If you are seeing this paragraph, the site is not displaying correctly. You can see the content, but your current browser does not support CSS which is necessary to view our site properly. For the best visual experience, you will need to upgrade your browser to Netscape 6.0 or higher, MSIE 5.5 or higher, or Opera 3.6 or higher. If, however, you don't wish to upgrade your browser, scroll down and read the content - everything is still visible, it just doesn't look as pretty.


Author - Ludjin | Bound Fiction Challenge | Genre - Action/Adventure | Genre - Bound CHALLENGE Fic | H | Rating - R
Fan Fiction Main Page | Stories sorted by title, author, genre, and rating



By Ludjin

Email: begoniagrasshopper@hotmail.com
Rated: R
Genre: Trip/T'Pol, Romance.
Disclaimer: They're not mine. No money for me. They're Paramount's, the frickin' gits.
Spoilers: All known ones up to and including Bound.
Archive: Yes, but notify me, please.
Summary: Entry for the Bound fic challenge. Italics represent inner thoughts.
Author's notes: This is my very first fan-fic, period! It also came out about twenty-plus pages longer than I expected. The story started and then developed into a little Godzilla. Many thanks go to the spoiler-hounds that sniffed all the fun stuff out for us, so we could go crazy over it. Many other thanks go to stub, a gracious and encouraging beta. You rock. :)
Oh, an addendum of sorts is in the works that will explain some things that happen here, but I cut it from being a part of this particular fic. I hope you enjoy!


"The course of true love never did run smooth."
--William Shakespeare



It was the seventh time today Commander Tucker had burned some part of his body.

The first on his list of injuries was a shiny red welt above his right knee, easily visible through the singed hole in his uniform. Around lunchtime -- which he had skipped -- he had somehow managed to blister his left palm and the back of his left hand. There was another crispy hole in his jumpsuit along his right arm, which happened sometime late in the afternoon. Two fingers of his right hand had been caught between some rebelling circuits, and Trip was getting sick of not being able to get a good hold on the finer wires of Enterprise's innards.

The hapless victim this time was the middle finger of his left hand. Absently, he stuck the finger in his mouth and sucked, ignoring the bitter taste of soot and God-knows-what-else that covered his hand. He wondered, not for the first time today, if Enterprise herself was seeking some sort of sick revenge on him. At the moment, though, he wouldn't be surprised if she was. Hell, he could imagine just about anything rebelling against Commander Kelby if it was put under that stupid fool's care.

Yes, Enterprise was definitely rendering vengeance on her wandering ex-chief.

The fact that Trip's beloved engines were under the management of an incompetent idiot grated severely on him. Starfleet hadn't given much thought to his recommendations for promotion from within, although he knew at the time of his transfer -- and most definitely now -- that the best person for the job would have been somebody already here.

Enterprise needed someone with real deep-space experience, who knew what it was like out here, and who knew those engines inside and out. However, Starfleet had its bureaucratic head shoved up its collective behind and had assigned an engineering buffoon cut from the same mold as those who couldn't get Columbia out of space dock. If that was the best HQ could do, he wasn't sure he even wanted to know what they were teaching recruits at the Academy.

And not only was Kelby an incompetent ass, he was also a sabotaging sonofabitch. Blowing him out an airlock seemed like a better and better idea to Trip after every hour that ticked by.

It had felt great to ram his fist into that slimy bastard's eye. Although it was probably a good thing that Kelby had hit him first, it irritated Trip that the new chief had gotten an upper hand on him, coming out of nowhere like that. Still, while decking another officer in self-defense never looked great on your record, at least it was better than assault -- a charge that Kelby was dealing with, at the moment. That also meant Enterprise's chief of engineering was confined to quarters for the time being, and Trip was essentially the man in charge again.

So, Commander Tucker was where he had been for most of the past two days -- stuck inside any one of what seemed to be countless damaged conduits, cramped and broiling under open access panels. Sweat rolled in fat beads off his forehead, and the holey remnant of his much-abused uniform was drenched from the neck-line down. He stank, and he knew it. He also didn't care. It wasn't like he had anyone to impress. Well . . .

Hey, those Orion girls are sexy as hell. Think about them for a while.

Trip snorted in amusement. While every other man on the ship seemed to be going delusional over the green beauties, he was trying desperately to use them as a distraction against his own sweet siren. Sweet. That's a word he never thought he'd use in reference to T'Pol.

With a groan he forced his mind and his aching hands back onto the tangle of wires dangling over his head. He really, really didn't need to start thinking about her again. Sadly, though, he had to tell himself that hundreds of times daily, it seemed. In all his life, he'd considered himself a sane man. He might've gone crazy over a few girls -- especially a time or two in high school -- but he was always capable of moving on. Why wasn't he able to just forget about T'Pol?

Why, why, why?

That tiny moment of distraction was enough to send a spark arcing onto another one of Trip's fingertips, filling the small, hot crawlspace with more acrid fumes and the faint reek of seared flesh. As he let loose a string of curses that would make a MACO blush, he decided his earlier decision was wrong.

Enterprise wasn't seeking revenge. She was jealous.

Et tu, ship? he thought blackly. Everyone's against me. Including you. A few wires sparkled feebly in response.

As he scowled and sucked on the offending burn, Trip felt the back of his mind prickle faintly. He was beginning to know that feeling well, although for the life of him he couldn't fathom why. It felt like a phantom itch at the bottom of his brain, one that made him want to dig his nails into the back of his neck and scratch really hard.

It also always seemed to preclude T'Pol coming to see him. He considered it as his own personal early warning system.

At the time, though, he'd prefer continuing his own slow electrocution rather than confront her again. It seemed all they ever did these days was snap at each other, even if they were only discussing ship's business -- and even if they were only talking over the comm. God, but it was annoying.

He actually hadn't seen much of her in his days back onboard Enterprise; however, with half the crew now going bananas, and with all these repairs, he'd had to relay proposed plans and coordinate quite a few system reroutes through her from her station on the bridge. For whatever his reasons -- and with the Orions on board Trip wasn't sure he wanted to know -- the Captain had been holed up in either his ready-room or his quarters for the past three days, so T'Pol was basically running the ship.

The prickle grew into a tingle and he ground the back of his head back and forth across the grated bottom of the conduit. He really should go see Phlox. He wasn't sure he cared if he got labeled psychologically insane and relieved of command. This was driving him nuts. And just being on the same ship as T'Pol was about to send him off the deep end.

He suppressed a groan as a pair of familiar boots appeared beside his outstretched legs. He was also afforded a nice glimpse of calves clothed in an equally familiar shade of purple.

God, I love those legs.

"Can I help you, Commander?" he asked, his voice carefully neutral. Trip decided it was best to get things over with. Whatever she wanted, he'd tell her. Hell, hopefully he wouldn't even have to leave the relative safety of the conduit. Maybe he'd only be tortured by that weird tingle and the sight of her calves this time, and not actually have to look her in the eye.

"There is a matter I would appreciate your assistance on," T'Pol said. "I believe I have found a way to reroute power to the warp engines without further damaging the ship's relays."

Unfortunately, during Kelby's rampage, the warp engines themselves had taken quite a bit of damage. Granted, they'd had a beating in the last week or so, what with the Klingons trying their hardest to make the Enterprise a sparkly smear across the galaxy, twice-over. The new chief engineer's sudden decision to overload a few subsystems didn't help matters, and now Enterprise was a sitting duck. A sitting duck who's male crewmembers were going ga-ga over three women with skin the color of pea-soup, and thus, hardly able to function.

"Yeah? I'm listening."

There was a moment's pause. "I have all the information available for your assessment on several padds."

"Leave 'em here. I'll read over it when I get this done."

"It would be best if you reviewed the information now, so we might implement the alterations as quickly as possible." T'Pol hesitated a beat before continuing. "I did not see you at breakfast this morning, Commander. Nor did you find time for the noon and evening meals. The human body needs regular--"

"Oh, for God's sake, T'Pol!" Where'd that lecture come from? She sounded like his mother. Now that was a horrible thought. "What are you, my caretaker? How the hell d'you know I haven't eaten, anyways?" Even to his own mind, he sounded extra-snarky.

"Have you?"

"No." He sounded even snarkier.

"Then I am not incorrect."

Damn Vulcans. He kept his mouth shut, just in case he said something a bit too rude.

T'Pol took his silence as a prompt to continue. "You are quite capable of eating and reading at the same time. Another crewman could finish this repair. I wish to know of your opinions and recommendations as soon as possible, so I will join you."

There was an odd lilt to her voice at the end of her last comment that Trip didn't bother trying to figure out. Instead, he remained silent, his mind searching wildly for a reason to stay here in his nice conduit and not have to sit down at a table with his ex-lover, ex-girlfriend, whatever. When had he become so unprofessional? Probably around the same time he'd gone crazy. He just hadn't noticed it at the time.


Back to just Commander, huh? That's a small victory. Every time he'd heard his name on her lips, his heart had broken just a little more.


Damn. So much for that victory.

With a stifled groan, he shoved himself out from under the access panel and climbed to his feet, rolling his head back and forth to ease stiff neck muscles. Now that he wasn't staring at Enterprise's tattered guts, he realized just how bone-weary he was and how badly his body hurt.

Absently, he ran his unburned fingers through hair slick with sweat and scratched at the back of his head. The tingle hadn't gone away. He finally shifted his gaze to the petite commander who primly held a stack of padds in front of her, almost like a shield. He didn't particularly want to analyze why she would shield herself from him. Hell, he was probably imagining things, anyways. Like that damn tingle.

Then he met her gaze.

He really hadn't wanted to look her in the eye. The expression on her face was typical for her -- well, for a Vulcan -- but something lurked there. If he put words to it, she looked . . . worried. For him? Nah. No way. Ship's business? She'd outright tell him, if that was the case. Something personal? Three months ago, he would've dug to find out what it was. Now, he told himself over and over that he didn't care. That he shouldn't care. Unfortunately, he was just as bad of a liar to himself as he was to other people. And oddly, the only person who actually seemed to believe his lies was T'Pol.

As quickly as he noticed it, her expressive eyes became guarded. He glanced down and away from her. He noticed how incredibly dirty he was, and wondered just how offensive he smelled to her. A bitter voice inside his head decided that a little discomfort was her due. She didn't have to put up with a tingle.

Trip gave himself a shake as T'Pol moved wordlessly off in the direction of the mess hall. He hastily walked after her. "So, what's your idea?"

T'Pol handed him one of the padds. "The additional backup systems installed at Jupiter Station before the Augment situation have taken minimal damage--"

"But none of those are routed directly to the engines," Trip interrupted.

"Not presently. However, the modifications needed to reroute power would take less time than the repairs presently required on our other systems. While as labor intensive as the repairs, it would provide a more rapid solution to our present dilemma." She canted her head to one side and glanced at him for a moment. "At this time, it would be best if we had a way to leave the area as quickly as possible."

"Yeah?" Trip's eyebrows rose in surprise. This was the first he'd heard that Enterprise might have an outside threat to worry about. Hell, it was enough to deal with the inside threats at the moment.

He paused as they passed a small cluster of engineering crewman and singled out one of his -- no, not mine, Kelby's -- lieutenants. He noticed with some surprise that the night's skeleton crew had come on. How late is it?

"Keller, the conduit repair at the A12 access panel needs finishing up. The tools are already there." Without waiting for an, "aye, sir," Trip moved off, burrowing half of his mind into the padd in front of him and the other half on moving his feet toward the mess hall. He sensed T'Pol trailing about a foot behind him, silent.

They didn't speak again until the doors to the mess hall slid open. Trip glanced up as he stepped over the threshold and noticed with surprise that the hall was completely deserted. "What time is it, anyways?"

T'Pol regarded him with a lifted brow as she stopped at his side. He smothered a tiny grin. He always loved that particular expression of hers: veiled annoyance with a dash of amusement. Vulcans really weren't all that hard to read, once you got to know them.

She motioned to a table by one of the viewing windows. "It is 0017 hours, Commander." Wow. A lot later than he thought. "Please sit. I will retrieve your meal."

Trip blinked in surprise. She was going to serve him dinner? That was a first. He stared after her as she turned and moved off toward the galley. Was she being nice to him?

"Uh. Okay." Nice. Real eloquent. His guard momentarily down, he let his eyes rove downward over her retreating backside, unable to resist admiring the gentle sway of her hips.

Whoa, boy. Stop it.

He gave his head a shake. There was need to get optimistic over something like this. She was simply being efficient and logical. Nothing new. At the moment, though, being efficient and logical happened to include doing something nice for him. And like the masochistic crazy man he was, he gladly lapped at the crumbs she fed him.

Still, it was definitely odd. He was capable of getting his own food, and the time taken away from reading the padds to do that simple chore wasn't that big of a deal.

Why was she doing this? Was it really that logical?

Like so many times before, she was just confusing him. For all that she seemed to not give a damn about him, she also sent the weirdest signals. It was enough to drive a man mad, although he hoped he wasn't a certified loon, yet, despite the tingle that still itched at the base of his brain. He tried to scratch the back of his neck, only to have his burned fingers complain.

The frustration he felt at the entire situation truly scared him. He'd bottled it all up -- a typical move for him -- but now he felt like a too-tightly wound top. He wasn't even sure where all the aggravation came from. It simmered inside him, boiling over occasionally to scorch whoever happened to ask him the wrong question at the wrong time.

He knew his unchecked temper wasn't doing much for the morale on either Columbia or Enterprise; however, he really didn't know what to do about it, beyond seeing some counselor. And he hated counselors.

Some sensible part of him realized that standing around and thinking about T'Pol's aberrant behavior and his own unusual temperament was quickly stripping away the logical reason for her even going to get the food. The padd remained in his hand, waiting patiently to be reviewed, and he hadn't read a word since stepping into the mess hall.

Shaking his head again, he moved to the table she'd pointed out and sank gratefully into one of the chairs. It was nice to finally let his body relax, even if moving his shoulders around sent his muscles into spasms of protest. Ignoring the painful twinges, he focused his attention back onto the padd.

Engrossed, he didn't notice T'Pol approach until she slid a tray of food in front of him, along with the other two padds she'd been holding. Trip's stomach let out a loud, embarrassing growl, and he leaned back in his chair, dismay wrinkling his forehead.

"I missed blackened catfish?" He snuck a peak under the napkin hiding a suspicious, triangular-shaped wedge. "And pecan pie?"

"You missed the catfish last night. The pecan pie was from tonight. If you wish, there are five other varieties of pie from this evening's meal that you may try, as well as four others from the evening before." Amusement touched her voice. "The chef has . . . outdone himself lately. I believe he is attempting to discover the Orion's favorite food."

Trip chuckled as he propped the first padd against his drink and laid the other two alongside it, aiming them so he could easily read and eat at the same time. "I think every guy on Enterprise is trying to figure out some way to, uh, ingratiate himself in some way to those girls."

"Indeed." He noticed her gaze flicker and drop to the tabletop, but chose not to comment.

Silence reigned between them for many minutes, broken only by the clatter of his fork as he wolfed down his meal.

"Damn. I'd forgotten how good Chef was, even if he's gone crazy for the Orions. The cook on Columbia is good, but he's got nothing on the one here." He leaned back in his chair, taking a break from reading to stare affectionately down at his empty plate. "Thanks, T'Pol. You really didn't have to get me my food."

"Would you like more? There is plenty. I will go--"

Trip cut her off with a lifted hand. "Ah, T'Pol, you really don't have to do that. I know where the galley is."

Would wonders never cease? She wanted to serve him seconds? Was this some sort of play-nice-to-Trip game? And why the hell would she be playing it? His confusion only made him all the more frustrated.

She simply ignored him, rising and taking his plate. For a moment, he debated arguing with her over it -- for, most assuredly, something this minor would undoubtedly turn into an argument. With a shrug and a conscious effort to tamp down his irritation, he decided to play along. Besides, he was too tired to fight that particular battle. It was also kind of nice to be taken care of. He twisted his head around, staring after her as she once again retreated to the galley.

Read the padds, idiot.

He laughed quietly to himself and snuck a bite of his pecan pie, savoring the sweet, nutty flavor as he turned his attention back to where it was supposed to be. One bite followed another, and another. Pecan pie was entirely too good of a thing to be waited for, anyhow.

"Thanks, T'Pol," he said several minutes later as she again slid a full plate in front of him.

She merely nodded, then looked pointedly at the crumbly remains of his pie. "I've always thought dessert was intended for after the main course?"

Trip threw her an impish grin. "My mom thought that, too. It doesn't make sense to me to wait for pecan pie, though. I mean, c'mon, it's pecan pie. Who can resist it?"

"The Orion females, apparently," she remarked dryly. "There are several other pecan pies, as yet untouched, still in the galley."

Trip chuckled and shrugged. "Ah, well. They don't know what they're missing. All the more for me, I guess."

He aimed his fork back onto the catfish and other assorted vegetables and dug in, anew. He wasn't surprised he was this hungry. He hadn't eaten much since his return to the Enterprise. Honestly, he hadn't had time.

Most of the way through his second helping, Trip decided he'd read enough to comment on T'Pol's suggested plan.

"It looks feasible," he said, his voice somewhat muted around a mouthful of squash. He waved vaguely with his free hand at the padds' glowing faces and took a moment to swallow. "Although we've never had much of a chance to test those back-up systems. There could be a few glitches we don't know about. I'd hate to reroute power only to have it all blow up in our faces." He glanced down to load his fork with more catfish. "I can start the testing tonight. It shouldn't take more than three hours. If it all goes well, I can get the first shift started on the modifications. Hell, I should probably pull all the women from the second shift and put them on first. Things'll get done a lot faster." He popped the forkful into his mouth.


Trip furrowed his brow and chewed furiously, basic manners of not spewing food while speaking warring with his confusion. "Why not? You know as well as I do that the men on this ship are pretty much worthless right now. And getting those engines online is a big priority. You pretty much said so, yourself."

"You are not 'worthless', as you say, and you are a man. And I do not disagree with you concerning the work shift alterations. I disagree with your plan on starting the tests tonight."

Trip felt equal measures of shock and amusement, quickly replaced by annoyance at her last remark. "Well, I'm glad you think I have at least something to offer. And why the hell shouldn't I?"

"You require sleep."

He snorted and turned his attention back on his plate. "Yeah. Sleep. That's one thing I'm not going to get anytime soon." He waved his full fork at her, adding, "Besides, priorities, remember?"

"You had said you were not experiencing any sleep-related problems." T'Pol's voice was unmistakably accusing. Apparently, priorities be damned, at the moment.

He rolled his eyes. He well remembered her cryptic questions of a week ago. Full-on exasperation set in. His fork clattered noisily to his plate as he practically threw it down. "I lied, all right?"


Was that hurt, now? Trip wondered if he was just imagining all those subtle vocalized emotions. They certainly didn't make any sense.

"Why not? It's my business. You're not my first officer anymore. It's not your job to make sure I'm stable." He distantly noted that his voice was rising. Thankfully, the mess hall was still empty of everyone but them.

"It is also my 'business,' presently. Commander Kelby, as you are well aware, is confined to quarters. You have seniority in engineering. A great deal depends on you."

The two glared at each other for a long, silent moment. Trip knew she was right; however, the bruised remainder of his ego didn't want any part of his personal life dictated to him by T'Pol, even if it was the simple matter of how much sleep he got per night.

"Of course," he replied, his tone wry. He dropped his eyes to his plate. Suddenly, he wasn't that hungry anymore. "Enterprise can't seem to get along without me, can she?"

"No. It seems she cannot." Her voice was just as wry. Trip glanced up at her. She was staring at some seemingly indiscernible spot on the table.

He sighed and leaned heavily against the back of his seat. Her eyes lifted to meet his. "Fine. I'll sleep. Four hours, tops, though."


He blinked in surprise. He thought she'd argue him up.

Catching the look on his face, she quirked an eyebrow, adding, "I can force you to your quarters, but I cannot force you to sleep, Commander."

He laughed aloud. It was nice to have a somewhat civil conversation with her, for once. "Somewhat" was the key word, though. He busied himself with stacking his plates and the three padds. The more he thought about it, heading back to his quarters for a least a shower was sounding better and better.

"Perhaps a neuropressure session would aid you--"

Trip leapt from his seat as if burned. "No!"

T'Pol blinked up at him, momentarily taken aback.

"Goddamn it, T'Pol!"

He backed away from the table, knocking his chair to the floor. He kicked out in frustration at it.

She blinked again, one eyebrow canting upward. "I am only attempting to help you, Commander."

He gave a short laugh. "Help? You do remember what neuropressure involves, right?" Sarcasm laced his voice.

T'Pol narrowed her eyes. "It is not likely that I would forget it. Need I remind you that neuropressure aids in relieving sleeplessness?"

He laughed again -- this time, bitterly. "We stopped the whole thing because you thought that I was taking it too personally. How the hell do you think I'd take it, now?"

Her response didn't come for a few seconds. Then, "You had also ceased having problems with sleeping. Now, they have returned."

He shook his head in bewilderment. "No, T'Pol," he stated flatly. "Don't ask me to do this, all right?"

"This need not be personal in any way."

"Damn it, don't tell me what to take personally!"

His temper flared and raged suddenly at the woman he loved who sat so calmly across from him. What the hell was she thinking? He struck out furiously at the gathered dishes.

"I'm only here for a few more days, tops. And we're only working together 'til I get the hell off this damn ship." He slammed the palms of his hands down on the table and leaned across it, planting his grimy face near hers. "So just stay away from me!"

Still incensed, he stormed out of the mess hall. For whatever reason, though, he happened to glance back into the mess hall before the doors closed.

Head lowered, shoulders hunched, T'Pol remained sitting at the table, unmoving.


About half an hour later, Trip deeply regretted his words.

Once he'd gotten to his quarters, he'd stripped and fled to the blessed heat and humidity of his shower. The sweat and soot washing off his body had stung his burns fiercely, and so had the soap. Still, the pain cleared some of the rage. He scrubbed viciously.

Fifteen minutes later, the water had become frigid and his mind cleared even more.

Now, staring around the sparse room that had once been his personal quarters, he was once again furious -- this time, at himself. T'Pol was who she was, and although she'd been on Enterprise for almost four years, she wasn't an expert on humans. And she definitely didn't know how to handle ex-lovers who happened to be human.

Sighing heavily, Trip gave in to the urge to smack his forehead. Repeatedly. Hell, she'd actually been nice to him that evening. She was just continuing to be nice -- in an unflappably logical way -- when she suggested the neuropressure. He was having trouble sleeping; logically, the Vulcan way to ease such a problem was through neuropressure.

He snorted. Logic be damned. He hoped Phlox had written down somewhere that humans should never, ever receive Vulcan neuropressure. Especially from a Vulcan who had no idea just what affect she had on any typical red-blooded human male. That was one experiment in alternative remedies that had seriously backfired.

Trip crawled naked into his bed, trying desperately to chase all thoughts of T'Pol out of his mind. He knew, however, that if he did sleep, his dreams would be of her. And more than likely, they'd take on an absurdly erotic flavor.

He groaned as a new wave of guilt and shame washed over him. Great. He practically ripped her head off in reality and now he was going to have kinky, steamy sex with her in the dream-world. You're a real dog, Tucker.

He was also pissed at himself for storming off and leaving those padds. If he'd had the sense to grab them before he left, he'd have something to read the remaining three and a half hours he was supposed to stay in his quarters. And he was going to stay in his quarters. He could at least do what she'd asked.

So all that remained for him to do was try to sleep. He doubted it would happen, but he could at least try.

It took all of five minutes for him to drift off. And, strangely, his dreams that night were completely free of T'Pol.


The next afternoon, he was once again up to his proverbial elbows in the ship's inner workings. This time, though, he was standing in front of a working console in main engineering, carefully watching the readings.

Surprisingly, he'd slept a solid five hours and felt all the better for it. His brain, for one, wasn't nearly as foggy as it had been the day before. Thus far, he'd also managed to avoid injury and keep his uniform whole. The day was a long way from over, though, he reminded himself.

T'Pol's idea had worked up to this point, although five of the backup subsystems had needed either minor or major reworking to handle the kind of power that was going to pulse through them. He'd pulled all the women from the second day shift and added them to the first, although he didn't relieve many of the men. He needed the extra hands. Occasionally, he regretted that; he was sick and tired of pulling apart the squabbles that erupted at random. The women working around him seemed relieved that their acting chief wasn't as mad out of his head as the rest of the crewmen.

If only they knew.

Despite the welcome distraction of work, Trip still felt a sick coil of shame in his gut whenever his thoughts strayed to T'Pol. He'd wanted to bang his head against the wall when he'd walked into the engineering chief's office that morning and had seen three padds neatly lying on the desk.

Well, she was doing what he'd asked, at least. She was fully avoiding him. Even messages from the bridge were relayed through third parties. He really didn't want to imagine what those third parties thought of that unusual development.

"Baker!" he yelled, tipping his head back and peering up at the catwalk overhead. A bright, delicate face surrounded by a halo of blonde hair appeared over the railing. "How's it look?"

"Done, sir!"

Trip doubted Malcolm would be very happy with this; the rerouting Baker had headed up took out power to most of their weapon systems. Well, it was only temporary.

He bent his head to the console again, breathing out nervously through thinned lips. That was the last of the preparations. From where he was standing, and from where he had poked, prodded, and tested all day, everything looked ready. Still, a worry niggled at the back of his mind. Those backup systems really weren't designed for this. T'Pol's calculations were accurate, though, and the relays should handle it.

"Here we go." He punched the comm. "Tucker to the bridge."

"Bridge here."

Trip's eyebrows lifted in surprise. The Captain had responded. That was a voice he hadn't heard in a couple of days. "We're good to go down here."

After a moment, Archer's voice again jumped from the comm. "I hope you worked your magic, Trip. We're ready when you are."

Tucker grinned and closed the channel. "All right, people!" he shouted. "Rerouting power . . . Now!"

Five minutes later, the sparks and Trip's cursing had subsided.

"Bridge to Engineering."

He wondered how long the bridge had been trying to reach him. "Tucker here."

"Trip? What the hell happened?"

"Sorry, Captain. A relay blew. It's minor damage, but it'll take a few hours to fix it and to find out what went wrong."

"Any estimate on how long?" Archer sounded worried to Trip's ears.

"Four hours, tops."

"I'll keep you to that, Trip. Archer out."

Trip wondered briefly just what they were needing to run from. With a shake of his head, he moved toward the singed bulkhead and blown access panels that glared balefully at him.

"Still jealous, huh?" he muttered, patting the darkened conduit. He suppressed a chuckle, then turned to issue orders to his gathered crewmen. They scattered like worker ants and he faced the conduit again, attempting to see what he could make of this mess.

T'Pol appeared at his side about fifteen minutes later. If he hadn't been so engrossed in the readings he was taking, he might've been more surprised that he didn't sense her approach. Instead, he just blinked stupidly at her.

"Uh, Commander." He wondered why he always sounded like an idiot whenever she came around. It reminded him horribly of when he was fifteen.

"The Captain requested that I assist in repairs."

The now-familiar twist of shame in his stomach intensified tenfold. She didn't even meet his eyes; instead, she stared at a point over his left shoulder. Her voice sounded harsher and colder than normal, but what really made him feel sick was the emptiness in her eyes. Their normal subtle expressiveness was simply gone.

Trip debated apologizing, telling her how sorry he was for being a total ass, and that all he really wanted to do was shove her against a bulkhead and kiss her senseless, just because he was utterly, madly in love with her, and try as he might, he couldn't not love her.

He decided simply apologizing was probably the best route.

"T'Pol." He fidgeted. It was unnerving seeing her this . . . masked. "Listen, I'm sorry about what I said last night." Her stare wavered. "I was a bastard and completely out of line. You didn't deserve me blowing up on you." His voice softened and his gaze dropped back onto the spanner in his hands. "You wouldn't ever deserve something like that from anyone. I'm really sorry."

A familiar buzz erupted at the back of his mind, and his fingers twitched to itch it. He blinked and looked up to find her now staring directly at him. To his relief, the masked quality of her expression was gone, although he wasn't sure he could read what sparkled in her eyes. Sparkled? Yes. Sparkled.

After a moment, T'Pol tilted her head slightly. "The repairs, Commander?"

"Uh, yeah. Well, I could use some help here."

She simply nodded and looked with interest at the sooty mess revealed by the open access panels.

They worked companionably and almost silently for quite a while. He always had enjoyed working with her, even in those early months when she'd first come on board Enterprise. She'd driven him nuts, but more often than not, she was better than a whole team of help. Smarter, too.

And now she seemed to have developed an uncanny ability to know what he needed before he even asked. He doubted they'd even need those four hours. At this rate, they'd be done in two. Given how long the engineering crews had been at work today, finishing this job would be a welcome respite. And he wouldn't miss dinner.

Absorbed as he was in the repairs and his other thoughts, he was even able to almost wholly ignore the tingle at the base of his brain.

"What the hell are you doing?"

Trip glanced up as he heard an agitated male voice rise above the typical babble that filled Engineering.

"What am I doing? What the hell are you doing?"

Trip easily spotted the two. Gregory and Martinez, two relatively recent additions to the crew. They were bristling like cats as they squared off over a console. Tomcats. That was a good way to describe the men on the ship, lately. And the Orion girls were the females in heat.

So what did that make him? Neutered? No way.

Trip hoped that sensible thoughts would prevail between the men. That hope lasted all of ten seconds before a shoving match started. At least they didn't have claws.

"Shit," he muttered, dropping the spanner and jogging the short distance to the two now-shouting men. "Hey! HEY!"

If they wanted to shove, he'd shove too. Roughly, he pushed the ensigns apart. "Gregory, go monitor the power flow coming through the A15 conduit. I want thorough updates every twenty minutes. Martinez, get back to work here. And not another word unless it has to do with engineering."

He shifted his glare between the two men for several moments before Gregory slunk off and Martinez dropped his gaze back onto the console readings. Muttering under his breath, Trip turned and headed back towards T'Pol. She seemed to have watched the entire interchange with interest.

"It's happened all day, every day, since those damn Orions came onboard. I don't know what's going on, but at some point, someone's going to get ahold of a phaser and do some real damage." Not that Kelby hadn't managed to royally screw the ship up. But the thought of a crewman dying because of this mess chilled him far more deeply than a few blown subsystems.

T'Pol continued to stare at him. "You seem fully unaffected."

"Yeah. Well, I'm crazy in other ways." He bent to retrieve his spanner.

"How so?"

"Um. Don't worry about it. I'm just being, uh, facetious." He felt a blush creep up his neck and quickly busied himself with the interrupted repair.

He shifted uncomfortably under her unrelenting scrutiny and tried to distract her with conversation. "So, any thoughts on why I'm the only guy not going nuts over those Orion gals? They're pretty and all, but I don't want to tear someone else to pieces over them." He chuckled to himself. "And, I mean, I've always thought of myself as pretty normal, but I seem to be the minority in this whole thing."

"You are not the only male on board the ship who is unaffected." Trip glanced aside at her. "Doctor Phlox and Porthos also seem to be immune."

Trip rolled his eyes. "Any other human males?"


He grunted and turned his attention back onto the conduit. He sensed more than saw her fidget.

"However, I believe I know why you are not being affected."

"C'mon, T'Pol. The suspense is killing me." He was only half-focused on their conversation. The glowing conduit in front of him was far more important, in his mind. He had to fine-tune these circuits to an exact degree.

"We are . . bound."

Trip blinked and furrowed his brow. "'Scuse me?"

"Telepathically." She started fidgeting in earnest.

He paused in his configurations and glanced quizzically aside at her. "I'm still not following."

She was practically wringing her hands, now. That was a sight he'd never seen.

"Our minds have formed a telepathic bond between them."

He withdrew the spanner. "WHAT?”

"Commander!" She glanced nervously around Engineering. "Please, lower your voice."

"You can . . . You can read my mind?" Trip suddenly felt cold all over.

"As you say, 'in a matter of speaking', yes. Nonetheless, a Vulcan mating bond it is more complicated than simply reading another's mind. Our bond is also not strong enough, yet, to share thoughts."

Just as suddenly as he was chilled, heat suffused every part of his body. Vulcan mating bond? "HOW IN--" He paused, gritting his teeth together. Yes, this definitely wasn't a conversation he wanted anyone to overhear. "How in God's name did this happen?" he hissed.

"If you'll remember, during the time we were in the Expanse, we became intimate."

How could he forget?

"So . . . So one night?" He shook his head, still not quite believing it.

"Not quite. Our sexual encounter, coupled with the neuropressure, recreated the intimacy needed among Vulcan married couples to form a telepathic bond."

"We aren't married. In fact, you were married to another guy not too long ago."

Trip noticed annoyance darkening her eyes. Good. He was pretty annoyed, himself. Still mostly shocked, but annoyance was quickly growing.

"Vulcans have been forming mating bonds long before my culture's modern concept of marriage came to being."

All right. Fine. The brief thought that this meant they were Vulcan sexual deviants flashed through his mind. While that might've amused him at some other point -- namely, before she'd gotten married -- it didn't do anything to calm his agitation. "Didn't you know something like this could happen? You're the Vulcan, here. As far as I know, humans aren't telepathic."

"It was a possibility, but as remote of one to be irrelevant."

Trip snorted. "Not so irrelevant, now."

"There were other factors that allowed the bond to form." A definite edge had crept into her voice.

"Oh? Like what?"

T'Pol abruptly dropped her gaze. "The Expanse took an unexpected toll on my ability to suppress and control my emotions."

That's an understatement if I ever heard one.

"Yeah, I noticed." Trip sighed. She was getting more agitated by the moment -- and although he could've been imagining things, he could swear he could feel her agitation in his mind. This might explain that damn tingle, too. Maybe he wasn't crazy, after all.

And just maybe, this bond meant they could be together. Maybe it meant she could love him -- at least in a Vulcan way. He'd be happy with that. Hell, he'd be ecstatic with that. It was a Vulcan mating bond, for God's sake. Surely that meant something good. However, he didn't dare get his hopes up. She hadn't exactly been lovey-dovey to him these past months.

On instinct, he reached out and lightly touched the back of her hand. Her eyes shot up to meet his. "So, what now?"

Briefly, she seemed to search his face for something. Whatever she was looking for, she apparently didn't find it. She dropped her eyes once more, focusing this time on his hand. He was still lightly grazing the back of her own hand with the pads of his fingertips.

"There are priests on Vulcan who are capable of separating bonded pairs." She paused long enough for Trip to guess that she wasn't going to continue.

"Oh." Inwardly, he cursed. A one-syllable, nonsensical word, and he couldn't even get it out without his voice cracking like a pre-teen. But, then, he'd just had his heart broken. Again. All those maybes died a quick and painful death.

He withdrew his hand. "Yeah. That'd probably be best." He nodded quickly. "Yeah."

He cleared his throat and studied the conduit he'd abandoned earlier. "Commander, four hands over here is a bit of overkill. Could you run some assessments on the alterations? You can just put them on a padd and leave it on my desk." He briefly shook his head. "I mean, the chief engineer's desk." He lifted the spanner once more to the circuits and desperately hoped she'd take the hint.


"These repairs need to get done, Commander." Vaguely, his mind registered the hollowness in his voice. He felt her eyes on him, but he couldn't look at her. Not right now.


"Just do what I asked, all right?"

Silently, she moved away.

It wasn't until she was completely out of his sight that he noticed the tingle was once again gone. For the first time, he missed it.


That night, Trip's sleep was anything but peaceful. T'Pol had returned, yet again, to his dreams.

At first, he hadn't realized it. Wherever he was this time in the dream-world, it was dark, shadowed lightly only by what seemed to be flickering starlight. He was also naked, his entire body entwined with another's. Their skin shimmered and gleamed with their own and each other's sweat. His hands were everywhere: stroking her glistening shoulders, smoothing down the long line of her back, cupping her soft buttocks. He squeezed, nipped, and rubbed in a hazy euphoria.

She, in turn, was wild. She bucked and twisted in his arms, scraping and biting every part of him that her hands and mouth found. She ground her body roughly against him, creating a deliriously sweet friction that was further warmed by the blistering heat of her skin. Even with his eyes closed, she seemed to glow -- radiating an unnamable sense from his mind outward.

His lust-addled subconscious tried desperately not to identify the woman.

And why should it? The sensations pouring over him and through him were too good to think about. He could barely tell where he ended and the woman began. There was a feverish desperation to her lovemaking that fogged his dream-mind almost altogether.

However, not even his subconscious could fully mistake the tiny noises made by an all-too familiar Vulcan.

With a hoarse cry, Trip wrenched himself away. Desperate to get away from her touch, he curled himself, child-like, into a ball. T'Pol echoed his cry, and he felt her tear at his shoulders, his arms, his hands. In reality, he wouldn't have stood a chance against her natural strength -- but for whatever reason, her hands were now feeble and weak. He curled himself tighter, unmoved by her attempts.

"Trip!" Emotion filled her voice -- desperation, uncertainty, fear. But he couldn't respond. Then, "T'hai'la!"

It was a word he'd never heard before. Confused, he uncurled himself and turned to face her. Her hands immediately reached to stroke his face and her lips brushed against his. "Please, t'hai'la. I need you."

He pushed her away, shaking his head. "No," he whispered hoarsely. "I can't." He couldn't bear to be with this dream-T'Pol -- not tonight, not after the way they'd left each other, not after the finality of that horrible conversation.

Hot frustration roiled over him -- he wasn't sure it was his own. He heard a sob tear from her throat, and then a despairing, terrible keen filled his ears and his mind.

Trip awoke with a gasp. The keen reverberated through his mind.

Sweating and naked, he yanked himself out of his tangled bed sheets and stood, chest heaving. He didn't even feel himself move until his fist connected with one of the walls. That one small bit of pain wasn't enough to clear his head. He hit the wall again. And again, with the other fist. And again, and again, and again.

Dimly, he realized blood was splattering on the wall and on his bare chest. He didn't care. He just kept on hitting.

Finally, he'd meted out all the rage he could. He wasn't even sure where it all had exploded from, but he knew what it was. The loss of Enterprise, the loss of T'Pol, the twisted confusion of his mind, the unrelenting sex-dreams, his tightly bottled frustration, that strange mind thing that bound them together, but still wasn't enough to bring them together -- it had all suddenly spilled over in an unexplainable frenzy.

He stared -- his eyes hot and itchy, but dry -- at the dark wall. It wasn't even dented. He dimly recognized the analogy; it seemed he'd done a lot of throwing himself against immovable objects, and the only thing that came of it was his own pain. When would it end?

His fists throbbed viciously, but they were nothing in comparison to his aching heart.


The next day, Trip had to remind himself often not to rub his bloodshot eyes. Despite Phlox's expert care, his knuckles were beyond sore and he couldn't make a fist if he tried. Just holding a padd was painful enough.

He'd dropped by Sickbay earlier that morning to get his bruised, broken, and still bloody hands tended to. Phlox had stared thoughtfully at him for long moments while tending his wounds.

The good doctor hadn't questioned him on just how he had managed to break every single knuckle in both hands, as well as fracture several fingers. And while medical technology wasn't nearly to the point where he could take a pill and have his broken bones completely mended in an hour, the swelling was gone and the splints covering three of his fingers were relatively unobtrusive. Phlox had also administered a healing salve to Trip's untended burns and rubbed an ointment into his still-purple left cheek -- the mark Commander Kelby had so graciously left him.

All in all, he'd racked up an impressive amount of injuries in the past four days, and all Phlox had asked was that he come by when he felt like it for some more pain medication.

While he wasn't a particularly religious man, Trip thanked God for small favors. He really didn't want to explain much of anything to anyone, at this point.

Even now, back in Engineering, he kept his necessary interactions with the crew to a bare minimum. It was somewhat of a relief that quite a bit of administrative work needed to be done, so he gratefully holed himself up in the chief engineer's office. The less people who saw him today, the better.

He did take some satisfaction in the steady thrum that filled the air. Yesterday's efforts had paid off, and Enterprise was currently warping her way to a nearby planet. Once there, the ship would finally be free of the Orions. And once they were free of the green she-devils, Enterprise would speed onward to meet Columbia. Trip couldn't get off this ship soon enough.

Immersed in his musings, Trip didn't notice the sudden rise in volume of the engineering crew's collective voices. A shadow darkened his door a moment later, though, and he glanced up, startled.

"You must be . . . Trip."

Of all things that he needed to deal with today, an Orion female wasn't one of them. Some part of him was glad that she was clothed in far more than what she'd originally worn when she'd first come onboard. And the tightly-fitted pink shirt made a distinctly odd contrast to her emerald skin.

"I've heard all about you. Quite an interesting man, both in name and nature." She stretched herself against the office's doorframe, a smile curving her generous mouth.

Trip sighed and stood. "I'm sorry, ma'am, but visitors aren't allowed in Engineering. You're going to have to leave."

The beauty curled a lock of long, black hair around one of her delicate fingers and pouted. She stepped inside the office and took several measured steps toward him, her hips swaying in what he knew was a well-practiced art.

"But I don't want to leave," she murmured.

She paused, her assessing gaze traveling up and down Trip's body. He suddenly felt like a piece of meat. She even licked her lips before continuing. "You know, I hear you're the chief engineer around here. I heard that it was you who repaired the engines, yesterday. That you're the best. At everything."

She tilted her head, her smile growing. "So, I just had to come down and see for myself. I'm definitely not disappointed."

He didn't doubt that her song-and-dance routine sent all the other men on the ship into fits of drooling and sop-headed attempts to prove just how manly they were. Unfortunately for her, he just wasn't in the mood. He could feel a scowl twisting his mouth.

"Come now, Commander. You don't really want me to leave, do you?" She closed in on him and lifted a hand, trailing it gently up his chest. She paused to gently brush the stubble growing over his bruised cheek, her eyes widening in feigned surprise. "And surely you haven't been fighting?"

Trip's scowl deepened. He grasped her hand and firmly moved it away from his face. "Ma'am, like I said before, you're going to have to leave."

Her eyes dropped to his mangled knuckles, and with a tiny, fake gasp, she moved in even closer. "You have been fighting!"

Trip felt his teeth grind together.

The Orion practically purred, her low, sensual voice curling into his ear as she flattened herself against him. "I do love a man who fights." She nipped at his jaw line, a throaty growl escaping her. "And wins."

"All right, that's it. Get out." Trip winced as he closed his hands over her wrists and pushed her away. Enough was enough.

With another growl, she tore away from his grasp -- he yelped at the sudden pain -- and suddenly his mouth was covered with hers, his tongue forced into a tangle with hers.

Damn it. This was a game he did not want to play. Her hands skillfully roved over his body before dipping to rub a far more sensitive area.

Despite everything, Trip couldn't stop his body from responding to the woman's experienced fingers.

She pulled away from him just enough to whisper against his lips, her own brushing lightly over his mouth. Deftly, she squeezed the growing ridge in his pants. "That's right. You know you want me. And I want you."

She rubbed and squeezed. Trip groaned against her mouth. She really was an expert.

"That's it," she murmured. "I'm not going to stop, either. For a long time. But first, there's this tiny thing."

She moved both hands to his crotch.

"Surely there's some way you could . . . delay our arrival at Sandros V? We could spend that much more time together." She licked his upper lip. "I would personally make sure you enjoyed every extra minute."

A sudden realization brought him back to his senses. He quickly suppressed an urge to throttle the woman. He also, in that moment, pitied Kelby. No wonder the guy had blown all those systems. Probably any other man on the ship would be putty in her hands, at this point.

He decided to play along for a few more moments. Gently, he nibbled on her lower lip; then, he forced his voice into a husky whisper.

"Why should I?"



The woman who's hands were still intent on his southern-most regions twisted halfway around to discover who this new third party was. Trip simply ducked his head. He couldn't shake the feeling he'd just been caught cheating, no matter his excuses.

And anyways, how the hell would I be cheating on her? There's nothing between us, dumbass! Not even some damned mating bond could change that!

With a sigh, he lifted his head -- only to discover that he never, ever wanted to be on the receiving end of a Vulcan's wrath.

The glare T'Pol bored through the Orion was, simply put, murderous. He'd seen T'Pol angry a time or two; hell, he'd seen an expression on her face that he would've called murderous, at the time. This had no comparison.

What chilled him further was that she looked so damned composed, despite the fury that surrounded her like a glow.

"I suggest you leave Engineering at once." The snarl that rippled from the petite Vulcan was positively feline -- but definitely not that of the domesticated variety. Trip wondered if leopards looked anything similar to this, the moment before a kill. Even her body looked poised to go for the jugular, despite her prim posture.

The Orion bristled in response. Her eyes narrowed and the corners of her mouth lifted in a sneer. "Why should I?" Her voice had taken on a sickly-sweet quality to it that made Trip's guts twist. She curled around to his side, one of her hands remaining on his groin. She stroked the still-noticeable bulge with exaggerated care.

Trip gulped and cursed his body. A flush prickled up his neck. He figured the chances for the ship to suddenly hit some sort of spatial anomaly that would obliterate all of them -- thus removing him from this God-awful situation -- were disappointingly low.

His face bloomed an even brighter crimson when he realized there was also a group of onlookers outside the door. Could his day get any worse?

Faster than he thought he'd ever seen her move, T'Pol was suddenly inches from both of them. He wondered if, after she ripped the Orion female to pieces, she would turn her ire on him. He just hoped it would be a quick death.

The Vulcan reached down and physically removed the other's hand from where it cupped Trip's pants. "It would be best, for your own personal safety, if you remained in the areas of the ship designated for guests." Her voice had lowered to a deadly hiss.

A grimace of pain marred the green beauty's face for a moment. Trip glanced down at the hold T'Pol still had on the Orion's wrist. She seemed to be in the process of cutting off all circulation. Time to interrupt.

"As the Commander said, it'd be best if you left," he said, carefully and calmly, as if he were dealing with the deranged. Gently, he detached T'Pol's hand from the other woman's arm. The Vulcan's narrowed eyes never left the Orion's.

"Lieutenant Baker, could you please escort the lady back to her quarters?" Trip raised his voice just enough for it to carry past the office. The audience outside had been utterly silent during the entire interchange, so he knew the gleam of blonde hair he caught out of the corner of his eye would hear him easily.

Baker moved forward as the crowd quickly dispersed. "Yes, sir," she replied, her voice wavering slightly.

He didn't blame her for her obvious apprehension; hell, he was still terrified being this close to the two seething women. They're stare-down also didn't seem to be ending any time soon.

He tugged gently on T'Pol's wrist. She turned to glare at him.

Finally free of the Vulcan's scrutiny, the green-skinned woman sniffed and stepped back, haughtily tossing her head. Trip tried not to grin. Sore loser.

"If you'll please come with me." Lieutenant Baker was politeness incarnate as she gestured toward the door.

The Orion glowered once more at T'Pol, then at Trip, before marching out. Baker quickly followed. Once they were both out of his sight, he breathed out a slow sigh of relief. If he didn't still have an enraged Vulcan to manage, he might've danced a jig.

"You are well aware that the Orion female's pheromones do not affect you. Explain your behavior."

Perhaps he should go ahead and dance that jig right out of there, taking the coward's way out to avoid the coming conversation altogether. He doubted he would shake her off anytime soon, though. That intense, predatory stare remained fixed on him.

Still, despite the fear he had for his life, it grated on him that she assumed the worst. Sure, he'd gotten a hard-on, but . . . damn. What guy wouldn't?

"I don't think I need to explain my 'behavior', Commander."

"Indeed? Then why should I have walked into Engineering to find the majority of the crewmembers gathered around this office's doorway, watching, as you allowed one of Enterprise's guests to fondle your genitals?"

Trip groaned and rubbed his eyes, wincing as his broken knuckles bent. Before he could even formulate some semblance of a response, she spoke again. "How did you injure yourself?"

He blinked and glanced up. She was now intently examining the bruised and battered knuckles of his right hand, then his left. He could swear that he saw concern lurking in her eyes, replacing the angry gleam that was there a moment before.

He shook his head. Somehow, he doubted he would ever understand the woman standing in front of him.

"It doesn't matter. I . . . They'll heal." He waved his hand vaguely, careful not to bend the fingers. "Look, T'Pol. I wasn't trying to get some or anything like that with the Orion gal. I tried to get her to leave when she first came in, but she wouldn't." He shook his head again. "I think she was just trying to get me to sabotage the engines. I don't know why, 'cause you happened to interrupt us."

Her eyes narrowed. The gleam returned. "It was unnecessary for you to attempt to obtain such information. Captain Archer and I are already aware of the Orion's plans. Despite Enterprise's technological inferiority to, for example, a Vulcan ship, this ship and its crew would sell for a significant sum on the Orion trading market."

Trip gaped openly at her. So the whole damn thing had been a set up. Now he really did want to blow those little whores out an airlock.

Shock at that realization was quickly drowned out by indignation. "Why the hell didn't you tell me?" He was practically shouting, but, like the past few days when he'd yelled at her, he just didn't care.

"I was not assured of your immunity to the Orions until yesterday. As you didn't seem particularly inclined to listen to me, or to continue our discussion, there was no available opportunity to tell you. Neither was it vital that you be aware of the situation."

"Not vital? And you're telling me there was more to that God-awful conversation?" He snorted in disbelief.

An eyebrow ticked upwards in response. "Yes. And, quite clearly, yes."

"'Quite clearly'?"

"You obviously did not wish to consider other options, so I did not continue. I know, now, that your choice was correct."

"So what would've your choice been?"

"That is of little consequence, at present."

"Why the hell should it be?"

Her eyes narrowed. "There is no need for you to know, Commander."

Trip shook his head, his eyes roving wildly over his old office. Frustration was again churning in his mind, and he tried desperately to keep his temper below boiling point. "I really don't believe this."

"Can't you? Perhaps you simply need to take the appropriate time to review your abominable and irresponsible beh--"

Abruptly, he shoved his face near hers, suddenly fuming. He was damned tired of it all.

She faltered and broke off. Surprise colored her eyes, and in that unguarded moment, he saw other things -- other emotions. As angry as he was, it still shocked him.

Confusion? Fear? Desire?

What the hell?

His eyes moved down of their own conviction to focus on her lips. They were still parted, and as he watched, they trembled slightly. His own lips were barely an inch from hers. He realized it would be only a tiny matter of leaning forward for their lips to touch. God so help him, he desperately wanted to taste her again.

And in that heavy moment of silence, just as quickly as it had exploded, his anger ebbed away. He barely let himself consider that she might've had deeper reasons for acting the way she did, earlier -- reasons that involved him and him, alone.

He practically felt her draw in a shaky breath. His stomach clenched in response.

"Sweetheart . . ."

For the life of him, he couldn't remember what he'd wanted to say, before, when fury had suddenly blinded him. It didn't matter anymore.

She was so close. She smelled so good. A prickle in the back of his mind -- absent for a day too long -- suddenly appeared, then steadily grew. He cherished that tingle, as long as it meant she was somewhere in his mind. He didn't understand all of this, or what the bond meant, or what was going on.

At the moment, he didn't think he had to.

Her behavior today had stunned him to his core. He could've sworn he'd seen her jealous before, and while that occasion had -- quite literally -- knocked his socks off, her strange actions of that one evening weren't nearly as alarming as what he'd seen today. He truly couldn't come up with a reason as to why she would've reacted that way, save one. And he was terrified to believe that one reason. It was really too fantastic to even entertain, not after all that had been said and done between them.

Yet after everything, after all the pain and the embarrassment and the gut-wrenching anguish and the horrible heartache, he wanted her. He wanted her in every way possible.

He wanted to know about her life, about her family, about her culture. Hell, he wanted to learn Vulcan for her. He wanted to understand the Kir'Shara. He wanted to know more about that Surak guy. He wanted to make her happy, even if the only way she ever acknowledged being happy was through some subtle way that he probably wouldn't ever understand, and he wanted to show her his love every day for the rest of his life, in whatever way she would let him.

But that was a fat chance, right?

Her head tilted slightly, and she leaned forward and up. Hardly daring to breathe, he leaned as well. Their lips touched, brushed. He heard her breath catch, perhaps it was his own, then her lips sought his more eagerly. A low, guttural groan escaped him, and he gently grazed the sides of her waist with the palms of his hands. Still, their kiss was feather light, hesitantly exploratory. It was pure magic.

Trip didn't bother wondering why his heart suddenly felt like it was in his throat.

In one accord, their kiss deepened. The tingle in the back of his mind doubled in intensity, and a heady pleasure he was sure was not his own brushed against him. If she was somehow sharing what she was feeling, he only hoped he was able to share in return.

As if in response to that thought, she gasped against his mouth. With her sweet lips open to his, he couldn't resist tasting her even further. His tongue slid across her bottom lip before reaching to tease her own. She pressed herself closer, and he slowly started to wrap his arms around her, glad for this chance to finally hold her.

T'Pol. The Vulcan I love. The woman I love.

"Archer to T'Pol."

The moment snapped. T'Pol jerked away from him. She ducked her head for a long moment, her body completely still.

Trip swore and slowly straightened. He watched her carefully.

"Archer to T'Pol."

She took in a deep breath before moving to the comm. "T'Pol here."

Maybe he just imagined the tremor in her voice.

"I need you up here, T'Pol. We're approaching Sandros V."

"Yes, Captain. I'm on my way. T'Pol out." She closed the comm., only to stare at it for interminably long seconds. Trip felt like his insides were screaming to get out.

Then, without another word to him, she turned and walked away.


Trip always wondered why hope sprang eternal. Beat a man, practically torture him to death, and he'll still think that maybe, just maybe, there's a chance.

The hope seemed all the greater and more beautiful when the chance he hung onto was fueled by something as remarkable as a kiss from a woman. What could he say? Love did crazy things to a man.

Despite their less-than-ideal parting, Trip allowed himself to hope. He even wore a giddy smile the rest of the day. His smile brightened all the more when he heard the good news that the Orions were off the ship.

For now, though, he didn't let himself think about his own upcoming departure. Surely he had a few more days here; he'd been too busy in Engineering the last week to check on the location of the Columbia, but he doubted she was anywhere nearby.

As Captain Hernandez had said, someone had to get some exploring done.

So, he busied himself in Engineering. There were plenty of repairs still needing to be done, and the alterations they'd made to the ship's backup systems weren't meant to be permanent. Someone had to oversee everything, and Commander Kelby was still nowhere around. While the charges had been dropped against the chief engineer and many others for assault, with the mind-altering pheromones of the Orion females taking the blame for all the men's strange behavior, he'd yet to see Kelby show his face. He wasn't sure he cared. He supposed it would be better for Enterprise if he got everything up to snuff before turning the place over to another, anyhow.

Still, it was hard to focus.

Not with his brain replaying that kiss over and over.

So, with his mind more than occasionally light-years away, he was startled for the second time in one day by a shadow at the office's door. "Captain!"

His old friend grinned and leaned against the doorframe, arms crossed casually over his chest. "Hey, Trip. I heard you were still lurking around down here." He nodded at the padds littering the desk. "You know, Kelby can do all of that. He still needs to get the hang of running things around here."

Trip chuckled and leaned back in his chair. "Old habits die hard, I guess. I see this office get too messy and I've just got to get things done." Trip glanced at the chronometer on the wall. "You taking the long way to dinner?"

Archer nodded. "Yeah, I am. You want to join me? Chef's cooking up steak tonight."

Trip's forehead wrinkled at his friend's choice of phrasing. "What, T'Pol's not going to be there?"

One of Archer's eyebrows quirked. "No. She mentioned needing to meditate." He gave his head a brief shake as he approached the desk. He absently picked up one of the many padds, tapping it lightly against the desktop. "Between you and me, I always feel guilty eating steak in front of her, when it's just the two of us."

Trip laughed. "Hey, life with Vulcans is always a challenge. Even eating gets complicated." His eyes dropped and he grinned at a sudden thought. He wondered how hard it would be adjusting around the social mores and taboos of a Vulcan mate.

Mate? Whoa, boy. That's getting a little ahead of yourself. No need to start picking out china patterns, yet.

It was the 'yet' that made him grin even more like a lunatic.

"You look happy." Trip glanced up to see Archer giving him a peculiar look. "Care to share?"

Trip felt a flush redden his cheeks. "Nah, Captain," he muttered, ducking his head and rubbing the back of his neck. "Just in a good mood, that's all."

"Uh-huh. Yeah. Tucker, I've known you for too many years to believe that load of bull."

The thin, barely-tangible hope that T'Pol and he just might be a possibility was enough to make his heart soar; however, he was nowhere near ready to discuss it with anyone else, even the Captain. Especially the Captain.

Archer took Trip's continued silence as a cue not to press further. He reached out and clapped the engineer on his shoulder. "C'mon. Let's go eat."

Relieved to be off the hook, Trip stood and gladly followed him out of the office. "Say, weren't the water polo world finals sometime this last week?"

"Last night, actually. I got the recording about an hour ago. How about we finish off the last of that Andorian ale Shran brought on board and watch it? Maybe as kind of a redux sending-away party before you head back to Columbia?"

Trip nearly stumbled. "Wait. What about Columbia?"

Archer glanced aside at him, his brow slightly furrowed. "We're meeting Columbia tomorrow at 0900, sharp. I thought you knew?"

Trip felt his stomach plummet. "Ah, no. I guess I missed that memo." Damn it, damn it, damn it.

He managed a weak grin and forced himself to continue walking in the direction of the mess hall. While he'd rather have run to T'Pol's quarters, instead, some good sense kept him from looking like an complete love-sick fool.

Beside him, his captain watched silently. After a long moment, Archer simply faced forward and started in on the season's finer water polo matches, detailing some of the more spectacular plays and listing the reasons why his favorite team should've gone on to the finals, but just missed it.

Trip was glad that Archer seemed quite happy to carry the conversation; his mind was still reeling. He really had believed there was more time.

He desperately needed to talk to her. He supposed she was still meditating at the moment, so waiting at least a little while seemed like a good idea. He'd give her a few hours, and then go and try to talk to her.

But should he? She had looked so much like a skittish colt during that moment in the office, after their interrupted kiss. Should he go to her first, or let her come to him?

The last thing he wanted to do was scare her off by chasing her down, too hard, too soon. What if she wanted him to pursue her, though? Damn it all, he truly didn't know what to do right by her, at this point.

Trip knew he made a lousy dinner companion that evening in the Captain's mess, but Archer didn't seem to mind. He also didn't mention Trip's occasional troubles with eating; bending his fingers around fork and knife were proving to be a bit of a problem, what with his mangled knuckles. Thankfully, Archer didn't ask about the dark bruises or the splints.

At long last, dessert was over.

"So, Trip. Ready for some water polo?"

"Well, Captain, there's a lot of stuff I need to get done down in Engineering, still, before heading out tomorrow." Trip ducked his head and scratched the back of his neck. He couldn't quite meet his friend's gaze.

There was a quiet pause before Trip heard the Captain lean against the back of his chair. "All right, Trip. Go take care of things."

Trip glanced up. Archer was giving him a thoughtful look. He wondered how much of everything his friend knew. Hell, captains always seemed to have a sixth sense when it came to the happenings on their ships. He probably knew far more than Trip wanted to think about.

"Thanks, Cap'n," he said, standing. He could've hugged the man in that moment. Instead, he nodded gratefully and made a beeline for the door.


I'm a certified chicken-shit.

He had gone directly to T'Pol's quarters from the mess-hall only to pace in front of her door for what seemed like an hour. Thankfully, that particular corridor had remained relatively free of traffic; he was sure that he looked like a madman, going along with the fact that he certainly felt like one.

So, after wearing a hole in the metal decking, he'd retreated back to Engineering. The only thing he was grateful for at the moment was that Commander Kelby still hadn't shown himself.

"Yup," he muttered aloud. "Nothing but a chicken-shit."

Trip ran both hands through his hair, ignoring the protests his knuckles made. With a sigh, he threw himself back into his work.

Hours later, he decided he'd done enough to prepare Engineering for the change-over once again. He'd even filled a padd with personal notations regarding the back-up system reroutes and how some of the alterations made could be incorporated on a more permanent basis, for use during other emergencies. He figured Kelby might be interested.

He also wanted to apologize to Enterprise's chief. He knew he'd been an ass to the guy since coming on board, and while he wasn't the best of engineers, Trip realized he probably just needed some time to get his space legs.

Glancing up at the chronometer, he decided to put off seeing Kelby until the next day. The man was more than likely asleep at this hour, and Trip also needed to head to his quarters. He might as well try to get some sleep, himself.

He took his time leaving Engineering. The skeleton crew was on duty at this hour, and he knew every person by name. He said a word or two to each of them as he walked the massive room, and his hands came up occasionally to run over the gleaming edges of consoles or the gray conduit paneling. He even gave the warp reactor a friendly pat.

He didn't always like the sentimental streak in him, but, at the moment, he wanted to re-memorize every inch of the place. He deeply regretted his transfer and regretted even more how he was leaving T'Pol. He supposed this was the way they would always be: simply unfinished, barring the time they'll have to schedule to go to Vulcan. There was still that weird bond to deal with.

But, there was also now a maybe between them. He wondered how she felt about a long distant relationship. Damn it, I don't even know how she feels about a relationship, period.

Despite all the hurdles that had kept them apart for so long, this one seemed almost insurmountable. As hard as it was getting her to communicate -- really communicate -- he supposed his leaving would just be the final kiss of death for their relationship. Only a miracle would keep him here, and he wasn't sure he believed in miracles.

With one final, lingering look around Main Engineering, Commander Tucker left.


Trip didn't see Kelby or T'Pol the next morning. He'd brought the padd for Kelby with him to breakfast, on the good chance that the chief would be around. Surprisingly, he wasn't.

As for T'Pol, he figured that she'd eaten earlier that morning, and thus he simply missed her. He wondered if that was a good thing; he might've embarrassed himself if she had been there with the rest of the day's shifts. He really didn't know how he was going to react or what he was going to say the next time he saw her.

On the other hand, it chilled him to think that he might not see her before he left the ship. What if he never saw her again?

Angrily, he shoved those thoughts away. He wasn't going to ruin the last breakfast with his friends with panicked thoughts of what might or might not be.

Malcolm, Travis, and Hoshi had eagerly beckoned him over to their table once he'd entered the mess hall. After grabbing his food, he made his way to them, nodding and grinning at the other crewmembers who waved or said a greeting.

His three friends quickly drew him into their lively conversation. Hoshi teased him over his numerous bruises, and Malcolm grumbled on for a few minutes over the less-than-stellar aspects of their recently departed guests. Travis entertained by flicking bits of egg at Hoshi, who retorted with a well-aimed piece of sausage.

Yes, leaving Enterprise hadn't been one of Trip's greater ideas.

Near the end of breakfast, Malcolm led everyone in an impromptu toast to their ex-chief. Glasses of orange juice and mugs of coffee were hoisted into the air, and a great cheer filled the hall. Trip blinked back tears at the overwhelming affection the crew showed. He could only manage a weak grin and a few words as men and women said their final goodbyes before filing off to their duty stations.

On their way out, Travis paused to talk to the day's second shift pilot, so Trip followed Hoshi and Malcolm into the corridor.

"Thanks, guys. For everything. Y'all mean the world to me." He chuckled. "Hell, you mean the universe to me. I'm going to miss you."

Hoshi grabbed him in a hug. The way her face was buried against his chest, he wondered if she was crying.

After a moment, she broke away, sniffing. She smiled up at him. "I wish there was some way to get you back here. Why'd you have to go and transfer, anyways, huh?"

Trip just shook his head and turned to grasp Malcolm's extended hand.

"Watch yourself, Trip. You won't have me around to keep an eye on your back anymore, you know."

Grinning, he pulled the typically stuffy Brit in for a back-slapping hug. "I'll try to avoid away missions, 'kay?"

Malcolm pulled away and nodded, a rare smile breaking his calm, typically unflappable face. "That's good enough for me."

Travis took that moment to join them, and Trip gave the younger man a bear hug. Travis laughed and pounded him on the back. "See you around the galaxy, chief."

The three bridge officers walked away then, Hoshi waving as she went. Trip watched them until they turned around a corner and disappeared.

Now all that was left was seeing Kelby. Trip didn't particularly fancy having to go down to Engineering again, but he figured that was the only other place the man would be. Padd in hand, he started down the familiar route.

"Commander Tucker!"

The familiar voice whirled him around almost mid-stride. His heart leapt at the sight of her hurrying -- yes, hurrying -- toward him. A familiar prickle settled in the back of his mind. "T'Pol!"

He quickly helped close the distance between them.

"I was wondering if I'd see you." His voice came out as a rough whisper. He reached out to gently touch her arm, rubbing his fingers lightly up over the blue catsuit's ship patch, then down to settle on her elbow. Wanting to be even closer, he tried to pull her forward.

She tugged away her arm and stepped back.

Trip's brow furrowed in confusion. His glee at simply seeing her again abated somewhat, and he realized that a very thorough mask guarded her face. Inwardly, he groaned.


She visibly swallowed. "I wish to speak with you."

Trip nodded. "Yeah, sure. I, uh, was headed down to Engineering, if you want to join me. Or we could go somewhere a bit more private."

She inclined her head down the corridor. "Engineering is acceptable." Her voice was measured and controlled. Despite all his previous hopes, a curl of dread circled his guts.

Oddly enough, though, she began with a small-talk question. "Why are you going to Engineering?"

He decided it was best to play along. He waved the padd he still held. "I'm looking for Commander Kelby. He wasn't at breakfast, so I figured he's already down there. I've got some notes he might be interested in."

"Indeed. Commander Kelby is, in fact, one reason I came to speak with you."

That was a surprise. "Yeah? Why?"

"This morning, Captain Archer received a transfer request from him."

"What? You're kidding me!"

T'Pol glanced aside at him, one eyebrow lifted. It bolstered him that he saw amusement glinting in her eyes. "I see no reason to deceive you in this situation, even if I were attempting humor."

"You know what I mean." He shook his head, still shocked. "Why's he transferring?"

"As you are not presently among this ship's command staff, his reasons are confidential; however, it is sufficient to say that his place is elsewhere in Starfleet."

Trip stopped dead at her careful phrasing. "What do you mean, I'm not 'presently' among the ship's command staff?"

"I don't believe I need to clarify myself."

He rolled his eyes and started off again down the corridor. T'Pol quickly joined him. After a few moments, she spoke again. "Now that Enterprise is in need of another chief engineer, perhaps you should consider a transfer, as well."

Trip felt his stomach jolt. He shot her a confused glance, although she remained face-forward, her only expression one of utter neutrality. "What are you saying? That I should transfer back here?"


He again stopped, as did she. He couldn't hold back a laugh. "I hate to tell you of all people this, but that's not exactly logical. For one thing, I just transferred to Columbia. Somehow I doubt Captain Hernandez would just happily send me on my way."

She apparently ignored him. "Your closest friends are aboard this ship."

He wondered if she included herself in that list. "So, is this personal?"

He was surprised at the sudden steel in her eyes. "In no way."

Those three little words were like a gut punch. His jaw clenched and he felt his nails digging into the plasma screen of the padd. He wanted to throw it. Hell, he wanted to re-break his knuckles. Desperately hanging on to his hope that she felt at least a tiny something for him, he closed in on her. Their faces were once again barely inches apart.

"Admit it," he hissed. "You want me back."

T'Pol calmly tilted her head back, her gaze fully guarded. "No."

Trip shook his head in disbelief. "My mistake."

He whirled away from her and strode off angrily down the hallway, hitting the padd against the corridor wall as he did. A jolt of pain coursed up his arm, but he ignored it. Was he just stupid? Did he misinterpret everything? But they had kissed -- both of them, each other.

Not so long ago, he'd been sorry to leave Enterprise again. Now, 0900 couldn't come quickly enough.


He wondered why he ever wanted her to call him that.

Of their own accord, his feet stopped. He turned with a sigh. "Wha--"

His mind barely registered the fact that she was moving toward him, moving very close to him -- that the flat of her hand suddenly caressed the side of his face. And then her lips were on his.

It took him several seconds to wholly realize that she was kissing him. And this wasn't hesitant or tentative. It wasn't a simple taste or a careful test.

Her insistent mouth drove against his, forcing him to respond -- which he did, gladly. The padd in his hand clattered to the floor, forgotten, and he wrapped her in his arms, his hands roaming everywhere. He wanted to memorize every bit of her. Her own hands remained focused on his face, stroking the smoothly shaved planes of his cheeks, the curve of his ear. All the while, their lips melded to one another, explored each other.

God, but it felt wonderful. The buzz at the back of his brain reached a new, feverish pitch, and everything around him faded from thought. All that mattered at this moment was him and T'Pol. Trip hoped it never ended.

Abruptly, she forced his mouth open with her tongue. He tilted his head to one side, eager to allow her entry. Their tongues danced together, teasing and savoring.

Reaching a hand around the back of his head to thread through his hair, she pulled him even closer. Her hips pressed eagerly against his groin, and with a groan, he felt the blood rush downward.

With some effort, he pulled back, breaking their kiss. His eyes sought hers, trying to see what she could possibly be feeling, thinking. Her gaze was dark, fogged with desire, and her eyes were focused on his mouth. He glanced down at her own lips as she licked them. His groin throbbed.

"Baby . . ." he began, then broke off. He reached up to gently stroke the side of her cheek. She forced her faltering gaze up to meet his.

"Do you want this? Is this what you really want?" he asked, his voice far huskier than he'd thought possible.

"Yes," she answered. Impatient, she leaned toward him, once again intent on his lips.

He stilled her with his hands and a shake of his head. "Wait, T'Pol. Please. I have to know. Do you want me? I love you, you have to know that through that bond. But do you really want me? 'Cause I can't play this hot and cold game anymore. You were killing me. Every day."

T'Pol dropped her head, but not before he saw shame cloud her eyes.

"Whoa, hon. I guess that was a bad choice of words." He tilted her head back up with a finger. "C'mon, look at me."

She did, although reluctantly.

"All I ask for is some sort of future with you. If you want to go ahead and get this bond broken, that's fine." At the blatant shock in her eyes, he quickly continued, "I don't want to, but you have to know that I'm open to that option, even if I don't like it. I just want you, T'Pol. Hell, you might not even be able to stand me after a while, but just give me a chance. Please?"

She nodded, although her gaze faltered in the next moment. "I cannot know if you will be able to 'stand me', either, after some time. There are also many things I need to discuss with you." She hesitated. "I'm unsure as to what your reaction will be." Trip heard doubt tighten her voice.

He chuckled. "Believe me, hon, nothing's going to stop me from loving you. Even if I'm on some other ship, light-years away. I'll always love you."

Gently, he stroked the rim of her ear. She hummed in response, leaning against his hand and flickering her eyes shut.

Her lips parted, and he gladly responded to the unspoken request. This time, their kiss was slower, longer, sweeter. Trip wanted to stay in this moment forever, with the woman he loved pressed against him and her lips lingering over his. He doubted he could ever get enough of the heat of her mouth. She was intoxicating.

Vaguely, he heard a throat being cleared. "Ah. Commanders."

T'Pol and Trip jerked apart. Captain Archer was standing perhaps ten feet away, a small smile on his lips and a bemused gleam in his eyes.

"Captain!" Trip winced at the croak in his voice. He risked a glance at T'Pol and wondered if his face looked as guilty as hers.

"I believe Captain Hernandez will be waiting for you and I at airlock B, momentarily."

Trip swallowed nervously. He glanced again at T'Pol, who remained silent. "Uh. Right, Captain."

"I suppose I could talk Erika into sticking around a while. T'Pol told you that I'm in need of a chief engineer again, right?" At Trip's nod, Archer continued. "Maybe something can be arranged."

Eyes sparkling with repressed laughter, the Captain then strolled by them. T'Pol and Trip stared at each other.

Could it possibly be?

Trip leaned down and placed one last, quick kiss on T'Pol's lips -- she was too surprised to respond -- before hurrying after Archer.

Once at his side, Archer clapped a hand on Trip's shoulder and glanced at him, a wide grin on his face. "I'm glad you took care of things."

Trip grinned back at his friend.

"Me, too."



Back to Fan Fiction Main Menu

Have a comment to make about this story? Do so in the Trip Fan Fiction forum at the HoTBBS!

A whole mess of folks have made comments


Why does Archer always have to interupt?

Wow!!! That was really great!!!
I love it!!!!

This was great. I'd be interested to see this in T'Pol's point of view, or a continuation.

wow, thank you, what a wonderful story !

that was great! loved Archer's line at the end. ;)

Fantastico! Looking foward to the addendum. Great writing for a first-time writer. I have been inspired by you to take a stab at it in the future. Thank-you!

Wonderful. Wow!

You were breaking my heart in-between, so hurry up with the addendum. ;-)))

Absolutely excellent! I loved this but boy was it frustrating all that back and forth with nobody really saying what they meant but such a lovely sweet longed-for ending! Kudos, this was fabulous thanks. Ali D :~)

It made my cry, it was heart-breaking, it´s sweet and... simply "wow".
very well written!

You sure this is your first fan fic? This is good, well done. I really like the way you explained Trip's conflicting emotions. You should write more!

That was fantastic! great writing, great angst making me wonder how they were going to finally get over it! a truly original and unique bound fic!

Brilliant! You covered it all, the entire story was told very well, especially the underlying reasons why the Orion females were aboard Enterprise! IMHO Your story should be the one used for "Bound" next Friday! I think more fan work should be considered for future Trek shows/movies. There's alot more talent out there among the fans and it's a shame that Paramount doesn't take advantage of it! :-)

Loved it. WOw. Sequel, sequel to this story. It was great

That was fantastic! You are a beautiful writer.

Excellent writing, what an impressive first fic! Totally caught the characters, and picked up on all the spoilers. If only the episode will be as good....Well done!

Your first fan fic? NO WAY!! That was freaking awesome! Oh please, do write a sequel. We know that Trip's presence back on Enterprise won't be satisfactorily explained. Somebody has to do it!!

This was a pleasure to read. The writing is beautiful and detailed and the story ROCKS THE KASBAR!!! Well done! :-)

WOW.. no end to the response for the challenge... thanks for taking it... it was wonderful...

Wow! Excellent story and what an incredible first fic! Thank you for writing this. You did a wonderful job! :-)

The most beautiful fanfic I think I've ever read! The characterization is amazing and dead-on. More please!!!

I thoroughly enjoyed this! I especially liked Trip's inner thoughts. Hope the real episode is as satisfying as your story.

No no no way this is your first fanfic! You must do 'some' kind of writing in your real life!! This was absolutely fabulous. I was hooked from word one till the very end.

LOVED IT, and I hope you're planning to do more.

That was perfect! Great job!

Wow. Brilliant! That was amazing! How could this be your first fan fic?! I am truly amazed, impressed, everything! The characters were done very well, congratulations. I feel like I've seen "Bound" already!

Jeez! Your first story? That was excellent. The writing was brillant, characters spot on, the storyline was *very* believable. Good work, and hope you continued writing more T&T'P fanfiction. :-)

That would be a damn good first fanfic :) That was absolutely captivating. I hope that you continue sharing your writing... :)

Un-be-lieve-a-ble. This is a MASTERPIECE! THIS is how it should happen! (Well, maybe without Trip playing bloody knuckles with the wall...) But you got the characters dead on with this one! Thank you so very much! Please, share more of your talent with us, and SOON!

Excellent writing. I loved the angst and the resolution.

I hope that this will not be your last fic! You are very talented!

I hope that Bound is as well written as your fan fic. Really well done. Bravo.

LIAR! NO way is this your first fic, it's just too good. I have to say what a wonderful way to end the series - if you ask me, the script writers on the show SUCK ASS compared to you. I almost thought that I had spent a week in some kind of temporal distortion because I could almost believe that Bound had already aired, that's how clear a picture you painted. WONDERFUL WONDERFUL WONDERFUL! Please write more!

That was beautiful, tnx. You made my day!

That was beautiful. You made my day!

That was beautiful. You made my day!

Phenomenal, and what I'll watch for next Friday! In fact, forget what's aired. Your fic's the way it goes down. Write on!

Beautiful. Awesome. You have reinvigorated my "Trip/T'Pol ship" love. I'm floored.

I read this story yesterday and didn't comment, though it is certainly the best fan fic I have read in a very long time. I thought about it all day and decided I had to say something! Excellent job! You handled the emotional seesaw with deft skill and a remarkable grasp of both characters. My favorite parts were Trip's simple apology when T'Pol comes to help in engineering, his moment of fury in his office which melts into the one word, "Sweetheart..." and finally, the fact that he made T'Pol TALK TO HIM between the passionate corridor kiss from nowhere before rebounding completely into a lifelong relationship. Thank you for that bit of wisdom! And thank you for sharing your writing. I was extremely impressed and very much enjoyed your story. Keep up the good work!

This was better than an episode - no commercials! If the actual epi is half as good as this I'll be happy.

And, BTW, first fic? No way!

Holy freakin' crap! FIRST fanfic?!! I seriously think that's the best that I've read for a looong time, and definitely the best Bound challenge piece! This should SOOO be the episode script, it's too good not to happen! Awesome, awesome, awesome, and you better write more often! Loved it! :) [BTW, have you noticed how many comments you got? That's the sign of a masterpiece, I'm telling you. ;)]

Thanks, everyone, for the kind comments! I've never blushed at my computer screen before, but I have, now. ;)

Wow, just Wow!
This was excellent! If the real "Bound" will be just a tenth of this story it will be one of ENT's best episodes ever.

Wow! Amazing story, I loved as much as everyone else. Great job!

OK this fic was awesome. When she was serving him food I kept hearing in my head "Vulcan women only serve their husbands" but Trip wouldn't know that. This entire fic was fantastic from beginning to end, a pure pleasure to read. Thanks and terrific job!

A very compelling read. I did read it in one go, damn I hope the Bound episode is remotely as good as this is.

Still I can't help wonder why T'Pol refused to acknowledge the fact that she wanted Trip by her side. So I patiently await the addendum ;)

Heh,heh. Read again. Hey Nez..That's a ...really descriptive image of the ST writers. LOL! Patiently waiting for the addendum.....

The was utterly incredible.....I absolutely loved your style. You painted such a vivid picture....If you're not in the Literary buzz....you should be.... Wonderful....I look forward to reading more of your work........T

Read this fan fic for the third time. I know, I know, I'm such a hopeless romantic. But, still good... still fabulous!! Way to go!

Just re-read your fic for the second time. So great. One of the best I have read. Hope Bound is just as good.

This was simply excellent! Great, great writing. Your descriptions were detailed, clever, amusing, and truly captured Trip's character. Fabulous! More! More!

This was just excellent. You brought a big smile to my face as I finished this story. Terrific job! Please take another crack at writing because this is just an awesome first effort!!

I think I've read this probably 4 or 5 times now and yup I STILL LOVE IT!! This is so frackin' good! I hope the episode tonight is half as good as this is........I HOPE YOU WILL CONSIDER WRITING ENTERPRISE NOVELS SOMEDAY!!! LOL with glee!

This is amazingly good for being a first fanfic. The story stuck with the original "Bound" in some ways, but you certainly added your own twists. I especially loved loved loved that scene in the Chief Engineering officer's office with Trip and the Orion and T'Pol. When she saw them together...lol! This was wonderfully written. The only thing that bothered me was at the end when Trip admits his feelings for her; I just thought it was a tad abrupt, but otherwise, this story was amazing. Please continue writing--you're amazing!

Beautiful story! I can't believe this is your first fanfic! Great stuff!

Will there be a part II?

Amazing story, Ludjin, it worked on every level. I'm looking forward to the addendum and lots more fiction from you!

That was great - I can hardly believe it's your first fan fic. I hope you write more in the future!

Awesome fanfic! So very sweet and touching!

I was told you were one of the best writers on this site. I totally believe it.

Me again. I was thinking how the appealing thing about these characters (Trip n' T'Pol) is their underlying respect for each other--including respect for each other's expertise, competence, and personal choices. In this story T'Pol turns to Trip for professional reasons, aside from the personal issues. Though Trip is frustrated with T'Pol for rejecting him, he doesn't blame T'Pol (or if he does, he realizes that its wrong). I agree that the straight-out apology you had Trip give T'Pol was a stroke of genius. Also, in your story, we see that Trip really does have a life aside from his obsession with T'Pol and could get up and walk away from it all and go to Columbia, even if that wasn't his first choice. Really, really good.