Fandom: Star Trek: Enterprise, TATV, The Good That Men Do, AU
Summary: They had to stop meeting like this.
A/N: Think of this is a weird melding between TATV and The Good That Men Do. In the back-canon of this story, they ended their relationship after Terra Prime, but Trip's death so soon after Elizabeth's sends her back to Vulcan for the Kolinar, and a new commission with V'Shar. She never learns that Trip is really alive. Like Trip, she gets sent undercover as a Romulan. Unlike Trip, she's actually good at what she does. A few years later they meet.
A little complicated, I know, but I had to get this out or I'd never concentrate on my work :(.
It's after she kills the third man, that Trip finally recognizes the still silent centurion for what she really was: Vulcan. It's the defending move, a quick jab to the gut with her left, followed almost immediately by a jab and a grab with the right, bringing the hapless Romulan's neck down on her knee. K'ntarah.
He remembers Malcolm teaching him "this bloody brilliant Vulcan move" one night, in another life. He remembers practicing it with Travis over and over again, always trying to remember to pull back just before his knee could break bone. By the time he's finished letting his rusty memory click into place, there are two men between him and her. In the half second of silence that follows before the true carnage sets in, he can see her begin to calculate the time it will take to finish them all off, and he isn't sure if it's fear or admiration that he's feeling.
When she finally gets to him, all passionless intensity and cold, dead eyes, he truly knows. Her arm is swinging out but he's already falling into a crouch - they've done this dance before, in the Expanse, when the only time she let him touch her was when they were learning to fuck or learning to fight. He recognizes the move from the latter: the graceful sweep of her arm, the movement of her left leg just out of his line of sight. He knows how this dance ends: him on the floor, bones broken and blood slowly gurgling out of his throat. The Tal-Shaya. She could never say he hadn't been paying attention.
But she had taught him well: meditative techniques to temp down the shock, that sudden burst of forgotten lust; breathing methods to temp down the revulsion at the sight of all that blood.
She's already killed anyone who would be surprised at a low grade warp tech dropping naturally into a perfect Suus Mahna defensive posture, back rigid, legs bent, hands in the el'rek and el'rue positions. The only sign of that this might come as a shock to her is the .5 second delay between her grabbing his shoulder and when she tosses him solidly to the ground.
And that he's not dead. He should be dead by now, even with all his training; he should be but he isn't and that gives him a little more to work with before he meets his inevitable doom.
If she were human, she'd be smiling grimly by now, but she's not, and despite the newly minted cranial ridges and the jet black hair that make her look Romulan, she's the same as she ever was: scary efficient and equally, achingly hot.
He realizes that it might have been awhile since he's gotten laid, and god, it's so not lost on him that the one time they are in the same place, at the same time in their lives, all they manage to do is get locked in combat to the death. He'd find it funny if he wasn't pretty sure that this was going to end like the rest of their fights: he was going to lose.
She assumes the fourth position in the Mahna series, her eyes flashing at his smooth, practiced movement from the ground to the crouched, complementary offensive stance. Did she remember watching him do the same back then? Remember placing her hands on his hip and shoulder and guiding him into it with the same ease she taught him neuro-pressure? Did she ever realize how many times he had faked stumbling, just to feel the warmth of her palm against his neck, just to test the limits of her emotional control over the frustration of teaching this silly, lowly human?
She lets him throw a few punches, even get in one kick, no doubt to test his tensile strength, or perhaps the extent of his training, he isn't sure. She hadn't let any of the others fight back, though they tried. Maybe he was just special, or maybe she was just enjoying herself, batting him around until she realized she had better things to do, like before, like always. That the quick way in which she had dispatched the others only served to make him more homesick than scared, probably spoke more to his state of mind than he'd ever care to admit. That she was giving him a fighting chance now only highlighted the internal struggle she must be going through, watching her own techniques parroted back to her in his crude fashion.
"Shift your weight," she had told him once, reaching from behind and placing a cool hand on his thigh. Her body had been pressed against his back, and he relished the feel of her: lithe and pragmatic, her breath against the nape of his neck, her arms encircling him. He had flicked his eyes across the gym to make sure Malcolm was too busy trying to grope Hoshi in public in the name of self-defense training to notice them, and when he had pressed back against her, he remembered enjoying her disapproval almost a little too much. Tilting his head over his shoulder, he couldn't help but take in the sight of her then: mussed hair, a emerald flush dusting her cheeks, her eyes infinitely dark.
Trip might have been a touch distracted to remember the proper position then, but now-
-A quick duck and roll, a doge to the left when she swung with her right, a twist to the floor when she brought a leg up, a modified navorkot throw when she tried to jab him with a left hook. The tickle in the back his mind told him his current success wasn't all due to his sterling technique, but at this moment he didn't care, because good god, he had missed this, missed them, missed-
-his luck runs out when she brings an arm around his neck, and a knee at the small of his back. He's not quite sure how she got all the way back there, but it hurts like hell and all of a sudden he can't breath or move or even think. It hurts to merely exist within the moment, much less continue doing so.
With his tendons threatening to snap, he really has nothing to lose: "T'Pol."
Her emotional control, in tatters after the Expanse, after T'Les, after Elizabeth, no doubt after him, had been in fine form tonight but her name on this strange Romulan's lips makes her eyes widen and for a brief, delicious moment he thinks he may have a chance.
It was probably the lack of oxygen to his brain, but god, he loved that look on her, had missed it terribly.
He thinks she might recognize this: them, his back pressed against her chest, his eyes over his shoulder: watching the way she grips him tight, where his flesh meets hers. On some level she must remember something.
It's the first outward sign of doubt, and he hopes, for the moment, that it's enough.
She releases him and he falls to his knees. Now that her hand is no longer constricting his airway, breathing should come easier but it sure as hell doesn't feel like it. She kicks his torso sharply so that he faces her; watches as his pale green blood (he'll never, ever get used to it, probably won't have much time to get started now) splatter at her feet as he coughs. Sinking on top of him, her knees bracing his useless arms to the ground, her torso, graceful and lithe, stretching up and up and up, and god I've missed her. He watches her watching him as he struggles to breathe, like a cat giving the mouse a moment of prayer, eyes hooded and dark.
God, he's missed this.
A hand snakes out, touching his cheek. He feels blood on her fingers -bright green and slick and warm- and he stops trying to breathe all together.
"T'Pol," he says again, and this time it almost feels right.
Her roaming fingers still all of a sudden against the side of his lips and she lowers her eyes to meet his. For a brief moment he thinks she might realize, might remember and then the moment is gone and her hand continues its downward path, down, down, down his cheek and down his neck until it reaches the juncture where his throat meets his shoulder. Her fingers hover there and he thinks she just might let him kiss her-
-a forefinger and a thumb press together and-
-she never taught me that, is the last conscious thought he has before sinking softly back to the floor.