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The Bitterest End

Author - Shouldknowbetter | B | Genre - Angst | Main Story | Rating - PG-13 | T
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The Bitterest End

By ShouldKnowBetter

A continuation from The Mission.

Rating: PG13, major angst
Disclaimer: Paramount owns the characters, the Star Trek franchise and the universe. I just use them for my own private, non-profit making amusement.
Summary: Archer’s death finally releases T’Pol from her mission.

Author’s Notes:
1. The sequel to ‘The Mission’.

It rained the day they buried Jonathan Archer, in front of the council chamber of the United Federation of Planets in Marseilles, where one day they would erect a monument to the man history would believe had helped found the Federation. His widow attended, she who for years had been one half of the visible symbol that good interspecies relations were more than an abstract concept.

T’Pol stood impassively through the ceremony. Soval had suggested that a show of emotion, perhaps even a few tears, would not be inappropriate, but for the first time in her life she declined to follow her father’s instructions. She had wept at Archer’s deathbed, although that had been relief. She refused now to show a grief she did not feel; let the commentators attribute her composure to her Vulcan heritage.

The ceremony finished at last and the crowd began to disperse. T’Pol remained motionless for a few moments longer then turned to the man at her shoulder. “Father, am I now released?”

Soval raised a white eyebrow. “From what, daughter?”

She stared back, wondering if his memory had started to falter. “From the duty you placed on me 32.3 years ago: control Archer.”

His answer was delayed. T’Pol was certain that that supremely cunning diplomat was still considering options and consequences, but evidently he found no compelling need for her continuing services. “You are.”

She inclined her head and turned away, scanning the thinning crowd. He had been present, she had seen him at once, and there was a thirty-year-old vow to fulfill. He was alone when she found him, although T’Pol was so focussed she would not have allowed a herd of elephants to prevent her. “Mr. Tucker.” His head came up sharply and she permitted herself a close scrutiny for the first time in years. He was sixty-five, in late middle age by the standards of Earth in the 22nd century and it would have made no difference to her if he had been a hundred.

“T’Pol.” He hesitated. “I’m sorry, I should have called.” He shook his head sharply, admonishing himself, and added formally, “I’m sorry for your loss.”

“I am not.” She saw his eyes widen in shock but it would not, could not, stop her. She stepped closer, an unsteady hand rising to his cheek. “I never cared for him. It was you I wanted, Charles,” and before he could pull back or her resolution fail, T’Pol raised herself up to press her mouth to his.

She held the contact for no more than a second, feeling it burn through her, then turned and walked away. No one called after her, no one followed her, and T’Pol berated herself for the hope that he might have done so. She had known for years, since the moment she realized that she was capable of feeling affection for a human, that this was a cold and cruel universe.

Soval was in conversation with the Andorian ambassador and had not noticed what she had done. She halted by his side, waiting until he turned to acknowledge her. “I am done here, father. I am ready to return to Vulcan.”

He drew her away from Shran’s twitching antennas. “You will have preparations to make.”

“There are none.” There was nothing she wanted to take from Earth but the feel of a man’s lips under hers.

Soval was regarding her with disapproval. “It will be thought strange.”

“Let them believe that I wish to withdraw into seclusion.”

“I have arranged a gathering at Archer’s home. You will attend.”

“You said that I was released.”

“I did not expect you to behave so unprofessionally.”

“I have served you for 32 years, father, without intermission. Am I not allowed a period of freedom?”

The disapproval did not lesson. “There is a transport leaving for Vulcan tonight. You may take that, but for this afternoon you will continue to carry out your duties – since it is clear I must make it an order.”

The gathering was attended by every high-ranking politician currently on Earth and T’Pol knew that Archer would have been flattered by the attention, although why Soval thought it necessary she did not try to understand. Eventually she managed to slip discretely away into the garden, to a secluded seating area where Archer had often entertained friends. T’Pol took her usual seat, hands clasped in her lap, back straight, and looked across the table to another chair. Over the years, Tucker and his wife had visited many times, never allowing her to forget that there was one human whom she could have loved. He had sat there when he had told Archer that he was to be married and T’Pol had added her quiet congratulations to her husband’s more enthusiastic ones. He had sat there cradling his first born child when the boy was no more than a few weeks old and afterwards T’Pol had made her only attempt to escape her duty, pointing out to Archer that she could never bear him children. Her husband had only laughed and said that he was too old to start being a father; he had not even thought to ask if she wanted a child. In all the years since Enterprise, however, T’Pol had never spoken to Tucker alone until one night, only a few years before, when he had arrived at Archer’s house, white and shaken with the news of his wife’s mortal illness. Archer had been out and T’Pol had taken Tucker into the garden and sat with him while he talked, not caring who it was that listened. She had ached to comfort him but she had been careful that he remain Archer’s friend, never hers, and in the end it had been her husband’s shoulder into which he had cried while she had left them together to mourn. Now, with the feel of Tucker’s mouth against hers still vivid in her memory, she regretted that she had not given him the physical comfort he had needed, but it had seemed dishonest to take pleasure from his grief. Strange why that single act of dishonesty should have held her back when her entire life had for so long been a lie.

In the gathering dusk, T’Pol shivered despite her control. She was approaching the end of her tenth decade with half her life still before her. She was free to find a Vulcan husband if she wished, or a Vulcan lover if freedom meant more to her than stability. To want what she could never have was still profoundly illogical.

“T’Pol.” She looked round, startled by the harsh tone as much as by the suddenness, and met Tucker’s grim stare. “I thought I’d find you here.” She could see him clearly despite the fading light and shivered again. Perhaps she should have realized that her earlier action could only cause pain, but she had waited so very long. “What the hell were you talking about?”

She kept her voice quiet, hoping not to provoke him and not daring to misunderstand. “When I joined Enterprise, my role was not merely one of observer. I was instructed to influence Captain Archer to the benefit of the Vulcan government, using any means that I could.” She swallowed, seeing Tucker’s stark disbelief. “When logic failed to have the required effect, I chose … intimacy … instead.”

“You’re telling me,” Tucker’s voice was slow, “that you lied to us?”


“All the time you were on Enterprise?”


“And since then?”

“Everything I have done for the last thirty three years has been a lie.”

“But Jon … your marriage …”

“I did what I had to do.”

“Your whole life with Jon … was a lie?”


“This is crazy.” Tucker turned away, a hand rising to the back of his neck, but swung back a second later. “Jon loved you. You loved him!”

“I did not.” T’Pol gripped her hands together more tightly. “It was you. Only you.”

“Jeez.” He was looking at her with disgust. “I can’t believe …”

“Charles …” She was weakening. A moment more and she would have lost control, clung to him, pleaded, but Tucker did not give her time.

“Don’t call me that! What the hell right …” He was furious now as well as disgusted. “God, I thought I knew you. All these years …” Too angry to be coherent he flung away, back the way he had come, and T’Pol forced herself to a final effort of duty.

“Mr. Tucker.” He halted, back towards her. “What will you do with this knowledge?”

There was a long pause. “You expect me to tell everyone that my best friend’s life was a fraud, that his achievements were master-minded by the Vulcans? I’m not gonna do anything, T’Pol – but if I ever see your face again, I’ll kill you, I swear I will.”

He walked away and Archer’s widow remained seated, eyes closed, although that did not prevent the slow slide of tears down her smooth cheeks.


T’Pol was alone, as she had been for much of the time since Soval’s death the previous year, when the message arrived. Curious, for she received few messages from off-world, she accessed it, not recognizing the source. It was a human woman who appeared, face strained, showing signs of recent sorrow, and she was brief. “We found this with dad’s things. I guess he wanted you to have it.” The woman’s image disappeared and T’Pol reached forward with a hand that was suddenly unsteady to play the second, longer message.

Tucker was much older than the last time she had seen him twenty-seven years before, but she still recognized him. Faded blue eyes seemed to stare at her for a few seconds before he began. “T’Pol,” there was a pause, “I can’t honestly say I’ve thought much about you over the years.” He grimaced. “Tried not to after that sucker punch you threw me after Jon’s funeral. But I’ve not got much time left and I guess that forces you to think back, however hard you try not to.” He paused again, and T’Pol hands clutched at each other as she waited. “If what you said was true, I can’t forgive you for what you did to Jon, but …” The white haired old man shook his head fractionally. “I didn’t handle it too well. Maybe I should have given you the chance to explain but I was angry as fire and I really thought I had to leave before I lashed out at you. I’m sorry for that,” he drew a deep breath, “and I guess I should finally admit that there was a time when I’d have been glad to hear that it was me you wanted. I was jealous as hell when you and Jon got together. God, was it really nearly sixty years ago?” He paused once more, staring at what could only be a blank screen, although perhaps his memory was supplying other images. “Live long and prosper, T’Pol.”

She froze the image before it cut out and stretched out to trace his face with her fingertips, barely able to see through the tears filling her eyes. It did not matter that he had grown old so much more swiftly than she. She still loved him and now he was truly gone, not merely separated from her by a few dozen light years. Slowly, T’Pol rose and went to stand by her door, viewing the expanse of desert that stretched away almost from her feet. She had perhaps another seventy years before her, to be lived alone apart from the chance encounters that allowed her to survive pon farr … or she could simply walk away. She had been tempted once before, on her way back from Vulcan after her last parting with Tucker, but she had held back, not wanting him to feel any guilt if he should hear of her premature death. Now he was dead and she had no pressing commitments, nothing that she would regret leaving.

Once more T’Pol turned to look at the frozen image on the screen then resolutely stepped out into the burning desert. When the will was set, it would not take long and then she would be done with duty and memory and everything else that had turned her life into a bitter wilderness.

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A whole mess of folks have made comments

I can honestly say that I do not like this story at all. It's well written, but it suffers from
what 'appears' to be a problem a number fan views suffer from...manipulative vulcan symdrome.

Fans keep complaining that the Vulcans in Enterprise are nothing like Spock or Vulcans in other series. That is completely untrue. The claim is that they have too much of a superiority complex and snub their noses at the humans. Spock was doing that on a regular basis as was Tuvok. Both Vulcans believed in the superiority of their culture and ideology of logic.

Vulcan do believe they are superior and do want to help other species overcome their faults. However, they are still an honorable race and the
thought that they would even consider such an
elaborate deception is really a poor judgement.If anything, Vulcans would strive to demostrate better ways through personal example. That is what makes them annoying. Metaphorically, they constantly say "Watch us...see how we do it and you will improve."

Sorry if your the author to get this 'little' comment, but I think that too many
authors have gotten on this 'bash the Vulcans'
wagon and I felt like saying a few words about it.
Your story was well written and I have enjoyed
some of your other works.

Boy, this was a dark little story! I found it quitepowerfully written. I felt T'Pol's sadness in having to spend her entire life without love. I did like the way you ended it with Trip's confession. Thank you!

Both this and "The Mission" are (as usual for you!) very well written -- but in this case the tales are as DARK as deep space, morally twisted, and very unpleasant. I cannot say I enjoyed them, or will re-read them; they made me feel like I did after watching "Shindler's List" or reading "Elvis in the Morning" -- both superbly told tales. I DO NOT want to revisit any of them, because the very knowledge of the hideous injustices (manipulation and abuse of one or many people, by those in whom trust has been placed) makes me feel filthy, as if I was part of the deceipt/betrayal. I do not like "associating" with Adolph Hitler or George Nichopoulos -- or T'Pol in these two tales!

That said, you have the genre down to a science if my reaction is any indication... Sorry for my "negativity", and please keep writing, tho!

I am not quite sure what I was expecting but this bleak unremitting ending was not it. The story is very well crafted but so cold. I could well believe Trip's reaction at Jon's funeral and not the message passed on to T'Pol after Trip's death. That did not seem in keeping. I don't think the Trip in this story would *ever* have forgiven T'Pol. Jon was his best friend. Although Trip was attracted to T'Pol he had risen above that spark of passion when she apparently gave her affection to Jon. Trip would have come to terms with that and obviously did in that he then had a loving marriage of his own and children too. Having T'Pol coldly denounce Jon to Trip at Jon's funeral was such a stark unfeeling thing to do it struck a dischordant note. I could have believed T'Pol's sentiments better had she retained a dignified silence on it. Not admitted her feelings to Trip at all but chosen to take the secret of her affections to her grave. That would have been more the way to go though personally I would have preferred a much less dark and bleak second story. Perhaps with T'Pol rebelling against her father and trying to explain to Jon that she did not actually love him. Whatever. I think you were very brave to write this story in this way but it is so sad and has a sterile barren quality to it that makes me wish you had written an alternative second story. Ali D :~)

Hmmm, dark comments...It's a story, a well written story and although bleak it was meant to be, yes? Brave writer:-), powerful story. I hope you keep writing them.

I'm not a fan of sad endings. especially ones where no-one gets what they want, and peole commit suicide at the end. However this is a well written story so i can't complain........much.

Wow, powerful stories, ShouldKnowBetter! I didn't like the stories either, because I love the Vulcans, Soval and T'Pol. I can't imagine T'Pol or Soval acting in the way written. Soval may be bitter, but I think his heart is in the right place (sometimes :D ).

However, I think these show the level of disillusion we have about Enterprise - it is so ridiculous that TPTB have been pursuing a T'Pol and Archer pairing which makes no sense. Your stories at least attempts to make sense of that bizarre relationship we have been forced to endure.

Oh, I definitely hope you keep writing! You have made me think about the Vulcans and why I love them, especially Soval and T'Pol and their relationship. I feel a little "Alternate Universe" in these two stories which show the dark, unpleasant side of what TPTB are doing to these characters, particularly T'Pol and Archer.

Thanks! I look forward to more. Especially a nice story about Soval as T'Pol's father? :P

This is a very dark story, but I appreciate your willingness to let the *story* dictate what would happen instead of forcing an ending. Like many other commenters here, I have a different take on Archer, Trip, T'Pol, and Soval, but the point of this site is to house the best fanfiction about Trip and T'Pol we can find. Sometimes well-written stories won't fit my personal vision for the characters, but that's okay. We're after good fiction, not wish fullfillment.

Keep writing. You are one of my favorite authors.

interesting story. Although I have to say that was quite a dirty little Vulcan trick to pull on Archer! I mean the guy deserves a good woman like myself-maybe (wishful thinking) Also, the way she treated Tucker who she "Loved" I mean he should have thrown her out an airlock for treating Jon like that! Quite a dark story but well written, just a little suggestion how about a story with her and Malcolm?

What Bucky said ... exactly!

She's right - imagine the monotony if all the interpretations of the characters was the same. And all the endings were the same ...

I admire the way you're writing different stories and are not just rehashing the same ones over. This was a difficult story to read, but I can appreciate where T'Pol's coming from. She'd been obsessed with telling Tucker for 35 years, and obsession doesn't necessarily mean you make the best or most appropriate decisions.

Please keep writing. I love your style, I love your plots ... it's always a joy to find you've posted a new story!

Finally, a believable explanation for T'Pol's slow descent from Devil's Advocate to Sycophant during the course of show. My only concern is that you're channeling TPTB, with this as an all to accurate
prediction of what they'll do with the characters.

Every time I see your id on the new stories list, I know I'm going to enjoy depth of characterization and intelligence of dialog that the TV series rarely, if ever, delivers. You have the ability to get inside the characters minds, especially T'Pol's, and bring the reader along for an intricate, fascinating ride.

I look forward to whatever you produce next: light, dark, or medium in tone.

It is a rare treat to be able to ponder a fan fic after I'm done reading it. Mostly, I read them, sometimes enjoy them, but rarely do they leave enough impression that I want to contemplate it after I've read it for any amount of time. Your story, however, made me not only contemplate it afterwards, but encouraged me to go back and re-read it. Definitely dark, but exceedingly well-written and thought-provoking.

Personally, I CAN see Vulcans doing what is described here. We know they are capable of dark things-Spock himself told us so, and Tuvok proved it, on more than one ep of Voyager. Spock and Tuvok also both took part in elaborate deceptions similar to that you've describe here-in both "The Enterprise Incident" and "The Caretaker". Spock's deception involved a very hinted at sexual overtone with the Romulan Commander. Very much as your story does. So, if the Vulcans saw a logical reason. . .

Thanks for writing this. I enjoy the orange blossoms myself, but next season, when TPTB decide to have the "very special episode" where A/T'P consummate their relationship in the decon chamber ;( I will return to read the story yet again. And when that time comes, your story shall no longer be dark. Rather, it shall be a delightful ray of light serving as the "real reason."

I loved this story, it was so powerfull and made you think. I love the idea of the A/T thing in this story it fixe's and the the soval /T'P relainship.
I toldly hate that the show sims to be putting A and T'p together but how you expanled it in the story is so good.
This story was great.

LOL, ShouldKnowBetter! Do you know that now, every time I see Archer and T'Pol in one of their chats, I have to wonder what Machiavellian thoughts are coursing through T'Pol's brain? Brilliant!

While this story is well written, I didn't like these stories at all. I have no problem with a darker Fanfic. Not everything should be light and fluffy. Lets face it, people die. Either in fact or fiction, so I have no problem when authors either in books, the web, or scripts kill off major characters. In fact I tend to support such moves as it at least brings a bit of reality in the fantastical unverse.

My problem with this story, is the same as others is the protrayl of the Vulcans. Vulcans, like Klingons have a highly developed sense of honor. I can not see either Soval asking T'Pol to masquerade as Archer's love, nor can I see T'Pol doing it. It would be like Sarek asking Spock to hurt on the Enterprise 1701 crew. He couldn't do it, now would Soval ask it of it. I think people need to remember something. Vulcans do think they are superior to humans, Klingons, Andorians, etc, because they govern themselves with Logic, and not their Emotions. When they are proven wrong though, they grudgingly do admit it. IE Sarek at the end of ST IV, the Voyage Home when he tells Spock he might have been incorrect at saying that Spock should not have joined Starfleet. We see it again when Tuvok goes along with B'Elenna about giving the aliens the library in excahnge for space jumping technology in Season 1. That he was trying to save the captain from a moral imperative, via Logic. They are not liars, though they can omit the truth. What you have done here is take a race protrayed as noble, yet flawed through their views of Logic at times and made them out to be betrayers.

I wish authors would stop changing the universe that Gene Roddenberry created for us to enjoy by messing with the perimeters. Don't just go by them, expand them, but don't change the laws of physics. This goes for you too Rick Berman.

I just discovered this story and thought it was wonderful. Yes it was a "dark" story and didnt have a happy ending but its really nice to see fanfic go into the deeper and darker side of the Trip/Tpol/Archer relationship. How can we say what Vulcans would do or not do. Besides being a fictional race where does it say that every Vulcan would never act in such a way. Again we are looking at it from a human point of view. Even if Gene Roddenbury did portray Vulcans in a particular kind of way, who says that they are all like that, are all humans the same? Your version of Tpols actions however much we may disagree with them do explain Tpols so called devotion to Archer which from the way he treats her we wonder how she could feel any affection towards him at all. Thanks for a very thought provoking story.!!

One of the things I most admire about your writing is your ability to take the same characters, put them in a different setting (a different world even), and make them as believable as if we were meeting them for the first time. You've done the same here, although I can't say that I liked any of the characters as you've portrayed them in this story. They are simply too dark for me. But your story is original and thought-provoking and as well-written as always, and I thank you for sharing it.

I concur with Sash on your brilliant ability to treat the characters differently in each series, so much so that is seems as if it was written by a totally different author. Having said that, I too wonder at ethics practised here by the Vulcan ambassador and T'Pol; it doesn't feel correct. Nobody comes out with any honour in this story and while well written, I have to say I don't like it either.

This was too dark for me. I guess I have such a difficult time with the notion that T'Pol could do something like this.

But, aside from the problems that I have with the actual plot, this is extremely well written.

I might have believed this in the Mirror world where everyone was darker and more caculating. In the regular world I find it unbelievable because T'Pol and Even Soval had shown true character. They might have been slighly manipulative and perhaps closed mouth at times. Yet I do not think either could have acted so dishonorably. Tuckers reaction was in character. I think this was well written and from a technical stand point I enjoyed it. I think the manipulation factor made it just to hard to believe.
I also asmit to liking either pairing and it almost offensive to see both men played so. I would think it went against Surak's teachings.