8. Popping The Question
Update (June 2010): re-upload with minor cosmetic changes and corrections
"Ugh," Trip groaned after another long meditation session. "Two and a half hours, I think I'm getting the hang of it."
"You did well, as you did during the ceremony." T'Pol reassured.
"Ya, but without getting back to the ship quickly, I would have lost it pretty soon down 'ere. Thanks god we were alone, when I couldn't hold out any longer."
"Crying is a natural human reaction to high distress, but I agree that it was to our advantage that you could suppress it until we were alone."
"We should add some furniture to that white space of yours."
"I mean its nice to be with ya in my mind, but all we can do is stand, sit or walk around in that white space, can't we add some scenery?"
"That would be possible, but it would also distract from the main purpose of meditation."
"I guess, I'll hit the shower then, t'was a long day," he groaned while getting up from the meditation cushion.
X X X
T'Pol's head rested on Trip's shoulders. After an exhausting day, he had quickly succumbed to sleep, entangled in his mates naked body. T'Pol had decided, that, since the... 'icing on the cake' was obviously beneficial to his well being, it would be logical to rest in an unclothed condition. The wave of positive emotions that washed over through the bond when she snuggled up to him, wearing nothing but an elevated eyebrow, proved the validity of her assessment.
She had noticed that although it was only a few days, since they started to spend the nights together, the frequent close contact between them had an impact on their bond. The transmission of emotions was still random and she could only pick them up, if his emotions were very strong. Those spontaneous transmissions became more frequent every day, although there were no signs of him picking up any signals from her. Their meetings in the white room became easier as well. Trip was an eager learner and became more adept at meditating with her. T'Pol made sure to award his effort every time, with the smile that he cherished so much.
The young Vulcan was still trying to understand how such small things could make such a big difference. Smiling was just a small change in her faces appearance, yet it was obviously enough of motivation for him to endure hours of immobility and meditation, something that was definitely not a natural talent of his. Also the seemingly irrelevant fact of sleeping without clothing, making the difference between waking up in contentment or waking up with so much pleasure, that it was strong enough to wash over through the bond, was something her logic couldn't explain. It was obvious that she had to investigate human behavior more thoroughly. He had spent hours every day learning about Vulcan culture and traditions, it would only be fair to do so herself. She made a mental note to get hold of appropriate material from the Vulcan Science Academy the next day. With that thought in mind, she drifted into a good night's sleep herself.
(three days later)
Enterprise was on its way to Vulcan. They were expected to reach Vulcan orbit at 0900, giving them enough time to prepare for the departure of two of their officers. Trip and T'Pol had seldomly left their quarters during their travel to Vulcan. Both were buried in PADD's studying each others cultures and continued their intense meditation training. Although Trip was still as emotional as ever, he had learned to hide his emotions for longer periods and let them out with nobody around, preferably in their meditative white space. T'Pol had made a point of engaging him in long talks about his sister Lizzy and their baby Elizabeth, to stir emotions in him and took pride in the fact that it took sometimes more than an hour for him to succumb to tears. At times he even managed to return to calm without the need of her cradling him. She did embrace him though, even if he managed to calm himself without that. Depriving her mate of the cherished contact with her was not an option she was willing to take. Her logic failed at explaining it, but at several times it was actually she, who yearned for the contact.
Trip had spent half a day with Kov, making sure that the transition was smooth. His engineering crew had taken Kov to their hearts immediately. The Vulcan, who was not the typical pointy eared variety was very adept at interacting with the emotional humans around him.
Shran meanwhile had come to grips with his new position as second in command pretty well, too. Being surrounded by pink skins was still new to him, but he had enough experience from his long stay aboard during the fight against the Romulan drone ship. At least he had both his antennae this time. Since most of the crew knew and respected him, interaction was surprisingly flawless. Off duty he spent much time with Malcolm trading weapon and fight stories or in the captain's mess, instructing Archer on the finer points of Andorian ale.
Soval had instructed the ship's First Couple on how to care for their budding bond. His typical, clinically blunt approach had Trip jettison his drink through his nose at more than one point, for instance when Soval completely stoically explained not to forget to 'consummate the bond' regularly. Damn! I like the sound of 'at, but there must be a more tactful way to say 'don't forget to do each other often.' he had thought. But he had gotten a good laugh out of it as well, when T'Pol's eye brows went into arctic explorer mode at the blunt instruction to jump each others bones, even without a pon-farr around the next corner.
Through Soval's lectures Trip had learned the inner workings of Vulcan couples and he found that T'Pol's behavior towards him was not as different as he thought from any other Vulcan's behavior. Human contact needs were far less subtle than Vulcans, so instead of ozh'esta's they exchanged human kisses. They did however resolve to practice the more subtle Vulcan variety, when in public view.
Vulcan's had obviously no clue about caressing each other, either. While T'Pol obviously liked it when he brushed, groped or otherwise caressed several body parts, it was nothing to be found in any Vulcan textbook. Their idea of anything erotic was obviously to just switch the light off, go straight for the main dish and roll off each other again. It's a damn sin, to just wolf down the steak and leave the dessert to rot. he had thought with a chuckle.
X X X
A happy sigh signaled Trip's return to consciousness, followed by the wave of pleasure transmitting through the bond that she had waited for in happy anticipation. He planted a kiss on her lips, as he idly brushed and groped a cheek of her petite behind.
"Do I correctly believe that you have found another... 'delicious part'?"
"Damn right, darling," he said.
"I do not understand your fascination with specific body parts, but it would be dishonest to deny, that it is a most agreeable experience."
Trip burst into laughter.
"You find this amusing?"
"Yeah, nobody can say 'I like it when you grab my bum' and make it sound like a diplomatic introduction." he chuckled.
Suddenly, he turned serious again.
"Listen darlin', I think I've got all the pieces together for that hearing of ours, but we must make sure that no one gets near us. Don't want any nerve pinches or anything."
"I doubt that anyone will try to assault me or you, but I concur that it would be advisable to be 'rather safe than sorry', as the human expression says. I spoke with the Captain yesterday. Minister T'Pau has agreed that we will be escorted by Enterprise's security personal. He will also send down Ensign Sato with us, so she can act as your translator in case of need."
"Well, I have you. Surely you can translate for me," he said with a hint of surprise.
"We will most likely be separated too distantly. There is reason to believe that the High Council will try to avoid interaction between us. We must also refrain from touching each other in such a public place. It would be considered most inappropriate, even between bond mates."
"Ya, figured that," he sighed as he rose from the bunk, unwillingly letting go of her soft derriere.
X X X
"Ready to kick some butt?" Trip asked as the big doors to the main chamber of the Vulcan High Council opened.
"It would be inappropriate to revert to violence, I must warn you..."
"Just, drop it darlin'. Guess I'll have to teach you more about human phrases," he sighed.
True to her promise, Minister T'Pau allowed Malcolm and his group of MACO's, who had formed a protective circle around Trip, Hoshi, T'Pol and Soval, to escort them right into the chamber. She waved them to leave, once the four were safely standing in the center of the hall.
"This show of force was unnecessary, you will not be harmed." T'Pau opened.
"Peace and long life," Trip opened in Vulcan, with a slight drawl and a flawlessly executed Vulcan salute.
"Live long and prosper," T'Pau answered and returned the gesture.
"With all due respect Minister, that advice should have been given to that colleague o' yours some days ago, when he tried to rip my brains out." Trip declared.
"Minister V'Lon's behavior was regrettable and he has been made aware of his mistakes. We do not condone his misconduct. We regret the discomfort it has caused you. That does not however warrant your own misconduct. Ambassador Soval, what is your purpose to attend this meeting?" T'Pau asked.
"Minister, I am here as a legal council to both Commander T'Pol and Commander Tucker." Soval droned and nodded in her direction.
With the niceties out of the way, the commanders where seated on the left and right side of the hall, far from each other, as T'Pol had predicted. While Hoshi took a seat beside Trip, Soval seated himself with T'Pol.
V'Lon started the proceedings. "T'Pol of Vulcan, rise! You have been brought before the High Council to answer for several cases of grossly inappropriate behavior. You have publicly displayed emotional indulgence, intimate contact with a human and grossly disrespectful behavior toward a member of the High Council. Do you deny these charges?"
"Partially, I did act disrespectfully towards you, Minister when I momentarily lost the ability to suppress my emotions. I do disregard all other charges as irrelevant."
"You have been seen at the burial ceremony for that 'thing'," Trip winced at V'Lon's attempt to hurt them again. "holding that humans hand in yours. Do you deny that?"
"You might wish to remember, Minister, that Elizabeth T'Les was not a 'thing'. She was a child with both human and Vulcan genes. You have been made aware of that. As the child's mother I must insist that you pay her the respect she deserves. I do not deny the contact with Commander Tucker's hand. It was a human gesture of support, I felt responsible, to help the Commander, as he was equally distraught as I was, if not more."
"Commander T'Pol is correct." T'Pau interjected. "If you try again to provoke either Commander T'Pol or Commander Tucker by showing disrespect toward their child, you will be excluded from this session. Is that understood Minister V'Lon?"
"As you wish." V'Lon nodded grudgingly, "It is illogical to defend your wrongdoing as a human gesture. It was still a grossly inappropriate behavior."
"You might wish to notice, Minister that we were on Earth at the time, attending an Earth ceremony. This gesture was complying with both earth customs and laws. I did no wrong." T'Pol insisted, determined not to give in.
"Human customs are irrelevant. They are an unworthy species. It is illogical to indulge in their barbaric rituals." V'Lon added in a heightened voice, causing T'Pol's nostrils to flare in an attempt to contend her anger.
"Enough!" T'Pau interjected again. "Minister V'Lon, one more instance of misbehavior and you will be excluded. There will be no more warnings. Humans are our allies and they saved us from grave consequences on more than one occasion. I will not tolerate your dishonorable conduct any longer."
"I concur with the Ministers assessment. You are shaming this Council by your misconduct." Minister Kuvak added.
"May I speak, Minister?" Trip asked, slowly rising from his seat, sorting out his Vulcan robe.
"You may speak." T'Pau indicated to the center of the hall.
"As he has just openly proved," Trip started in an almost Vulcan calm. "Minister V'Lon is not exactly a friend of humans. That might be understandable; many humans do not start to cheer when a Vulcan's around either. Several days ago, the Minister has publicly expressed his intention to destroy me and if it wasn't for me collapsing, he might have succeeded at just that. I've spent the last few days studying Vulcan culture and language. I might not be any good at speaking Vulcan, heck I'm not even any good at speaking English. But I got a clue or two about you guys." he said fixing V'Lon.
"Proceed." T'Pau nodded.
"I can't read your mind Minister T'Pau, but I would hazard a guess, that you got the same clue as me. But just to make sure, I'll try to bring a few points home, so that Minister V'Lon might pick up some things about his own culture as well. It didn't take a full fledged investigation to find out that Minister V'Lon got his knickers in a twist about me and T'Pol being a couple."
"It would be conductive to your purpose, if you would refrain from using your customary colorful phrases Commander." Soval interjected as he approached Trip. "Not everyone in this room is accustomed to your version of English."
"Oh, sure, I apologize. Let me rephrase then. Obviously Minister V'Lon is worried, that T'Pol and I are more than just friends. He's afraid that we might be a couple. And I'm proud to break the news to you, you're damn right." he stated. That raised every non-human eyebrow in the hall. Although worried, T'Pol could not prevent herself from shooting a deep look of admiration to him, amazed at his boldness.
"After Captain Archer brought the Kir'Shara in here, obviously some people have missed to read a few pages, especially pages about Vulcan mating bonds. We cannot pinpoint it to a specific date, but T'Pol of Vulcan and I have been bonded for about 2 or 3 months now. Sometimes after she was released from that forced marriage to Minister V'Lon's son, we established a bond without really knowing. Obviously Minister V'Lon failed to read up on what happens when one attacks a person with his or her bond mate in the vicinity. From what I read, trying to forcefully separate bond mates doesn't go down very well with both the mates involved and Vulcan law as well. If he'd been studying that Kir'Shara of yours, he would know that he's damn lucky that she only cussed at him, she could as well have killed him on the spot."
"That is untrue. You are feigning knowledge about our culture to defend T'Pol's misbehavior. I will not tolerate such a deception." V'Lon answered, without his usual arrogance, though.
"Commander Tucker's explanation is entirely logical. If they truly have established a mating bond, both Commander Tucker's attempted attack on you and Commander T'Pol's overt expression of aggressive behavior was an instinctive reaction to protect each other from being harmed or separated. Mainly from being harmed by your misbehavior, Minister V'Lon. And I believe I do not have to explain to you that malicious interference with a bond is a capital crime. The only reason saving you from execution might be the fact that there was no reason to know that a mating bond might form between a Vulcan and a human." T'Pau retorted.
"We have no proof of a bond." V'Lon returned defensively.
"Proof is obtainable," T'Pau announced. "Are you willing to allow a mind meld to prove the existence of a bond Commander Tucker?"
"I've gone through some disturbing stuff lately, so my emotions are pretty much on a stampede, Minister, but if it is necessary you'll have my cooperation. Maybe T'Pol is a less stressful partner to check on our bond."
"Your consideration of my well being honors you. I will need a period of meditation before melding with you, but I have experience with human emotions. I melded with Captain Archer before and I know how to protect myself. I will have to meld with both of you in any case."
"Even if there is a bond, our traditions are for Vulcans. Humans have no right to interfere. I demand that this bond, if it exists, be severed." V'Lon clung to his last straw.
"Tough luck man, ya ain't gonna do anything about it." Trip muttered to himself, before addressing the High Council in his slightly drawly Vulcan.
"I, Charles Tucker the Third,son of Charles Tucker Jr., son of Cathryn Tucker claim T'Pol of Vulcan, daughter of V'Nur, daughter of T'Les as my mate by the rite of Koon-ut-kal-if-fee," Trip announced in formal style.
Hoshi's face went pale, her eyes wide open and T'Pol struggled to find a proper eye brow configuration for the onslaught of pride and surprise at hearing these words.
"The hearing is adjourned," T'Pau announced as she rose from her seat. "You will be brought to your quarters. The Ministry Of Security will be made responsible for your safety. Minister V'Lon; you will abstain from any contact with both Commander Tucker and Commander T'Pol until the investigation of the bond is completed. Lt Sato you are free to return to your ship. I will inform your captain about the time of Ambassador Soval's return."
"I am honored to be your mate." T'Pol struggled with a breaking voice, as the two exchanged an ozh'esta, shielded from view by Soval's sturdy frame.
X X X
"Hoshi, you've been grinning like the cat that ate the canary since you returned from Vulcan." Archer opened the briefing. "Do I take that as a hint, things went better than planned?"
"You could say that, Captain."
"Trip knocked the Vulcans clean off their feet. V'Lon probably expected him to be a nervous pile of emotions, but he was having none of that. Took control right from the start, by doing the greetings in perfect Vulcan, well, as perfect as he can with that southern accent."
Archer laughed at the thought of his friend drawling away in Vulcan. Hoshi continued.
"Minister V'Lon homed in on T'Pol and she made a pretty good job of getting a rise out of him, right to the point that Minister T'Pau threatened to throw him out. She provoked him the same way as Trip did on Earth until the Minister blurted out his real motives." Hoshi chuckled, "From then on Trip took the matter in his own hand and knocked them down flat."
"He started a brawl?" Archer joked.
"No, he revealed that they are connected by something called a mating bond. Although I don't know what that is, exactly."
"I knew, there was something up with these two." Archer said, slapping his forehead as he put the missing piece into the puzzle and explained.
"A mating bond is a form of telepathic connection. They can sense each others presence and each others emotions, once the link is complete. It also triggers a strong instinct to protect each other, that's why T'Pol went off on V'Lon when he attacked Trip. And I bet Trip was riding that horse to get her out of it."
"I didn't know you were an expert on Vulcan mojo, Captain." Malcolm added in surprise.
"Well I had Surak's katra feeling itself at home in my skull for days. I didn't pick up a damn thing on the language, but a bit about their customs. Go on Hoshi," Archer sighed.
"Actually Trip did as you suspected. He linked their reactions to that protective instinct. Obviously triggering that instinct is not a nice thing to do. Harming someone who's bonded or trying to separate the mates is a capital crime. Minister T'Pau let V'Lon know, that the only thing saving him from execution is, that nobody knew a bond would work with humans."
"So she had him arrested?" Shran asked.
"No, but she ordered him to stay the hell away from them." Hoshi answered. "They'll now be checked whether that bond exists or not. As a last attempt, V'Lon demanded that, if there is a bond, it should be severed."
That made the Captain wince, knowing that severing a bond could be fatal for both of them. "They don't go through with that lunacy, do they?" he inquired.
"They can't. Trip had obviously practiced more Vulcan than just 'greetings y'all'," she said with a wide grin. "He claimed the Koon-ut-kal-if-fee."
"The what?" Shran asked with narrowed eyes.
"He proposed marriage and she didn't look like she's refusing." Hoshi said with a dreamy look.
"What makes you think that?" the captain asked, knowing that this was a rhetoric question.
"Well, does a Vulcan finger kiss right in the middle of the High Council count?" Hoshi volleyed with a giggle.
"How did they get away with THAT?" the captain asked in amazement.
"Well, suddenly Ambassador Soval felt a need to look at Minister T'Pau and shielded them from view. He's not exactly scrawny." Hoshi explained, still giggling like a schoolgirl.
"I'll buy that man an Ale." Shran muttered in quite admiration.