"Not Close Enough"
After a long moment, Trip pulled back a fraction. Eyes closed, he whispered against her lips, “Drop your shields, darlin’.”
“I’m not sure that’s wise,” she murmured back.
“Why not?” He pulled back further. “You said yourself it’d probably help you.”
T’Pol allowed a sigh to escape because she was, after all, in the presence of her chosen bondmate. Not to mention she was as emotionally and mentally fatigued as she'd ever been. She leaned forward again, coming to rest, this time, with her forehead against his throat. "In our current conditions, it could prove to cause more harm than good," her voice muffled against his skin. "You are exhausted." Her light breaths tickled his flesh. "I am exhausted," she finished plaintively.
Trip nuzzled his face into her silky hair. "S'true," he agreed softly.
They sat holding on to one another for another unmeasured amount of time. Eventually, Trip broke the silence.
He pressed his lips to the crown of her head, an unconscious gesture of naked affection. "How do Vulcans grieve, T'Pol?" he asked, his innate curiosity warring with his need to give and receive solace.
"We meditate," she whispered, causing a shiver to run through Trip as her lips brushed against his throat.
Trip pulled back in agitation, his hand once again cupping her head. "But you haven't been meditatin', darlin'!" he worried.
This time it was T'Pol who pulled back. All the way back, breaking his hold on her. Eyes wide in consternation. "How are you aware of this?" her tone one of bemused frustration.
Trip gently grasped her chin and pulled her focus back to him. His lips twisted into a quirky, sheepish grin. "I haven't been in your white space in days. Last time that happened was almost a week ago, when I was sleepin'." He frowned at her. “Why aren’t you meditatin’, baby? You need it. You need to grieve!”
T’Pol briefly closed her eyes. “I am unable to maintain my shields while sleeping or meditating.”
Storm clouds rose on Trip’s face. “Do you mean to tell me you haven’t allowed yourself to sleep or meditate,” anger coloring his words as he jumped up and began pacing the room, “haven’t allowed yourself to grieve, for cryin’ out loud!” He wheeled back toward T’Pol, “been lettin’ yourself suffer just to keep me from bein’ affected by the bond?” He was so mad he could hit something.
Another few seconds passed before he spun back around and landed on his knees in front of her. “I don’t wanna be protected, T’Pol.” He grabbed her hand. “I. Want. You. That means everything that comes with you, darlin’! The good, the bad, the bond, the stoicism. I want the superiority complex. The mysticism. The smarts, the beauty, the frustration, the grief! Call me a greedy human, but I want it all.”
Though she concentrated as hard as she was able, she could not prevent the tears welling in her eyes.
Trip met her watery gaze head-on. “Drop ‘em.” His tone firm and insistent.
T’Pol wavered, closed her eyes. Who could resist this man? He cared so completely. Her emotional control could not withstand his loving assault. So she dropped them.
And they slammed into her unprepared bondmate with hurricane force. He gasped and gripped her hand hard, his eyes closed tight. She felt him start to tremble, watched as he slipped sideways to sit fully on his bottom, on the deck, leaning against her legs. He cut off a groan before it could fully materialize, but she knew he was struggling.
“Don’t you dare raise ‘em,” he ground out through clenched teeth, sensing she was about to do just that. Oh, god! Her emotions were so huge! Her grief all-powerful. Her love for him all-encompassing. Her fear of hurting him. Her frustration. Her shame. Her fatigue. Again, back to the love. How was she able to hide this from him? How did she function? Tears escaped from under his eyelids as he tried to sort through the maelstrom.
“Trip,” she pleaded.
“No!” He shook his head. “This is you, darlin’.”
“I am hurting you.”
“No, baby,” he whispered, “don’t think that.” His eyes were still tightly closed, his body coiled tightly against her legs, hand tightly gripping hers. “Just…come down here.”
She didn’t know what it would accomplish, but if Trip needed her down on the deck with him…she didn’t hesitate. She ended up behind him as he leaned back into her chest, curled up into her, snug against her body. She let instinct guide her into wrapping her arms around his torso. Her left snaked under his sling to curl around his belly, her right slipped over his right shoulder to grip his upper chest, pulling him yet tighter against her. She rested her cheek against his head.
And still he trembled. “Need…,” he muttered.
T’Pol rubbed her hand over his chest, attempting comfort. “What do you need?”
“Need to be…closer,” he gritted out.
T’Pol frowned. She saw and felt the lack of space between them. “We are very close already,” she stated in bewilderment.
“Not. Close. Enough. Can’t explain it,” he gasped. “Just feel this…overwhelming need…to be closer.” He choked on a laugh. “I have…no idea… what I’m talkin’ ‘bout.”
T’Pol was desperate to help him, but he didn’t want her to raise her mental barriers. She wasn’t sure what else she could do. Though after a second of thought, she realized there was. She was just afraid he wouldn’t be willing.
“Oh, man!” Trip moaned. “What just spiked your fear, darlin’?” He clenched his teeth again. “That one’s a…doozy…whatever it is.”
“There is,” T’Pol hesitated, “one way to be closer, ashayam. My fear is that you will not want to do it.”
“Anything…I trust ya…y’know that.” Her emotions were simply staggering in their intensity. He’d really had no idea.
“It is intimate, Trip,” she stressed.
If possible, he leaned even further into her body. “Ya mean…intimate…like the bond?”
“More so,” she whispered. “I will know all of your thoughts. You will know all of mine.”
“Sounds…good…ta me,” he muttered. “I’m all for it…if you are.” He couldn’t stop shaking. He just had this compulsive urge to get closer to his bondmate. He didn’t understand it, and didn’t even try to. “Love you,” he mumbled.
“And I you,” she softly replied for the first time, no longer seeing the need to hide what he could so obviously feel through their bond. She gently turned his body around to face her, propping his back up against her bunk. She felt him panic at what he perceived to be her withdrawal, as their physical contact diminished. She quickly moved his legs so they stuck straight out, climbed over him so she could straddle his waist, tugging up on her robes to make it possible.
Though still present, Trip’s panic did ease somewhat when she climbed into his lap. They were now face to face, chest to chest.
T’Pol raised her right hand to the contact points on his face. “Are you able to copy my movement?” she asked gently.
Trip nodded once and raised his hand to her face. He watched her adjust his fingers to the proper placement, then watched her close her eyes.
T’Pol emptied her mind as much as she was able, given all that had happened and was happening. “My mind to your mind…” She felt a stirring in her mind, not unlike their bond “tingle.” “My thoughts to your thoughts…” The tingle grew to a buzzing. She was amazed at how much easier it was melding to her bondmate than it was to Ensign Sato. “Our minds are merging…” She felt his presence grow stronger in her mind.
“Our minds are one.”
“Our minds are one.”
They spoke the final words
as a single entity as they found themselves standing together in T’Pol’s white
space. Trip was amazed at how much better he felt in just the seconds it
took for her to initiate the meld. He was still being buffeted by her
emotions, but her orderly Vulcan mind was calming them in his own, allowing him
to focus on two things. First, to his great sorrow, he realized that her
grief over losing
He walked up and took her into his arms, enveloping her in a soothing embrace. She buried her face into his chest, noting that his shoulder was not injured in their mental landscape. She encircled his waist with her arms, leaning into him heavily.
Trip understood that this mental T’Pol was holding herself up only through sheer stubbornness. He placed a kiss to her temple and asked, “Is this white space the calmest place for you to be? Will it help you more’n any other?”
This T’Pol was too tired and numb to move away from him to answer, so she mumbled into his skin. “There is one other.”
Trip looked into her mind and found the places that gave her comfort, healing, calm. He knew immediately when he came across the place to which she referred. He drew the memory forward and, seconds later, they found themselves in T’Les’s garden, at T’Pol’s family home on Vulcan.
He led her around to the terrace where meditation pillows were set up, then helped her sit down. Rather than taking a place across, he moved around to sit behind her, his legs bracketing her hips, his hands on his knees. T’Pol approved whole-heartedly of this arrangement, even allowing herself to lean back into him.
Trip moved his arms to encircle her tiny waist, pulling her deeper into the vee of his legs. He placed his lips to her ear and whispered, “What are you so afraid of? I’m feeling all this fear from you, and it’s the only emotion of yours I don’t understand.”
T’Pol turned her head to the side in order to look into his beautiful blue eyes. “I fear overwhelming you, hurting you. There is nothing I wouldn’t do to keep you from harm.” She placed her hands over his. “You are my chosen bondmate,” she finished softly.
Bemusement crossed Trip’s face. “Darlin’, you’re in my mind. You can tell you’re not hurtin’ me. True, I was overwhelmed earlier, but you can tell that’s better, too. There’s no logic in being afraid of something that’s not true. There’s nothing to be afraid of. That fear is what was makin’ the rest of your emotions so staggerin’. You cut that out, we can deal with the rest.”
T’Pol just looked at him, assessing his comments, realizing his truth. Slowly, she saw the logic in his words, and the fear receded. Once that happened, she felt Trip sigh in relief as her mind calmed considerably.
He squeezed her middle. “Better. I think the only thing left to process is the grief.”
T’Pol sadly nodded. “That will take time.”
Trip reached up and ran a finger down her cheek. “Always does, sweetheart. No more skippin’ sleep or meditation, ya hear?”
T’Pol’s lips twitched. “Agreed.”
Trip looked around the terrace. “Kinda nice here, T’Pol. Never told you, before, how much I liked your home.”
T’Pol tilted her head. “It pleases me, as well.”
His blue eyes twinkled. “Know what else is nice?”
She just raised an eyebrow at him. Which he absolutely adored. And she knew it! Because of the meld, he discovered that she knew how great a kick he got out of her zingin’ him with an eyebrow.
Trip chuckled. “You were right, darlin’. This is intimate. And I like it. Kinda wish we could be like this all the time.”
“You would miss your engines,” she dryly replied.
He just chuckled again. “Ya know what I mean.”
T’Pol tipped her head again in agreement. “There is a way to maintain this connection after the meld.”
Trip’s eyes gleamed. “How?” he eagerly asked.
“The Bonding?” Trip saw T’Pol’s surprise. “Translatin’ Vulcan’s easy when I’m in your mind, T’Pol.”
“Indeed.” She looked deep into his eyes and explained, “The telen will form a permanent mating bond between us. It will make the bond we currently have permanent.”
“You mean it’s not already?” he puzzled.
“No. It can still be severed by a Vulcan priest, but the telen will strengthen it to the point of being unbreakable. You would be bound to me for the rest of your life.” She tightened her hold on him. “I would always know all of your thoughts. You would always know all of mine. You would never be alone in your head again if the bond becomes permanent. The telen would turn what we have into a full-fledged mating bond.”
Trip grinned. “T’Pol.”
To her consternation, he began chuckling. “Are you asking me to marry you?”
T’Pol’s eyes widened. For such an illogical human, his thought process was amazing. Her gaze dropped away from his. “By Surak’s standards, I suppose I am.” She rubbed her hands across his in nervousness then peeked up at him through her lashes. “Will you?”
Trip just gifted her with the tenderest of expressions. “Oh, yeah. Heck yeah.”
T’Pol’s face softened, and Trip had no trouble seeing the joy in her eyes. She turned within the vee of his legs so she faced him, throwing her legs over his. She lost herself in his gaze, falling into the pool of blue. Her love for him filled the space around them. She reached up and placed her hand over his heart.
“Parted and never parted…never and always touching and touched.”
From her mind, he understood he was to repeat the vow.
“Parted and never parted…never and always touching and touched.”
And from her mind, he understood that by Surak’s teachings, they were now wed. He smiled sweetly at his wife. “I love you, T’Pol.”
T’Pol nodded. “And I you, Husband.”
Trip grinned and pulled her to him, wrapping her up with his arms and legs. Unable to contain himself he looked up at the mental sky and shouted in joy.
T’Pol cherished his happiness. She leaned in and kissed him, lingering for a few moments.
“Hey, T’Pol?” Trip mumbled against her lips.
“When I said I had an overwhelming need to be closer?” He felt T’Pol nod. He sighed in exquisite pleasure. “This is what I meant.”
T’Pol pulled back and cupped his face in her hands. “Husband, you will never again have cause to claim we are not close enough.”
The story continues in Saying Goodbye...as well as...Hello.
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