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By Samantha Quinn
I have had the opportunity to meditate for an hour while Jonathan and Charles conversed. Though I appreciated the opportunity, I will admit that I spent a good deal of the thirty minutes that followed my meditation but preceded his arrival in anticipation of how our inevitable discussion will end. The sense of anticipation is not an unfamiliar one. I experienced the exact same sensation twenty-five years ago. The past ninety minutes have been spent in quiet contemplation of the very real possibility that Charles’ present conversation with Jonathan may result in my beloved choosing the same course of action that he did a quarter of a century ago.
His current stance neither confirms nor denies my suspicions. The same hands that only yesterday brought relief to my suffering are under constant movement. They envelop one another, pause, travel to his neck, rejoin, and finally attempt to find solace in his follicles. Finding none, his hands finally come to a rest in the same position as they began: restlessly rubbing against one another in an attempt to find relief where none can be found. Though highly irrational, I sympathize with their journey. Perhaps the brief spite of emotionalism can be attributed to the last remnants of pon farr. Conceivably, however, the sentimentalism should more truthfully be attributed to the anticipation I have concerning the outcome of this conversation. Either way, it is not a sensation I appreciate.
“Charles. I gather from your posture that you conversation with Jonathan did not proceed as well as you might have hoped.”
He sighs, and sits down in the chair at the same desk that was occupied by Jonathan ninety minutes ago. Though I am not superstitious, I do take the opportunity to hope the conversation I am about to have will not meet have the same dire tone as the one with Jonathan did.
“Nah, T’Pol, it as well as could be expected. Why wouldn’t it? Hell, I only had to stand in front of my best friend, relive the worst mistake I ever made, and have the death of my son thrown back in my face –" his voice catches at that moment, though he struggles to remain in control. It is a struggle I know well. “I kept tryin’ to tell him, T’Pol, what I meant to do. But he couldn’t see . . .”
Again, he begins the struggle for control. The urge to comfort him is so unusually strong that I move to stand beside him. Which I reach his side, I realize that I am still uncertain of his current feelings towards me. Hesitantly, my hands remain at my side though they wish to move to comfort Charles. I find myself envious for the freedom of movement that Charles’ hands possess.
“It’s funny. The entire time you and I were trapped on the planet, I rehearsed exactly what I was going to say to him. But the moment I stepped into his quarters, it all went out the nearest airlock. “
“You were composing a script of conversation while we mated?” It is an admittedly disturbing thought. However selfish it may have been, I do not appreciate thinking that Charles was thinking of Jonathan while touching me.
“No, T’Pol.” His mouth contorts into a half of a smile. The laughter he emits is not quite the humorless laugh Jonathan used earlier, though it is far from the carefree laughter he used to possess. I used to belief laughter to be tangible evidence of human’s lack of logic. Now I can only wonder when Charles’ laughter will return with the same unforced and unburdened ease that it held previously.
“My . . .compositions took place during the times when the illness forced you to sleep.”
“You should have rested then as well.”
“It’s hard to sleep with so much on my mind.”
“Were you that occupied with what Jonathan’s response might be that you couldn’t sleep?”
“Well, his friendship has been an essential part of my life for the past three decades. I wasn’t exactly lookin’ forward to having it taken away because of a ill-timed. . . " His tone is both angry and frustrated.
I am struck by the irony of the situation. I am quite possibly the only Vulcan who has ever been appreciative of my cycles, specifically because they were the catalysts which brought Charles’ touch to me.
Yet, he laments them and blames them for costing him his friendship with Jonathan. *Ill-timed.*
I have no reason to be surprised. Our relationship has merely come full circle. Twenty-five years ago, Charles chose Jonathan’s friendship over a relationship with me. Though recent comments by Charles led me to believe that he regretted that decision, it is clear that my assumptions were incorrect. Again, he places that friendship above me in importance. It is perhaps even more disturbing this time, as the friendship that matters so much more than I do no longer exists.
I turn from Charles and seek in the stars comfort that I do not receive from him.
I was still trying to figure out what either Jon or I could have said differently when T’Pol walked away from me. Staring at her retreating form, a feeling of dread comes over me. Was I so wrapped up in thinking about the Admiral that I missed a signal from her? God, I hope not. From the way her back’s facing me, I’d guess that it was a sign that my earlier suspicions were true. Now that the pon farr is purged, T’Pol is remembering just how painful being around me is.
Trying not to jump to conclusions, I search my head in vain for some way to broach the subject of us. Several come to mind, all of which sound pathetically desperate.
But *aren’t* I desperate? Yes, and why the hell shouldn’t I be? In a time span of three weeks, I have lost almost everyone dear to me – and now, I’m facing losing T’Pol for a second time in my life. Losing her the first time nearly killed me. If this time, I actually do. . .
Focus, Trip. It’s not too late. She’s still here. Oh, please, please don’t let it be too late. “So. . . what are your plans?” I manage to stumble out. That wasn’t too desperate, I suppose.
“I have a prosperous career as a Federation Ambassador. Current events have no adverse bearing to that position.”
Her tone’s clipped, short, and as unattached as it was the first day we set eyes on one another. To call it a bad sign is an understatement at the very least.
“What are your . . . plans, Commissioner?”
Commissioner. T’Pol and I just spent a week in the most intimate positions two people can spend . . . and she’s back to calling me “Commissioner.” So cold, so impersonal.
My plans? My * plans* were to spend the rest of my life making up for the mistake I made twenty-five years ago - *with* T’Pol. My *plans* were to move somewhere that would allow both of us to be closer to our grandson – the only remainder of Koval we have left. My * plans * would have given me the family I’d always wanted but had always been denied.
Somehow, none of that will come out. T’Pol’s demeanor is so frosty that it completely kills everything I want to say.
Dammit, I had this conversation scripted too. Why can’t just one of the life-altering conversations I have to have today go the way I want it to?
“I. . . I thought . . . I mean, well, you and I could . . .What I am tryin’ to say is. . .there’s nothin’ stoppin’ us from being together anymore.” Or anyone.
T’Pol turns back to face me. I want to be thankful for that. . .but the expression on her face makes me wonder if I *should* be thankful. “While I thank you for your assistance, now that the fever has been purged, it is no longer required. You are no longer obligated to remain with me.”
Well, that just about says it, doesn’t it? My mistake has caused so much pain that it killed Koval, and drove away the three other people I care about most. There’s really nothing else to say. I understand why T’Pol doesn’t want me and I have no right to expect anything else – no matter how much I may want it.
Though my legs are numb, and my heart hurts so much I can barely breathe, I force myself to turn towards the door. Seeing those doors makes me recall two very similar doors from twenty-five years ago – two very similar doors that I walked out of on my own accord, against T’Pol’s pleas to the contrary and inevitably breaking both our hearts. And both my sons’ hearts.
“Charles. . . do not leave. . . please.”
“I’m sorry, T’Pol. But I can’t do this to the Cap’n.”
To hell with worrying about `sounding desperate. I AM desperate. Turning back around, I see T’Pol has turned back to face the stars passing by. “T’Pol!” It comes out more as a desperate shout than I intended, but I won’t worry about that right now. “Is it really that hard for you to control your grief when I’m around?”
The time it takes for T’Pol to turn around is absolutely agonizing. Even when she finally does, she takes her own sweet time in responding. “What do you mean?”
“I know how painful Koval’s death must be to you. Hell, it’s equally as painful to me –"
“Of course it is.”
“And I’ll admit that when I see you, I’m goin’ to be reminded of him – and, to be honest, I’ll probably think of Jon from time to time too. But there’s no way the pain I would feel from losing either of them. . . or from losing Charlie. . .keep me from you.”
They’d probably deny it, but whenever a Vulcan is confused, their brows wrinkle into a frown just as much as ours do. And T’Pol is definitely frowning. I suppose that frown is an indication that I’ve disturbed her in some way. Gee, Trip, you don’t think it could have been that emotional outburst, do you? She *is* a Vulcan, for Christ’s sake.
“I do not wish to be parted from you, Charles.”
“But I thought – " It’s right about then that I realize how familiar T’Pol’s expression is. I saw the very same one twenty-five years ago.
I completely misinterpreted what she was saying. I almost walked out the door over a miscommunication. I’m not sure whether I should feel stupid or relieved, so I allow myself to feel both. In the midst of my revelation, I realize there’s quite a large gap between T’Pol and myself.
I step forward to close that gap. “I don’t want to be parted from you either, T’Pol.”
He is close enough now to touch. Though the urge to do so is strong, I shall resist that urge until my uncertainty is alleviated. “Did you not believe the pon farr to be ‘ill-timed?’”
A look of comprehension dawns on his face. “Did you not say my ‘assistance’ was no longer ‘required’?”
“It is not. However, I did not claim it was unwanted.”
“And the pon farr was ill-timed. But that doesn’t mean I’m not . . . thankful it happened. I just wish it could have happened when we could have been alone.”
“As do I.” The statement is sincere. Though he does not believe so, I did have affection for Jonathan, though I did not cherish him. I would have liked the revelation of our relationship to have been less blunt.
Again Charles steps forward, my resolve not to touch him further dissipates. His fingers reach up to caress my cheek, and I reflect that the simple action has had to wait for twenty-five years. Abruptly, however, he ceases his stroking and tilts my chin at an appropriate angle for looking into my eyes. “T’Pol. Don’t get me wrong. I want this – you – more than anything. Leaving this ship without you is about the most painful thing I can think of. But if you don’t want me, tell me now and I’ll go.”
My hands reach for his face and return the action that his hands engaged in only minutes earlier. I allow myself to indulge in the smoothness of his face that stands in stark contrast to the rough texture that it possessed when we were first rescued. “Why are you convinced that I do not want you?”
He sighs in a fashion which signals that he is in emotional distress. “Because before we left for Vulcan, you told me that being around me was trying your ability to suppress your emotions.”
“That much is true.”
“I also figured that was what caused you to pull away from me all those years ago in the Expanse. You know, not wanting to be exposed to so much negative emotions, when you were tryin’ so hard to suppress them.”
I take a moment to reflect that the man in front of me has spent a quarter of a century separated from me, yet still manages to understand me better than the one that lived with me for the same amount of time. Still, even Charles does not fully comprehend the truth behind the reasons why I forestalled my affections all those years ago. That truth is one I have told no one, though I will tell Charles now, as it directly affects him.
“Do you recall when Enterprise came upon the Vulcan ship Seleya?”
“How much did Jonathan tell you about what occurred on the ship?”
At the mention of his old friend’s name, he visibly winces. “Not much. But Malcolm kind of mentioned that you . . . lost control while you were aboard.”
“That is an appropriate choice of words. I very much ‘lost control’ aboard Seleya.”
“Because of the Trellium D, right? That’s why we couldn’t use it? The Captain told me that much.”
“Yes. What you do not know is that shortly thereafter I became. . . addicted to the substance. I found myself sneaking into the cargo bay in which it was kept and injecting small portions into my bloodstream.” Even years later, I sense shame for my actions.
“But I don’t understand. If it made you sick, why would you continue to . . . inject it?”
“Because I enjoyed the emotions it provoked within me. I also enjoyed the emotions that you provoked within me. When I stopped taking the Trellium, I vowed to return to a strict adherence to the path of Surak. Being near you, particularly in your more hostile state . . . made me apprehensive. I was concerned that being near you would have similarly negative effects. That is why I pulled away from you, Charles.”
“And now?” The question is as intense as though I had not reveled the most abhorrent secret I possess. I find myself most relieved that he is not disgusted by my addiction.
“I do not intend to make the same mistake twice, Charles.”
I am rewarded by his smile.
When I kiss her, it occurs to me that this is what happiness tastes like.
As the kiss gives way to other touches, T’Pol and I enjoy one another in a much less frantic manner than we did last week. Her touches are still firm, but gentle, and occasionally lingering over a bruise or scratch she inflicted last week. I don’t mind the bruises, and I suspect T’Pol may appreciate them too. They are, after all, tangible evidence that I belong to her. And I finally do, just as much as she finally belongs to me. It’s about damn time.
“I love you, T’Pol,” I murmur softly against her ear.
“I cherish you, Charles. . . Trip.”
*That* is what happiness sounds like.
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Nine of you have made comments
Wow, glad to see these two are finally going to be together! Can't wait to see how you will wrap up the last chapter and epilogue!
Excellent. Just plain excellent. Finally our favorite couple "Fulfilled". Now I am really curious what you got planned for Archer. Can't wait!
Hey I wanna see Divorce: Vulcan style.
I mean look how violent their mating rituals are, duel to the death anyone?
The Vulcans being such a reserved, traditional race I can only imagine a Catholic having a tougher time getting a divorce !!!
I love you Samantha... this chapter was perfect and your are wonderful for making this chapter! I've been waiting a long time for that! In the words of Tucker... "It's about damn time!"
I wonder if Charlie will ever forgive Trip for what happened... with everything getting better in Trip's life I think it's time that his son forgives him! He's lost one son... he doesn't need to lose the other! But I'm glad now he'll be able to be with HIS family (because they are HIS and not Archer's!)
Yay! Whoo! Thank you so much!
Finally, Trip and T'Pol manage to have a communication and not have it end in miscommunication!!!
One chapter and an epilogue dripping with happy fulfilment had best be in order...and preferably T'Pol finally being bonded for the first time in her life! :)
It's about time!! I wasn't to sure at the beginning of the story ... however, after hanging in and trying not to toss my monitor across the room they finally resolve their relationship. Excellent story. I hope you post your next chapter and epilogue soon. Keep up the good work
Ah, man, you had to go and bring up the Trellium - D addiction. Can't we just forget about that in the land of fanfiction? ;) Otherwise, awesome chapter!
Awesome! I wanted to cry with joy, hooray! Trip and T'Pol are back together and I am ready to dance on the outside of the hull wearing nothing but a smile (um, as long as there are no Xindi around to wipe it off my face again). Terrific. I am hoping when all the clues slot into place for Charlie it will not hinder the love he has for his father nor dim the affection he has for T'Pol. As for Archer there is an old saying, "he who divides his own house inherits the wind". If he can rise above his own selfish introspections he could have a happy ending too, bow out of a marriage he could never fulfill and go and seek his own heart's desire. It would be the best gift to Koval's memory possible this side of the Expanse. Can hardly wait for the next part, Ali D :~)
Trip and T'Pol... finally together... perfect! Now all you gotta do is have Charlie come to his senses and have Archer come to his. Trip should have everything he had and didn't have for all those years. Including a little Koval junior!