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.
Daybreak- Chapter 12
Author - Shouldknowbetter
Fan Fiction Main Page | Stories sorted by title, author, genre, and rating
Disclaimers in Chapter 1
Tucker often did the rounds of Enterprise, ensuring that anyone who wanted had the opportunity for an informal chat with their captain. But he was rarely quite as assiduous as he was that night, ensuring that he covered every deck, every compartment. It was approaching midnight before he reached T’Pol’s cabin, crouching in front of her, where she knelt on the floor, eyes focussed on a candle flame. “Hey, honey, I’m home!”
The wide brown eyes lifted slowly. “I do not understand why you consider that particular greeting amusing.”
He held out a hand to help her up. “Just one of those things, I guess.” He slipped his arms around her waist, pulling her gently against him. “Are you ready for bed?”
She was still gazing up at him, outwardly calm although her soft voice was not quite steady when she asked, “Will you not reconsider?”
“You know I can’t. T’Pol, this is something I have to do.” Tucker had rarely sounded so determined, even though he kept his tone gentle. “It’s too important to turn my back on.”
“I do not wish to lose you again.”
“Not gonna happen. We’ll be back before you know it.”
“And if you are not?”
His mouth twisted. “Maybe that’s something we need to talk about.”
“If you were untroubled, Amanda, you would not be affecting my ability to concentrate.”
She grimaced and sat up. “I’m sorry. I’ll go.”
“I would prefer that you stayed and talked with me. And that,” he added after brief reflection, “must be the first time I have ever had to encourage you to talk!”
No glimmer of amusement crossed her face as she stared back, knees hugged to her chest. “It has to be a trap. Why else would Degra want to get you and Trip alone?”
“It was Captain Tucker’s idea not to take Enterprise to the council meeting, not Degra’s.”
“But he wouldn’t let a security team go with you.”
“Amanda, we must demonstrate our good faith.”
“You shouldn’t go.”
“For many logical reasons, we must.” Despite the fact that they had covered the same ground before, both privately and in senior staff meetings, Cole still looked mutinous and Soval left the floor to seat himself beside her, gripping her chin firmly. “You worry unnecessarily. In my experience, diplomats are rarely attacked.”
She glowered at him. “You’re not very diplomatic.” He raised a querying eyebrow, but she refused to be amused. “I know you, Soval. Five minutes polite discussion, then when someone fails to be convinced by your logic, you get sarcastic.”
“Then I will attempt to be patient. To which end I must meditate.”
She gazed at him in silence for several seconds, studying his lined, impassive face. “I can’t believe how much I love you.”
His expression softened a little as he leant forward to kiss her forehead, both hands rising to frame her face. Cole felt her heart contract at the regret she suddenly sensed from him. “Then promise me one thing, ashel-veh.”
There was quite a farewell party gathered the next morning to see Tucker and Soval off, and not one confident face amongst the lot. Tucker took a look around at T’Pol, Mayweather and Cole, who arrived with Soval, and bared his teeth at them in a less than amused grin. “A little more confidence would be nice, people.”
“It’s the Xindi we don’t trust, Trip.” Cole answered for them all, then broke with what passed for protocol on Enterprise those days to reach up and drop a brief kiss on his mouth. “Don’t mess up, Tucker. And don’t let Soval be rude to anyone.” She winked at him and strode away with barely a glance for the Vulcan, and Tucker turned a doubtful look on T’Pol, expecting recriminations for that display of support.
“Amanda’s just a friend.”
“Evidently!” Not to be outdone, she too kissed him before stepping back. “You are now late.”
He ignored the rebuke to pull her to him again, holding her tightly for a moment. “I’ll be back, promise you.” Over T’Pol’s head, he looked up into Mayweather’s grimly set face. “Don’t dent my ship while I’m gone.”
The younger man managed a tight smile. “It wasn’t me who scratched the paint before we ever left space dock.”
This time Tucker’s grin was a little more natural. “I’m never gonna live that one down. Okay,” he sobered again, holding T’Pol a little away from him to look down at her, “we gotta go. Look after yourself and Lorien, honey. No late nights in the science lab.”
“Of course not.”
Her composure was starting to falter and Tucker’s lips thinned, but he had committed himself and there was no drawing back. “See you in two days.” He kissed T’Pol one last time and headed determinedly into the airlock. “Soval, what’s keeping you?”
The Ambassador raised a disgusted eyebrow and followed him, nodding briefly to the two left behind as he did so.
Mayweather took a look at T’Pol’s distressed face as she continued to watch the airlock and decided that extreme action was required. “Trip’ll be okay.” He took her arm in a gentle, supportive grip. “Come on, T’Pol, you know what the captain wants us to do. Let’s go find another sphere to play with.”
She withdrew her arm, but the look in her eyes was grateful. “I will transmit the coordinates to the Bridge.”
Degra’s ship was small, which meant that Tucker and Soval ended up in the same cramped room for the trip, once the initial courtesies were out of the way. Too restless to sit, Tucker paced around the limited space, resenting the Vulcan’s calm demeanour as he gazed blankly at the opposite wall, although the sour expression eventually led him to ask, “Are you okay?” Soval’s health had seemed erratic since joining Enterprise, and the last thing the captain wanted was a sick ambassador during the coming meeting.
“I’m perfectly well.” The answer was reflexive, but Soval for once relented under Tucker’s demanding stare. “A touch of indigestion.”
“I didn’t know Vulcans got indigestion.”
“If allowed to manage our own diet, we do not.” The Vulcan’s grey eyebrows had drawn together. “Sergeant Cole obliged me to eat breakfast. I never eat breakfast – with good reason.”
Tucker grinned before the oddity of the remark struck him. “Soval, just what the hell is going on between you and Amanda?”
“If I understand you correctly, there is nothing illicit ‘going on’ between us.”
“Oh, well, good.”
“Now if you will excuse me, captain, I require some time to compose myself.”
The Vulcan closed his eyes, withdrawing into himself, leaving Tucker to wonder if there had been a faint emphasis on ‘illicit’.
The council meeting took place on board a vessel belonging to the Aquatics, where the other Xindi sub-species, plus a Human and a Vulcan, were accommodated in a specially constructed chamber that was the only non-water-filled compartment on the ship. Tucker would have dearly loved to poke around once Degra informed him of that particular fact, but even he was forced to admit that there were more important things requiring his attention.
Degra had briefed himself and Soval on the individuals who could be expected to attend the session, but only three others besides themselves were present: the Reptiles had failed to arrive. Personally, Tucker would have preferred them to be present. Even if Dolum was the ruthless leader Degra had described, he was unlikely to order an attack on a gathering where he was in attendance.
The session progressed well, however, even if the pace of proceedings seemed slow to Tucker. But then they had been warned that the Aquatics would take time to absorb the data provided. As Degra murmured in an aside, part way through the second hour, the fact that the Insectoids had not walked out within minutes was a good sign. Then Dolum strode in.
The atmosphere, that had been guardedly polite, abruptly became tense, giving Tucker first hand evidence that the Reptiles were little more popular amongst their fellow Xindi than they were with Humankind. He tensed himself, in instinctive reaction to the sight of a figure he would normally shoot on sight. Then from a metre away, Soval frowned at him, and the captain forced himself to relax, muscle by muscle – starting with the murderous expression he was sure had formed for, if Degra could be believed, this was the individual who had pushed for Earth’s destruction when others of his species had faltered.
“My friends,” Dolum’s voice oozed a sincerity that Tucker couldn’t bring himself to believe. “This is an historic day! The Xindi Council re-formed.” He turned to face the two non-Xindi. “And the chance to make peace with those who have been our enemies.”
“Vulcan has never considered the Xindi an enemy,” Soval stated clearly, a sentiment that Tucker thought was an exaggeration of the truth. “We are here to ensure that that condition persists.”
If there was a threat behind the carefully chosen words, Dolum chose to ignore it. “Peace must be the aim of all civilised species. I apologise for my tardiness. Will someone recap?”
Janner, the Arboreal scientist, did so, while Tucker exchanged a long look with Soval. It was a relief to find that the Vulcan was just as suspicious of the new arrival as he was.
But it seemed that their scepticism was misplaced. The day wore on in civilised discussion, as Dolum referred to it, until everyone declared that they needed time to consider what had been said, before reconvening the following day. It was all most satisfactory, but once back on Degra’s ship, with the Xindi-Humanoid almost bubbling with triumph at the progress they had made, Human and Vulcan again exchanged doubtful looks.
“What d’you reckon?” Tucker asked, and Soval gave him a dark look.
“I begin to agree with Sergeant Cole: this is a trap.”
“But why?” Degra wasn’t pleased with their opinion. “All agree that the Guardians’ motives are suspect. All agree that action must be taken to prevent further damage to the fabric of space by the spheres. What more could you ask?”
“Less agreement.” Soval’s voice was hard. “I have negotiated many treaties, Degra. Agreement is never reached as simply as this. Particularly not when both sides have so bitter a shared history.”
Degra would undoubtedly have disputed further, if the whine of a transporter signal hadn’t prevented him. When it faded, it was no longer worth arguing the point: Dolum’s hard face leered back at them from the comfort of his own command chair, on the bridge of his ship where they had materialised.
The tension on the Bridge didn’t even register with Cole when she burst in, so focussed was she on the inside of her own head. “They’re in trouble.” She grabbed the top railing of the Bridge to stay upright. “We have to do something.”
“Amanda?” Mayweather swung around to face her. “What are you talking about?”
“Amanda, you can’t possibly know that. We’ve heard nothing.”
“I have. Soval’s hurt. I know he is.”
“You cannot know that.” T’Pol moved forward from the science station, her expression profoundly disapproving as she reiterated Mayweather’s opinion.
Cole twisted her head to glare at the Vulcan woman. “I can! I’m bonded to him. I can feel his pain.”
“That is not possible.” The denial in T’Pol’s voice wasn’t directed at the potential of the Vulcan mating bond and Cole knew it.
“It’s true, sub-commander. Soval and I are bonded. Now tell Travis that the bond means that I can feel what Soval feels.”
Mayweather had listened to the exchange with his mouth hanging open, but he managed to close it as he turned to T’Pol. “Is she right, T’Pol?”
“No, I’m not!” Later Cole would realise that some of the white-hot fury she felt at that moment was Soval’s own. At the time, she just knew she had never been so angry – nor so scared. She advanced on the other woman. “I know you don’t like me, T’Pol, but are you really gonna let Trip die because of that?”
“Ambassador Soval told me that the bond was incomplete.”
“Old news! Your father,” Cole’s stress on the last word wasn’t pleasant, “completed it when we started sleeping together.”
“I don’t get it.” Mayweather stepped between the two women. “If what you say is true, Amanda, why can’t T’Pol sense what the captain’s feeling.”
“She’s not bonded to him. They haven’t gone through her pon farr together yet.” She moved to one side to glare at T’Pol, whose expression was outraged. “D’you want details about me and Soval, sub-commander, or are you convinced yet?”
“T’Pol?” Mayweather was still seeking confirmation that she was desperately reluctant to give, and Cole’s temper got the better of her again. “Ashel-veh. Soval calls me ashel-veh. What does it mean?” T’Pol’s eyes widened in shock, but she didn’t answer and Cole swung on Sato. What does it mean?”
“I’m not sure.” The comm. officer was frowning. “I’ve not heard it before. I guess something like,” she glanced uncomfortably at T’Pol, “one who is loved. Beloved.”
“Oh.” Cole swallowed hard, then glared at T’Pol. “Convinced yet, sub-commander?”
Tucker woke and immediately gave a heartfelt groan, less for his discomfort than for the fact that everything had, as usual, gone horribly wrong. His last clear recollection was the gasp of pain forced from Soval as Dolum casually snapped the Vulcan’s forearm. Events after that were a little hazy, due to the fact that he had lost his temper, and tried to fight his way free of the Reptiles holding him to go to the aid of the older man. From the aches in various parts of his anatomy, they had roughed him up in retaliation, but he was still alive. He reserved the right to keep an open mind on whether that was a good thing.
It wasn’t Soval’s voice, and neither did it have the characteristic growl of a Reptile, so Tucker didn’t bother feigning continued unconsciousness. He opened his eyes instead, squinting in the dim light. “Degra?”
“Yes.” A hand assisted him to sit up. “Captain, you have my heartfelt apologies for this turn of events. I never thought another Xindi could be so duplicitous.”
“Welcome to the real world.” There was more weariness than bitterness in Tucker’s voice, although bitterness predominated internally. He should never have agreed to that council meeting: the opportunity had just been too good to be true.
There was another body slumped in a corner of the cell and he scrambled over, feeling anxiously for a pulse. To his relief there was one, although it felt dangerously fast until common sense reminded him that a Vulcan’s heart rate was far higher than a Human’s. But there was nothing reassuring about the green blood staining Soval’s hair and face, and the sickening angle of his left arm. “Did Dolum ask any questions after I passed out, Degra?”
“No.” The Xindi-Humanoid also showed signs of rough handling, although, for a reason Tucker didn’t understand, it was Soval who had borne the brunt of Dolum’s sadistic streak. “He simply tortured Ambassador Soval until he, too, lost consciousness, then told his lieutenant to see to our execution.”
“Then why are we still alive?”
“I don’t know.” Degra had definitely lost heart. “Dolum’s orders are usually carried out swiftly.”
“I’ll bet.” Beneath the hand that Tucker had left on Soval’s shoulder, the man stirred and he tightened his grip. “Keep still, Soval.” It was probably not the best of things to have said. Tucker suspected that it was sheer perverseness that made the Vulcan immediately attempt to sit up, although his mouth compressed tightly as he did so. “Don’t be a fool.” Tucker pressed him firmly back. “And don’t try to tell me you’re okay.”
The ambassador didn’t reply for some moments, apparently concentrating on breathing steadily. Eventually he said quietly, “My injuries are not life threatening.”
“Glad to hear it.” This time Tucker helped Soval sit up, easing him back against the wall. “You want me to set that arm?”
Tucker smiled briefly as he settled beside the Vulcan, whose eyes focussed on the ground in front of him. He certainly sympathised with the sentiment, although if he thought there was the slightest chance of escape, he’d have to insist. But just at that moment, he didn’t feel up to an escape attempt himself, even if the cell had offered any prospect of illicit exit.
“Will your ship attempt to locate you, captain?” Degra asked quietly from across the cell and Tucker rocked his head slowly.
“I told Travis not even to think of it.” He sighed. “I just hope T’Pol doesn’t try to convince him otherwise.”
The Vulcan’s eyes raised to frown at him. “Did you not give her the same orders?”
“Sure. But that doesn’t mean she’ll take any notice of me.” Soval’s eyes closed and Tucker gave in to curiosity: it beat thinking about death. “Amanda’s gonna be furious that you’ve gone missing.”
There was a long pause, during which he decided that his gentle probing wasn’t going to work. But Soval surprised him. “I gave her similar instructions.”
“And you expect her to obey you?”
Genuine amusement crossed Tucker’s bruised face. “Tell me, Soval, does Amanda ever do what you tell her?”
“Occasionally.” The Vulcan frowned, however. “But it usually requires chocolate.”
Mayweather was starting to regret that he had rejoined Enterprise. A free trader didn’t have to put up with assertive women who argued with him. He could have coped with one, but T’Pol and Cole were, for once, on the same side of the fence, and acting with profound disrespect for his rank. “Captain Tucker’s orders were clear.” He’d said it before, but it was worth repeating, in case one of the women suddenly remembered who was currently in command of Enterprise. “No rescue attempts. He wanted us to concentrate on disabling the spheres.”
“He was wrong.” T’Pol’s tone was firm, but so was Mayweather’s headshake.
“No, he wasn’t. I’m sorry.” He included Cole in the apology: at least her revelation had confirmed his long-held opinion that Soval’s affection for her was far from fatherly and explained the Vulcan’s antagonism towards himself. “But those spheres threaten the rest of the galaxy. That has to be our priority now that the Xindi have proved unreliable.”
Both women glared at him until Cole turned her back abruptly. “Soval said the same.”
Her normally firm voice was husky, and Mayweather frowned at her. Hard though it was to believe, she was genuinely distressed about the Vulcan. She’d certainly never become so upset when Tucker got into trouble during the time they’d been lovers. “Then take his advice. We have to focus on those spheres.” T’Pol was still staring back at him, the grief in her eyes almost enough to shake his resolution. What made him stick to his orders was something he couldn’t bring himself to mention to the women: the fact that their men were almost certainly dead. Then Mayweather winced at an even worse thought. Archer had survived six months in the hands of the Reptiles before T’Pol had manage to free him, and he’d never recovered from the experience. Better to hope that Tucker and Soval were dead, but he was glad that he’d remembered Archer. “T’Pol, I’ll be assigning you a MACO escort. You too, Amanda.” He saw the understanding and grudging acknowledgement that the escort was necessary in both grieving faces. “There’ll be no rescue attempt this time.”
Tucker was dozing when the door opened, but jerked awake at the thump of booted feet on the metal deck, looking a long way up at another glowering Reptile. “Get up.”
There seemed little point in resisting, so he scrambled up, wincing as his stiffened bruises protested, and helped Soval to his feet. The Vulcan was completely expressionless, suspiciously so to Tucker’s way of thinking. He didn’t care how effective pain control meditation might be, Soval was hurting and just too proud to show it. Unfortunately, he could do nothing to help. At least it would soon be academic.
The fact that Soval didn’t pull away from Tucker’s support as they were hustled through the corridors only added to his concern, because it was safer to worry about the ambassador than to wonder how T’Pol would cope without him, and to speculate on whether the Sphere Builders would succeed in their aim of destroying the universe he knew. And it did no good at all to regret that Lorien would never know his father.
They were brought to a halt in front of the inner door of an airlock, but only briefly: too briefly. It opened and the three of them were thrust inside. Tucker had time to remember that it would take him 10 seconds to lose consciousness if he survived the explosive decompression before the outer door began to open.
Cole didn’t know why she had gone to Soval’s cabin instead of her own, except that she had spent almost all her spare time there for the past week, and one darkened room was much like another when all she wanted to do was cry. She certainly wasn’t pleased when the door opened and T’Pol came to stand in front of the bed. “Is Ambassador Soval still alive?”
Cole sat up, wiping her face and sniffing. She wasn’t ashamed of having been caught crying, but she didn’t want to give the other woman the opportunity to preach about the need for emotional control. “I don’t know. Do you care?” She really wasn’t feeling very charitable.
“He is my father.”
“Yeah, and he loves you. Pity you don’t feel the same.”
“You do not understand Vulcan relationships.”
“Yes, I do. We’re bonded, remember?” Another sob threatened. “We were bonded.”
“If you are bonded, you should be able to tell if Ambassador Soval is alive or not.”
“Well, I can’t.” Cole wanted to end the conversation. “I stopped being aware of him almost as soon as he left Enterprise. There were just those few minutes of pain, then nothing.” She scowled at the other woman. “At least you’ve got Lorien.”
“As have you.” Very deliberately, T’Pol lowered herself onto the bed. “If you wish.”
“You were married to my father. Lorien is your step-grandson.”
Cole shook her head. “Soval and I weren’t married. We were just bonded.”
“The bonding process you underwent is considered the most important element in a marriage. An exchange of vows is sometimes included, but is not essential. You were married.” She looked steadily back into Cole’s shocked face. “You did not know?”
Cole shook her head dumbly. Soval had married her? Trust the mean old Vulcan not to mention something so fundamental. But it explained why he had expected her to live with him, and had not been concerned about others finding out. Tears flooded her eyes again, despite her best efforts. Soval was dead, before she’d teased him into changing his hairstyle or found out where he kept the chocolate. And she would miss him all the rest of her life.
A hand closed on her shoulder and she looked up into eyes as tearful as her own. “I will miss Charles too.” T’Pol’s voice was unsteady, gentler than Cole had ever heard it, but she recognised its quality for what it was: a Vulcan addressing a family member. “But we have Lorien. We must ensure his future.”
Given that Enterprise’s crew had lived through the destruction of their civilisation, it would have been inaccurate to claim that the atmosphere on the Bridge had never been worse. But to lose their captain – again – was still a deeply distressing experience. They weren’t even able to make much progress in following Tucker’s last order to try to find a way of disabling the spheres. Malfor was doing his best, but it required T’Pol’s skill and experience to find a way inside the sphere they had located, and Phlox had ordered her to rest.
Loss had certainly made them all careless. No one spotted the approaching ship on long-range sensors. It wasn’t until the small Insectoid vessel dropped out of warp right in front of them that Graveney yelped in surprise. “Commander!”
“Tactical alert.” Mayweather didn’t hesitate. “Target their main engines.”
He would have given the order to fire without hesitation if Sato hadn’t said urgently, “They’re hailing us.”
For a moment he considered firing anyway, but the remnant of a Starfleet training conquered instinct. “Put them on. But keep that weapons’ lock.”
The image that formed wasn’t one that he’d been expecting, however. Tucker looked as if he’d been in a fight – one he’d lost – but he was definitely alive. “Stand down tactical alert, Travis, and prepare for docking.”
Mayweather stared back, untouched by the relief that was running around the rest of the Bridge crew. “With respect, sir, I don’t think I’ll do that just yet.”
Tucker’s torn mouth curved in a wry smile. “I know the transport’s a little unusual, but there’s no gun to my head, Travis.”
“We heard that the council meeting went awry. You have to admit, captain, we’ve known the Xindi turn a few people against their own.”
“You knew?” Tucker frowned. “Did Degra’s crew contact you?”
“No.” Mayweather hesitated slightly before voicing the ridiculous. “Amanda claimed to know that Ambassador Soval had been hurt. T’Pol agreed it was plausible.”
“The leader of the Reptiles kidnapped us and tortured Soval. Fortunately one of his people decided that it was in his best interests to save us, instead of going through with our execution. The Insectoid’s were in on the plot.” Tucker finished the explanation in a hurry. “How’s T’Pol?”
“Upset.” Mayweather grimaced for that understatement. “But she’s okay.” He pulled another face. “Amanda’s pretty upset too.”
“You might wanna tell her that Soval’s gonna be fine.” Tucker sighed. “I tried to get a message through, but the Insectoids wanted to keep radio silence and I didn’t like to insist. Are you gonna let us onboard, Travis?”
“I guess.” The younger man grinned suddenly. “Welcome home, captain.”
Tucker’s first act on returning to Enterprise was to envelop T’Pol in a tight hug, resting his cheek on her hair for a long moment while she held him back just as tightly. “Sorry, honey. It didn’t quite work out how we planned.”
“Does it ever?” Her tone was cool and he chuckled slightly as he regretfully released her.
“Maybe one day. Soval,” the Vulcan was several metres down the corridor, “where the hell are you going?”
The Vulcan did not halt his slow but steady passage. “I will speak with you later, captain.”
Tucker chased after him, T’Pol at his heels. “You’re going to Sickbay.”
“Now!” Tucker took a firm grip on the Vulcan’s sound arm. “I stabilised you, no more.”
He got an annoyed glare for his intervention. “Momentarily.”
“Now.” The captain looked to T’Pol for support, but did not get quite the response he had hoped for.
“You will both report to Sickbay immediately. I,” she took an unbreakable hold on both men, “will escort you.”
Cole knew who was at her door. It was the only reason she answered it, because she was pretty sure that if she did not, he’d simply pick her lock. Her expression was very nearly as blank as Soval’s when she opened the door and faced him squarely, not about to let him in. “I’m sorry. I can’t do this.” He raised a questioning eyebrow, apparently unmoved. “I don’t wanna be with you anymore.”
“May I ask why?”
“Please, just go.”
“No.” It was not the answer she had been expecting. She had thought he would simply accept the rejection and walk away. As quick as she was in reaching for the door’s control panel, Soval moved faster, catching her wrist. “Amanda, I lived alone for a very long time. I will not let you go so easily.”
“I made a mistake.” Her voice was starting to shake, however hard she tried to steady it. “I don’t love you.”
“You forget.” She knew that his eyes were on her face, although looking at him was impossible: she’d crumble if she did. “You cannot lie to me, nor I to you. Amanda, I cherish you dearly. And,” as if unable to sustain his calm any longer, Soval’s voice became irritated, “I would much prefer to discuss this in private. Several individuals have already passed by and expressed undue curiosity at my presence here.”
It was the characteristic irritation that broke her. Soval telling her that he cared for her wasn’t the man she’d grown to love. Soval being irritated at trivia, when Vulcans were supposed to be above such things, had always made her laugh. This time, however, it made her sob. He took advantage of her weakness, pushing her back into her cabin and stepping in after her, before pulling her tightly to him, despite the cast on one arm.
Cole clutched back, weeping into his neck, and only gradually became aware that all wasn’t well. “I’m sorry.” She released him abruptly. “I’m hurting you.”
“Unfortunately.” Soval raised his good hand to her face. “Perhaps you would allow me to sit?”
“Sure.” She tugged him towards the bed, solicitously arranged pillows to make him as comfortable as possible, then curled up beside him, head on his lap. After a moment, Soval moved his hand from her shoulder to her neck, blunt fingers massaging gently. Cole drew a quick breath and pressed a little harder against him. “Why did Dolum hurt you?” It wasn’t what she really wanted to say, but, even with Soval, she couldn’t come right out with it.
“Because he could.”
Soval’s mind was as calm as his voice: the experience seemed to have shaken her far more that it had him. “Didn’t he want information?”
“Not a pleasant individual.”
Silence fell until Cole finally nerved herself to get to the point. “I was so scared when I thought I’d lost you.” He didn’t reply, just continued the massage. “I’m a MACO, I don’t get scared. I didn’t know how to cope.”
“I could teach you to meditate.”
The statement was profoundly unappreciative of her revelation, but she knew that Soval understood. “That doesn’t make it any better, does it?”
“No.” His hand slid over her tightly braided hair. “But it allows one to,” he paused to select the right words, “endure with dignity.”
Cole shifted so that she could look up at him, wincing at the evidence of Dolum’s abuse on his face. “I never understood T’Pol. I hated what she did to Trip when she left Enterprise. But if she loved Archer too …” She broke off, but only to add, “I’d have tried to find you, if Travis hadn’t stopped me.”
“You promised me that you would not.”
“I didn’t care about that.” She sat up, but only to kiss him gently, before settling with her head on his shoulder this time. “T’Pol was really sweet.”
“I am glad that you have come to an understanding. Amanda.” She lifted her head to smile lovingly at him. “I believe that this bed is far too small for us both. Would you agree to relocate to our cabin?”
She scowled at the choice of pronoun. “Oh, yeah!. How dare you not tell me that we were married? You mean old Vulcan! You did me out of a wedding!”
In another cabin not very far away, the only other Human/Vulcan couple was also cuddled close, infinitely relieved to be back together again. After a long period of silence, Tucker sighed and, in the interest of open and honest communication, said regretfully, “You’re not gonna like this, honey, but I reckon there’s something going on between Soval and Amanda.”
“They are married.”
The calmness of the statement didn’t do anything to mitigate the shock Tucker experienced. “What?”
“They are married.”
“No! Amanda would have told me.”
“The ceremony occurred two weeks ago.”
“You were there?”
“It was private.” T’Pol finally took pity on her own Human. “Sergeant Cole was unaware of the precise nature of their relationship. She thought it was merely casual – as is ours.”
Tucker winced – and not at the thought of Soval and Cole in bed together. “You don’t mind?”
Brown eyes stared almost expressionlessly back. “I have been aware for some time that my father had an irrational affection for Sergeant Cole.” Tucker just managed to keep a straight face at that particular accusation against Soval. “It now seems that she is genuinely fond of him. She makes him,” for a moment, she seemed to be struggling to express herself, then continued with a touch of surprise, “happy.”
For some reason, the word hit Tucker like an out-of-control shuttle pod. “Do I make you happy?”
T’Pol didn’t hesitate. “Yes.”
All thought of the other couple vanished as Tucker pulled out of her arms to kneel by the bed, hands gripping hers. “T’Pol, will you do me the honour of becoming my wife?”
Her eyes widened fractionally as they locked on his, seeming to stare into his soul. “Yes.”
He gulped and moved back to pull her close, burying his face in her hair. “Oh God, I love you.” And a long time later, he added, “I must do. It’s not just that Soval’s gonna be my father-in-law. Amanda’ll be my mother-in-law.”
T’Pol’s reply was too undignified to be reproduced.
In Dolum’s headquarters, the Reptile was in trouble. The Guardian pacing up and down before him was furious and not prepared to listen to excuses. “Fool! You failed us. You had the Vulcan in your hands and you let him escape!”
“The ones responsible have been executed.”
“Not good enough! He has to die.”
“The weapon is nearly ready. Their planet will be destroyed. Isn’t that enough?”
“No! Find Enterprise. Destroy it. We cannot take risks. Remember, Dolum,” despite the fact that the woman was merely a projection, he still swayed back in the face of her fury, “we put you where you are. We can remove you just as easily. You have your orders: destroy the Human vessel.”
The image flicked out, and the Reptile snarled, smashing a fist into the nearest wall. As if Humans hadn’t been enough to plague him! Now the Vulcans had appeared on the scene – and they didn’t even offer good sport.
And in that other dimension, the recriminations continued while the timelines continued to move in a direction that no one there desired.
Have a comment to make about this story? Do so in the Trip Fan Fiction forum at the HoTBBS!