"Saying Goodbye...As Well As...Hello"
Author's Note: Going forward, italics will represent mental conversation unless otherwise part of an obvious verbal dialogue.
T’Pol reclined against her bondmate, their combined presence almost a palpable entity, like the beating of butterfly wings upon her skin. And it was unlike anything she’d ever felt before. Part of her wondered if all mind melds between bondmates were like this or if this one was different because one half was human. It was evident the mental environment was different. Trip’s thoughts were chaotic and disorganized, yet also surprising. She had not expected to find part of his mind to be fascinatingly logical. It was quite shocking to discover logic of any kind in her bondmate’s mind. Yes, he was an intelligent representation of his species, but he was still an emotional, illogical human! She knew he was amused at her ruminations, she could sense his pleasure at surprising her. She felt him press a kiss to her nape and looked up in response.
“We probably need to leave here so you can meditate, right?” Trip looked around wistfully at their soothing mental landscape, T’Les’s terrace providing a peaceful respite from what awaited them “outside.”
T’Pol nodded. “But we can return.” She reached up and ran two fingers down Trip’s cheek. “In either another meld or in reality.”
He sighed. “Ok.” No sooner did he speak than they were back in T’Pol’s white space. Trip stood up, pulling her with him. He stood there looking down at the non-floor, hands stuffed into his pockets, a picture of dejection.
T’Pol found this curious. “What troubles you, ashayam?” She was too tired to filter through his jumbled thoughts to find the answer herself.
Trip looked up, brows furrowed, head tipped slightly to the side. “Beloved?” he quickly translated in mild disbelief.
T’Pol frowned in confusion. “You are such to me.”
Trip’s lips twitched. “Well, yeah, I know,” he muttered bashfully. “Just never expected you to use a term of endearment.”
“And I will not in front of others,” she warned. She crossed her arms over her chest.
Trip walked up to her and pressed a kiss to her forehead. “Noted.” He cupped her face in his hands. “What makes you think I’d ever expect ya to anyway? I’ve got no interest in changing who you are. I fell in love with a Vulcan.” He smiled. “An unusual Vulcan, sure, but still a Vulcan,” he teased.
“I am fortunate,” she dryly replied.
“T’Pol, I…,” he hesitated. “I’m afraid we’ll lose this once you break the meld. I’m gonna miss it.”
T’Pol frowned. “I have already told you we will not. The telen allows us to maintain this closeness always. Your fear is illogical.”
“But I’m human. It might only work that way for Vulcan couples.”
“There is only one way to find out.” And that was the only warning he got as she broke the meld.
T’Pol closed her eyes, and the white space disappeared. She felt her forehead pressed to Trip’s, her hand on his face, his on hers. She opened her eyes to find his brilliant blue ones staring back at her.
His hand slipped from her face to the back of her head, pulling her down to his good shoulder and held on tight. You’re still in my mind! As much as you were during the meld!
T’Pol’s own hand had mimicked Trip’s by cupping his head. She gave a quick scratch to his nape. Humans have a phrase for this moment, do they not? I believe it is “I told you so.”
Amused, Trip pushed her back in order to see her face. “Cute, T’Pol. Real cute.” Then he just stared at her for a long moment, taking in her tired features. He could tell that dropping her shields had helped her, as did the mind meld. The skin at the corners of her eyes was no longer pinched. And being in her mind confirmed that for him. Her grief was still powerful, though. Combined with his, it was decidedly uncomfortable. He rubbed his thumb along her cheek. “You really need to meditate now. Think you can?”
“I believe so,” was her soft response.
“Anything I can do to help?” he tenderly asked.
T’Pol looked away. Will you meditate with me? Your presence…it helps.
Trip’s brows rose high on his forehead. I always thought I bothered your meditations. You’re always tellin’ me to leave when I end up there.
T’Pol whipped her head back around. I have not asked you to do so since I informed you about the bond, have I? She lifted her own eyebrow in bemusement.
Trip tipped his head in thought. No, you’re right. Again. He smirked at her. He dropped his hand to her thigh and squeezed gently. “You’ll have to teach me, though,” he remarked out loud.
Thank you. Her eyes were bright with affection.
You’re welcome. His twinkled back.
Several minutes later, T’Pol was seated in her typical meditation pose, cross-legged in front of the little table holding her candle. Trip moved to sit across from her but immediately sensed her dissatisfaction through the bond. A wisp of thought not his own followed on its heels, and he knew what she really wanted. His lips twisted in amusement as he circled around behind her instead; slipping his sling off before he sat.
T’Pol’s posture remained ramrod straight as Trip moved flush up against her back with his legs spread out around her. His right arm soon followed, his left resting at her waist. She was nearly completely surrounded by him, not unlike what their positions had been in the mind meld.
Empty your mind, ashayam. Relax and find a single point of focus. Utilize the candle, if necessary, to hone that focus. Try to join me in the white space without me pulling you there.
It took many minutes, and many false starts, but Trip eventually joined her. The two then proceeded to sit in a verbally and mentally silent reverie. As Trip was focused solely on his own thoughts, he lost track of T’Pol’s. An unknown amount of time had passed when he felt a soft breeze-like sensation blow through his mind, arresting his deep meditation. He knew its source was T’Pol so he opened his eyes to his bondmate, who was looking over her shoulder at him.
Finished already, darlin’?
“It has been three hours, Trip.” Her eyes shown brightly in the dim candlelight.
To Trip’s discerning eyes, she appeared more relaxed than he’d seen her in ages. She still grieved deeply. He could feel that easily enough, but it was not the crushing misery it was earlier. Didn’t seem like more’n a coupla minutes. Hope I was doing it right ‘cause it actually felt kinda good.
T’Pol rested her hand along the top of his, lacing their fingers together. That is the purpose of meditation. You were doing very well, ashayam. Thank you for supporting me. She took hold of his hand and brought it across her body essentially wrapping herself in his embrace.
Trip’s heart melted at her actions and her thoughts. “Always,” he whispered, pulling her in tighter to his chest. Minutes passed while they sat in silence, enjoying the thoughts and feelings of each other flowing back and forth through the bond.
T’Pol slowly turned sideways. “Trip, I---,” she paused, stalling in order to sort out what she wanted to tell him. She absently brought her hand to his chest.
Trip waited patiently,
having learned in the last year and a half that T’Pol would share her thoughts
in her own time. All he was getting through the bond was a crazy
kaleidoscope of her thoughts and feelings. He wasn’t able to separate
them into coherency. He was sure, though, that they were mostly about
T’Pol peeked up at him
through her lashes. I wish to explain to you why I grieve so for
Trip frowned. You were her mama, T’Pol. That’s reason enough.
Yes. She lifted her head. It is more than that, however. The human grieving process is predominantly emotional, is it not?
Trip nodded and remained silent, a sense of foreboding creeping up on him.
T’Pol stared deeply into her bondmate’s bright blue eyes. With certain losses, the Vulcan grieving process is both emotional and mental. This is one such loss.
His eyes watered in reaction, making them appear even bluer. Why?
T’Pol leaned in to rest her cheek against Trip’s shoulder, forehead brushing his neck. Vulcan parents are mentally bonded to their children, Trip. It is a bond similar to what we had before the telen, primarily feelings or impressions.
“Oh, god,” he gasped. Ignoring the pain in his wounded shoulder, Trip immediately scooped T’Pol up in his arms; hugging her tightly, his legs crossing under her. She ended up sitting in his lap with her face pressed into his shoulder.
T’Pol shuddered slightly
then purposefully sorted out the feelings that revolved around the sundering of
her bond with
For the first time, Trip fully understood what utter devastation a broken bond could wreck. It left a hole in her soul that would never completely heal, and he ached with her. Tears slipped down his face, falling into the soft hair where his face was buried.
They remained in that
position for the next hour while Trip shared T’Pol’s mental burden. In
that hour, he came to know when she first felt the bond and the acute pain that
accompanied its loss when
T’Pol sighed. So much of Vulcan physiology is tied to the mind, Adun. Be prepared that I will not recover quickly from this.
He ran his hand up and down her back soothingly. And meditatin’ with me helps?
It may be the only thing that will.
Then that’s what we’ll do. For as long as ya need. I love you, T’Pol.
And I you. Trip tingled at the blast of warm affection she shot into his mind.
It was some time later when T’Pol picked her head up off Trip’s shoulder. She leaned back and searched his face. You are exhausted.
So are you. He gazed back steadily.
T’Pol tipped her head in agreement. You need to eat.
So do you. He smirked.
She shot him a glance filled with exasperation. I am not hungry.
“Well, neither am I, darlin’. But I’d be a terrible husband if I let ya get away with that answer.” Having said that, he lifted her up in order to move his legs out, and then set her back down in front of her meditation table. “I’m gonna go get us somethin’ to eat and bring it back here.”
He felt her dissatisfaction. See if you can keep meditatin’. I’ll only be gone a couple of minutes. Promise.
Very well. Kneel down here before you go. T’Pol gathered Trip’s forgotten sling and helped him put it back on, taking note every time he flinched. You will stop by Sickbay and see Dr. Phlox, as well. I do not like seeing you in pain.
Trip smiled lovingly at her. Okay. He leaned in and pressed a quick kiss to her lips before standing and heading out the door.
After the door swished closed, T’Pol crossed her legs and turned back to her candle.
After a quick stop by Sickbay, Trip was armed with a hypospray for him to take after he returned to T’Pol’s. Next, he swung by the mess hall. Though it was near the end of the dinner hour, it was still early enough in the evening that a small selection of food remained. He glanced through his choices, unsure what to take to his wife. He wondered if he should go ask Chef for some plomeek soup.
A salad will suffice, ashayam.
Trip lifted his head. Hey, you’re supposed to be meditatin’!
I am having difficulty.
Her desire for his return washed over him. Be back soon, darlin’. He quickly grabbed utensils, a salad and his own dinner before hurrying off to his own quarters. Once there, he threw some clothes and his toothbrush in a duffle bag. At the last moment, he decided to put the dinner containers in his duffle, as well, since he was temporarily flying on one wing.
T’Pol opened her eyes at the sound of the door opening. Her eyes followed Trip as he set his duffle down on the bed. Her brow lifted in amusement when he withdrew three meal containers from within it and set them on the desk before dropping the duffle in the corner.
He caught her amusement and just shrugged sheepishly. Damn sling. He handed her the salad and a fork and dropped to the floor beside her with his own meal. They ate quickly, and barely a half an hour later, they were back in meditation.
Another hour had passed when T’Pol smoothly inserted herself into his thoughts without breaking his meditation. He wasn’t sure how she did it, but he supposed it didn’t really matter. He felt her there and that was that. Having trouble?
No. I would just like to try something.
Trip was intrigued. Okay.
I would like to attempt
to show you what the bond with
I think I’d like that. What do I need to do?
Just open your mind, ashayam.
Trip again felt the soft breeze-like sensation in his mind that he associated with his bondmate’s presence. Then he felt the breeze pick up in intensity, rushing through his mind with a passionate ferocity that buffeted his psyche, tossing it to and fro. Trip concentrated on keeping his mind open to this storm when every instinct he had was screaming at him to close it. Pain, hunger, loneliness, need. These sensations tackled his mind, leaving him struggling to find his figurative feet.
Just as he was about to call out to his wife, the storm stopped. His mind was clear once again. T’Pol?
I am here, Adun.
And he felt her, those breeze-like sensations again tickling through his thoughts, but they were not the same. You feel different. You always feel like a cool breeze in my head. This time it feels different. Warm. Like early morning sunshine.
This time, I did not come alone.
In a manner of speaking. This is my specific memory of what I felt when I briefly touched her katra, put in a way you could conceptualize. I did not know how else to manifest this feeling.
This works, darlin’. This works just fine. He was incredibly moved by the opportunity she was giving him. What was all that just before?
Those were the impressions and feelings I received from her through the parental bond. We were not together long enough for me to receive anything deeper.
T’Pol? Do you ever wish she’d never been born?
T’Pol paused to consider how to answer. Wishing was illogical and, therefore, not something she practiced regularly. I do not regret her birth, merely the circumstances surrounding it. I wish she’d had a chance to be conceived out of her parent’s affection for one another, born to parents who cherished her and her future. I feel as though something precious was stolen from me, from us.
Trip directed a concentrated burst of love her way. Well said, baby. Well said. Trip had an overwhelming urge to embrace her.
Feeling his desire, and sharing it, T’Pol brought their joint meditation to an end. She opened her eyes to her candlelit quarters and leaned back into her bondmate. She turned her head and met his descending lips. The kiss was intense but not passionate. Love without heat. It was exactly what they needed at that moment.
T’Pol pulled back first. “Let’s go to bed, Adun,” she murmured softly. “Tomorrow will be difficult.”
Trip smiled sweetly at her. “I love it when you call me your husband. Especially in Vulcan. I like the way it sounds.”
T’Pol rose to her feet and turned to him. She lifted a brow. “That is fortunate, as I find it pleasing to speak.” She went to a cupboard to remove her pajamas before disappearing into the bathroom.
Trip rose and crossed to his duffle. He took out a pair of shorts and the hypospray and set them on the bunk before attempting to remove his uniform. He had his shoes and the sling off and the zipper down when T’Pol came out of the bathroom. She carried her robes to the closet then turned.
She stood in front of him in her blue silk pajamas, noting the difficulty he was having getting his injured arm out of the sleeve of the jumpsuit. She lifted her hands to assist him, gently easing the material off his shoulder while he held still. She inspected his bandage for any disturbance before tugging the material completely away. “What did Dr. Phlox tell you?”
Trip watched as she finished undressing him, lifting his feet when prompted. “That it was healing ‘bout like he expected it would,” he finally answered. “Said I wasn’t using the sling enough. Wanted to put some of them disgusting leeches on it.” He smirked when she shot him a glance. “I told him you’d make sure I took care of it, that he didn’t need to bust out the bloodsuckers.”
He smiled when she picked up his shorts and assisted him in putting them on. He ran his good hand through her hair. Thanks, darlin’.
You are welcome, ashayam. Now come to bed.
Give me just a minute. He blew out her candles, grabbed his toothbrush and went into the bathroom. When he came back out, T’Pol had the bed turned down and his hypospray in hand. He joined her on the bunk and lay down on the inside, waiting for T’Pol to settle in.
She did so by first administering the pain reliever to his neck. She followed by curling up to him and resting her head on his good shoulder, one warm hand resting over his heart.
“Thanks for lettin’ me feel
T’Pol lifted her head in order to see his face. “The chance for what, ashayam?”
He rubbed his hand up and down her back, smoothing the silky fabric of her pajamas. He sighed and murmured, “You introduced me to a part of her I’d never have known about. A kind of ‘hello.’ So I guess I’m saying thanks for giving me the chance to say goodbye to her again…as well as…hello.”
T’Pol’s breath caught. Then she literally showered him with a flood of affection that brought tears to his eyes.
And so he cried himself to sleep, only this time…he did not do it alone, and they were not tears of sadness.
The Story continues in Before Everything Else.
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