I am not. It’s not that I wouldn’t – I have. But she has not, and I won’t reveal what she won’t.”

“Why is it such a big deal?”
“To us, such personal information is intimate,” she said. “Privileged.”

“So, if she tells me -”

“It means you have earned her trust, Trip, as long ago you earned mine. But know this, also – Vulcans do not, as a rule, offer solace to one another. It is expected that one will – logically – resolve one’s own difficulties. Therefore, when a Vulcan is – ”

“Fractured?”

“Yes. When a Vulcan is fractured, it can be most difficult for her to define or express her need in terms others can understand. Patience, Trip. She will learn how to trust, even if she can’t ask for help. It will, in time, allow her to accept what you can offer.”

“I’m sorry I died,” he said, suddenly.

“I don’t believe that was your intent,” she said. “And you bear no guilt. I am happy for the time we had, husband, and the son we created together. And, most certainly, to see you once more.”

Trip had a sudden impulse. T’Pol was still quivering through him, making him a little reckless. He took the old woman’s hands, dropped down to one knee. “I’m not sure how your people do this, but -

“T’Pol, you infuriating, mesmerizing, perplexing, convoluted little pepperpot, will you marry me, please?”

“That is exactly how you said it the first time,” she whispered. “But I have had my Trip – and your heart is set on another.”

“You’re right. He noticed that she didn’t let go, though. He placed a chaste kiss on her cheek. “I’m so glad I got the chance to meet you…you are beautiful -and I’ll never know her this way – Oh. Hell.”

“Yes,” she said, softly. “It is a matter of some import, this difference in lifespan.”

“One disaster at a time, I guess.” He got up. “I hate to leave you.”

“You do not. You are fixed on her, and already in a hurry to be where she is. As you should be.” She smiled wider, this time. “Don’t forget your gift, Trip. And be well.”

**

He got as far as the turbolift before he tore the box open.

And collapsed to the floor of the lift, staring.

“A Vulcan’s Travel Guide to Human Popular Culture” he read – and then, surprisingly, a comic drawing appeared on the screen…with a note, written in T’Pol’s meticulous hand. “It seems, husband, that there will be lively discussion, at dinner. I see at least three possible interpretations of the art, and my initial reaction approached laughter. I look forward to hearing your response.”

There was a little notation, beneath. “There will be no more such sharing. Trip was killed today. Is it illogical that I feel anger that he never saw it with me, shared in it?”

Just that.

And a letter, saying that they had shared things this way, since they became trapped. That it had been a sweet part of their lives together, one of many. That she wanted him to have this, now – to see the life they had shared.

He sat on the floor in the turbolift and cried, huddled over that datapad.

 

Story A Day May 26: “Reality Fragments”

Notes:

POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT!

This story is a fan fiction extrapolation of an unwrittenscene based upon the  Star Trek: Enterpriseepisode,Damage.

T’Pol and Trip are property of Paramount; no copyright infringement is intended.

You are showering. You suspect you’re late.

The mantra is in your head, endlessly circling, like the introduction to a meditation that never begins.

You have only the mantra.

Secure the trellium. Attend the show.

The same words, so many times. They become meaningless, barren, empty.

Something within you redirects your focus. An image forms in your mind, an image you suspect you placed there yourself, before reality fragmented.

Reality fragmented? You wonder at the meaning of this –

But no. Later. Not now.

Now, the image, and the mantra. Only that, and nothing more, until understanding comes.

The candle, and the flame.

Good. These are known to you, known since you were an infant, suckling, while your mother T’Les sat before the candle, and spoke to you softly of the flame; not a thing to touch; a thing to use, as a tool, as all things were tools when there was a need.

Even trellium?

Yes, even that.

Perhaps, especially that.

Your mind has wandered- away from the candle, the flame, the image, the mantra.

The mantra.

Secure the trellium. Attend the show.

Yes.

You touched the candle. You were the only infant of your age who would not trust the warning words. You had to know, for yourself. Your paired fingertips still bear the scar, because, T’Les has told you, you violently resisted any treatment, and frightened the healers, who had never attended one such as you. This you don’t remember; you retain only the power, heat, and pain of the touching.

“Your emotions are too close to the surface, T’Pol. They compromise your logic.”

Was it illogical, to need to know for oneself?

If so, why?

You forget yourself again. Candle, flame, mantra.

Yes.

Say the mantra.

Secure the trellium; attend the show.

**

Reality fragments.

The upper levels become porous; you rise into them, although you fight to remain beneath, with the candle, the flame, the image in your mind that you can’t focus on -

Captain Archer is holding your wrist, touching your hand, the place where you bear the scars of a long-ago flame. He speaks, you respond. But you hear no words, understand nothing. You see the surface; but you are still at depth. Captain on the ceiling – but aren’t you the Captain? Did you not cry in your Ready Room, when you knew he would die?

Captain on the ceiling – Trip in the doorbell –

The candle. The flame. The mantra.

Secure the trellium; attend the show.

Were you not in the shower? And running late?

The image- you must see the image….

You sink down again, deeper, seeking the meaning…

Captain on the ceiling. Trip in the doorbell. No hearth; no ashes; no logic. But the flame to burn seeking fingertips, perhaps to instill caution.

Or perhaps not. Caution does not favor the curious…

A golden slipper, dangling from a vermilion thread…

A golden slipper. “Play Venus for me….

The show. A fairy tale princess, sorting lentils on the floor….

Cinderella….yes.

You must be there. Time grows short. The mantra.

Secure the trellium. Attend the show.

Fragment of gray rock. Hot water on your head, cool strong hands on your shoulders. The fragment is streaked with potent veins of blue. Cold water splashed on your face with shaking hands…

The golden slipper. The veined fragment. The thread….

Meaning for the mantra.

Yes.

**

Reality fragments.

You feel the presence before you see it; how can this be so?

“Scuse me, ma’am,” a child’s voice, but known to your soul.

Trip!

No. You never knew him as a child- until now. Until Sim.

“Yes?” you say. You have kept your distance; it’s less painful than facing the truth. He is of Trip, and, somehow also of you. Your child. Sim’s death the price of Trip’s life. A terrible paradox, bearable only if you don’t allow yourself to know the child, except from afar.

Yet here he is. Holding out his fisted hand shyly, a familiar expression on his face. He holds himself the same. He had said, once, that human children changed; you think now that he hadn’t; not so much. Whatever made him Trip was already with him, in the boy he’d been…

“Something told me I was supposed to give this to you,” he says. “I didn’t have any red thread; I had to use ribbon. ” A familiar frown; this fact isn’t satisfactory for his vision. “I hope I got the rest right.” And he presses the gift into your palm, and is gone again….you watch, and he looks back, and you are lost –

Candle. Flame. Mantra.

This time you fight the sinking. You must stay here, while he lives…you hold to the small misshapen IDIC, and fight to remain where he is.

**

Reality fragments.

Cold water splashed on your face; hot water on your head. No logic in it. But deep knowing in his hands. He is your lover, and to him and him alone are you Awakened. His touch soothes and promises – promises pleasures you’ve never known else, promises solace you have found only among his kind, and not your own….

His kind. And yours.

IDIC. Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations.

Room even for this, within IDIC?

You give yourself to his touch, his desires, and to your own. You pound and twist the metal carefully, persistently. You are at the home of your first foremother T’Mir. T’Mir, who has lived upon the blue world called Earth. The world that speaks to you, even as a child, calls you. This you speak to no one; there is no logic to it. But you sense that T’Mir understands; she gives you space and materials, and leaves you to the creation….

The symbol, on a piece of vermilion thread, given to a crying human. His pain is real, and solace is not the way of your people. But you have learned, from his, and now you give this small thing, a tangible

comfort he can hold against pain.

The symbol again – Sim, too, is a child, but his IDIC is flawless where yours was misshapen. Already the precision of an engineer within him, the need to perfect. Strange, that the human child would have such a Vulcan approach. Your own misshapen effort was born of urgent deep need you could not – still can’t – name. A human impulse, in a Vulcan child?

IDIC.

Deep need.

The candle. The flame. The mantra. You are forgetting, again.

Breathe, T’Pol. Focus.

Secure the trellium. Attend the show.

Time grows short. Sim will not remain a child; will not look up at you, and say again, “I’m putting on a talent show on Movie Night. Please come – you are always working, and you never want to have fun with me.”

Words that cut with truth. Said all in a breath, as though the boy couldn’t hold them in; you know the same way of speaking in the man. Cool strong hands on your shoulders, and you turn, into his passion, which is acceptable; into your own, which is not.

The child Sim will become a man; the man will die.

Time grows short.

Secure the trellium. Attend the show. While there is still time.

**

Reality fragments. You seize the EV suit; the helmet, dragging them to you. No time for caution, which doesn’t favor the curious.

Secure the trellium. Attend the show.

The boy’s voice, in your mind, remembered.

“I might teach an old dog new tricks.” Old dog? The only dog you know is Porthos; you’ve never asked the beagle’s age, or expected lifespan. Is Porthos an old dog?

“I might play Venus on my harmonica.” The notes, sweet and true, something to hold, once, against pain and delusion and aching solitude.

“I might read Cinderella.” You were Cinderella once, thrown upon a hearth that was not there; sorting lentils and time streams on the Transporter Room floor, and Trip was your prince, and gave you the golden slipper.

“I might paint.” Once, Solen had been a painter of note. Before. Before he was twisted, emptied of reason. Paint on the walls, passion-green and potent.

Secure the trellium. Attend the show.

**

Reality fragments.

You feel the hands on your back, his back beneath yours. Touching, feeling.

Lips meet in a human way known as kissing. Breath sharpens, desire swells, you go up on your toes to be closer to him. Skin pressed wetly against skin, alive with sensation.

Are you not wearing an EV suit? How then can you be touching Trip, or he you?

Does it matter?

You don’t know.

Secure the trellium. Attend the show.

**

Reality fragments.

“I don’t want you to die!”

You hold the child close to you; you stand in the corridor, in the EV suit, your words turning Jonathan Archer around to stare at you. Humans so much better than Vulcans at hearing what isn’t said, what cannot be spoken. He is a friend; he has value in your life. You feel a shearing loss at the thought of his death.

You hold the child; the words also for him. He will die – nothing can save him. He can save Trip.

Shearing loss.

Lost. Wandering through fragmented reality in an EV suit, the cool strong hands pulling you close, arousal swelling between, rich with promise….

You lose yourself, T’Pol. Candle. Flame. Mantra.

Secure the trellium. Attend the show.

**

Reality fragments.

Trip grabs your shaking arm; you feel his panic, his terror that you will die. Doesn’t he know the chaos within you; that they are better without you, safer?

No. He knows only his feelings, his hunger for you, and, nearly, he holds you.

Secure the trellium. Attend the show.

“Let go of me!”

He holds you, will not let you leave him. The trellium waits. Sim waits.

“Let go of me!” You yank away, his voice ringing in your ears, your soul, your mind.

“What the hell’s wrong with you?”

Stinging, ringing words. Alarm.

What is wrong with you?

You shy away. No time now.

Secure the trellium. Attend the show.

Obstacles. Like cool human hands, human skin, passion not Vulcan, but just as hot, in its way.

Obstacles.

Like a child who will be much closer to a man, this time tomorrow.

Like a broken staircase, a damaged cargo bay.

Like your fragmented reality, the damage in your soul. In your mind.

No time now. The mantra.

Trip, coming to you, reminding you of a duty you’ve forgotten. All is wrapped in pain, in new feelings blending, surging, swelling.

Hot water flows; passion swells, and you are kissing him, attacking him – his face shifting from desire to fear – fear of you, of what you’ve become, of what you may do.

“Get out.”

Words you spoke to him – to save yourself, or to save him?

Words that echo, now, as you place your foot on the piled crates- you feel already that they are not stable. You will likely fall –

As you enter the Mess Hall – and smell Vulcan blood. Hot, passion-green blood – blood of your people. Misshapen, mangled bodies, piled like jumbled cargo…

“Get out.”

“What the hell is wrong with you?”

Danger. It’s not too late to heed the warnings.

The mantra pulls you forward. Danger is irrelevant; what you want is irrelevant.

Secure the trellium. Attend the show.

You press your weight into your foot; release your grip on the rail.

You ignore the scent of blood, the piled bodies, and take a seat in the front, where you see Sim –

You fall, spinning into fragmented reality, then oblivion…

***

Shock of impact; of asphixiation. Air hose disconnect.

Straining, struggling, panic.

Sim brandishes the paintbrush. “See me paint,” he calls to you; the paint is vivid; blood-scented.

The child dances as he waves the brush; green paint splatters, droplets spraying you – and Trip, head bandaged, medical sensors in place. Green droplets on white; stark, the smell taking breath, taking life-

No.

Air hose disconnect. Your shaking hands find the hose; wrestle it into place.

Sweet air. Human air. Not Vulcan.

Sim paints, laughing. Trip plays Venus on the harmonica.

Green Vulcan blood – bright blue trellium.

Blending, becoming one. The potent veins in gray rock; the hot passion of Vulcan blood.

IDIC.

You scan the room, and find the case. The treasure. The mantra sings in you -

Secure the trellium. Attend the show.

The show…no -not that, now. Only the message Sim gives.

Vulcan blood, and trellium, blended.

Yes….yes. A new passion. A new reality.

You are pulled to the case, as you are pulled to Trip. Only this, now. Only this.

And, at last, at last, you have it. You hold the rocks in your hand; the blue veins call to you. You must blend them with your blood.

**

Reality fragments.

“I won’t let you do it!”

The words burst forth, ripping you apart, fragmenting you.

“I won’t let you do it!”

You stare at the child – he wields a bloody knife….red blood, and green shade the blade.

“I won’t let you do it!”

You stare at the captain, and the shattered, fragmented datapad.

“I won’t let you do it!”

You stare at the trellium as it is transformed.

“I won’t let you do it!”

Your shaking hands find Trip’s throat.

“I won’t let you do it!”

But the child laughs; slicing at your heel and your toes, so your foot will fit the slipper.

The captain goes, to do what he says he must.

Your trembling hands take the vial, insert it into the device you hold, and press it to your jugular, where your passion-hot blood runs close to the surface.

And Trip is still there, pulling you, compelling you -

“I won’t let you do it!”

But it is already done.

Reality solidifies…..

You gather the fragments of stone, and shudder at the icefire in your veins.

Story A Day May 25: “Fractured”

Notes:

POTENTIAL SPOILER ALERT!

This story contains suggestive elements that may not be suitable for all audiences. Reader discretion is advised.

This story is a fan fiction extrapolation of an unwritten scene based upon the  Star Trek: Enterprise episodes,Azati Primeand “Damage”.

T’Pol and Trip are property of Paramount; no copyright infringement is intended.

Trip clambered up from the service hatch; his eyes went first to the Captain’s chair, then his gaze swept the Bridge. Where the hell’s our Acting Captain?” He didn’t look much better than she had, Malcolm noticed.

 

She left here fifteen minutes ago, headed to Engineering. Comm’s down; we couldn’t reach you.”

“There’s nobody left in Engineering. It’ll take hours to be safe to even open the emergency bulkheads.”

“Let’s talk in the Ready Room, sir.”

“I really don’t have time for this, Malcolm – ” Trip was eyeing the turbolift; no doubt considering going after her. Just what Malcolm wanted him to do – after they talked, and Trip knew. He ought to be prepared when he found her.

“Sir, it’s of vital importance to the safety of this ship and this crew. I must speak to you immediately.”

Under his breath, so no one else would hear, he said, “It’s about T’Pol.”

Trip set his jaw and made for the Ready Room. The door was canted ajar, but it was more private than the middle of the Bridge was.

“What the hell happened, Malcolm?”

“Keep your voice down. This doesn’t need to leave this room.”

Trip sighed, and swallowed; restraint wasn’t something he was known for. “Tell me what happened, Malcolm, before I need to remind you that I outrank you.”

At least he was quieter now. “She fell apart, sir. Damn near the only commands she gave were about reaching you. We were under continuous strafing fire from multiple ships, had multiple hull breaches, and the Bridge was coming down around her pointed ears, and she was worried about the comm unit. The comm unit, sir – with you on the other end of it.”

“Me?”

“Engineering was the only place she even tried to call, Trip.” He lowered his voice to just above a whisper. “I got the distinct impression that she was lost without being able to talk to you, that she couldn’t even think about what was going on right here or out there. “

“That doesn’t make sense – ”

“Commander Tucker – Trip. I know you’ve got your denial routines polished to dress standards, both of you – but this ship needs its Captain, such as she is- and that Captain needs you right now.”

“I’ve got weeks worth of work to do, and no parts to do it with. “

“You can’t even get into Engineering! If you want to fix something, Trip, go fix her. We need her. She needs you. You need her. So go to her.”

“Malcolm, I don’t think she wants to see me!” Trip swiped angrily at the proof of his emotions. And I’m not sure I can see her. When you called, she was about to get in that shuttlepod and get herself killed. I tried to stop her- grabbed hold of her arm. She was shaking like a leaf, and mad as hell. She yelled at me to let go of her – yelled, Malcolm, and I don’t mean she’s a Vulcan who raised her voice. This was utterly uncontrolled. I think – ” He broke off, and stared at Malcolm. “I think she was trying to get herself killed, Malcolm. Something is really wrong, and I’m afraid I caused it- “

You, sir?”

Aww, hell. We’ve, uh -well – we’ve gotten really close. Emotionally…physically. Maybe she can’t take it. She’s a Vulcan; I shouldn’t have pursued her.” He turned away, his shoulders hunched. “Malcolm, what if it’s me she’s trying to get away from?”

“She didn’t go to Engineering to check the ship’s warp status. She went to check on yours.” Malcolm indicated the door. “You’re wasting time, sir. I can oversee the major repairs; weapons and life support need to be the priorities. Take the time till you can get back into Engineering. I’ll do my best to see to it that neither of you are disturbed. Do some neuropressure, do something else. Ease her tensions. We don’t need her perfect, but we need her, and we need her more functional than she was, if this mission has a chance in hell of succeeding.”

“I don’t have a magic wand, Malcolm. I might be the last thing she needs, right now. I might just make it worse.”

Malcolm studied the other man, and dropped a last photonic torpedo into his case. “Would you rather wait until she finds another way to try to run away from this? She’s mighty resourceful, and stubborn. If she does keep trying, sooner or later, she’ll succeed.”

Trip went without another word, not even a backward glance. Malcolm nodded. Hopefully, that would see to their Captain. Now, to see to the ship…

***

Trip hurried through mangled corridors, what Malcolm had told him circling in his brain, twisting up with memories. T’Pol, her voice cracking, all but running away from the Bridge. Her sitting all alone in the Ready Room, trying to pretend she hadn’t been crying, that she wasn’t falling to pieces, and telling him, “Get out”. But her face had said something else. That reckless, inflexible, illogical, and downright stupid scheme to waltz up and try to reason with the Xindi. They’d killed seven million people; why would green blood and pointed ears save one more, if she was allied with humans? The way she’d been shaking when he grabbed her – a desperate, futile attempt to stop her, to keep her here with him – and yelled at him. He’d picked up a little, from that touch, enough to know that she was panicked, and not reasoning. She was in fight or flight mode, and she’d picked flight.

Trip couldn’t keep avoiding the obvious. None of what she was doing made sense.

What if I am the reason why?” What if their lovemaking and the sharing that went with it had thrown her off-balance, and the Captain’s death had been the last straw, for her?

She wasn’t outside Engineering. She couldn’t get in; the bulkheads would stay sealed until the air was safe again. He checked Sickbay – she hadn’t been there, either. He checked in with Phlox, and picked up a casualty count; she’d need that, with the comm down.

When he got to her door, there was no answer. He rang twice, then tried the thumbprint override – and was surprised when the door slipped open.

Her room was dark; she didn’t even have her candles lit. “T’Pol?’ he called, softly. But she wasn’t here, either. He moved only a step before he tripped over a pile of clothes, which tangled around his feet. As long as he’d known her, she’d been meticulously, almost obsessively, tidy – except during her recovery from her trellium exposure, which didn’t count, not really. She’d been delusional, and not able to control herself…

He called up the lights and looked around. The place wasn’t exactly a shambles- but her bed was unmade, with what looked like every uniform she owned piled there, like maybe she couldn’t decide what to wear…

It was aberrant enough to be unsettling. What if she wasn’t as recovered as they thought she was?

And where the hell was she?

**

T’Pol hung upside down in Ensign Mayweather’s Sweet Spot – with all around damaged, somehow this shaft had survived. She didn’t know why she was here, other than that there seemed no other place. She remembered Trip coming here, after the cogenitor suicided, when he was tormented by his guilt. She had come to him, then, even though she didn’t fully understand his pain.

Trip – ‘” It emerged in a sob. She tried to control, but there was none left. She was drowning in emotion, and there was no surcease for it.

Now it was she who was in pain. Her actions on the Bridge – no, her inactions; she would be honest, if only with herself – had led to the devastation all around. She had heard no damage nor casualty reports, but it was utter illogic to think that she had not caused deaths.

She was out of trellium.

She couldn’t function without it.

Without Trip.

She was the Captain. Jonathan Archer was dead. Why could it not be her?

The ship needs a captain who is fit for command. I have never been more unfit.”

T’Pol was gripped by the impossibility of duty; of her personal crisis. Fractured, unable to function, she could only cry…

She was in the shower, and she was crying.

“T’Pol?”

“Trip?” Surging of joy and passion. He had survived! “Trip!”

He peeked around the first barrier; found her sitting on the shower floor, under the steady spray knees drawn up. She was aware that she was shaking.

“Mind if I join you?’

“Please?” she said, and it emerged as a question. T’Pol used the door to lever herself up to her feet, where she stood, still beneath the stream, her back to him and her head bowed, hoping he wouldn’t see her tears.

She was still crying when he touched her shoulders, began, not with neurorpressure, but with a simple massage. Her shoulders were tense, and she was still shaking – she wondered why. She wasn’t cold.

She turned to him, her hands moving restlessly against his chest, and then they were kissing under the running water – water nearly too hot, but she was still shaking as she went up on tiptoes, and her hands and kisses grew frantic.

Trip responded, and T’Pol held to it, and to him. Something in her wanted at once to cling to him and flinch away. He was salvation; he was devastation.

She was losing herself, and he was the only anchor she knew.

She shoved him back against the wall, hard, not understanding the impulse that drove her, and unable to resist it. She kissed him, biting, more forceful than she’d ever dared, and, for the first time in a long time, she was afraid of the differences in their strength, and what she might do to him, in this state.

“I need you -” A shaky whisper, her body quaked as he tried to return her too-agrressive advances.

“Need you, too.” He said, against her insistent mouth, her worrying teeth. Despite the danger, he held to her.

She didn’t seem to be able to move forward; Trip scooped her up like a child and carried her to her bed. It was more a struggle against herself than it was lovemaking, but Trip knew how to help her find release, and that triggered the sharing of minds – not the flowing, beautiful, mystifying dancing they’d had before now –

No, this was chaos. Her desperate need, and his, for one another. A need deeper than logic, beyond it. Inviolable. Her memories, and his the battle; the Captain leaving; the Seleya; the desperate need to run, to hide from emotions that were swallowing her whole, destroying her; fracturing her. The need to comfort her, hold her, be near her, warring against her fear of that need in herself…blood on the walls, bodies of colleagues littering the floor; humans killing – and the emotions. The emotions – surging, powerful, owning her, consuming her; she was, at once, starving and gorged –

And then she felt him, trying to understand, and there was some panic in her as she dragged him away from all that, swallowed him whole with her desires, and then there was nothing else but this, until they spiraled away into the ecstasy of release, of blending…and she felt him relax, fall away into sleep-

The deeper need – the need for trellium, for feeling, for release from shaking and fearful delusion, gripped her, consumed her.

She waited until she was certain Trip was sleeping, then, another agonizing ten minutes beyond – or, as close to ten minutes as she could estimate; her time sense had become unreliable of late. But his breathing was regular, and the flow of his mind spoke of dreaming, and worry…

And if he knew the extent of the danger? What would he say – what would any of the humans say, if they knew what she was doing?

How could they, with their emotions free and wholly a part of them, understand why she must do this to feel?

“Is that why I’m doing it?”

But she couldn’t give herself to the question. It had been too long since she’d taken an injection; the Captain’s mission, and her sudden promotion, and then the Xindi attack, had made it impossible to slip away, as she had become accustomed to.

Did she want more trellium? These emotions were intense, and she had no control of them; they roiled and shook her like the dense spatial anomaly fields around a sphere…

But she must have the trellium. Her body and mind hungered for it, craved it –

She must.

She disentangled herself from Trip – but could not resist the impulse to touch his face, trace his ear, his shoulder, to feel his sleeping mind which lay, as ever, open and close to hers. Stab of regret; sharp, sudden. He would be hurt, if he knew…

Therefore, he must not learn of it.

Once she got herself free, she rose quickly, and, without taking the time to think, went to the box on the desk, opened it, and hurried into the head. She looked into the mirror, at her frightened, desperate face – and she hesitated. But only for a moment; she held salvation in her hand.

She closed her eyes, so that she wouldn’t need to see the moment of her failure, her collapse.

The click and hiss of the Vulcan hypospray; the icefire in her veins, bringing the rush of emotion, of abandon. T’Pol gasped her way through the adjustment -

“What the hell is that?”

T’Pol opened her eyes, focused them on Trip’s angry face. She’d planned the lie, at the beginning, the first time they’d coupled – now it fell easily from her lips – lying was a simple matter, with the trellium inhibiting control, suppressing guilt.

“It is a contraceptive preparation.”

“Contraceptive?” A breath, while he digested this, and T’Pol felt the weight of her guilt. In truth, she’d given the matter far less thought than it merited; she’d assumed they couldn’t conceive naturally. But it bore consideration…

He came a step closer, as she watched him. “Do you think that’s necessary?”

“A precaution, only. I didn’t wish to consult Doctor Phlox.”

Another step, and he was holding her shoulders, turning her to him. “I’m sorry I didn’t think of it,” he said, and kissed the top of her head. “You’ve got enough to think about, already.” His tone said he hadn’t forgotten the unintentional sharing. “Are you feeling better…Captain T’Pol?”

“Captain – Trip, I can’t be the Captain!” She had no idea where the words came from, but the tears were the work of the trellium; it was ever a dangerous salvation.

He pulled her close against him, and T’Pol felt herself starting to shudder again. “I know you’re scared. I know there’s something going on inside you that you can’t talk about yet. But, T’Pol – Enterprise needs you. The crew needs you. Earth needs you.” He took a breath. “Hell, if we can believe what the Captain said, even the Xindi need you.”

“I’m not fit for command.” His hands stroked her, and she leaned into his chest, taking some comfort in the slow sure beating of his human heart beneath her ear.

“I know.” He stroked her hair, her back. “I think we all do. But there isn’t anyone else, T’Pol.”

“You – or Lieutenant Reed.”

“I’ve got my hands full with the engines, and Malcolm needs to get the weapons back online. Neither of us have your command experience, or anything near it. You’re all we’ve got.”

“I can’t.”

“You have to. I’ll help you, wherever I can. So will Malcolm. But this ship has to have its captain, and at least for now, that’s you.” He sighed. “I know it’s hard. It might even be too much to ask – but we need you, Captain.”

She looked up to study his face. She could draw strength and comfort there. “I will try. “

“When this is all over, maybe you’ll be able to talk about whatever’s going on in here.” He tapped her forehead lightly. “But, until then – we’re all behind you.”

And if you knew what I’ve done? What would your reaction be, then,Trip, if you knew I caused their deaths?

But she said, “I will need – a few moments. She spied her clothing, and his, in a heap, where it had been shed, and pulled it free. She let the door slip closed behind her, and studied the hypospray she still held.

It was empty.

And the rest of the trellium she’d cached for her own use was in Cargo Bay 2.

“Lieutenant Reed to Captain T’Pol.”

“Go ahead, Lieutenant.”

“Communications have been re-established throughout the ship. Status reports are beginning to come in, and things don’t look good. I’m sorry to disturb you, but I thought you would want to know.”

“Thank you. I will be there shortly. T’Pol out.” She leaned her head against the wall, just long enough to draw a deep breath and release it “Commander Tucker, I’m quite certain you are needed elsewhere. You have my gratitude -” The effort at command posture failed her for a moment; her eyes went to the bed. “For everything, Trip.”

“Like I’ve said before, anytime.”

She nodded, squared her shoulders, lifted her chin, and found something she hoped looked like Vulcan calm. “Dismissed.”

This time, he didn’t argue, just gave her one final kiss, and left her.

The delusion faded; she returned to herself in the Sweet Spot, alone…

Without access to trellium.

And she was the Captain.

**

Trip had been to the Mess Hall, and the Conference Room. He even followed a hunch that she’d be in his quarters – but she wasn’t there, either. He’d run out of places to look, and it was nearly time to get back to Engineering and see what could be salvaged.

He stopped by the armory, figuring Malcolm would be there now that things had settled. At least he was right about that.

How is she?”

Trip shook his head. “I couldn’t find her. She picked a hell of a time to go missing.”

Frankly, sir, I don’t think she had a choice. She was – brittle, you might say, up there. She was all but non-functional.”

Maybe it’s not a good idea at all to get her back up on the Bridge.”

There’s no one to relieve her, Commander. You and I already have our work cut out for us, and Travis and Hoshi don’t have the experience, in a crisis.”

Then we’re just gonna have to nursemaid her through this the best we can, and hope she can hold herself together long enough to – ” Trip stopped, not sure what came next.

To what?

Destroy the weapon? At the moment, that didn’t seem even remotely possible.

Maybe they just needed her to get them out of this crisis, before her own – whatever the hell it was – crashed down around her.

If they could find her, that is.

**

Malcolm was in the armory when she walked in, looking a little better than when she’d fled the Bridge. “Captain,” he said, and straightened into a salute.

“As you were,” she said. Her voice still had that quality it got when her emotions were too much to control, but she didn’t seem to be quite as near the edge as she’d been, back there on the Bridge. “Lieutenant, if you can be spared here, I need you to accompany me to Engineering. You can brief me as we go.”

“I can be spared.” Whatever pull there was between the two of them meant she’d be likely to go alone, and without any caution, if she was driven to that.

She nodded, and they set off. The ship was a maze of debris, and she jumped and spun every time something sparked. It reminded him uncomfortably of the way she’d become on that Vulcan death ship; when her reason and control had deserted her utterly.

How reasonable was she now?

She aimed herself at Engineering, and, although she seemed to hear him, and respond, although for some purpose he couldn’t fathom, she asked about Cargo Bay 2 in response to the casualty reports.

Hopefully, seeing Trip would ground her again.

A broken ship, and a broken Captain.

The ship was a matter of mechanics – but the new Captain apparently needed more. So Malcolm took her to Trip, on the pretense of duty. Nothing was said that was remotely personal, but both of them seemed better for the encounter – at least until a spontaneous fire broke out, and she gasped and whirled, crouching a bit like she might need to defend herself. He’d seen her work, unperturbed, beside a fire at her station, more than once. Trip seemed to realize it at the same moment, and the foolhardiness of her being here, in whatever condition it was that she was in.

He looked at Malcolm, and there was an unspoken message in his eyes. “Keep her safe.” Malcolm nodded, accepting both the professional and the personal reasons. Trip nodded back, and there was new relief in his eyes as he got back to work.

But, when they got outside, she told him, “Report to the Bridge. I will be there shortly, once I have checked in with Sickbay.”

**

T’Pol moved about the ship, doing what was needed – she didn’t question whether the needs were those of Enterprise and her crew, or her own. She could not risk being incapacitated again, as she had been during the battle. People have died, and it is my responsibility. Captain Archer gave me the command –

But he wouldn’t have, if he had known. If I had known….

When had it become a matter of need, rather than choice? When had she lost control? Could she regain it?

She couldn’t wait to learn the answer. She must have trellium, so that she could function. Foolish, to have taken only enough for two doses at a time, as though the cargo bay and her cached supply would always be readily available…if she had considered the risk of being separated from her supply, if she had known that this was an addiction –

Addiction?

It was not a word she would have thought could be applied to her. But, it seemed undeniable…

I am suffering from trellium addiction, and there is no time to treat it, now…

She must get to Cargo Bay 2. The trellium offered the only stability available.

Story A Day May 24: “Good Vibrations”

Notes:

This story contains suggestive elements that may not be suitable for all audiences. Reader discretion is advised.

This story is a fan fiction extrapolation of an unwrittenscene in the  Star Trek: Enterpriseepisode, Harbinger.

T’Pol and Trip are property of Paramount; no copyright infringement is intended.

Trip stared at T’Pol, bewildered and enchanted. Where was the disciplined Subcommander, now? And who was this sensual woman who moved against him, who’d verbally sparred with him, knowing, all the time, that she was naked beneath that robe? What had changed, in her, that could give them this?

It had to be more than jealousy; more than him. He had a strong feeling it was something deeper inside her, something that glowed in her eyes as she pressed gently but insistently against him, her fingers dancing over his shoulders. Those eyes were wide and intense, unwavering- but her fingers trembled, and her breath came in little sighing puffs.

She stroked down his arms with feathery touches – at once sultry and somehow shy, as though she was feeling her way as she went along.

What are you thinking?”

That Corporal Cole was correct – you do have very nice arms.”

Whatever Trip had expected, it hadn’t been that, or the open jealousy in her face. “Said that, did she?” His chuckle was rewarded with that little frown -frustration, maybe, or annoyance, or a little of both.

Her hands went still. “You find that amusing?”

Kinda nice two beautiful women noticed my arms.”

She pulled away a little, and Trip could feel her tensing up again. “You are attracted to her, as well?”

Oh, she’s very attractive,” he said, and her dark eyes flashed at him. Trip smiled and reached to trace out one of those lovely ears, and though she seemed to be trying to resist it, T’Pol leaned into the touch with a sigh. “But I’m not attracted to her. I might’ve been – but, you see, there was already this gorgeous little Vulcan woman…and she seems to be the jealous type.” Her body relaxed, with a long sigh. Trip remembered what Amanda had said. “Mind if I ask you what you did to her when she told you that?”

She looked to the side a little, something new flickering across her face – remorse? “’If you wrong me, do I not revenge?’” Her focus came back to him, troubled. “It was – an instinctive tensing. I didn’t intend it, and I believe the pain will fade…”

Well, she definitely got the message.”

Trip,” she said. “I don’t wish to talk about Corporal Cole. I don’t wish – to talk, at all.” Her fingers began moving again, and there was nothing left to do but to kiss her, long and slow, and to wonder why no one else had ever felt this good in his arms.

She was so intent, still so serious – but somehow also clumsy and shy. Her hands glided back up his arms with that quivering kissing touch of hers, then down his spine, to curve over his – his ‘behind’, he heard again, in her voice. She’d been annoyed, then, too. She caressed, and drew him tighter against her hot bare body.

Damn, but she felt good!

Trip echoed her motion, not hurrying. They’d waited so long, already. He wanted to take his time, enjoy this. He wasn’t fool enough, even now, to think she would always be so free and uninhibited with him..these hours would pass, and there was still a hell of a lot going on on the other side of that door -

Down her arms – he reminded himself to tell her how nice they were, when she wanted to talk again. He caught at her exploring fingers, tangled his own in them for a breath or two before moving back up her arms, over her shoulders, down her spine, delighting in the way her sublte vibrations grew stronger as he at last dared to cradle her hips, and bring her in tightly, deliciously -

T’Pol moaned softly but urgently, and moved restlessly against him, which made him groan with need…need echoed in her eyes and her answering kiss – a kiss where she bit at his lips, claiming him.

So very beautiful, so complicated, so suddenly passionate! There was nothing to do but pull her in, kiss her back, claim her, too…

T’Pol gasped, her hands tightening convulsively, her whole body shuddering now, and she arched back onto the bed, bringing him with her…

***

“Can we slow down a little?” he whispered in her ear. It tickled- but T’Pol did not laugh, felt no impulse to laughter.

No.

His touch, his breath, set her alight with new fires, fires that must be quenched, without delay, lest they be immolated. She had no more words….had they all been burned away?

She shook her head and pulled him to her, mind, body, and soul unfurling for he to whom she was Awakened.

Now. It must be now….

Her blood sang and seared her veins with wordless desperation, driven by instinct, by trellium, by the desires so long, too long, contained.

She clutched at him, wouldn’t release him, pulled him down to kiss him and stare into his eyes and his soul, hoping he would understand her need as well as he had her jealousies…

“You okay?” So close, his breath on her throat, his eyes warm; caring coexisted with wanting, blending.

T’Pol nodded fiercely, and lifted to him, inviting, supplicating, hungry for that which she’d never tasted…

His kiss, his touch, the vibrations that were his alone, and those they shared, inflamed her blood, and there could no be no more waiting.

**’

She clutched him, and their minds seemed to be flowing together, again – flash of memory of getting drunk together, minds open and like water – he’d wondered, after, if he’d imagined it.

But now she was full of her desires – no, overflowing, made frantic with wanting. He’d wanted to go slow, savor – but she couldn’t wait, had waited too long, already…

Trip caught the force of that driving need, and gave himself to her – her pace, her rhythm, her desires, her touch, so wild and new and other, yet deep and known…

A Vulcan and a human -

No.

A woman and a man. That simple. That profound.

Two beings, becoming one, sharing breath and bodies and souls…

Trip had never known anything like this – it went beyond their straining, clasping bodies…

It erased thought, and left only feeling, sharing, being…one single rich vibration that moved them both.

Too soon, too soon, he was toppled over the edge, while she clung, her eyes still unblinking, watching, glowing with unspoken things…he felt them, somehow – the newness, the stab of pain that preceded pleasure, the coiled readiness for something for which she had no name..for her, this was all newness, uncharted space…

He wanted to share this with her, but he tumbled alone, spinning away, and when he could catch breath, open eyes, and think again, she was still quivering, still tense and waiting.

More,” she whispered, in one potent syllable. It was a plea, and an order.

Happily. Absolutely. But I need to rest, first, and you – ” He touched her face, turning her so that he could watch her as he spoke. “You need to find out what you’ve been missing your whole life, T’Pol. I didn’t know you’d never….well-”

“Engaged in sexual relations? Why would you assume that I had?” Familiar note of puzzlement, of her rational mind re-engaging. He smiled at her bluntness.

” I don’t know. I can’t be the first man to notice, or to make the attempt-” He trailed kisses along her jaw, and she shivered into him.

“I was engaged to Koss at seven – and then I Awakened to you. Who else or when else would there be?” She echoed the kissing, watching him, her eyes half-lidded as she nibbled and tasted. Maybe he wouldn’t need to rest as long as he’d thought he would. She certainly had a powerful effect on him.

“Well, that really wouldn’t be any of my business. You awakened to me? T’Pol, what do you mean by that?” It sounded like she was talking about something specific, and important- maybe the something that explained the way he’d felt, from the first time he saw her…

It’s not a thing of words, to be explained.” Her teeth worried gently over his throat, then down his neck and, delicately, explored his shoulder, and her mind ran through his…

**

She was back within him – in a vivid shared memory, of Fusion (although she hadn’t known its name, only came following the music that sounded like a le-matya calling for its mate).

Le matya?” But, before he could wonder, he knew- knew the le-matya as she did, knew to be vigilant upon the Forge, alone at night, to read those calls and not to come between the ranging pair…

Lovely young woman, slipping in, her eyes, wide and curious in her Vulcan face, fixing on him. A Vulcan woman, here? One who looked like some type of dangerous, predatory dancer, and who sat, transfixed by the music, and watching him with startling directness.

The young human man, joining in the music, laughing with friends, yet, through it all, watching her, in furtive glimpses, as though he feared the consequences of simply watching openly. Was it his passions that he feared, or Awakening hers. No – she could not be bound to Koss, ans Awakened by a human she knew nothing of – except that he was within her soul, weaving into her being with the music – music that transported, that shifted life and awareness from what had been to what might be..

Awakened, her senses quivering up and outward from her fingertips, her soul cleaved unto him, the music wove through, and all that others had arranged was as nothing, to this…

**

The sensing faded away; she wanted to hold it, but could not, didn’t know how she had shared, to begin with. It was a part of her deepening Awakening, perhaps, born of ancient instinct and passions.

How -?” Trip looked confused, again, but she had no answers to the questions he wanted to ask.

I am not human,” she said, instead. “If you prick me, I will bleed- but my blood is not like yours….”

“Why would I want it to be? I’m not Vulcan, and, if you prick me, I can promise that green isn’t what you’re going to get. We don’t share a species – but I don’t care about that. T’Pol, there’s so much we can share….if you will trust me.”

“If I didn’t, you wouldn’t be here.” She touched my face in that way that made me feel like she was kissing me with her fingertips. “But what more is there?”

What we’ve shared so far – just the tip of the iceberg.” His kisses moved lower, daring, tempting, promising…

His mind was still near, and she slipped into his flows of thought. “The same can be said of this…”

I’ve got an idea,” he said. He spoke a code to the computer, and music swelled up, evocative, unpredictable, sensual. “Will you take a shower with me?”

Fascinated by the music, the nearness, the flowing-together, she nodded.

Hot water. Lather. Eager hands exploring wet slippery skin. Their scents, their minds wound and entangled. Straining bodies; blending souls, spiraling, dancing, ever nearer some objective she didn’t understand, but which he knew, and trusted. Now he was skillful and slow, guiding her, leading, and, finally, control slipped away from them both, urged them, drove them into shared oblivion….an oblivion of emotion that had her crying out, biting at his shoulder – drawing his bright strange red blood, copper tang in her mouth…

It went on, and on, and all fell away – all but this heartbeat, this breath, this man and this passion….

And the music, the song that spoke of good vibrations, and feelings, and that surged, swelled, and fell off as the blending of bodies and souls.

Story A Day May 23: “Entanglements”

Notes:

This story contains suggestive elements that may not be suitable for all audiences. Reader discretion is advised.

This story is a fan fiction extrapolation of an unwritten scene in the  Star Trek: Enterprise episode, Harbinger.

T’Pol and Trip are property of Paramount; no copyright infringement is intended.

 

“If you prick us, do we not bleed?

If you tickle us, do we not laugh?

And if you wrong us, do we not revenge?”

In a quiet and candlelit room, on a vessel poised at the edge of boiling entropy, T’Pol of Vulcan sits upon her floor, back to the chaos without, mind turned to the chaos within. She stares, unblinking, at the flame before her, considering the words of a human who died nearly six hundred years before her birth. Old words, in the human sense, but she is of a world that reveres old words, and old ways.

What thee are about to see comes down from the time of the beginning, without change.

This is the Vulcan heart; this is the Vulcan soul. This is our way.”

Those words, older by millennia beyond measure than any human words, had been spoken over her head, almost sixty years ago, now – but T’Pol remembers still how they seemed etched in flame, hovering in the hot air; promise and prison at once. The boy kneeling upon the sands across from her seemed to accept it calmly, without question; his mind was still and quiet as it was bound to hers -

As she was locked into a life no one had asked her if she wanted. What use, when desire could never stand against the force of logic?

Impulsive,” she’d been called, more than once. “Your emotions are too close to the surface; you must apply yourself to the discipline of suppression. Logic above emotion.”

Words that aroused unspoken rebellion within her. As a child, she’d pressed herself against the rigid confines of a Vulcan life, much as the anomalies beyond the window pressed themselves against the normal space around them…

No matter how she applied herself, she failed to achieve what all around her seemed to have as birthright – unruffled logic, patterns lived out without variation, as designed. No desire for anything that was not logical and quantifiable.

T’Pol thought it looked something like a living death, but there was no logic in saying so. They would not understand.

She had broken free- but to what? If she was not a Vulcan, living a Vulcan life, then what was she?

She rouses restlessly, abandoning her meditation, and stalks first to the window, then to her desk. She escaress a carved stone box that rests there. It can’t be Vulcan to crave emotion with such power, to seek it out, to welcome it, to revel in the changes it’s wrought within her, to return again and again to that which carries such destructive potential.

Once, she had seen the dangers so clearly, and yet, still, the emotions compel her, offering something that echoes the wild music of Earth, and the Awakening power of one human male…

She travels from window to box, and back, three times. The candles and the calm they offer burn ignored behind her – it’s not order that she craves, now, but chaos…

Logic can’t offer any answer to the puzzle held in the words, in the mystery of desire, of whether a Vulcan could ever hold what a human needed.

And if I can’t? I will be no less Awakened…”

There were no answers in the forms of Vulcan. She must seek beyond them.

The window, and the box – and the promise of touching the anomaly field that had lain, for so long, trapped within her –

**

A small distance away, in another room, a man wearing only a towel also stares out at the seething riot of bubbling space.

Time was, I couldn’t get a woman’s attention if I held up a sign,” he says to his reflection.

He’d never really thought there was much truth to that old phrase “too much of a good thing” – but now, he’s starting to wonder.

He listens to the music – Holst’s Venus movement. He’s been listening to it a lot the last day or two –

What the hell’s going on with her?”

Yeah, he’d told Malcolm there was nothing – he’d been saying that all along, but he’d never really believed it. Something had clicked, the second he saw that lovely young Vulcan woman walk into Fusion. It had been in the directness of her stare, and the way she had listened to the music. The way she pulled him in as though she were his polar opposite…

But I never really thought it would go anywhere.”

So why did he pull away from Amanda every time they were alone and she gave him an opening? Why did he feel guilty and ashamed for enjoying her kiss, or the simple comfort of talking with someone who had traveled the same geography- literally and emotionally -as he had?

And why the hell is T’Pol – T’Pol! – acting exactly like a jealous woman who’s staked her claim, and now suspects someone else of poaching on it?”

Maybe he’s imagining it.

But he hadn’t imagined what happened in training yesterday.

Amanda had given him a playful swat, between friends – all right, flirtatious friends- and T’Pol had gotten herself clobbered hard enough to flatten her.

One thing Trip knew – T’Pol didn’t make that kind of mistake. Any other time, she probably could’ve taken out everyone in the room – and then run a marathon, and followed that up with a round of those Vulcan calisthenics that still looked a little like self-torture.

‘Tough’ didn’t begin to describe her. He’d seen her face off against five Suliban, and go up against a Klingon twice her size and three times her mass – and she was the one left standing, when it was over. When she deemed it logical, T’Pol was a finely honed and implacable fighter, with the instincts that had once made her an elite operative in the Vulcan Security Ministry. Probably ought to be running drills of her own.

T’Pol didn’t get dropped. And yet there she’d been, on the deck.

He hears her voice, ‘She touched your behind.’ So adorably innocent of human understanding – but her voice, and her objections, said she had her own strong feelings about it, even if she never shared them.

Something’s definitely going on with her. But what the hell is it?”

**

She knows she will open the box. The temptation is too strong-

Temptation?

Or need?

She shakes her head as she touches the device the box holds. No. This is not a time for such questions.

Her answers lie here, in this device, and what it offers – a conduit to her own depths – not human depths, but, in the end, all she has to claim – or to offer.

If I am pricked, I will bleed – but I will not bleed as a human.”

Does it matter?

Are the words simply referring to a matter of color, viscosity, chemistry, or purpose? Human blood isn’t the color of Vulcan passion, nor does it heat with feverish flaring and race like swift lava through their veins…

But mine can. It does.” She had felt it, before she was meant to, and now can’t forget the searing, singing power of its pulse.

She wants more.

Was that what the man humans called the Bard of Avon had meant? Not the blood, but the power it carried, the passions?

But what can humans know of such things?”

T’Pol removes the device, fingers trembling with anticipation, and carried it into her bathroom, setting it carefully on the shelf above her sink.

She disrobes, and her hands explore the newly revealed terrain- the tingling thrill of certain touches.

She wants more of this, too. But it’s not her own touch she yearns for- but Trip’s hands, those cool fingers moving across her flesh, daring –

That, she wants far more of.

I am not ticklish,” she tells the unsmiling, flushed image in the mirror. “And I have never laughed. Perhaps I am incapable of laughter.”

Humans laugh – sometimes even when they don’t intend to, or when it’s clearly an inappropriate response. They might laugh even when they wish not to, and the reasons for the outburst seem as random and variable as humanity themselves.

It’s a natural impulse, this outburst of feeling – one they can control only marginal.

One she finds mystifying and intriguing.

She’s not ticklish. Trip is, and so is Corporal Cole. Trip said it could be a pleasant experience, or a painful one, depending on the circumstances. When she asked for more detail, he mentioned such things as who was doing the tickling, and why; pressure and duration, and timing.

Random and variable. And she longs for that, in her own life- perhaps that, most of all.

If she possessed neither the impulse to laughter nor the ability to understand tickling, could she be as he would have her, as the words suggested humans must be?

Amanda Cole is ticklish. She can laugh, and understand things T’Pol can’t -about sisters, and movie theatres, and high school, and Florida…

T’Pol seizes the device, presses it savagely to her jugular- where her swift hot blood flows closer to the surface even than her emotions. Icefire slams through her, like a fist she never saw coming. She shudders as the cold finds her swift sure blood, inhuman as it was, and joins with the flow, a potent, liberating poison licking and sliding through her..

Shivering with inner cold, with the need for things she can’t name,T’Pol steps into a hot shower, closed her eyes, and felt

**

Trip sighs, and grabs comfortable clothes out of his closet. He’s pulling the shirt over his head when the doorbell chimes.

Come in.”

Amanda stands in the doorway; something’s different in her, too. She’s wearing a silk shirt, low cut, and a long skirt with a slit in the leg. She brushes past him, and he catches a whiff of patchouli. Once, he’d’ve thought that was the sexiest scent out there- now, it seems too much, and jarring.

Wondered if you wanted to catch some dinner. Looks like I just missed the show.” She trails fingers over his shoulder.

I kinda had other plans…” He wonders if he’s a fool.

She leans in and whispers in his ear. “Let me make this simple. If you want me, you can have me. Right now- later – anytime.” She nibbles at his earlobe, and presses against him.

Trip scrubs a hand across his mouth and over his damp hair. “Listen, Amanda – ”

She places a finger on his lips. “Stop right there.” She traces the shape of his lips, and Trip wonders why he’s not even a little aroused by it.

I’ve heard the rumors. Didn’t believe them at all, not until she landed at your feet. She confirmed them for me – though I don’t think she meant to.” She rubs at one shoulder, and Trip wonders what happened, when they were alone together…

They’re only rumors -”

You’re a lousy liar. I should’ve realized. Engineers like things complicated; and I’m not.” She smiled. “I wish you luck, Trip – I think you’re going to need it.”

She turns and leaves him alone, the patchouli weighing down the air.

She offered herself, and he’d let her go.

T’Pol is complicated – probably a hell of a lot more complicated than he’s got any idea about. What had she done to Amanda, and why?

This dance had been going on for more than three years now- some strange kind of two-step where he never quite knew who was leading, or what steps he was supposed to make. So much got lost in the interspecies translation, and Hoshi didn’t have a device for that.

He looks out again at that chaotic field, and thinks about a complicated woman.

Damn her, she’s still pulling at me!”

But he isn’t really upset by that. Excited, intrigued – but not upset.

He thinks of the Warp 5 engine, and the transporter, and a beautiful woman with pointed ears grunting with the pain of the unexpected impacts with a human fist and the deck plating – and maybe the crashing force of her own hidden emotions.

Amanda was right – he does have a fondness for figuring out complicated things.

He applies a light cologne she likes, to ease the impact of his human scent, and leaves his quarters.

**

Damn! She’s outflanked him – again.

More than that. She’s turned everything around – with grammatical precision, no less, then melted him with that small sigh and that tiny frown that says she’s gotten lost in what she feels, what he does – and what the hell to do about it.

And she gets the confession out of him without giving anything up, herself.

And how the hell had Sim – the damned heroic clone he never knew – gotten around to telling her how we felt, in a matter of days?

She goes quiet and still; Trip I can feel her mind working- way faster than his, which is surrendering blood flow fanned by her quivering fingers…

Something’s shifting. He can feel it. Gone is the Vulcan armor; the human. She looks at him, a woman struggling with her desires.

She’s never seemed so sexy, so -

Before he registers the movement, she leans across the distance between them, and kisses him, her hands splaying over his ears, quivering, quivering as she pulls him in… she smells of desert and citrus and tastes of desires tinged with fire…

**

The kiss bursts forth from her, catches them both, in a cresting yearning wave that was born four years ago.

Instinct, impulse, emotion…perhaps even revenge.

But have I been wronged? In what way?

Perhaps simply by not being born human?

Not fitting the lines of the dead Earth poet?

Revenge?

No, not in this moment. There is no need.

Let this be desire, and fulfillment of Awakening, and let it lead to deeper sharing.

He leans in, his lips soft and insistent, and the release of her pheremones flushes her skin, heats her blood. She pulls away; he follows, but she separates; and his eyes, dazed and wondering, fix on her as she slips free of the robe and reveals herself to him…

**

The man’s gaze takes the woman in, slowly, as though he still can’t believe this moment has come, after so long, so much dreaming.

And then, drawn by the same current that had pulled them together from the beginning, their gazes meet, and things words can’t express pass between them…things that know no species, things primal and profound.

She comes to him, and this kiss holds the confirmation, the invitation, and the acceptance…

Her eyes hold questions, and she murmurs, “I’ve revealed myself to you…” But she doesn’t ask.

There is no need. After so long, he’s hungry to touch that tawny skin warmed by hot blood; clothing is a barrier neither can accept, now.

“Promise not to laugh,” he whispered, smiling as he watched her face.

“I do not laugh,” she said, her eyes unblinking, watching. “Nor am I ticklish.”

Did it seem, somehow, that there was some message in the words?

If there was, it was soon enough lost in that their small sounds of wanting, in breathing and movement punctuating the still quiet of the room; the play of his fingers and the candlelight upon bared skin…

**

Enterprise moved at warp through the stars, leaving the anomaly field behind, to its entangled existence.

And, in a candlelit room, a man and a woman entangled, merged, blended – perhaps merely in an act of passion, or perhaps in a bold stab of revenge against all that had held them separate.

Story A Day May 22: “Late Supper”

 Note:

This story is a fan fiction extrapolation of an unwritten scene in the  Star Trek: Enterprise episode, Similitude.

T’Pol and Trip are property of Paramount; no copyright infringement is intended.

A sound, skittering across the surface of sleep. Sensation followed – my cheek, resting against cool flesh, rising and falling beneath me; a pain in my back and neck from an unaccustomed position. Scents of Sickbay, and Trip, and – Sim?

There was someone else breathing here, a new quality to the light reaching my eyelids.

I opened my eyes, blinking a time or two to clear them – and my breath broke in a gasp.

“Sorry- didn’t mean to wake you. Phlox said he thought you’d be gone by now.”

The man who stood at the open curtain smiled – and wore a face identical to that of the man whose chest I had been sleeping upon. “You – “

“I’m not a monster, T’Pol. I know you think I am – “

“I don’t.” I looked from one face to the other. I was pulled toward them both.

“A puppet, then, with the Captain and the Doctor pulling my strings? Genetic material, made for one purpose?”

“No. That’s also not what I think, Sim.” I breathed deeply, then sat up. My cheek felt – empty. “It’s most certainly not what I feel.”

“While we’re on that subject, what is it that you feel?” There was an edge of bitterness in his tone, something that had come to Trip since his sister’s death. Sim had it as his birthright; he was justified. In a sense, Trip had usurped his life, before he even began to live it.

But the man lying motionless on the biobed had a birthright, as well. “I won’t discuss this with you as though Trip isn’t here, Sim. He is. And so are you.” I wished I knew what this reality meant, for them and for me.

“Which one matters most, to you?” He stared at Trip as though at an adversary, and the well of emotion rose within me, deep and unnamed. I attempted to suppress it, but it was too strong.

“Please don’t ask me to choose. I can’t. I won’t.” I bit my lip, in an attempt to at least regain balance, but the trellium enhanced emotions would not be held, and spilled over onto my cheeks.

“Hey,” Sim said, softly, in Trip’s voice. “You okay?” Then he shook his head. “No, of course you’re not. I’m sorry. I’ve been thinking of how hard this is for me; I didn’t think of you. I’ll go, and let you two be alone.”

“Sim!” My voice broke free; I wondered what it was that I felt, as he turned back. The hopeful look I knew so well brought more tears. I let them come; I couldn’t stop them, even if I tried. “Did you wish – to be alone with Trip?” It hadn’t occurred to me that he might, until now.

“I’ll wait. You were here first. I just – well -” he shrugged, and ran the back of his hand over his mouth. The gesture was familiar, a habit taken whole from what was Trip, within him. “I just like to check in with him, tell him what’s going on, what I’ve been doing with his body and his memories. And to tell him that, where you’re concerned, he’s a fool.”

Those words hung between us, above Trip. I felt them, quivering from my fingertips, up through my body-

I was Awakening. Again.

But this wasn’tpossible.

Was it?

I’d never heard of any Vulcan Awakening again to another, while the one they were attuned to lived.

“Trip!” Alarmed at the implication, I pressed fingers against his chest. He was breathing regularly. The scanner suggested that, although his brain activity was very low, there was no further damage. Perhaps it was because Sim was Trip’s clone…

I bent to Trip’s ear, and spoke softly, only for his hearing. Perhaps it was illogical; Phlox had said that there was no conclusive proof that he could hear, or understand. But this was, I felt, a matter of dignity. I could not -would not! – treat him as though he weren’t as worthy of consideration as any other. “Trip – I’ll return, before the surgery. Rest well, and may your dreams be pleasant, if you dream.” I traced the neatly rounded ear, then his jawline, my fingertips alive, yearning… His unique bioelectric pulses were faint, but reassuring.

Sim watched me, while attempting to pretend that he didn’t. I left the curtained area, without moving closer to him; I feared what my response would be, if I did. No, I wouldn’t give into this impulse – not in Trip’s presence.

But, once I was beyond the privacy barrier, I found that I couldn’t go further. They pulled at me, both, together, and, although I hadn’t inended to, I lingered, sat upon the chair. I didn’t listen to Sim’s words, only the familiar cadence of his voice. I could pretend that it was as it had always been…and, here, in the quiet, the tears flowed, without troubling anyone but me…

Was it wise, to seek out emotion, when pain and sorrow were included? My decision to ingest tiny portions of trellium was made when Trip was well, and there had been great pleasure in the surging of affection and arousal, the ability to know, not the peace of balance, but the joys of abandon.

I wanted more of that – but now, I wondered if the price of it was too high.

A soft touch on my shoulder, and a hand that stayed. I started – I hadn’t heard or felt his approach – had I been asleep?

His bioelectric pulses were his own, powerful and new, deeply arousing. They had the character of Trip’s, but were layered with his own living. I reached up for that hand, impulsively, and brushed it against my cheek, where I had lain on Trip’s chest. I bound them together, within myself…for myself. It wasn’t logical, but it was something I needed.

“You should go get some sleep,” he said, softly, and I could hear the invitation he didn’t speak. I couldn’t respond to it. If I did, if I gave myself to this man – what of the one who lay on the other side of the curtain? The man who had waited for me?

What of this man, who had no time for waiting?

And what of me?

“I haven’t yet eaten.” It was a whisper I hadn’t intended, an escaping impulse, beyond my control.

“I just happen to be going to go to the Mess Hall. It’s quiet this time of night and I – I mean he, I guess- like to have a cup of coffee and watch the stars.” He caught hold of my hand, spun the chair. His eyes held messages that shivered through my body, and my soul. “T’Pol, please come with me. This might be the only chance we get, and I don’t want to waste it. Let me serve you a late supper – one meal to remember, because life is short – and shorter for me than for most.”

“I will accompany you, Sim.”

We said nothing as we walked through quiet corridors and into the Mess Hall. He pulled out a chair for me, as Trip had done long ago, before I understood many of his customs, or his body language. Now, I knew to accept the offering, and to allow him to bring me tea, because, illogical as it seemed, the act of offering comfort brought solace, to humans.

“Chamomile – I think you need to relax. You’ve been on edge, lately…maybe no one else sees it, but I do. Do you want to talk about it?”

“Thank you. And no…I don’t have the words to adequately express- “

“Well, then, that’s that. I certainly wouldn’t want you to be guilty of inadequate expression.” I was uncertain if this was humor or anger, or some mixture- before the trellium, I hadn’t understood the complex blendings of human emotion; now, I was beginning to know them well. “I’ll be right back.”

He vanished through the door to the galley, where I could hear him moving. I watched the stars, and sipped the tea, and waited. For this moment, it was enough – a balm, of sorts.

“I brought your supper.” He had a woven basket over one arm; it was delicate and lovely. “I borrowed this from Hoshi, earlier, and brought it to Enginering. When you weren’t there, I went by your quarters. Then I brought it back here.” He reached into the basket, and brought forth a covered plate. I’m afraid your lettuce – do you call it lettuce, on Vulcan? – might be a little wilted.”

I waited while he placed the plate before me, and uncovered it. “The name of the leafy plant you’re referring to is rehgnir, Sim. Its edges are intended to curl; it’s a desert plant, and not highly susceptible to wilting.”

“Well, Chef told me it’s a favorite of yours, so I hope you enjoy it.” He seemed not quite to know what to do, next.

“Will you join me? I believe I heard a rumor that there’s pecan pie.”

“Pecan? No, thanks; I don’t like nuts. My favorite is Key lime. Don’t suppose it’s made with actual fresh Key limes here, but Chef’s pretty good at making it, anyway. I think I’ve gained a few pounds.”

I wondered if he knew that Trip’s favorite was pecan, or if he’d value this small difference. Perhaps, he wouldn’t like the comparison. I thought I wouldn’t, in his situation. I said nothing more of it. He went to the serving case, and the drink dispenser, and returned with his pie and coffee, the tart and earthily strong scents somehow reassuring.

I watched him, as we ate – but I didn’t know what to say. I didn’t know what I felt. For him, or for Trip.

I was Awakened to them both. I couldn’t choose. How could I?

How could I accept that this man would die, and there was nothing I could do to stop it? Logic? No. It was useless, in this Expanse of emotional space; a space as fraught with anomalies and dangers as the physical space Enterprise plied.

“I’ve been thinking a lot about my sister.” He was watching the window, now, and a tear dropped onto the table. “Or maybe it’s just Trip’s memories; sometimes, I’m not sure.”

“I’ll listen, if you’d like to share it.”

“Maybe.” He was watching me now. After a few moments, he said, very softly. “When she was very little, a baby, really, she had this picture book called The Snowy Day. It was a simple story -”

Yes. It is part of A Vulcan’s Guide to Human Popular Culture.

That’s right – I forgot about that. Elizabeth – she loved the story, and the paintings of that little boy in all that snow. Now I was – Trip was – “

“Sim – I understand. You don’t need to make the distinction, unless you wish to.”

“Thank you. Tell you the truth, I’m getting damned tired of that. I know what I know, and she’s my sister too.” He drew a long breath; he’d grown agitated while he spoke. “Anyway, she would follow me around, clutching that book, begging, “Read Snow Story, Twip. She named everything – and I mean everything, even her clothes and her food – but she was four before she could get an ‘r’ out, so I was Twip. Actually, she never really stopped calling me that; it was kind of a joke, between us.” His breath caught, and he got up to stand by the window; humans seemed to find some comfort in confronting the deeps of space when troubled.

I thought of the friendly little boy he’d been a week ago, and thought that his sister must have been fortunate to grow up with him. Him. Trip. Did it matter?

“When we got to the end, I always had to make up a story about what the two boys did the next day, and the next, and the rest of the winter. When I ran out of stories – it had to be a different one each time – Lizzie would make up her own. No one ever made up stories like hers; she could’ve been a writer. Thpses little boy did the most amazing things, and we were always their invisible best friends, right there with them.

“Anyway, at Christmas the year she was 3, our folks took us up North, to New York City, where there was real snow, and buildings just like in the story. It doesn’t snow in Florida, and there aren’t any cities like New York, either. We must’ve acted out every story she ever invented for the book, that week – and made more.”

He smiled, and rubbed a hand over his eyes. “Only, I’ve never met Lizzie, and I’ve never even seen winter. I’ll never meet Lizzie, because she’s dead, and I’ll never have the chance to play in the snow – or even go outside -except in his damned memories and dreams.. The hell of it is, T’Pol, that I’ve got all his memories – but I’ll live my entire life on this damned ship – so that I can give him what he needs to keep living and collecting memories. And I’m going to die. How the hell is this fair?”

His voice was thick with feeling, and I rose to stand with him – not close enough for touch, but not much further. “It isn’t fair. I attempted to convince the Captain of this, before you were created – to explain that you would live, and feel, and that he had no right to force these things upon you.”

I didn’t know that.”

A long quiet time. “Sim,” I said, finally. “It is not entirely true that you have never lived anywhere but on this ship. You began your life in the Lyssarian desert, although it seems that you have overcome your modest larval beginnings.”

I intended only to give him something of his own, but he laughed out loud, and I sensed a release in it. I wished I could share it. My own emotions coiled and tangled within me, dense and impenetrable.

Sim laughed until tears fell. ” Thank you,” he said, finally, wiping his eyes. “Here I was, feeling really cheated – but you – you put it in perspective like only you can – a week ago, I lived in a jar on Phlox’s shelf, and I certainly couldn’t have a late supper with the most beautiful woman on the ship.” His smile was compelling; not Trip’s, but his own. “That’s definitely something.”

I yawned, suddenly and loudly, surprising us both. “Hey,” he said, softly. “We’ve been here an hour, already -and you’re asleep on your feet. Don’t get me wrong, I love spending time with you – but I think people would talk if they saw me carrying you to your quarters. Will you help me fulfill a fantasy that is within my grasp, and let me walk you home?”

Again, I heard the deeper invitation to intimacy, and, as I nodded, I wondered if I would accept it…