And here's the conclusion. Remember, this is a fairly racy T with adult themes so skip it if you don't like to go there (conversely, you could find a very slighty naughtier version at Triaxian Silk). Your reviews are much appreciated, thank you.
The man was intolerable. She knew the remark about motherhood had merely been thoughtless – he wouldn't know how unlikely that might be for her now – but to accuse her of reacting emotionally was really uncalled for.
Despite her annoyance at Tucker and the lack of a candle upon which to focus her thoughts, T'Pol eventually managed to reach the place she craved: her white space. The physical world with all its surfaces and movement and the endless forward rush of time was the antithesis of this. Here was calm, peace, stillness, balance. Her white space had not changed since she had first learned how to meditate as a young girl, and when she was an old woman on her deathbed, she fully expected her white space to be exactly the same as it was now.
So it was disconcerting when she realized there was a figure lying at a little distance from her in it.
She got up and walked over. It was Tucker. He was lying there in his blue undershirt and underwear, covered in sweat, shifting restlessly in obvious discomfort.
"Commander?" she said, astonished.
His eyes, which had been darting about, locked onto hers. He didn't say anything but his look was imploring.
With a start, she snapped out of meditation and rose to her feet, her heart pounding. How much time had passed? She slid open the flimsy doors to the decon chamber and saw that Tucker had somehow worked himself over towards the tub, though he didn't appear to be conscious, or at least not lucid. He was panting and sweating and muttering unintelligibly.
"Doctor?" she said, raising her voice. "Phlox?"
After a moment the Denobulan's voice came over the com. "Yes, T'Pol, I see. I'm on my way. Do what you can to cool him down; it will take me a few minutes."
T'Pol kneeled down next to Tucker. She was strong enough to lift him into the tub, but she doubted she could keep him from flailing around wildly once he hit the water. She settled for dipping the washcloth into the water, then sponging it over him right there on the floor. "Commander?"
His eyes opened and met hers. He stared for a moment, then reached out and clamped his hand on her wrist as if to hold her there. T'Pol sucked in a breath, suddenly overwhelmed by intense feelings of fear and guilt and grief. She had no idea how to sort it all out; she couldn't even tell if these feelings were his or her own. "It's all right," she whispered, responding instinctively, and kept sponging him with her free hand.
After she did this for a time his eyes drifted shut but he maintained a death grip on her. T'Pol just kept sponging the water over him, softly tracing the shape of his head, his face, his neck, his arms, his wrists, the hollow of his elbows, his armpits, his chest, his groin, anything that might help reduce the fever. In the midst of this she felt the oddest sensation – it was as if a piece of herself were breaking off inside and flowing out of her just like water from the wash cloth, quite beyond her control.
By the time Phlox arrived in his EV suit, Tucker had let go of her and settled back into sleep or the semblance of it; she continued sponging and waited for Phlox to pronounce on the matter.
He scanned the engineer. "Excellent. His fever is still high, but not dangerously so. You're really quite good at this." He shot Tucker with a hypospray. "I'm going to set up an IV; he's getting dehydrated."
"Have you arrived at a prognosis yet?"
"This is being caused by an alien virus that unfortunately interacted rather synergistically with one of the components of our standard inoculation against biting insects. I'm working on a specific anti-viral, but I am fairly certain this will run its course before I can synthesize enough to be of any use. Luckily Commander Tucker is a healthy young man. If anything, his immune system is rising to the occasion a little too enthusiastically. I doubt there will be any lasting effects. It's just a bit tedious keeping his symptoms in check." He scanned Tucker's head again. "Interesting spike in serotonin levels. Has he been delirious?"
"I couldn't say," T'Pol said, declining to share her odd experience during meditation. Was it possible humans had unsuspected telepathic abilities when their brains were super-heated? Or had that simply been her own brain's way of notifying her there was something important she was overlooking? "I was meditating in the back," she confessed. "I should have kept better watch over him."
"Oh, nonsense," Phlox said. "You can't stay awake forever. I had the alarm set to let me know if he was getting into trouble. As it happened you were on it sooner than I was."
"When we can leave decon?" T'Pol asked. "I am sure Commander Tucker would be more comfortable in a bed in sickbay than on this floor." She reached for a towel and started sopping up the puddle he was lying in; her own slacks were quite soaked.
Phlox was focused on the IV he was assembling. "Actually, I've already released the other team. If your blood work is still clear when I get back, you'll be free to go. Commander Tucker will have to stay, but I could take your place. I'd say you've already gone beyond the call of duty here."
T'Pol frowned. Offered a way out, she felt strangely reluctant to take it. "There is no logic in replacing me here when you may yet need access to your lab facilities."
Phlox looked surprised and perhaps a touch amused. "No? Well, by all means stay, then."
x x x
Trip was lying on a nice warm blanket on his favorite little-known beach. One had to navigate a narrow path through mangroves to get to it and few locals and even fewer tourists ever bothered. It wasn't the typical sandy beach Florida was known for – most of those required regular applications of truckloads of screened sand – but the shells and pebbles had been mostly broken down into a fine crumb and it was comfortable enough.
What he couldn't quite figure out was why she was here, apparently asleep, next to him. He was in his Starfleet blues and nothing else, which was not, of course, what he usually wore to the beach; she was extremely overdressed for the weather in a slightly-too-large Starfleet uniform.
"What are you doing in that?" he asked softly, experimentally.
Her eyes opened and she regarded him dispassionately. "I was wet, so I changed. How do you feel?"
"That is good."
He rolled over on his side and stared at her. "So what are you doing here, anyway?"
"I don't know," T'Pol said, looking about curiously.
"Maybe I'm dreaming," he suggested.
"A reasonable supposition."
"I've never dreamed about you in an outfit like that, though."
"You've dreamed about me before?" She looked interested.
He chuckled. "Probably every man on the ship has dreamed about you. Maybe some of the women too."
She frowned. "Your species appears to expend a great deal of energy on such matters. It is surprising to me that you have been able to make such rapid progress into space, considering your constant preoccupation with sex."
"It is amazing, isn't it?" he agreed. Now that she'd brought it up, he was conscious of the growing pressure of his own arousal. But of course it was a dream with T'Pol in it, so there was nothing new about that. He smiled at her. "I dream about you a lot."
"Why?" She looked apprehensive.
He scooted closer to her with all the boldness of his dream-self. "Well, you're very beautiful, for one thing. You know that. And you're smart and strong and funny too, in your own way. And somehow I just keep thinking that underneath that tight-ass Vulcan facade you're just dying for someone to notice how passionate you are." And he bent down and kissed her hungrily.
But something wasn't right. She wasn't responding like his usual dream T'Pol. Her mouth remained closed. She was actually trying to pull away from him.
"What's the matter?" he said, drawing back.
"You don't understand," T'Pol said. "The only thing you'll find under my Vulcan façade is something even more Vulcan. I am Vulcan. Not secretly human. Vulcan."
Trip frowned. "Meaning?"
"Vulcans don't have casual sex to relieve tension – or to indulge their idle curiosity about others' true natures. Vulcans mate for life."
"I could do that," he said, surprising himself.
"You can't. You don't even know what it means." She rolled away from him.
"Then explain it to me," he said, pursuing her, grabbing her from behind until they were spooned together.
"I wish I could. It's simply not possible."
He held on tighter and gently nuzzled the back of her neck. "You might as well try, because I'm not going to let you go." He ran a hand through her hair and traced the point of her ear with his tongue.
She sighed and he could tell she was becoming aroused despite herself. He pressed his advantage, kissing her down her ear, then all over her neck, then climbing over her and returning to her lips; this time she opened her mouth for him and their tongues dueled until he felt her hands impatiently grabbing at him. He undid her zipper and pulled down the top of her uniform and pushed up the undershirt, desperate to get his mouth on her breasts and the greenish bronze nipples standing taut and erect for him. She moaned and arched her back and then they were desperately pushing what remained of their clothing out of the way. In his dream there was no inconvenient wound on his leg.
Soon they were joined. He stopped, suddenly overwhelmed at where he found himself – this seemed much more real, somehow, than it ever had before – and stared down into her eyes. "You're really mine?" he whispered, amazed.
She stared back at him with huge eyes that were dark with desire – and despair. "You have no idea what you've done."
x x x
Trip awoke with a start, his heart pounding, gasping at the shock of falling out of a dream so vivid that he felt damn near close to coming right there on the floor of the decon chamber.
Which was a bit problematic since upon waking he also found himself wrapped possessively around the first officer.
He backed off in a panic, horrified that she might have felt his erection pressing against her – or worse. What if he'd been dry-humping the Vulcan in his sleep? Only now did he notice that he had an IV line running into his left hand. He eyed it with puzzlement; he had no memory at all of how it had gotten there.
Putting that mystery aside for the moment, he carefully got up on his right elbow and peered down at T'Pol, relieved that she appeared to still be sound asleep. She was still fully dressed, lying next to him on the floor in the same too-large Starfleet uniform from his dream, which seemed odd since he'd never seen her in it before. There was a fine sheen of perspiration across her forehead; perhaps she'd caught the bug too; perhaps that was how she'd allowed herself to be found lying down here on the floor next to him.
He collapsed onto his back and stared up at the ceiling. Now he could see that his IV line ran up to a bag attached to a little rack set up behind him. The last he remembered, T'Pol was off being pissy in the back room and he was lying here thinking he didn't feel too good. But Phlox must have been here at some point, if he had something dripping into him. And T'Pol had definitely been wearing something different – that shapeless Vulcan tunic – before.
Maybe this was just another fever dream?
T'Pol stirred softly in her sleep and rolled over to face him, still without waking up. Afraid she might yet awaken and get the wrong idea – it was taking awhile to lose the erection – he rolled away from her, careful not to jar the IV line, and lay there as quietly as he could.
Then, to his amazement, he felt her small, warm hand on his back. She snuggled up behind him.
He lay absolutely still, paralyzed by disbelief. T'Pol was snuggling?
And yet at the same time, it felt so good – as if a circuit had been connected, and all was right with the universe – that he began to relax. He allowed himself to bask in her warmth, as well as the sheer pleasure of not feeling ill anymore. Soon he was asleep.
x x x
T'Pol heard voices.
"Oh my goodness. That's not something you'll see every day." Phlox.
"I should hope not." Archer.
"It's rather sweet, don't you think?"
"Sweet is not the word I'd use."
"Explosive, maybe. As in core breach imminent, all hands abandon ship!"
Abandon ship? T'Pol opened her eyes to a wall of blue cotton that smelled just like Commander Charles Tucker III.
She sat up abruptly and scooted back.
"Good morning, Subcommander!" Phlox said cheerfully. "I'm glad to see you got some rest."
"T'Pol," Archer said. He looked grim. "Are you ill?"
T'Pol considered. It would explain much. However, she didn't feel any symptoms beyond astonishment at the position she'd found herself in upon waking. "I don't believe so, Captain."
Tucker began to stir. She backed away further. He was sporting one hell of an erection under his underwear. She hoped she didn't have anything to do with it.
"Commander!" Archer said. "How are you feeling?"
"Wha - ?" Tucker woke up and tilted his head back towards the little window. "Cap'n?"
"Feeling better?" The captain was smirking.
Tucker looked confused. His eyes shot to T'Pol. She cocked an eyebrow at him.
Suddenly he seemed to realize that he was putting on quite a show. He scrambled to put his back to her and pulled one of the discarded blankets into his lap.
"Your temperature is back to normal, Commander," Phlox said. "I just need one more blood sample from each of you to confirm that the virus is no longer an issue, and you'll be free to leave decon. I'll still want you in sickbay to make sure your wound is healing properly. How does it feel?"
"A lot better," Tucker said. He looked over his shoulder at T'Pol. He looked confused, and even a little upset. "I feel like I'm missing something important."
She stared back at him and felt troubled herself – by vague memories of something happening between them that could not have happened. Not between her and any human. Certainly not between her and this human.
"Here's a fresh med kit," Phlox said, loading the pass-through drawer. "Also some fresh clothing. You won't need that IV anymore, if T'Pol is willing to remove it for you."
"I'll check in on you later in sickbay, Trip," Archer said. "And I wouldn't mind seeing you back on duty later, when you're ready, T'Pol."
"Of course, Captain," she said.
Archer gave her a tight smile and left.
"I'll just take those blood samples," Phlox reminded her.
T'Pol went to retrieve the med kit and took samples from each of them, then handed them over. "I'll let you know the results shortly," Phlox said, and disappeared.
Silence fell. They regarded each other.
"Would you like me to remove the IV?" she asked.
He nodded. His stare was intense, uncomfortably so.
"I'm glad you're feeling better," she said.
He just nodded and held out his hand. When she took it she felt a great swell of feeling rise up from him. She bit her lip and focused on getting the IV out properly, focused on not getting sucked into his messy human maelstrom of emotions, but she was practically trembling with the effort of maintaining her distance. Finally she got the bandage on over the puncture site and sat back, meeting his eyes for the first time.
His stare had turned fierce. "Something happened between us."
She held herself very still. "You may have imagined something. You were quite ill."
"I'm telling you, something happened. I can feel it – something's different. I just don't understand exactly what it is."
"Nothing happened," she said softly. "We are too different. It is not possible."
He grabbed her hand. "You know what I'm talking about, don't you? Tell me!"
She pulled it free with a flash of anger that shocked her. Did this primitive human think he could resort to force? "Vulcans don't fool around, Commander. Nothing happened."
For a moment he looked incandescent with rage, and she backed up, prepared to defend herself – perhaps even eager to defend herself. It was a most peculiar sensation.
Tucker stared furiously at her for a moment longer, then turned on his heel and went into the bathroom.
She stood there, panting slightly, oddly disappointed that he had withdrawn.
When he came out again, he didn't even look at her, just went straight to the drawer to retrieve his clothing and back to the locker room to get dressed.
She picked up her own uniform, but decided she would take it to her quarters to change.
Phlox's cheery voice came over the com. "Good news! T'Pol, as before, you are free to go. Commander Tucker, I will be waiting for you in sickbay."
Tucker scowled. "I'm on my way." At the door, he paused and looked back at her. "Thank you for taking care of me," he said, with stiff courtesy, and walked away without looking back.
T'Pol stared after him, struck by the perception that a tiny thread of connection had begun to stretch between them down the corridor even as he walked away.
But that was impossible.
She returned to her quarters to shower and dress, relieved to see that all was as she had left it. Somehow it would not have surprised her to find that it had changed.
But something had changed. During the night the urgency she had felt down on the planet to write her mother about Koss had evaporated. She decided it could wait.
She would find her own way in her own time.
She would stay on Enterprise.