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Aftermath

A | Author - Angel | Genre - Angst | Genre - Episode Addition | Main Story | Rating - PG
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Aftermath

By: Angela Koerkel

Rating: PG, very minor swearing
Genre: Angst
Disclaimer: I don’t Enterprise or any aspect of Star Trek. This is just for fun!
Synopsis: Actions have consequences.

/////////////////////////////////

Charles ‘Trip’ Tucker, III walked along the familiar corridors of Enterprise, lost in thought. He showed a carefully practiced smile to his fellow crewmen as they passed him, but inside he was in turmoil. Less than 48 hours ago he’d been a guest at the wedding of his best friend. Unfortunately, she also happened to be the woman he loved.

His mind drifted back to the moments following the ceremony. She’d turned to him, and he’d gazed back briefly before the groom’s family had herded them away toward a waiting transport. T’Les had later explained that they were being escorted to Koss’s family’s private home. That was all he could stand to hear. He’d quickly packed up and caught the first shuttle back to Enterprise.

Now, as he reached his quarters on board that ship, he pondered the future. How would he deal with seeing her every day? He wanted to remain her friend, to support her, and to not lose that special closeness they’d finally arrived at, but realistically he didn’t know if he could do it. He let out a heavy sigh and began to unpack.

//////////////////////////////////////

It was two days later, as Trip stood over an Engineering console staring blindly at schematics of upgrades, when he heard her voice. “Commander?” she inquired softly from slightly behind him.

He closed his eyes and took a deep breath before turning to face her. “Yes, Sub-Commander?” He tried to sound casual, but the tornado of swirling emotion inside him made it impossible to actually hear what he’d said.

She took another step closer, invading his personal space, as she dropped her gaze. Tucker backed up until he bumped the console. He’d feared this moment and now that it was here, he knew that he was not at all prepared.

A look of sadness crossed her delicate features before the usual Vulcan façade fell back in place. “Technically, it is Commander, now,” she said.

For the first time since turning around, his eyes left her face. His gaze traveled slowly down her form and she seemed to shift nervously under his scrutiny. As he raised his face to hers once more, he smiled genuinely for the first time in days. He glowed with pride. “I like the uniform,” he said, indicating the combination blue Starfleet jumpsuit and traditional Vulcan catsuit, “especially the Commander’s pips.” He started to reach out and brush his fingers across the gold pins, but caught himself just in time. Once more, the mask of professionalism covered the expression of loss as he withdrew his hand.

They stood speechless for a few moments, neither daring to look away, but both too uncertain to say anything. Before they had a chance to recover, another voice approached. “Hey, Trip! How was your leave?”

The Captain’s baritone had startled them. T’Pol stepped back a pace and began to make her exit as he reached them. “Captain,” she nodded at him, hands clasped firmly behind her back to hide their shaking. “If you will excuse me,” she turned to go with only a brief glance at Trip.

But before she could depart the Captain stopped her. “T’Pol, I’d like to invite you and Trip,” Archer indicated the Engineer with a tilt of his head, “to dinner tonight. 1900, Captain’s Mess?”

She and Trip met each other’s eyes once more before she nodded, then walked silently away. “What was that all about?” Archer asked his long time friend.

A shrug was his only response. As he turned to face the schematics once again, the two officers began to discuss the ship-wide upgrades and how they would affect performance.

/////////////////////////////////////

As the steward cleared away the dinner dishes, the Captain tried once more to engage his two senior officers in conversation, but neither seemed in the mood to chat. Although he’d already asked, he decided to try again, “Tell me about your visit home, T’Pol. Did you get to see your family?”

Accepting that the Captain was not going to drop the matter, T’Pol opted for straightforward bluntness. “There is only my mother, whom I did spend time with.” She met Trip’s eyes across the table briefly before he lowered them back to his lap.

Unsatisfied with the abbreviated version, Archer pressed on. “That’s it? Did you see any sights? Visit any old friends? What do Vulcans do on vacation?” He smiled and tried to force relaxation into the atmosphere with a gentle nudge in Trip’s direction. “Don’t you wonder about that, Trip?”

For one horrifying moment, T’Pol thought Trip might run from the room and leave her alone to deflect the Captain’s curiosities, but instead he forced a smile that was all too fake and simply leaned back in his chair, exhaling only when Archer turned his attention back on T’Pol. Placing her folded hands in her lap, T’Pol answered. “I visited several locations that would be considered ‘sights’. However, I did not meet with any old colleagues.” Giving a slight sigh, she continued, knowing that her Captain would not let her off that easily. “My vacation was interrupted by the need to attend to some unforeseen personal business. Unfortunately, my leave was…mostly unpleasant.”

Deciding that T’Pol was not going to be anymore forthcoming with details, Archer turned on Trip. “So, Trip, what’d you do for leave?”

Again, Tucker’s eyes met the Vulcan woman’s, only this time they held her gaze. She could see the distress behind his as he answered. “Oh ya’ know, Cap’n, the usual.”

By now, Archer had pulled a bottle of scotch out and was pouring drinks for himself and Trip. As he closed the bottle, he said, “Come on, Trip. Give me some details. I was stuck in debriefings most of the time, let me live a little vicariously!” Of course, he’d had a bit of fun himself, but what they didn’t know wouldn’t hurt them.

Trip downed the small glass of liquor and sighed deeply before giving in to his friend’s demands. “I went to Vulcan.”

“Really?” The Captain now looked back and forth between his two senior officers and seemed to see them for the first time. T’Pol looked stressed and remote, even for her. Tucker appeared just about as haggard as Archer had ever seen him. It looked as if neither of them had been sleeping much lately. He continued after a pause. “Well, what did you do there?” he asked slowly.

‘I attended a friend’s wedding, I lost the love of my life, I thought seriously about throwing myself into the inferno of the Fire Plains…’ All of these possible responses passed quickly through Trip’s mind, but nothing came out of his mouth. Instead, he threw back his head as he downed another drink.

“Commander Tucker was my guest.” It was out there so fast, Archer almost didn’t believe he’d actually heard it. He turned toward T’Pol again now. She continued as she felt the weight of Trip’s gaze piercing her soul. “He wanted to see Vulcan and so I invited him to join me.”

Before anyone could respond to that, Trip stood abruptly, knocking his seat over in his haste. He didn’t bother to right the chair as he said, “If you’ll excuse me, sir, I’m gonna get some shut-eye.” He made for the door and was gone.

Archer faced his Science Officer once more, but she too had stood, albeit more slowly, and was obviously planning on leaving as well. He didn’t even wait for her to say it. “All right, T’Pol, I get the point. See you tomorrow.” As she left, he wondered what the hell had just happened.

////////////////////////////////////////////

As 0400 approached, T’Pol wandered aimlessly through the ship. She was headed in the general direction of the mess hall and made a rash decision to go in for a piece of pie. As the doors parted, she noticed a lone figure sitting in a darkened corner, facing the windows. The profile was instantly recognizable and she debated leaving, but opted instead to ‘test the waters’ as it were.

He knew that she had entered even before he saw her reflection in the transparent aluminum window. Most of the crew was still on leave, and of those present, certainly no one else would be in the mess at this hour. Never the less, he waited for her to make the first move.

As she reached the table, she asked quietly, “May I sit here?”

“Sure. Help yourself.” He turned toward her slightly and she could see the dark smudges under his eyes that indicated a lack of sleep. She sat gracefully in the nearest chair and placed her hands on the table. “So, what brings you by at this hour?”

“I have been unable to meditate lately and sleep has also been elusive.”

The honest, simple answer stunned him for a moment. Concern showed clearly in his features. “Are you okay? Should ya’ see the doc?” He almost reached out for her hand, but instead grasped his empty coffee cup firmly.

She shook her head slightly. “I do not require the doctor’s assistance.” She paused. As she assessed his worried countenance, she made another rash decision. “I have noticed that the Captain has started movie night again. Would you care to attend with me this evening?”

Her lovely face beckoned him. Why not? Go out with her; let whatever comes naturally happen. After all, she may be married, but it’s just a marriage of convenience. She doesn’t love him, doesn’t want him, so why not? He shook his head as if to physically clear the thoughts before they could take root. Love him or not, she’s still married!

“I’m sorry, I can’t tonight.” He wanted to leave it at that, but didn’t think she’d let it be.

“Trip,” she began softly, “I know that this situation is not optimal, but I thought we would still be friends. Since I have returned to Enterprise, you have avoided me. Now, you cannot attend a movie with me? Why not, Trip?”

“Please don’t call me that,” he whispered, his eyes downcast.

A genuine look of puzzlement came over her. “You have asked me repeatedly to call you by your nickname, and now that I do you ask me not to?”

He looked up quickly at her and she saw the unshed tears. Breathing deeply, he responded, his voice gravelly with emotion. “When you call me that, it’s more than just my name. For you, it’s intimate.” He cast his gaze down again for a second before raising his eyes once more to hers. “You are no longer free to give that intimacy, and I can’t accept it even if you try. You’re a married woman, Commander, whether you and I like it or not.”

She faltered for a moment at the staggering realization that she may have lost so much. “But, our friendship…”

“I know, I want to keep it, too, but right now I just need a little time. I’ll always be there for you when you need me; but I have to start to rebuild my life now and I can’t do that if you keep calling me ‘Trip’.” He looked back out at the stars visible beyond the spidery shelter of space dock.

Her head bowed, she rose silently and left the mess hall.

End


Angel has written a sequel to "Aftermath" called The Road to Recovery.

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A whole mess of folks have made comments

You made me cry.

God, this is sad, but appropriate. Let's hope Koss dies soon.

Oh my, that was so racked with emotion, it certainly brought a lump to my throat, damn, I could really feel Trip's turmoil, I loved the way T'Pol tried her best to bridge the gap.
I really think you should continue this one, I'd love to see some sort of reconciliation between these two, one of the best fics I've read for quite some time, hope you do add some more, thanks................

You have teh great ability to reach emotions with your stories. Well done...again.

Oh! That was so sad! It was good though! ...the sadness!

BOOOOO!!!!! BOOOOO!!!!!

Oh, you had better continue this. I think this story could be a great behind the scenes look at their relationship, since we're apparently not going to be given much on screen. I loved it.

Excellent. Truly excellent!

Koss needs some fresh air (as in, throw him out the nearest airlock)!!! :)

how sad. Very good story. Wonderfully written.

Who ever said that love conQuers all didn't meet the Vulcans! Koss needs to Die!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Spontaneous combustion, caught in phaser cross-fire, transporter malfunction, shuttle pod landing on him, poisoned Plomeek soup, given the wrong injection (sneaky Phlox!), treed by Porthos in the Captain's chair, etc, etc.

Oh, there are many, many ways for a low-down, dirty, rotten, sneaky, T'Pol stealin' Vulcan to die!!! :)

This was so sad, my heart breaks for the both of them. You captured the characters well. Good job!

I hate sad stories but I always read them because they are just too good to pass up! Dang! Why oh why do I have to be addicted to angst?! Lovely story! I hope somewhere out there Koss is lying in a ditch somewhere and he can't get out. In fact, let him suffer horribly until his marriage to T'Pol has ended! :) Yeah, that thought makes me feel better! Nice story!

Wonderfully written. You captured their feelings so well. I'm glad Trip is backing off. T'pol can't expect him to carry on as if nothing has happened. Very sad. I hope you continue this.

This was really beautiful....sad, but beautiful. Thank you.

Now *this* scenario I could see happening. There certainly would be more than a little awkwardness and being around each other under these new circumstances would be full of all kinds of stresses and strains so I liked you tackling that aspect. Very touching because it came across so realistically. And the Captain blundering on where angels fear to tread, classic! Ali D :~)

sniff... more Kleenex please...
Calling Trip by his nickname is too intimate... sigh... I really can imagine that.
Wonderfully written.
I wouldn't mind, if you did a follow up.

*sniff* I get my internet back after a whole day and this is the first thing I read. *sigh* Well done, but yeah, this definitely doesn't feel finished! I'd love to see it continued.

You tore me to pieces with this:
“Please don’t call me that,” he whispered, his eyes downcast.

A genuine look of puzzlement came over her. “You have asked me repeatedly to call you by your nickname, and now that I do you ask me not to?”

He looked up quickly at her and she saw the unshed tears. Breathing deeply, he responded, his voice gravelly with emotion. “When you call me that, it’s more than just my name. For you, it’s intimate.” He cast his gaze down again for a second before raising his eyes once more to hers. “You are no longer free to give that intimacy, and I can’t accept it even if you try. You’re a married woman, Commander, whether you and I like it or not.”

Oh wow we all have to watch the show now and see that she doesn't call him Trip anymore... and if she does how does he react? Oh you picked up a great little detail!

Wonderfully shared story!

I am so absolutely humbled by the sheer number of people who have taken the time to respond to this story. Thank you all for reading it.

To be honest tracy-theblubberingcube, that is without a doubt my favorite tidbit as well, and in fact was the scene I wrote the story around.

And, yes, there is a sequel in the works, shouldn't be long! It was intended to stand alone, but so many people have encouraged me to continue the story that I just had to do it!

Thanks again,
Angel

*sniffle* Serves her right.

Poor Trip, who can blame him? Nicely written!

that was so so so sad. whaaaaaaaa

Even if we know by now what comes in the show, this story made me cry. It feels like they never would make it to a happy end.
Thank God there´s a sequel!

Ilove going back to read these lovely stories that I missed earlier. Your story captures the mood of the characters as they were before further events unfolded.

Well, that certainly hit the spot!

It's a shame that so many people blame Koss for T'Pol's blunder. What did he do but marry the woman he was betrothed to from childhood? He was quite noble about it and got shortchanged. T'Pol was utterly dishonest with him, I think. Have a little mercy! This "Koss must die!" attitude of so many readers seems to condone adultery and murder, which are not just acts committed, but conditions of the heart. Angel, I am not criticizing your lovely story, just some of the extreme reactions to it.