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The Early Hours

Author - Zane Gray | E | Genre - Romance | Main Story | Rating - R | T
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The Early Hours - Part One

Title: The Early Hours

Author: Zane Gray (agent8e9@yahoo.com)

Series: Enterprise

Rating: R

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!

Part One

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 discipline.

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 need.

Find him...


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 this?"

"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 suspiciously.


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 forgotten.

"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 follow.

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 certainly overdue.

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 crew.

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 altogether...

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 my ship?!"

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 deal with?"

"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 Vulcan ones?"

"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 airlock!"

"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 her."

Archer couldn't contain his surprise. "What?"

"Look... you and I both know that I accepted this assignment for one reason."

"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 daily thing."

"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."

"How so?"

"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 out here."

"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 hunger.

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 mind."

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

Loved it

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!