Category: Enterprise, Trip/T'Pol, T'Pol!fic.
Spoilers: Takes place throughout the series, but most major spoiler is for "Terra Prime."
Summary: "You can't see the Vulcan sun," he tells her.
Challenge: for wildtiger7, who wanted Trip/T'Pol. Random word generator found by google gave me "eclipse." This fic would have been better if anr had written it, though I had her in mind.
When T'Pol arrives on Earth for the first time, it's a chilly night in San Francisco.
She is met by a lowly assistant at the space port, a human, to show her the way to the Vulcan compound.
He catches her glancing at the sky.
"You can't see the Vulcan sun," he tells her. "You'll have to wait for the new moon."
She replies, "I know where it is."
It seems odd that he would expect her to be searching for familiar stars. She doesn't know if humans do that, try to place their location in the galaxy by such imprecise means, but then, she has never spent any time with this species.
It is rare that clear skies and the full moon coincide, but when they do, the light is remarkably bright.
There is no scientific reason to spend time in the courtyard observing such a well-documented phenomenon. The humans use colloquial expressions to explain such unspecific motives when they prefer to be outdoors, but her legs are sufficiently stretched and the air is no fresher than it is any other night.
The moon reflects on the bay, appearing to double its light. If she were closer, she could see the water ebb and flow. The sattelite's gravity directs every body of water on the planet, affecting the evolutionary development of Terran life, even tugging faintly at the water inside human bodies.
The tide forces of the Earth's moon must affect her body as well, beneath the threshold of her senses, just by being here.
She meets Commander Tucker once before leaving Earth, but it is a chance encounter and neither of them recall it until years later. She is touring the Starfleet shipyards, and he's tangled up in a piece of technology, swearing.
Sub-commander Sotek tells the small tour that the plasma compression regulators the humans are designing are inherently flawed, though they continue to illogically attempt variations on a faulty premise.
T'Pol doubts that Sotek intended for the human laborers to hear him – more likely, he did not consider it relevant one way or the other – but a human with Lieutenant Commander stripes pulls his head from the machine to glare.
"We'll get it fixed just fine – no help from you," he calls, with non-standard intonation. "If you don't like it, don't stand there and watch."
Sotek ignores the human's emotional response and continues the tour. T'Pol is the only one in the group to glance behind her as they go.
The air on Enterprise is just as oxygen-rich as it is on Earth, but it lacks the humidity of San Francisco and the scent of salt water. The humans frustrate her with their stubbornness, and it's an emotional frustration.
Something inside her warns that it will be dangerous for her to stay too long, that she finds their erratic behavior compelling as well as irritating.
It's an illogical consideration, and as a Vulcan, T'Pol makes her decisions solely based on logic.
On a personal level, T'Pol does not seek out time with the histrionic chief engineer, not outside the dinners that Captain Archer insists she attend.
Scientifically, though, she finds him an interesting case study. He appears to embody all the qualities of humans discussed in her High Command mission dossier. He's erratic and emotional, impulsive, with surprising bursts of intelligence hampered by stubbornness, prejudice and lack of focus. He is well-liked among the crew, so she presumes these distasteful qualities are what humans most value in each other.
It is remarkable to her that humans can retain a command structure, working together despite their inability to approach a problem with a uniform point of view. They brainstorm chaotically as a group, and yet, are often able to reach a consensus with minimal discussion. Captain Archer permits his crewmembers to speak out of turn, and Commander Tucker abuses that privilege most frequently.
T'Pol finds herself doing so, as well.
They travel to dozens of stars. T'Pol is precisely aware of their position in space, and their relative position to local phenomena of interest.
It surprises her both that she gets the desire to find the Vulcan sun in the space outside the a window, and that she has to use a star chart to locate it.
They return to Earth when the Xindi attack. Soval speaks to her in Vulcan, and it sounds strange to her ears.
Logic dictates that she must remain with the Earth ship on their crucial mission. She can't understand why all other logical Vulcans disagree with her.
At a certain point, she stops thinking of her encounters with the very human chief engineer as data points for her qualitative study of humanity. He engages her in conversation, and not always about work. She identifies his more companionable behavior toward her as teasing, a form of social interaction unique to the most emotional species. At one point during her second year aboard, Doctor Phlox makes an offhanded comment about Tucker and Archer being her friends, a relationship state not completely alien to Vulcans, though of course companionship in her species never includes the emotional component.
She supposes they are, in a way. Certainly, without Archer, she would not have remained on Enterprise, and in the final accounting, Commander Tucker has made her posting here more pleasant, rather than less.
Phlox reminds her of that friendship when he asks her to aid her crewmate with neuropressure.
In this dangerous part of space, her survival is dependant on a well-rested, functional chief engineer.
Tucker is unaware of the intimate associations Vulcans hold toward physical touch, though she thinks about it often when he brings her dinner, encourages her to talk about her day, fails to look away when she removes articles of clothing.
Once, he falls asleep on her floor as shes completing the daily neuropressure regimen. She can't bring herself to draw her hands away, his skin igniting something in her veins left over from her terrifying experience on the Seleya.
It obscures her vision, literally and figuratively, and she feels compelled to bring it into focus.
The Trellium-D hurts. Her temples throb painfully as the first roiling emotions explode through her brain, and the injection site will burn for hours.
She grows frustrated when Trip is late for their neuropressure sessions, because she times her injections so that the pain is gone when he arrives, but her nerves still feel alive.
She doesn't ignore the fact that this is not behavior a proper Vulcan engages in.
Logically, though, she must bring her experiment to conclusion, even if there is no end in sight.
They have sex once, and after that, every neuropressure session feels like the final hour of Trellium potency – there are flashes all over her skin of remembered sensation, emotional fantasies choking her thoughts, and a desperate need for more.
Though others have worried, Trip is the first to tell her to her face that there's something very wrong with her, and that he can't stand it.
He wants an explanation, and she has none, can only think of him. When she closes her eyes, he's like a full moon over the San Francisco Bay, blocking all other lights from the sky.
They have sexual intercourse again, and she feels as though she's drowning, unwilling to breathe where she is, unable to lift her head above water.
Having his body against her, inside her, touching more nerves than she thought she had, is too much to bear, but she can't escape, even without the drug.
She thinks she wants him to pull out, to go, to leave her to find something, a pole star, to point her compass toward.
She wants him to go, but digs ten half-moons into his shoulders from her fingernails as she pulls him in closer.
She marries and divorces, he leaves and returns, all in less than a year. They gain and lose a child in less than a week.
T'Pol has never been so grateful that she stopped abusing Trellium-D. If she could feel this pain without a filter of mental discipline, she thinks she would die.
Trip feels it, and when she fails to find a logical way to comfort either one of them, he disappears to Tennessee to be with his family.
She waits in San Francisco, in the Vulcan compound at Soval's suggestion, but she feels like an alien among her own kind.
She meditates outside, at night, when the sounds are distant and the courtyard is empty. The sky has been cloudy all week, blocking out the waxing moon and whatever stars she would have been able to see. A lunar eclipse is happening behind the cloud layer. A human, Trip, would probably see symbolism there – her child's whole life took place on the moon and was blacked out by Earth's shadow.
She senses his approach before she hears him. "Trip," she says.
He looks rough, unslept. "Ambassador Soval let me in when you didn't answer in your room." He stands next to her until she moves over on the bench to give him room. "It's kinda cold for you out here, isn't it?"
"I hadn't considered it. How is your family?"
He frowns at her. "Fine. They're fine. I don't think they really get it. I don't know if I really get it."
In her week of meditation, she has come up with nothing to say.
Trip doesn't wait long in the silence. "Come up to the ship with me."
"Our leave is not over for another two days."
Trip bristles at her factual, logical response. "Look, if you say no, I won't ask you again. But I want to sleep next to you." His voice sounds choked, presumably with an emotion, though T'Pol can't decipher which one. "I can't – I don't want to do this by myself."
She isn't yet ready to face the crew. The sympathy in their expressions only compounds the emotions she can no longer completely suppress.
Trip stiffens next to her, and she braces herself for whatever sharp, angry emotion will come next. For some reason, he only says, "Sorry," before getting up to leave.
Her throat chokes closed, and she reaches a hand out for his. He considers it, but doesn't take it. "T'Pol, I can't..."
The need for touch, for his touch, feels like an empty space in her chest.
"Stay here with me," she says in a single, rushing breath. "Sleep here."
"The Vulcans won't mind?"
"Not you," she says, though she is really speaking only for herself.
He sits back down next to her, and speaks under his breath. "Will you still be there in the morning?"
She feels tears in her eyes. She can't promise. She leaves so often, but his gravity always pulls her back, ebb and flow. He leaves her, too. One of them has to learn to stay rooted.
"I will try," she says.
He takes her hand and squeezes, and he stays.