"Perpetuating the Misunderstanding"
Trip didn’t know how long they sat there in the silence. Long enough for his tears to dry, that’s for sure. Minutes. Hours. It didn’t matter. What mattered to him were Vulcan females. Two in particular. One Vulcan/human hybrid, one purebred. One he lost, one he was determined not to lose.
T’Pol had a headache. Her grief was on the verge of being overwhelming. She had been trying to meditate, but the grief she was feeling from Trip, in combination with her own, made it impossible. It had overwhelmed her earlier to the point of tears. That and the effort it took to maintain her mental shields to keep him from feeling her powerful emotions, were causing severe cranial discomfort.
Trip glanced over to his right, taking in T’Pol’s profile, and immediately, subconsciously, recognized the minute indicators of a Vulcan in pain. His Vulcan in pain. He let go of her delicate hand, leaving it resting on his thigh, only to reach up to her neck and gently press the correct neural nodes along her spinal column.
T’Pol exhaled quietly in relief. How he knew of her headache, she was not sure. She slowly turned her head to look at him, his hand still cool against her neck. She said nothing, just gazed thoughtfully at him, her face a picture of Vulcan composure.
Trip gazed back. When she remained silent, he canted his head slightly to the left. “What’sa matter?” he softly asked. “Did I do it wrong?”
“No.” Her eyes blinked slowly. “Your technique was flawless.”
Trip’s thumb gently brushed the skin below her left ear. “Then what’s wrong?”
She suppressed a shiver as his thumb again swept across the sensitive flesh under her ear. T’Pol closed her eyes. “How did you know to do that?”
Gathering that she wanted to know why he’d just performed the neuropressure, he frowned. “You were hurtin’, darlin’. What was I suppose to do?”
T’Pol opened her eyes to gaze upon him again. Her features softened. “The bond?”
Trip looked away in thought, realizing she wanted to know how he knew of her headache. After a moment, he shook his head. “No, not the bond. I just looked at you…and I knew.” He smiled weakly at her. “I just know you, darlin’.”
T’Pol cocked an eyebrow at him in bemusement.
His lips twitched again. “I’ve had a lot of practice readin’ you,” he admitted dryly. He looked away, frowned, and turned back to her. “Now that you mention it, why didn’t I feel that through the bond?” His expression turned to puzzlement.
T’Pol mentally winced. Not sure she was up to the coming conversation, she hesitated. She was aware she and Trip needed to talk about the bond and what it meant to be “bonded” to one another. She’d, in fact, had every intention of having that discussion with him days ago, ever since that moment in the corridor after the Orion incident when he’d told her they “had a lot of work to do.” As it turned out, repairs and preparations for the delegation had conspired to keep them from speaking of it.
Then came Paxton. And
Terra Prime. And
And suddenly, T’Pol didn’t want to wait anymore. This human was her bondmate. It was an inescapable fact, and she owed him a full explanation of the ramifications to that.
She lifted her hand from his leg to her neck, gently taking hold of his hand once again, the IDIC pendant still clasped between them. She brought their joined hands down to rest, this time, in her lap where she gazed at them sightlessly. She felt Trip lean forward slightly.
T’Pol turned her head toward Trip but kept her gaze downcast. “Trip,” she paused before continuing softly. “May we speak?”
Trip’s brow furrowed while
he puzzled over her question. Since they were already talking, he figured
she meant something deeper. And coming from T’Pol that usually meant
their relationship. He sat thinking for a couple of minutes before he
realized that he was ready to speak, think, and worry about something
else. He was okay with putting
He gave her hand a gentle squeeze. “Yeah, I think I’d like that,” he murmured. He scooted his backside forward and turned so he was facing T’Pol. She accommodated his need for direct contact by turning herself more in his direction, their hands still clasped between them. It was at that point he noticed her eyes had a green tint to them, matching his own reddened ones. He was shocked to realize she’d been crying recently.
T’Pol really had no idea where to start. She mentally cast about for a starting point, finally settling on the basics. She looked down at their joined hands and ran her thumb across his knuckles, subconsciously noting the pale, tiny scars from wounds past. She had long been fascinated by his hands. So large compared to her own, they almost appeared clumsy when, in fact, they were so often graceful given the work he did daily. They were an odd combination of strength and gentleness, very much like the man to whom they belonged. “Do you know why Vulcans suppress their emotions?” she asked softly.
Trip watched her trace over his knuckles, watched her take hold of his hand with both of hers, and watched her run her fingers over his palm slowly. Her touch was light, soothing. At her question, he looked up at her face. Her eyes were still focused down as he answered, “I guess I just thought your physiology made it so you couldn’t physically handle ‘em, but truth is I never really gave it a whole lot of thought.” He sighed in self disgust. “Guess I should of, though. Seein’s how it’s such an important part of who you are as a Vulcan. Some S.O. I am, huh?” He shook his head. “Sorry.”
T’Pol made a small sound of disagreement and gave his hand a squeeze. “It was just a question, not meant as criticism. I was merely attempting to establish a starting point for this discussion.” She paused as she thought back over his comments. Her brows dipped low in confusion, then quickly cleared to blank Vulcan stoicism. She peeked up at Trip and cocked one of those brows in question. “S.O?”
Trip smiled wryly. “Significant Other.” He gave a self-conscious shrug, looking away in a fit of shyness. “Its how I started thinkin’ of myself after you told me ‘bout the bond. ‘Cause I wasn’t real sure what that made me…in relation to you, that is.” He rubbed the bridge of his nose with his left hand, wincing slightly at the pull on his injured shoulder. “I was just hopin’ the bond made me ‘significant’ somehow,” he muttered sheepishly. He looked back down at her hands, which, to his disappointment, had stopped moving over his.
T’Pol mentally chastised herself for letting this man suffer needless insecurities. Her expression again softened as she gazed at him. “Bondmate,” she whispered.
Trip’s gaze shot up.
T’Pol met it without flinching. “You are my bondmate, Trip. That is the Vulcan terminology.”
Trip offered her a small, sweet smile. He liked the way the word sounded. “Bondmate,” he echoed quietly.
His bondmate raised her brow at him. “It is significant by Vulcan standards.”
His smile grew. “Yeah?”
Her lips twitched as she suppressed a smile. “Indeed,” she confirmed.
Silence descended between the two. T’Pol resumed the stroking of his palm. After a few short moments, Trip tilted his head. “Why do Vulcans suppress their emotions, T’Pol?”
She blinked slowly at him. “To allow them free rein would destroy us.”
Trip frowned. “Why?”
“Three thousand years ago, the Vulcan people did fully express emotion.” She saw Trip’s eyes widen. She continued, “It nearly made them extinct.” It was almost as though she could see him thinking as his head tipped to the side, his tongue running across the inside of his cheek.
“Why?” he again asked thoughtfully.
T’Pol just looked at him, thinking of the best way to explain. Moments later it came to her. She raised her chin. “You and Mr. Reed are friends, yes?”
Trip was beyond curious now. “Yeah. Gotten to be pretty close friends after everything that’s happened. Why?”
T’Pol canted her head again. “Did he ever describe the events that occurred when we encountered the Seleya in the Expanse?”
“Sure,” Trip replied quietly. “Said those Vulcans were actin’ pretty crazy. Out of control and such.”
“Those Vulcans,” she explained with intensity, “had been stripped of their emotional control by the affects of Trellium-D.” She saw his eyes widen in growing understanding. “Unsuppressed, Vulcan emotions are too intense to manage. They cause us to revert to a primitive state, focusing only on primitive needs. Any obstacles to meeting those needs are met with primitive force. Three thousand years ago, Vulcans slaughtered each other.”
Trip nodded, developing a vague understanding. “Then Surak brought enlightenment with the logic and all?”
T’Pol was pleased with her bondmate’s intelligence, how he quickly grasped the finer points of her explanation without needing gratuitous details. “Yes.”
Trip grinned. “So your emotions are bigger’n mine.” His grin grew as her ever-expressive eyebrow rose high on her forehead. He could feel her amusement, whether through the bond or just because he could read her like a book, he didn’t know. He just knew she was amused by him. He squeezed her hand. “You’re just dyin’ to laugh at me right now, aren’t ya? Come on, admit it!”
Though nothing showed on her countenance, T’Pol felt a rush of bittersweet emotion sweep through her when she saw him smiling and joking. She was pleased to ease his pain, even if only for a moment. She rewarded him by letting a large burst of her mental joy flow out through her shields and rejoiced at his subsequent laughter.
An awed expression crossed Trip’s face. “Is that you?” he asked as the wave of joy flooded his mind.
T’Pol nodded shyly, dropping her gaze back to her lap.
Trip leaned forward. “Why can’t I feel that kind of stuff from you all the time? Usually its just vague stuff that I have to concentrate really hard on figuring out. What’s up with that, T’Pol?”
She brought her gaze back up to meet his. “My mental shields are raised to prevent my emotions from reaching you.”
He was unable to hide his faint hurt and disappointment. “Why?”
T’Pol was startled by his disappointment. Could he actually want this bond?
He paused and a look of worry flashed across his face. “Oh, God. Will it cause ya to lose control of your emotions? Will ya start actin’ like those Vulcans on the Seleya if ya drop your shields?” Now he was worried about her, his worry causing his accent to thicken. His eyes narrowed in thought. “That can’t be right, though. I’ve seen your emotions a bunch of times, even if ya didn’t want me to. You weren’t out of control then.”
She gave a minute shake of her head. “It would, more than likely, actually help me to lower my shields.” Her control wavered, allowing a sigh to escape. She turned her head away and whispered, “It is quite exhausting maintaining them permanently.”
Trip pulled his hand out from under hers in order to reach up and turn her head back toward him. “Then why, darlin’?”
T’Pol closed her eyes and whispered, “I did not think you wanted this bond. You said it wasn’t a ‘big deal.’ I raised them to protect you from the bond’s effects.”
Trip groaned and tipped his head back. “Darlin’, if there’s anything you an’ I have done right, relationship-wise, it’s perpetuatin’ misunderstandings.”
She raised her soulful, pleading, big, brown eyes to his. He gently speared his fingers into the hair above her ear, cupping her head in his hand as he drowned in her gaze. “I love you. I’m in love with you. Have been for over a year.” He smiled as her eyes widened in shock at his blunt declaration. “Anything, and I mean anything, that brings me closer to you…I want.”
T’Pol just blinked at him. She was flooded with so many emotions she couldn’t possibly categorize them all. It took every ounce of her Vulcan will and mental fortitude to suppress them. She leaned slightly into his hand.
Trip could read a wealth of emotions in her eyes. Years of experience made him an expert on the miniscule signs. He could also feel a hodgepodge of emotions through the bond, too rapid to catch hold of, one right after the other. He lightly scratched her scalp. “When I said the bond wasn’t a ‘big deal’,” he murmured, “I meant that it wasn’t anything I was gonna get upset over. I was totally okay with it. I am totally okay with it.” His brow furrowed as a thought crept up on him. “Are you okay with it?” he asked anxiously.
T’Pol could not suppress
the half-choke, half-gasp that escaped from deep in her throat. She
stared at him in disbelief, unable to fathom how he could think she didn’t
want the bond. She’d practically begged him to return to
Trip sighed and muttered dryly, “That was a stupid question, wasn’t it? Ya probably wouldn’t have asked me to stay or kissed me in the hall otherwise, huh?” He gave her an abashed smile.
T’Pol blinked in relief. Her faith in his intelligence was not misplaced after all. She briefly looked away before leaning forward completely into Trip’s body, knowing instinctively that he would support her. She buried her face in the space where his neck met his shoulder, making sure to avoid his wound.
Trip enveloped her with his good arm, hugging her tight to him.
T’Pol’s voice was muffled when she unequivocally stated, “I, too, want this bond,” her voice soft and low.
But he heard her. He pulled back far enough to see her face. He slowly moved in, giving her all kinds of time to back away. When she didn’t, he continued until his lips pressed lightly against hers. Unlike their last kiss, this one was delicate, soft…affirming.
After a long moment, Trip pulled back a fraction. Eyes closed, he whispered against her lips, “Drop your shields, darlin’.”
The story continues in Not Close Enough.
Like it? Hate it? Just want to point out a typo? Join the discussion now.
Disclaimer: Star Trek in all its various forms and its characters are the property of CBS/Paramount. No copyright infringement is intended by the authors of this site, which is solely for the purpose of entertainment and is not for profit. This site is owned by CX and was opened to the public in February 2008.