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"About Lorian"
By MissAnnThropic

Rating: PG
Disclaimer: None of itís mine. Iím just a sad little fangirl that spends her days writing fanfic and watching taped episodes of her favorite shows :(
Description: T'Pol finds Trip alone after the events of E2.


T'Pol was bare fractions of a second from turning away when she walked into the mess hall. The lights were dimmed, the room barren and empty save for one lone soul. It was very late... T'Pol had not expected anyone to be in the mess hall at this hour, the reason she chose to come at the time she did. The night crew was in mid-shift and the day crew was asleep... or should be asleep.

T'Pol could distinguish from silhouette alone the shape of Commander Tucker sitting alone at a table near the windows.

T'Pol had every intention of leaving him alone, discomfited at the idea of being alone with him right then, but something stopped her and she watched him for a moment. A moment was all it took for T'Pol to read from Trip's motionlessness, the bare table in front of him, that something was wrong.

Swallowing a sense of unease, T'Pol held the cup of tea in her hands tighter and walked toward him.

"Commander," she greeted when she was near where he sat, near enough to drop her voice to a nearly intimate whisper that at once made her nervous as soon as it slipped past her lips.

That nervousness did not seem contagious, because Trip looked up mildly at her. T'Pol had come to know the nuances of Commander Tucker's body language with frightening accuracy. For so long humans were such an enigma to her, then she got to know Trip and figured out the critical human language never taught in Vulcan embassies. She learned to keenly watch his mannerisms, his tell-tale posture. Tucker spoke with his form far more than she suspected he realized. It was possible that all humans were so nonverbally expressive but it was only with Commander Tucker that T'Pol had learned to read his gestures.

T'Pol internally frowned at his prolonged silence and set her cup down on the table and settled herself in the chair across from him. With no one else among the crew would she feel able to do that, seat herself without invitation. With Trip it was different, she knew she was always welcome. That fact, that solidifying truth, was troublesome now in light of recent events... recent knowledge and acquaintances.

True to form, Trip made no move to stop her joining him. T'Pol watched and there was no tensing of muscles or changing of breathing to signal discomfort on his part. Before the other Enterprise, before meeting Lorian, T'Pol had found a certain peace and acceptance in this unspoken companionship, but now everything was changed and what once brought her ease was now a source of concern.

Trip finally broke the silence, his own voice low and barely audible, "Yer up late."

T'Pol twitched a single brow at him and reclaimed her cup. "As are you, Commander."

Trip's eyes flickered toward the window, gaze fixed on the star field outside.

T'Pol lowered her cup and studied him. There was a tightness around his eyes, a tenseness to his lips, that indicated he was troubled.

"Are you experiencing difficulty sleeping?" she asked.

Trip's lip curled oddly, he gave a half shrug, and T'Pol was perplexed. To say she knew how to decipher Trip's body language did not say she was fluent in his unique dialect. There were a number of idiosyncrasies that she did not understand, however always in the past if she asked he would tell her. As they'd grown closer Trip had always been so willing to break himself down for her benefit. T'Pol could not imagine that kind of comfort in revealing one's private self to another the way Trip would do for her.

"I'm sorry."

T'Pol looked up at the whispered, unexpected comment. Trip was looking at her, expression wary and cautious, and T'Pol was even more confused.

"Sorry for what?"

Trip frowned, his face painfully repentant, and he continued softly, "For what I say to ya earlier, about ya havin' to be the last woman on Enterprise for me to marry ya."

T'Pol straightened infinitesimally in her seat. "No offense was taken."

Something passed through Trip's expression, something knowing and almost playful, and T'Pol covered her disquiet by taking a sip of tea. Trip knew her too well, T'Pol was coming to realized that. When a human could look at her and know what she was thinking, when she was not being entirely honest, it was too close.

Trip, mercifully, did not press her on the issue. He dropped once more into a serious demeanor and nodded absently. "Still, I shouldn't a said it. After what ya'd said, well, I was hurt and I just lashed out in retaliation. I shouldn't of done that, I know ya didn't say what ya did to hurt me and ya didn't deserve what I said.

"Truth is that... ya wouldn't be my last choice for a partner if the Enterprise got stuck out here."

T'Pol took tremendous care in placing her cup back on the table top, exerting a great deal of control to maintain an outwardly unaffected facade.

"I will take that as a compliment," she finally said with fine-tuned vocal control. She thought it was sufficiently absent of intonation, but then Trip was adept at reading her tones of voice.

If he did detect any of the tension behind her words, the engineer spared her by not calling her on it. If anything, Trip seemed too preoccupied to try and 'catch her out' as he called it.

Trip brought a hand to his face and covered his mouth, a wearied pose that T'Pol had seen only a few times from the chief engineer.

T'Pol didn't want to ask, didn't want to get involved, but found she couldn't disassociate herself from him.

"Commander, there is clearly something bothering you... if you need to talk to someone..."

Trip's hand fell away to reveal a smile. Small, wavering, but a smile... and a smile for her. T'Pol had yet to discover the specifics of the circumstances in which she amused him but the terrifying fact was that she had begun to 'feel better' when he was smiling.

"I don't wanna bother ya, T'Pol."

"It would not be an inconvenience," she assured with the buried hope she was not making a false claim.

"I keep thinkin'... about Lorian," he finally confessed in a quiet voice, like it was a forbidden conversation.

T'Pol blinked. She had been trying to avoid further contemplation about Lorian until she had had time to meditate. Obviously, she would be forced to discuss the half-Vulcan before she had had time to properly dissect her thoughts and feelings on the matter.

Trip glanced at her from the corner of his eye, astutely perceptive, and said, "We don' have ta talk about 'im, ya just asked what was botherin' me."

T'Pol would not accept his dismissal of the topic, because to do so would be an admission that she was troubled by it.

"It is quite all right, Commander. What about Lorian is bothering you?"

Trip sighed and grew still, unnaturally still.

T'Pol did allow a small frown at that. Of the many things she'd come to know as static fact about Trip, one was his fluidity. His body was constantly in motion, even if only to a discerning eye. Even in seeming stillness there could be found the twitch of a finger, narrowing of the eyes, rolling of the tongue... some manner of kinetics. He was a play of motion always, actions smooth and confident. T'Pol wondered if he appeared thus to his fellow humans or if it was a frighteningly intimate detail she had discovered. Perhaps only she saw motion where others saw stillness, a thought in itself that unsettled her.

Regardless, T'Pol saw Trip settle into a disconcerting pose of immobility and she could not deny to herself a moment of unease.

"Lorian said that... I died when he was fourteen years old."

T'Pol should not have been upset by that utterance, it should not have affected her, and yet against all logic it did.

Trip lowered his eyelids heavily. "I'm not even mad I died, just that I wasn't there for my son."

T'Pol didn't know what to say, only watched Trip wordlessly as the engineer slowly lifted his eyes and looked up at her. There was something raw in his gaze, in the sense of him emanating across the table and touching T'Pol's Vulcan telepathic senses. She had not seen him like this since the immediate aftermath of Elizabeth's death.

Trip began to glower and T'Pol was prepared for his onslaught when he launched angrily, "I mean, what happened? What the hell was I doin' to get myself killed? How could I have done that to Lorian, how could I have done that to..." he faltered and his blue eyes grew intense, "to you."

T'Pol swallowed and placed her hands in her lap, a precaution against Trip seeing their unsteadiness and gleaning her threadbare composure from unspoken cues she knew on him just as well.

Trip shook his head before T'Pol had to speak. He waved a dismissive hand and said quickly, "I'm sorry, T'Pol, I know ya don't wanna hear this, stupid a me to think about it."

T'Pol answered carefully, "Your concern is understandable."

Trip snorted sardonically and T'Pol was hesitant on how to proceed. She'd come to expect the commander's emotional volatility, his passion in all its forms, but knowing it and understanding how to tame it were disparate matters. She could not imagine how the other her had learned to do this.

Trip reined himself under control, as he so often did to T'Pol's relief, and he soon said in a calm, sad voice, "I miss 'im."

T'Pol didn't know what to say, and before she could think of anything Trip continued, "I didn't know 'im but a day but I miss 'im... feel like I let 'im down again."

"Your emotion, while inaccurate, is not unwarranted; he was your son."

Trip looked up at her. "He was yours, too."

T'Pol didn't respond immediately. She flinched inwardly, rigid, and amended, "You adapted to the paternal role with an ease and speed I did not."

Tucker didn't argue with her, didn't challenge her accusation, and T'Pol knew he was more affected by the loss than she at first suspected. It was utterly illogical, and she was disturbed to find that in some measure she understood his sentiment.

"Maybe it's a human thing," he offered weakly, his voice wearied.

"Perhaps."

Trip leaned in toward the table, crossing his arms before him and managing the appearance that he was sagging, sinking. His voice was muffled when he muttered, "He said... said I was a good dad." Trip sounded defeated, as though he'd heard Lorian's words but did not really believe them.

"I believe he was being truthful, you are, would be, a natural father."

Trip lifted his head from the table to look again at her, his gaze searching. T'Pol met his stare, dared him to think she would lie. She did not falter.

Slowly something dark left Trip, bit by bit in that dim mess hall, and after a moment he offered another smile. This second smile was easier, freer, and T'Pol knew she had said exactly the right thing... right and true.

"Thanks," he said.

T'Pol lifted an eyebrow in his direction. "I was not offering empty words of kindness, Commander."

"I know."

Trip and T'Pol sat in silence for what seemed like minutes but logically was little more than a handful of seconds. T'Pol kept thinking of the other T'Pol, of what she'd said about the human sitting across from her, and experiencing the untenable comfort she felt in his presence she had to consider it might be possible.

When she had first begun to work and live among humans it was a melee of chaos and emotions, of unruled behavior and restless dispositions. Since that time she had seen the private moments, the quiet hours when humans were calmer. Never serene or placid by Vulcan terms, but even Trip Tucker could sit quietly, sit still, and have his own sense of correctness about him in such a state.

Before she would not have believed a human, particularly one like Trip, could master his mind and body enough to learn and adopt the meditative postures required for neuropressure sessions. Trip had started a long tradition since those first nights of surprising her.

T'Pol sat back, content to watch him and slowly drink her tea, as Trip watched the stars outside. Humans were filled with a wonder for which Vulcans did not have a word. T'Pol was beginning to appreciate their youthful enthusiasm for tomorrow.

On impulse T'Pol set her cup down then slid it closer to Trip. Trip picked up the cup, sipped the tea, and made a face at the Vulcan taste. He was disinterested in the gesture, unaware of the meaning it held in Vulcan society. Vulcans were staunch about their personal space and privacy, to share a glass with another was an act of familiarity so reserved that had any of her superiors been there to see the exchange they may well have expelled her from the Vulcan Directorate, at the very least called her up for an official review.

T'Pol found asinine pleasure in the fact Trip did not know how intimate such a casual act was, only that he thought nothing of drinking after her. They had both come such a long way in so short a time. T'Pol could only imagine what years more would yield, what understanding and acceptance would grow between them.

It was both tempting and horrifying at once.

Trip handed the cup back to her. Their fingers brushed in the handing-off and it was contact enough for T'Pol to pick up that there was still a heavy weight on his mind.

"Commander..." she prompted, and testament to their unspoken communication he knew from so little exactly what she wanted.

Trip licked his lips in an attempt to clear the lingering taste of Vulcan herbs and answered to her unspoken query, "Ya know, since we've met them and all it'll probably change what happens now so that future never will happen."

"Most likely."

Trip nodded. "Well, I'm gonna be sorry I never got ta see my son as a baby. I'll miss all that, holdin' 'im for the first time, watchin' 'im grow up... damn, I'm gonna miss that."

T'Pol felt herself irretrievably lost when she found a small part of herself agreeing with him.

"Because history has been altered does not mean that Lorian will never be born."

Trip looked closely at her.

T'Pol took another sip of tea and amended with the container still held close to her lips, the hollow spaces of the cup making her voice reverberate in strange pitches, "If not Lorian, then perhaps a different child."

Trip studied her as he might have a faulty warp coil, expression pensive, then he ventured, "Thought ya said ya'd never end up with me?"

T'Pol set her cup down. "I believe I said that because our counterparts did was not sufficient reason to assume we would as well. As you have noted, observing the future necessarily changes its course. It would be illogical to think we could predict the future, what will happen or what will not happen, as our experiences have proven that it is always subject to change. It is impossible to say what the future will hold and what it will not."

Trip smirked, mood clearly improved, and he quipped, "Guess that puts the fun back into it, doesn't it?"

T'Pol lifted one eyebrow at him and brought up her cup again, thankful for its concealing bulk as her lips fought a mostly losing battle against a very humanesque upward twitch at the corners of her mouth.



END

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