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"The Square of Us"
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: Trip goes to see the older version of T'Pol.


T'Pol watched the sea of stars from the view port in the mess hall. Her robe-like clothes, so much more comfortable and forgiving than the tight suits she'd worn in her early days aboard Enterprise, warded off the chill in the air with marginal success. The human ship had always seemed cold to her Vulcan physiology, but with advancing years the cool temperatures seemed to press with their cold fingers even tighter around her form.

So many years, so many memories, to finally reach this point. The Enterprise was docked with its counterpart from the future, the past... to T'Pol's Vulcan sensibilities the understanding of a shifting time-line was too difficult to comprehend.

She was the only one among the crew of the century-worn starship who remembered Enterprise the way she was then, in the condition of the twin ship currently docked to their starboard airlock. When crewmen from the younger ship drifted through the same older vessel's corridors T'Pol knew them. They were faces she recognized not for the familial resemblance the others of her ship and time possessed, but because she remembered serving with them.

T'Pol was also one of the few on the battered, aged Enterprise who had not ventured to the ship's younger incarnation. T'Pol stayed to the familiar, her home of more than a hundred years. So many people she had seen die, parted with so many years ago alive and well within walking distance, and yet she remained on the ship that had become her home.

T'Pol's hands were held together before her, one hand restraining the other from the slight quaking of age that had beset them. The atmosphere aboard the ship had changed since meeting the grandfather Enterprise. Crewmen were coming face to face with great-grandparents the same age or younger than themselves. It was a heightened time for the crew.

It only made T'Pol feel old... and alone.

Jonathan had come to see her and offered to send Trip over. The very possibility that he could just walk through the door, after years of being dead to her, was almost enough to overcome the elderly Vulcan woman.

But in the end she'd side-stepped the suggestion. It would be awkward, for Trip and for her, too. She remembered the conflict she'd waged with herself at that time in history concerning the chief engineer... but she also remembered years of marriage. She couldn't look at Trip and not see those years, the ones they shared and the ones they lost.

T'Pol had made her peace with the loss of her husband... best that old wounds, and old loves, not be torn open anew. So T'Pol told herself.

The old woman had been standing at the window for at least an hour in silent repose. The residents of Enterprise that passed through the mess hall knew enough not to disturb the oldest member of the crew and the captain's mother. Her resolve may have been firm not to see Trip again, but it did not keep her mind off him or the fact he was living and breathing such a short distance away.

Her fortitude would need hold out only a little while longer. Lorian had told her the younger Enterprise was almost repaired (as well as it could hope to be) and that Archer was formulating his next plan of action. Then the two ships would part and she would not see Trip again. If this plan worked, it was possible that the life she'd known, the woman she was now, would cease to exist the moment history veered from that decisive, precipitating incident that spawned the life T'Pol had known for more than a hundred years.

T'Pol sighed to herself. It grieved her to think that their own necessary actions might condemn everyone on the ship, everyone she'd lived with for a century, to oblivion. Her courtship and marriage to Trip Tucker would not have happened, the birth of Lorian would never have occurred. It would all be wiped from history, erased, and a family-oriented part of the wizen woman rebelled at the idea. Her life, her periods of true happiness, stolen from her.

Stolen from Trip for the handful of years he'd lived and loved with her.

T'Pol closed her eyes and remembered. The memories of Trip in her mind were so vivid, so real, that she could almost lose herself for days in their warmth. The memory of the way he smiled, the sound of his laughter, the gentleness of his touch, eased away some of the aches of old age and brought a peace to her thoughts that Trip had given her in the precious time he'd been alive.

They were good memories, enough to placate a widow of so many years.

"Thought I might find you here."

T'Pol's lips parted involuntarily and her tranquil basking within her own memories evaporated. So long, so much in between, but she would know that voice anywhere.

T'Pol turned, slowly and with arthritic movements, and rested her eyes upon her visitor.

Trip. He was standing in the old Enterprise's mess hall, watching her closely, quietly.

He was so young. T'Pol greedily snatched moments of absolute silence to absorb the tiny details of him, a new memory she did not have before. She was attuned to the way his chest moved when he breathed, the way his eyelids flickered when he blinked, the way his body bespoke of youth, strength, vigorous life. All precisely the way she remembered... so long ago.

It was more than confronting a ghost and for a second T'Pol thought it would break her. The years assaulted her in a heartbeat and she thought it would not be so bad to sink to the floor here and now and let the end take her. Trip would come to her she knew, would hold her, and it would be the way she would have wanted to finally ease into death, an end in Trip's arms she thought she could never have.

But this Trip would not be the same man she had wed and had a child with, precious years would be missing from his face and eyes, and it was enough to hold the abyss at bay.

"Trip," T'Pol finally spoke in her aged, cracked voice, elated deep within herself to say the name again, to use it in address rather than remembrance.

Trip, clearly startled by the appearance of T'Pol so old and different from the Vulcan he knew, offered her a watery smile. After a second it grew more sincere, more assured, and T'Pol was almost drawn back to his gentle face the way it had once besotted her.

He stepped carefully closer. "I... I'm sorry to come; Cap'n Archer said ya didn't want to see me."

T'Pol looked up at him, absorbed in his every detail, his living presence, and she gave a tender rebuttal, "I told him it would be awkward... I was right," a twinkle of humor lighted in her eyes.

Trip smiled again, now standing beside her, and gave a faint nod. "I don't know why that should have changed, you usually are." He stopped and studied her a long moment. Not like she was a curiosity or a conundrum, but as though despite the years and miles he could still see T'Pol, the T'Pol he knew, within the shell of this old woman. It did not surprise her; Trip had always looked through her, right into her core.

It was almost painful to feel his gaze on her again, burning through her barriers so effortlessly, the way only Trip ever could.

"Why did you come?" she asked lowly, unable to take her eyes from him.

Trip blinked, seemed to mentally shake himself, then answered, "We're almost done with the repairs, won't be long before we split up again. I just wanted to see you."

Possibly her last chance to see him, her last chance to breathe with him, remember him, have shared a past with him. In light of all that stood to be lost, she was at that instant thankful for one more stolen chance to be with him again, young or old.

"I'm glad you did," she confessed honestly. T'Pol indulged herself and took a step closer to him. Enough to smell his familiar scent that was indelibly branded in her memory, enough to feel his body heat as it chased away the chill air as robes and clothes had failed to do. More than anything it was enough to sense him, to feel his mind. It was the same mind as her Trip's, the same mind she'd bonded with so long ago, and standing again with him now that long-dead place in her mind where he'd been stirred to life again, reconnected to the presence of her mate.

It was a blissful, indescribably peaceful feeling, and T'Pol was unashamed to revel in its return after so long and desolate an absence.

Trip, for his part, did not so much as flinch to move away when T'Pol moved close to him, his easy posture wordlessly welcoming her home.

Trip was quiet a long time. "I don't know... there's not time for all the things I want to ask you, all the things I'd like to know... about us."

T'Pol glanced up at him. "No... there isn't."

Trip frowned in concentration a moment, intent upon something (T'Pol could feel it from him, so wonderfully alive through her mental link to him).

Finally Trip seemed to resolve the internal conflict because the troubled expression on his face melted away. In its wake was kind, gentle, quintessential Trip Tucker.

He smiled softly at her once more, lowered his voice and his face to an intimate degree, and he said lowly, meaningfully, "I love you, T'Pol."

Even an old woman like her still got surprised now and then. She could not imagine a Trip so young saying those words to her. What had it taken for him to say that, she wondered. Perhaps, all these years, she had underestimated how quickly Trip had fallen in love with her for this Trip, before the stranding incident, to say it to her now. T'Pol did not doubt for even a second that he meant it. Whether he spoke to her or the young woman in her past she'd once been, that he knew now, was immaterial. Words she'd come to cherish rising from the grave were treasured gift enough. Years of solitude were belittled by this one impossible encounter.

T'Pol allowed a small smile of her own in return as she looked up at the man she would marry, had married. "I love you, Trip," she returned, speaking for both herself and the young Vulcan on the other Enterprise, her words unburdened by the Vulcan restraint she used to tote. It was behind her now, or ahead of her.

There was not enough time for it to matter.

Trip smiled at her, a temporally transplanted, wise smile as though he'd truly lived the life he had yet to lead. His smile danced with the ghosts of so many memories, so many moments together, and T'Pol realized then how truly inconsequential time really was.

Trip didn't say another word. He crossed the scarce distance between him and T'Pol and gently drew her into his arms. Despite the public nature of the mess hall, in defiance of her Vulcan proprieties, T'Pol went easily and readily into his embrace. Her ancient hands circled around Trip's young, firm back, her chin resting on his strong shoulder and the tip of her pointed ear tickling blonde hair untouched by gray.

Trip's arms encircled her, and it was just as she remembered him. She could not count the times he'd held her like this, the things he'd whispered in her ear, so sentimental and human but so completely right nonetheless. The way he'd won her bit by bit with gestures, touches such as these.

She loved him with a passion unbefitting to a Vulcan, but a passion Trip had always justly deserved.

Trip continued to hold her, cradle her as though she were not so old nor he so young, and T'Pol lamented the future, her past, that they would not share. A life together that T'Pol would not trade for anything... except the past, and the future.

She had come to terms with the truth she would effectively have to sacrifice her marriage, her son, for this mission to stop the Xindi.

For that she would savor this one last moment with the human she'd loved, loved still, beyond all logic.

Her transgressions all would mean nothing in a short time, for all that she'd known since the Enterprise had been hurtled back in time would cease to exist. That warranted one last touch, one final, wonderful memory in the arms of Trip Tucker.



END

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