Living Among the Thorns- Ch 11
Living Among the Thorns
Disclaimer: See Chapter One.
Summary: See Chapter One.
Jonathan Archer wasn’t surprised the next night when he saw his best friend Trip standing in the mess hall looking out the window at nothing but stars. He had a shot glass in his hand and behind him sat a barely full bottle of whiskey. The man stood tall, in uniform just watching stars go by, holding the empty shot glass in his right hand while his left hand touched the glass. What did surprise Archer was how his friend looked. He had never seen the man so messed up. Trip’s hair was in somewhat of a mess; he had dirt on his clothes, indicating he had been to engineering; and he had cuts and bruises all over. He looked weakened, yet he stood there like stone, not moving an inch. Just looking out that window. Archer cleared his throat, and Trip turned around slightly.
“I thought the doctor said to take it easy… you look like hell. And I know you’ve been to engineering.”
Trip tried to smile, but he failed and instead grimaced. “Who ratted me out?”
Archer sat in the seat with the whiskey was sitting before him and looked up at his friend; he was surprised that he didn’t think about his appearance. It was obvious that the man was out of it. “You have stuff all over your uniform….” He answered playfully although Trip didn’t seem in the mood. Slowly Trip sat down, falling into a chair and letting out a long sigh.
“I couldn’t sleep… I had ta get my mind off things so I went to engineerin’ for a bit.” Trip explained letting his hand go through his hair with yet another sigh.
“I understand.” Archer smiled at his friend. Trip still didn’t smile; he simply looked back at his friend for a second, then looked out the window again, letting the shot glass sit next to his whiskey. There was a long silence before Archer realized he had to do something. Trip was in shambles after what he’d just experienced and Archer had a feeling that the man was about ready to break. He’d never seen his friend so quiet before.
“I know I haven’t been that good of a friend lately… I should have been there for you when Lizzie… when you found out Lizzie died.” He began. Trip looked back at Archer.
“Don’t worry bout it, Cap’n… I understood. You have a lot ta deal with. You’re stressed enough without havin’ ta worry bout my problems. It’s ok, besides I’m all right… just a little shaken.” But Archer wasn’t about leave it at that.
“I know you a little better than that Trip, even if we haven’t been that close since we got into the expanse. Something’s bothering you, and I think it’s time I do my job as your friend.” It wasn’t an order, but to Trip it might as well be. A smiled showed for about three seconds and then it was gone. Archer’s heart sank.
“Captain Torlic… he was… my friend. I enjoyed talkin’ with him. I really wanted him to be innocent.”
“He seemed like a good man. You liked him.”
Trip shook his head. “He *was* a good man, Cap’n! He was kind-hearted, funny, and he understood people so well. He gave the best advice and he honestly cared about his crew. He was… he was… you.”
Trip exhaled then stood. “He reminded me so much of you. He had all your qualities. I think that’s why I got so close to him. He was just like you. I could tell he had a good heart. I could see the hesitation in his eyes when we fought. He didn’t want ta kill me. But he had ta do it. For the mission. He had to do it. He had to complete his mission. Just like you have to complete yours. It scared the shit outta me, Cap’n. To see this man lying at my feet and know… that I killed him… that I killed a good man.” Jonathan didn’t understand Trip. He seemed so upset about the fact that he killed a Xindi responsible for so many deaths—he deserved death.
“He killed your sister… he killed seven million people. How can he be a good man when he was willing to kill so many people?” Trip looked out the window.
“How many Xindi have you killed, Cap’n?” He asked at last and turned to look him in the eye. Archer’s eyes went wide.
“Not nearly as many as that Captain Torlic has killed of us!” He tried to keep his anger leveled but found it very difficult.
“When this mission is over… how many more do ya think you’ll kill? How many, Cap’n? What if the only way ta stop this weapon is to kill millions of their people?” Archer stood.
“Then at least we’d be even!”
“What if there’s women and children there, Cap’n? What if you can’t save them? What if innocent people would have ta die, too?”
“I have to complete my mission Trip! No matter what!”
Trip raised a finger. “That’s what Torlic said. He was doing it as much for his people as we are for ours.” Archer looked at him in shock.
“What do you suggest we do Trip? Let them all kill us instead just so we don’t end up shrinking to their level?!” Archer had no idea what had gotten into his friend; he was struggling with guilt and it was changing his feelings about their mission. That worried him.
“I’m not sayin’ that, Cap’n. This mission is important… even if we do end up killin’ people… but ta say that Torlic was different from us… would be a lie. He wasn’t. He was just like us both. Desperate to save his people… no matter what.” Archer sat back in his chair and sighed. Trip was right. Trip was completely right, and that scared the hell out of him.
“Are you going to be okay Trip… You… you look awful? I’m worried about you.”
“I'm fine." Trip assured him then chuckled. "My life isn't that bad. I got friends... I'm alive... and then there's T'Pol."
Archer cocked his head. And then there's T'Pol? What does that mean? "T'Pol?"
Trip shook his head. "She’s really helped me through all this. I just wish I could do the same for her one day. I don’t know what I’d do without her help."
"You two are really that close now?" Archer asked in some shock.
"I guess. I mean, well... bein' married to her certainly had it's perks." A grin appeared on his face. "Many perks in fact. I really care about her."
Archer had never been more surprised to hear those words. He fell back in his seat. "You care about her?" His voice wavered a little.
Trip sighed heavily and looked Archer in the eye. "Naw...." for a second Archer felt relief wash over him but the relief soon melted away when Trip went on. "I love her."
Travis smiled as he sat with Hoshi in the mess hall eating breakfast. "Hey, you know? I talked to Malcolm today. He said something you might find interesting."
"Malcolm was the one who transported T'Pol and Trip from the Redeemer. And he said he found them holding each other."
"Holding each other?"
"That's right... That's what he said. Frankly, I think that after spending so much time together as ‘husband and wife’... that they got used to it." He joked. Hoshi rolled her eyes.
"The day that Commander Tucker and Sub-Commander T'Pol end up together is the day that the Universe splits in two." Hoshi said with a slight laugh. Travis chuckled.
"I don't know Hoshi; they have been closer lately."
“I’m sorry, Sub-Commander, but I’m afraid I’ll have to give you a clean bill of health. You faired far better than Commander Tucker did.” Doctor Phlox told a very annoyed T’Pol. She let out an uncharacteristic sigh then got off the bed gracefully.
“Do not be sorry… but I do not understand. How can I be healthy? The Pan’aar syndrome must be affecting my control somehow.” Doctor Phlox shook his head.
“Your control? The syndrome has been slowed; it is hardly affecting you at all. You’re perfectly fine.” . T’Pol again looked resistant. Phlox folded his arms. “T’Pol, what’s wrong… you seem… on edge?”
She looked at him then looked down and closed her eyes for merely a second. “I… have been unable to control some of my… emotions. It is very disturbing.”
“What kind of emotions?”
“I do not know, I have never felt them before.”
“Tell me about them, perhaps I can help you identify them so they can be easier to suppress.” She looked back at Phlox once again.
“I trust you will keep all of this confidential?”
“I wouldn’t be a good doctor if I didn’t.”
“I have been having growing feelings of… what I can only describe as warmth around a certain individual.”
“I see. I’m guessing this individual is Commander Tucker.” T’Pol could not hold back her surprise at his statement. Was she that obvious around him?
“Yes… how do you know this?”
“You and the Commander have grown quite close since his treatments… You spend a lot of your extra time with him and well… I’ve seen how you look at him.”
“How do I look at him?”
“You look at him with longing, T’Pol. Or at least that’s the best way to put it. You seem to… almost wish you weren’t Vulcan when you’re with him. I can see it in your eyes… it was how you looked at Sim.” T’Pol eased back onto the bio bed.
“It is illogical… these feelings. I do not understand them. I can not control them. And they can not be ignored.” She whispered looking down, feeling shame fall upon herself.
“Love always has been illogical… for Humans and Vulcans alike. It can’t be explained… nor controlled. The fact of the matter is, it’s the most powerful emotion… and leads to other emotions. It’s almost as if… love is the main emotion.”
“If it can not be controlled, then how do I stop it?”
“You can’t stop it T’Pol. You can either accept it and move on, or you can harness it and hope that everything will be ok… Either way… in the end… it will always be there with you. Once you find that first love… where you feel like there could never been anyone else so wonderful… it sticks with you.”
“I do not understand how people can accept such emotions, that obviously could lead to so many problems. It is… perplexing…how such an emotion could have such power to control a person’s thinking. This… emotion…has been controlling me from the beginning. I was hoping something was wrong.” She acknowledged that the only thing wrong with her was that she had allowed someone to affect her… and now there was no way to stop what was happening. She loved him.
“I’m quite sure that this emotion won’t hurt you T’Pol… I’ve seen Commander Tucker look at you as well, and I can tell that there is something there between the both of you. Just your name seems to make his face brighten in a way I found quite surprising.” Phlox was trying to… ‘Cheer her up’. But that was not what she wanted. She wanted to get rid of the dangerous emotion forced upon her. It worried her. frightened her. T’Pol’s frown grew. *Another* emotion… fear. Perhaps if she spent more time meditating… perhaps she could rid of this… feeling. But she realized that it was not to be that easy. “T’Pol, if you do not wish to… pursue a relationship with the Commander… then you will have to talk to him. Love, although a wonderful emotion, can also but quite painful, especially if it is not returned.”
T’Pol shook her head slightly. “Honestly doctor, I do not know what I will do. I am not an expert in ‘love.’ I haven’t the slightest idea how to proceed.”
“Most people never do T’Pol. I’m sure even the Commander does not know what to do. Love is a complex emotion and is not easy to manage,” he warned her. “It can be quite… unnerving.”
She got off her bed again and looked at the door to sickbay. “Then there is only one thing left to do… I must talk to him… to see if…perhaps…we could figure all this out together. It is the only way.”
Doctor Phlox was pleased with himself. He did not know why he was playing matchmaker for the Vulcan female. He had come to enjoy friendly communication with her, but he had a feeling about those two. Two people he knew would make a perfect match… even if it was an unlikely one. And certainly an unusual one. Commander Tucker and Sub-Commander T’Pol were…quite close. He wondered whether his request to T’Pol to give the Commander neuropressure sessions had something to do with their closeness. He’d noticed a change in both of them since that first session, and all the sessions that followed. He remembered that even before those sessions there was something between the two that he found most unusual.
He wasn’t sure when it first happened—when they’d first found each other so attractive—but he knew it started a while ago. Perhaps years ago. He’d noticed a change that first year around the time that Commander Tucker’s nephew and his class sent pictures and questions for Enterprise—when they were still just exploring the universe. He wasn’t sure what had happened, but he found that it was quite interesting how the Commander had been smiling so much. He’d seemed quite happy. And Phlox also noticed that the Commander was glancing at T’Pol a lot more than he would normally with the same strange smile on his face.
Then there was their bickering with each other. Phlox had once told Captain Archer that the his own annoyance with the Sub-Commander was due to sexual tension. But it never occurred to him that perhaps the fights between Commander Tucker and T’Pol were also due to sexual tension. He hadn’t noticed until now, in fact, just how well they worked together. They were both good people. Commander Tucker was a superb engineer, and T’Pol was an extraordinary scientist. The fact that they had found each other was more than a miracle… It was inevitable. Even with all their many differences, they were both still so much alike. It was a classic case of the yin and the yang.
Trip Tucker had finally returned to his quarters with a sigh. He wasn’t sure why he felt the way he did. His guilt was driving him insane, and what was more, he couldn’t stop thinking about T’Pol. He wanted to talk to her. Part of him wanted to leave his quarters and talk to her, tell her about what was bugging him. He didn’t know why, he couldn’t figure out what it was that made him want to talk to her. He’d talked to the cap’n, wasn’t that enough? Suddenly he realized the truth… It wasn’t enough. He wanted her. He needed her. The next thought came up and hit him like falling on pavement. It wasn’t just that he wanted to talk to her—being with her made him feel… better. She’d helped him in ways he’d never even realized.
Those times when he felt so alone, she’d asked him to her quarters for ‘neuropressure sessions,’ and he’d enjoyed having her as company. She filled a void he never knew he had. It wasn’t just the hole he felt because of Lizzie’s death, but the one he felt because of how alone he really was. He missed companionship… but more than that, he missed loving someone. It felt good to have such a love for someone. But it was also scary because he had no idea what she’d do to his heart. Would she tear it up and throw it away? Or would she protect it for him and make sure that he never felt the pain he’d felt so many times before? It was a risk he didn’t like taking, but sometimes, love has its own ideas. His love had found her.
But there was something else on his mind that disturbed him. He’d been in only three ‘real’ relationships. All had ended so badly that he wasn’t sure he could take another heartbreak. He was worried. Perhaps it wasn’t a good idea to be with her. After all, even if she did have feelings for him he would never know if it would last. And that wasn’t something he needed. He couldn’t take that risk. The thought almost killed him. He couldn’t take that risk. He couldn’t because if it didn’t work… even their friendship would be ruined. And the one person that really made his life complete would be gone. And that was the scariest thought of his life. A life without T’Pol would be a life not worth living—whether they were together or not.
Suddenly the door chimed, knocking him out of his thoughts. Wondering who it could be, he walked over to the door and opened it to reveal the figure standing there before him. His heart stopped.
A/N: I give you another cliffhanger just before the end! Ha! Ha! Ha! I don’t know why I’m so cruel. Anyways I’ve been very pleased at the comments you guys have been giving me. It’s great for any writer to feel appreciation for their work and I’m one of them! Don’t worry, I promise to get the end to you soon! I’d hate to keep you all hanging for too long!
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Eight hardy souls have made comments
Ah.... I can't believe it please hurry w/ the next part
More, More, More!!!
You are one cruel Bast#$%#! BUt I Love it. More please.
This is the best part yet! Can't wait to see what happens next, just hope T'Pol doesn't break poor Trip's heart. It was good to see Trip reasoning with Jon about the Xindi, hopefully tempering some of his more blinkered actions. Keep going, Ali D :~)
Please update soon. This is a wonderful story. Love the interactions between characters.
I HATE YOU!!! You are the most evil person ever. Ok, so people use cliffhangers to make sure readers keep reading into the next part, right. Well i think we'd all read anyway, so pleeeeeeeaaaaaaaaassssssssseeeeeeeeee dont!!!
Ooooh Evil person you, making us wait like this. CONTINUE PLEASE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
A little voice in my head sees Phlox singing "Match maker match maker, make me a match..." (song from Fiddler on the Roof).