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To Boldly Go Once Again - Ch 5
To Boldly Go Once Again
That should explain the delay ;-) And because I took the time to write this amidst illness and the huge transition to college life, LEAVE REVIEWS, or I won’t update again. Got it? Fantabulous! Read on!
It didn’t take the long for the news to reach engineering. The crew whispered it as they went about their duties, their steps almost quicker because of some subtle change in the recycled air. And why shouldn’t they be? Trip asked himself. With the mighty T’Pol here, nothing can go wrong. He shook his head to clear it and swallowed down his feelings as he checked the polarity of another injector. Work was good for keeping those thoughts away, especially when the physical manifestation of said thoughts was just a few decks above.
“Sir, all damaged relays have been replaced.”
The report came from a young lieutenant, a young man whose exuberance reminded Trip of puppy. Trip accepted the report, nodding his dismissal.
“I suppose you’ve heard, sir.” The lieutenant said. Trip looked up with a tight smile.
The man grinned back knowingly, and Trip wondered if those rumors about him and T’Pol from the Xindi mission had survived so many years.
“The crew is excited that the Big Three are back together again, Captain. Especially since she seemed to drop right out of thin air.” He turned smartly on his heel back to a consol, leaving Trip to reluctantly ponder. Out of thin air is right, he mused. She had walked right back into his life as quickly and suddenly as she’d left. He glanced at the PADD that the Lieutenant had left on the table. T’Pol probably needs to see it. And with that final thought, Trip put the PADD in the corner farthest from him and promptly forgot about it.
It hadn’t taken long for T’Pol to move her possessions to Enterprise. She told herself that it was simply a convenient by-product of complete organization, but in truth she knew it was because in all that time spent on the lunar surface, she had never really unpacked. Even after several years, she had never quite progressed to the point of being able to consider her colony a permanent arrangement. It had just been a detour between the major points in her life. As she moved her personal items into lockers and the shelf above the bunk, she paused to remember the organization of the room as it had once had been. Moving books and her candles into place was an indescribably calming activity, a sort of meditative dance. A dance that was suddenly ended when she went to place her clothes in the closet. Tunics and leggings had replaced her uniforms, something which she expected would take some time to get used to in this setting. Still, it could serve as a reminder. Time has passed, things have changed. It will not be as it once was.
Finished with her domestic activity, she glanced at the Vulcan PADD that lay atop her desk. No doubt Commander Tucker would like to see what other schematics it held. But that could wait, she convinced herself. It was late now, and she needed to meditate before bed. And tonight will surely require more time than is usually necessary.
The following morning, Jonathon awoke more rested and relaxed than he had in several weeks. Finally, things were going from bad to good instead of in the reverse order, which was how the universe usually chose to do things.
He stepped out onto the bridge and automatically took a quick glance around the consoles. Everything seemed to be in place until his eyes lit on the tightly coiled knot at the back of Ensign Pallavi’s head. That prompted a thought about the non-Denobulan doctor in sickbay, and the relaxation drained instantly. He sighed and rubbed his eyes, feeling his knees creak as he stepped down in front of T’Pol’s consol.
Her dark eyes were cast down to peruse the steady stream of information, shifting only between monitors. The sight was familiar enough to have provided the commodore with no small measure of comfort, but there was none. It nearly caused him to frown, this discrepancy between the familiar sight of his science officer and the disturbing detachment that just barely radiated from her. He chose to dismiss it; there was enough on his mind at the moment without adding T’Pol to the list.
“What’s our status?” he asked her. She did not bother to look up.
“We’ve been clear of the micro-singularity field for 4.2 hours. We are currently tracking the Columbia’s plasma decay trail, but it’s very faint.”
T’Pol did not know what had disturbed the Commodore, but did not give it much thought. I do not know him anymore, she told herself. But the gentlest feeling of concern was starting to niggle its way through her concentrated neutrality. She needed something to distract her. Glancing around her work station, her gaze lit upon the PADD she should have delivered to Captain Tucker the previous night. She could not decide which was a worse way to destroy her productivity, so she took the logical way out. She could not at the present moment do anything about the commodore’s mood, but she could give Tucker the PADD. With a quick word to Reed, she left the bridge.
Walking down through the winding corridors, T’Pol couldn’t help but feel a knot forming in her belly. Was this the right choice? Had coming back to Enterprise been the right idea? She ducked beneath a railing and came to the Chief Engineer’s office. Scenes of Neuropressure treatments and one particular night that she had spent years trying to forget whispered to her, almost lending themselves to the situation at hand like a subtle fragrance. She knocked twice before receiving the permission to enter.
Trip looked up from his desk and tried to keep from staring. She had actually sought him out.
“’Thought you were avoiding me.” He said half jokingly, hoping it would mask whatever else he was feeling at the moment. T’Pol didn’t respond to that, and in the shadows it was impossible to discern any shift in facial expression.
“This is the rest of the data from the lunar colony. It may provide useful if you are having difficulty with the modifications we made.” She handed the PADD to him, her voice soft. Trip nearly winced to hear her speak in that hushed tone; it was the same one that still occupied his dreams.
“Nah, that’s all right. Schematics, whether they’re Vulcan or Human are pretty much the same,” he nodded towards her, gently smiling, “logic and all that.”
She didn’t even raise an eyebrow as she replied, “Indeed.” She turned on her heel and left the office, closing the door behind her. Trip rubbed the heels of his hands into his eye sockets.
What he would have given for just a raised eyebrow.
He glanced down at the PADD, its surface glowing and punctuated with blinking squares across the bottom.
It finally hit him then, at that very moment when he mourned the loss of that enigmatically raised eyebrow. She was gone. The T’Pol that had just left his office was not the woman he’d once cared for. Hell, maybe even loved. I’ve spent way too much time chasing a dream, he realized. He pushed himself away from the desk and went out to his beloved albeit obsolete warp core and decided to treat this mission like what it was: closure. On so many levels, this was closure. Or at least, he amended, it was going to be.
T’Pol, instead of returning to the activity of the bridge, decided to finish her work from her quarters. Perhaps it had not been wise to visit Mr. Tucker. No, do not think that way, she admonished herself. She stood straighter and quickened her steps. She kept her mind purposefully blank, knowing that any number of the thoughts that were vying for prominence would have unpleasant effects. Once reaching her quarters, she took a few deep meditative breaths. I can do this, she told herself. Even at that moment, she knew it was not the work that lay so logically organized on the PADD that she was thinking of.
A chance glance at the monitor provided the necessary respite from herself. She examined it closer, and was surprised to discover a deviation in the projected path of Columbia from the actual path the ship had taken. She settled herself into her chair and almost with a sigh of relief, began to apply logical thought to the problem at hand.
Yet it seemed logic was not coming easily to her today. Thirty minutes into her analysis, she still could not find a logical reason for such a discrepancy between the ion trail and the projected course of the other craft. Worse, as Enterprise’s sensors swept ahead, it was becoming significantly more difficult for the computer to isolate the trail. There were a number of other ion trails polluting the one she was tracing, and that information by itself was enough to raise a flag. Another half hour of intense scrutiny brought her to a halt. Just three and a half days away from the lunar colony, the Columbia’s decaying plasma trail ceased to continue.
T’Pol checked the chronometer in the corner of her monitor and decided pay a visit to Archer. He was in his quarters when she arrived, the worn water polo ball on the crook of his arm. Glancing around the stateroom, T’Pol was awash in memories again. She instinctively braced herself for the pungent aroma of Porthos, and felt a strange sadness when she realized he was probably dead.
“What’s going on?” Archer asked, his face no longer sporting the strange expression from that morning. At the moment, he looked like the friend she had once cherished so much. The friend she had not allowed herself to miss.
“It’s the plasma trail.” She explained, handing the PADD to him. As he took it, she thought about putting her hands behind her back, but instead let them rest at her sides. Archer frowned as he looked over the information.
“This makes no sense.” He said, echoing her sentiments. “Why does it start to waver and get fainter, and then just all of the sudden disappear?” he looked up at her from his bed, as though she had the answers.
“I don’t know.” She answered. “However, the presence of the other ion trails may have something to do with it.”
Archer nodded, and then said “this is what, two days away?”
“At our present speed, yes.”
He nodded, rising slowly. T’Pol was almost hoping he would start to pace, but he merely remained standing in front of her. “Tell Ensign Pallavi to increase speed to Warp 4.5.”
T’Pol’s eyebrow climbed her forehead, and Archer tried to suppress a smile.
“Captain Tucker won’t be happy.” She said quietly. Archer laughed.
“No, he definitely won’t. Maybe you should make sure those modifications your team made don’t have any unexpected effects, or else he might make up some brand new phrases.” He suggested behind a half smile. She rewarded him with another patented T’Pol look; this one of mild reproach. She took the proffered PADD from him and left, heading down to engineering once more.
Except Trip wasn’t there anymore. She checked the mess hall but when she saw he wasn’t there either, knew there was only one other place he could be. She was able to get to his quarters, but found herself strangely unable to press the chime that would announce her presence. A tendril of panic crept into her spine, but she shook it off and steeled herself. She would not allow emotion to compromise her again.
She pressed the chime, and then did it again just because she could.
Trip stood there as the door slid aside, his uniform now creased from a full day of wear. He hooked his hands around the frame, lounging.
“‘Something I can do for you?” He asked not unkindly, stepped back from the door to let her come in. She stepped through and paused just inside the door, unsure where to go from there. He took a seat on the bunk, indicating with a gesture that she should make herself at home on the desk chair.
Yet, she remained standing at the threshold of the room.
“The commodore just gave the order to increase speed to Warp 4.5.” she said. Trip groaned and ground his fists into his eye sockets.
“And why would he do that?” he asked.
T’Pol came forward and showed him the PADD. “There’s been a change in the direction and clarity of the plasma decay.”
When she hesitated, he gave her his best coaxing face. “I’m gonna need to go over those new specs so I know what to expect from the engine.”
T’Pol could not argue with this, and sat down at his side. The mattress sagged gently, bringing their bodies to brush lightly against each other. Neither wanted to acknowledge the proximity, so they focused instead on the platonic problem of work. It was explained fairly quickly, and Trip found himself wishing there was more to it.
He had missed this; the companionship they provided for one another as they worked on a problem. As he sat next to her in silence, he somehow got the feeling that T’Pol had missed it too.
“So,” he began, excusing himself in the name of closure, “how have you been?”
It was a stupid way to start a conversation with the Vulcan; he knew she’d see right through it. It was odd how that very realization comforted him.
“I’ve been well. After leaving Earth, I returned to Vulcan for a few months. Then I gathered a group of colleagues and founded the lunar colony.”
Trip nodded. He hadn’t expected much more. Still, he had nothing to lose. Not anymore.
“You seem different.” Again, he knew it was a stupid thing to say to her. But this time, instead of the typical vague Vulcan answer, she was silent. Trip looked at her, curious. What was she hiding?
“Upon my return home, I sought help in controlling my emotions. You remember I had a difficult time with them during the Xindi Mission.” Her voice was soft again and Trip shivered. T’Pol glanced at him, but he looked away. He couldn’t bear to see that look on her face again.
“So . . . you’re better?” he asked, for lack of anything else to say. Again, T’Pol was silent for a second before replying.
“Yes,” she finally said, “I’m better.” She rose from the bunk and walked over to the door.
“Good night.” She said.
She left, and Trip pulled the sheet up over his head as he silently cursed himself. This was going to be a hell of a mission. Two floors up and around a corner, T’Pol was getting ready to meditate, changing her clothes and lighting her candles on autopilot. Just before her mind emptied of all thought, she wondered for the hundredth time whether or not coming back was a good idea. Or rather, whether it had been a good idea to leave in the first place.
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A whole mess of folks have made comments
Well, it was worth the wait! The way you write these characters is wonderful.
Big sigh for my favorite couple. I so want them to be able to have some type of relationship, even if only friendship. There is so much between them - please let that continue to come through in your story!!
Thanks and keep up the good writing. I can't wait for more.
Please tell me T'Pol is going to relent, and she and Trip will resume their friendship. Their need comes through your story so well.
By the way, a big thanks goes out to Jenna for being such a wonderful, stalwart and detail-oriented beta.
WooHoo, i love this story! It was definatly worth the wait!
Your character development is super, and the plot seems very well thought out. I also enjoy your style, theres a nice flow to you writing that makes the story that much more enjoyable to read.
I am looking forward to the next installment.
Well, I guess I better submit a review because I would really like to read the next installment. Major tension between the two, something or someone has gotta give. Trip is right this is going to be a hell of a mission if they continue to feel awkward towards one another. Please post soon
PS sorry to here about your bout with Mono... been there, done that, got the t-shirt. It's exhausting, hope all is well.
Yikes... sorry about getting sick. Hope your enjoying the college life though!
Please give us more! If you don't your threats won't be meaning much because you'll have a mob on your hands. ;)
Very good! I like the way you are building up to the underlying emotional confliction. Can't wait to see where you are going with this story. A shame to think that Porthos has passed on. Ali D :~)
Awwww... don't leave me hanging like this...
Holy cow. This suspense is killing me. I can't wait for this mission to kick into high gear. Your interaction between T and T are spot on. Thanks for continuing the saga!!!
very good! How much longer til the update? lol cause I'm on the edge of my seat! I love this!