Passion Fruit

Author: DebC

E-mail: debchilson@yahoo.com

Feedback: yes, please

Rating: PG-13

Codes: A/T'Pol

Keywords: Archer/T'Pol, post-ep for "Fallen Hero"

Summary: There has to be another reason T'Pol's been thinking about humans and "mating"

Archiving: Since I don't know where the archives are, please ask me first.

Disclaimers: Enterprise belongs not to me, but to Star Trek and Paramount. I created nothing... wrote nothing (except this), and am getting paid nothing for this story.

Author's Notes: A really special thanks to JJ for helping me with the Trip/T'Pol scene. It needed her TripMuse's special touch. ;-)

"Passion Fruit"



T'Pol was silent at dinner... more so than usual. She found herself watching the two men in her company, studying them closely--the way they ate, their movements when they reached for something, the expressions on their faces as they enjoyed their meals. Until recently, she wouldn't have ever admitted it, but these things fascinated her. She wondered what it would be like to experience such enjoyment, and to allow others to see her experiencing it.

The thought had never crossed her mind in all her years, but that was before she'd spoken to Ambassador V'Lar and had seen her enjoying those things. It was very un-Vulcan of the ambassador, but T'Pol had to admit one thing: she'd sensed happiness and peace in the older Vulcan woman, a true serenity of the soul that could only come from not being in conflict with herself.

Like T'Pol was now.

Yes, T'Pol the Vulcan was in conflict with herself. Outwardly, she was the very epitome of a Vulcan, cool and logical. Inwardly, she could feel the changes taking place with her... changes brought about by such close quarters with the humans. Sometimes, she caught her emotions betraying her, flooding to the surface for anyone to see if they'd known what to look for.

T'Pol was thankful that her human companions did not.

*~*~*~*

T'Pol was meditating when the chime sounded, announcing someone outside the door to her quarters. "You may enter," she said after a fashion. She was surprised when the captain entered.

"Captain," she acknowledged him, rising out of a lotus position on the floor. "I was finishing my meditations and preparing for bed."

"I know, and I'm sorry," Jonathan Archer apologized. "I just want to see if you were okay. You didn't seem like yourself at dinner."

An eyebrow arched on her brow. "How do you mean?"

"You were... kind of quiet..." Archer stumbled under the weight of her gaze. "And you barely touched your plomeek soup." He grinned. "Not that I blame you. The stuff does *not* look appetizing."

"It isn't meant to be appetizing," T'Pol admonished evenly. Inwardly, she was shaken. He'd known she was distracted, just had he'd known she was upset over the ambassador's behavior while she was on board. T'Pol'd thought maybe he'd been guessing... that he couldn't really past her stoic façade. It turned out he hadn't been guessing.

"Lemme guess. It's meant to be nourishing."

"That is the logical function of food, captain," T'Pol replied. "But I'm sure you did not come here to discuss food."

"No, I didn't," Jonathan admitted. "I was worried about you. You haven't been yourself since Ambassador V'Lar's visit, and maybe no one else has noticed it, but I did."

"I am fine, captain. The ambassador's visit has given me much to think about, but I'm sure it hasn't effected my work. Has it?" Her voice was mildly challenging, and for a reason unknown to her, her pulse had begun to quicken illogically.

"No, not at all," came with reply, coupled with a slightly smile. He reached out, placing a hand on the Vulcan's shoulder. "I just thought you should know, if you ever need someone to share those thoughts with, I'm always here."

T'Pol could still feel his hand on her arm even after he left the room, and that distressed her even more.

She tried to shrug it off, tried to ignore the emotion that had swelled up in her mind when Jonathan Archer had touched her, but she found she could not. It was not mere concern for a crewmember that she'd received from him when they'd connected. She feared it even beyond a matter of caring, as well.

But what she feared most of all that this emotion felt comfortable to her... almost as if she reciprocated it in some way.

*~*~*~*

::We're not devoid of emotions,:: Ambassador V'Lar's voice echoed softly in the back of T'Pol's mind. ::We just hide them better.:: The words reverberated, waking the Vulcan from an already fitful sleep. She'd been dreaming... but the dreams had been illogical. In them, she'd gone to her captain's quarters and...

*Her* captain's quarters? The thought halted T'Pol as she rose from her bunk. It was illogical to think of the captain as her own, ad yet she had. "Curious," said aloud, pushing the rest of the thought--and the dream-- from her mind.

However, as she soon discovered, they did not stay gone.

They emerged again once she was on the bridge with the rest of the crew. She tried to fight them, but every time she looked in Archer's directions, the foreign thoughts reemerged. T'Pol was determined to keep these things to herself. What would the crew say? She could imagine how certain people- -Trip, for example--might react at discovering their Vulcan science officer was having... illogical feelings... for their captain. The more she thought about it, the more it began to bother her, although she'd never let it known to anyone. Behind a stoic mask, she hide these thoughts, but could not be rid of them. She could almost hear Trip's cutting remarks about the "fall of the mighty Vulcan logic" ringing in her ears.

Paranoia consumed the usually reserved Vulcan.

*~*~*~*

"You Vulcans really think you know everything, don't you?" Trip countered.

T'Pol blinked. "I am merely stating a fact. Humans have yet to fully earn the trust of the High Council."

"Give a little, get a little," came the Commander's retort.

The smug expression on his face was grating, and his accusation hurt a little too much. Without thinking, she said the first thing that came to mind. "Are you suggesting that Vulcans should imitate *your* childish behavior?"

"Now listen here, Miss High 'n Mighty--" the engineer fumed.

"I rest my case," T'Pol interrupted his tirade.

"Why you pompous, high fallutin', self-righteous--"

"Trip! T'Pol!" Jonathan Archer shouted, bringing the two officers to swift silence.

"I'm sorry, Jon," Trip said, "but she started it. All I said was--"

"I know what you said, Trip, and it was uncalled for," Archer countered before leveling his gaze on his science officer. "*All* of it was uncalled for," he added for her benefit.

T'Pol clamped her mouth shut, causing it to form a thin line across her face. She had disgraced herself... over something that should *not* have bothered her. Commander Tucker had made one flippant comment about Vulcans, with all the contempt he usually reserved for them, and instead of ignoring it as she usually did, she had responded with surprising venom.

"Permission to leave the bridge, Captain," she asked, finally gathering the courage to make eye contact.

"Permission granted, Sub-Commander." Archer acquiesced. "You, too, Trip," he added. "I think you *both* need to cool down."

"You're taking *her* side!?" Trip accused.

"I'm not taking sides, Trip, and I'm not discussing this in front of the others. Just go to your quarters and cool down, okay?"

Trip agreed, but left mumbling under his breath.

*~*~*~*

T'Pol hadn't been in her quarters more than an hour when the chime sounded. She'd been trying to meditate, but her jumbled emotions couldn't be dissuaded. She wondered if she was falling ill.

"Come in," she called out, and a porter from the galley entered, pushing a cart. A pitcher of iced tea and two glasses were atop the cart. Captain Archer was standing just outside the door, an amused expression on his face. After the porter left, he entered.

"I thought you didn't like our iced tea?" he asked.

T'Pol didn't miss a beat. "Ambassador V'Lar recommended I try it this way. She rather liked it."

"Passion fruit?" Archer inquired, pouring them each a glass. T'Pol nodded. "And you're willing to try it if your childhood hero recommends it?"

The words "Vulcans don't have childhood heroes" sprang into T'Pol's mind, but she did not say them. Instead she nodded slowly, taking the glass which he held out to her. "She said the flavor suited..." She stopped herself suddenly, unable to repeat V'Lar's words about the captain in his presence.

"Suited what?" he asked curiously, unaware of the turmoil she was in.

"The fruit," T'Pol covered quickly, although a little too quickly, as her response caused Archer's eyes to narrow.

"Are you sure you're okay, T'Pol? That little outburst took everyone by surprise today, and..." here he chuckled lightly "although it *was* entertaining to see you and Trip lock horns, it's also alarming because I know this isn't like you to be so out of control."

T'Pol looked at him and then looked away as she gathered her thoughts carefully. "I've been... conflicted," she said at least.

"Conflicted? How do you mean?"

T'Pol set her glass down, the tea untasted. "I've been experiencing emotions that are strange to me," she admitted.

"I thought Vulcans didn't have emotions," Archer challenged lightly.

"That is untrue," T'Pol said, mentally noting how close this was coming to her own conversation with V'Lar. "We merely hide them better... even from ourselves."

"And you're having trouble hiding these emotions from yourself? Is that what all this is about?" he asked. She nodded. "Can you tell me about them?" he asked gently.

His voice was soft, his face kind and warm. T'Pol found herself yearning to trust him. "They are... about you," she admitted at last and waited for his reaction.

"Me?" Archer studied her closely. "The bond V'Lar said she sensed between us?" he asked.

T'Pol closed her eyes, feeling a swell of emotion from him as well. She couldn't place a name on it, but she knew that his heart rate had increased in time with her own racing pulse. "Yes... but also more. I was able to keep it in check until last night."

"What happened last night?" Archer asked uneasily.

"When you touched me..." T'Pol said hesitantly. She didn't want to reveal too much about herself or about Vulcan's but at this juncture, it was unavoidable. "I felt something from you... something that suggests you might... have similar feelings."

"You *felt* that from my touch? What are you, telepathic or something?" T'Pol nodded. "And you didn't tell me?"

"It hardly seemed important at the time. You already knew that even slight physical contact, such as a handshake, was against Vulcan protocol. I didn't think it would ever become an issue," she explained, feeling as if this had been a waste of time. Her unease was not lessening and she'd just revealed her deepest secrets to a man who quite possibly would never trust her again.

To further her unease, the captain remained silent for several minutes, eyes roaming around the room, but never touching on her at all. She knew he was digesting what she'd just told him.

"I think I understand," he said at last.

"You do?" Her eyebrow shot up.

Archer nodded. "Yours is a very private people, I've come to accept that," he said. "And I can see where all of this must be very frustrating for you. Not being sure of what to do about it and all."

"Yes," T'Pol agreed.

"So, what *do* we do about it?" he asked, throwing her for a loop.

"What do you mean?" she asked.

"In my culture, if two people have feelings for each other--strong ones like these--they don't just let them sit there and wither," Archer explained.

"You're admitting that you return these... emotions?" she asked, stunned and a little unsure.

"You don't want me to deny them, do you? That would hardly seem fair to either of us."

"I... I am unsure... I hadn't thought..." T'Pol stammered in a very un- Vulcan-like fashion. Before she could regain her composure, Jonathan closed the distance between them and took her in his arms. He kissed her then, a deep kiss filled with emotion and longing. On his lips, she could taste the tea he'd been drinking, the sweetness of the passion fruit blending with the earthy taste of the tea in a surprisingly pleasing way. Before abandoning herself totally for the first time in her long Vulcan life, T'Pol had to admit that V'Lar had been right: the drink suited her captain perfectly. It was, in fact, exactly like him--sweet and flavorful, yet tempered with sensibility and strength of character.

And entirely enjoyable.