The Early Hours
The Early Hours - Part One
Title: The Early Hours
Author: Zane Gray (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Summary: Even on the Enterprise, there are times when is life best lived
in the moment.
About the Story: This story is set a couple of weeks after the end of
Differential. It's just a nice, light character interlude,
presented in two parts, to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside. It's
also the prelude to a genuine, full-length sequel to Differential
(tentatively titled Objects in Motion) which will follow later in
2003 (as time permits). Those of you interested in reading all my stories
should do so in this order: One Step Back, Two Steps Forward, Sympathies
and Symmetries, Time Enough, Differential and The
Early Hours. Enjoy!
Sub-Commander T'Pol gave a small involuntary gasp, then looked up quickly
from the viewer of her scanner to see if anyone on the Bridge had noticed.
Most of the senior staff was absent at this late hour and she was the
scheduled watch officer. The Captain was on duty, but he was currently
working in his Ready Room. Junior officers were manning the ship's
critical stations. And, fortunately, none had witnessed her lapse in
Breathing deeply, T'Pol closed her eyes and attempted to focus... to once
again to regain control of her body. But even as she did so, she knew it
was a futile gesture. T'Pol felt as if the very blood in her veins was
burning - a carnal fire that had been simmering for hours and was now
threatening to overcome her last measure of reserve. Phlox had given her a
hypospray loaded a new formulation of hormones that was designed to
bolster her control while on duty. It was supposed to help her avoid just
this very predicament. And most of the time it worked, as it had been
earlier this night. Worked, that is, until Commander Tucker had visited
the Bridge to deliver his systems upgrade report to the Captain.
To his credit, Charles had done his best to maintain decorum, favoring
her only with a quick grin and a wink before disappearing into the Ready
Room. But she had trembled in the wake of his passing, as his unique scent
hit her full force. T'Pol's already refined olfactory sense was greatly
heightened in this stage of her Pon Frell, and the scent of her mate so
near had quickly erased any good the hypospray had done.
She had tried so hard to focus on her work, lasting nearly an hour after
the Commander had finally left the Bridge. Her t'hyla. Ashyam. And the
human term she was beginning to savor... husband. But now, she
realized that she could no longer fulfill her responsibilities. The very
thought of her lover sent sparks coursing through T'Pol's consciousness.
Her need was already taking her. She could feel her breathing quickening,
her pulse racing. And so there was only one thing left to be done. As she
activated the com and paged the Ready Room, T'Pol felt her hand shaking.
Thankfully, the reply was immediate.
"Archer here. Go ahead, Sub-Commander."
"Permission to leave the Bridge, Captain."
There was a brief pause. T'Pol knew it would take a moment for the
Captain to realize what her request meant. She had only been forced to
make it a few times, but he had always been understanding.
"Of -- of course. Hang on... what time is it?" The Vulcan was
about to reply when the Captain answered his own question. "I didn't
realize how late it was. It's already 21:30 hours. You've only got half an
hour left before your shift ends anyway, T'Pol. Consider yourself
officially off duty as of now."
The Vulcan breathed a quiet sigh. "Thank you, Captain."
"Not at all. I'll see you at breakfast, Sub-Commander."
With that, he closed the channel. Wasting no time, T'Pol powered down the
Science station and turned to the young woman who was manning the Helm.
"Ensign Graham, you have the Bridge."
Graham smiled in surprise. "Aye, sir. Good night, Sub-Command--"
But the turbolift doors had already closed behind the Vulcan. And as she
rode silently down to E Deck, T'Pol began to come undone. The fever burned
through her body, building in its intensity like a storm. The pulsing of
her heart, in her side, became a countdown to the inevitable. And, at
last, her reserve fell away in the wake of one overpowering and elemental
At that particular moment, the object of T'Pol's desire was rapidly
working his way through a bowl of pasta salad in the Mess Hall, as Malcolm
studied his recommendations for upgrading the targeting scanners. Hoshi
and Travis sat at the table as well, sharing a large sundae.
After long and silent deliberation, Malcolm looked up at the engineer
skeptically. "These new active EM filters will require almost double
the power of the ones we use now. Are you certain the Captain will approve
"Already did," Trip mumbled around his food. "Took it to
him an hour ago and he signed off right on the spot. Think he's tried of
us getting' our asses kicked all the time."
"Well, that certainly makes two of us."
"And I'm sick of repairin' all the damage." Trip waved
at the diagram spread across the table with one hand as he shoveled in
another mouthful of food with the other. "Thus, the better kung fu."
Hoshi laughed at them. "You two and your toys. Just make sure none
of these upgrades screw up my com circuits. I've only just gotten them
back into calibration again after all the changes the Vulcans made."
Trip glanced over at her absently. "Don't worry. I'll have the boys
back at Spacedock tune 'em up to spec. You'll be happy to know that we're
due for a new subspace receiver array. In a couple a weeks, you'll be able
to hear a pin drop in the Delta Quadrant."
"I'll be happy just to be able to hear Starfleet when they call,
thanks." She watched, amused, as he continued eating furiously.
Finally, she could hold her tongue no longer. "Have you, like, not
eaten for a month?"
Travis glanced over at Trip and smiled. "You're taking in plenty of
carbs there, Commander. The only time I ever ate like that on the Horizon
was right before a big space walk." There was a hint of mirth in his
eyes as he added, "Or something like that."
"Just trying to keep up my strength."
"Uh-huh." Travis smiled knowingly at Hoshi as their spoons
dueled over a bit of fudge. Hoshi giggled and Trip looked over at her
Hoshi just shook her head. "Nothing, Commander." Then she
noticed that Trip was eying their dessert. "Oh, no you don't. Get
your own, sir."
"Think maybe I..."
As his voice trailed off, Travis and Hoshi looked up. They were surprised
to see Sub-Commander T'Pol standing next to the engineer. Hoshi noticed
that the Vulcan appeared to be glowing. The tips of her ears were
darkening and there was a sheen of perspiration on her brow. She had just
barely brushed her arm against Trip's shoulder... but the Commander's
reaction was instant. He seemed to be struggling to concentrate, his food
"Commander Tucker," T'Pol spoke softly... and just a hair too
calmly. "The Captain has asked me to clarify a number of items in
your upgrade plan."
She locked eyes with Trip for a moment and, to Hoshi's reckoning at
least, it seemed as if a bolt of electricity passed between the two.
Suddenly, Trip could barely sit still.
"Uh... yeah. Sure. Let's, uh... let's go do that." He fumbled
with his bowl, almost dropping it before setting it carefully on the table
and backing away. Then he grabbed the Vulcan's hand and led her hurriedly
out of the Mess Hall, as Hoshi and Travis watch in stunned silence.
Malcolm, meanwhile, was still studying the diagram. "Commander, I
wonder if it wouldn't better to route the extra power through--"
Finally, he looked up... just in time to see the doors closing behind the
two senior officers. "Bloody hell!" He turned to Hoshi in
dismay. "What's gotten into him?"
The Ensign merely shrugged in response. If you only knew, Mal,
she thought silently.
The Tactical Officer finally gave a disgusted snort, rolled up the
diagram and got up from the table. "I'll tell you this... if T'Pol
wasn't a Vulcan, I'd swear those two were shagging." Then he left
too... not noticing that Travis had suddenly begun choking around a
mouthful of ice cream.
When he was able to clear his throat and look up, he saw that Hoshi was
watching him intently, a funny little half-smile on her face. Travis
glanced away shyly, felt his blood heading south fast... and then looked
back and gave her a funny little half-smile in return...
Doctor Phlox exited Sickbay purposefully, his stomach rumbling
impatiently. His eclectic assortment of flora and fauna had all been fed,
and had finally settled down for the night. Now it was time to take care
of his own nutritional needs. So, after activating a little indicator near
the door that would let people know he was temporarily away from Sickbay,
Phlox pointed his nose in the direction of the Mess Hall and let his feet
He was just rounding the last intersection in the corridor, when he
nearly collided with Commander Tucker and Sub-Commander T'Pol, who were
hurrying in the opposite direction.
"Ah... Commander Tucker. I wanted to ask you about the upgrades for
my medical equipment. I was thinking of--"
"Not now, Doc," Trip called out as the pair half-ran past the
Denobulan. "I'll have to get back to ya!"
They quickly disappeared down the corridor, toward the senior officer's
quarters, and it was only then that Phlox realized they'd been holding
hands. An impossibly wide grin spread across his face as he turned and
continued toward the Mess Hall.
Ah, the impatience of new love, the Doctor thought in amusement.
Must be something in the air.
He was still pondering the subject of intra-species mating rituals
moments later, when he glanced up... and happened to see Ensigns Sato and
Mayweather exiting the Mess. Hoshi led the Helm Officer quickly into the
nearest turbolift and then the doors closed behind them, the lift slipping
up to D Deck. They, too, had been holding hands. Phlox recalled that D
Deck was were the junior officers quarters were located.
With another bemused grin, Phlox took out a small scanner and began
checking the atmosphere... just in case.
Back in his Ready Room, Captain Archer signed his approval on the last of
the upgrade reports, and breathed a heavy sigh. Then he reached down to
scratch his dog behind the ears - the beagle had lately become fond of
sleeping at his feet under the desk.
"This time tomorrow, we'll be breathing fresh mountain air. What do
you think of that, Porthos?"
The dog merely yawned at him and went back to sleep. Archer laughed
quietly and then turned to open a small cabinet nearby. Inside was the
last of his private stash of Kentucky bourbon, which he slowly poured into
a shot glass. I've been hitting this stuff way too hard lately, he
thought ruefully as he downed the drink. Still, excessive or not, the
alcohol helped him to relax, and tonight was no exception. Slowly, he
began to unwind, letting his mind reflect on recent events.
They'd all been through so much in the last few months. There was the
destruction of the Paraagan colony, their encounter with the Suliban, the
devastating skirmish with the Andorian pirates, the month-long process of
rebuilding the Enterprise, first with the help of the Vulcans and then in
separate layovers at the Mars Complex and Jupiter Station. Most recently,
they'd finished a quick, two week shakedown cruise, to make sure the
repairs had been completed successfully. And now, they were headed home.
To Earth. The Enterprise was set to receive some final, hastily-scheduled
upgrades of key systems, before the starship headed back into deep space
for another tour of duty. They'd also be taking on the last of their crew
replacements, many of them cadets fresh out of the Academy. But even more
importantly, the Enterprise's veteran crew was about to enjoy a well
deserved shore leave. Two full weeks of rest and recreation. It was
The mood on the ship had become decidedly charged in anticipation of the
time off. There was an edginess that lingered in the air. The signs of it
were everywhere. Use of the ship's gym had skyrocketed in recent days.
Dinnertime had become a full-on social event, which thrilled Chef to no
end, and they'd had to add a second showing on movie night to accommodate
everyone who wanted to attend. More interestingly, Phlox's latest weekly
report had noted a sharp increase in requests for contraceptives among the
Not that Archer disapproved. Sex on board the Enterprise was a sort of
gray area in terms of regulations. Given their long mission duration,
Starfleet had known it would be best to allow him a certain degree of
flexibility in dealing with that issue. Relationships between officers and
sub-ordinates were prohibited, certainly, but as long as sex didn't get in
the way of the performance of duty, Archer was willing to stay out of his
people's personal lives. And he could hardly reprimand his crew for
engaging in sexual relationships when his own First and Second Officers
were so obviously... indulging. They'd done their best to be discrete, but
the two rarely spent more than a few hours apart when off duty. And his
Chief Engineer was constantly running on the edge of exhaustion, between
servicing the ship's needs... and those of a female Vulcan in heat. Word
tended to travel fast on a starship.
The Captain was still adjusting to the idea of his two most senior
officers as a couple. For the first few days after the... incident...
in Sickbay, he'd struggled with a major bout of jealousy. Archer had long
secretly harbored an attraction to his First Officer. Not that he'd ever
have dared to act on such feelings, of course, or even thought that a
Human/Vulcan relationship might be possible. But when T'Pol had chosen
Trip over himself... well, that had stung him at first.
Still, Archer had to admit, T'Pol's selection had been the logical one.
It was some consolation to know that the two were truly in love, and not
merely accommodating the needs of Pon Frell. Vulcans mated for life, and
he knew from private conversation just how seriously Trip took that
commitment. He'd never seen his best friend so centered. So sure of
things. And there were subtle changes in T'Pol's behavior as well. She'd
lately seemed to become more... open was the best way to describe
it... to her fellow crewmates. She joined in their conversations more. She
participated in social activities more often than she had before.
No doubt about it - Trip and T'Pol were an unlikely couple. And yet,
somehow, they managed to bring out the best in each other. Even during the
Enterprise's very first mission, the two had found unexpected common
ground. Of course, their second mission had been a different story
Archer looked up in surprise as the doors to the Bridge flew open, and
his Chief Engineer and Science Officer burst into his Ready Room
unannounced. The look on Trip's face spoke volumes.
"Captain, will ya please tell this damn Vulcan to keep her hands off
T'Pol was undaunted. "Calm yourself, Commander. The Enterprise is
hardly your ship."
Trip looked at his friend in exasperation. "You see what I have to
"Slow down, both of you. What exactly is the problem?"
"Our new Science Officer here told Lieutenant Burke to reduce power
to the forward sensors. I've been trying all week to figure out what was
wrong with the navigational deflector. And now I'm gonna have to replace
it! I'll take my people all night!"
Archer's concern was immediate. "The deflector's down? T'Pol?"
"I merely corrected an oversight on the Commander's part. If he was
as familiar with the ship's operational specs as he claims to be, he'd
realize that running the forward sensor array at one-hundred twelve
percent of rated power reduces the operational lifetime of its components
by a factor of--"
"And if the Sub-Commander were familiar with Starfleet procedures,
she'd realize that running the forward sensor array at a hundred-twelve
percent means that we can run the navigational deflector at only eighty
percent power without reducing its efficiency. We carry nearly a dozen
backup sensor components in ship's stores. But we only have two spare
deflector assemblies. Just one, now that her meddling's burned out the one
we were using."
The Captain looked to his Science Officer for confirmation. She merely
raised an eyebrow slightly, and folded her hands behind her back. "It
appears that I may have... erred in my decision, Captain. I was unaware of
the secondary concerns with regard to Starfleet components."
Trip was quick to take offense. "Starfleet components? What are you
tryin' ta say, Sub-Commander? That Starfleet components are inferior to
"I would have thought that was obvious."
"Why you little bitc--"
"That's enough! Both of you!" Archer stepped between them
quickly, before things got out of hand. "In the future, T'Pol, if you
have concerns about Engineering matters, you'll consult Commander Tucker
or myself before taking action."
"Of course, Captain."
"Damn right," Trip scowled at her under his breath.
"I have admitted my mistake, Commander. I would expect that you
would not to continue place your own ego ahead of what is best for the
ship." With that, the Vulcan turned and exited the Ready Room, the
doors hissing shut behind her. And Trip could hold his temper no longer,
raising his voice so that she could her him even through the closed doors.
"What's best for this ship is if I flushed you out a Goddamn
"Trip! One more outburst like that and I'll confine you to quarters!
What the hell has gotten into you lately?"
The engineer deflated immediately, as if someone had let the air out of a
balloon. He collapsed into the seat opposite the Captain.
"I'm sorry, sir. It's just... it's like she's goin' out of her way
to drive me crazy! I swear she's doin' it on purpose!"
Archer glared at his friend as he sat back down in his own chair. "That
goes both ways, Trip, and you know it. I practically had to beg the
Vulcans to let her stay here, and you're doing your best to drive her
away. You're skating on very thin ice right now."
Trip grinned sheepishly. "Maybe you should ask T'Pol back in here.
Thicken it right up for you."
Despite his anger, Archer had to fight mightily to keep from smiling at
that. And, as Tucker knew it would, the Captain's irritation melted away.
He finally just shook his head, and decided that as long as his Chief
Engineer was here, he might as well broach a difficult subject.
"Speaking of T'Pol... there's something I wanted to talk to you
about. Our stock with the High Command would go up quite a bit if I could
make some kind of goodwill gesture." He hesitated. "I know how
much you were looking forward to that First Officer position..."
Trip rolled his eyes and wagged a thumb at the door. "Give it to
Archer couldn't contain his surprise. "What?"
"Look... you and I both know that I accepted this assignment for one
"Because I asked you to?"
"Okay, so there's two reasons. But the other one was to be able to
get my hands on Starfleet's first Warp Five engine. I don't give a rat's
ass about command! Makin' life and death decisions all the time... gettin'
buried in paperwork... all those fancy dinners in the Captain's Mess..."
"Get used to having dinner in the Captain's Mess. I'm making it a
"Tell Chef he'd better start learnin' to cook Cajun food then."
"Done. Still... you're a full Commander. The First Officer's job
ought to be yours."
"But as T'Pol was quick remind us all while you were incapacitated,
she outranks me."
Archer glanced at him dubiously. "That's a stretch and you know it.
Starfleet hasn't decided where Sub-Commander fits into our chain of
command. It's a technicality at best."
"She's still the best choice."
"Come on, Captain! She's got more experience in deep space than you
and I combined. She's smart. And she's already proven that she can help us
"She's got your respect?"
"Yeah... I guess she does. She still needs to earn the respect of
the crew, but I think that's a good challenge for her. Maybe it'll keep
her outta my hair."
"I wouldn't count on it. I don't understand, Trip. A minute ago you
came in here raving like a lunatic about her, and now you're singing her
praises. You sure about this?"
"I don't have to like T'Pol to admit that she's a good officer.
Besides, seems to me it solves a lot of your problems."
"You're a good man, Charlie Brown."
"Yeah? Well, I'm gonna remind you of that the next time that
pointy-eared pain in the ass messes with my ship."
The Captain gave him a stern look.
"Okay... your ship. But I'm still gonna remind you 'bout it..."
Archer was brought back to reality by Porthos' insistent pawing of his
leg. Glancing at the chronometer, he realized that it was well past the
beagle's usual dinnertime. The dog's sleepiness had obviously given way to
With another heavy sigh, the Captain pushed back from his desk and stood,
switching off his monitor in the process. Porthos circled his legs
excitedly and Archer smiled at him.
"All right... I get the message. Let's go."
With that, the pair exited the Ready Room and traversed the short
corridor that lead to the Bridge.
There was no doubt about it. Trip and T'Pol were an unlikely couple. But
they never ceased to surprise him. He wondered briefly what they were up
to at that moment. Then he quickly chased that thought out of his mind.
Best not to go there...
In the quiet darkness of her quarters, T'Pol was humming softly with
pleasure. The Vulcan was struck by the spectrum of variety in the
sensations of intercourse... of orgasm. She'd experienced release
four-hundred and twenty-two times since her bonding with Charles. Each was
unique. Some were slow and momentous. Others were blinding and out of
control. This one was going to be... fiery. Fierce. She could hear her
lover's mirthful laughter in her mind... knew, even though her eyes were
closed, that he was smiling. She felt his love suffuse her consciousness,
and her nipples tightened deliciously in response.
Inevitably, T'Pol began to vocalize her pleasure as her lover rocked
against the rolling cradle of her hips, stroking long and deep into her
center. Each thrust inside her was a lifetime of bliss, each withdraw an
agony as she clung to him with mounting desperation. It was extraordinary,
this... feeling. He was her best friend, her confidant, her council. Her
life mate, her lover. He was her everything. Ashyam, she heard in
her mind. Yes, she sent back to him. Always that.
She was so close! Though she would never say it aloud, T'Pol secretly
rejoiced in the opportunity to let go of her tight emotional control
during their lovemaking, even if only for a few moments. He knew this, of
course, and was determined to make her lose control as often and as
intensely as possible.
T'Pol was nearly there... very nearly... very. And then her heart skipped
a beat. There!
A ragged cry was forced from her lips as the contractions shuddered
forcefully through her small frame. Her soul was sent reeling under the
onslaught of sensations magnified by their empathic connection. Her lover
rejoiced in her pleasure... savored it... drew it out as long as possible.
And then, just when she finally began to recover her senses, she realized
that he was still driving into her... growing harder... impossibly so...
stroking in exactly the right place.
That's when the second climax took her, with breathtaking force. As good
as the first was... the second was impossibly stronger. T'Pol knew it was
coming... it always did... and she both feared and loved it at the same
time. She felt never more helpless, and more feminine, than she
did in that moment after the first orgasm crashed through her, the
strength of it merely foreshadowing the devastating pleasure that was sure
to follow. And with that second climax came the additional rush of
blissful sensation that she savored... the strong pulsing so deep within
as he released inside her... his agonized cry of pleasure... the hot gush
that followed... the searing wetness filling her... seeping around their
clinging flesh... spilling over.
The sound of her keening filled his ears... a sweet song of love that he
adored. Tears of joy mixed with perspiration. A shy smile graced her lips
before her control returned enough to hide it. Her dark eyes sparkled,
even after it had. His soft, happy laughter... out loud this time...
filled the cabin.
Had there ever been a life for her without this man? Had she ever truly
lived before him?
As they lay entwined in her sheets, recovering their... just
recovering... T'Pol marveled at her connection with this Human. Having
consummated the physical bond, their telepathic connection was deepening.
She was constantly surprised by the degree to which he was able to
participate. Humans were not considered to be particularly telepathic, but
Charles was very responsive. His capacity to control and regulate her
passions seemed limitless. More important to T'Pol, though, was his
respect of her... his ability to know when to push her past her boundaries
and when to honor them. She loved him for it.
Why did her people so distrust feelings such as these? Were all
emotions fit only to be shut away, never to be experienced? As expected,
her rational self was quick to supply an answer to these questions. It was
a matter of simple logic. Emotions, she knew, were a vast spectrum. It was
not possible to indulge in the positive ones, without also becoming
susceptible to the negative. Emotion was a dangerous incline that lead
inevitably to the death of reason and...
Don't think, she chided herself. Just be. And so she was.
After what seemed like forever, she spoke softly in her lover's ear. "We
have dampened the covers again."
His voice was gravelly and languid. "I'll take the wet spot. I don't
Charles began to withdraw from her, but instead she held him tightly...
held him inside. "Stay," she whispered in the darkness.
"Mmmm'kay," he replied contentedly. And so he did.
T'Pol caressed her lover's neck tenderly as he slowly succumbed to
unconsciousness, stroking her fingers through hair damp with exertion.
Charles worked so hard to please her... to keep up with her. He was in the
best shape of his life as a result. All the more reason to love him.
Soon, the Vulcan closed her eyes as well... and joined him in sleep.
--- Continued in Part Two ---
Continue to Part Two
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A whole mess of folks have made comments
I absolutely *adored* this! I love the way you write Trip and T'Pol and am rivetted to this set of stories as a result. I am off to devour the second part now and have *very* good dreams as a result. Thank you for some terrific writing, Ali D :~)
Travis and Hoshi ... hmmmm??? And Phlox busy with crew wanting birth control ... hmmmmm??? I'm guessing that something is going on here...
Well, loved this first part - and have loved all that have come before it as well. Thanks for keeping up with this. Looking forward to Part 2.
Oh ZANE!!! I've enjoyed each and every one of your stories... and this one... oh my... oh wow... have to grab the hubby ...
many moments later.
This story rocked... especially the line about had
there been life before this man!
beautiful, absolutely worth the wait...you've got to give us more. I loved how reflective T'Pol is, especially in regards of her new found emotions. I definately believe that she would savor those moments where she is a woman
Your stories keep getting better it was worth the wait .I look forward to part 2.I like T'Pol reveling in her new found relationship with Trip.I can hardly wait to see how the story will continue
Imagine me sitting in front of the computer during homeroom and squealing, and you'll have a good idea of what happened when I saw your name. This is one of the best things I've read, and I hope you get cracking on part 2 and Objects in Motion!
OH, MY, GOD! If I had any talent at all, this is exactly what I would have written! Zane, you are the ABSOLUTE MASTER of the T/T'P universe!
Can I really top the above comments? My absolute faith and enjoyment in your stories is, I'm sure well documented elsewhere. You have a sure and steady step with these two and long may you write about them!
Very Very Good! Loved all the rest of your stories and hope part II is up very soon
Zane, this is the first story of yours that I've read (yes! I'm reading them backwards!) and it was absolutely beautiful, they are so completely in love with each other. I look forward to reading part two of this story and all your others soon. Thankyou!