The Cultural Addition
Star Trek: Enterprise - based fan fiction
by: Joycelyn Solo

Summary: An unexpected pregnancy has some interesting consequences for Trip, T'Pol, the Enterprise and the future of Humanity.
Author's note: This story takes place Season Three, so expect general episodic references. Though I loved "Similitude," it doesn't fit with this story's progression of our favorite couple's romance and will be ignored.
Disclaimer: Star Trek: Enterprise and associated characters are property of Paramount Pictures. I mean no copyright infringement, this story is for entertainment purposes only.
Special Thanks: To Stub, my patient beta.
Rating: PG-13
Genre: Trip/T'Pol Romance; Mystery

Chapter One - The most important meal of the day

"Oatmeal, again?"

Jonathon Archer, captain of the starship Enterprise, shared his chief engineer's dismay as they both regarded the bowls set before them. "With Chef out of commission, I'm sure his staff is doing the best they can."

Since entering the Delphic Expanse, Enterprise had encountered spatial anomalies which rewrote the laws of physics -- and wreaked havoc, in general, throughout the ship. The most recent devastation had been the anomaly one week ago that ripped through the ship's kitchen, resulting in severe burns to Chef's hands. Dr. Phlox was able to repair most of the damage, but there would be no lead cook in the kitchen for at least another week.

Frowning, Charles "Trip" Tucker stared at the lumpy, colorless, mound currently being passed off as his breakfast. "I might waste away from malnutrition if he's not back in the kitchen soon."

"The oatmeal contains sufficient nutritional value, Commander Tucker. You are in no danger of 'wasting away'."

The engineer turned his attention to the other occupant of the Captain's Mess. Knowing it had no effect on her -- except irritation -- he stuck out his bottom lip and pouted. "It doesn't taste all that nutritious."

Though few would have noticed, Tucker delighted in the slight movement of Sub-Commander T'Pol's eyebrow in response to his pout. It wasn't even 0700, yet, and he'd already gotten a rise out of his favorite Vulcan.

He was further gratified when she chose to contradict his illogical statement. "I find, Commander, that the foods you find the most satisfying to your taste buds are the ones with the least amount of dietary value."

"That's what makes 'em good for you." He grinned widely and took a bite of his oatmeal, ignoring the bland taste as he waited for her to continue the game.

Unnoticed in the midst of the breakfast debate, Archer watched with quiet amusement as his first officer and chief engineer sparred. With everything the ship's crew had experienced over the last several months, it was nice to see that some things were slowly returning to normal.

It had been too long since he, Trip and T'Pol had taken a meal together, something they had enjoyed regularly before the Xindi attack on Earth. Trip had withdrawn from Archer and their long-time friendship after his sister's death in the attack. According to Dr. Phlox, T'Pol, it seemed, had been one of the few able to reach the commander through his grief and was slowly bringing him out of his protective shell.

As grateful as he was for having Trip back, Archer could not help a pang of jealousy as he watched their debate move from food to the latest Movie Night selection. He didn't understand why Trip hadn't come to him after his sister's death, why he had chosen to shut him out. He couldn't help but be hurt that T'Pol was able to comfort his friend when he could not.

And he could not help the brief flash of anger at the prominent role Trip seemed to have taken in T'Pol's life. Granted, Archer had no claim to her -- apart from relying on her as first officer -- but there were times he felt as though there could be something more between them than their professional relationship. Afterall, he was the one she came to when she was concerned with something. Of course, it was usually ship's business, but she could have taken care of it herself or gone to one of the other senior officers. Besides, even Phlox had noticed the potential chemistry -- and he made a study of noticing things like that.

Despite his conflicted feelings, Archer took comfort in watching their debate. A month ago he had come close to losing Trip and T'Pol -- closer than anyone on board knew -- when both had gone missing for three days on an away mission. Neither Trip or T'Pol could recall what happened during that lost time and Lieutenant Reed's investigation failed to yield any answers. With no clues and a pressing timetable, Archer had come very close to leaving orbit. If he hadn't agreed to allow Reed one last chance to look for them...

His guilt over almost abandoning his two officers overshadowed any jealousy he felt toward either of them. With their return to the ship, Archer made overtures to both Trip and T'Pol to renew their previous camaraderie. If their easy manner at the breakfast table was any indication, it seemed his efforts were paying off.

If anything, Archer could tell that Trip was enjoying himself. As he took another bite of his breakfast, he wondered if T'Pol got anything out of their debates?

~ ~ ~

Loathe to admit it, T'Pol was enjoying the verbal sparring with Commander Tucker

Though she was satisfied with the progress he made as a result of his neuropressure sessions, it had been many months since he'd openly challenged her with his illogical statements.

She found she missed it.

Despite seeing him daily, she missed the commander -- the real Charles Tucker. The subdued version of the engineer -- though sometimes preferable to the outrageously irrational one -- was a hollow shell of the man she knew before his sister's death. Even in her quarters, when they made "small talk" during their evening sessions, she knew it was empty words to fill the silence. Their debate over the oatmeal was the first true hint of the man she'd befriended.

Of course, as most exchanges with the commander went, they did not stay on breakfast food for long. He was currently justifying the need for comedies during Movie Night.

"Laughter's a great release of stress, T'Pol. You should try it."

Tucker knew very well that Vulcans did not laugh, but T'Pol was sure he said it only to irritate her. Why he tried so hard to get a reaction out of her, she did not know, but she found she appreciated his efforts.

"As you know, Commander, there are other activities for alleviating stress."

Too late she realized what the engineer's sometimes-juvenile mind was already focusing on. He moved his eyebrows up and down in quick repetition -- "waggle" was the word he used to describe the motion -- and asked, "Is that an invitation, Sub-Commander?"

Before she could respond, T'Pol saw Archer's features harden at Tucker's question. Obviously the captain's mind was just as juvenile as the engineer's. Though Tucker's comment was far from appropriate, she thought it out-of-character for their commanding officer to frown so fiercely in response.

No matter how much time she spent on the Human vessel, she would never fully understand the species.

Ignoring the captain's scowl and the commander's continued eyebrow-waggling, she clarified. "I was referring to the Vulcan neuropressure, Commander. Perhaps the treatments are not providing the relief you need. I believe Dr. Phlox still has --"

Tucker held his hands up to waylay the rest of her comment. "It's alright, T'Pol. You win. The sessions are fine for me, but I just think the rest of the crew could use a good laugh now and then."

"Maybe you should go streaking through the hallways, again, Trip." Archer offered. To T'Pol, the jovial manner in which he made his comment belied the tension she sensed as he gripped his spoon tightly and proceeded to mash his oatmeal into a finer paste."I seem to remember everyone have a good laugh at you."

"Funny, Cap'n." Tucker said in a voice that clearly did not find humor in the subject. It was not unusual for the two officers to trade barbs and reminisce over past adventures, but she found it odd that the captain would bring up a subject that obviously discomforted Tucker.

Apparently unaware of the story's affect on his friend, Archer continued. "Not only did Trip accept the dare to run through the dorm in his birthday suit, but he didn't expect to have his room locked when he was done. He had to knock, naked, door-to-door to find a pair of pants to borrow."

The captain laughed, relishing his tale, even as Tucker shifted uncomfortably in his seat. Wishing to put an end to the commander's suffering, T'Pol said, "I do not believe having a senior officer run nude through the corridors would prove to alleviate crew stress."

Instead of feeling satisfied with her logical end of the discussion, T'Pol wondered why her cheeks felt suddenly warm. One moment they had been in innocent debate and the next she was imagining Commander Tucker naked in the corridor outside her quarters.

Neither Archer or Tucker seemed to notice her discomfort as both men had turned their attention to finishing their breakfast.

Eying her own bowl of half-eaten oatmeal, she decided she was no longer hungry. Pushing her dish aside, she stood. "If you will excuse me, gentlemen, I have a report from Lieutenant Reed to review."

Not giving either Human time to stand, as was their chivalrous custom, she quickly turned and left the room.