Just friends

By Buurman

Rating: PG-13

Genres: angst romance

Keywords: Koss marriage T'Pol's Parents Vulcan Civil War

This story has been read by 555 people.
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Rating: PG-13, for some bad language
Date: 20060615
Genre: (alluding to) Romance, Angst, Trip/Archer friendship
Archive: Triaxian Silk, please. Other archives may request permission to archive or link to this story by email. (You’ll probably receive green light).
Disclaimer: Paramount owns the characters and background setting from Enterprise. The names and related intellectual property belongs to them. I just try to repair a grave error and make it an entertaining story. Also, this is heavily based on Hopeful Romantic’s Renewing (and part of Remembering).
Summary: Cmdr. Tucker returns early after T’Pol’s wedding. Archer has a job for him and takes the opportunity to enquire as to the why of his leaving T’Pol behind. Meanwhile, Trip and T’Pol must figure out how they stand towards each other.

A/N: This story is basically a rewrite of (part of) Hopeful Romantic’s Renewing. Only some of it is original. So, most of the praise goes to her. Don’t worry though, my own story will soon take off. I just needed a frame to start off, and her excellent story provided it. I could just take the basis and heavily rewrite it, but it would still be heavily based upon her story. So I thought, if one’s going to copy, at least be honest about it.

HR was graciously enough to give me permission to use her story in this way, for which I am very thankful.

At last I want to thank HR, Distracted and Blackn’Blue for being such excellent writers. Their stories heavily influenced me and eventually prompted me to write my own ideas down.

This story is a prequel to Friendship.

*******************

Captain Jonathan Archer of the starship Enterprise waited somewhat impatiently for his chief engineer to arrive in his cabin. He had been more than a little surprised this morning when he noticed from the day’s crew manifest that Commander Charles Tucker III had returned to the ship last night. Alone. Sub-commander T’Pol was still listed as being ‘on leave’.

Last I knew, their friendship was going strong. Heck, she even invited him to come to Vulcan with her! Somewhere during our mission in the Expanse they bonded. Probably something to do with those neuropressure sessions. And when the other Enterprise arrived…

He had gotten disconnected from his crew then. Disconnected from his friends and even from himself. He had to in order to be able to make the decisions he felt himself forced to make, to take the necessary actions. To be able to save not only Earth, but the entire universe. Or at least their part of it.

Somehow T’Pol had been there for Trip to help him over the loss of his sister. Archer couldn’t really fathom how Phlox had managed it, but somehow he had gotten the Vulcan involved, with unexpected results. Not only did she manage to get him to trust her and accept her help, she eventually succeeded in helping him come to terms with his loss and deal with his emotions. Not a small feat for a Vulcan.

Roused by some undecipherable sounds just outside the door to his ready room Archer took another look at the file on his screen. He had two reasons to talk with Trip, and he didn’t like either of them. With a resigning sigh he waited for the door to open, which to his surprise it didn’t. Eventually he decided the sounds must have had another source and returned his attention to musing about his two senior officers.

When they were waiting to board the shuttle to Vulcan they looked so natural together. Trip was really happy, the kind of happy I haven’t seem for a long time after his sister’s death. And all because of T’Pol. It even seems as if…

With a quick headshake Archer tried to clear his mind of the thoughts which had appeared in it. Some things he didn’t want to think. But still…

They have gotten very close. T’Pol seems less guarded around him, even with his ‘wild display of emotion’. So what happened?

The door chime sounded and once again his train of thought was broken. He watched his chief engineer enter the room looking like he hadn’t slept in days. Which in Trip’s case usually meant he hadn’t. Since Archer didn’t know of any problem or emergency in engineering which could cause this, the only other explanation for Trip’s insomnia was emotional problems. Meaning his trip to Vulcan wasn’t problem-free by a long stretch.

“Mornin’ Cap’n. What’s up?”

“Sit down Trip.” As his friend took the chair across from his desk Archer continued: “First off, while you were away I’ve received a small number of complaints about one of your ensigns. Details are on this padd. I was going to look into it myself, but since you’ve returned I’ll grant you the honour. Which brings me to the second part: you returned,” Archer said, emphasising his words by pointing at Trip with the padd he held. “T’Pol didn’t.”

Trip looked about, avoiding Archer’s eyes by taking the padd from his hands and pretending to study it. “Haster, eh? One of the new guys I reckon.”

“Trip!”

“Sorry,” the engineer said apologetically while still avoiding his eyes. “You see Jon, something came up. She … he … I …” he seemed at a loss for words as he stuttered through his sentence before suddenly throwing it all out: “She married Koss.”

“What!?”

And in a flat, detached voice Trip filled him in – the aborted wedding, the pressure on T’Les, Koss’s blackmail, and T’Pol’s sacrifice. When Archer expressed worry that T’Pol wouldn’t return to Enterprise Trip quickly alleviated his fears, sounding a bit proud when he explained how she held to her condition that she was to be able to return to Enterprise immediately after the wedding.

“What a very generous family she married into,” Archer observed with dry humor. “They’ll help out her mother in return for her marrying their son. I wonder what they’ll ask for a cup of sugar. Her firstborn?”

Trip almost snorted at his attempt at humor. Almost. He really lost something down there.

“I don’t know Cap’n. Being the skunks they are, they just might.” His face took on a frustrated expression as he blurted out: “It’s just so unfair! She’s being forced to do this to protect her mother! How low can they go?”

“I know Trip, I know. How’s she handling things?”

“She’s Vulcan. She’d act all polite and emotionless when talking to them, of course.”

Archer sighed. “Of course. But what did she tell you?”

Again Trip avoided his eyes. Archer waited patiently until it was obvious Trip wouldn’t open his mouth. “Wait a minute. You haven’t talked to her? Trip!”

“Mercy, Cap’n! I tried, I really tried! I wanted to be there for her … but after watching her marry that skunk I couldn’t. The thought of seeing them together if only for a minute longer was just … So I packed my stuff and left her a note, grabbed the first transport offplanet I could find and here I am.”

Trip looked so miserable Archer couldn’t help but feel sorry for his friend. “Seems like she’s holding up better than you are” he offered.

“I hope so. But if not … I want to be there for her.”

“Can you do that?”

“I have to.” Trip sighed. “I really thought we were heading somewhere… But now all I’ve left is our friendship. Doesn’t matter. I’ll hold on to that and be there for her. Be her friend when she needs one. I’m sure she’ll be a nervous wreck when she returns. Even though I can’t bring myself to be with her right now, I’ll make up for it. I really don’t want to lose her.”

Archer nodded in what he hoped was an understanding fashion, even though he didn’t really felt like he understood. “We’re still on duty now, but we can talk later. My quarters, 2200 hours. Don’t forget.”

“Aye aye Cap’n,” Trip responded as he rose from his chair.

*******

In the past few days Trip had spent every evening at Archer’s quarters. The two had restrengthened their friendship as they spent the evening watching polo and drinking bourbon, but mostly talking. They talked about a lot of different things, ranging from waterpolo rules to engineering problems to homebased cooking, but eventually they always ended up talking about T’Pol, her wedding and Trip’s feelings. These talks really helped him pass the time and cope with some of his emotions, and both men relished the opportunity to deepen their friendship. Especially since both suspected that when T’Pol returned she would be even higher strung than normal, which would mean it would take a while before they could have one of these talks again.

Right now, however, Trip was about to have a talk of a different kind. Looking at the tall ensign opposite him he heaved a mental sigh. It was necessary, but he wasn’t looking forward to it.

“Ensign, please com-”

The sound of the doors opening caught his ears, and as he caught the sight of the person entering behind ensign Haster’s back he paused momentarily. Dressed in travelling clothes she appeared to have come from the airlock straight to engineering. Finally turning his attention back to the blonde-haired ensign waiting patiently and a little curious, he dismissed him quickly.

“Return to y’r duties, ensign.”

With a funny look the young man turned around and danced away in his usual, bubbly style. Trip, however, didn’t look twice as all his attention was focused on the ship’s First Officer. She looked frail as she approached him cautiously. He motioned for his office and she adjusted her direction midwalk. After he closed the door behind them, he took another good look at her. She looked down at the ground as if unwilling to meet his eyes. Suddenly he could feel his heart throbbing in his throat as the hum of the engines rang in his ears like a drum.

Previously, he didn’t know what he would feel when he’d at long last see her again. Anger, grief, joy and elation were a few of the possibilities which had crossed his mind. Now he knew for sure; his heart filled with joy and excitement to what seemed it’s maximum capacity and he couldn’t help the grin on his face. All thoughts of grief forgotten, he reached out and touched her shoulder. Suddenly her head snapped upwards and she looked directly at him with apprehension in her eyes. Apprehension, and a little of what seemed to be fear.

He had felt it too. When he touched her a surge of energy crashed right through him, from his fingertip up his arm after which it spread out to all corners of his body. What the hell?

“Good to see you again darlin’. I’ve missed ya,” Trip said, shakily, as he held her gaze but made sure to not touch her again.

She seemed to relax somewhat as the apprehension left her eyes. “I find it agreeable to see you again as well.”

“I’m really glad you are here,” he said as he felt himself floating down to Earth. Or deck plating at the very least. “I’ve been taking care of stuff, of course, but it just wasn’t the same. I missed talking to ya, missed arguin’ with ya. Yesterday I tried one of those chamomile teas you like to drink. They’re pretty nice. Haven’t you missed pecan pie? Those vegetable-stews are nice an’ all, but I missed my ‘indulgence’. Hell, I was just about to have a serious talk with one of mah new ensigns an’ I had no idea what I was going to say.”

He knew he was rambling, but he couldn’t stop himself. T’Pol didn’t seem too perturbed by it though. She merely looked at him with a quizzical look in her eyes.

“Commander, are you feeling quite alright?” she asked, taking advantage of his lungs’ betrayal.

“What?” Trip said, trying not to choke on the breath of air he just took.

“You were rambling. I wondered whether this was caused by the events which unfolded on my homeplanet,” T’Pol said with a little too controlled voice.

Her voice is tensing up. It reminded him. A wistful smile fleeted over his lips as he forced his attention back to the lady in front of him.

“Don’t worry T’Pol. I can’t say I’m happy about you’re marriage. But it wasn’t really your choice. They put you in an impossible position, an’ the choice you made was the honourable one. This must hurt like hell to you, being caught between a rock an’ a hard place an’ all. No matter what happened, if you still want to be my friend, I’ll be yours.”

Now she looked even more quizzical. But also … relieved. A soft glow filled her beautiful brown eyes as she moved her hand, then quickly withdrew and decided to use a safer way to express her opinion. “That would be … most agreeable. Thank you, Trip.”

He was glad she didn’t touch him. Three weeks ago he would have given everything for a touch, now he was afraid of what would happen if she did. Would he be able to restrain himself? He still felt a little shaky from that last surge. It seemed magnetise us, to increase the attraction between us. I almost couldn’t prevent myself from touching her again. He didn’t want to scare her away, not now, not again.

“You’re welcome darlin’.” His look conveyed what he couldn’t say and for a little while both were silent.

“I believe you expressed some trouble regarding a talk to an ensign just before, Commander?” With a smile he acknowledged her move. He was all too glad to move on to an easier topic. To move on.

“Yeah, let me show ya here.”


Comments:

cherryblossomjen
Nice start, I look forward to more.
Starwatcher
I really like this fic, so please write more! I just wish the writers could have explored the after-effects of 'Home' a little more, but you're doing a grand job. I really like the Archer/Trip interaction!
Distracted
Excellent beginning, Buurman. TnT and Archer are very well characterized here. I suppose we'll see more of Haster later, although it would have been nice to get a bit more introduction of the character in this segment as a setup for later interaction. As you have it, he seems more of a throwaway background character, not even worth naming yet. Other than that small point, I found this very well written. You have a good command of the language. I'm looking forward to more.
Reanok
I like this story being set up differently with Archer & Trip's friendship and T'Pol and Trip's conversation after retuening from Vulcan i wish the series had delat with their relationship in this manner it's so good to see this in your story. I look forward to seeing how your story will deal with T'Pol's marriage and the dynamic change between trip and T'Pol it's going to be really difficult for them both.
Buurman
Thank you all for your kind response. @BnB: In a way, it isn't my first attempt, though it is my first attempt at a ST-fanfic. About that scene you mentioned ... it took me some time but I found it. I only saw Borderland, I missed the other two of that arc. But, I'm trying to get them anyway and when I've seen that scene you mentioned I think I'll write it in. Though this will go AU probably, I'll try to stick to the plot.
Dinah
This is a very important scene. I wish the show's writer's had dealt with it. I'm glad you're tackling it. I'm looking forward to the next chapter.
evcake
Most enjoyable. Can't wait to see what unfolds.
Blackn'blue
I am honored to be mentioned. This looks like the beginning of an interesting series. I look forward to seeing how you handle it. Are you going to include the canon scene where T'Pol confronts Trip later about avoiding her? Or is this intended to be AU? Either way, it should be very interesting and I am anticipating it eagererly. You are off to a very nice start. This does NOT read like a first attempt. It surely doesn't. It is entirely too polished for a beginner.

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