Disclaimer: Star Trek: Enterprise is the property of Paramount
Summary: AU story that takes place fourth season. As Pon Farr approaches for T'Pol she has to make some choices regarding her relationship with Trip. Of course nothing goes as expected.
Spoilers: all the way through the end of Daedalus and AU after that.
Authors Note: First off, a great big thanks to Boushh and Jenna for all their help with this story. Also be warned, although the beginning of the story contains some angst, the majority of the story is pure sap and fluff. If you not like sappiness you may not want to read the entire story. :)
Trip sat staring at his food without much desire to actually consume any of it. His bad mood had caused him to lose his appetite for even his favorite foods. Too bad since it looks great, Trip thought sadly, as he gave up trying to force himself to eat.
"Archer to Trip."
Trip looked up and across the table at his captain and friend. "Huh?" Trip spoke as he realized Jon must have said something and he hadn't heard it.
Jon gave Trip a sad smile. "I asked if you were going to actually try eating any of that or if you'd like to take it back to your quarters so you could admire it some more," his friend teased.
Trip pushed his plate away. "Sorry Cap'n, I'm just not hungry I guess." He looked back up at Jon to see him nod sympathetically.
"Care to talk about it?" Jon asked.
Would I care to talk about how the woman I love is finally free from that sham of a marriage and the first thing she does as a free woman is tell me that it, whatever it was, is over? Out loud he said, "Not really. Just tired I guess."
Jon's expression gave Trip the impression that the captain wasn't buying it, but he didn't pursue the topic further. Trip pushed himself up from the table and cast a dejected look at his friend. "I think I'm gonna call it a night."
Jon frowned but nodded. As Trip approached the door, Jon called out to him. "Trip, take whatever time you need to," he paused a moment before adding "rest up."
Trip tried to muster a smile as he replied, "Thanks, Jon."
On his way back to his quarters Trip thought back to his latest encounter with the source of his current woes. Both he and T'Pol had been avoiding each other whenever possible ever since she told him things were over between them. He physically flinched as he recalled how the joy and hope he had felt upon learning her marriage was over had turned into anguish and despair. He had hoped she would approach him about continuing their relationship, whatever it was. At first he had held back on broaching the subject because T'Pol had just lost her mother and he knew she needed time to grieve. Then he had offered to just be there for her and she had dismissed him, stating she wasn't affected by the loss. Then she had started to shy away from any interaction with him that wasn't an official duty requirement. He recalled the final blow to any lingering hope of a future with T'Pol when she had visited him in Engineering. I don't think there'll be time for..., she had started. He had cut her off, what do you want me to say? He recalled that sinking feeling in his stomach. That you understand, she had replied. I do. It's not like I didn't know this was coming. He just hadn't wanted to believe that it was over until she actually told him. He shook his head as if the action would shake the memory from his brain.
Still, they had always managed to behave civilly and professionally around one another. More than once he had caught T'Pol looking at him and he could have sworn that he could still see compassion and even affection in her eyes. Then again, after what had transpired today, maybe he had just been fooling himself.
Having reached his quarters, Trip entered and collapsed onto his bunk, staring up at the ceiling. What the hell happened today? he thought to himself. They had been working on adjusting the scanners in an attempt to locate a Vulcan ship that had gone missing in this region of space. T'Pol had seemed almost antsy. Every time he had stepped towards her she had instantly stepped back. It seemed as though she had tried to maintain the maximum possible distance between them the entire time they were working together. Then, she had simply left, claiming she had other duties to perform. He hadn't seen her since.
Trip felt like banging his head against the wall repeatedly until he passed out. He wasn't sure how much more of this he could take.
T'Pol knelt on her pillow facing the meditation candle. Her eyes were closed and her breathing was measured and steady. Although her outward appearance may have conveyed a calm demeanor, her mind was in turmoil.
She had known for some time that the amok time was approaching, and yet she had delayed making final arrangements to return to Vulcan. Now, however, she was forced to accept that she could no longer afford to delay. Sighing, she also forced herself to acknowledge that a part of her had not wanted to make arrangements to travel to Vulcan to take a mate when the one she desired was right here on Enterprise.
T'Pol gave a small sigh. Perhaps it is already too late, she thought to herself. If that were indeed the case then she would be forced to ask Commander Tucker - Trip to aid her in the resolution of her Pon farr. She felt both excitement and apprehension at that thought. Would she be able to refrain from initiating a mating bond with him? Would he be willing to risk being permanently joined with her? Would he even consider it after she had rejected him? T'Pol felt a knot forming in her stomach at that last thought.
Steadying herself, T'Pol recalled the logic of her decision to back away from a relationship with Trip… with Commander Tucker. Her mental control had been shattered by past events and she felt she had lost herself. She needed to reconnect with her Vulcan roots and remember who she was before the Trellium and before her emotions had gained control of her. The intense emotions that Commander Tucker produced in her left her feeling lost and out of control. She could not regain her emotional control and follow the path of Surak with such a powerful distraction.
T'Pol felt a twinge of pain as she recalled the most compelling reason for her decision. Commander Tucker had made it clear that he did not believe a relationship between a human and a Vulcan, a relationship between them, would succeed. The pain intensified as she recalled his words, It's probably for the best … It's not like we woulda' made an ideal couple… Romeo and Juliet probably stood a better chance. A part of her had wanted to believe he was merely rationalizing a hopeless situation. That hope had died when she had suggested they put their romantic involvement on hold for the time being. She thought perhaps Commander Tucker would argue against her logic, that he would fight for her. He had not. Instead he had joked about the engines still needing him. She had been taken aback by how easily he had let her go, almost as if it didn't mean that much to him after all. After that, she had decided to return to Vulcan to resolve the Pon farr.
The comm unit sounded, interrupting her thoughts. "Bridge to Commander T'Pol." It was the night shift communications officer. "I have an incoming communication from the Vulcan Embassy."
T'Pol knew instantly who it was and the reason for the call. "You may put it through," she responded.
A moment later Soval's face appeared on her screen.
"Greetings Ambassador," T'Pol said as she nodded slightly and held up a hand in the traditional greeting.
"T'Pol," Soval replied and returned the greeting. "I have been anticipating your response to our last conversation." Soval paused but T'Pol remained silent so he continued, "Have you decided against returning to Vulcan?"
T'Pol lowered her gaze for a moment before responding, "It would be unwise to remain on Enterprise. I must return to Vulcan so that the Pon farr can be resolved." Even as she said the words, T'Pol still tried to convince herself of their truth.
"I assume time is now a critical factor," Soval continued. It was a statement and not a question.
T'Pol merely nodded.
Soval gave her an appraising stare before speaking again. "You have had ample time to arrange to return to Vulcan, yet you have not done so. Perhaps there is someone on Enterprise you would prefer over any arrangement I could make on your behalf."
T'Pol's head shot up and her anxiety returned. Trying to mask her reaction to Soval's assertion she replied evenly, "There would be no logic in preferring a human mate to a Vulcan one."
"I believe that would depend on the particular human and Vulcan in question," Soval responded. He was still studying her intently. "It seems that Commander Tucker at least has learned much of Vulcan culture and customs."
T'Pol fought hard to keep her body and her voice from shaking as she asked, "If I may ask, how has Commander Tucker earned such high regard?" She found she could not meet Soval's steady gaze and looked away again.
"When I was aboard Enterprise assisting the Commander in preventing war with Andoria, I spent a great deal of time in his company. I was initially surprised to observe his use of our relaxation breathing techniques during some of the more…distressing moments. He did not seem to be aware he was using the technique, which suggests that he has expended a great deal of time mastering it. Additionally, when I requested private quarters for meditation, the Commander supplied meditation candles and pillows before I requested them. He was able to arrange these items properly for meditation without any guidance from me." Soval paused and waited until T'Pol returned his gaze before continuing. "When I inquired if he had ever visited Vulcan, the Commander informed me that he had accompanied you home following your return from the Expanse."
T'Pol nodded and looked away once more. She was searching for a response but her mind was once again in turmoil.
"T'Pol." Soval's voice held a gentle quality as he continued, "are you certain you wish to take a Vulcan mate?"
T'Pol could no longer keep the tremor from her voice as she replied, "I am not certain that I have any alternative."
Soval frowned slightly. "Then I suggest you assess your options quickly and contact me when you have determined the proper course of action."
"Agreed," T'Pol said more forcefully.
Soval continued to wear a slight frown and he looked pensive. Finally he spoke again, "There is one final detail we should discuss. Given the urgency of the situation, I suggest we forgo attempting to arrange passage to Vulcan and focus instead on finding a suitable male on board one of our ships. This way the ships can rendezvous with much less inconvenience to Enterprise. This will also keep Starfleet from demanding a detailed explanation."
"A very logical suggestion," T'Pol responded. In truth, this was more agreeable to her than returning to Vulcan. It was not uncommon for Vulcans assigned to exploration vessels to seek a temporary mate to aid in the resolution of Pon farr without forming a mating bond. It was likely that Soval would have greater success making such an arrangement.
"Then I will await your reply," Soval said and once again held up his hand in a salute.
T'Pol did the same and the transmission ended.
Alone with her thoughts once more, T'Pol contemplated her options. She could choose to let Soval find an acceptable male who would not hold her to a lifetime bond. If she could resolve the Pon farr without initiating a mating bond she could return to Enterprise and continue to follow the path of Surak. Perhaps, in time, she could master her emotions enough to once again attempt a romantic relationship with Commander Tucker.
That last thought conjured images of her intimate encounter with Trip. She felt a warmth spread through her and her heart beat more rapidly as she recalled his scent and his touch, the feel of his skin against hers, the way their first tentative kiss had ignited into a passionate exploration of dueling tongues.
She quickly suppressed those thoughts as she attempted to regain her control. Such episodes would only become more frequent and increasingly difficult to control as Pon farr drew nearer. A new concern entered T'Pol's thoughts. Vulcans who were already bonded desired only theirs mates at the time of Pon farr. Was it possible that she had already become so attached to Commander Tucker that she would reject another mate?
She tried to call to mind images of a Vulcan mate but found that any thoughts of sexual intimacy reverted to thoughts of Trip. Perhaps Soval was correct, the most logical course of action would be to discuss the situation with Trip – with Commander Tucker. Once more T'Pol felt lingering fear about approaching Commander Tucker. She would need to meditate tonight and find a way to broach the subject tomorrow.
Once again T'Pol concentrated on the mediation candle and began to bring her disruptive thoughts under control.
Trip had been unable to sleep and had returned at 0600 to continue scanning for any sign of the missing Vulcan vessel. Twice he had thought he was onto something, but neither incident had produced a viable lead. They were traversing a sector of space that was relatively unknown to the Vulcans and completely unknown to Starfleet. This was making the job more difficult because every anomaly and spatial disturbance had to be analyzed thoroughly without the benefit of data on what to expect from this region.
Trip rubbed his forehead in an attempted to stave off a budding headache. He looked up when he heard someone enter the room. T'Pol regarded him for a moment before acknowledging him with a slight nod and moving to study the sensor logs. So much for avoiding that headache, Trip thought to himself.
Trip noticed T'Pol glance his way several times. Once or twice it seemed as though she might actually speak to him but then chose not to do so. This awkward silence continued for almost 20 minutes.
Finally, T'Pol broke the silence, "Is there anything to report?"
Trip just looked at her for a moment before answering, "Nope."
They stood there regarding each other silently for a few beats. Finally, T'Pol turned her attention back to the sensors. Trip silently let out a deep breath. Well, this isn't the least bit awkward! he thought to himself. At the very least she could apologize for just leaving yesterday. Instead she just waltzes back in and acts like I'm not even here.
Trip continued to run the data through a set of algorithms and analyzed the results. He was finding it difficult to concentrate with T'Pol only a few meters away. Without speaking, he transferred the data he was studying to T'Pol's terminal. She turned her head slightly and nodded in his direction but remained silent.
After several moments a sensor monitor at T'Pol's terminal beeped, indicating a possible warp signature. Trip moved over to take a look at the display. As he reached to change the amplification of the readout, T'Pol snatched her hand away and stepped back as if the mear touching of their hands would have inflicted great pain.
Trip quashed the hurt feelings developing in him and turned to confront her. "Ya know, I'm not tryin' to invade your precious personal space here." His hurt and anger made his words sound a lot harsher than he had intended but he wasn't in the mood to apologize at the moment.
T'Pol looked confused and a bit flustered. She actually took another step away from him before beginning to speak. "Commander, I…"
"Look just forget it okay." Trip didn't want to hear what she had to say, her actions were clear enough. She obviously didn't want to give him any reason to think that their relationship was anything other than professional by going out of her way to make sure they never got too close or touched. She probably thought it was necessary to establish these boundaries because, in the recent past, the physical boundaries of the working relationship had become lax.
T'Pol, however, did not let the matter drop. "I wish to clarify," she began.
Trip cut her off again. "Look, let's just figure out what we've got here," he indicated the display, "The sooner we can track down that ship the sooner we can both get back to our separate lives." He knew he still sounded angry but he just couldn't deal with T'Pol calmly explaining that the path of Surak didn't include sharing personal space with an overly emotional human. He turned away and avoided looking at her.
"Agreed," came her cool reply.
When Trip glanced back at her, T'Pol was working at her console and, again, behaving as if he was not present in the room. He turned back to his station and pretended to study the newly processed sensor data. His heart physically ached. He couldn't stop thinking about T'Pol and this new turn in their relationship. Her exploration of the path of Surak must have affirmed within her that a romantic relationship with a human, or at least him, was not… agreeable. He wanted to rip his feelings for T'Pol right out of his heart. It was too bad he couldn't simply go to Phlox and have those feeling surgically removed.
Trip was so lost in his own morose thoughts that he had not realized T'Pol must have been speaking to him.
He looked up and saw her standing with her arm extended holding a PADD out for him. He took note that, again, she was standing as distant as possible while insuring the PADD was within his reach.
Something snapped within him as he snatched the PADD from her. Quickly eying it to confirm they had a warp signature trail, he then returned his gaze to T'Pol. He was sure his anger was showing but he didn't really care about protecting her feelings, if she even allowed them to exist anymore. His own feelings had been trampled far too often and he desperately needed to get away from the source of the pain.
"Now that I've got something ta go on I'll handle this in Engineering." There was a harshness to the tone of his voice that he couldn't contain.
As he headed for the door T'Pol called after him, "Commander."
Trip stopped but didn't fully turn to face her. "Look T'Pol I've got a lot ta do right now." Then he left the room without looking back.
T'Pol walked as quickly as she could to her quarters. Her last interaction with Commander Tucker had not gone as planned. She forcibly suppressed her memory of the exchange until she had reached her quarters and secured the door behind her. Looking down at her hands she noticed they were shaking.
She sank to the floor and tried to calm her thoughts through meditation. Once the trembling had subsided, she slowly and cautiously allowed herself to recall the incident with Commander Tucker.
As soon as she had entered the room the sight of him and his sent had caused her body to react, warming with desire. It had taken several minutes to get her more primal instincts under control. Commander Tucker had continued working at his station until the sensors detected a possible warp signature. When he had approached her station to adjust the data being displayed, she had recoiled quickly to avoid possible physical contact. She was sure that any touch from the Commander would have shattered her control.
He had reacted with anger and then proclaimed that he'd had no intention of touching her. He seemed so offended at the thought that he would not allow her to apologize, even stating that he wished to return to routine activities that did not involve her.
A tremor shook her as she tried in vain to suppress the feeling of anguish caused by his rejection of her. After a few moments she stood and went to her console.
"Computer, record message for Ambassador Soval at the Vulcan Embassy, highest priority." T'Pol paused as she waited for the recording to begin and then continued with her message, "Ambassador, please arrange the rendezvous with a Vulcan ship as quickly as possible."