Author's Notes:

Trip, T'Pol, and Star Trek: Enterprise belong to Paramount, even if Paramount has forgotten all about them...

This is an extrapolated "might-have-been" missing scene story which occurs during"Home" . Spoilers for that episode, "Fusion;" and "Damage."

This story explores one possible reason Koss might have been willing to allow T'Pol to break their engagement, to live away from Vulcan, and why he later dissolved the marriage.

This chapter is rated T for sexual themes.

Update, June 5, 2016: I will be moving through this story in the next weeks, revising some rather glaring errors I've discovered and enacting an overall embetterment. Since the current word count is over 5OK, and I'm also involved in several other projects, patience is greatly welcomed, as are reviews that point out any typos, glitches, or whathaveyou I haven't corrected yet.

My aim, as always, is to provide the very best stories I can write. I love feedback, even less than stellar reviews, because there is so much to learn from them. Lay 'em on me! =D

Promises and Choices

The man stood in one of the many sheltered places, staring out at the windswept plain. It was his habit to come here, weekly, since his return to his homeworld. He had not realized how deeply a place could settle into one, become, against all logic, a part of oneself.

But it was so of the Fire Plains. They were a part of him, and he of them, and here he found a solace and grounding that eluded him in the rest of his living. He came here to ponder his people; those who had lived and died untold ages ago - no, that was not true, for the statuary's chronological origins had been determined and verified in 17 disparate ways. There was no doubt that they had been created 150 centuries prior, nor that they'd eroded into something very different from what their unnamed creators intended.

But Kov found comfort in allowing himself to think there was no means of determining their age, just as the sculptors had disappeared into the sands of history. It was a delusion that wouldn't be easily suffered on this world, but he had lived nearly a decade away from it, learning of the wider universe, of other species who thought and felt and lived differently, and of himself.

So he came weekly to the Fire Plains, at a time when they were most often deserted, and there he pondered the nature of his soul, his passion, and whether he was willing, still, to be the hidden t'hy'la of a man who would not claim him openly, nor admit the nature of his desires.

Kov stood in his favored spot, and confronted his emotions regarding the man he would claim most eagerly. Time was growing short. Within the next several years, they would both undergo the pon farr. He couldn't leave it to chance, or to Koss to choose, indefinitely. He must assure he had a suitable mate; he was certain it couldn't be a woman - he had never had the slightest pull in that direction.

He was uncertain it could be anyone but Koss. Or anyone but him, for Koss.

Koss stubbornly refused to yield to the logic of the situation, and was just as steadfast at resisting the emotional aspects.

Kov stood for some time before he became aware of two figures moving among the sculptures. They were too distant to make out the specifics of identity, other than that there seemed to be a slender, graceful female, and a larger male, lighter in coloring than was common. Something about the way they moved, lingering, their bodies seeming at times to - to merge - spoke of a freedom rarely publicly displayed.

Kov was certain that they were a pairbonded couple, perhaps just beyond their first pon farr, or perhaps readying for it, when Vulcans were likeliest to forget the proprieties that surrounded physical contact, and to respond instead in a more instinctive manner, as they Burned and forged their bond.

Perhaps there was an impropriety in watching, when they couldn't know they were being observed. The position of the sun, and his location in a shadowed nook on the side of the cliffs overlooking the plains, would make him invisible. He was too distant for a female to scent, even if he had not been downwind of them. However, Kov found something very agreeable in their freedom, their connection, something he longed for with his own t'hy'la, who had thus far denied it, except in private.

Kov watched, as they explored, and watched as they made their way to the cliffs- and stood outlined at a viewpoint -

They were close enough now that he could see them, and smell the stomach-twisting scent of female desire, and the unsettling smell of a human.

He'd met them, three years ago, on their ship. Trip Tucker was a skilled engineer, more intuitive and inquisitive than any being Kov had ever met. He'd found the human as fascinating as Tolaris had found T'Pol, the quiet but intense young woman said to have, as an infant, dared to touch a flame, and who had served seven months, already, as a member of this human crew.

She was also the former Promised of his t'hy'la.

Tolaris had claimed her with jealous insistence, and it wasn't until after he forced a meld on her, and Kov, as the most powerful melder on the Valkness, had been called to determine the extent of the crime, that he had learned her truth, and Trip's.

She remained with Enterprise because she was Awakening, and couldn't or wouldn't leave the human engineer. She seemed unaware of her own motivation, but that made it no less so. It was likely that Trip had learned about Vulcan marriage customs from her. With his insistence that regret was not an emotion anyone should experience if there was a choice, it was possible he had some part in her decision not to honor her Promising arrangement.

If so, Trip had been a better friend to Kov than he knew. Kov had hoped, since, that the human and T'Pol might find their way to one another, although it would certainly be difficult, given how much differed between the two species. Difficult, but the connection between them was strong, and would likely grow stronger, if they continued to live and work in such close proximity.

"Marry him?!" The exclamation, human and uncontrolled, rang out across the space between.

Kov knew the prohibitions against listening to private conversation. But, as they spoke, he moved slowly closer- so that, by the time T'Pol's apology was made, and rejected, and the engineer walked off, leaving her alone, he was close enough to hear something he had never before heard - the sounds of a Vulcan woman sobbing.

The Vulcan woman Koss would marry, had sought to marry, without telling Kov anything of his plans.

He wondered if he ought to approach her, if there was anything he could say that would comfort her, in this collision of a Vulcan life and her own desires. He knew the nature of that conflict intimately well.

While Kov was still considering it, Trip came back, running, despite the dangers a human faced on this world. He didn't stop until he reached the place where she stood, staring out at the plains and into her soul, tears still streaming down her face, which was turned away, although she must hear him.

"Oh, pepperpot," Trip said, or perhaps Kov misunderstood, through his labored breathing. Foolish, and perhaps deadly, for one of his species to run so, beneath the sun, which was only slightly past zenith.

"You came back." T'Pol spoke in a choked whisper, as she turned, quivering visibly. Her arousal odor ought to be more tolerable, here on the open air, but it seemed to overwhelm all other scents. It was a potent message of readiness any Vulcan male could read; could a human male do the same?

"Sorry - I left. Guess I could get - a hell of a lot better at - taking bad news." Human fingers lifted in an ouz'hesta - Kov was fascinated, but not surprised, that this man would have learned the manner that was suitable to express affection, on this world. He had been curious about Vulcan ways three years ago; it seemed he had considerably greater motivation now – because the woman's pheromone secretions made it apparent that they were now consummated mates.

T'Pol studied his fingers for a breath or two, then met them with her own, and they drew in a breath, together. For an instant, as Trip sank to one knee before her, their fingers joined, hers caressing their way through the first posture, Kov thought he felt a resonance of what was passing between them.

"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?" There was deep emotion in her voice. That, and her earlier sobbing, spoke of a woman who was, perhaps, in some sense, what she had once labeled the crew of the Valkness - V'Tosh Katur, a Vulcan without logic, at least as regarded the compelling blonde human. Kov felt no distaste for her compromised reason – what else should she be, with her t'hy'la?

"Well, you're Cinderella, and I'm the Prince, remember? I married you in another timeline, didn't I?" Kov wondered if these were things she understood, experiences they had shared. The human breathed for a moment, and Kov remembered what he'd said about regret. Trip was wise, and heeded his own advice. "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 you out of this."

T'Pol's unsettled emotional state was evident in the small shifting motions of her body, motions children were taught to still. Vulcan children – from what Kov had seen on Enterprise, if human children were taught such skills, they seemed to surrender them in adulthood.

"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."

Kov watched her, fascinated - he'd never seen any Vulcan move so; there was something about it that echoed the kinetic nature of her mate, who turned half away, then back, then used his free hand to wipe at his mouth and through his hair.

Kov noted that he never broke the contact made by their fingers, as T'Pol's danced through the second pose. Her scent was thick in the air; he needed to repress the urge to cough, or move away, because he wanted, perhaps needed, to know what would be decided.

Would Trip succeed in convincing her? Would that change anything, between he and Koss?

"And you don't have any way to opt-out of this?" The human echoed her pose, then waited. His manner suggested he had an understanding of the nature and significance of such caresses.

"No." But the young woman flinched, and Kov was nearly certain that she was considering the challenge, as he was.

"Are you going to be OK?" Trip rose to his feet, but maintained the contact, as T'Pol began to deepen the ouz'hesta to third pose, her fingers daring to move up over his hand, in a gesture inappropriate for any public place. "I mean, you won't - "

"I no longer need trellium to access my emotions, Trip." Kov didn't know what trellium was, but he understood that her mate was concerned for her well-being, and that she was not precisely telling him that she would be well.

He was certain that Trip knew it, as well, by the way he watched her, by the paired fingers of his other hand, with stroked down her cheek in an intimate gesture of affection that was unacceptable anywhere but in the privacy of one's home. Koss had touched him so, last night, when they were together.

"What is this Koss guy going to think about - about who you are, now? How you are? I'm guessing he won't be expecting a wife who yells at him when he pisses her off. Not that he'd have a clue what 'pissed off', means - or how short a temper you can have, sometimes, pepperpot." He smiled at that, and the fingers not engaged in the ouz'hesta slipped beneath her chin, lifting it slightly.

"I attempted to warn him. He wasn't interested in learning specifics. Therefore, he assumes the risk."

Human laughter punctured the quiet of the Fire Plains. "Serves him right. I hope he pisses you off plenty, then." Trip drew his arm back toward his body, slowly, their joined fingers bringing T'Pol to him, yet still allowing her the space to break away, and maintain her distance. But the woman made no attempt to resist as Trip brought her against his body, wrapping his other arm around her waist, curling over the swell of her hip.

Kov had never seen another couple embrace, so. T'Pol had grown daring, in the time since he had last seen her. It pleased him that his Chosen would no doubt learn that he'd contracted to marry a woman who wouldn't comply to the traditional role of a Vulcan wife, if such actions defined her typical behavior. Perhaps, she wouldn't even be acceptable.

Kov wondered if that would be agreeable to her. Certainly, she had been pressured; the intensity of her interaction with her Chosen was the proof that she was not agreeing out of any personal interest in joining herself to Koss. She had spoken of negotiations, and of leaving again, with Enterprise.

Did Koss agree to her terms in that, with the intention of continuing their private relationship as though nothing had changed between them? Could he truly believe that Kov would accept that? He'd spent years away, because Koss wouldn't terminate the Promising to this woman, who was now preparing to formalize the pairing.

As he watched his human friend holding a Vulcan woman, heard the sounds of their lips connecting in a way that was, at once, alien and intimate, Kov knew that he couldn't go to Koss tonight. Couldn't share the evening meal, and what would follow, without this interaction between Trip and T'Pol in his mind.

Something rare and beautiful was being taken from this man and woman. Kov didn't need to know the specifics of their connection, or the details of how humans pairbonded, to see and feel it in the way T'Pol's head sank down to her mate's chest, the way he applied neuropressure to her neck and face, the way she accepted his chaotic human emotions without any visible discomfort.

"When, T'Pol?" The question burst out, after a time of silence.

"When?" The woman tipped her head up to study her mate's face, as though reading clues in its expression.

"When do you marry this guy?"

"It is customary for me to visit Koss at dawn, to inform him of my acceptance and readiness to formalize our parents' arrangement. The rest of the day is traditionally spent in meditation, and, the following day, the ceremony will be held."

"Can you wait a day to tell him?" It was the note that Kov remembered well, one that suggested that the human had an idea.

"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."

"I will wait a day, Trip." The young woman made no comment on the illogic of his statement, or the emotion that clearly motivated it. Her hand moved, with certainty, down the midline of her mate's body, but her gaze never left his face, even when his breath faltered, then accelerated . "It would be most illogical to waste a moment, when there is so much to treasure, and to hold to, and our time is finite." Her whisper was throaty, and the man moaned softly, his desire scent rising to commingle with hers.

"Right here - out in the open? Where anyone can see? You sure about this, pepperpot?"

"I've never been so certain of anything, Trip. If I must live as a Vulcan wife, let me first have the abandonment of these hours with you - to be with you - as we are, as we have been, as I would choose to be, if things were not as they are. Let us, as you might say, ravage, relish, and revel, for every breath we are free to do so - beginning with this one."

'Awww, hell, woman -you're damned irresistible when you quiver and get handsy...just wish it didn't ever have to end..."



"Be here, now," T'Pol admonished. "Otherwise, we're wasting time, and it's currently our most precious resource."

"T'Pol?" They were sinking together down to the sandy floor of their vewpoint, heedless of any possibility that they might be observed. Were all human couplings this spontaneous, this unconcerned with discretion? Had she changed so much, or was the woman he'd met on the human ship only a mask, a camouflage to hide the untamed spirit of the infant who had dared to touch the flame?


"Shut up and kiss me."

"I intend to do far more than that."

Kov slipped away, not wanting to intrude further. As he made his way, careful to be silent lest she hear him, he considered what he had witnessed.

T'Pol would marry Koss, because it was a means to helping her mother. Kov suspected that, ultimately, any help rendered would be soon enough undone, given T'Les's assumed involvement with a controversial group. But perhaps T'Pol, who had been occupied elsewhere, knew nothing of the political and social unrest, or her mother's role in it.

The marriage wouldn't be a sexual one, unless Koss desired her at pon farr. All indications were that he wouldn't; Kov was intimately aware of the direction his desires followed. Women had never held appeal to either of them. It was what had brought them together.

Koss wouldn't demand that she be monogamous - certainly not once she returned to the human starship. It would be possible for she and Trip to continue their relationship - even the sexual aspects of it.

No. He was thinking in strictly Vulcan terms, but Trip Tucker wasn't Vulcan. He remembered a conversation in the Mess Hall of Enterprise, where Trip and Lieutenant Reed had seemed -distressed - by the thought that Vulcan males need mate only once every seven years. Did he know of pon farr, now? He hadn't then; of that, Kov was certain.

Perhaps, the human couldn't separate the fact of her marriage from his own obvious emotional attachment to her. A species that mated so eagerly and frequently, without a life-or-death imperative driving the mating cycle, might not see the necessity for the legal security of a mate in Vulcan society.

Did Trip wish to marry T'Pol himself, as he had offered to do? Did he have reasons other than to spare her the unwanted marriage to Koss? Could a human and a Vulcan find enough common ground upon which to build a stable and sustaining union? Could they form a bond?

Had they, already?

What would it mean, to T'Pol, to marry Koss, if she was already bound to Trip?

Would she call the challenge? Could Trip survive it?

As he left the Fire Plains in his aircar, Kov debated whether he should take some action, to secure his right to his Chosen, to protect the right of his friend and the woman he clearly desired - the woman Koss would marry, in three days, if there was no change in the current circumstances.

Perhaps she wouldn't call the challenge. She wouldn't risk her mate's life, Kov was certain of that. More, if her intent was to offer her mother some protection, then she was obligated to complete the Promising. It wouldn't be logical to call the challenge.

But she clearly thought now in ways that weren't solely logical. She'd found emotion, had apparently sought it out. She'd become more like his former shipmates than she might think.

He would speak to Koss. That much was certain. There could be no delaying, if his Chosen intended to marry T'Pol, and hadn't informed him. It was his stubborn refusal to speak his truth to his own parents, and thereby negate the Promising, that had led Kov to join the crew of the Valkness. If not for the evidence Tolaris presented that there was danger in such emotional abandon, and his father's terminal illness, he would still be with the explorers.

They had renewed their connection upon Kov's return, and it had seemed to be agreeable to them both. But that Koss would choose now to pursue marriage with T'Pol, and not speak to him about it, was proof that it was not what Kov thought it to be.

Would it be intrusive, to offer himself to T'Pol as a potential champion? He could make it clear that he would release her, if he were victor. What would Koss choose, if Kov stood against him in the challenge, if the choice was to abandon the marriage, or face his own Chosen in the battle to the death?

There was a part of Kov that needed to know, and another that needed to simply believe that Koss would choose him, openly and willingly. Illogical, to be so torn.

But Koss had chosen to honor his parents' decision, and T'Pol, who was, at this moment, claiming her own Chosen openly and willingly on the Fire Plains below, would marry him to save her mother's career. Her intention was admirable, logical, and Vulcan. Could a human understand? Could a Vulcan convince her that the situation was not as she had likely been told, or not wholly so?

Should he try? He had been clear, when he left Vulcan. If Koss would follow tradition, and his parents' will, even when it was opposed to the reality of his being, then he must live with the consequences of his compliance. It was no different, now. If Koss wasn't willing to state that he was drawn to males rather than females, thereby securing the right to choose a mate more in keeping with his needs, and freeing T'Pol to do the same, there was no point in any further connection between them.

Kov, not as bound as most Vulcans to emotional repression, wept in the privacy of his aircar, then returned to his father's home to meditate. He could take no action, until T'Pol announced her intentions to Koss; it would violate her privacy to do so, and reveal to her and to Trip that he had watched them in a private encounter.

So he would wait until zenith, two days hence - and then, he would speak to Koss, and learn whether they were still Chosen, or whether he would, by necessity, need to Choose another.