DISCLAIMER: Enterprise is the property of CBS/Paramount. No infringement is intended, and no money was made from this endeavor.

Rating: M (Don't say I didn't warn you. This story contains tasteful smut of the m/f, m/f/m and m/m varieties.

Author's Chapter Notes:

No smut 'til Chapter 2--sorry!

Trip rounded the corner into an alcove and stopped in his tracks. Hess and some guy from Exobiology — who had absolutely no reason to be in Engineering, ever — were locked in an embrace. The guy appeared to be shoving his tongue down her throat, and his hand gripped her ass through her uniform. Trip backed away slowly. Considering her rather adorable ass objectively, he could hardly blame the guy. He just hoped that what he witnessed didn't become a habit. He didn't need his department, with it's plentiful alcoves and Jefferies tubes, to turn into the ship's go to spot for mid-day liaisons. He also hoped the whatever-his-name-was would treat her right. Hess deserved no less.

Trip sighed as he headed back to his office.

It had been four and half months since Enterprise was thrown back in time. Four months since T'Pol and Archer had declared that there wasn't a way back through the corridor and they were all effectively exiles. None of them would ever see Earth again, let alone their friends and family. It was no wonder people had started to pair off and screw like bunnies. Archer hadn't exactly ordered people to start making babies, but he had stated the necessity for replacement crew rather firmly. That mandate, combined with the fact that they were all each other's only family now, meant that there had been a whole lot of fraternization lately.

Trip thought about his parents, what they must be thinking — or rather what they will think — when Enterprise disappears in The Expanse. Bert, too. It had been hard enough on them all to lose Lizzie and now his family will lose him, too. He wondered if, maybe, he could convince Archer to let them leave behind some record and send it to Earth if they did manage to stop the first Xindi attack.

Stop the first attack. That thought alone made the exile worthwhile for Trip. If he could save Lizzie and all the millions of others, a life in exile wouldn't be to hard to accept.

Especially, since he was exiled on a ship he loved with people he loved.

As if she had read that last thought, T'Pol appeared in his office doorway. She was wearing the purple outfit that day. He liked the blue better, but the purple was nice, too. She looked beautiful and serene, less worn down than she had during the days before they were thrown back in time. She was also growing out her hair a little longer, which he didn't mind at all.

He inhaled. He could smell her Vulcan-ness from his chair, that mix of copper and spice that had become so familiar.

"We've contacted the Gilisians, and they are willing to trade us a supply of their reinforced plasma conduits for the trellium that remains in storage."

Trip exhaled with relief. The anomalies weren't as bad in this time period, and he hated having a cargo bay filled with stuff that was toxic to T'Pol. Plus, ever since he had gotten a look at the Gilisian conduits on a freighter they had encountered, he wanted them for Enterprise. Now, it looked like they would kill two of those proverbial birds with one stone.

"That's great news," he replied.

"Indeed," she replied, "The Captain has asked me to join the landing party, since Ensign Sato is under the weather. You'll be on the team as well, to inspect the conduits. You'll also be glad to know that the palace where we will be lodged sits adjacent to an aesthetically pleasing beach. It is a temperate zone, but it is late Spring and the water is expected to be warm. You should pack attire for swimming."

Trip grinned, not only because he was going to the beach but because he detected just a hint of flirtation in her tone. It almost felt like they were back to those early days in The Expanse, before the sex, when they just flirted all the time. Although the sex had been — well, downright glorious considering they were different species and her inexperience — it had affected the way they interacted with each other. They just weren't as comfortable as they had been before, when they were just friends.

"Are you going to pack your bathing suit?" he asked.

"I don't own one," she said, cooly.

"That's a shame."

She leaned over.

"Vulcans don't bother with swimwear, as we believe modesty is illogical and we can control our more primal urges. And I have been told that the Gilisians also swim without clothing."

With that, she turned and disappeared out his door.

Great, he thought, Now I won't be able to stand up for the next fifteen minutes.

He took a deep breath. As the whole crew had started to pair off, he had been left curiously alone by the eligible women on the ship. He didn't have to be told why, either. It was as if he had "Property of Commander T'Pol" stamped on the backside of his uniform. In Vulcan. The whole ship assumed they were a couple, even though they had only had sex that one, incredible time.

But truthfully, he didn't mind that everyone thought they were a couple. He wanted them to be a couple. The few times he had even tried to consider pairing off with a woman, he felt like he was cheating on T'Pol. Sex or no sex, they were a couple. He just needed to figure out a way to make her see that. And after that, he needed to figure out how to be what she needed.

That last part was what scared him. She had been raised in a culture of arranged marriages where couples only had sex every seven years. As much as that was a criminal waste in her case, he wondered if she would be happy married to a human that bombarded her with emotions and desires on a daily basis. She was raised to want affection from her mate. He needed to give her more than that. He needed to give her love. And passion. If they lived together, he wouldn't be able to keep his hands off her.

The one time they had had sex, it had gone supernova.

The warm water that soothed his body did nothing for his restless mind. How many times had it been? He'd lost track. The first time was on the floor. Yeah, that counted as one time, despite three different positions and the foreplay. Then, they had done it in her bunk. She'd been on top for most of that time. Afterward, he had decided to shower, possibly go back to his quarters or stay if she was okay with it. He was thinking about the best way to broach the subject when she appeared in the doorway, still naked. She walked toward him, with a look of such intense passion on her face that he feared she might knock him over. God, she was beautiful. Her warm mouth was on his, her arms around his neck. Before he realized what was happening, he had her lifted up and pinned against the shower wall, legs spread. He entered her quickly and easily since she was still slick and open from before. As he thrust harder than her small body should have been able to withstand, she urged him on in Vulcan. It didn't matter that he didn't understand what she was saying, it sounded dirty enough. Then, she started scratching and biting, adding pain to the pleasure. Christ, this was insane! She was like an untamed animal — he'd heard rumors about Vulcans going wild during their mating cycles. Was that what was happening to her? That was his last coherent thought as euphoria overtook him. The next thing he remembered was coming to with her in his arms, leaning against the cool tile. The scrapes and scratches on his body had started to sting, but he didn't care. Her head was buried in his chest as the water beat down on her. How was she breathing? He was going to ask if she was okay, but at that moment they heard the alert that called all senior officers to the bridge.

The mix of physical and emotional passions they unleashed together had nearly overwhelmed him. He couldn't imagine what she, a Vulcan who had never had sex before, had felt. When he kissed her on the cheek before leaving her, she had looked scared. A Vulcan looked scared. He had wanted to console her, tell her it was okay and that they'd work things out together, but there had been no time for that. And it hadn't surprised him the next day when she pretended it was only physical.

As much as he had wanted to console her, tell her that it was nothing to be ashamed of or fear — he wasn't sure that that wasn't true in her case. A Vulcan might very well be terrified and deeply ashamed of what had occurred between them. So, he had decided to wait. Let her calm down and then see if she wanted to resume whatever it was between them.

Now, all these months later, they were trapped in this crazy exile, and it seemed as though she might be ready.

The next morning, Trip turned the corner into the shuttle bay, carrying his bag over his shoulder and looking forward to spending a day planet side. He hoped he'd even get to spend a little time with T'Pol alone. A temperate planet, a beautiful beach - it might be just the right setting to finally declare what most everyone on the ship knew - that they were meant for each other.

As he entered the large bay, he froze in his tracks. The Captain and T'Pol were standing just outside Shuttlepod One, close to one another. Very close. Jon was smiling at her and gazing at her.

Trip hadn't seen Archer look at her that way in a long time, since well before the Expanse. Trip suddenly remembered the they had disappeared together for those mysterious days, leaving him Captain. He also remembered when they had together discovered The Robinson Nebula. Back then, it was The Captain that shared her confidence, rather than the lowly chief engineer.

T'Pol's face was its typical Vulcan mask, but she had let the Captain enter her personal space. As far as Trip knew, he himself was the only man on the ship that T'Pol ever let enter her personal space. Jon was laughing and smiling in a way Trip hadn't seen him do since before the first Xindi attack.

He reached out and brushed T'Pol's cheek with his hand, and she didn't pull away.
The expression on the Captain's face said everything. He didn't just want her, he needed her.

God, thought Trip. He loves her. Just as much as I do.

"Hi ya, Captain," said Trip casually, "T'Pol."

He spoke her name more sharply. She turned toward him.

"Good Morning Commander," said T'Pol.

"Ready to get going, Trip?" said Jon.

Trip nodded and they all climbed into the shuttle. The Captain decided to pilot it himself, and T'Pol seated herself next to him. Trip sat in the back, staring at them. Their manner had reverted to its usual professionalism.

What had they been talking about? Had Jon offered himself as mate for her? The Captain was limited in his choices, after all. She was probably one of the few women on the ship that could handle being married to the man in charge. She wouldn't let a personal relationship interfere with her job, being Vulcan. It made perfect sense that Jon would choose her.

Or had she approached him? The Captain and T'Pol had once been very close, and maybe she figured Jon was a more logical choice for a husband. Maybe Jon better understood what a Vulcan needed. Maybe he wouldn't confuse her or overwhelm her the way Trip had, that was almost certain. Or maybe, Trip told himself, he was reading too much in the moment. Maybe what he saw was just a small gesture between friends. He couldn't help but hope that was what it was.

T'Pol and the Captain were chatting about planet, just like it was any first contact mission. The local population was humanoid, with a warp capable society and apparently had a stable, democratic government. They seemed eager to make contact with a new species and were even going to throw some sort of event that night in their honor.

Trip took a deep breath. It would be good to plant two feet on solid ground. Good to meet new humanoids. Good to breathe fresh air. Whatever the situation with T'Pol, it would work itself out. He told himself that despite the sinking feeling in his stomach.


The Gilisians were a beautiful race of humanoids, very human-like except for more luminous shimmering skin and big, round eyes. They were all very willowy too, normal for a human seemed big for them and the skinny people among the Gilisians appeared almost fragile. They seemed to have the hair and skin color diversity similar to European humans as well. Trip thought he saw blue, green, brown and purple eyes among the dignitaries that met them at the landing pad. He also saw brown, blond, red and black hair.

After a greeting ceremony, one of the diplomats offered to show them to their lodging in the palace-like building were they were staying. The ornate, glittering building reminded Trip of some cross between the lands of Oz and the Arabian Nights, with glittering spirals outside and soft, curved details inside.

Their guide reached a door.

"The lock has been set to each of your hand prints," he said, "Simply wave your hand over the sensor and the door will open. If you require anything more, please let us know. Your luggage has already been brought here."

Trip had been expecting to find a suite behind the door. Instead, they entered one large room, which was bathed in light from a series of big, expansive windows that looked over the ocean. There was also a set of doors that probably led to a balcony. The room had high ceilings, ornately woven rugs. . .and one giant bed. Off to the side, there was a big, low sofa, but it was clearly not designed for sleeping.

"The Gileseans are polyamorous," said T'Pol, "They probably assumed that we would share a bed as well as quarters."

Archer sat down on the couch, and he smiled.

"I suppose it would be presumptuous to ask for more quarters. This looks like one of their best rooms," he laughed.

"I'll take the floor," said Trip, "You could sink into this rug."

"That is illogical, Commander," replied T'Pol, "I will not require sleep tonight."

Trip sighed. He couldn't let a lady, even a Vulcan lady, stay up all night while he slept in a comfy bed.

"You take the bed, Trip" said Archer with a smile, "I'll take the couch. I get the best bed on Enterprise. You deserve the luxury of that bed this once. Besides, this couch is softer than my bed. And I doubt you'll be able to talk T'Pol into sleeping at this point. She's wearing her stubborn Vulcan expression."

T'Pol looked at Trip, clearly amused.

Trip waited for her eyebrow to raise, but it didn't. Her eyes sparkled, though.

Trip was going to say something, but the room's comm system activated. An English voice was inviting them to a luncheon in their honor in about an hour. After that, apparently, Trip would have some time to himself to hit the beach.

T'Pol looked down at the body-covering wetsuit she wore with some measure of satisfaction. While it was true that Vulcans wouldn't bother with swimwear if the water was warm enough, the water of Gilesia's ocean was certainly not warm enough for a Vulcan to swim in without a protective suit, despite the warmth of the midday sun. She walked carefully down a stone path toward a private cove where a steward had sent Trip earlier.

After a fruitful morning of negotiations with the local population and a pleasant luncheon with several dignitaries, Captain Archer had been invited to meet with the Prime Minister alone, something which was considered a great honor.

Trip had embraced the notion of free time and immediately headed to the beach. T'Pol thought carefully about whether or not to join him. She hadn't planned on flirting with him while in his office the previous day, but something about the way he was looking at her had triggered a reaction. Trip must have been as aware as she that the majority of the crew viewed them as a couple and expected them to formally become mates. T'Pol had done nothing to discourage such rumors despite being unsure if she wished to take the Commander as her life mate. Their one sexual encounter had been physically gratifying, but it had been emotionally troubling for her. So much, she recoiled from the idea of another sexual encounter. She feared that sexual relations could become as addictive as the trellium she has worked so hard to quit.

She was, however, certain she did not wish the Commander to take another female as a mate. Such conflicted feelings were unfair to Trip, she knew. That very morning, she had decided that she would broach the subject of their relationship with Trip. She would offer to become his mate, if he wished to have her. Phlox was even working on the possibility of her having a child with a human mate, a notion that was both intimidating and appealing. Trip had several times expressed a wish to be a father, and she was glad that if he took her as a mate, there was at least a possibility of her giving him a child.

However, since that morning, T'Pol's thoughts on the matter had changed. While waiting for Trip in the Shuttle Bay, the Captain had spoken to her very kindly. More kindly and more affectionately than he had since well before they had entered The Expanse. At first, he thought was simply inquiring about the well-being of his first officer.
But when he had looked into her eyes, she had realized his inquires were of a personal nature. It dawned on her that he might be one of the few people unaware of her relationship with Trip, and he seemed to be indicating his willingness to become her mate.

When he had reached out an touched her, T'Pol had experienced a flicker of physical attraction. She thought the Captain might even try to kiss her, and she was grateful that Trip had interrupted them.

In the hours that had followed, she had been moderately successful at keeping her mind on the mission, but when her thoughts wandered to personal matters she found herself disquieted. She had all but settled on Trip as a mate, despite the risks posed to her emotional control. Now, she found herself tempted by the idea of Jonathan Archer. Would he overwhelm her the same way Trip had? Or would he be more even-tempered? Despite these thoughts, almost instinctively, she was seeking out Trip.

She reached the cove and saw Trip laid out on a blanket in his swimming attire. Humans were absurdly modest, and yet the garment hardly covered his body. She raised her eyebrow, finding the sight of his well-proportioned body agreeable. As familiar as she was with every centimeter of his body, she still enjoyed looking at him.

She was soon standing at the edge of his towel.

"Good Afternoon, Commander," she said clearly.

He opened one eye and looked up at her. He laughed.

"I thought Vulcans didn't wear bathing suits," he said.

"This is a wetsuit, Commander," she replied, "The ambient temperature of this water is not suitable for a Vulcan to swim in without protection."

He opened his other eye and sat up.

"Well," he said, "I can't say that that's the suit I would have picked out for you, darlin. But it still shows off your curves rather nicely."

She raised her eyebrow. There was an edge to his voice that mixed peculiarly with his usual playfulness.

"Have a seat, Commander," he said as he shifted into a cross-legged position to make room on his towel.

T'Pol looked around for a moment before sitting before him. She didn't know why she was suddenly nervous to be alone with him. She'd been more alone with him than this countless times.

They stared at each other for a long while. T'Pol found herself wishing he would take the initiative and kiss her. She knew she wouldn't be able to resist him if he did, despite their being outdoors.

"Is something going on between you and Jon?" he asked.

The question shocked her. She didn't realize he had seen her with Jon in the shuttle bay – or that there had been anything to see.

"No," she said truthfully, not elaborating on her suspicions that if the Captain had his way, the truth would be otherwise.

Trip closed his eyes, and he appeared visibly relieved. T'Pol realized that even the thought of her mating with another caused him pain, as it had caused her pain when he had flirted with Corporal Cole.

"Trip. . ." she said, feeling awkward about using his nickname in a public place.

He smiled at her and started to get to his feet.

"Let's get in the water," he said.

He reached down and held his hand out to her. She took it and he helped her up. They walked to the shoreline and slowly made their way into the water. It was cool and salty, but not so cool that the uncovered parts of her body were uncomfortable. Trip, on the other hand, appeared to shiver before his body adjusted.

"This isn't Florida, that's for sure. A little like Cape May," he said.

They swam together for awhile, and she found the unusual exercise invigorating. The Captain had often espoused the benefits of swimming, something Vulcans did not do for pleasure.

Finally, the cool water got to both of them and they headed for shore. As the water evaporated off her skin, she felt a chill. She noticed Trip shivering as well, despite the warmth of the sun.

As they stood on the beach, she stepped very close to him, knowing her higher body temperature could help warm him. Impulsively, she gathered him into her arms and pressed his body against hers. Although the embrace had a practical purpose, he sighed with pleasure and put his arms around her.

"Have I warmed you sufficiently?" she asked.

He laughed out loud. She didn't understand why her question was funny. She pulled back from him, and he grinned at her. As confused as she was by his reaction, she was pleased to see him happy.

After a moment, he brought his hands up to her face and leaned in to kiss her. She closed her eyes in anticipation, and his mouth found hers. His cool mouth was pleasant, and she tasted a bit of the salt from the water as she melted into his arms. Strangely, though his kiss was passionate, it did not seem like a prelude to sexual activity. Both her attire and their public location made such impractical. Trip seemed content to merely kiss her, which was very pleasing to her.

Suddenly, her keen Vulcan ears heard footsteps at the top of the cove. She inhaled the air, and she recognized the Captain was approaching. She quickly pulled back from Trip's embrace. She did not want Jonathan to see him embracing Trip this way, it would not be fair to hurt him in such a way.

"You okay, hon? Is somethin' wrong?" He asked as she pushed his hands from him.

"The Captain approaches," she said, turning her face away.

Trip looked up, and indeed, Jonathan Archer was now visible on the stairs that led to the cove. He was still in his uniform.

Trip looked back at her, obviously annoyed. But she didn't know if he was annoyed at Archer's arrival or her reaction to it.

"How's the water?" asked Archer.

"Cool," said Trip, his tone matching the temperature of the water "but it's swimmable."

"I didn't know Vulcan swam, T'Pol," he said.

"Most of us learn to swim, but for safety reasons more than recreation," replied T'Pol, "I took a aquatic biology course at the Academy, and I developed strong swimming skills then."

Trip looked over at her and then back at the Captain.

"How'd the meeting go?"

"Fine," said Archer, "In fact, there's going to be a kind of state dinner in our honor tonight. And I'm guessing the Gilesians know how to throw a party."

Trip didn't smile at that, instead, he started pull his clothes on over his wet bathing suit and gather up his things.

"Well," he said, "I think I'll head back to our room. I'll need a shower and maybe some rest before the big event."

He didn't look at her as he headed toward the stairs.

"Did the Prime Minister give you any interesting information on nearby systems?" she asked Archer.

"A bit. I didn't take notes. . ."

Archer continued on and she focused on the information he gave her, putting Trip out of her thoughts for the moment.