= Part II =
The small group of people, which to Charles' amazement consisted of three different species, entered the living room, where Martin Garret was waiting.
"Can I get you some drinks?" Cathryn asked their visitors.
"Water will suffice," Soval answered and Charles got the distinct impression that, while the Vulcan didn't really need any, he seemed to want to give her something to do. Somehow the Vulcan ambassador in his living room didn't quite match the image of the ice-cool, unflappable person he'd seen on TV dozens of times over the past decades.
"The same for me, please," doctor Phlox added.
"Take a seat y'all," Charles invited and as soon as all were seated, he immediately addressed Soval: "Ambassador, can you tell me, what's happening to our son? He came home lookin' like death on two legs, fell apart like I've never seen before and the only thing he said was, that he'd be going to have nightmares and begged us, not to wake him up. Shortly after that he started screamin' and tossin' like he was fighting for his very life," he explained in an animated fashion. "My wife and me are scared witless. We lost a child just over a year ago; losing another one would kill us …"
"Mr. Tucker," Soval politely interrupted, sensing that the human was approaching another emotional outbreak. "I can not explain Commander Tucker's omission of basic information, but fortunately he was able to provide the most important information of all. Waking him could have been extremely dangerous to him and most likely T'Pol as well."
"T'Pol?" Cathryn asked as she served glasses of water. "How can she be affected, she's not even here?"
"What do you know about the relationship between Commander Tucker and T'Pol?" Soval asked, while Charles put his arm around his wife's shoulders, when she took a seat beside him.
"Well, we've suspected that they've got a lot more going on than just bein' colleagues," Charles explained. "I probably wouldn't find a single transmission of Trip without T'Pol being mentioned at least twice. But we never expected that they've gotten as far as to have children. We didn't even expect that to be possible."
"Doctor Phlox can probably explain the situation much better than I," Soval nodded, turning to Phlox for an answer.
"Commander Tucker and Commander T'Pol are what humans call an engaged couple," Phlox explained and Charles' surprise was not very big. Trips countless transmissions had left little to be guessed about whom he had lost his heart to. "The information, I'm about to give you will be very difficult to cope with, but you need to know the truth."
Charles felt, how Cathryn started clinging to him a bit more in anxiety.
"The baby girl was not the result of a natural coupling. She was cloned from tissue samples that were stolen from my medical facility."
Charles heard Cathryn gasp in horror. "So, you're saying that someone stole samples of Trip and T'Pol to clone a child? That doesn't make the least bit of sense."
"She was created in a despicable attempt to show that Vulcans and Humans could not and should not combine," Phlox explained further.
"A child, no matter how it came into life, is hardly a dangerous prospect?" Garret asked. "If anything it would have been an encouragement. If she hadn't died, this whole attempt would have failed."
Seeing that Cathryn lost her fight with tears again, Charles gently rubbed her arm to console her.
"That, Mr. Garret is the most barbaric part of the crime," Phlox answered with a sigh. "It was inevitable that she died. When she was cloned, her creators manufactured a deliberate genetic defect to make sure that she would never survive infancy."
A primal rage boiled up inside Charles as his vision was blurred by tears. Shaking from the lethal anger that ravaged his soul he pressed. "Reverend, would you take care of Cat, please, I need to..." and as soon as the priest had put a soothing arm around Charles' wife, he ran out of the room.
X X X
Sovals nostrils were flaring as he found it increasingly difficult to keep his mind shielded from the sheer amount of raw, powerful emotions that the humans were radiating. Even Dr. Phlox seemed to be very close to being overwhelmed, reminding Soval that it was the Denobulan, who had fought desperately, but ultimately unsuccessfully, to save the life of the infant.
Closing his eyes, he slipped into a shallow meditation to re-establish his equilibrium, but he was violently ripped out of it by loud crashing noises coming from outside – at least loud to a Vulcans hearing. He doubted that the humans would even register it.
"I shall look after Mr. Tucker," he announced and acknowledged the grateful nod of the human priest.
Following the noise, he walked out into the backyard were he was greeted by a disturbing sight of pure destruction. Several ornamental items had been pushed over and some even destroyed. As he neared a small building, he saw that its wooden doors had been battered in. Inside he found Mr. Tucker, wielding an ax, wildly battering wooden shelves and closets that lined the walls of what appeared to be a workshop of some kind.
"Mr. Tucker?" Soval asked loud enough to get the attention of the raging human. He watched on as the human forcefully threw the ax to the ground turning to Soval. Even the disciplined Vulcan couldn't suppress a momentary flash of shock about the human's appearance. His face could only be described as a pained grimace of pure rage, while sweat mixing with a seemingly infinite stream of tears added to the almost frighteningly disheveled appearance of Mr. Tucker's face. But the most disturbing sight was the uncontrollable shaking of a human very short of being overwhelmed by blind rage.
"Those, shitheads! They don' fuckin' know how t'is to lose a child. Dammit, what sorta sick motherfucker do ya hav'ta be to make a child only to kill it?"
Soval tried hard to make sense of the humans almost undecipherable dialect, surmising that, as it was with Commander Tucker, his parent fell back on his regional dialect in a heightened emotional state.
"I do not have an answer for that Mr. Tucker. I do not know if there is one at all," Soval answered calmly, hoping to achieve a calming influence on the human, who was still shaking from raw emotions.
"What was it, they wan'ed? Ah, yeah, get rid of all aliens!" Charles spat sarcastically, before answering the question immediately. "Gimme a room full of aliens over just one of these assholes any time."
"In that regard, we are in full agreement, Mr. Tucker, if not, maybe, in the choice of words."
"Sorry, 'bout my language Ambassador," Charles answered and with satisfaction Soval saw that, however unusual Mr. Tuckers method of dealing with his emotions had been, the human seemed to find a state of relative calm again. "I'm usually not so ripe and Cat will rip me a good one if she ever gets to know about it."
"I understand," Soval answered. "And I shall make sure that your wife will not learn of your inappropriate language."
Soval did not show his confusion about the humans wish that his wife would not learn of the use of vulgar language, while he did not seem to be concerned about the fact that he had destructed a sizable part of their residence.
"They will give Trip and T'Pol a hard time, won't they?"
"It is a danger that can not be discounted," Soval replied honestly. "But fortunately the perpetrators of this unspeakable outrage are a minority."
"Just one of them tries anything," Charles growled and Soval was slightly taken aback by the menace in the human's voice.
"I'm a religious man, Ambassador, but there are situations, where 'turn the other cheek' is mighty impractical."
"Be assured, Mr. Tucker. Both Earth and Vulcan will ensure the safety of all involved. Do you feel calm enough to return?"
"Think, so," Charles sighed. "Thank you, Ambassador."
X X X
"You ok?" Cathryn asked, when she saw the Vulcan Ambassador return with her husband in tow.
"I'm ok, Cat," he answered taking a seat and his wife's hand.
"Now that we know what happened to the kids," Cathryn asked in Soval's direction. "Can you tell us, why it affects Trip so violently? Somehow I get the feeling it has to do with T'Pol being a Vulcan; no offense meant, Ambassador."
"There is no offense, where none is taken. Indeed you are correct. T'Pol's Vulcan physiology does play a part in the situation."
"As far as I understand human practices, the act of becoming engaged is a mutual promise to marry. Is that correct?" Soval continued after giving the humans a few seconds to digest his answer.
"Yes, something like that," Cathryn answered with an affirmative nod.
"For Vulcans this step carries more complex consequences. Engagement as such does not exist in Vulcan culture as future mates are betrothed in early childhood. After their marriage, in rare cases even before, they form a telepathic bond, which unites them for life."
"What is this… bond? Have Trip and T'Pol formed such a thing?" Charles asked.
"It is a connection of their minds. Bond mates can share images, thoughts, emotions and can always sense each others presence in their minds. And, yes, it appears that Commander Tucker and T'Pol have bonded."
"If it is telepathic," Cathryn noted. "How can Trip be part of it? Humans aren't telepathic."
Phlox answered her question: "The majority of humans do not possess any telepathic abilities, but there have been rare, but confirmed cases of humans with latent telepathic abilities. This trait is a most rare inheritable talent."
"Maybe it's you Cathryn," Garret offered.
"Me?" she asked back in surprise.
"Charles always says you see right through him, if he's not telling the truth and you were worried about Ingrid Hanson weeks before she was diagnosed with depression. You suspected Chuck Turner's drinking problem, when the whole neighborhood hadn't noticed a single thing yet. Couldn't it be that you have such a latent ability and passed it on to your son?"
"What you describe, would most certainly hint at such ability," Phlox agreed.
"That's all nice 'n well," Charles interrupted, turning his attention back to Soval. "But with all respect to Vulcan culture, if this bond has such grave consequences as it seems to have for them at the moment, I can't help but wonder if it is such a good idea to have a human be a part of it?"
"Pops, who are we to decide, whom Trip falls in love with," Cathryn whispered with a hint of upset.
Before Charles could reply, Soval politely raised his hand to stop him.
"Mr. Tucker's concerns are warranted," he agreed. "However, the current crisis is the result of many unusual and unfortunate factors occurring together. What we are currently experiencing is, what humans refer to as the 'worst possible case'."
"So, if heaven forbids, something bad would happen again, they wouldn't have these problems?" Cathryn asked, her worries stirred by Sovals agreement with her husbands concerns.
"Unless it were to happen within a very short period of time from now, you can rest assured that nothing of the sort will repeat."
"So, why is it so bad now?" Charles inquired.
"The first factor is the fact that the bond between them is still forming," Soval explained. "It takes approximately a year for a bond to reach its full strength. A second factor is the separation of T'Pol and Commander Tucker."
"So why didn't anyone tell him to bring her with him?" Cathryn asked, slightly irritated.
"The decision to separate was one that was made out of necessity, caused by the third major contributing factor. Commander Tucker is not yet able to perform the meditation techniques, needed to reestablish T'Pol's emotional equilibrium and neither is he able to shield his mind yet, so his freely radiating emotions would threaten the control of all Vulcans in the vicinity, therefore threatening the ability of the priests in the sanctuary, who are currently trying to stabilize T'Pol in Commander Tucker's place."
"So you decided to send him away," Cathryn spat, in growing irritation.
"Not at all, Mrs. Tucker," Soval explained, trying to calm her. "T'Pol was willing to take the risk, but Commander Tucker insisted on separating. He chose to increase his own burden to avoid any risks for T'Pol's recovery."
"That's a no-win scenario," Charles muttered. "If he stays with her, she's in danger, if he stays away, he's in danger. Now I understand what you meant with worst-case scenario."
"Indeed," Soval agreed. "I do hope that you understand what immense sacrifice Commander Tucker has made. He made this decision in the knowledge that being among his family would give him the strength to overcome the challenging crisis."
"Thank you," Charles answered, moved by Sovals words.
"When can you bring T'Pol here?" Cathryn asked. "By what I understand, the separation cannot be any good for her either."
"Once T'Pol's emotional control has been stabilized sufficiently, an end of their separation would be the first and foremost priority," Soval explained. "Unless such has been achieved, however, her presence would pose a danger."
"Why's that?" Charles asked.
"Your earlier outburst Mr. Tucker was not unlike what would happen to a Vulcan, whose control has been overwhelmed by emotions. Unlike you, however, no tool would be necessary to achieve the same… carnage and a Vulcan would be unable to differentiate between inanimate objects and living beings."
"Good lord," Charles muttered wide-eyed.
"What carnage?" Cathryn asked.
"Cat, you better don't go to the backyard until I had time to clean up," Charles admitted with a chagrined face expression.
Cathryn immediately understood. On more than one occasion, Charles had broken things in desperation and overwhelming grief after the death of their daughter. She had never understood that the same man, who categorically refused to raise the hand against any living being, could lash out at inanimate objects with such force. Even if she should have latent telepathic abilities, this fact was something that would always elude her understanding.
"How can you be sure, that Trip will learn all this mental stuff that's necessary to prevent such problems in the future?" Charles asked, returning to the previous conversation.
"The fact that Commander Tucker has been able to bond with T'Pol is proof of that. I find it hard to provide a detailed explanation."
"Maybe, I can help," Phlox interrupted. "I think there is a human saying 'Before you can run, you first have to learn, how to walk'."
Both Cathryn and Charles nodded.
"The fact that he was able to form a bond with T'Pol and the fact that he was able to reach a state of trance without ever having been instructed in the procedure, proves that Mr. Tucker most certainly knows, how to run. So it should not be any problem to learn to walk, even if he 'put the cart before the horse', so to speak."
"Now, that makes sense," Charles replied with a nod before he was interrupted by a beep coming from Soval's robe.
"Excuse me," the Vulcan said and took out a small communicator, exchanging a few words in Vulcan, while the humans watched in suspense and Charles could have sworn, he had heard the Vulcan sigh. Closing the device, Soval addressed them: "The immediate danger to T'Pol has been averted, she has recovered a basic if still fragile control over her emotions."
Charles and Cathryn fell into each others arms, tears flowing for joy for the first time, since this nightmare had started and even Phlox couldn't help but letting a single tear of relief fall.
X X X
Martin Garret closed his eyes and fervently expressed his gratitude to the Lord. The Tuckers had only lived here for about two years, but having counseled them through much of their grieving for their daughter, they had grown to be not only a part of the community, but almost a part of his extended family.
"Doctor," Soval instructed. "With T'Pol awake, Commander Tucker will soon come to as well. It will be necessary to monitor him closely."
"On my way," the rotund alien replied and Garret wondered how such a substantially built individual could possibly speed off so quickly.
Seeing the Tuckers still embracing each other in relief, he could not help but smile and sent another 'Hail Mary' heavenwards. He turned his attention to the Vulcan ambassador, who approached him.
"Mr. Garrett, now that the immediate danger has been averted from T'Pol, it will soon be time to start dealing with Commander Tucker's grief, as well. I trust that you will continue supporting him and his parents?"
"Of course, Ambassador," he promised, while the Tucker parents joined them.
"Ambassador, can you bring T'Pol here?" Cathryn asked. "I don't think we should waste any time, now that the worst has been overcome."
"Of course," Soval agreed. "I shall return as soon as possible."
Returning the Ambassadors nod, Martin looked on as the Vulcan left, accompanied to the door by Cathryn Tucker.
"I can't tell you, how much it means to us, to have you with us," Charles said and Martin took his offered hand.
"There's no other place, where I would be in trying times like these," he replied.
"We'll see you at the mass tomorrow," Charles answered in gratitude, while escorting the priest to the door.
X X X
Slowly Trip opened his eyes, trying to get a bearing on where, when or how he was. As his eyes got used to the light, he recognized a familiar face.
"Phlox?" he asked, surprised by how weak his own voice sounded.
"Welcome back, Commander, please do not move."
"Where am I; why are you here? Last thing I remember was being at my folks place."
"You still are, you just awoke from a healing trance," the doctor explained as Trip winced from the stings that were cause by IV needles being pulled out of his arm. "Ah… yeah, right, Soval mentioned it. But why do I feel like I've just done a marathon?"
"Oh, that's not surprising," Phlox replied in his trademark upbeat voice. "While your body has been lying in trance, your mind has worked overtime for almost 24 hours."
"Right, I was in T'Pol's... Dammit! T'Pol! I need to...," Trip muttered and tried to jump out of the bed. His own exhaustion and a gentle push of Phlox caused him to crash back on it.
"T'Pol is well under the circumstances," Phlox explained. "Soval is underway to see her. You, however, need to sleep or you will not be of any help to her."
"Is she really ok?" Trip asked back.
"She is, Mr. Tucker. Of course the term is relative, but the most dangerous phase has been overcome. You can trust me. But now you must let me give you this sedative. You need uninterrupted sleep, urgently and for obvious reasons neuropressure as an option is unavailable at the moment."
"I don't want to be drugged," Trip refused. "What if she needs me again?"
"You should listen to the doc, son," Charles added, entering the room. "Soval has explained a lot to your mom and me and he's bringing T'Pol here, so you should let Dr. Phlox do his job. You hadn't had any real sleep for a long time. How d'ya wanna help her if you're a basket case?"
"Ok, do your thing, doc," Trip sighed, surrendering to the logic of his father and a weak but visible smile graced his face, when he heard about T'Pol's imminent arrival.
Mere seconds after Phlox's injection he fell into a deep sleep.
X X X
"What's that?" Cathryn asked as Charles put down a small device on the table after he had bidden a grateful farewell to Phlox.
"The doc just gave it to me. It's a communicator, so we can call him, if anything's up with the kids."
"Funny, how we still call them 'kids'," Cathryn shook her head with a smile. "From what I've learned about Vulcans, T'Pol could be our age."
"I should've known, momma," Charles replied, now smiling himself. "The moment you knew that Trip has fallen in love with her, you probably started studying Vulcanology. So you've got at least a year of head start on me. What do I need to know?"
"They don't like to be touched, so no hugging or handshaking," Cathryn started to list the basic 'Vulcan 101'. "They need privacy, so we shouldn't ask her too many personal questions and they're strict Vegetarians. That's the most important things."
"Guess we'll be eating a lot of weeds then," Charles answered and Cathryn could hear the undertone of displeasure in his voice.
"Don't worry pops, you won't have to become a vegetarian. But you shouldn't expect a steak for each meal."
"I know," Charles sighed, before shaking his head. "I'm an idiot. The kids are havin' a hard time and I worry about my meals. I'm sorry, Cat."
"No, you're no idiot," Cathryn refused, putting her arms around her husband. "You're just as confused as me. It's been a tough few days and we'll need time to deal with all this."
"Thanks, dear," he smiled back at her.
The moment was interrupted by the door bell.
X X X
Charles and Cathryn fought hard not to gasp in shock, when they opened the door. Two hooded figures stood before the door. The Ambassador was now a familiar sight, but the haggard appearance of T'Pol was almost disturbing. They knew her face from the few pictures that Trip had sent in his transmissions over the years, but the flawless beauty of the young Vulcan had given way to an unmistakable expression of misery.
"Please come in," Cathryn invited them.
"I shall leave T'Pol in your care," Soval explained and handed Charles a small PADD. "These communication codes allow you to contact me, once Commander Tucker is sufficiently rested. It will become necessary for me to instruct both T'Pol and your son in essential techniques of meditation."
"Thank you for all you've done for us, Ambassador," Charles answered and managed to fight the reflex of offering a grateful handshake to the Vulcan.
Soval nodded and left the house.
"Welcome to our home, T'Pol," Cathryn offered in a gentle voice, once the ambassador had left.
"I am grateful for your hospitality."
Charles fought a pitying head shake, when he heard the weak voice of their guest, which stood in stark contrast to the strength and energy in Sovals voice. If nothing else, this contrast reminded him that they were dealing with a Vulcan in severe distress.
"Do you need anything?" Cathryn asked, as she took the hooded coat from T'Pol. Noticing the skinny stature of T'Pol she added: "Maybe something to eat?"
"No, thank you," T'Pol refused. "I do not wish to eat at the moment. May I see Trip?"
"Of course," Cathryn answered and motioned her to follow. "Phlox has given him a sedative, so he's sleeping now. May be you want to lay down, too?"
T'Pol nodded her agreement and followed her up the stairs.
"She looks like hell," Charles said, when Cathryn returned to the dining room.
"She's been through a lot and I have a hunch they've still got something coming their way," his wife answered with a sad head shake.
X X X
T'Pol slowly opened her eyes after what was the first night of peaceful sleep since the funeral. Listening to the calming rhythm of Trip's steady breathing, she snuggled back up to him for a moment. A look at the chronometer told her that she had been sleeping for almost 10 hours, far more than her usual 4 hours aboard Enterprise.
Slowly and as carefully as possible, she disentangled herself from her sleeping mate, collected her toiletries from her duffel and left to find the bathroom, which Trips mother had given directions to the day before.
After her morning hygiene and another caring check on her sleeping companion, she slowly descended the creaking stairs and walked into the kitchen, but she found no one. Looking around, she noticed the open terrace door and walked outside, where she saw Charles Tucker work in a shed that gave the impression of having been the site of substantial violence.
"Good morning," she greeted and wondered, if she had startled the human, as he swung round hastily.
"Mornin'," the man answered and T'Pol, seeing his gentle smile, noticed that she would probably never understand the human ability to show positive emotions even in times of grief.
"Where you attacked?" T'Pol asked, seeing the destruction and worrying, whether Terra Prime might have chosen to retaliate against Trip's family.
"What? Err, no... actually that... that was me," the human confessed and T'Pol noticed the signs of discomfort on the elders face, which matched those of Trip almost exactly. "When Soval told us about..."
"About Elizabeth," T'Pol finished, suspecting that the human was reluctant to mention their daughter for her sake.
"Yes," Charles continued. "When he told us how and why she was created, I... sort of lost it."
"Much like a Vulcan," T'Pol muttered, but didn't count on the acute hearing of Trips father.
"Ya, Soval told us," he answered and motioned her to sit on a wooden bench that had somehow escaped destruction.
Sitting down and facing the human, she waited to hear the inevitable inquiries into her well-being. Normally as a Vulcan, she would have to dismiss such sentiments as irrelevant, but she had long since accepted this as a normal part of human behavior and it was logical to partake in this pattern as she was dealing with the human part of her family.
"So, how are ya holding up?" Charles asked.
"It is still... taxing," T'Pol answered carefully. "I have overcome the most dangerous phase of mourning, but I'm nowhere near full control. However, I'm more concerned about Trip. He has been delaying to deal with his own grief for my sake. He is facing a very difficult time."
"I can imagine," Charles commiserated. "But he has you here, now. Soval told us, how important it is for you two being together. That's why we immediately asked him to bring you, when we heard you were out of the woods."
"And I am grateful for that and your hospitality. However, I do not know, how to assist Trip in the mourning process. I doubt that I will be able to provide more than simple gestures of support."
"That's all it takes, T'Pol," the elder explained. "Soval said, Vulcans grieve by meditation."
"Unfortunately that's not so easy for us. We have to deal with the grief by other means – praying, crying a lot, talking. That's the only way to overcome it. And it works best if we have a dear one, who holds us, when we're down. "
"I hope that I can render this assistance adequately," T'Pol answered.
"Don't worry, you'll do fine," Charles answered with an encouraging smile.
"Thank you," T'Pol nodded in gratitude.
"Have you eaten something?" Charles asked.
T'Pol shook her head slightly. "Vulcans can go for days without food."
"No offense, T'Pol, but you look like you've already gone several days without," Charles replied gently. "I know it is hard to eat, when you got no appetite; God knows how often Cat and I had to force ourselves to eat anything after that dang attack on Florida. At least try a little salad. Come, I'll fix something for you."
T'Pol nodded wordlessly and followed the human without further attempts to convince him otherwise. Not only would her refusal of his hospitality probably be considered an offense – she also knew, that her host was essentially right. She hadn't eaten anything in days.
X X X
Cathryn opened the front door carefully, not knowing that such precaution was unnecessary, as both their guests were already awake. Laden with fresh vegetables and fruit out of farmer Higgins' latest greenhouse harvest, she entered the house, just as Trip shuffled down the stairs.
He wordlessly took the heavy bags from her and gave her a small kiss on the cheek. "Mornin', mom."
"Morning, Trip. You ok?" she asked in a low voice.
"Don't really know," Trip sighed. "Sorry for leaving you and dad hangin' the other day. I just couldn't..."
"It's ok, honey," Cathryn answered, putting her hand on the small of his back, while they made their way to the kitchen. "Soval explained everything."
As they came into the kitchen, they saw T'Pol slowly eating a salad, while Charles poured her tea.
"Ah, there you are, son," Charles greeted them. "What's it gonna be for you? Eggs? Sandwich?"
"Thanx, dad, I'll just have some of the salad."
Cathryn watched the scene with interest and while Charles was clearly poaching in her area of expertise, she knew better than to take over. She knew how much the distraction helped her husband of many years to get over his own grief for the granddaughter they had never had the chance to meet.
Both Tucker parents tried to look elsewhere, as the young couple reunited after days of separation. Although its wasn't a tear-jerking melodramatic scene, but more of a gentle, but sparse exchange of touches, both felt it was better to give them privacy, rather than watching.
"Help me with the veggies, pop?" Cathryn asked, giving both of them an excuse to leave the premises, as they made their way to the basement to put all the new food into the stasis unit.
"Cat, I know Vulcans aren't big on touching," Charles whispered as they filled the stasis unit. "But wasn't that a bit reserved, considering they've not seen each other for days? It's not like we're some strangers."
"Don't worry," Cathryn explained. "She only met us yesterday. Her head may tell her that we're family, but she'll need some time to get used to us."
X X X
It was early evening, when the Tucker parents returned from church. Both faces showed faint traces of dried tears.
"T'was a beautiful sermon," Charles sighed.
"Sure was," Cathryn answered and squeezed his hand.
When they entered the house, they heard unmistakable sounds of work being done in the wrecked backyard. Both walked out on the porch and couldn't quite believe their eyes. Trip and T'Pol, both wearing one of his old overalls were working to reconstruct the workshop.
T'Pol was hauling big logs around as if they were toothpicks, sawing them into accurately measured planks, while Trip took them and nailed or bolted them into place to reconstruct, what had until recently been Charles' workshop. Many of the perched little statues had been corrected as well and by the looks of things, after another day, there would be almost no traces of Charles' rage.
When both had noticed the return of their hosts, T'Pol switched off the saw and both walked over.
"What y're doing, kids?" Charles asked, feeling guilty that someone else was cleaning up the aftermath of his battering spree. "You didn't come here to clean up my mess."
"Don't worry, dad," Trip answered. "We both needed a bit of a distraction. We're just not ready yet to sit and do nothing."
Charles shook his head, still feeling guilty.
"You planning a campfire?" Cathryn asked, pointing at the stacked remnants of smashed boards and doors.
Trip nodded. "T'Pol's gonna need a flame to meditate. A candle would have done the trick, but it'll help her stay warm. As mild as the winter is this year, for a Vulcan it's still freezin' cold."
Cathryn mustered the two young people and it became apparent that both of them had lost weight. A copious meal was in order.
X X X
Charles peeked out of the window in one of his regular check on the two grieving people, who sat in his backyard. T'Pol sat ramrod straight, her legs folded in a sort of Indian-style position, while Trip sat behind her, his legs folded around her, his arms slung around her waist, both their heads resting cheek-to-cheek. They had not moved for at least 3 hours and both Charles and Cathryn had regularly taken a checking look as none of the two seemed to pay much attention to the fire in front of them, in fact, neither had opened their eyes for the entire time.
The door bell announced the likely arrival of Soval, whom Charles had contacted as per instruction.
"Good evening, Ambassador," he offered, seeing the hooded Ambassador waiting in front of the door.
"Good evening, Mr. Tucker."
"The kids are in the backyard. Looks like some sort of meditation to me."
Soval raised a curious eyebrow, not sure why the human was referring to them by a term usually applied to small children. Following the human into the kitchen, he looked out of the window, as his host had indicated him to do.
"Remarkable," Soval muttered after observing them for a while. "Has any of them moved since they assumed this position?"
"Not for at least three hours," Charles explained. "We haven't watched them all the time, but whenever we checked on them, they've been sitting there like statues."
"Your son may be even more remarkable than I thought, Mr. Tucker."
Charles was moved by such praise coming from a Vulcan. "Do you think he's already starting to learn this mental stuff you told us about?"
"Indeed it appears as if he has managed to initiate basic meditation techniques. It is far from complete knowledge, but it may shorten the amount of needed instruction considerably."
"Maybe you could take a closer look. Cat and I didn't dare approach them, lest we disturb them, but I guess you know how to handle that?"
"I shall approach them," Soval explained with a nod and went outside, while Charles went to look after his wife.
X X X
Slowly, careful not to cause disturbing noise, Soval approached the couple and noticed the small, but steady stream of tears that ran down the humans face, a situation that was mirrored by T'Pol. While tears outside ones mind were by no means unheard of on Vulcan, it was nonetheless usually associated with Pan'ar or Bendii syndrome in terminal stages or acute emotional distress.
Slowly Soval sat down on the opposite side of the small fire, knowing that his mental presence would soon rouse T'Pol from her meditation. To his surprise it was Commander Tucker, who opened the eyes first.
Instinctively, the human tried to get into a less intimate position, assuming that his current posture might be scandalizing the Vulcan visitor, but Soval quickly put up his hands to assure the young man of his approval.
When T'Pol slowly opened her eyes, she immediately turned her face away after recognizing Soval. The Vulcan elder had expected such a reaction. Being seen in such condition was a very discomforting thought for any Vulcan.
"I do apologize," he heard her say in a faint, exhausted voice. Soval deduced, that while almost serene on the outside, both of them had obviously endured quite an animated, if not even violent encounter inside the confines of her mind, should the human have managed to enter it.
"There is nothing to apologize for, T'Pol-kan. Your control is far from fully restored and you have suffered an unspeakable loss. There is nothing shameful about your condition."
Soval observed, how the young woman did not answer, but instead he saw Commander Tucker fish a handkerchief from his pocket, tenderly starting to wipe her face clean of the stains that had been left by her tears. The wise elder was surprised by the intensity of pure affection that was clearly visible whenever the two charges of his exchanged glances. Despite all his discipline, he almost snorted, when he realized that T'Pol was concerned about her dignity in light of her emotional reaction, while not even noticing how intimate she acted in front of his eyes. He cast is eyes downward to give them the privacy of the moment.
Soval glanced back up as he was addressed by Commander Tucker: "I hope you're not offended. I suppose this posture isn't exactly in the meditation textbook."
"There is no meditation text book, Commander. Since your and T'Pol's situation is unique, it is logical to assume that so are the solutions you find for certain challenges. I assume that the physical contact made it easier for you to reach T'Pol's mind?"
"If you mean, ending up in that white space of hers, yeah," the human answered and Soval immediately noticed the horrified look on his face, seeing his worries of a less than soothing time inside T'Pol's mind confirmed.
"Did you experience visual representations of T'Pol's warring emotions again."
"Not only I," the commander answered, choking up as guilt, insecurity and fear conspired to challenge the his control. "And you can take the warring part literally."
"I apologize in advance, but I must ask you to recollect the events," Soval said in a calm voice. "It may enable us to mount an effective defense."
Soval watched on as the young man shakily started to explain the events.
X X X
Trip found himself in a trench, dug deep into the earth. Watching right he saw T'Pol, wearing an old fashioned Earth uniform, ducked into the trench beside him. Trip threw himself over her as an ear splitting whine announced an incoming large caliber shell. Mud, tatters of charred flesh and sharp shrapnel were thrown up all around, while the soldiers tried to crouch down as deep as possible.
Carefully he raised his head, when the horrible sounds had died down and Trip tried to get a bearing on what was happening. Both he and T'Pol were wearing uniforms that would put their adventure somewhere in the early 20th century. He noticed the ANZAC tag on T'Pol's uniform as well as the Australian accents spoken by soldiers all around.
"Shit, Gallipoli!" Trip swore under his breath, remembering that he had seen those uniforms in one of Malcolm's World War I epics.
Seeing the questioning eyebrow-lift of T'Pol: "One of the bloodiest battles of World War I. Half of them didn't make it back."
"FORWARD!" one of the leaders cried out and all soldiers jumped up, arms in firing position, and ran screaming into the direction of the enemy forces. Soldiers were sinking and falling to the ground left and right, mercilessly massacred by machine gun and artillery fire.
"DOWN!" Trip shouted, throwing himself to the ground, taking T'Pol with him. They both landed side-by-side with a thud as the nauseating ping of narrowly missing machine gun bullets could be heard.
The bodies of several fallen comrades buried them as still warm blood, oozing from the mutilated corpses of the fallen, soaked their uniforms and T'Pol tried to shake them off in terror.
"NO! STAY DOWN!" Trip screamed as T'Pol ran away in sheer terror. She barely managed two steps, before a machine gun salvo perforated her body and splatters of green blood hit his face and mixed with the red blood of several fallen comrades, that had soaked his uniform.
X X X
Before Soval could cross the short distance from his place on the fire to the opposite side, where a desperate, horrified T'Pol tried to calm down the hysterically crying Commander Tucker, he noticed the metallic shimmer of a transporter beam, as Doctor Phlox materialized right next to the terrorized pair. It was to be expected that the parents of the young man would be alarmed and call for Doctor Phlox's help.
"Let go of him, please," Phlox demanded, wielding a scanner, but Soval immediately knew that T'Pol was in no condition to be receptacle to reason.
"LET GO, NOW!" Phlox demanded, more forcefully.
Soval was alarmed, when T'Pol answered with an open facial display of aggression and an almost animalistic hiss as the only audible reaction, while hugging her heaving and sobbing mate closer to her body. With a swift movement, Soval jumped behind her back and watched her slump down after a precisely executed nerve-pinch.
Before he knew what hit him, Commander Tucker, blinded by sheer terror and disorientation had him by the neck, trying to choke him, but before he could do any serious harm, the human collapsed into a heap, revealing a determined Phlox, still holding the hypospray, which he had just injected it into the neck of the raging human.
Fairly undignified, Soval sunk to the ground, breathing heavily, while the two terrorized Tucker parents came running to the scene.
"Good lord," Cathryn lamented and watched the scene in complete shock.
X X X
"Are you alright," Phlox inquired and hovered his scanner over Soval after he had made sure that the grieving pair was out of danger, barring the sedation.
"I am uninjured, however I am most unsettled by the violent force of T'Pol's emotions. It now becomes clear, why she was so close to being overwhelmed."
"Well that looked quite overwhelmed to me," Charles muttered, still wearing a look of horror in his face.
"She was indeed close to 'losing it', as you would say, which forced me to take the drastic measure of incapacitating her."
"What in the name of all that's holy was Trip thinking, when he attacked you?" Cathryn asked. "I ask you to forgive him."
"There is nothing to ask forgiveness for, Mrs. Tucker. It was an instinctive reaction of a bond-mate. As I explained, my course of action was rather drastic and he assumed it to be an attack on his mate. His violent reaction was therefore to be expected."
"You are quite calm about this, doc," Charles remarked. "Doesn't it scare you?"
"I admit to being unsettled, but I can assure you it is by far not as disturbing as some of the more severe cases I had to deal with during my time on Vulcan as a member of the Interspecies Medical Exchange."
"So it happens among Vulcans, too?" Cathryn asked. "It has nothing to do with Trip being human?"
"Not entirely," Soval chimed in. "His human physiology has an influence on the situation, but it is by far not the main cause."
"So what happened?" she asked back. "They've been sitting peacefully for hours and suddenly they both lose it."
"What looked serene on the outside, was actually a very disturbing encounter. As I explained to you, your son and T'Pol are linked mentally, so they exchange emotions, images, thoughts. For T'Pol these emotions are abstract entities, however Commander Tuckers mind translates them to visual images that can be experienced and processed."
"Nightmares?" Charles asked.
"Indeed. When T'Pol struggled and fought with raw emotions, Commander Tuckers consciousness translated them to images of battle. In fact he found himself in the midst of one of Earths historic battles at the island of Gallipoli.
"Good grief," Cathryn muttered and shuddered at the thought of Trip finding himself in the middle of a horrifying bloodshed. "Can't anything be done about it?"
"It can. It must, even. I shall start instructing Commander Tucker in shielding techniques with all haste, but due to the gravity of the situation, we will have to 'cut some corners' as humans say."
"Why do I get the idea that this won't be awfully pleasant for you?" Charles asked in a mix of suspicion and worry.
"It may indeed prove uncomfortable to me and possibly T'Pol as well, but after the burden that your son took upon himself, it is only logical for us to extend the same courtesy now in his favor."
- tbc in part 3 -