Rating: PG-13 for a bit o' language
Disclaimer: Star Trek: Enterprise is the property of CBS/Paramount. All original material herein is the property of its author.
Chapter Fifteen: Kyle
The sun was barely peeking over the horizon when Kyle got to the club. She'd never been here at such a godawful early hour before today, but she'd given up trying to sleep. She had spent the night lying in bed, thinking about Jon...remembering the feel of his hand as he caressed her cheek, the warmth of his beautiful green eyes as he smiled at her, the taste of him as he kissed her. Just thinking about it made her tingle all over...and she couldn't help fantasizing about where it might lead. Her bed had never felt so huge and empty, and sleep had been utterly impossible.
She could still hardly believe it had happened.
Squinting into the harsh early morning sunlight as she climbed out of her groundcar, Kyle could almost convince herself that it had been a lovely dream. If anyone had told her twenty-four hours ago that Jonathan Archer, Hero of the Xindi War, savior of humanity, would be looking at her like that...kissing her like that...
Ohhh, she was going to be useless today.
Paperwork. She would do paperwork. Boss hated it anyway.
She was surprised to find workmen swarming all over the façade of the club, removing the windows. Had there been another vandalism attack after she had gone home last night? She hadn't left until after 2:30 a.m....
She tracked down the foreman, who was unloading pristine sheets of—holy hell, Callahan had finally gone and sprung for glassteel. Kyle wondered what had changed his mind.
"Good morning," she greeted the foreman. "I'm Miss MacMillan, Mr. Callahan's assistant."
The foreman pulled off his glove to shake her hand. "Morning, ma'am. I'm Sully."
Kyle pointed to the glassteel windows. "Did he call you last night about these? I would've thought they'd be special-order."
"They are, ma'am. Average job takes two weeks to fill, but this was a red-flag." The foreman reached inside his truck and pulled out a clipboard of paperwork. "The work order specified a twenty-four-hour turnaround."
Kyle was mystified. Callahan didn't have pull with any of these glassteel suppliers, or he would have installed the stuff months ago. "Who placed the order?"
Sully scanned the top sheet. "Let's see...order received yesterday, 10 July, 11:42 am...oh, there's a notation here from the purchaser. 'Compliments of J. Archer'." The foreman broke into a grin. "Holy shit—Jonathan Archer? The Jonathan Archer?"
Kyle drew in a soft breath. Oh my God. Jon must have called in the order as soon as he left the club yesterday, on his way back to Enterprise to get ready for Lorian and Karyn's wedding. The man had been busy.
To the foreman, she said smoothly, "I trust I can count on your discretion in this matter, Sully?"
"Yeah," the man said quickly. "Yeah, sure." As he paged through the paperwork, he shook his head, still smiling to himself. "Holy shit, Jonathan Archer... Wait, there's something else." He pulled a paper out from the bottom of the pile and handed it to Kyle. "A personal note was added to the work order last night."
As Kyle read the note, she smiled.
You didn't say I couldn't.
Chapter Sixteen: Catherine
Catherine woke as she felt Chuck stirring beside her. He opened his eyes and smiled sleepily. "G'mornin', Beautiful."
She leaned over to kiss him on the cheek. "G'mornin', hon."
He frowned faintly. "I had the strangest dream."
"Mmm." He pursed his lips thoughtfully. "That Vulcan woman on Enterprise, the one who's been driving Jon nuts ever since they launched...I dreamed that she'n Trip were married, if you can believe it." He chuckled.
Catherine squinted at her husband. He didn't look as if he were joking.
"They had a son, too." Chuck stifled a yawn. "But he wasn't a little boy—he was grown up, older'n we are, because he was from the past—and the future. At the same time. I didn't really understand that part of the dream." He frowned faintly for a moment, then shrugged. "He was married, too...to Jon's great-granddaughter. She was from the future-past place, too, see. Oh, and get this—Ambassador Cranky was nice." He stretched. "Screwiest dream I ever had. I can't believe my little pea brain came up with it."
Catherine stared at him. He was straight-faced, pensively scratching his chin, looking perfectly sincere. Could it be that he actually thought...? "Uh...hon..." she began carefully, "I hate to tell you this, but..." She faltered and stopped, not quite sure how to continue.
Chuck broke into a snicker. "Aw hell, I tried. But your face—it's priceless."
She grabbed her pillow and started whaling on him. "Charles Anthony Tucker Junior, you should be ashamed!"
Laughing, Chuck caught her by the wrist and disarmed her. Plumping the down-filled weapon, he tucked it behind his head. "C'mon, Cath, it might as well be a dream. If I tried to tell anyone what we found out over the last twenty-four hours, they'd think I was certifiable."
Catherine sat up, arms folded, and regarded him through indignantly narrowed eyes. "Lucky for you it's all Top Secret, so the necessity of keeping your trap shut will spare you from being carted off to the loony bin."
Chuck smiled sweetly at her. "I guess you're still stuck with me, then."
"So how's the baptism of fire coming along?" she asked.
His tongue lolled in his cheek. "I'm still not ready to hold hands around the campfire and sing Kum-Bay-Yah with the whole Vulcan race yet. But seeing those xenophobes hollering outside Starfleet yesterday was..." He trailed off, shaking his head.
"Scary?" She studied him in silence for a moment. "You never sounded like that, you know."
He seemed subdued. "It doesn't matter whether I did or not." He smiled wanly. "Fortunately for my ego, the Vulcans at the embassy acted pretty stupid about Lorian. I wonder if they realize how much they look like 'phobes themselves. Or whether they even care."
"Maybe this Reformation Jon and Soval were talking about will make a difference," Catherine mused. "I mean...if Vulcans think it's logical to change, they'll change."
Chuck snorted doubtfully.
"It's more than you can say for most humans," Catherine pointed out.
"Trip and T'Pol are gonna have a rough time no matter who we're talkin' about, hon," Chuck said flatly. "As soon as they go public, they'll catch hell. They'll be targets."
Catherine knew he was right, and it troubled her. "They'll handle it," she said firmly, sounding more confident than she felt. "He's a Tucker, after all. T'Pol will be too, soon enough." She fiddled restlessly with her wedding ring. "I just hope that this Starfleet board sees sense and keeps them both on Enterprise. I'd hate for them to be separated."
Chuck pulled her down beside him, putting a reassuring arm around her. "Don't fret about that, darlin'," he said calmly. "If there's anything I've learned in the last day, it's that no matter what happens, they'll be together, because of that bond of theirs."
Catherine glanced up at him, surprised by how easily the words came to him. Chuck was settled back against his pillow, eyes shut in peaceful repose. Maybe everything was finally starting to make sense to him.
...Or maybe he was just falling asleep again.
He cracked one eye open. "Not exactly the thickhead you were expecting me to be this morning, am I?"
She broke into a baffled smile. "Now that you mention it..."
He shrugged and replied sagely, "We all have room for enlightenment."
She felt his forehead. "Are you sick or something?"
Chuck gave her a look of exaggerated affront. "Hey!"
Now it was Catherine's turn to chortle. "Priceless."
He looked heavenward in defeat. "I'll get you for that."
She snuggled contentedly against him again. "Seriously, hon, you give me hope. If you've turned into a fan of Vulcan bonding, miracles are possible."
First Officer's Quarters
Trip blinked awake as he heard the soft chime of T'Pol's alarm. With a sigh, he rolled over...and landed unceremoniously on the deck. "Ow!"
A moment later, he saw T'Pol looking down at him over the edge of her bunk. "Are you injured, t'hai'la?"
"Only my dignity." Trip felt his naked tailbone gingerly. "We need a bigger bed."
"Agreed." T'Pol sat up, swinging her legs gracefully over the side of the bunk. "However, though Koss released me from our marriage, it would be disrespectful for me to adopt the trappings of cohabitation with another man before the divorce has been officially acknowledged by the Vulcan Social Ministry."
Trip couldn't help feeling a little dejected. "It might end up being a moot point anyway, if Starfleet transfers one of us off Enterprise."
"It is our objective to persuade Starfleet not to do so." T'Pol slid off the bed and sat beside Trip, giving him a look of gentle remonstrance. "It would be illogical to presume defeat before we have even made our case to the Board of Inquiry."
He regarded her skeptically. "You know those policy wonks are allergic to change. If they decide we don't fit into one of their ticky-tacky little compartments, that's it."
T'Pol appeared serenely undeterred. "As Captain Archer said, our task will not be an easy one. It may take time to accomplish. But its difficulty makes it no less valid or vital—for us, and those who will follow us."
That made him smile a little. "You think there'll be other Vulcans and humans crazy enough to want to make a life with each other?"
Placidly, she nodded. "It is inevitable that there will be others who will rejoice in the differences between our two peoples, in the same way that we rejoice in each other." Lightly, she cradled his cheek, and he felt the bond whispering to him in welcome. "And if we must be physically parted for a time while we convince Starfleet of the obvious, remember that we will never truly be separated."
Trip drew her into a warm embrace. He felt a soft undercurrent of reassurance from her, dissolving away his lingering concern. "Thanks, darlin'."
T'Pol pulled away, her eyes sparkling. "There is another consideration that may operate in our favor. At Admiral Forrest's memorial yesterday, Ambassador Soval implied that you and I exemplified the goal they both shared: humans and Vulcans working together as equal allies. It may be in Starfleet's best interest to keep us together as a visible representation of the formal alliance now being negotiated between our two worlds."
"You and me—poster children for the alliance?" Trip cocked his head thoughtfully. "Wouldn't that be a kick in the pants." At her frown of confusion, he translated. "A charge. A thrill. A good thing."
She looked uncertain. "If you say so."
He chuckled and got to his feet, drawing her up with him, and started for the bathroom. "We'd better get in the shower. We don't want to miss our command performance."
T'Pol pulled him firmly to a halt. "If we shower together, t'hai'la, we will most assuredly be late." She gently disentangled him, ignoring his moan of protest. "I suggest that while you wait, you consider the topics of discussion that might best be brought up at the Board of Inquiry." She gave him a soft kiss on the nose before proceeding on alone.
Trip watched her lovely rear view appreciatively as she entered the bathroom. "In a sec," he murmured. "After I'm done rejoicing..."