Rating: R (language, adult situations)
Dear Readers: This story is a follow-up to my ficlets Disease & Addiction, so I suggest you read them first. Like them, this story follows the continuity established in Glass Empires. You only need to know the following from the book:
I also have a quote from Elaine’s story Incursions, which has been used without permission but with respect. The line occurred to me at one point during writing, and my brain couldn’t come up with something that wasn’t plagiarism.
If you prefer ‘biscuit & jam’ – then please check out the NC-17 version for the slightly more gratuitous version of this story.
My thanks, again, go to justTrip’n for her beta skills.
**** denotes a flashback *&* denotes a scene change
Empress Hoshi Sato starred at the view screen before her. For months she had carefully laid plans for the Empire's first contact with Romulan Star Empire. The database from the Defiant detailed a long and bloody war with the mysterious race. Sato had no intention of being taken off guard. She would send ships to them first. There was a great possibility that the Romulans of this reality could be allies. All was ready. So why must there now be a complication.
With an annoyed tone, Sato responded, “I really can't spare him, I need him on Defiant.”
“Nevertheless, I must insist it be him.” Supreme Regent T'Pol of Vulcan had become a valuable ally during the past year. Their arrangement had proven beneficial for both of them, and Sato had no intention of loosing that.
T'Pol continued, “You and I both know he is the most qualified to adapt the Defiant technologies to Vulcan. The tractor beam and warp drive systems are too complex.”
“I'm getting ready to send the new fleet to Romulan space—I want him on Defiant. You can get him when they get back.” Sato was prepared to dismiss the Vulcan.
T’Pol would not be dissuaded, “And when will that be? And what if war starts? Vulcan will be in no position to fight. You need our ships upgraded as much as we do. Once he determines the proper protocols, our technicians can work on the remaining ships.”
Sato pursed her lips. She hated being outmaneuvered, and T'Pol had a pesky habit of doing it far too often. Good thing they were on the same side. As long as Vulcan was free, T'Pol gave loyalty to the Empire—it was a small price to end their rebellion.
"Fine. Fine. But I have some other work here for him to finish first. Once that's done, I'll send Tucker to you."
**14 years ago**
It wasn't true.
It couldn't be. His brain refused to accept it. The shouting and sirens around him were mute to his ears. He didn’t feel the people pushing past him. The smoke and ruin were not seen by his eyes. He had gone numb.
She had been shopping, for his birthday of all things. Lizzie had nothing to do with the protest in the plaza that morning. But that didn't matter. Bombs don't care. They don't care if you were friend or foe. They don't care if you were loved or hated. The blast killed every living thing within 100 meters. She was just going out to buy him a birthday present.
The image of her broken and bloody body was burned into his retinas. He walked away. He wandered for hours before finally finding his way to his parent’s home where she still lived. Pieces of news report drifted into his ears—“…alien terrorist attack at plaza ... 243 dead.”
His face showed no emotion. His Lizzie was dead.
His bright light in an otherwise hard and unforgiving existence. She was always cheerful. Always made him smile. His baby sister looking up to her big brother. Charles Tucker III closed his eyes and felt the light fade, and the darkness take its place.
**13 years ago**
He learned quickly that on an Imperial starship, the best way to stay alive was to do your job and keep your head down. Tucker had been assigned to the Ares six months earlier. The need for vengeance had grown rapidly after his sister’s death. His parents told him that if he joined the Imperial service he would not be welcome home again. They had raised their children not to hate or act in violence—and those were the qualities the Service valued.
He joined anyway.
"Yes sir." Tucker stood from the consol he was repairing to look at his superior.
Commander Quinn Erickson looked down at Tucker despite being the same height. "Ensign, I told you to realign the phase inverters. This is the pulse control. Just what the hell do you think you're doing?"
Tucker stared at his, so-called, superior. "I thought that if I didn't repair the sequencing issue with pulse control first, the phase inverters would only go out of alignment again."
Erickson narrowed his eyes, "You aren't here to think Tucker. You're here to work, so get back to it."
Tucker watched as Erickson marched away. He couldn't hold back the eye roll. Just because his father invented the matter transporter, Quinn thought he was slick as shit. Tucker knew Quinn had been scheming to replace Forrest as first officer, but highly doubted he'd succeed. It wasn't lost on Trip that Erickson didn't tell him to not finish fixing the pulse control.
"Idiot," Tucker mumbled, ". . . a wonder this ship stays together." He knelt back down and got back to work.
What Tucker didn't realize at the time was that Commander Forrest had witnessed the entire exchange.
He didn't belong here.
Commander Charles Tucker had arrived at Vulcan as per her Supreme Regency’s request. Sato herself told him that once he finished the upgrades to the excursion fleet, he'd be going to Vulcan to do the same for them. The tractor beam and warp systems only though; No need to give the Vulcans too much power.
He argued that he belonged on Defiant for its upcoming mission, and she had even agreed. But, the Empire needed the Vulcan ships upgraded more. She wouldn't tell him anything other than that.
The shuttle buffeted in the atmosphere. He never liked deserts; and they didn't like him. But it was worse than that. She was there.
It was bad enough he dreamt of her every night, but in under an hour, he had to sit across a table from her, be polite, and try not to commit murder, all the while thinking of the multiple filthy things he wanted to do to her.
"I have been authorized to give you complete access to all of our facilities."
Tucker was being led around the Shri'Kev Research facility by an eager young Vulcan named Kov. The building looked like an old monastery. The Vulcan seemed strangely excited to be working with a Terran. Or maybe it was the technology. Kov introduced himself as Tucker's 'assistant,' but he figured Kov was there more to keep an eye on him.
They entered a large control room, and Tucker was introduced to his staff. He half listened. He thought she would be there to meet him, make some condescending comment and send him to do her bidding. But no, just this Kov guy. Whatever.
On the journey from Terra to Vulcan, Tucker reviewed schematics on Vulcan systems and made notes on how to adapt the Defiant systems. But experience taught him that what looked good on paper didn't always work well in reality.
"Look, I'm sure you're as happy to be working with a Terran as I am to be here. So the sooner we get the work done the sooner I leave. I've got some ideas worked out that we can start with . . ."
Tucker sat alone in the dining hall. He reviewed padds in front of him, organizing the various systems to assign teams in the morning. So far he was impressed; the Vulcan’s actually listened to him. They had made progress, and at this rate he just might get off this desolate rock sooner than expected.
Turned out that Kov actually knew what he was doing and wasn't just a babysitter. The two of them worked well together. Seems I have a knack for get’n on with Vulcans.
He expected her to check up on him. Stick her nose into his business and tell him how to do his job. She never showed. Probably had cameras looking over his shoulder, recording his every move. At least this way he didn't have to think about her.
**5 years ago**
"I want that deflector operational in three hours, am I clear Lieutenant?"
Commander Archer turned to leave, but Tucker spoke, "It'll go quicker with the Vulcan."
Archer scowled at him, "Fine, I'll send her down."
Lieutenant Charles Tucker watched as the first officer skulked away. Yet another officer riding on the coat tails of his daddy. Tucker was surrounded by officers who had bought, bribed or killed their way into their position. Archer was just another one. His father helped make the Warp 5 reactor, and died in the process. Now, every time he wanted something he played the “my father's Henry Archer” card. Pathetic.
It was the only explanation Tucker could come up with as to why Captain Forrest had him as first officer. Supposedly he was a pilot, but Tucker never saw it.
When Forrest got command of Enterprise, he recruited Tucker as his Chief Engineer. He liked Forrest. Actually seemed like a decent guy—the captain valued intelligence and loyalty over birthright and bullies. Forrest managed to recruit a few others like Tucker who actually earned their jobs in the senior staff.
But bullies like Archer and Reed had their connections.
Reed actually had the audacity to frame some of Tuckers staff to gain favor with Forrest. One thing you never do on a starship—and that's piss off the Chief Engineer. Seems that Archer has yet to learn that lesson.
Then there were the ones who got to the top horizontally. Hoshi had been a good lay, but Tucker didn't think for one second that she actually cared about him. She was working her way to the top, using the oldest profession on Terra. Tucker liked Forrest enough to feel bad he was getting his seconds. Then again, he wasn't sure what number in line he was either.
The steady cadence on the deck plating signaled it was time to get back to work. He was actually looking forward to it.
She was an enigma. Vulcan's were supposed to be slaves to the Empire, but Forrest gave her more leeway than he did most Terrans. At the current rate, she'd make commander before he did. He didn't understand why Forrest trusted her, but he really didn't care. What bothered him was his own strange attraction to the icy T'Pol of Vulcan.
"I was sent here to help you with repairs." The way she said “help” suggested he was not up to the task.
Tucker pivoted the chair around so that his eyes leveled with her navel. His gaze took a long, satisfying journey up to her eyes. "Oh, I can manage. I just wanted a ‘lovely assistant’ to hand me tools."
His eyes never left hers as he stood. T'Pol's gaze never wavered. He stepped closer to her, so that she had to tilt her head back to continue looking at him. She refused to back down. Damn, but she smelled good.
She hesitated, "I will meet you in Deflector control." Turning on her heal, T'Pol strode away. Not too bad going. Wonder what she looks like comin’'?
He rolled his eyes in frustration. Why the hell was he attracted to her? She was just some condescending, arrogant, green-blooded bitch. And she turned him on like nothing else. Tucker picked up his tool case and followed her to Deflector Control at the bow of the ship.
Maybe that was it. She didn't cower. Nor was she some sycophantic lackey. T'Pol was strong, smart and willful.
He reached the small control room, and T'Pol already had the panel covers open. She turned from inspecting the panel. "The starboard relays need to be replaced."
Tucker clipped his tool case to the open panel. "Alright, you start with J33 and we'll meet in the middle." They each took out tools and began pulling and replacing the 146 relays. Who the hell designed this thing? Obviously they didn't ever have to repair it. It was like the shield casing on the plasma conduits. Someday that shield was gonna give, and someone was gonna be toast. Bad enough everyone in engineering was getting a slow but steady dose of delta radiation. So much for kids.
Forty five minutes and thirty-seven relays later, Tucker rubbed his worn fingertips and swore, "Piece of shit, Archer."
T'Pol gave him a small glance, "He does have difficulty with subtlety."
He gave her an angry look, "Difficulty? He's a damn bull in a china shop. And he expects me to clean it up. It was a damn Vissian convoy. He didn’t need to blow one up to make his point. All those little pieces overload the deflector. One of these days he's gonna mess up too big and blow up the whole damn ship." His lips tightened in frustration, "I just surprised Forrest hasn't beaten some sense into him yet."
"I believe the Captain is afraid of him. Archer holds considerable political clout."
"And he bought every gram of it." He pushed another relay into place and stepped back. He looked at her face, intent upon her task. He let a smirk twist his lips and he moved close to her. He knew she didn't like it when people got too close, he also knew about sensitive Vulcan female noses. The temperature in the small space was high enough to make him perspire. He put his hand on the panel next to her head and whispered into her ear, "And what about you? You afraid of anything?"
T'Pol turned her head to meet his eyes, "Certainly not you."
He feigned a wounded look. "No?"
He was close enough to see the green flecks in her brown eyes. "Maybe you like me then?"
"Then why can I get so close?"
They held each others eyes in silence, scant centimeters between them. He watched her nose flair. Her lips barely parted to respond and the comm sounded.
His eyelids fluttered in annoyance as he sneered. Tucker turned to the hatchway and pressed the comm button, "Yes sir."
Commander Archer's voice washed away the tension and heat that had been generated in the small room. "I need the deflector operational Lieutenant. Why isn't it done?"
"I've still got another two hours and we're half way done. You'll have the deflector on time." Couldn't the man tell time?
"You have an hour."
Tucker released the comm button, "Play time's over." He gave T'Pol an almost apologetic expression, "let's get this done."
"I cannot allow you to enter Commander."
Tucker glared at the Vulcan guard, "Like hell. I demand to see her."
He had been working with his Vulcan crew for two days. He had come to a realization that he wanted some answers.
The guard didn't flinch. "I will convey your request to..."
"Why don't you convey me into the room?"
"Sir..." The guards' comm beeped and he answered the call. He spoke softly in Vulcan while Tucker impatiently stared at him.
The guard stepped aside, "You may enter."
Tucker marched through the doorway into a surprisingly small room. T'Pol, Supreme Regent of Vulcan, sat behind a carved wood desk. Two simple chairs were in front of the desk. A quick glance around revealed a low table holding the requisite candle and a pillow on the floor in front of it. The room held no additional adornments. They weren't necessary. One wall was a window looking out upon the vast desert that was Vulcan. Dunes and mountain peeks drew the line between ground and sky. It was harsh and bleak, quite unlike the Vulcan before him now.
Why did she have to be so beautiful? Dammit, what did he come in here for?
"Is there a problem with your staff or the facility?"
T'Pol's raised eyebrow at his non-response snapped him out of his reverie.
"Why am I here?"
Her head tilted slightly at his question. "You know why. You are developing the proper protocols for upgrading our starships."
"That's bullshit," he snapped. "Your people are plenty qualified. I could have sent them the schematics and let them figure it out on their own. So, why am I here? Sato could have sent someone else. I belong back on the Defiant ."
"I am aware of its upcoming mission."
"Then you should know I belong there and not on this forsaken chunk of rock."
T'Pol took a deep breath. There had been a time when their arguing had been a prelude. Now, it was just an argument. "What you are not aware of is who the Empress has selected to lead this mission."
"What does that have to do with me being here?"
"She has had Phlox resurrect Archer."
His face twisted in confusion, "What?"
"She had his body preserved. Phlox has repaired the damage and resuscitated him."
"Archer? Jonathan Archer?"
Tucker closed his eye and pinched the brow of his nose. Was she insane? "I'm not even gonna try to understand why. How does she think she's gonna control him?"
T'Pol always appreciated his ability to understand the larger picture. "Sato claims she has contingencies in place. She has not informed me as to what they are exactly. I have my own doubts as to his effectiveness in a first contact, diplomatic situation. There is every possibility that he will start a war with a powerful species. If that happens, the Empire, including Vulcan, must be prepared to deal with this. We need our ships upgraded as quickly, and safely, as possible. Hence, your presence here."
Still dumbfounded by T'Pol's revelation, Tucker merely nodded. He honestly thought Sato was smarter than this. Then again, he never saw it coming when she seized power and made herself Empress. Maybe she had another card up her sleeve.
Distracted, Tucker mumbled something about getting back to work and left the Vulcan Supreme Regent.
**4 years ago**
The sirens blared in her sensitive ears.
T'Pol was still piecing together what had just happened moments ago. She had been in Engineering, assisting with the power couplings for the sensor array when alarms started going off. A voice shouted to evacuate, and rough hands pushed her towards the door. Not everyone had exited before there was an explosion. The large doors sealed shut and the emergency sirens went off.
T'Pol looked around and realized he wasn't there. That meant he was still inside.
Within the space of a moment T'Pol realized that the thought of him dead was unsettling. She had become rather accustomed to the game he liked to play with her. Despite his inappropriate comments and actions towards her, she never felt threatened. In a weak moment she might even confess to encouraging him. Not that he needed much encouragement.
She had noticed a change in him recently. Months before he had been promoted to commander. At first, he took full advantage of outranking her—until, she was also promoted the following week. It didn't stop him; the game simply went back to its former rules. We work, he antagonizes me, stands too close, smells too good. On these occasions, she would not back down. She’d match his comments with her own retorts, while his eyes memorized her body.
But recently, bitterness had crept into his voice. Mostly when referring to the Empire. He still seemed to harbor loyalty to Forrest, but sought out no allies. He often confided to her his disappointment in other officers or conditions. He offered her no insight as to what had changed; why he had become so bitter.
Engineers in protective suits pushed past her and entered Main Engineering through the side chamber. She didn't know if they were trying to rescue the crew left behind or simply salvage the warp core.
Tucker often complained about the poor safety systems on the ship. Now it seemed he would be the one to suffer for it. Plasma burns were more often than not lethal.
She realized she would miss him. What an odd sensation.
Tucker had been wondering when she'd show up.
His fitful sleep had been lonely these last several nights. He always slept so soundly after she tormented his dreams. And tonight, his sleep promised to be deep and satisfying.
Her lips were hot and demanding, crushing against his. He kept his head back on the pillow and let her have her way with him, for the moment. The vision was aggressive tonight; he had always liked it when she was frisky.
He threaded the fingers of one hand into her hair and grabbed her ass with his other. She ground her pelvis against his where she straddled his waist. Her head turned so that he could suck on her ears; they were flushed green. He rubbed the point between his teeth until she shuttered. Making her come brought a smug smile to his face.
Clutching a fistful of hair at her scalp, he pulled her head back. He lifted his head to suckle her. A low moan rumbled from her chest. His lips twisted into a smile against her flesh while his tongue lapped against her breast. He licked at the sweat that beaded down her chest.
With a growl he released her hair, only to grab around her shoulders and roll her back to the mattress. Now he was on top. Her eyes flashed and her lips curled back in feral lust—damn, she was beautiful. His mouth returned to her chest. He journeyed down her body with wet, sucking kisses. She tasted so damn good. Her hands clutched at his hair, holding him in place until she cried out again.
He sat up, kneeling before her, licking her off his lips. She lifted her legs to rest the soles of her feet on his hips. This wouldn't take long. He restrained her hands above her head with his own and sank into her in one smooth, practiced motion. In union, their eyes rolled shut; his vision swam with images—a kaleidoscope of the familiar and the exotic. How was it possible?
Her ankles locked around his waist as again and again he thrust into her—transporting himself. Suddenly his back was burning, as her fingernails raked it. And then it felt cool with wet blood. Startled by her lovely cruelty, he shoved her deeper and with one final thrust, a primal cry filled the room.
It was always at this point when he would black out.
Tucker entered the changing room. Kov and another engineer were already in the intermix chamber removing the original plasma injectors. He striped off his uniform down to his underwear to put on the radiation suit. The chamber had been shut down and drained for two days, but the Vulcan's always erred on the side of caution. "Not like I really need this, it's already too late for me." Damn Empire.
Tucker reached around to get an itch on his back. He felt something odd, and looked at his fingers. "What the..." There were flecks of dried blood on them. He found a reflective surface and twisted his back and neck in order to see with his good eye. His face dropped as the realization set it. She had marked him.
The dreams always felt so real; he believed he would go mad with their intensity. He thought last night was just another dream. A snarl contorted his face. She had used him, again. "Bitch." How could she know about his dreams? He finished donning the suit and went to work.
A slash of light cut across his body where he sat.
Tucker was in a chair against the back wall of his room. It was totally dark, except for the single beam of light from outside the window.
Would she dare come to his room again? How could she know about his dreams? Was it a result of her screwing with his head? Was it intentional?
He awoke still sitting in the chair. It was nearly time to wake up anyway.
"Didn't have the guts to show, I guess."
He knew if he confronted her with it she'd deny it. He'd have to catch her in the act. So, he went about his business and would wait again tonight.
**3 years ago**
T’Pol had just learned the truth.
One year ago, a race known as the Xindi made a pre-emptive strike upon the Terran home world. T’Pol had always questioned how they managed to get through the defense network.
At the time, the reason seemed inconsequential. His parents had been killed.
Apparently, he hadn't spoken to them in several years, but he never seemed upset with them. He had commented once that they didn’t agree with his joining the Service, but he had felt compelled to action regarding his sister, Elizabeth’s, death.
The Xindi weapon had cut a path from Florida to Panama. T’Pol believed that he held onto the hope that his parents would change their minds and welcome him home, once his compulsory ten years were finished.
"Damn, fucking aliens!" His harsh words had stung her ears. After the accident that scarred him, he had become more and more cynical about the Service and the Empire. After the Xindi attack, his attitude towards aliens also shifted. He had never claimed to like them; he usually just ignored them. But now, she felt he went out of his way to yell at them or find fault with their work
Except for her. Part of her liked to think that he liked her, or perhaps even respected her. But she knew the real answer. She could make him forget the pain.
The game was still the same. They would argue and taunt each other, but in the evenings she’d wrap her legs around his waist while he lost himself in her.
But it would be truth that would cut him deepest.
They had known.
The Empire had known about the Xindi probe. They saw it coming. They had the firepower to stop it. There had been plenty of time.
They knew. And they did nothing.
Public protests and demonstrations had become more and more prevalent. The people were demanding a change in their condition. And nothing was more dangerous to a government than its people.
It was a perfect rallying point. "See how dangerous the aliens are?" The people demanded better protection. The Empire provided more Enforcers on the streets. The people wanted better security. The Empire watched their movements, tracked their lives. They tightened their fist.
The Empire knew about the Xindi probe. And they did nothing to stop them.
T’Pol watched helplessly as Charles Tucker was broken.
It had been three days since she had gone to him in the night.
A panel in the wall slid open silently. The ancient acolyte passages in the converted facility had their uses.
T'Pol tried not to think about why she had returned to this room and instead focused on her task. She looked to the bed, but it was empty.
Suddenly she was roughly pushed against the wall. Strong hands gripped her shoulders and his good eye bored into hers. She could easily overpower him, but despite everything, she didn't fear him.
Tucker growled at her, "What have you done to me?"
"Please be more specific."
"You’re in my head—I want you out!"
Tucker shook his head in confusion, "What?"
She repeated her question, "Why do you want me out?"
"So you admit you're in there?"
"You didn't answer my question—why?"
"Cause I just do."
She held her face impassive, "Your answer is insufficient."
Tucker was loosing his patience, "Just get out, dammit!"
"Tell me why."
Flustered and confused, he searched for an answer he was willing to admit to. Damn what this woman did to him. He released her shoulders but did not back away. "Cause you drive me crazy, night after night, you burn me, turn me to ash. I wake up and have to pretend I’m not insane, knowing that it will all happen again and there's not a damn thing I can do about it."
T'Pol looked down, away from his face, pensive.
"What? I spill my guts and you've got nothing to say?" He lowered his voice, "You gonna let me go now?"
At last she looked back at him, "I cannot."
He narrowed his eye at her, "Excuse me?"
She had the decency to look apologetic, "I cannot undo what has been done."
Seething, he spoke slowly, "Why not?"
"The bond between us is permanent—only death can sever it."
She held his gaze. She never flinched when he stared at her. It was one of those things he liked about her. Dammit.
"Why?" His voice was a mix of anger and resignation. "Why the hell did you do this to me?"
T'Pol understood his conflicted emotions. "I'm not entirely sure."
She raised her eyebrow at his choice of words. She believed she had deduced when it had happened, but was not yet ready to come to terms with why. "Do you recall the first time we had sex?"
He gave an abrupt snort, "You kidding?"
"The bacterial agent I was exposed to induced the plak'tou—the blood fever. It was not the full mating drive of pon farr..."
Terrans were long familiar with that nuance of Vulcan biology. "You told me it was. That you were gonna die."
"That was still true—if the plak’tou had gone unsated, the results would have been the same. Of all the available choices on Enterprise, you were the one I sought out. You were not random."
His initial anger upon her entry to the room had faded to his typical sarcasm. "Gee. Thanks."
T'Pol was quite accustomed to this version of him and continued. "For some time afterwards I tried to deduce why I choose you, over the other Vulcans on board."
"Sure it wasn't my charming personality?"
She looked at him incredulously. "If it had been pon farr, then that would explain why we bonded. The drive to take a mate overrides all rational thought. But, this did not happen when I succumbed to the plak’tau."
Her brow had actually furrowed in concentration. A thought occurred to him.
His voice was confident, "So, you wanted it? You wanted me?"
Her eyes returned to his. "So it would seem."
Tucker moved even closer, "It seems? Or it is?"
She still had her back to wall. He moved his hand to the space over her shoulder.
"This goes both ways, doesn't it?"
She whispered, "Yes."
His voice was soft, "I plague you, as much as you do me?"
Her head tipped back to look up at him. "I would not use the word plague."
He was centimeters from her, "Then what word would you use?"
Her eyes did not leave his, but her voice wavered. "Enthrall."
He watched as she inhaled his scent. "You still want me."
"Is that why I’m here?"
She clung to threads of logic. "I do not trust Archer as an emissary."
His eye narrowed, "So you're protecting me?"
"What if I don't want your protection?"
"Then that is unfortunate for you."
His lips twisted into a smirk, "You choose these technologies 'cause you could convince Sato that only I could install them."
She could feel the threads slipping from her grasp, "They are of strategic value."
He moved in even closer to her. His words puffed hot breath on her ear, "so it's a package deal then. Vulcan gets their new toys, and you get yours too."
He turned his head just enough to look into her eyes. Her pupils were dilated to blackness and beads of sweat had formed over her lips.
Good to know I've still got it.
It was his last coherent thought.
It was sorta odd.
Tucker laid back on the bed, supporting his head on a forearm while the other was wrapped around a warm, quite contented Vulcan. T'Pol had her head resting on his chest and a fingertip lightly followed the contours of one of the plasma burns on his chest.
They had never really done this before. It was usually just 'wham, bam, thank you ma'am.' She never stuck around, and he never asked her to.
His voice was gentle for a change. "You never told me why we're bonded."
She gave no reply, so he offered suggestions. "'Cause I'm handy with a microcaliper? 'Cause I’m a good lay? What is it? Why would you let yourself be tied to a Terran? You hate Terrans."
At last she spoke, "That is incorrect. I do not hate Terrans."
He slowly rolled his eye, "Right, that would be an emotion."
She continued, disregarding his commentary. "I dislike that certain Terrans believe it is their right to enslave other races. I dislike that they will use whatever means necessary to cling to power. But not all Terrans believe this."
He questioned, "No?"
"No. . . . You do not."
He lifted his head to look at her, suspicious of her intent.
She continued, "You maintain an exterior that suggests you believe this, but you do not."
“Is that so?"
"Yes. You are not motivated by greed."
Where was she going with this? "Then what, pray tell, am I motivated by?"
Tucker sat up, dislodging her from his body. Damn woman. She's been in your head. He turned away from her to sit at the edge of the bed.
T'Pol propped herself on one hand. "What I do not understand is why you continue to swear loyalty to an agency that has taken so much from you."
He stood and turned his head slightly, "I wouldn't expect you to."
He walked away to the restroom and closed the door. Their conversation was over. T'Pol put her robe back on and left via the same passage she entered from. It had been an unusual night, to say the least, but what struck her as most peculiar was the tone of his last comment.
It was sad.
**4 years ago**
"I need a man I can trust to get the job done, and you're that man Tucker."
Newly promoted Captain Forrest stood in the doorway to Tucker's cabin. Lt. Tucker quickly stood to attention, "Sir, what job would that be?"
"They've given me Enterprise, and I want you as chief engineer."
"Chief, sir?" Tucker grinned. "It would be an honor to serve with you, sir."
Two years had passed since that day. Tucker actually thought it had been a good thing. He was actually happy when he got promoted to Commander. Well, mostly because it put him one step above the Vulcan, but also because he didn't have to kill anyone to get it.
His parents had told him the Empire wasn't as wonderful and magnanimous as the vids made it out to be. But he was young and it was easy to romanticize the Service.
In a fit a rage he joined, seeking revenge for his sister’s death. Over time, that rage slowly mellowed, but he never forgot.
Being on the senior staff and holding rank of commander meant he saw more, learned more. One day, he learned the truth.
The protest in the square that day had been peaceful. What was different was that aliens and Terrans were protesting together—for the same cause. That just wouldn't do. The Empire set off a bomb and framed the aliens for a 'terrorist attack'.
The Empire killed Lizzie.
By the time Tucker learned the truth, it was too late. There was no going home—his parents would just turn him away. Forrest was a decent man; a man Tucker could be loyal to. The Empire, well . . . that was another story.
Two weeks later, the shield casing on the main plasma conduit finally gave way. The scars that had been buried within Charles Tucker were at last made manifest for all to see.
It had been two weeks since they shared a bed.
In that time, Tucker and his Vulcan crew had made considerable progress on the warp drive systems. At this rate, he'd only be on Vulcan for three more months. Either way, anything over a day was too long.
Not only was she not in his bed, she wasn't in his dreams either. After he walked away from her that morning, T'Pol had left him alone.
When she first started showing up in his dreams, after she escaped Defiant, he certainly didn't complain. She was one hell of a fantasy, but then it just wouldn’t stop. Night after night, dreams so real he’d wake surprised to find she wasn’t there. He tried to forget about her, move on. He even paid good money for a prostitute on Jupiter Station. Then he paid her extra to keep her mouth shut. No need for it to get out that Tucker couldn't get it up. In his dreams, it was never a problem. He started sleeping with a towel wrapped around his waist because he got tired of changing the sheets. He thought he was going insane.
But now he knew the truth.
He knew she had wormed her way into his head and set up shop. She said she couldn't get out, but could he trust her?
To think he would have given anything to get her out of his dreams. Now, she's been gone for two weeks and he hadn’t gotten a decent night’s sleep since.
Supreme Regent T'Pol walked down the corridor, intent upon her mission.
Kov had come to her, concerned that Commander Tucker was getting insufficient sleep. Math errors, regardless of how small, could be deadly in warp field calculations.
She depressed the chime for his room. No answer. She pressed the button again. The door slid open to reveal Tucker, shirtless, standing in the doorframe. He looked worn, and angry.
"They tell you I’m slacking off? Come to crack the whip?"
T'Pol tried not to let his scent distract her, "I came to discover the source of the problem."
He walked away from her, "I told you, don't want your help."
Before the door could close, she followed him in, "You never actually said you didn't."
"Well I’m tellin ya now—go away."
"I have left you alone, and your health has declined—do I need to send for a doctor?"
He leaned against the window frame, looking out into the desert beyond, "I'll be fine."
T'Pol would not be swayed, "You are not sleeping, and it is affecting your work."
He rounded on her, "Your spies checking up on me, double-checking my math!?"
As always, she did not back down, "I am concerned for your safety."
His face twisted into a snarl, "Really? My safety? Were you concerned for my 'safety' when you fucked with my head on Enterprise? That little stint in the agony booth wasn't too good for my 'safety'!"
Leaving him alone had been a mistake. T'Pol closed her eyes in guilt, "I did not intend for you to be discovered."
"Let me tell you where you can stick your intentions. You betrayed me."
"In order to betray, one must first have trust."
They held each others eyes, before he finally looked away.
"Yeah, well, you did. Guess that was my mistake."
"I am sorry."
She spoke to soft to be heard. "What?"
"I am sorry." She turned her eyes away in thought, "I have given considerable thought to why I would choose you to mate with."
She waited for him to comment, but he was silent.
"Simply put, I was attracted to you. Our arguments offered me mental stimulation. You were not like the others; you didn't hate me just for being Vulcan. Once I was affected by the plak'tou, I had to find a mate. Before I could consciously choose, I picked up your scent in the corridor. I did not know it was possible to bond with a Terran. I only thought it would be the one time."
He was leaning back against the wall, scrutinizing her with his one good eye. "I thought the same thing. I never expected any more from you; despite any comments I made to the contrary."
"I know. I too expected our relationship to return to how it was previously. But I found I had difficulty meditating. My thoughts always turned to you."
"So you came back for more."
It had become their game. He would taunt her with innuendo and his scent, she would dismiss him. He would return to his room, to find her there. They would argue a little more, before they pulled off each others clothes and collided in a tangle of heat and sex.
"At first I blamed you for my loss of control. But then I accepted the blame myself. I tried to break the cycle, but I did not realize we were bonded. At the same time, I began to plot against the Empire—for the continued atrocities against my people. I sought to free myself from both of the things gripping me. To prove to myself I didn't want you, I used you in my escape attempt."
Over the years, T'Pol had learned that when Commander Tucker was quiet, he was at his most volatile.
At this moment, he was very quiet.
She continued, hoping that explaining herself would quell some of his anger. "Every moment you were in the agony booth, I felt it. Not as strong, but I knew you were in great pain. That is how I discovered we were bonded. I could not escape it then, even though I wanted to. The guilt I felt, subjecting you to that pain, made me admit it to you."
He spoke so softly, it was quiet, even to her Vulcan ears. "You betrayed me." His eye didn't leave hers. "It was the first time an alien had actually ever really hurt me. It was the first time the Empire had been proven right."
His words stung her very deep. T'Pol turned away from his penetrating gaze. She didn't like living up to the expectations the former Empire had of her.
"Thinking I didn't want you, didn't need you—that was my mistake. You are quite right not to trust me."
Tucker stepped up close behind her, "How many times?"
She gave him a questioning look.
"How many times did you screw with my head?"
She turned her head back away from him, "Twice."
She could hear the snarl, "Twice?!"
"Yes. The first was to have you sabotage the cloaking device."
"And the second?"
"When I escaped Defiant. I blocked the memory so you wouldn't sound the alarm." There was no need for anyone to know she had him copy the Defiant schematics, and had already devised several ways of disabling the mighty starship.
He had closed his eyes, "And that was it?"
He stood close enough to her to feel the heat radiate from her body. In her ear he whispered, "What would stop you from doing it again?"
She couldn't stop the shiver, "You hold no more of my secrets."
His tongue slid along the shell of her ear, before his lips sucked at the very tip. "Really?"
It was quite unnerving, the power he held over her.
At least they made it to the bed this time.
He had heard it referred to as 'afterglow' before.
Tucker wasn't sure if he'd go that far, but holding T'Pol after sex did provide a certain satisfaction.
Speaking of which, "I'm sure there are plenty of Vulcans who would be pissed if they found out you had a Terran lover."
She didn't move from her place on his chest, "Yes."
"Then I guess you don't want me telling anyone?"
"It would be mutually beneficial if you did not."
From her tone, he could tell she was serious, and he jumped to the obvious conclusion. Sneering, he asked, "You gonna take this memory from me too?"
"That will not be necessary."
He lifted his head to get a better look at her. "Why?"
She finally moved to look back at him, "If anyone found out we are bonded, they could use a threat against you to control me."
Tucker had no interest in returning to the agony booth, or any other torture device for that matter. "Then it stays a secret."
T'Pol rested her head on his chest again and listened to his heart beat. She found herself drifting into a trance state. He was her mate after all.
"I suppose you're still gonna haunt my dreams." It wasn't a question.
"Is that a problem?"
It took him a while to answer. She expected him to ask her to stop.
"At least now I know I’m not crazy."
It has been four months since Commander Tucker arrived on Vulcan.
He probably could have been done in three, but he stretched it out as best he could. Damn Vulcans were too efficient.
They had fallen back into their old routine. She'd point out some flaw or mistake; he'd taunt her and get too close; all in the privacy of his room of course. He actually started wondering if the Vulcans knew what they were doing when they built the desk that height. Or the chair. That handhold in the shower was awfully convenient for that matter.
At least he knew how this game was played.
On this particular night they ended up spooned together. They both knew he would be leaving soon. The expedition to Romulan space had started two months ago, and they hadn't heard any news. Yet.
Inevitably the moment was too content, too comfortable; so one of them would bring up a painful topic. Tonight it was T'Pol's turn.
"Why are you still loyal to the Empire?"
He answered from her hair, "Huh?"
"They have hurt you."
Apparently, he needed to point out the obvious, "So have you."
"Then explain why you stay."
It was easier to answer her original question, "I can't leave. I know too much. I know too many secrets, too many truths. If I leave, they'll kill me. If I stay, keep my head down, do my job, then I live." T'Pol rolled so that she could look up at him. His expression was melancholy, "Besides, it’s not like I have anywhere to go. Who knows, Hoshi may actually succeed and get everyone to stop fighting. Course, if Archer blows it with these Romulans...."
She finished his thought, "...you could be fighting a war on two fronts."
"Yeah... never a good plan."
She could see his mind working on the new problem already. People always underestimated his intelligence. She reached up to touch his lips with her fingertip.
"Why do you stay with me?"
Her voice drew his attention back to her face. His scars never bothered her. It was as if she looked right through them, and remembered the man from before. Before radiation took years from his life. Before burning plasma distorted his body. Before the truth crushed his will.
"Do I have a choice?"
He was admitted to Empress Sato's private office upon his return to Terra.
The empress could read his full report later, so her question was brief. "Were you successful?"
Tucker gave her his usual glare. "Yeah, her Regency got everything she wanted."
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