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By MissAnnThropic

Rating: PG
Disclaimer: None of it's mine. I'm just a sad little fangirl that spends her days writing fanfic and watching taped episodes of her favorite shows. Sad, isn't it? :(
Description: A fic that takes a drastic turn from the episode at the marriage of T'Pol and Koss.

The hot sun of Vulcan had never been so hard to bear as it was at that moment. T'Pol felt its heat press down on her, driving her into the red Vulcan ground even as the wedding ceremony drove her to her knees. Her ceremonial garb was stifling, choking her and trapping her, but she revealed nothing in her expression, concealed it all under the Vulcan veneer of non-emotion.

There was nothing else to be done.

T'Pol knew her mother stood behind her, dutiful and assuaged that her wayward daughter had seen reason and taken the logical course of action. It was her duty to wed Koss, they had been promised to one another as children, it was the Vulcan way.

For her mother T'Pol did this, but her soul cried quietly for it. Not her katra, her katra was Vulcan and obedient... her soul she had discovered in human terms. Trip had taught her about that emotional self, that untethered spirit, and for knowing it T'Pol now ached for it.

She knew he was there, just behind and to the left. He was standing motionlessly in a dark Vulcan robe, her father's. He would suffer the heat and the gravity and the thin air so much more than T'Pol but today he would withstand it better than she. Trip was watching her wed another man, and she knew it was killing him. As her own soul cried she knew his was crippled. She was hurting him. The only male, Vulcan or no, for whom she had ever held honest affection she was harming.

Longer and she may have one day come to confess she could love him, her loyal, sweet Trip. Instead she was on her knees before her Vulcan betrothed, consenting to an ancient tradition and secretly hating it with every fiber of her being.

Surak would be ashamed of her for her betrayal to Vulcan. She would turn from all of this tradition to be with Trip, an illogical, emotional, impulsive creature. Many Vulcans considered humans 'young' on the evolutionary continuum. It was the polite way of saying 'primitive'. Many Vulcans would see her preference as no better than wishing to bond with a sehlat.

T'Pol would do this in defiance of all her people were it not for her mother. Her mother should not suffer T'Pol's straying from the path of logic.

Koss was looking intently at her and T'Pol resisted a heavy swallow. She remembered him as a seven-year-old boy. She had been unimpressed with him at their first meeting, their betrothal, but she had blamed it on age. She had been confident in time, as she grew older, she would find more in Koss to interest her.

T'Pol knelt before him on this, their wedding day, and knew she had not.

Trip was watching it all and T'Pol felt his eyes on her like a branding iron. For all the heat from the sun, Trip's gaze burned her more. She equally hated and cherished that he was there for her on this horrific day. She could not envision what would transpire in the minutes after the bonding ceremony if she could not rise and turn to see his face, to take comfort in the blue amid the Vulcan red.

T'Pol noticed Koss's fingers upheld, awaiting her reciprocation, and with a heavy heart T'Pol lifted her hand and touched her index and middle fingers to his. She felt a shift in her katra as another brushed her psyche, the very reason Vulcans did not casually touch. During a bonding ritual it should have been a tantalizing, fascinating sensation, but T'Pol felt soiled. Koss was dirty to her, filth on her thoughts, a stain to her.

In defiance to the feelings stirred in her she lifted her chin fractionally and met Koss's stare head-on. He would force her to do this, but she would not show him how deeply it hurt her.

A beat of fear pulsed through her when she realized, in a moment, he would know it anyway.

The priest began speaking, his words lost to T'Pol who knew the traditional incantations by rote, but when the instructions for bonding began she found it difficult.

She was resisting. Unconsciously fighting even as she consciously tried to force the union of minds. She did not want Koss, but she must take him for her mother's sake.

Koss watched her and she sensed his subtle frustration and annoyance that she would take so long to subdue her feelings and move to meet him. He waited, eyes pinning, until T'Pol had beaten back her soul, broken it so she might do her duty, and she was only part of who'd she been before when she was ready to meet Koss in bonding.

Their minds began to merge and T'Pol refused to allow herself to withdraw and pull away. Her mind and soul screamed retreat, but she held firm and let herself be invaded.

Koss was not so guarded or panicked... his thoughts were easy to access, and T'Pol unwillingly ventured forward into his mind. A thousand well-cataloged memories of Koss's life, from childhood to adulthood. He was so very Vulcan, his history might have been that of any Vulcan male. Schooling, the teachings of logic, his career. Never braving, never daring, never surrendering to suffer and rejoice at once.

To T'Pol, who had seen so much, lived as much like a human as a Vulcan ever could, knew so much more and found this, Koss's offerings, lacking. She saw his katra and she did not desire him. Not for a day, even less for the rest of her life.

Koss was waiting to be let in, to take what was lawfully his, to cement the bond, and T'Pol died inside... it was the only way to let him in.

Koss was suddenly suffusing her, his essence a burgeoning tumor in her brain, raping memories and feelings and examining them like a good detached, scientific mind would.

There were things untroubling, her life before Enterprise suitably Vulcan for his taste....

Then a sense of exploding import, enough to make both mentally start at the intensity, and Koss had tapped the T'Pol of Enterprise, and there was a deluge.

Trip offering his hand to her on their first meeting, testing and defiant, knowing she wouldn't take his hand but making the gesture in feigned ignorance just to see what she'd do. Her perturbation at his behavior, even as such a blatant challenge intrigued her, piqued her curiosity.

Bickering with Trip and having pure logic countered with senseless emotional drivel to the point T'Pol thought the Enterprise chief engineer was brain-damaged. Then, at the breaking point of her ability to tolerate the human, a flash-point of logic and intelligence such that it debased her, threw all she had seen and heard up to that moment into chaos, and seeing the glint in his blue eyes and knowing he'd done it on purpose.

The slow but honest creation of a respectful camaraderie between them. T'Pol learning he was a very good engineer, Trip accepting she knew her science unerringly, and her knowing that he would test her and try her patience and annoy her just to see what she'd do and Trip often letting her win because even being an irritant he was a gentleman.

Comfortable companionship, more so than that which she felt with anyone else on the ship... maybe friendship. Trip in the mess hall, his presence always a signal T'Pol would have a place to sit without having to dine alone. Knowing he would not turn her away. Knowing she had someone to talk to, because Trip would put on the act that he was flippant and uninterested in T'Pol... until she needed him. Trip transforming at warp speed to anything she needed him to be... a challenger, a supporter, a friend.

The little gestures she came to cherish without knowing, did not know she coveted until she would suddenly realize she had cataloged so many of his expressions. The little smile, the quirk at the corners of his mouth, his dimpled grin, his bright blue eyes, his blonde hair, his bow-shaped eyebrows moving and speaking like words, his eye rolls, his huffs, his snorts and chuckles and chortles. The way he placed his hands on his hips, or stood with arms crossed, the way he pursed his lips and rolled his tongue when he thought, the looks of concentration that made her long to know his thoughts. The way he smelled after a shift in engineering, how he smelled after a work-out, after a shower, on his off-time, when he just woke up.

The grief-stricken man who'd lost a sister. The wounded, the broken, the vengeful husk of Trip left after the Xindi. The wry, snappish sense of humor and terse words that replaced easy-going and affable. The aura of distress that emanated off of him like waves. The way it had terrified her to feel it, the way she felt.

The neuropressure sessions... feeling his anguish, almost enough to overtake her mind. The way he could feel, the way he grieved, the way he ached for his sister. So passionate and human and wonderful even in its despair.

The way his skin felt under her touch, the way his body moved in response to her techniques. The way his muscles relaxed, the way his breathing evened out, the way his emotional turbulence calmed in her very presence. The way he trusted her.

Learning Trip's emotional world and the outskirts of his complex mind.

The way Trip mastered neuropressure, with a competency and speed that was characteristic of his style... outwardly happy-go-lucky, in reality acute and intellectually astute. The way he attended to her, her subtle body movements, the infinitesimal changes in the tone of her voice, the cast to her eyes, the way Trip learned to read her better than even another Vulcan ever had.

Discovering Trip healed most when healing her.

Coming to understand she enjoyed his company a great deal. Growing close to him, coming to understand she had feelings for him, and continuing forward in the face of all things Vulcan and logical.

The first flashes of humanesque jealousy, the sick bile of spiritual disease, to see him with another woman. The streak of possessiveness that overtook her logic. Her first instance of claiming Trip in any sense of the word.

Kissing him, the feel of his lips against hers, the way he held his breath in shock at what she'd done that first time. The texture of his hair between her fingers, her own fear to have dared so boldly and even then kissing him still.

The thrill to feel him respond to her, the glee to feel him part his lips to her and venture forth his tongue into her mouth. Fructose human taste on her tongue, a human kiss, like humans kissed, and it was Trip showing her how. Her eagerness to learn, the ways he reinforced the things she did right without words.

The look of wonder and amazement in his eyes when she bared herself to him. To see him marvel at her body, not of his own species but unimportant to him for he saw beauty.

The way his hands had traveled over her body. How humans touched, touched so much, wrote languages so intricate with fingertips against skin. The novel he wrote on her hips and her thighs, the serenade of his tongue on her neck and breasts.

His gentleness. He was so tender and how she had been utterly unprepared for it. Trip not like that to the outside world, but in her arms, in her bed, a Trip few saw. A Trip few could conceive.

Trip worshiping her like an ancient goddess, Trip offering homage with his lips and his hands, and T'Pol out of her mind delighted at him.

The way he cradled her and lavished human affections on her. The way he took her, touched her, made her his.

T'Pol welcoming him, opening herself to him, taking him, holding him, moving with him. Head thrown back, back arched, legs curled around his hips, her hands on his shoulders, his mouth on her throat, his body clasped between her thighs, his presence in her body and soul. His soul meeting hers in alacrity, feral and unchecked.

Joy... his and hers, union, bliss, passion more than Vulcan, uniquely human. His smell during sex, the taste of his sweaty skin, salty Trip on her tongue. His eyes full of affection, affection more than a Vulcan could ever admit, peace, content, the smile that would keep her company on the worst nights. Their minds lost to one another though neither had known the connection at the time for their bewildered content had blinded them. The way he kissed her even afterward, and the naive, adorable way he thought such good things would go on forever.

Hurting him and caring for him and needing him and fearing him. The dance of Vulcan and human, bound but apart, hesitant and in free fall.

The grief knowing she would have to give him up for Koss. The agony of loss, of losing Trip her guiding light. Even at her rejection Trip there for her, watching over her, guardian of the soul he'd awakened even as she gave her katra to a male she did not desire.

Blinding understanding, acknowledgment, within herself that she loved Trip at the moment that she gave him up. The unbearable pain of a last parting kiss on the cheek when she would have him in her heart forever.

Trip the man she would love in mind, body, and soul until her end.

T'Pol jolted at the tidal wave of memories that had assailed her, excavated by Koss. She blinked and looked at Koss and instantly she felt him pulling away from her. His mind leeched out of her like unclean water down a drain, and Koss's eyes grew darker as he regarded his wife-to-be.

T'Pol, shaken and disoriented by the emotional land-mine Koss had triggered, could only kneel there, hand a little unsteady, as she fought for emotional balance.

Koss's expression grew stony and vacant and unceremoniously, without a word, he dropped his hand from hers.

T'Pol was awash with relief to have his presence gone from her. Without questioning his actions she lowered her own hand and dipped her head. She trained her eyes on the floor, hands at her sides, and waited.

Koss studied her darkly a moment then turned his eyes to the priest. "I would not have this woman."

"Why speak thee thus, Koss?"

Koss responded merely with, "There is no logic in choosing this one."

T'Pol knew it was a grave insult but she did not care. Part of her was worried about her mother, the other part hoped... her soul hoped.

Koss stood and looked down upon T'Pol and for a moment no one said a word. The Vulcan sands stirred in the hot winds and the sun dipped lower in the sky, painting the vista a darker human-blood-red.

"T'Pol," Koss spoke lowly.

T'Pol, knowing she was to look up at him, did not rise but turned her head up to meet his cold gaze. She was in a position of inferiority... as she should be to accept Koss's next words.

"I would reject thee," Koss said darkly and executed an ancient Vulcan hand gesture meaning unworthiness and undesirability. One so strong it was not used in modern Vulcan customs, only these ancient rites.

T'Pol crossed her hands over her stomach demurely and replied, "Thou hast wisely discarded this one as mate. I accept thy decree of me."

Koss gave another derogatory, displeased hand gesture of strong disapproval then turned and left with his half of the wedding party in tow.

T'Pol lowered her gaze again and waited.

The priest turned his back on T'Pol and her mother turned and left. T'Pol waited for them to file out, the whole time maintaining her pose of disgrace.

The priest left, the entourage left, and T'Pol did not dare move until she knew she was alone.

Slowly T'Pol opened her eyes and lifted her head. She looked solemnly around the deserted place of marriage and its emptiness.

It was done.

T'Pol sagged down on to her folded legs and considered the opposite meditation pad where earlier Koss had knelt. His knee imprints were still creating dents in the material.

T'Pol sat alone, in isolation and shame, what seemed a small eternity before she rose to her feet. She slowly made her way to the fire pit and reached inside for a coal. With one hand she painted a black, sooty 'V' in the palm of one hand, then switched and drew an identical shape in the other. She could not offer a traditional Vulcan salute without displaying her shameful inadequacy to be bonded.

T'Pol dropped the coal back into the pit then turned to leave the marriage arena.

She was not surprised to see that none of her Vulcan marriage party was awaiting her. She was not surprised, either, to see Trip standing in his brown robe just outside the place of marriage waiting for her.

She approached him with heavy steps and stopped before him, her eyes trained on his chest. She finally looked up into his eyes and there was compassion and tenderness in his blue gaze.

"Hey," he nearly whispered.

T'Pol gave a very faint sigh and looked away.

"Your mom kinda told me what happened back there... somethin' about Koss sayin' you were unfit."

T'Pol barely nodded.

"I'm sorry."

For all the issues he had against the marriage in the first place, T'Pol could tell he meant what he said. She stood with him in the growing dusk of her home world and felt tired.

"Wanna head back?" he asked after a moment.

"No," she answered and looked to him again.

Trip nodded, seemed to understand for all that he could not, and instead he cocked his head in thought and said, "I don't get why Koss did that... I mean, he knew you didn't love him or even want ta marry him... why wait until the weddin' to throw such a fit?"

T'Pol was wearied at having to explain it to Trip, but he deserved to know. "It was neither my unwillingness nor disinterest that caused Koss's reaction. Vulcan marriages are often founded under such conditions."

Trip grunted disapprovingly under his breath but beyond that would not interrupt.

For once, T'Pol detested his considerate ways.

"Such a rejection occurs when it is discovered one party has already formed a close bond with another outside of traditionally accepted ways, in betrayal of the betrothal." She met Trip's eyes and he did not waver, stared straight into her soul. And she knew he understood. Trip could read her as no other, human or Vulcan.

And his eyes soothed her. She saw him ache for her, grieve for her, even as he accepted her when her own mother had turned away. Trip would have nothing to do with Vulcan tradition if it told him to abandon her, and already he had rejected several human norms to be there for her. It helped T'Pol, and she felt some of the sickness leave her just to stand in his unconditional presence.

"What's this?" Trip asked gently and reached for her hands. T'Pol did not flinch at his intimate gesture, even in the open of her home planet, as he lifted her hands to chest-height between them and ran his thumbs over the soot-drawn 'V's on her palms.

"My mark of shame," T'Pol answered flatly.

Trip's gentle caress did not even pause at her words, and instead he cradled her hands more completely then lifted one to his face and surprised her by placing a soft kiss on her palm. His eyes moved to hers just as T'Pol sought his gaze and he smiled gently at her and asked, "Should I have a matchin' set a these, too?"

T'Pol flushed faintly green and averted her eyes to her marked hands as Trip continued to hold them. "Were you Vulcan..." she began, then trailed when the rest became obvious.

"I can and I will... if ya want me to."

T'Pol shook her head. "It is needless for you to single yourself out on my world as participating in such a disgraceful act. It would only target you for their disapproval."

"I don't care about the rest of Vulcan."

"I know you don't, Trip," she whispered, and after a moment she curled her fingers around his as they traced her black marks like he had lovingly traced her body with invisible words. She met his gaze, considered him a long moment, then said, "I must do this, but do not follow in what I do. I wish the Vulcan part of this done as soon as possible."

Trip smiled at her and it made her feel better.

"Sounds like the best idea I've heard around here in days. How long ya hafta have this stuff on your hands?"

T'Pol sighed and answered, "I may not bathe until they have worn off on their own... however, as no one on Vulcan would be the wiser, I intend to clean it off when we get back to Enterprise."

Trip's approval, unspoken, was vindication enough for her.

Trip looked down at her hands, then up at her dress. "I meant it when I said you look amazin'."

T'Pol thanked him and loved him with her eyes, and realized that someday she would have to tell him how much she understood now that she cared for him and needed him.

But not today. Far too much had happened today, and she wanted that revelation to be clean, not marred by the failure of her Vulcan marriage only minutes past.

Trip began to smirk devilishly and T'Pol was ready for it when he said, "Maybe ya could wear a little of this off on me," Trip rubbed the soot on her hands for emphasis.

"We have already discussed you should not be seen with the marks."

"I never said anything about leavin' 'em somewhere visible."

T'Pol loved him. She knew he was not sincerely propositioning her for sex... he would not be so unkind after what she had endured. Rather, she knew Trip well enough to know his intent. He was telling her he didn't care, he was telling her that while Koss might not desire her he did, he was saying he wanted her, that he would take some of her disgrace for his part in its genesis, that he would carry her burden with her. That he would be hers, marked and claimed. That she was infinitely more important in his eyes than the tradition of her people.

But T'Pol could not speak to how much she cherished his meaning.

She gave Trip her patented, mock-put upon look instead, and Trip grinned, and T'Pol knew everything was going to be all right. She would have Trip's acceptance, his affection, his tenderness, his love, and for that she would trade the Vulcan way and the unmarred skin of her palms. Nothing great came without sacrifice, and before this day she'd already made her choice.

Finally, without speaking a word, they began to head back toward T'Pol's mother's home side by side.

By the end of the night, T'Pol would have Trip know that she had not said she wouldn't leave her marks on his hidden skin.


A/N: Because I'm a supreme geek, I had some issues with the Vulcan marriage ceremony I depicted, and while I concocted an explanation that assuaged me I wasn't able to work it into the fic... so here it is, for anyone else equally preoccupied with these gnat's-ass details.

Referencing "Amok Time" where T'Pring obviously had affection for Ston over Spock, I had to contend with the question of why this 'undesirable' status would not have applied to that wedding. Here was my reasoning.

1. T'Pol would not have declared koonut-kalifee for she would have known Trip wouldn't stand a chance against a Vulcan male such as Koss. As the female, that would have been her only course of action to contest the marriage.

2. When Spock would have realized, during the bonding, that T'Pring and 'gone behind his back' and grown 'attached' to Ston, I don't think he would have discarded her for it. I imagine Spock sticking to Vulcan tradition, being more Vulcan than Vulcan, despite her discretions. That and I don't think Spock would have been overly concerned about the slight to himself. When T'Pring had the gall to make Spock 'kill' his best friend, involving other important people in Spock's life, that was the step over the line to make him 'discard' her.

3. T'Pring knew this, as she fell back on koonut-kalifee as opposed to hoping Spock would find her affection for Ston unacceptable. For the Vulcan male, I came to the conclusion that 'discarding' a wife in some near-literal sense would be his only recourse to contest the marriage.

Yep, so there's my extreme rationalization. Hey, it helps me sleep at night.

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