Rating: PG-13, for a bit o' language
Genre: Drama, T/T romance, episode addition
Archive: Please ask me first.
Disclaimer: Star Trek: Enterprise is the property of CBS/Paramount. All original material herein is the property of its author.
Spoilers: Through "Home."
Summary: Trip's thoughts as he watches T'Pol's wedding ceremony.
A/N: For those of you who read "Logic, Inescapable" and might have wondered about an AU follow-up...I did write one. 2½ years earlier.
A little background: "Reconnecting" was my first fanfiction story. During the summer preceding the premiere of Season 4, I heard a lot of spoilers about "Home," and speculation was rampant among T/T fans regarding which direction TPTB would take the T/T storyline following T'Pol's marriage. Angst? Avoidance? Friendship? The question wouldn't leave me alone. Then, lo! the muse began whispering an answer in my ear, and she wouldn't shut up. So I scribbled down this little piece to get it all out of my system (or so I thought at the time). The story was posted almost two months before "Home" was broadcast. Little did I know the journey I was beginning.
For those of you who might have read this series elsewhere, this is an updated version, polished and streamlined, with little goofs and continuity glitches fixed. Call it the "Definitive Edition" of the Reconnecting series.
Note: some details in this story were based on an early script for "Home," which contained elements ultimately dropped from the final shooting draft, such as the presence of a Vulcan warrior/executioner (à la "Amok Time") at the wedding, and Trip watching the ceremony from inside the house.
Thanks to agentj for the beta work.
The Reconnecting Series: Book I
It was every bit as beautiful as the picture Lorian had painted for Trip.
The sight of T'Pol in her wedding robes took Trip's breath away; she looked more lovely than he had ever seen her. He was decked out in ceremonial robes that originally belonged to her father.
A breath of arid Vulcan breeze caught the rack of bells in the acolyte's hands, and the soft tinkling of the chimes wafted across the sand garden. The priest began reciting the vows of the traditional Vulcan wedding ceremony, his rich voice caressing the alien words like music.
Only problem was, Trip was watching from back here at the house, and that joker Koss was out there in the garden getting married to T'Pol.
What if I'd told her?
Trip remembered that moment back on C-Deck...he was clinging to T'Pol's hand like a lifeline, half-blinded by his tears for Lizzie, when he saw tears glistening in T'Pol's eyes, too. Tears for him. He felt her shared sorrow cleansing his grieving soul...and he realized then that his heart was filled with her. Only her. God help him, he was in love with her, utterly and forever.
And he knew she felt something for him, too. She hadn't put a name to it yet, and he wasn't pushing her; he was willing to go at her speed. When she had invited him here, he'd been hard-pressed to hide how thrilled he was. The shuttle ride to Vulcan had felt so...comfortable. Like they'd always been together, and always would be. He had hoped...
Until Koss showed up.
There was still time—the ceremony had just gotten underway. Trip imagined himself charging into the garden, ringing that damn gong that Koss had been banging on earlier, and declaring his undying love for T'Pol in front of the whole wedding party. She would glide gratefully into his arms, while Koss and his parents sputtered helplessly and T'Les nodded her approval, knowing her daughter's happiness was more important than any—
Yeah, right. In a pig's eye. He'd probably have just enough time to make an utter ass of himself, and confirm every prejudice the Vulcans had about primitive human emotionalism, before that big guy with the battle-axe lopped his head off.
Trip wondered if the Vulcans had an equivalent for "If there is anyone here who believes these two should not be wed, speak now..." Not that he could tell, anyhow. They were doing the whole thing in Vulcan.
It took me weeks to learn to pronounce the vows...
It looked as though he would never get the chance to hold a pixie-cute, pointed-eared baby Lorian after all. Trip didn't realize how much he had been hoping for that, until now.
Well, he could always charge out there, grab the axe, and cut Koss's head off. The low-down blackmailing skunk.
Trip narrowed his eyes as he continued to watch. T'Pol's face was the very picture of serene Vulcan composure, but Koss wore an expression of self-satisfaction that bordered on smugness. What the hell did he get out of this shotgun wedding, anyway? As far as Trip could tell, the guy had pretty much given up everything. No wife at home for the next 150 years. No non-Starfleet wife. Not even a wife who stuck around for the traditional first year—T'Pol's immediate return to Enterprise had been the final deal-maker. All Koss had left was the right to call her his wife.
All Trip could figure was, Koss's precious Vulcan honor had been pretty trashed the last couple of years, being dumped by his betrothed for a shipload of smelly humans.
Well, just wait till ol' Koss starts getting visits from the neighbors wanting to meet the shiny new Mrs. Koss. How's he gonna tell 'em that she left skid marks in her hurry to get outta Kossville—to get back to that very same human ship? Not to mention join up with a human outfit, Starfleet?
Imagine watching Koss squirm his way to the realization that he'd traded the dishonor of Jilted Ex-Fiancé for the abject humiliation of Abandoned Sap Husband. Trip allowed himself a wicked inward smile.
Amazing. A few hours ago, he was convinced he'd never have a reason to smile again about anything. When T'Pol had told him she was going through with the wedding, the pain had stabbed so deeply through his heart that he couldn't breathe. Later, when he'd realized why...well, Koss didn't know crap about real honor, that's all there was to it. T'Pol was doing this for her mom. Trip could understand that.
That's why he didn't tell T'Pol how he felt about her when he'd had the chance. He'd be forcing her to choose between him and T'Les, and that'd be stooping as low as—well, as low as skunky Koss. And Trip knew T'Pol would have chosen her mom anyway. All he would have accomplished would be to make this damn wedding even harder to deal with...
Then it hit him like a phase-pistol blast. Son of a bitch. I already made it harder, a long time ago.
Almost three years ago, T'Pol had asked Trip for his "advice" regarding her impending marriage to Koss. Naturally, he'd told her to do the "human" thing: do what she wanted, and to hell with Vulcan custom and tradition. She'd shot down every argument he'd made in favor of personal choice—and made him feel like a fool for even trying—but she had already put off the wedding to join Enterprise. He had even jokingly accused her of picking up bad human habits, because he had assumed she did have a choice. And then, when she had stayed...
They were both here, at this moment, suffering through this horrific sham of a marriage, because of things they said and did years ago.
What if I hadn't told her?
If Trip hadn't egged T'Pol on...if she had married Koss back then, as her people expected her to...what would be different? She would have left Enterprise to remain with her new husband on Vulcan that first year—and probably would have been reconditioned to look down her nose at humans. She likely would have stayed, a good little officer in the VHC, a proper Vulcan wife.
No T'Pol on Enterprise. That would mean no visit to the sacred monastery of P'Jem, and no discovery of the clandestine spying station there. No Andorians kablooeying spying station and monastery, no blame laid on T'Pol for the loss of P'Jem. No T'Les being forced into retirement as retaliation for T'Pol's allowing humans to snoop around P'Jem in the first place.
Also no first contact between humans and Andorians. No love-hate relationship between Captain Archer and Commander Shran. And no Shran helping out Enterprise in the Expanse. Degra's weapon would have destroyed Earth...
...And the Sphere-Builders would have won. Holy shit.
Okay, Trip, take your pick: T'Pol exits your life before you ever get to know her, and the universe as we know it is destroyed...or she stays, and you fall hopelessly in love with her, only to watch her marry a guy she hardly even knows.
Trip felt the ache in his heart ease just the tiniest bit. It was pretty beat up, but it wasn't completely broken, he realized with some surprise. T'Pol didn't reject him in favor of Koss, after all; she chose her mother's happiness over her own. She did the right thing.
And so did he, by letting her go.
It wouldn't help him get any sleep at night...but it was something.
The acolyte was shaking his bell rack with a flourish. Apparently the ceremony was over. Trip stayed where he was in the doorway, feeling a new pang in his heart as T'Les and Koss's parents approached the happy couple.
My God, she's married. To him. Where's the guy with the axe?...
He watched with distaste as Koss elbowed his way in between his folks and T'Pol, to touch his two fingers to hers. Showing off his new prize.
T'Pol's reaction was...well, to the other Vulcans, her face was classically stoic. But Trip had long ago learned to read the glimmers of emotional nuance in her expression, her body language. He could see now, from her regal posture, the set of her lovely jaw, and the flash of fire in her liquid brown eyes, that she was...royally pissed off about this whole mess she'd been forced into.
That's my girl.
Trip shook his head, stopping the grin that was forming on his lips. She wasn't his girl. She was a married woman now. Things had changed, big-time. But she was also a wronged woman, blackmailed into marriage to salvage her mother's honor and career. The last thing she'd need when she got back to Enterprise was a moony-eyed ex-lover hovering around her, giving her angsty looks of tortured longing. She'd need someone to blow off steam to, to confide in, to work comfortably with...even to have fun arguing with. She would need a friend.
Trip mulled that one over. Sure, he would love T'Pol until his last breath, he knew that. But could he be content with being her friend?
They'd had a special connection building, he could feel it. All romantic fits and starts aside, they had formed a deep, trusting friendship. Trip treasured it, and he didn't want to lose it.
His gaze lingered on T'Pol...achingly beautiful, surrounded by people, but looking so alone.
For the first time since she had left him at the house before the ceremony, T'Pol glanced hesitantly in Trip's direction. Her expression was apologetic, even apprehensive.
Their eyes met. Without even needing to think, Trip touched his fingers to his cheek, where she had kissed him, and gave her a reassuring smile. Don't worry, darlin'. We'll get through this.
As their eyes held, he could feel the two of them reconnecting. T'Pol relaxed, and he saw a little of that fire return to those sable depths. And a moment later, more than a little annoyance, as Koss drew her attention away again.
Trip resolved then and there not to lose what he had with T'Pol. The dynamic would change, but they'd be okay. They would keep moving forward together, still connected.