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The Morning After- Pt 9
The Morning After
Genre: Romance, Humor
Codes: T/T, A/H, M/Amanda
Summary: Something the crew picked up along their travels has an unanticipated effect, leading to Trip/T’Pol goodness.
Spoilers: Zero Hour with a twist and anything before that.
Disclaimer: Star Trek: Enterprise is owned by Paramount, not me. No infringement intended, no profit made.
Distribution: Anywhere, just let me know.
Feedback: Of course I want feedback! Leave your comments below.
Earth, one week later.
The tinny door chime was of a slightly different tone than that of the one on Enterprise, but Trip found it just as irritating. All too often, he’d been absorbed in his work, a good dream, or a satisfying sulk only to be interrupted for some crisis or another. Here in San Francisco, he’d hoped he would be undisturbed long enough to work through his less-than-pleasant emotional issues with T’Pol before he had to face her again. It seemed that his colleagues had different ideas. This had to be the fifth interruption he’d had this morning, and his patience was worn down to a razor’s edge.
As if to further strain him, the doorbell rang again. He bit out a “Come in!” that sounded more like a snarl than words, and turned flashing, irritated eyes at his guest. His breath caught as T’Pol practically floated across the threshold, standing just inside his quarters with her hands clasped behind her back.
Even now, barely a week after the night that had been equal parts ecstasy and agony, T’Pol’s mere presence stirred something deep within him. Trip had spent the past seven days practically on autopilot, deliberately pushing her out of his thoughts time and again, minute after minute, until the mental discipline it took exhausted him. And in his dreams, he had no defense, the connection he’d felt to her seemingly strengthened by her absence. He awoke each time with a gasp of her name on his lips, a plea to be joined with her again, both physically and emotionally, despite the pain he knew it would cause him to relive the strength of her regret.
But Trip was starting to realize that being without her was like going without water.
These thoughts flashed through his mind in barely an instant as he brought guarded eyes up to meet T’Pol’s cool stare. He couldn’t help himself; his gaze traveled softly down her frame like a caress, taking in the flowing scarlet robe she wore, the shimmering fabric hugging every one of her curves like the tightly wound petals of a rosebud. Her arms were bare, hands clasped behind her back, and as his eyes traveled back up to meet hers again, Trip would’ve sworn that he could feel her presence in his soul.
His words served to sever that connection before it shattered him. “Are you lost?”
T’Pol blinked, taken back by the hostility in his voice and the shuttered look in his eyes. She’d hurt him horribly by letting him leave the way he did the morning after their bonding; she knew that. But to see the physical evidence in front of her made this task that much more important.
She’d tried to speak with him several times over the past week, but as he’d promised, Trip was keeping his distance. He was careful to avoid eye contact whenever they were in the same room, and whenever she tried to detain him, he found an excuse to leave. It had been impossible to get him alone long enough to declare her intentions. Any attempts to access his mind via the link were also stubbornly refused, and T’Pol now had a greater admiration for his mental control, even if it had frustrated her.
It was imperative that she make him understand her intentions. He was her mate, and she needed him in a way she’d never needed anyone else in her life.
In answer to his question, T’Pol shook her head resolutely. “I am not lost. I came because I have a request to make of you.”
“Whatever you need, darlin’,” Trip answered sarcastically, his pain unmasked by his southern drawl. “What’s mine is yours, right?” He snorted a laugh of disbelief, shaking his head. “Seems to me like you took everything I had worth wantin’, already.”
Her jaw twitched at the bitterness of his statement. She definitely had her work cut out for her.
“I am meeting with the Vulcan High Command in fifty-four minutes,” she said calmly, all signs of her agitation hidden behind a façade as smooth as alabaster. “I wish to have a meal with you following my meeting, and I stopped to ascertain whether your schedule will permit you to join me.”
The surprise he felt at her words slammed into his gut like a fist, his air suddenly gone. “Is something wrong?” he asked, his anger replaced by fear all at once. If the baby was in danger again—
“Nothing is wrong,” she reassured him. “I merely wish to speak with you. Our last encounter,” she paused and shifted on her feet uncomfortably, “was unsatisfactory.”
Trip snorted again. “You can say that again,” he muttered under his breath. More like heart-breaking. “You want to air our dirty laundry in some public restaurant?”
Moving so quickly that Trip blinked in surprise, T’Pol was in front of him, meeting him eye to eye where he leaned against the wall, his arms crossed over his chest. Tentatively, she reached her fingers out to him, and while Trip knew what she was doing, knew where this was leading, he couldn’t bring himself to stop her. His tortured soul rebelled, screaming for him to run rather than be subjected to her rejection again, but he couldn’t move. He needed the telepathic connection to her. Craved it.
And so her fingers touched his face, unstopped by him.
Her touch was feather light, a mere brushing of her fingers against the contact points, but each contact was like a bolt of lighting, slamming into Trip’s soul with a force that charred him in its wake. It took him a moment to process them, but the emotions he was sensing from her were the last one’s he was expecting.
Determination. Confidence. Desire. Tenderness. Loyalty. Affection. Love.
Love? Was that really there? Was she really capable of experiencing an emotion so powerful? Trip didn’t have time to think about it as her fingers passed over his face again, the maelstrom of her thoughts continuing. Regret, anger, fear, and irritation were there, too, but they were different than before. They no longer struck terror into his soul.
Emotions as fleeting as phantoms haunted him, so ethereal that Trip couldn’t get his mind around them long enough to study them. As suddenly as she’d begun, T’Pol moved back, hands clasped behind her back, calm brown eyes locked with his.
“Are you free to join me?”
It took him a minute to recall her offer of dinner. It came to him that she wasn’t going to explain herself, and deep down, he knew her well enough to understand. The telepathic contact, no matter how slight, had been her own form of explanation.
Trip, despite his wariness and anger, was too intrigued, to imbued with a new wave of hope to refuse her.
“I am,” he said simply, and it seemed to be enough.
* * * * * * * *
Archer knocked on the non-descript door in front of him, the sound echoing in his ears. Never before could he remember feeling this nervous, but butterflies had apparently decided to make his stomach their new permanent home. Shifting from one foot to the other, he waited anxiously, clutching his prize in one hand and clenching and unclenching his fist in the other.
Finally, after what seemed like eternity, he heard a muffled sound on the other side of the door, followed by the unmistakable click of the door unlocking. The door swung open to reveal a haggard-looking Hoshi, and the sight of her tired eyes made Archer frown in concern.
“Hi,” he said tentatively, hiding the object in his hand behind his back. “Is this a bad time?”
Hoshi sighed, shaking her head. “No, it’s fine. I just haven’t been sleeping well.” She stepped back and to the side, pulling the door open wider. “C’mon in.”
Archer followed her inside, lingering by the door as she shut it and shuffled tiredly across the room. He watched her from behind as she raised her hand to cover an audible yawn, settling into a cushy chair in the sitting area. After a moment, he followed, sitting lightly on the edge of the couch across from her.
The reasons for Archer’s visit had fled his mind, replaced by concern over her condition. “Are there complications?”
“Complications?” she asked, puzzled.
“With the pregnancy,” he clarified. “Is that why you’re so tired?”
She shrugged. “Phlox said I’m a little anemic, and it isn’t abnormal to be tired at this stage, anyway. My body hasn’t adjusted to the pregnancy yet. He says I’ll get used to it.”
Archer felt slightly placated, but still searched her face as if she were holding something back. It wasn’t until she spoke that he realized she’d moved on.
“What’s that in your hand?”
“Huh?” Archer was flustered by her question.
“That,” she said again, pointing. “In your hand. What is it?”
“Oh, this?” he said, holding the object up. It was a small yellow ball. “It’s a water polo ball. For the baby,” he said, biting his lip as a sudden wave of embarrassment flooded him. “I just saw it the other day and I couldn’t help myself.”
Archer chanced a glance back up at Hoshi’s face, and the smile on her face made his breath catch. Eyes twinkling, she said, “Leave it to you to get your child sports equipment. Guess there won’t be any teddy bears coming from daddy, huh?”
He looked away, a slight grin curving his mouth. “That’s at home,” he admitted. “Didn’t want to overwhelm you with too much at once.”
This time she laughed out loud. “I’ve got a pile started, and I don’t even have a nursery yet.”
“You’ve bought stuff, too?”
“Oh, a couple of things. But my mom’s gone haywire. She’s bought two of everything, one boy-themed, one girl-themed, under the reasoning that we can take back whatever we don’t need.” Hoshi rolled her eyes. “She’s driving me nuts.”
“You’re lucky,” he said softly. “To have your parents around.” His gaze fell to where her hand rested lightly on the barely-there curve of her stomach. “I wish my dad could be here. He would’ve loved to have a grandchild.”
Hoshi’s eyes softened as she saw the moisture in his eyes. “Then you’ll have to make sure junior knows about him, then. His famous Grandpa Henry, Starfleet pioneer.”
Archer smiled, then nodded. They sat for a moment in silence, thinking, before he stood up and cleared his throat.
“I should get going.”
“Okay,” she said, rising to see him out.
“You should get some rest,” Archer said as he stopped near the door.
“Is that an order, sir?” Hoshi said, grinning.
“Do I have to make it one?” he teased back.
“Maybe,” she admitted. As he reached for the door, she gestured to his hand. “You gonna let me keep that or were you just going to tease me with it?”
“Oh,” he said, frowning at the water polo ball still in his hand. “Sorry. Got a little side-tracked.”
Taking it from him, Hoshi stood up on her tiptoes and lightly brushed a kiss at the corner of his mouth. Archer’s breath hitched at the feather-light touch.
“Thank you,” she whispered, her dark eyes intense, and in that moment, Archer knew she wasn’t just talking about the water polo ball.
For a few seconds, Archer’s world spun off its axis. He had an insane urge to grab her and kiss her senseless, but there was an ethereal quality to the energy between them and he knew that such a move would shatter it. He could feel the tenuous bond between them strengthen with each positive encounter, and deep within his soul, a confidence sprouted, fraught with promise.
“Bye,” he told her softly, and exited her quarters, heading distractedly down the corridor.
In that last look exchanged, Archer had been given a tiny glimpse of his future. One in which his son grew up with parents who loved him, and more astonishingly, loved each other.
In her quarters, Hoshi stared down at the tiny water polo ball, her mouth curved into a soft smile of satisfaction.
The glass of amber liquid seemed to be an extension of Malcolm’s hand as it rested on the bar. Absently, he tilted the tumbler and swirled the drink, ice clinking lightly against the glass. The tiny whirlpool seemed to mesmerize him, drawing in his somber thoughts and lending him a tranquility that had been absent for nearly a month now.
All around him, his crewmates celebrated. Nearly everyone in the 602 Club that night was an [i]Enterprise[/i] crew member, all having been excited to be in dry dock once again, even under such strange circumstances. Those that had escaped with nothing more than a wild night to remember were grateful, displaying that gratitude with raucous barroom antics.
None of the cacophony penetrated Malcolm’s defenses. He’d come here for one reason, and one reason only: to get drunk enough to forget. Or at the very least, drunk enough to do something even more stupid so he could regret something else for a change.
With a sigh, Malcolm brought the glass to his lips and downed the remainder of his drink, slamming the empty glass down on the bar when he was through. He tapped it twice, tipping his head at the bartender, who nodded. Within seconds, his glass was full again.
Just as he was about to throw back the next swallow, he froze, an unmistakable scent wafting over him. It was a clean smell, apples mixed with the heady scent of woman, and he’d know it anywhere. At times, Malcolm thought he’d be tortured by that unique scent for the rest of his life, as penance for his indiscretions.
“This seat taken, officer?” Her voice was soft, and Malcolm could only shake his head in the negative.
He couldn’t look at her. He knew that with him, that was all it would take. When he felt as vulnerable as he did now, one look was all it would take to spark the flame that wouldn’t be put out. One look, and he’d be gone.
“I thought I’d find you here,” Amanda said after settling into her chair. “I need to talk to you.”
Malcolm frowned, then paled and jerked his head around to look at her with wide eyes.
“Good God, don’t tell me you’re pregnant.”
Amanda threw back her head and laughed. “Hell no, and thank God. I don’t think I could handle that on top of everything else.”
Malcolm’s shoulders slumped in relief at her denial. “Why did you come? You know it isn’t a good idea. We can’t be together in the same room without trouble.”
“There are people here,” she argued.
His eyebrow raised. “And that hasn’t exactly stopped us before. It’s not like we can’t leave.”
She shrugged. “So we won’t. We’re adults. We can handle it.”
His frown deepened. “That’s what we said before.”
In a fit of playfulness, Amanda slapped his arm with the back of her hand. “Oh, get over yourself, Malcolm! I think I can control myself. Can you?”
Malcolm wanted to make a point, so he turned his most intense stare on her and waited, watched in fascination as her own pupils dilated and her breathing became shallow. Her mouth parted slightly and she swallowed, rapidly, before blinking and looking quickly away.
“Malcolm!” she hissed, annoyed.
He just let a slow smile stretch across his face. “Just kidding, love. But it was fun while it lasted, wasn’t it?”
She finally looked at him again. “Yeah,” she sighed. “It was.”
They sat in companionable silence for a few moments, grateful that the sexual haze that had surrounded them for so long was finally lifting, being relegated to that place of somewhat awkward memories.
Suddenly, Amanda sat up straight, peering suspiciously over Malcolm’s shoulder.
“What?” he asked, and was surprised to see a sly smile curve the corners of her mouth.
“See that woman over there?” she pointed discreetly, motioning to a statuesque blonde nursing a martini in the corner. “She’s been checking you out.”
“Sure,” Malcolm said, and snorted. “Like women ever take a second glance at me in a place like this.”
“I’m serious!” Amanda whispered. “You don’t get it, Malcolm. You’ve got this mysterious aura. It’s really hot, but you have to look close to see it. She sees it,” she ended, nodding toward the blonde.
“You think?” he asked, still unsure.
“Definitely. I’ll bet you that as soon as I leave, she’ll saunter over here and deliver some lame pick-up line.”
Malcolm’s head swiveled from Amanda to the blonde and back again. The corner of his mouth tilted up in a lopsided smile. “Maybe so,” he conceded. “But I’m already having fun.”
She smiled, and in that simple expression, Malcolm witnessed the birth of a true friendship.
“Buy you a drink?” Malcolm asked, feeling relaxed around Amanda Cole for the first time.
“Sure,” she nodded.
When her drink came, they clinked their glasses together and smiled, enjoying the warmth of a new friendship.
* * * * * * *
Even though smoking had been eschewed by the vast majority of Earth’s population nearly a century ago, the air in the jazz dinner club still seemed filled with blue haze. The effect was appropriate, considering the sultry music and overall lethargic feel of the club’s atmosphere.
Trip sat a table near the back, his chair turned so that he could see the entrance and every person that came and went. He’d been waiting for nearly twenty minutes, and although he had shown up very early, having no idea when T’Pol would be finished with her meeting and come to join him, he still felt his apprehension rising with each passing second. Ever since she’d touched his face that afternoon, his curiosity and desire to see her again had fed off each other until he could think of nothing else.
His worst fear, one that plagued him as he sipped at his drink and watched the door, was that she’d be apologetic, caring, but still totally uninterested in a relationship with him. It seemed so much easier to be estranged from her than to be close in friendship but denied her affection. At one time, he would’ve sworn she held some regard for him, but after what he’d felt when they’d bonded—even now, he grimaced at the thought.
Now, thinking about those feelings she’d exposed to him today, he couldn’t escape the promise in them. But it was dangerous to hope.
Slouching in his chair, Trip crossed one arm over his chest and rubbed his eyes tiredly with the other hand. Arching his back, he stretched some of the kinks out, then tipped his drink back and swallowed the rest of it. As the last of the liquid slid past his throat, he felt her standing beside him. It startled him so much that he set his glass down with an audible clank.
“That was fast,” was all he could think to say.
T’Pol sat across from him, perched on the edge of her chair, hands clasped in her lap and away from his view. She’d changed her clothing since he’d seen her last, now dressed in a dark yellow, almost orange, that gave her skin a golden glow. Her face was shadowed in the dim light, Trip’s eyes drawn to every beautiful plane of her face.
Her beauty took his breath away, and for the second time, Trip knew he was lost.
“My meeting with the High Command was not lengthy,” she said, explaining her early arrival.
“What’d they say?”
Something that could nearly be called a smile crossed T’Pol’s face. “They were not pleased with the direction my life has taken, especially since I lead such a public existence in Human society. But Ambassador Soval was present, and surprisingly, he gave quite a logical argument for the choices I had made.”
“Soval was on your side?” Trip was shocked.
“I was surprised as well,” she admitted. “But it appeared that he had spoken at length with Admiral Forrest before this afternoon. He made the high command see the logic of a successful human-Vulcan relationship. He convinced them that such a union was inevitable, and it was fortuitous that the first pair to make such a commitment were held in high regard by both Vulcan and human governments.”
“So basically they’re not going to give you hell about it,” Trip summarized.
“Well, that’s good,” he said, and fell silent.
T’Pol took a few moments before she spoke again.
“I did not ask you here solely to eat together.”
“I figured that out,” Trip answered, shifting uncomfortably in his seat. It was the moment of truth, and he couldn’t help but hold his breath.
Never one to mince words, T’Pol came right to the point. “I have not fully disclosed the nature of my feelings toward you, Trip.”
Nonplussed, Trip could only say, “You haven’t?”
“No. I reacted badly the morning after we bonded, and I should have let you know what I felt before you left my quarters. But at the time, I was still uncertain what I wanted.”
“But now you know.”
“Yes.” The surety in her eyes made the spark of hope in Trip’s heart flame up.
“What do you want?” he whispered, suddenly scared for her answer.
“I want you,” she said simply. “My condition made me behave abnormally, but that is no excuse. My regard for you has existed for some time, even before we were affected by the anomaly.”
“You mean the Trellium didn’t make you become attracted to me?”
She frowned, not liking the reminder of her bad choices, no matter how appropriate. “No,” she admitted. “The attraction existed prior to my experiments with Trellium. But the drug allowed me to access emotions I needed to act on that attraction. It was a major factor in my temptation.”
“Couldn’t keep your mind off me, huh?” Trip said, relieved enough to tease her.
“I suppose that assessment is accurate,” she conceded, then grew quiet. After a moment, she asked, “Have my actions caused your feelings toward me to change?”
Trip shook his head. “I tried to turn it off, but I couldn’t. You’re in my mind now, darlin’. I can’t escape you, even when I wanted to.”
“Good,” she answered succinctly, and Trip felt pleasure at her possessiveness.
T’Pol’s eyes grew darker as she stared at him, and Trip felt the barriers to her mind slip away, her desire permeating the boundaries until he was flushed with it. In a crowded room, sultry jazz music curling around them seductively, Trip was more turned on than he had been in his entire life.
With shock, he realized she was seducing him. With a secret grin, he decided that two could play that game. Standing up, Trip walked around the table and reached for her, but instead of putting his hand on her arm as she expected, he touched her face with his fingers, just as she’d done hours earlier. With that one whispery contact, he conveyed all the love he’d hidden from her, even the night they’d bonded.
T’Pol gasped at the strength of his desire for her, and standing abruptly, she put her hand on his cheek and drew his lips down to hers. One push brought her back against the wall behind their table, into the shadows and away from the prying eyes of other patrons. The kiss they shared was electric, filled with the promise of a future that finally seemed clear of obstacles they’d self-destructively erected.
The kiss was a thousand things at once, a firestorm of emotion that caught them up and swept them away into a world all their own. None of Trip’s inhibitions stuck around to chide him against slipping his hand inside the collar of her dress to get closer to her warm skin, or traveling down to memorize the shape of her curves, or sliding behind to grasp her backside and pull her more fully against him. T’Pol was equally uninhibited, the declaration of her intentions allowing her to express her emotions in a purely physical form.
When they finally broke apart for air, Trip’s heart was pounding so hard it was almost audible, and no force on earth was strong enough to pull his hands away from her. T’Pol’s sultry eyes nearly drew him back in, oxygen be damned, but her words halted him.
“I believe this venue might be inappropriate for the rest of our evening.”
“Well, darlin’, what exactly have you got planned?” he teased, his hand squeezing her backside.
“I find that my data on human sexuality is insufficient. Further research is necessary.” Her tone was completely serious, but Trip detected the sarcasm only T’Pol could add so subtly.
Laughing, Trip leaned down and nuzzled the pointed tip of her ear with his lips. “Damn, I love you, T’Pol.”
Her answer was another soul-deep kiss, the first of many yet to come.
End (except for the Epilogue)
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