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Bumps in the Road

Author - Angel | B | Genre - Angst | Genre - Romance | Main Story | Rating - PG
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Bumps in the Road

By: Angela Koerkel

Rated: PG
Genre: Angsty with a touch of hope on the side.
Synopsis: Trip and T’Pol, and that’s all I’m gonna say.
Spoilers: ‘Home’
Disclaimers: The usual, I still don’t own Star Trek and I’m still not making any money off of this.

Notes: This is the continuation of the Aftermath and Road to Recovery series. As always, thanks so much for reading and responding. Please continue to give feedback as it motivates the muse much more effectively than idle threats of “If I don’t write, I’ll have to do housework!”



“You must try to be still, Commander,” T’Pol’s voice conveyed her exasperation despite her attempt to sound neutral. She sat perfectly poised on one side of a flickering candle in her quarters while Trip was positioned on the opposite side, fidgeting.

He shook his head yet again. “I’m tryin’, Commander,” he emphasized the rank while he stared at her hard. “I want to do this, really; it’s just…” He let the sentence fall off as he tried to phrase the thoughts that were foremost on his mind.

The Vulcan woman took a deep breath. She calmed herself and prepared to have yet another unpleasant conversation. Her voice dropped in tone. “I understand.” Their eyes met and he saw the sorrow in hers. His own features responded by softening as she continued. “It has been difficult for me as well, but this is only our first attempt at joint meditation. Perhaps it will grow more comfortable with time?”

Trip rose up and began to pace the small room. “To be honest, T’Pol, I’m not so sure I want it to be more comfortable.”

“What do you mean?” she asked as she blew out the candle and stood before him.

“Dammit, T’Pol, this is really hard for me, ya’ know?”

Her face fell and she looked on the verge of tears. “Of course; I will manage some other way.” The last thing she wanted was to make things worse.

He reached out and started to place one finger under her chin, but stopped just as he made contact. He drew back and sighed heavily as he resumed an angry pace. “This is what I mean! I want to help ya’, but I don’t think I can control myself if we start getting’ relaxed. All I want to do is touch ya,’ and I can’t; and I don’t know if I’ll be able to stop myself once things get ‘cozy’.” He paused mid-stride to face her again. “Do ya’ understand that?”

Trip walked slowly back to where she stood and stopped just inches from her. He could feel the heat radiate from her slim form. Her face was flush and he saw her pulse beating slow and steady in the curve of her neck. His eyes caressed her from top to bottom while he considered his next words. “Do ya’ understand?” he repeated, this time in a barely audible whisper.

As she let herself be appraised by him, she returned the long glance. His body was tense with unspent energy and strength emanated from him. Their eyes met at last and they each seemed to realize just how physically close they were. She reached out for him. As her hand came to rest on his jaw, she stepped even closer.

His eyes closed in peace as he leaned in toward her and he felt her rise up to meet him halfway. As their lips brushed softly, his arms encircled her and pulled tightly against him. His body reacted instantly as his mouth opened to her. She, in turn, slid her hands into his hair as she allowed his tongue entry.

The kiss deepened as he moved his hands to the soft skin under her silk pajama top. When the heat of her flesh met the coolness of his, the spell was broken for him and he pushed back. Their bodies separated and he felt instantly cold at the loss of her against him. He still held her, both of his hands grasping her forearms now. Their foreheads rested on each other, while they stood still.

Breathing deep, he whispered her name. “T’Pol. I can’t do this. I want to do this,” he sighed heavily, “God how I want to do this, but I can’t.” He pushed off from her a little more until they were holding hands.

“I apologize for making you uncomfortable. I want this as well, but I know we cannot.” She wanted to say more, but didn’t know what to add.

Grinning, he said, “Maybe next time we try to meditate ya’ could wear somethin’ flannel?” He brought one hand up to his lips and kissed the back of it tenderly. “I think I should go now.” As Tucker released her, he asked, “Do ya’ think you’ll be able to sleep?”

“I should be more successful. I managed to get some meditation before your ceaseless motion distracted me.” He saw the playful glint in her eyes and was thrilled that she had resumed teasing him. “However, I do not see what difference my attire makes.”

“Trust me, it makes a lot of difference!” Trip headed for the door without another word, but just before it opened, he turned back. “Goodnight, T’Pol. I do hope ya’ sleep well.” Then he was gone.


The communication unit in the Engineering console beeped shrilly. Trip reached out and thumbed it. “Tucker here.”

“Trip, meet me at Shuttlepod Two, fifteen minutes.” Archer’s voice sounded light, almost carefree.

Damn, it’s good to hear him so happy again!’ Tucker thought as a silly grin spread across his face. “Aye sir,” he responded.

Less than twenty minutes later, Shuttlepod Two was clearing the shuttlebay doors and arcing off away from the ship. On board, Archer and Trip sat side-by-side, sharing the duties.

“So,” the Captain began as he set the shuttle’s auto-pilot program and leaned back in his chair. “Tell me what’s new.”

“What’d ya’ mean? Ya’ already know about all the upgrades from Jupiter Station, and that was just a couple of weeks ago.”

Archer shook his head and looked sad. “I know I’ve been a little rough around the edges the past year, but have I really been so far gone that my best friend doesn’t even know when I’m asking about him and not the ship?”

An apologetic look crossed Tucker’s face. “It wasn’t yer fault, Cap’n. Ya’ had a lot on yer mind, literally the weight of the world on yer shoulders.” Trip shook his head. “I can’t imagine dealin’ with the pressures ya’ did and still comin’ out sane.”

“Somedays, I’m not sure I did.” The two shared a good-natured, tension-relieving laugh before the Captain continued. “Okay, so now I’m asking as your friend, what’s new? How’ve you been?”

For a moment, Trip considered telling him all about T’Pol, but abandoned the idea just as quickly. There was a time when he would’ve told Jon everything, but those days were gone. Now, Archer was his Captain first and friend second. He pretended to be busy at the shuttle’s controls as he responded, “Nothin’ really. Jus’ doin’ my job, same as always.”

“Uh huh,” Archer’s vague response left the way open for more commentary from Trip, but when none was forthcoming, the Captain jumped back in. “You know, it seemed like you and T’Pol were getting along pretty well back in the Expanse. How’s that going?”

“We’re jus’ friends.” Trip’s voice wavered slightly on the last word, and he hoped desperately that the Captain wouldn’t call him on it. He was intensely grateful that the meditation sessions had gone better the past few nights than they did the first time. At least, T’Pol wasn’t zoning out on the bridge anymore; so hopefully, Archer wouldn’t ask about that.

The elder man tried to gauge his companion’s emotions, but discovered that he must have learned a few tricks from their Vulcan friend because he was utterly unreadable. “If you say so,” he let the matter drop.

Grateful, Tucker brought the conversation back to the mission at hand. “So, tell me about this moon that we’re going to check out.” The Captain babbled on about the lifeless rock they would soon investigate merely for the sake of it. And as he did, Trip found that he longed for the presence of his friend, Jon, instead of his Captain, Archer. He needed someone to talk to.


Two weeks later, the partners sat in a meditative posture together. T’Pol leaned forward and blew out the candle, her long cotton sleeve flowing loosely around her arm as she cupped her hand behind the flame.

“Hey,” Trip started, “what’d ya’ do that for? I was being still.” They were beginning to learn to navigate the narrow road between friendship and lovers, but he still tended to get restless.

She tilted her head to one side as an eyebrow arched gracefully. “Indeed, I’ve been quite impressed by your self-control as of late, Commander.” They both left the double meaning of those words hang in the air. “However, it has been nearly two hours since we began and I have completed the necessary relaxation techniques.”

His mouth dropped in shock. “Two hours? Really?” Rising, he continued, “So, yer sayin’ that yer done meditatin’ for tonight?” He offered her a hand to help her up. She accepted it, but in actuality barely made contact with him, using her legs to push herself up instead.

“I am. In fact,” she hung her head before she said, “I should be able to achieve my meditative trance alone tomorrow night, if you would prefer to not assist me.”

“Oh.” He managed to hide the look of disappointment that tried to tug at his face. “I don’t mind helpin’, but if ya’ don’t want me to…”

“I believe I said that it was not necessary, not that I did not desire it.” She met his eyes and silently begged him to return the following evening.

Trip rolled his tongue in his cheek for a minute, considering her words and his own wants. When he answered her, it was with a heavy heart. “I want to, more than ya’ know, but I don’t think it’s a good idea.”

She looked down again. Her voice was soft but steady when she asked, “I thought we had found a way to remain friends.”

“We are friends, T’Pol, but look at us! Yer wearin’ floor length, long sleeve nightdresses and I’m goin’ back to my room for a cold shower ev’ry night.” Sighing, he ran a hand through his hair. “I want us to be friends, too; I just think we need to keep our meetin’s to more public arenas.” She looked up at him and started to open her mouth to argue, but he responded before she could make a sound. “Before ya’ say that there’s nothin’ wrong with ‘friends’ meditatin’ together, would ya’ be here, in yer pj’s, sittin’ by candlelight, getting relaxed with the Cap’n?”

T’Pol acknowledged his insight. “No, I would not.”

He gave a quick, single nod. “All right, then.” They stared into each other’s souls for a moment longer before he broke it off and reluctantly walked to the door. “Good night, Commander.”

As the door closed and T’Pol was alone again, she replied, “Good night, Trip.”


Commander Tucker had hoped to find the gym empty, but knew that it was a long shot at best. He was not surprised to find several of the MACO’s practicing hand-to-hand maneuvers along one side of the small exercise area. The engineer strode purposefully to the treadmills, climbed on the first one, and started it up.

As he began a slow warm-up, he heard the approach of footsteps. Turning his head over his shoulder, he smiled politely at his one-time admirer, Corporal Cole. “Hey, Amanda,” he greeted.

“Hey, yourself, Florida,” she answered as she turned on the neighboring treadmill. Beginning at a moderate pace, she looked sideways at him. He was frowning slightly with his eyes closed as he ran on, steadily increasing his speed. Tension was evident in the scowl of his expression, the hunching of his shoulders, even in his heavier than necessary breathing. “What’s up, Trip? Trouble in Engineering?”

Her voice broke his reverie and he cast a glance at her. “Nah, nothin’ like that. Jus’ stuff.” He forced a smile for her benefit.

“Wanna talk about it?” Her breaths came slow and steady; she may have been standing still for all the exertion she seemed to be putting out.

“Thanks for the offer, but no. It’s nothin’, really.” He began to sweat as his belt speed increased again as per the chosen fitness program.

She nodded acceptance at his refusal and they ran in silence for quite a while. After a time, Trip’s machine began to slow down. Amanda stole a quick peek at him and noticed that the workout had not helped whatever the problem was; he was still tense. As his treadmill finally stopped, he stepped off and slightly to the side of it so that he could stretch.

“Would you be interested in catching tomorrow night’s movie with me?” She guessed that his answer would be no, but she missed his company and thought it was worth a shot.

Caught off guard, Trip nearly dropped the towel he was now using to wipe the sweat from his face. “Thanks, but…” he’d been prepared to say no, but something in the back of his mind cried out, ‘why not?’. “Actually, ya’ know what, that’d be nice.” He smiled again, this time not quite so forced, and they made arrangements to meet at the Mess Hall the next evening.


T’Pol sipped her tea and worked silently on her padd during lunch the following day. The surrounding tables were all filled with crewman, laughing and enjoying the midday break. So it was without hesitation that she offered a seat at her table to Commander Tucker when she noticed him casting a searching glance around the crowded room. “Please, Commander, feel free to join me.”

“Thanks, Commander,” he answered as he sat down.

An awkward silence descended on the table as he began to push the food around on his plate. Finally, T’Pol spoke up. “My Mother sends her regards,” she said softly.

Trip’s face perked up at that. “Really? When did ya’ talk to her?” He shoveled a forkful of food into his mouth and chewed.

“I spoke with her late last evening. I wanted to assure her that my health was well.” She took a sip of tea and continued to hold the mug firmly. “She was concerned after our last communication because of my lack of meditation.”

He nodded and took another bite. “Well, tell her I say, ‘hi’ next time ya’ talk to her.”

Again, the atmosphere grew slightly tense as silence fell. Surprisingly, it was once again T’Pol who broached conversation. “I was wondering if you would be interested in seeing this evening’s movie selection with me.”

He quickly raised his eyes to hers, shock evident on his face. “I…”

Before he could finish, Corporal Cole approached from behind them. “Hey, Trip. Commander T’Pol.” She nodded politely to the Vulcan woman. “We still on for tonight?” Amanda directed at Tucker.

He looked back and forth between the women for a moment. Finally, he responded, “Yeah, course we are.” His tone was kind, almost apologetic, and his eyes held T’Pol’s while he said it.

Oblivious to what she had interrupted, Amanda continued, “Great! Well, duty calls. See ya tonight, Trip.” With that, she again nodded to the Science Officer and exited the area.

“T’Pol, I can explain,” he started as soon as the MACO was out of earshot.

“There is no need.” Rising, she gathered her data padd and teacup. “Have a pleasant evening, Commander.” And she too left the room.


Late that afternoon, Trip arrived back in his quarters after the end of his duty shift to find a waiting message flashing on his computer console. He queued it up while he stripped off his uniform jumpsuit. “What the hell?” he muttered.

It was an urgent request from Vulcan for a subspace communication. Activating the message automatically opened a signal to the sender so that a live conversation would be possible. Before he had time to catch his breath, the last person he wanted to see became animated on his monitor screen.

“Peace and long life, Commander Tucker,” Koss intoned, as he held up his hand in the traditional salute.

Startled, but not wanting to start a galactic incident, Trip responded in kind. “Live long and prosper, Koss.” His fingers rose without conscious thought in the practiced V-shape. Regaining his indignation at his caller, he continued. “What the hell do ya’ want?”

End Chapter One

Chapter 2

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A whole mess of folks have made comments

end chapter one!?!?! no way did you just do that! i was really getting into this then -boom-... well, you've got me now, i need to find out about that hussy amanda, and kov. great story , the tension was really there in those meditation scenes.

oh no, come on, you can't do that, not now, I can't wait for the happy end, please please ..

i meant koss, really i AM paying attention. but now that i'm here, i'd like to further mention how plausible it is that they would slip, perhaps physically, like this. i just wonder how much more they can take of the tension before their morals start to slip. i don't know if you are going to be exploring this aspect(see hussy amanda),but it is something i wonder about--- more tension and angst is something i'm sure you'll definately deliver. i look forward to more.

You are kidding? Where's the rest? Please post chapter 2; it's not nice to play with your audience like this.

please write the next chapter very soon. I'm anxious to read it since I know there isn't going to be any resolution of it on enterprise for a few weeks episodes.
its great, so please more.

Hoo-boy, what angst! But so well done, and I respect that you're staying in canon. It's very believable! I can see them gravitate to each other and apart just like this...Nicely done!!! I'm loving this entire series. Good, good stuff. Keep it coming!

Hey, you were on a roll. Don't end now.


sorry for the caps but that was a heck of an opening post and a heck of a cliffhanger! more more more!!!

NO, NO, NO! Why'd you stop!?? Hurry up with the next chapter please.

Koss Must Die!!!

Oooo... are you gonna do it? Are you? The adultery angle? Are you? *jumps around* I dare you. :P

Good story.

Ah! No! Don't stop! Wow, this is good! Update soon! Please!

nope. thats illegal- i know it is. just ENDING it like that!!!! please update PRONTO!!!

NOOOOO!!! Where's the rest? This is really good.. and I need the rest soon, PLEASE! :)

Amanda... that's what I call lousy timing... hope T'Pol doesn't rip her head off.
And the Koss-cliffhanger...
Please post the next chapter soon!!!

Oh, come on, don't do that to me!
Pleeeeeeeeeeeese update ASAP!
Seriously, awesome! :)

I'm really loving this series. Please hurry up and write more!

Koss calling Trip late at night from Vulcan? Can't be good news. I thought the way Trip reacted to the newly married T'Pol was very realistic though how long they can bear to keep their passions at bay is uncertain. Such a tangle of good intentions. Ali D :~)