Never and Always...

Disclaimer: Star Trek: Enterprise is the property of CBS/Paramount. All original material herein is the property of its author.

PLEASE NOTE CHANGE IN RATING.

Rating: R for strong language and sexual situations. Ye have been warned.

A/N: /Dialogue within slash marks/ is inner-thought bond-speak.

Additional Author's Notes at the end of the chapter. (And the link has been fixed!)


Chapter 10: With This Bond, I Thee...

T'Pol admitted Trip into her quarters. She had already lit the candles. They stood in the center of the room for a moment, regarding each other with uncharacteristic shyness.

"You changed clothes," T'Pol commented unnecessarily. She thought Trip looked quite handsome this evening, wearing a midnight blue open-necked shirt and slacks.

"So did you," he noted. T'Pol had selected a flowing wraparound tunic of gauzy lilac, its low-cut design clinging delectably to her figure. "I guess we both had the same idea that tonight's kinda special."

She nodded. "I instructed Captain Archer to meditate with Ambassador Soval in his quarters tonight." She gently took Trip's right hand in both of hers. "How is your hand?"

"It still tingles a little. The shoulder's taking longer, actually. That physical therapy stuff Phlox has me doing—it hurts worse than the fall did."

She noticed that he didn't seem to know what to do with his other hand; it was fidgeting. "You appear ill at ease."

"I'm nervous, I guess," he said with a little laugh.

T'Pol was puzzled. "There is nothing to fear from the mind-meld. Soval has trained me well."

"No, it's not that," Trip hastened to tell her. "It's just...well, between the Vulcan Social Ministry and the Starfleet board, I know we're not getting our Vulcan wedding for a while yet, so it's great that Soval told us we're already bondmates. But..."

"But what?"

He shrugged self-consciously. "I've been feeling as though we missed out on something...like this big event happened while we were looking the other way." He smiled at her. "This bonding meld is making it finally feel real. I guess I feel as if we're getting married tonight."

T'Pol looked quite touched. "I know this ceremony has great meaning for humans. If you wish, we could call Captain Archer and Ambassador Soval here, to bear witness..."

"I thought of that. But we'll have that when we have the official wedding—the captain, Soval, the kids." Trip rolled his eyes. "My folks too, if they don't keel over when I tell 'em everything." He eyed her bashfully again. "I thought this could be our own private little ceremony. Just yours and mine. A special gift we're giving each other."

Her brown eyes were luminous in the glowing candlelight. "That pleases me, t'hai'la."

Trip was pleased, too. "Okay, then."

"Let us begin." T'Pol positioned Trip's hand on her face, placing his fingers on the katra points, then touched her fingers to his face in the same manner. She could see that he was breathing a little more quickly. "Are you ready?"

"What do I do?" he asked.

"Relax," she murmured softly. "Open your mind. When you feel my presence, let me in."

"It's that simple?"

"It is that simple."

Trip felt nervous, excited, expectant. He began a deep-breathing exercise T'Pol had taught him back in the Expanse...it felt like forever ago, now. After a moment, his breathing calmed. "I'm ready."

She began the cadence. "My mind to your mind..."

Trip felt the wonderful burning sweetness that he always felt at her touch, but now it seemed to be coming from inside.

"...My thoughts to your thoughts..." One part of T'Pol was the logical Vulcan, performing the meld...but another part of her was the woman, already bonded to this man, rejoicing in their differences, celebrating their mutual respect, friendship, and love, yearning for the connection to be completed.

"...Our minds are merging..."

All of his senses seemed heightened. He was acutely aware of her, of everything that drew him to her...her brilliance, stubbornness, loyalty, beauty, empathy, lust, her touching uncertainty, her deep abiding love.

"...Our minds are one." Trip didn't realize he'd spoken the words with her until he heard his voice in concert with hers.

Can you hear me? It was T'Pol's voice—but inside his mind.

/Oh my fuckin' GOD, it worked!/

T'Pol's face remained composed, but Trip heard silvery laughter echoing through his head. /Do you always speak so much more forthrightly in your mind?/ she asked.

/Sorry, / he replied sheepishly. /I'm not used to censoring before the words leave my mouth./ He smiled, realizing... /I've never heard you laugh before. It's beautiful./

/A Vulcan is trained almost from birth to...censor./

/I think I'm gonna get a lot more out of your laughter than you're gonna get outta my cussing./

/One can be as enlightening—and as enjoyable—as the other, / she observed.

They shared a mental smile...and Trip realized he could see her now, with his mind's eye. She was a shifting, quicksilver image, unmistakably T'Pol...but her face was open, unguarded. She was smiling at him with a freedom that her physical self had never revealed to him.

/I can see you, / he told her.

/And I you./ T'Pol's mind-image of Trip was much the same as the face he showed the physical world, but his innate kindness and compassion gave him a shimmering glow that was quite striking. /Now, t'hai'la...open your heart, and let our bond be completed./

Trip gazed into her velvet brown eyes, opening himself completely to her, even as he sensed her doing the same for him. His entire being seemed to fill with her essence, warm and sweet, steadying and calm.

T'Pol felt Trip's presence flooding her mind and body, bold and passionate, heartfelt and full of childlike wonder. She spoke aloud the ritual words that Soval had taught her. "Nash-veh dungi-nam-tor ko-telsu eh putelsu k'tu, worla eh kwon-sum estuhn heh vesht estuhl." I would be bondmate and wife to thee, never and always touching and touched.

Trip didn't know whether T'Pol was mentally translating, or whether the meld gave him her ability to speak Vulcan, but he understood every word. More than that—he knew what to respond. "Nash-veh dungi-nam-tor sa-telsu eh putelsu k'tu, worla eh kwon-sum estuhn heh vesht estuhl." I would be bondmate and husband to thee, never and always touching and touched.

Their presence in each other's minds suddenly intensified. Trip had the oddest sensation of seeing the room from two perspectives. They were sharing bodies now, seeing through one another's eyes. They surrounded and filled each other, touched and tasted and breathed each other. They couldn't tell where one ended and the other began.

All around them, the past came to life. Thoughts and memories mingled, and secrets were revealed...

-- -- -- -- --

...She does kinda grow on ya...

...Elizabeth! Get outta there!...

...The instruction of neuropressure is a very intimate act... And he's suffered a very intimate loss. He needs your help...

...This is going to happen to me. It's already started! I can feel my control slipping away!...

...I couldn't have asked for a better going-away present...

...What's not to like? He's a gentleman, he's great to be around, and he has very nice armsouch!...

...We've had our share of disagreements, but you've never taken it out on my desk before...

...I discovered I was able to access certain emotions. I wanted more...

...You've hardly changed, Mother...

...You were a good father. Strange, being able to tell you that...

...What if my heart doesn't know what it wants?...

...I know that you're romantically involved with my daughter...

...She's my forever, Cap'n. I couldn't change that if I wanted to...

...You're the mythology lover, Lizzie. I'm the starship captain, remember?...

...Tell me a story, Lorian...

...Trip?...I thought I lost you...

...I love you, my T'Pol. I have always loved you...

...This isn't my grief I'm feeling. It feels like...somebody else's...

-- -- -- -- --

...All memories led back to them.

At last there were no more secrets, no doubts, no questions, no fears. Their intimate sharing of memories and emotions had left their bond strengthened by a clarity of understanding, and by renewed devotion.

Trip gazed contentedly into T'Pol's serene, exquisite face, as his mind twined contentedly with hers. He had never felt so fulfilled, so utterly complete. /I think I've lived my whole life to get to this moment./

T'Pol saw her own joy reflected in his beautiful blue eyes. /Soval has spoken to me on occasion of destiny, though it is not logical. Now, here with you, I understand how one can come to believe in such a thing./

It was utterly charming to Trip, the idea of T'Pol believing in destiny.

She caressed his mind, sweetly reassuring. /Now, t'hai'la...drop your hand./

He didn't want to. He wanted it to last forever.

/It will./

Slowly he disengaged his fingers, one by one. He braced himself as he fought off a sudden surge of panic. /Don't leave me!/

He heard her reply as her voice faded from his mind. /Never...I'll never leave you.../

She lowered her hand. He couldn't hear her in his head any longer...but he could still feel her...a soft, steady undercurrent. "You're still here," he said, awestruck. "You're with me."

T'Pol could feel his fear melting away. "Always. As you are with me."

"Never and always touching..." He understood, at last, the enormity that those simple words represented.

She nodded. "Now we are truly bondmates, my husband."

"Husband..." Trip caught his breath. "I'm your husband. You're my wife..." He began to laugh softly, giddy with happiness. "We're married. We're really married."

T'Pol's expression softened with a quiet, affectionate smile, as she felt her bondmate's joy bubbling forth. "Perhaps only in Surak's eyes, for the moment."

"Good enough for me." Trip shut his eyes, focusing on the bond. "It's like having your heart inside me." Almost eagerly, he held out his hand, two fingers extended. "Touch me the way you did before, in sickbay."

She reached out to accept his ozh'esta. He imagined he could feel her even before their fingers made contact. As they did, Trip gasped, feeling the bond ripple and resonate with emotion...T'Pol's love, sweet and warm and serene.

T'Pol drew in a silent breath of her own as the bond echoed with Trip's love, bountiful and comforting and unabashedly romantic.

"Wow," he breathed. "I thought Vulcan kissing was nice before, but now..."

"It is but the beginning of our journey together," she said, with a provocative lilt to her voice.

Experimentally, he caressed her cheek. The bond responded, sending a decidedly sensual tingle through his system. He shivered involuntarily—and saw T'Pol do the same. Now, this was getting damned interesting. "I know what I want to try next." Softly, he touched his lips to hers in a human kiss.

It was as though he ignited a sweet-hot flame inside his mind that spread like a flash-fire through his body, his heart, his very soul. He was bursting with it, burning from the inside out. This wasn't the deep, simmering love of their ozh'esta. It was fiery passion, raw and starkly sexual, and it was needing, demanding, screaming to be satisfied, now, now, right now.

His body was shaking with desire for her as he took T'Pol's face in his hands and pushed her lips open with his tongue, thrusting deep into her mouth. She responded with the same hunger, a moan of answering need coming from low in her throat. Her hands snaked around his waist, sliding down his backside, pressing him closer.

He could feel her trembling, too. He could feel her passion. He was inside her mind and body, feeling the sensual fire building deep in her core, matching the intense desire that was tightening his groin and making him hard, rock-hard. He felt both their hearts hammering, tasted both their tongues tangling together, felt his hands against his own skin as he caressed hers.

His arms were around her now, his broad chest pressing against her breasts. He could feel what she was feeling—her sensitized nipples hardening as they rubbed insistently against the fabric of their clothing. He pressed his stiff cock between her legs, grinding against her as he thrust his tongue in her mouth again, taking the kiss as deep as he could—and suddenly his pleasure was rising, peaking, exploding into orgasm. He groaned with astonished ecstasy into her mouth, hanging helplessly onto her as he shuddered through his climax.

With a shock of delight, T'Pol realized what was happening—and then she felt Trip's waves of pleasure crashing against her, taking her up, pushing her over the edge along with him. She clung to him, throwing her head back, uttering soft cries of release as wave after wave of her own climax jolted through her. Trip nuzzled her throat as he grabbed her ass and pulled her tighter to him, stroking her, heightening her pleasure as she bucked against him.

Finally she sank her head down on his shoulder, panting, spent. He was still holding her close, feeling little aftershocks shudder through her, reverberating deliciously against his own body. "That's the best damn kiss I've ever had in my whole life," he sighed breathlessly.

T'Pol was still somewhat taken aback. "I was not aware that a kiss alone could produce such a...strong response."

"Never happened to me before, either." Another aftershock quivered through them both. "Uh, good call, not inviting the captain and Soval here to...witness."

"Indeed."

Trip pulled back to look at her. Her face was still flushed with a post-orgasmic glow that made her indescribably beautiful to him. But he knew that he was seeing her from within as well, because of the bond. He would always see her this way, from now on. "Y'know, once you get past all the initial flash craziness, being bonded does have its...advantages."

She attempted to look properly admonishing. "There is more to the bond than heightened sexual response."

SEX!

Trip's jaw dropped. "My God, all we did just now was kiss! What's the sex gonna be like?"

T'Pol arched an elegantly upswept eyebrow. "Are you ready to find out, husband? Or do you need time to recover?"

He gave her a rascally grin. "I'm game if you are, wife."

-fin-


A/N: After I originally posted "Never and Always," I wrote an NC-17 follow-up in which Trip and T'Pol satisfy his, er, curiosity. For interested readers who are 18 or older, I have posted that epilogue at my website. Here is the link to follow, once you remove the spaces and add the symbols:

http: / / www (dot) geocities. com /hopeful (underscore) romantic (at) prodigy. net /dragons (dot) html