Author's Note: I don't own them; I'm not sure the converse is true. I do this for love, not money.
This missing-scenes story contains spoilers for Star Trek: Enterprise Season One, Episode 17, "Fusion". It's not necessary to watch the episode to follow the storyline, but it would provide an enhanced understanding.
Although I've been writing Star Trek fan fiction for over 3 decades, this is the first story I've published at a fan fiction site. I greatly appreciate comments, constructive criticism, opinions, and any input that will enhance the reader's experience!
For those who came here after reading my Blogging from A-Z Boldly Going vignettes, thank you! That vote of confidence means a lot!
OK, I think that takes care of all the business, which means I get to take a deep breath, and publish!
T'Pol didn't watch Captain Tavin as he consumed the chicken marsala. She couldn't focus on Captain Archer; he was also eating the animal flesh. Although she was accustomed to her human crewmates' carnivorous tendencies, the concept of a Vulcan eating meat was so alien to her that she feared she might be ill.
That left only Tolaris, who was blocking her view of the window. The man watched her with unsettling intensity; on Vulcan, it would be considered a serious breach of protocol, but perhaps nothing else could be expected of V'Tosh Katur.
He also argued with her in a manner that reminded her of Commander Tucker, but was also unlike. She sensed that he had a purpose, but, unlike the engineer, it wasn't openly displayed. Where she often found debating with the human agreeable, there was something unpleasant in Tolaris' baiting which put her off balance.
It was as though he was probing her.
Captain Archer wouldn't be pleased if she didn't respond, but she had a sense that Tolaris was preparing some manner of trap, and that she might easily be giving him what he needed to spring it upon her.
It wasn't until dinner was over, and she settled for meditation, that T'Pol realized that she was thinking of her emotional response to another Vulcan using human metaphor.
T'Pol stood at her window, holding her mug of tea without drinking it. She regarded her own reflection marked out against the nebula the humans had named after an animal. She'd refrained from mentioning to Captain Archer that such nomenclature was subjective, and therefore illogical; she'd learned that humans had other priorities than logic.
She ought to meditate. In her white space, she would be free of the challenging emotions she was experiencing.
T'Pol remained at the window, her candles unlit and her table folded away.
Meditation wouldn't resolve the causes of these emotions. She would have to deal with Tolaris in the line of duty, and otherwise. That was clear in his actions to this point. She had chosen to remain aboard Enterprise, and in proximity to Commander Tucker. If, as Tolaris said, her primal nature was not as dangerous as she had been taught, what did that mean?
Tolaris had invaded her space at the drink servitor, his nearness unsettling, almost threatening. His scent was inexplicably unsettling. Commander Tucker was often closer to her than Tolaris had been. Frequently, they worked together in confined spaces, and his scent, human and alien, filled her awareness. It, too was unsettling, for different reasons.
Was there any logic in her preference for the Terran man's scent, and his nearness? Could rational examination explain her unease at the Vulcan's? Could emotion?
Commander Tucker might say Tolaris lurked in a manner reminiscent of an arachnid tending its web.
No. The man who wanted to be called Trip would say, "The way that guy hovers over you gives me the heebie-jeebies. Like a damned spider in his web."
There was no logic in finding comfort in the echoes of Commander Tucker's voice in her mind, or in imagining the overly demonstrative and kinetic expressions he would likely employ in conjunction with them. She had witnessed his response to spiders on six occasions. His revulsion for the genus arachnae was evident.
Humans had named this nebula for an organism it only vaguely represented, and which couldn't exist in space. Logically, there was no value to ascribing name labels that evoked emotional responses, rather than offering scientific quantification. Certainly, it was irrational to liken Tolaris to a spider, based solely on her emotional response to his bearing.
T'Pol stood at her window, holding a full mug of cooling mint tea, and watched the swirling cloud envelope her image, then erase it. Tolaris was a spider, and she was in grave danger of becoming entrapped within his web.
The moment of certainty was wholly illogical, as was the sudden shudder that splashed cold tea across her hand and onto her sleeve.
Perhaps he was correct, and she had been more changed on Enterprise than she knew.
"All right then – do what you need to do to shift stations, and link us up. We don't want to miss out on all the fun."
T'Pol would have preferred to be truthful, to tell the Captain that she felt a resistance to boarding the Valkness. Perhaps, if she told him that she thought of Tolaris as a spider, and that it would be he with whom she would be required to work most closely, he would rescind his request.
The captain smiled at her as he stepped closer. "I think you're going to thank me, when this is all over," he said quietly, as though to avoid being heard by Captain Tavin. Her human crewmates remained unaware of the full extent of Vulcan auditory abilities.
There were only eleven Vulcans aboard the obsolete vessel, which implied that, logically, they would be working alone the majority of the time, in a chamber removed from the main flow of activity, to allow for increased focus.
"Remember, T'Pol. Try to keep an open mind."
Perhaps it was illogical to sense danger in this small group. Captain Tavin seemed stable, as balanced as any other Vulcan of his age, despite his taste for Earth meat and his tendency to emote with startling freedom. However, she'd been trained for high-level security operations, and the potential for trouble was not simply in her imagination. They were V'Tosh Katur.
"Is that an order, Captain?"
"Just a strong suggestion from a friend, T'Pol."
"I will try, sir." She began the process of transferring science station functions to the Valkness, and decided that she would engage in a preventive meditation session, before beginning the scans.
Tolaris was V'Tosh Katur. A Vulcan without logic, who stalked her like an arachnid, and whose web she had just agreed to enter.
T'Pol returned to Enterprise. She needed to be away from Tolaris, and the growing certainty that she was prey of some sort to him.
What did he want from her? Why did all her instincts indicate that she was in imminent danger?
She wasn't aware that she had decided to go the Mess Hall for tea until she arrived there.
"Haven't seen much of you lately." T'Pol's heart rate accelerated. She drew a deep breath, and met Commander Tucker's eyes. His voice was agreeable, settling her turbulent emotions.
"The Captain requested that I oversee the scans of the nebula from the Valkness."
He rose from his seat and pulled out a chair for her. "You look beat. Here, sit down, and I'll get your tea."
"I didn't say I intended to drink tea."
"You don't have to say it. You've got that tiny little line right here," he indicated the bridge of his nose. "That tells me everything I need to know. Chamomile, right?"
"Yes." She gratefully accepted the offered seat. It was a quiet time, with only one other crewman, who was reading out of Terran conversational range. "How did you deduce that?"
"I'm an engineer, remember?" He grinned at her as he walked to the servitor. "Keeping our systems up and running is my job. Now, I'll admit you're more challenging than most, but then, I like a challenge."
Why was it that his interest in her wasn't threatening? Why did she find it comforting that he would notice when she was agitated, and know what might calm her? She was Vulcan; shouldn't she be disturbed that a human could so easily decipher her unease?
"If you want to talk about it, T'Pol, I'm willing to listen." He set the tea in front of her, and stood beside the chair opposite. A PADD rested on the table before it, engine schematics on its screen. "Or, if you'd just like company, without talking, that's just as good. I'm trying to help Kov figure out how to maintain his engines; the man used to be a landscape designer, and he barely knows how to change an EPS circuit. Nice enough guy, though, even if he's got some mighty strange ideas about humans. Hey, sorry – would you rather be alone? Or for me to shut up?"
T'Pol gestured to the place he had occupied. "I find your presence, and your insights, agreeable, Commander. Please, sit. Perhaps I can assist you." It wasn't necessary to inform him that he was also helping her, or that his typical way of befriending everyone, even the unlikeliest of beings, was soothing, after the hours spent in the company of Tolaris. What would it be like, to be as open to new people, and new experiences, as this man was?
Perhaps she could learn from his willingness to engage with others. She would do as Tolaris had demanded, tonight. She would take it as a challenge; an opportunity for growth. And, if it was distressing, she could perhaps ease the agitation by sharing tea with the human engineer.
She woke, sweating, the crashing of Surak's statue far too loud in her ears, and the taste of sweet, intoxicating nectars still upon her tongue. Did it matter whether it was from the tikkin she'd consumed long ago, beneath T'Khut's eye, or the plum slices she had tasted, at Fusion?
Perhaps it mattered a great deal, but her thoughts were jumbled, as though she couldn't fully waken. Why was she putting on her robe, and going to the comm?
Had she intended to call him? Or was this another dream?
Why was it so difficult to breathe normally, or to control her circulation?
"T'Pol? That you?"" Why did his voice, softened and slurred with sleep, seem like life support? Perhaps, then, it was a dream. She could not remember having had that thought before.
She closed the circuit, wondering why. She undressed, and stepped into the shower to stand beneath the steaming water, still uncertain how she had come to be here, or if this was what she'd intended. She dried and dressed in her uniform, with as little volition as if this was a dream. Logically, then, she must devise some test, to see if she was asleep, or awake.
She would meditate. The REM state didn't allow the necessary control. If she could meditate, she must be awake.
She didn't light the candles, or bring out her table. She merely settled herself; not in her customary place, but on the floor in front of the window, where she could see the Arachnid Nebula flung across space, a web attempting to ensnare her, ensnare her will and her sanity -
The door chimed, and her muscles tightened as she rose and spun, crouching, ready to defend.
"Come in," her voice said, although she hadn't intended to speak.
"T'Pol? You all right? Did you call me?" The scent of chamomile and that intriguingly alien olfactory signature that was Trip's alone permeated the air in a most pleasing fashion. "Hey, why are you hanging out in the dark – you trying to ambush me? You'll spill the tea."
Her muscles eased, slowly. "I – I believe I was dreaming. I didn't intend to call you, or to waken you. It wasn't necessary to come."
"Now what kind of hero doesn't come to rescue the damsel in distress with chamomile? Want me to light the candles for you, or turn on the lights?"
"Are you implying that I'm the damsel in distress, Commander? Perhaps one or both of us is still dreaming."
"The same dream? Now, that might be interestin', peekin' inside your head. Seems like maybe I've been there before – T'Pol? T'Pol!"
How had he come to be supporting her weight? Had he not been carrying tea? Why did her head pain her so? "It is merely a headache, Commander."
"I've seen you with headaches before; this is more than that. I know; my sister Lizzie gets migraines, and so does my mom. I've had a few myself; not many, but more than enough. Come on, I'll walk you to Sickbay. You can hold my arm and close your eyes if the light's bothering you, but Phlox'll have something to take the pain away so you can get some sleep. Hopefully, that'll be the end of it."
"That's not necessary, Commander Tucker." The pain lanced across the space behind her eyes, and her skull felt as though it was exerting tremendous pressure upon her brain. She winced.
"The hell it isn't. I know you; you're not one to complain. When you're groaning and calling people in the middle of the night without meaning to, you're hurting. What kind of friend would I be if I didn't make sure you're all right, and help you feel better?"
"I accept, Commander." He relaxed his grip, but didn't release her, and his eyes held worry. To reassure him, she said, "Thank you for coming."
"Well, first I just called you back, once I woke up and realized I wasn't dreaming. When you didn't answer, I decided to check in, and something told me you might want tea and company. You ready to try moving?"
The door opened, and she closed her eyes against the brightness of Enterprise's corridors; even the night lighting humans preferred felt too strong. "So, are you going to tell me what a bad dream means, to a Vulcan? And why you're suddenly having dreams bad enough that you're calling people at O-dark-thirty without meaning to?"
"I dreamed of San Francisco. It was the night we first encountered one another."
"So I'm the bad dream? Well, I've been called a nightmare a time or two, but my memories of that night are a little different than yours, I guess." There was disappointment, and maybe hurt, in his voice.
"You weren't in the dream, Trip." Only after she said it did she realize the name she had used. But she didn't address it, and neither did he. "Perhaps that is part of what made it so – unsettling. The memory was twisted, non-linear. The events were not as they occurred, as I remember them. I should have meditated before sleeping."
"I thought you always did. Why didn't you?"
"It was a – a challenge. From one of the Valkness' crew. He said that I might find the experience interesting. He didn't suggest that I would have such agitated and disturbed dreaming, however, or that there might be physical side effects to the experiment. Perhaps I should have abstained."
"From trying something new that interested you? Because it ended up hurting your head and not being what you thought it would? Sometimes that happens. Happened to me the first time I snuck some of my daddy's tequila, and drank half the bottle. After that, I figured out that a shot is enough for me, and not one drop more. Maybe you just need to fine tune things a little."
She didn't understand the specifics of his story, but his voice was soothing, and so was his advice. "So you're saying that it's not foolhardy to attempt the experiment again?"
"Now, I can't tell you that. Only you can. But I don't think there's anything wrong with exploring with caution. Looking around while keeping your eyes open for trouble. Well, here we are – Sickbay's just down there, and I'll bet Phlox'll have about a thousand questions if I walk you in. But I'll tell you what. If you want to try this not meditating thing again, and you need backup, just let me know. I don't need a lot of sleep, and I'm trying like hell to give Kov everything he needs to get up to speed, so I'm bound to be up. I'll be happy to bring you tea, or sing you a lullabye, or walk you to Phlox if your head hurts."
"Well, I never could resist damsels in distress who call me up in the middle of the night." he said, as she separated from him and tentatively opened her eyes further. The headache was easing somewhat. "I've told you and told you, T'Pol; I'm a gentleman."
In the last heartbeat that her thoughts were her own and inviolable, T'Pol knew she'd made a grievous error; perhaps a fatal one.
Tolaris took hold of her, imposing his will upon her. She tried to break free, instincts directing her actions. But he had her mind, and a focus of his own.
Give me the dream.
He wanted to take the memory, twist it, put himself into it, so that she would want him, and not -
Did he know?
T'Pol jerked away, afraid he would take that thought, that he would wrap it in his web, that he would prey upon it and her, that she would be forever changed, made his, and no longer her own.
But he still held her, and now his hand wrapped around the back of her head, tightly enough that she risked injury if she pulled away again. He held her head, but, even more threatening, he had her mind, held it clutched in his grip, and she was caught in his web.
Arachnids sucked the blood from their prey, sometimes while it still lived.
She couldn't pull free of him. She was trapped, and he was drawing the memory from her, against her will, forcing her to the doors of the restaurant, through them, although she resisted.
Soon, he would have everything, all that she most treasured in this memory. He would feed on her emotions, and use them against her, to hold her, to ensnare her -
To own her. As his mate. To live through her, use her -
T'Pol held to her cherished memories, and fought for her life, her mind, and her soul.
"She gonna be all right? C'mon, Kov. Don't leave me hanging!"
Hands hot against her head, bringing a piercing terror, like an arachnid's fang. The hands, the pressure – she must get free!
"Let me go! Let me go!" He must not find Trip in her mind; she wouldn't lose that memory, or have it perverted into a madman's vision of it.
"Whoa, there, tigress." He'd called her that, in the restaurant, on Earth.
"You won't take him from me!" T'Pol clutched tightly to the memory, to the man who made it a cherished thing. A Terran man; not a Vulcan one. "He is illogical and impulsive; you are V'Tosh Katur!"
"Trip, she may injure herself more severely if she struggles. Perhaps if you reassure her that you are here, in more than memory."
"Kov's right; I am. You hear him. You gotta stop fighting and let him help you. Easy. Take it easy. I'm right here; I couldn't get away if I wanted to. And I don't."
The hands were still there. "Must get free. Spider. In his web. Lurking – he gives me the heebie-jeebies. He won't take you from me. Must get free!" Again, she struggled; again, she was restrained.
"Owww, damn! Forgot how strong you are. T'Pol? Kov, I think she's having another nightmare. How the hell am I supposed to reassure her that I'm here if she doesn't know it's me?"
"I'm attempting to plant the suggestion that she smell you."
"Smell me? I'm pretty sure she thinks we all stink!"
"It might be helpful if you opened your uniform and attempted to bring her closer to your body, to facilitate the process."
"If this makes her sick, or she kills me, I'm blaming you, my friend."
She was being held. The hands were still on her face, Vulcan hot. But she was being embraced by cool strong arms, and there was a low, slow steady sound – the beating of a human heart. And a scent she knew, yearned for; a scent more agreeable to her than any other.
"Whoa – steady, Sub-commander. Kov - "
"Vulcan females often recognize others by their smell. Please, if it doesn't trouble you, allow her a few moments. Your scent seems to be helping her to return to normal awareness and release her barriers. Until she does, there's little I can do to assess the extent of the damage, or to assist her in the healing process. After what she's already endured, she must not be coerced in any way."
She breathed him in, filled herself with him. After thirty breaths, she opened her eyes slightly, and there he was, kneeling on the deck plating, holding her. His eyes were concerned as he watched her. "Welcome back, Slugger," he said, his voice soft.
"Has he taken my dream?"
"You'd have to ask Kov. I'm, uh, way out of my league here. I still really don't know what happened."
"Here." This must be the engineer Trip had befriended. He had a gentle manner. "I meant no intrusion, but Trip said he was your 'backup', and that I needed to come with him."
"My backup?" Kov removed his hands, and she rolled her head slowly back to Trip. "You were supposed to await my call.'
"I did. But you didn't call, and you're never late for anything. I gave you three minutes, and called you, but you didn't answer, and that's when I knew you had to be in trouble. Thought I might need backup, so I asked Kov to come with me. So, if you need to blame someone, I guess I'm it."
She was working her way through his typically convoluted explanation when the door chime sounded. "That's Phlox; you called him right before we got to you. All right if I let him in?"
"As long as you remain with me, Trip. Don't let him take you – don't let him take the dream -" Exhaustion was pulling, pulling her down, and away. "Please – don't let him take you…."
"I'm not going anywhere," he murmured, cool human breath in her ear, following her into sleep.