Commander T'Pol Joins Starfleet
"Missing scenes" from "Augments" through the Vulcan trilogy from T'Pol's point of view. How did she become so estranged from Trip, and remain so even after her marriage ends? Here's one theory, which you may not agree with. This is pure romantic angst. The unexpurgated mature version can be found in the decon chamber at Triaxian Silk. Please leave me a review whatever you think -- I don't mind criticism or disagreement.
Disclaimer: CBS/Paramount's, not mine.
T'Pol had not spent time imagining her commissioning ceremony, although she certainly remembered Trip begging to be there so he could see the look on Soval's face. As it happened, there was no ceremony and she never saw any look on Soval's face. Enterprise had to hurry up its departure to chase after the human augments and so her commission was bestowed via a hurried communiqué from Admiral Forrest.
However, Captain Archer congratulated her on her first day of official duty and presented her with a beautifully-wrought antique compass. When he said he hoped it would help "point her in the right direction" and smiled supportively, and she was nearly undone.
"Thank you, Captain," she managed to get out. Clearly, the last two weeks on Mount Seleya had not been nearly enough to calm her inner turmoil.
"I'm glad you're here," he said. Then his warm smile turned just a touch grim. "Trip told me about your wedding. So I guess congratulations are in order for that too." He waited, perhaps to see if she would volunteer anything. When she didn't, he added, "I'm glad that didn't keep you from rejoining us."
She swallowed. "Is Commander Tucker aware of my commission?"
"Of course," Archer said. "I asked him if we should plan a little party in your honor, but he didn't think you would appreciate that very much."
"He is correct."
"He also talked Hoshi out of a belated wedding shower."
"I'll have to thank him."
"I already did that myself. If you ask me, few things in the universe are more horrifying than a wedding shower."
That was presumably a joke, although after enduring a 'shower' given for a member of her staff she was tempted to agree with him. "If that is all, Captain, I need to assess sensor function in light of the refit."
"Just one thing, T'Pol." Archer coughed uncomfortably. "Were you by any chance planning to adopt a more traditional uniform now that you're officially a Starfleet officer?"
"You would prefer that I wear the standard issue?"
Archer looked uncomfortable. "I guess that's up to you. You have the patch and the pips. I hadn't noticed any problems while we were in the Expanse, if you're more comfortable as you are."
"My own uniforms have an extra thermal layer in them. I do find them more comfortable."
Archer got an amused glint in his eye. "You fit an extra layer in there, huh? Well, I guess that's settled, then. I sincerely doubt anybody's going to complain."
"Thank you, Captain."
"Thank you, T'Pol. It wouldn't be the same here without you."
x x x
But it clearly wasn't the same with her here, either.
Trip had barely acknowledged her when they first met. She got a tight smile and a few hooded glances across the situation room. Later, he asked her how the honeymoon was.
As if she would actually let Koss anywhere near her.
T'Pol estimated that chances were at least even that they would be too far out in space when Koss's pon farr arrived. He would be forced to make do with another, and T'Pol would have bought her mother another seven years of employment. By the end of them, perhaps Koss would have tired of his absent bride. Or perhaps her mother would be in a less precarious position. Or perhaps T'Pol would simply announce that she had had enough of this sham.
Trip was down in engineering now, but earlier, on the bridge as they left space dock, she had been a little surprised by his self-possession. He looked healthy and very blond – perhaps he'd lain out on all those beaches after all – and he smiled in all the right places. But to her discerning eye he also looked older and somehow more solid. Weighed down. The familiar light in his face was a little dimmer.
It was an illogical perception. Faces did not emanate light. Yet it seemed to her that Trip's often did, and she knew this perception was not unique to her. Hoshi had sat down at breakfast one morning, sometime after the incident with the cogenitor, and said, "It sure is nice to see Commander Tucker's face lit up again," and T'Pol had looked and thought, yes, she's right. How is that possible?
Hoshi had been trying to catch her eye all shift, but T'Pol had focused intently on her station and her staff, trying to avoid any questions. She knew Hoshi would want more details. She might even want to reopen the idea of a wedding celebration.
T'Pol stayed past the shift change, hoping that Hoshi would depart, but Hoshi was involved in her review of Klingon and Orion dialects and stayed.
Archer came out of his ready room and stretched. "Join me for dinner?" he asked T'Pol.
She agreed. It would keep Hoshi at bay. And perhaps Trip would be there.
x x x
But Trip was not there.
"Commander Tucker is not joining us?" T'Pol asked, as the steward served them.
Archer gave her a stiff smile. "I'm sure it's crazy in engineering. Most systems didn't get fully checked out before we had to leave."
"That is not surprising," T'Pol said. She tried to eat despite her total lack of interest in food. She needed to maintain her nutritional requirements in order to her job.
"I guess that somehow, despite all the bickering, you two managed to get pretty close over the last few years."
Without knowing what Trip might have confided in the captain, she didn't know what to say.
"You know, I would happily have attended your wedding too, if you'd asked me." Archer's smile looked a little pained.
Apparently Trip had let Archer believe the wedding was part of the plan all along. "You were otherwise occupied. Commander Tucker complained to me that he had no place to go, so I invited him."
"He said you've been engaged to this guy since you were a kid."
"Yes, most Vulcan matches are arranged in childhood by the parents."
"And that's what that mysterious letter was about, back in the first year."
"He said you hardly knew the guy … what's his name again?"
"Koss. It is true, I have had little contact with him."
"So how do you like him so far?"
She speared a string bean with her fork. "My feelings are irrelevant."
Archer's voice sounded strangled. "Irrelevant? He's your husband."
She blinked. She didn't want to have to defend Vulcan marriage customs to Archer, who was prone to dismissing anything Vulcan at the best times. And how could she defend something that still had her so filled with unseemly rage that she could barely eat? "Vulcans are not supposed to let their personal desires and preferences influence their actions."
"So if you'd had your druthers you wouldn't have married him."
She blinked with surprise at the conclusion he'd leapt to, but didn't dispute it.
"It must be tough," Archer said, then softly added, "For both of you."
She stared at him. Did he mean Trip? Or Koss?
Archer gave her a sad little smile, and she decided he must mean Trip.
"It is," she said.
x x x
He didn't come to her that night as she hoped he would. The next day they failed to meet at any time in the mess, or at the captain's table. She went to engineering to deliver a repair request that could have waited, but he just checked it quickly and passed it along to Lieutenant Hess. "I'm sorry, but we're kind of busy down here. As I predicted, Jupiter Station screwed up a few things." He turned his back on her and went back to his work.
Then they were attacked and she spent some time experiencing life as an Orion slave. Hapless Jeffrey Pierce allowed her to focus on something other than her own situation, but once she was sold she was alone again and she couldn't help thinking that whether among Vulcans or Orions, she was still essentially a commodity to be haggled over.
At least among the Orions it was simpler. Having been fully reduced to property, her only goal in life was to escape them. There was no need to get involved in the negotiations herself.
Later, in sickbay, Trip hadn't been able to completely hide his relief that she was safe. She took the opportunity to make sure he understood that Vulcans don't have honeymoons. "I spent the time meditating on Mount Seleya. Alone." He told her it was none of his business.
Finally they were working alone together on the sensor grid, trying to nail down the Augments' warp trail. It was like working with a total stranger. He looked like Trip, he smelled like Trip, but he might as well have been a Vulcan for all the reaction she was getting from him.
She tried to get him talking, realizing even as she did it that this was traditionally his role. Finally, when she confronted him about avoiding her, he admitted that was exactly what he was doing.
Then he said he was proud of her for what she had done. And that a human and a Vulcan wouldn't have made an ideal couple anyway — that Romeo and Juliet probably stood a better chance.
T'Pol was familiar with Romeo and Juliet. Vulcans considered it a classic sociogical text that gave much insight into human emotions as well as their flawed thought processes.
If that was truly how Trip saw it, then perhaps they'd never had a future. But then why had he gone all the way home with her?
Of course, it was possible her sudden marriage to another man had changed his opinion in the matter. It was even possible that his opinion now was the correct one.
But she didn't want to accept that.
x x x
A few nights later she stood outside his quarters. She needed to make him understand that they could still be together. She'd tried to meditate at length to handle her anxiety on the subject, but it had not done her any good. She couldn't even sleep.
It was late and he was surely sleeping himself, like all of alpha shift, but her need for him had become unbearable. She input the access code he had given her, before the trip to Vulcan, and let herself in. His quarters smelled of him and she took a deep breath, relaxing just a bit. She required Trip the way lungs require oxygen, she craved him the way she had once craved Trellium-D. He was a generous man. If he understood how great her need was, surely he wouldn't turn her away.
He lay curled in sleep, his face to the wall, shutting her out even now. It was intolerable. So T'Pol unzipped her uniform and peeled herself out of it. His quarters were cooler than hers and goose bumps rose on her skin. She shed her underwear too. Everything. Nothing must come between them. Then she lifted his blanket and curled herself against his back, seeking warmth, seeking contact.
He stirred and rolled to face her. "T'Pol?" he said sleepily. Then he fully awoke and backed away from her, as far as the wall would allow him. "T'Pol? What the hell are you doing?"
She gazed up at him. "Is that not self-evident?"
"We can't do this anymore. You're married."
"In name only."
"Well, that's enough for me. Come on, get dressed."
"I miss you."
He frowned. "I miss you too, but we still can't do this. Come on, T'Pol. Get up."
She threw her arms around him and held on. "Koss knows about us. If he truly objected he wouldn't have married me."
"I told you before. I don't mess around with another man's wife. No matter how completely messed up the situation is. No matter how much I wish I could." His voice cracked and although he was telling her to leave he was also profoundly aroused. That much was obvious.
Why should he care that she was married, if she didn't? It was illogical. She was the one breaking rules, not him. Once he realized that, or somehow got past it, they could go on as before. Perhaps she could help him get past it by reminding him, explicitly, of what they had already shared.
He gasped at her touch. "Come on, that's not fair."
It was simply unthinkable to her that having already shared so much, she should no longer have access to this. It was equally unthinkable that any other woman might take this away from her. He needed to understand that he was hers and she was his and that was just the way it was. Their connection was far more profound, far more elemental than anything Koss and his parents and her mother had forced her into.
And so she put all her effort into showing him that.
x x x
At first she thought her plan had worked. After a fairly token effort to rebuff her Trip gave in and accepted her attentions – eventually he even turned the tables on her and became almost violently possessive, uncharacteristically so. She accepted this, even reveled in it, though it was so unlike him. But as he lay panting next to her afterward, she realized with alarm that tears were rolling silently down his face and onto the bed.
"Trip?" she said, concerned.
He breathed and blinked up at the ceiling of his bed for a long moment. Then he said, "You need to go, T'Pol. This can't happen again. This is not what I want."
"But I need you."
"Then you shouldn't have married another man." He rolled away from her. "I can't do this. If you loved me you wouldn't expect me to."
She got up, trembling with shock and grief, and somehow managed to get dressed and get out of there. He didn't turn around and look at her even once.
She made it to her quarters and collapsed onto her bunk, taking in great gasps of air. He might as well have stabbed her in the heart. Her mate had refused her. She wanted to die.
x x x
But of course, she didn't die. She had a job to do and the captain and crew still depended on her, even if Trip didn't. She meditated for hours upon hours, passing up sleep and food to meditate more.
Hoshi tried several times to talk to her and each time T'Pol shut her down before she could get the second sentence out. The captain would try to feel her out, too, but she was not going to discuss this. Since Trip never showed up at the captain's table anymore, they developed a style of disengaged small talk about ship's business or the news feed or anything else that would avoid touching on the man who wasn't there. She was grateful to Archer for his patience; she was sure he was missing Trip.
She tried one more time to return to Trip's cabin in the middle of the night, and found that he had changed the codes. Not even her command override would let her in. His rejection of her was complete.
It was over.
Meanwhile, he looked fine. He rounded up the officers for basketball. He listened to all kinds of music at high volume in his quarters – with her hearing it was hard to miss when she passed by. He never gave her any cause for complaint in his behavior to her; it was professional, even friendly. But he never touched her. He never crowded into her space. He wouldn't argue with her if he could possibly avoid it.
So it was true, apparently, what they had always said about humans, that their loves were fleeting. She knew that it was more complicated than that; she knew that her own decision to marry Koss was part of this and that Trip had reason to be disappointed with her; but she couldn't help thinking that if it wasn't that it would have been something else. He'd said it was 'for the best' and apparently he'd really meant it.
He had moved on with barely a second glance.
But she would long for him forever.
x x x
Held captive by the Syrrannites in their quest to get closer to Surak's ancient teachings, all T'Pol could think was how angry these Vulcans were making her.
Especially her mother.
Especially her mother when she asked, "How is Commander Tucker?"
"I am surprised you would ask," T'Pol said. Her mother was trying again after their first private discussion had ended badly. This time she had brought food and drink to them in their cell.
"Why would you be surprised? He was a most engaging young man," T'Les said. She turned to Archer, "He seemed quite eager to learn about Vulcan. He also repaired a number of my appliances."
Archer smiled. "That sounds like Trip."
T'Les turned back to her daughter, "I came to understand how you could hold him in such high regard."
T'Pol stalked to the other side of the room.
"You didn't answer my question," T'Les said, lifting her voice slightly. "Is he well?"
"He's fine," Archer said, saving T'Pol from having to speak.
"I am pleased to hear it. I know his visit wasn't all that he had hoped for," T'Les said, "But he showed himself to be a man of great honor."
"Yes, very great honor," T'Pol said bitterly.
Her mother frowned, apparently realizing she'd chosen an unfortunate tack. She nodded at them both and left.
"So Trip impressed your mom as an honorable man?" Archer said. "Usually on first acquaintance people just think he's charming."
"Captain, this captivity is intolerable. We must escape!"
"Right now, in the middle of the day? Where would we go? T'Pol, no offense, but you seem a little wound up."
He was right, of course. She was practically vibrating with fury. She closed her eyes and tried to calm herself. "I apologize, Captain, but my mother has joined a dangerous cult. I believe there is some reason for concern."
"You require meditation," Archer said, at once authoritative and soothing.
T'Pol stared back at him. That didn't sound like her captain at all.
x x x
If she had understood what it would be like to have T'Pau in her mind the next day, T'Pol would have preferred to just continue suffering from Pa'nar Syndrome.
T'Pau's consciousness was fiery hot and diamond-sharp. The only weakness T'Pol could detect was a tiny frisson of embarrassment – and outrage – that Surak had chosen a human to carry his katra rather than the Vulcan woman who had dedicated her life to the true path.
But T'Pau found plenty of weakness in T'Pol. T'Pol tried not to cringe as T'Pau ruffled methodically through all she would have preferred to keep private – her hopeless longing for Trip, her pride in her ship and her crewmates, her concern for Archer, her use of Trellium-D, her rage over her wedding, her grief for her mother.
Only the grief for her mother was deemed acceptable. T'Les had been worthy.
T'Pol was an embarrassment.
x x x
T'Pol returned to Enterprise bruised and chastened. "You okay?" Trip asked, when she and Archer arrived on the transporter pad, and she just nodded; she couldn't bear to look him in the eye.
He filled them in on ship's status. Thanks to the skirmish between the two fleets Enterprise was busy making repairs and treating casualties.
"Why don't you go get Phlox to check you out while I fill Trip in," Archer ordered her, and she went willingly, not wanting to have to listen to Archer explain about her mother or anything else.
Phlox clucked over T'Pol's bruises and, with his usual insight, asked her if anything else was wrong. She told him about her mother and left out the part about being a pathetic excuse for a Vulcan. He was pleased to hear about the Pa'nar Syndrome possibly being cured and took an initial scan, but said he would need more time to confirm it.
"You are entitled to bereavement leave," he told her. "I suggest you take it."
She did. She sat in her cabin and tried to meditate and pondered the state of her planet and her relationship to it. Was she perhaps already such a failure as a Vulcan that she should just give up and cast her lot among the humans for good? The other T'Pol on the other Enterprise had apparently found a home among them, and she'd urged T'Pol to accept and embrace her emotions. But herTrip had not only loved her but married her. Inthis timeline, she would have to do it alone.
Her mother said she had done all this to help her. T'Pol wanted to believe that, though she still had doubts. She supposed that the least she owed her mother was to read this Kir'Shara. It was being translated at a remarkable pace and it seemed the whole population of Vulcan was reading each new section as soon as it came available. Already, it had directly contradicted conventional wisdom about mind melds and introduced a concept known as a 'healing trance' that was unknown in contemporary Vulcan medicine.
So she began to read and she discovered that Surak's original voice was far more personal and compelling than the many dry lessons and aphorisms that had been handed down all these years had suggested. Despite the ancient style of language, it often seemed as if he were speaking directly to her with great kindness and patience about her own struggles.
T'Pol began to think seriously about trying to make a place for herself in Vulcan society again. With so much changing so quickly under the influence of this man, it was possible she might be forgiven her past indiscretions. And perhaps, with the new relationship between Vulcan and earth, her Starfleet commission would not automatically count against her as yet another embarrassment.
Surak also spoke approvingly of the mating bond and its benefits and T'Pol began to wonder whether there might be worse things than marriage to Koss. It impressed her that he had helped the captain even after she had behaved so badly. Perhaps he was a more honorable man than she had realized. Perhaps, in reacting as she had to Koss, she'd been blinded by her overwhelming desire for a human who no longer wanted her.
x x x
But as it turned out, Koss didn't want her either.
T'Pol sat on the floor in her quarters and thought: Well, that's that. She couldn't mourn the end of her marriage, but she'd had a lover and a husband and now she had neither.
It was perhaps what she deserved for trying to have both. Her human lover had turned away and her Vulcan husband had discarded her and now there could be no Vulcan husband, no Vulcan child, no human companion, just … what? A life devoted to science and exploration? A lifelong quest for an inner peace?
Perhaps that would be enough. It would probably take her at least half a lifetime to master the level of emotional control Surak promoted. But for perhaps the first time in her life she sincerely believed it would be worth a great deal to get there in the end.
x x x
They were still in orbit around Vulcan two days later as T'Pol waited along with Commander Tucker and two armed MACOs outside the airlock for Shran and a delegation of Andorians to arrive. Archer was already in consultations with Soval and two other Vulcan representatives, who had arrived with their typical punctuality.
He shifted uncomfortably on his feet. "I heard Koss came to see you."
"Everything all right?"
"You guys probably needed to make funeral arrangements, huh?" The commander had already expressed his condolences. He had expressed genuine affection for her mother, which surprised T'Pol.
"No. We buried my mother in the Forge."
"Oh. I guess he'll be looking after your mother's house while you're gone?"
There was really no logical reason to withhold the information; she wasn't sure why she felt so reluctant to share it. "Koss came to tell me he was releasing me from our marriage."
She knew he was staring at her, but she refused to look back at him. "I do not understand what is delaying the Andorians," she said. "Their ship docked over five minutes ago. Perhaps we should ask Ensign Sato to hail them and inquire."
"When the hell were you going to tell me that? Or were you just going to keep it to yourself?"
She glanced briefly at him. "I didn't think you would consider it relevant any longer."
His mouth dropped open at the same moment the airlock engaged. "They are coming in," she said, relieved to have an excuse to end the conversation.
T'Pol handled the formalities; Tucker had fallen so silent that he didn't even respond to a direct question from Shran, but T'Pol smoothly took over and escorted them to the conference room. "I'll be in engineering," Tucker said at the door, then stalked off. T'Pol saw the two MACOs exchange a look and swallowed an inward sigh. No doubt their conversation would be all over the ship by lunchtime.
"It is agreeable to see you again, Commander T'Pol," Soval said. "I thought Commander Tucker was also going to join us."
"So did I," Archer said, and turned to his first officer. "Wasn't he with you?"
"Commander Tucker decided he was needed in engineering."
Archer looked disgruntled. "He said he wanted to be in on this one."
"Perhaps you work your people too hard, pink skin," Shran said. "The man looked ill."
T'Pol frowned as three pairs of masculine eyes from three different species turned to her.
"He appeared to be satisfactory health to me," she said. It occurred to her that somehow, quite improbably, all three now considered Tucker a friend.
They turned back to their negotiations and T'Pol only half-attended to the inevitable fifteen minutes of Andorian posturing. Apparently the commander had not buried his feelings for her as thoroughly as she had assumed. The thought gave her a moment's pang of guilt and also, if she was honest with herself, a moment's satisfaction, even joy.
She would have to think about this, for it was a new element she had not considered. Certainly she did not want to hurt Tucker. She would like to be able to consider him a friend, as these men did.
But she also did not want to depend on him for her happiness ever again. Human love was extravagant and intoxicating and entirely too uncertain. And he must not depend on her, either, for she had decided to fully embrace her heritage as a Vulcan – or at least to give it her best effort.
Perhaps this would be the first true test of her resolve. If she could school herself out of her irrational desire for this human, she would know that she was making progress on the path to logic and dispassion. She was quite sure Tucker would be fine; he was a very adaptable person and no doubt had already made great progress in forgetting about her, though apparently not as much as she had thought.
There was little doubt they would both be better off in the end if they went their separate ways.
And if this idea caused her to feel a sudden surge of anxiety and grief, that was just evidence that she still had a great deal of work to do.
(Don't worry, there's a happier entry on the way: Commander Tucker Suffers from Intrusive Daydreams)