Fall Out (ST:CVE 6.06)

By ginamr

Rating: PG-13

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Star Trek: The Continuing Voyages of the Enterprise

A Virtual Season 6 Series

By Ginamr

Rating: PG-13

Disclaimer: Only new characters and plots are mine. The original characters belong to Paramount. I receive no monetary reward for my work; my only reward is the joy of creating.

Author's Note:

I know I keep changing which canon details I'm including. I've decided for certain to throw out the fact from TATV that Trip and T'Pol ended their romantic relationship after Terra Prime as well as the fact that Trip dies in TATV. So this is your warning: what you're about to read might throw some canon you've been shown by B & B out the window.

As a sidenote, the familiar expression Parted from me and never parted. Never and always touching and touched comes from a Vulcan mourning chant. I don't know if this is canon or not, but I thought it was pretty cool to find.

Oh, and to explain the Andorian time heading:

All information here is approximate. For example:

Terms and their equivalents: cycle=year, period=month, rotation=day and hours=hours. Thus the math works out as follows...

•             There are 870 days in an Andorian year. According to the Earth year, 786,940 days have passed since the year 0. Thus, dividing those days by 870, the Andorian equivalent is Cycle 835.

•             2512.24 Earth hours have passed in the current cycle. Since there are 26 hours in an Andorian day, we divide the number of Earth hours by 26, revealing that 96 Andorian days have passed.

•             There are 72.5 days in an Andorian month, thus one month has passed in the Andorian year (Period 1).

•             It takes 26 hours to complete one rotation, thus the remainder of .62 indicates that Andoria hasn't undergone a full rotation. Thus multiplying .62 by 26 (hours) tells us that the rotation is 0 and it is 16.12 hours on Andoria

•             The Earth date and time is April 15th, 2156-1624 hours with the equivalent Andorian time being Cycle 835, Period 1, Rotation 0, 16.12 hours.

 

********

Last Time on Star Trek: Enterprise...Sacrifices

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6.06-Fall Out

Story Three of Three

 

Summary: Both Archer and Shran work to reunite their worlds in the three months following the attack on Gamma Virginis IV.

***

Captain's Log

April 14, 2156

Shortly after returning, I was assigned a diplomatic mission to Andor. The President hopes that, with the help of Commander Shran, the Andorian government will be convinced to rejoin the Alliance. We will depart tomorrow afternoon and be transported by the Jhamel.

***

Archer's Apartment-Uptown New York, Earth

April 15 2156-0735 hours

Erika felt her partner stir beside her and she clung tightly to him. Any hopes of them planning their wedding together had been dashed last night when he'd informed her of his new orders. It was to be expected, of course. Jonathan Archer was a very important man and he was very devoted to his duty.

"Don't go yet," she whispered. "Just a few more minutes."

Her cheeks flushed in embarrassment at how childish she sounded. She'd never been the clingy type, but losing the baby had made her afraid that Jon wouldn't want her anymore. Despite his reassurances to the contrary, she still felt a nagging fear whenever they parted.

Jon chuckled and placed a tender kiss on her lips. "You're going to make me very late. What am I going to tell the admiral?"

Erika grinned. "Just that: your wife-to-be insisted on spending a few more minutes with you before three weeks of being without you."

He slid from the bed and dressed in his uniform quickly. "I'll be back before you know it," he whispered. "In the mean time, you and your mother can start looking into that church wedding I know you want."

"It won't be the same without you here, you know," she added with a ghost of a smile.

He nodded. "I know. But we've got all the time in the world after I get back."

"Be safe, you hear me?" she commanded, her gaze misting. "I refuse to become a widow before we even reach the altar."

He kissed her forehead and his gaze locked with hers. "I'll be fine. I'm too important, remember?"

She gave him a withering look. "Now don't go getting cocky. Cocky gets you killed."

He pressed his lips to hers, savoring their warmth. Outside, the driver of his waiting transportation to Headquarters laid on the horn, the blaring noise echoing throughout the room. He pulled away reluctantly. "That's the hovercab. I should go."

"I love you, Jon," she murmured. "Contact me when you can."

"I will." He then exited their bedroom and headed toward the front door, luggage in hand. Before exiting through the open door, he pecked her on the lips. "I love you, too. I'll see you in three weeks."

***

Warp Seven Complex-San Francisco, California, Earth

April 15 2156-0745 hours

Trip entered the Warp Seven Complex wearing a grin. He hadn't seen the inside of this place in years. People shouted over the loud clatter of machines working and several officers rushed about, delivering test results to their department heads. The familiar tangy scent of burning metal reached his nostrils and he sighed. Home sweet home.

He jumped when he felt a hand on his shoulder. A young blonde-haired woman stood beside him, something akin to awe shining in her eyes. "Commander Tucker," she yelled over the din. She extended a hand wearing an ear to ear grin. "Lieutenant Elizabeth Bates. It's an honor to meet you, sir. Your work on the Warp Five Project was inspiring."

He took her hand in a firm grip. She held his gaze and his hand a little too long for his comfort. He knew puppy love when he saw it and knew to tread lightly so that he didn't embarrass her. "A pleasure to meet you, Lieutenant," he returned simply.

The young woman's cheeks flushed with delight. "Commander Stern asked me to show you to his office."

He gestured for her to take the lead and followed her toward Stern's office. Allowing her to lead had been a bad idea, he realized moments later, as he couldn't help but notice how tightly the uniform stretched over her backside. His cheeks heated as he realized the direction of his thoughts-thoughts that were completely inappropriate for a married man. He winced as he imagined T'Pol's reaction should she ever find out. Thankfully, he'd mastered that technique she'd taught him to block his thoughts. The irony of how that skill would be put to use wasn't lost on him.

The two arrived at Stern's office several moments later and Trip raised his hand to knock. Before he could, the door swung open.

"Commander Tucker!" Stern greeted enthusiastically, gripping Trip's hand firmly. "Commander Douglas Stern. I've reviewed your record and am so pleased you agreed to lend your expertise."

Trip resisted the urge to chuckle. He felt like a full-blown celebrity.

Stern grinned. "You'd best get used to it, son," the older man replied, almost as though he'd read Trip's mind. "You're a living legend around here. That was one helluva stunt...shimmying up that grappler wire connecting two ships traveling at Warp speed. Damned brave."

The corners of his lips lifted slightly at the boost to his ego. "I was just doing my duty, sir."

Stern arched an eyebrow disbelievingly. "Above and beyond the call more like."

Trip avoided the man's gaze and cleared his throat, quickly changing the subject. "Admiral Thomas briefed me on the project's progress. He said you were beginning final testing."

Stern sighed and nodded. "It's been a tough few months. Development wasn't scheduled to start for another year or two; but with the escalation of the Romulan conflict, Starfleet's really leaning on us hard to have it ready before the end of the year. They say it could turn the tide of the war."

Trip grinned wryly. "It could. But then again, they've been saying that about every advance-technological and otherwise."

A tense silence hung in the air between them. Trip knew that what he said and the way he said it bordered on insubordination. He'd expressed similar sentiments to Admirals Thomas and Isaac, resulting in being threatened with a court marshal if he didn't keep his opinions to himself.

Stern knew little about the cover-up, of course. Trip was only aware of how far-reaching it was because of Malcolm's Section 31 connections. Their attempts would incontestably fail. Earth's citizens had been fooled once by the weak endeavors to cover up the Romulan infiltration of Starfleet's highest ranks, but it would be a cold day in hell before they were blinded by ignorance a second time. Terra Prime would see to that.

A dark-haired young man, of Mediterranean origin by the harsh lines of his features, strode toward them with his gaze focused on Stern. A few steps more and the man was directly in Trip's line of sight. Their gazes locked and the man froze, his eyes wide with admiration.

"Lieutenant Marcus," Stern greeted. "This is-"

The young lad rushed forward and gripped Trip's hand tightly with both of his. "Commander Tucker," he stammered. "It's an honor, sir. You're an inspiration."

Stern chuckled. "Of course." He then turned to Trip. "You'll be working with Lieutenant Marcus's team to calibrate power flow distribution to the core. Given your success at increasing the efficiency of Enterprise's Warp Five engine, I expect you'll do admirably."

Trip nodded. "Yes, sir."

"Dismissed."

Bates inclined her head and returned to her station. Stern re-entered his office, leaving Trip with Marcus. "This way, sir," the eager lieutenant directed, pointing to a group in the far corner of the facility. Trip followed Marcus, weaving through the crowds.

***

Vulcan Compound- San Francisco, California, Earth

April 15 2156-1925 hours

She attempted to focus her thoughts on anything but the urgent desire to see Trip as she sat on a stone bench in the gardens within the Vulcan compound. The day was at its end and she had been sorely tempted to visit him in the temporary quarters that had been set up for him near the Warp Seven facility.

She had been earnestly awaiting their stay in Mississippi so that she might again enjoy the company of Trip's family. A reunion had been planned so that she might meet the remainder of his relations. Having no family of her own, with the exception of an uncle that she hadn't spoken to since being assigned to Enterprise, their acceptance of her into their unit had been gratifying. 

However, at the last moment, Starfleet had called upon Trip to aid with the final tests to the Warp Seven engine and she had, with much regret, informed his family that they would not be present for the festivities. This had provided her with a justification for some much needed solitude. Despite her enjoyment of his company, his constant presence in her mind wore at her control.

She started when she felt a hand on her shoulder and turned abruptly, preparing to strike the unwelcome intruder. She relaxed when she realized who stood before her.

Despite his graying hair, the Vulcan male's outward appearance was the epitome of restraint. His cool expression gave away no clues of his intent. The two simply stared at one another for several long moments.

"Uncle Sovis," T'Pol greeted. She raised her hand in the familiar gesture and bowed her head in respect.

The man lifted her head with a gentle finger under her chin so that their gazes met. Affection shone in his dark eyes and a smile threatened to spill over her lips.

"It has been many lunar cycles, pi'veh," Sovis replied.

She inclined her head. "Indeed it has."

He raised an eyebrow. "You have changed."

She elevated an eyebrow in return. "The years have been kind to you as well, Uncle."

The uncharacteristic jibe caused Sovis's eyebrow to arch higher. "An unusual statement from your lips, pi'veh. Your Human bondmate's influence, no doubt." There was a slight note of amusement in his tone. Her surprise must have shown on her face. "Certainly you didn't think that it would escape my notice?"

T'Pol's gaze dropped from his. "No," she deadpanned. "Ambassador Soval made a similar observation."

"Tell me of the man who lured you out of your shell," Sovis requested. At her astounded expression, a small smile crossed his lips. "I am allowed to know the man my niece has chosen to spend her years with, am I not?"

The slight smile that she had been restraining spilled across her lips. "Mother always said that you were a disruptive influence," she countered. "Perhaps that was why you and I were so close." She paused. "He is a most curious man, Uncle-and the emotions he stirs within me are more powerful than anything I have ever encountered."

Sovis inclined his head. "Certainly. The bond that you have with your beloved is rare. Most Vulcans never experience it as strongly."

"But you did not come here to discuss my marital status," she countered. "The matter must be most urgent for you to approach me at this hour."

"No-nonsense, as always," he replied in confirmation. "Minister T'Pau believes that there may be an undercover agent in our ranks and has requested your assistance in detaining the infiltrator."

She arched an eyebrow. "I am retired from espionage."

"I am aware of that." He paused. "But your record is impeccable, with the exception of a few blemishes. You are the most appropriate candidate for the assignment. In return, she would reinstate your commission and has even offered you a place among her personal guard."

T'Pol wrinkled her nose in disgust. "I owe them nothing. My debt to the Minister has been paid."

Sovis studied his brother's child. He'd read the transcripts from her debriefing by Starfleet following the Terra Prime incident as well as those following her journey into the Expanse. She had aged well beyond her sixty-something years, no doubt due to the stress she had endured. It troubled him to see her so astringent.

"This isn't about debts, child," Sovis countered. "It's about helping your people."

She raised an eyebrow. "The people who spurned me because of my Pa'Nar Syndrome? A disease I contracted when a man forced himself on me? Why would I help those who would dispose of me in such a cold, callous manner?"

"Have your Human colleagues taught you nothing?" Sovis rejoindered. "The greatest acts are those done without expectation of the favor being returned."

She gave him a tolerant look. "You would speak to me of great acts? Why, then, don't you serve your people? Why must it be me?"

He stared at her for a moment, his expression unreadable. "It isn't me they've asked, pi'veh. It's you."

"You have my answer, Uncle," she retorted.

He straightened and T'Pol immediately regretted her harsh words. His sudden re-appearance had brought back fond memories of her childhood... memories that she hadn't visited in some time.

"Then I will return to Vulcan tomorrow and inform the Minister of your decision," he concluded. He turned to leave the garden, but paused mid-step. "If you change your mind, I will be housed on the second level in the Seh'lat wing...15Alpha."

As she watched her uncle depart, a niggling feeling of guilt settled itself in her abdomen. She knew he was correct. Her reasons for refusing the offer were motivated purely by emotion. Her cheeks flushed in shame at her emotional outburst.

She dropped to the ground, returning to her meditation. She would need it to sort the day's events as well as her own feelings on the matter. In the morning, she would visit her uncle with her findings.

***

Andor-Earth Consulate-Archer's Temporary Quarters

Cycle 835, Period 1, Rotation 0, 16.12 hours.

Archer sighed in frustration as he tossed the ball against the wall repeatedly. He hadn't had much luck thus far in convincing the Andorians to re-establish relations with Earth. The blue-skinned bastards were turning and running with their tails tucked securely between their legs-not that Andorians had tails. Still, the description worked as well as any other.

Cowards. He'd called the Andorian council that, thus why he was currently confined to his quarters, ruminating on their stupidity and cowardice. Normally, he was more tactful in the interests of diplomacy; however, the stress of the situation with the Romulans combined with the growing war fatalities was setting him on edge.

Earth was alone and vulnerable, an easy target if the Romulans launched an attack. No doubt the Romulans had been purposely forcing the Alliance's hand in hopes that the foundations would crumble and the group would cut and run. Damned cowards.

The doors to his quarters parted, capturing his attention. He caught the ball and turned his gaze toward the sound. In the doorway stood Shran, his antennae pressed back against his skull, his features tight with outrage.

"How dare they?" Shran raged.

Archer released a breath he didn't even realize that he'd been holding. He tossed the ball onto the bed and stood to greet his old friend.

"It could have been worse," Archer replied with a wry grin. "If I were them, I would have shown me to the nearest airlock."

Shran sighed. "You told them nothing that wasn't true and that I'm not sure they didn't already know themselves. They are cowards of the highest order. Unfortunately, it seems that my opinion doesn't hold the same influence that it once did."

"We still have time to convince them," Archer reassured.

Shran shook his head. "Not a great deal more. No doubt the Romulans are assembling a fleet as we speak."

"This one is cutting it a bit close for my comfort. I only hope that the Andorian council will see sense before it's too late."

Shran grinned. "As much as I enjoy your colorful descriptions of the council's stupidity, perhaps it would be best if you kept such comments to a minimum...purely in the interests of persuading them to hear you. The more they like you, the more likely it is they'll listen to your reasoning."

"I'll keep that in mind," Archer agreed.

Shran paused. "I'll do what I can to convince them to meet with you again, though many of the members will be hesitant after your very blatant speech."

"Thanks. I appreciate it."

"Sleep well, pinkskin."

Shran exited and the doors closed behind him, leaving Archer alone again in the room. Knowing that he'd be unable to sleep, he reached for a PADD containing his latest novel of interest. With any luck the dry nature of the story would slow his mind and lull him to sleep.

***

Vulcan Compound- San Francisco, California, Earth-T'Pol's Temporary Quarters

April 15 2156-0002 hours

T'Pol was snapped from her ritual meditation by a soft rap on the front door. Her gaze flickered to the digital readout and she arched an eyebrow. She quickly extinguished the candles and stood, striding to answer the door.

She opened the door a moment later to find Trip standing there, his fist raised as though to knock again. Their gazes locked and a wide smile spread across his lips. Before T'Pol could react, his lips were on hers in an ardent kiss. Any curiosity as to why he was here flew from her mind and she returned his kiss with equal fervor. He pulled back a moment later, struggling for breath.

T'Pol regained enough of her wits to realize the public venue and gripped his hands, pulling him inside. The doors closed behind them and she laid a hand on his cheek, assaulting his mouth with all of the pent-up desire of the last 30 hours. She fought back a whine of disappointment when he again broke the kiss.

He laid his forehead against hers, his eyes closed tightly in concentration. A shiver raced down his spine at the searing heat of her hand against the bare skin of his cheek. "We need to talk," he croaked.

She arched an eyebrow. "Beginning our conversation with such a passionate display is a flawed way of ensuring its continuation."

He chuckled. "Yeah, I know. But I couldn't resist."

They moved their conversation to the living area, careful to keep a generous amount of space between them as they slid onto the couch. The moment their gazes locked again, T'Pol knew what he wished them to discuss.

Her gaze dropped to their intertwined hands. "I have elected to assist T'Pau in uncovering the conspirator."

A wry grin crossed his lips. "I figured you would."

"It will be hazardous," she continued. "There is a possibility I won't return." She fought back tears at the thought of leaving him to this life without her.

Her gripped her chin firmly and looked into their eyes. His features were set in a determined grimace. "You'll be fine."

"Trip-"

He shook his head. "No. You'll be fine."

Drops of moisture slid down his cheeks, making her question her decision. "Please, th'y'la, don't make this more difficult than it already is," she implored. "There may come a time when you must seek another mate. War is anything but kind and doesn't distinguish amongst its victims." She closed her eyes. "Assure me that should such an event come about, you won't allow it to prevent you from finding contentment again."

He swore under his breath. "Damn it, T'Pol! Stop talking like that! You're going to be fine."

"Promise me," she commanded harshly.

His lips tightened. "I'm not promising any such thing. You're coming back alive and well, do you understand me? None of this 'I'm going to die' crap. If you die, I'm going with you."

She fought back the tears that stung at her eyes. "Please, Trip. We face this possibility each day-moreso now that Starfleet has officially declared war-yet we don't speak of it. I don't ever wish you to be unhappy, no matter the reason. I only wish you fulfillment."

"There's nobody else," he replied hoarsely. "You know that and I know that."

The upward tilt of her lips was so slight as to be unnoticeable to anyone who didn't know better. "Stubborn Human."

He chuckled without humor. "Logical Vulcan-far too logical for your own good." His expression became serious, his eyes dark with passion. "Let's not waste the little time we have."

 

His hands gripped hers as her pulled her toward the bedroom, exchanging fiery kisses as they went. They explored one another with hands and mouths, pulling free only to strip one another of their clothing. They left a trail right to the bed, which they fell upon in a tangle of limbs. Skin to skin, they made love to the light of a single candle burning on the bedside table.

***

Archer's Apartment- Uptown New York, Earth

April 15 2156-1502 hours

Erika sat the bag of groceries on the counter and began putting the various items in their places, putting the chicken in the microwave to defrost it. She was planning to make chicken tortilla soup for her mother and sister tonight, which they'd enjoy while discussing wedding plans. There was so much to figure out and they had so little time to do it.

A knock at the door startled her and, thinking that her mother and sister had arrived early, she rushed to answer it. When she opened it, she was surprised to find a very familiar and unwelcome face.

"Daniel," she hissed. "What in the hell are you doing here?"

The dark-haired man wore his uniform proudly, his commendations and pips proclaiming him to be an admiral in the Navy. He stood with his hat tucked beneath his arm, a smile on his roguishly handsome face and his grassy green eyes twinkling mischievously.

"I heard from a source that this is where you were staying and I just thought I'd pop by to welcome you home," he offered non-chalantly.

Her lips tightened. He was the last person she wanted to be speaking with right now. When she told him as much, he only laughed.

"I mean it, Daniel," she bit out. "Get out of here."

His brows knitted as he feigned offense. "What? You're not even going to invite me in?"

She shook her head. "Of course not. Besides, it isn't my place so I can't just go inviting in old boyfriends. Jon wouldn't like it."

He arched an inquiring eyebrow. "Jon, ey?"

"Yes," she confirmed with a nod, extending her left hand palm down to accentuate the ring on her ring finger. "My fiancé." She'd really hoped that her last statement would send him packing, but still he persisted. "If you don't leave now, I'm calling the police."

He brought his hands up defensively and laughed. "All right. Have it your way. Play hard to get. It'll only make the victory all the sweeter."

"I'm not playing anything. I love my fiancé," she growled. "Now leave!"

At last, he stepped away from the door and strode down the hall, getting onto the elevator. Though the doors had closed and it was descending, she doubted that this was the last she'd see of him. The last time, she'd had to file a restraining order to keep him away. Though the order had expired a couple of months ago, she hadn't thought to renew it given that she was off world so often that it had seemed unnecessary. Today's encounter was making her quickly reconsider. She'd call her attorney tomorrow and make the proper arrangements.

She removed the chicken from the microwave and pulled a knife from a nearby drawer. Hands shaking slightly at the memory of her and Daniel's last encounter, she pulled the plastic away from the chicken and cleaned it, then cutting it into bite-sized pieces for the soup. Her gaze remained focused on what she was chopping to avoid injury and a trip to Starfleet Medical. The last thing she wanted was to let him get to her. She wouldn't let him get to her.

***

Earth-Osaka, Japan-Home of Hiroshi and Miyu Sato

 April 15, 2156-1321 hours (Osaka Local Time)

Malcolm stepped out onto the covered patio, smiling when his gaze fell on Hoshi. She sat beside the pond wearing a thoughtful expression. She ran a single finger through the water, creating ripples on the surface. The afternoon sun cast a beautiful glow on her tan face and brightened her chocolate brown eyes.

He strode stealthily toward her, the black box clutched in his hand. It was only the first surprise he had planned for the evening. So rare were days when there wasn't a planetary, and oftentimes sector-wide, crisis for them to resolve that he'd decided to make tonight special. She jumped slightly as he moved to sit beside her.

"Malcolm," she gasped. "You scared me."

"Sorry," he murmured, grinning sheepishly. "I was going to wait until later, but I couldn't resist."

He held out the box for her to see and opened it to reveal a beautiful sapphire on a platinum chain with matching earrings. She gasped as she took it in her hands, tracing the delicate chain with the tip of her index finger, her eyes lighting up as she studied the gift.

"Oh Malcolm," she cooed. "They're lovely. But it's not my birthday or our anniversary..."

With a grin, he pulled the pendant from the box and secured it around her neck, placing a kiss on her cheek. The brilliant blue of the sapphire was a perfect complement to her caramel skin.

"Who says I can't buy you something simply because I want to?" he whispered. "And how often do we get an evening where we have no obligations to Starfleet or the rest of the galaxy? Tonight, love, I'm going to treat you like the queen you are."

She was speechless. It was hard to imagine life before him. Strange how it felt like her life hadn't begun until their first kiss and yet, she couldn't remember a time when she hadn't felt the warmth of his hand clasping hers or the tenderness of his lips against hers.

"How did I get so lucky?" she murmured, moisture gathering in the corners of her eyes.

He chuckled, brushing the backs of his knuckles over her cheek. "I think I'm the lucky one to have such a brilliant, beautiful woman as my wife-to-be."

* * *

Andor-Council Chambers

Cycle 835, Period 1, Rotation 1, 02.18 Hours

After 48 hours of coercion, Shran had at last managed to convince the Council to hear him out. It seemed his old friend still held some influence with them after all. Archer waited patiently as the members of the Council arrived one by one. He hadn't been this nervous since Enterprise's christening ceremony almost six years ago. Whatever he said today, it needed to be phenomenal if he was going to convince the Andorians to rejoin the Coalition.

Which begged the question what did one say to a group of Andorians who were scared out of their minds at the possibility of war with an unseen enemy? Certainly, he had an awe-inspiring speech somewhere in his repertoire that would do for just this occasion. Yet it seemed lost in the memory banks of his brain, refusing to be found. Here he was the representative for the whole of United Earth and he had no idea what he was going to say.

He felt a hand squeeze his shoulder and he turned, surprised to find that Shran was the supplier of the supportive gesture. Archer nodded sharply at the unasked question in Shran's eyes. As ready as he'd ever be, Archer took center stage before the Council with his old friend at his side.

"Captain Archer," the elder one began. "Despite your brash and frankly insulting commentary last rotation, Ambassador Shran has convinced us to allow you an audience again today. But be forewarned, if you mean to use this chance to insult us again, leave because we won't tolerate a pink-skin questioning our decisions."

Archer inclined his head. "Thank you, Elder, for the opportunity. You have my word that that isn't my intention in coming before you today. I'm simply trying to impress upon you the dire nature of your situation-of our situation. We are both vulnerable to attack by this unseen enemy. Whether you choose a side or not, your people are a target. This enemy is using the strategy of divide and conquer. Divided, we are weak and victim to the limitations of our races. Together, we can work beyond those limitations and balance our strengths. We lack the necessary vessels and military strength to take on an enemy so large, but Andoria's fleet is many and strong. You lack knowledge about this enemy and we're happy to share the Intel we've gathered. You see, we can help each other, Elder. Staying neutral will only leave you vulnerable and open to attack."

The Elder paused, his antennae indicating the depth of his thought. "There is wisdom to your words, pink-skin. But it is the people's choice."

"With respect, Elder," Archer began. "You were elected as the Chairman of this Council. Doesn't that mean that your opinion carries a great deal of weight with the people you serve?"

"My opinion carries weight, yes," the Elder agreed. "However, it is neither my place nor my duty to decide the fate of all Andorians. That is the prerogative of the representatives gathered today. Should they choose to remain neutral, I cannot change that decision."

"Then I would plead with the representatives to consider this choice carefully," Archer continued. "Don't choose a path just because it's easy. Choose a path because it's right and keeps intact everything that your people stand for. Don't run away out of fear. You can run, but you can't run forever. Eventually, the Romulans will find you and they will destroy everything that you hold dear."

"A vote will decide the matter," came the Council clerk's voice clearly. "All in favor of rejoining the Alliance with Earth?"

All around the room, hands raised slowly and reluctantly one by one. Archer's breath caught as he realized that nearly half of those present had raised their hands. The Council scribe was about to announce the result when the Council Elder held out an open palm to stop him.

"Representatives, I would encourage you to vote for your people, not for yourselves."

Several of the representatives exchanged thoughtful looks and Archer's heart sunk when several hands descended. That put those against the measure ahead. He scarcely heard the words as the clerk called for those against to vote. Without counting, he knew that the Andorians were still opposed to the war.

"The nays are victorious," the Council scribe announced.

The Elder nodded. "I'm sorry, Captain. But the matter has been decided."

The bang of the gavel was the final nail in Earth's metaphorical coffin. He wanted to shout at them and call them every foul name he'd been holding back, but he knew it wouldn't do any good. Defeat was a bitter taste in his mouth and he hated the guilt that was consuming him. The 'what-ifs' rang clearly in his mind, making him question his every word and choice since arriving. Maybe if he hadn't insulted them upon first refusal, things would be different. His thoughts would be plagued by the possibilities and he'd review his words over and over again, wondering if he couldn't have said or done something different to change their decision.

***

Shuttleport-San Francisco, California, Earth

April 15 2156-1003 hours

 

Walking her toward that shuttle was undoubtedly one of the hardest things he'd ever done. Even leaving her aboard Enterprise couldn't compare because this time, there was the possibility that he wouldn't see her again. The mission that she was undertaking was dangerous and potentially fatal. But he had to be strong for her. This was something that she had to do and he knew that.

 

He squeezed her hand and stopped, pulling her into his arms just basking in the moment and committing her scent and her warmth to memory. It would need to last him God knew how long. There would be no communication between them until her mission was complete and neither of them knew when that would be.

 

He sighed, pressing a kiss to her forehead. "I'm going to miss you so much."

 

"And I you," she murmured. "But remember, my ashayam-"

 

Smiling, he finished, "Parted from me and never parted. Never and always

touching and touched."

 

"Beyond life, beyond death, beyond tears and beyond fear," she added.

 

He pressed his lips to hers and poured every ounce of love and passion into the kiss that he could muster, lost in the moment until a woman's voice came over the loud speaker, announcing, "Last call for Flight 2341 to Vulcan."

 

"You're already late," he sighed. "Have a safe flight and if they let you, just send me a brief communiqué to let me know you made it there okay."

 

She nodded. "A reasonable request-one I'm certain T'Pau won't object to."

 

Pulling from his embrace, she strode toward the open door of the shuttle, her gaze focused forward. There would be no goodbyes. They'd agreed to that. This wasn't goodbye, just a 'see you later'. He refused to even say it aloud, afraid that doing so would jinx them. Just before she stepped inside, he felt the familiar brush of her mind against his. Concentrating, he returned the caress, even going so far as to send her a memory of their passion last night. It would need to be enough for the coming days of loneliness.

 

See you later, darlin'.

 

 

 

 

 


Comments:

Cogito

Trip's new job seems rich with possibilities. Being separated from T'Pol is going to be a blow for both of them, though. "There would be no communication between them" sounds very depressing. And yet, "parted from me and never parted," I still live in hope.

And damn them, damn those short-sighted Andorians!

"Beginning our conversation with such a passionate display is a flawed way of ensuring its continuation." How brilliantly you capture T'Pol!

Aikiweezie

Nice set up!  Will keep my eyes peeled for more.

Ginamr

Distracted, I just wasn't sure if that poem was canon or Trekkie-created.

Ginamr

Glad I could bring you a smile, Asso. ;)

Distracted

"Parted from me yet never parted, forever and always touching and touched" is definitely canon. Spock and T'Pring said exactly those words to each other in "Amok Time", one of my favorite lines from one of my favorite episodes of TOS ever. But it's not a mourning chant. They were meeting each other for the Kunat-Kalifee ritual because Spock was in Ponfarr.

Asso

Damn! You write quite rarely, dammit! But when you do it,  you are without comparison! :D

I am not exaggerating: it was really long time since I felt such a great enjoyment in reading a story.

And - letting aside, of course, the wonderful scene between Trip and T'Pol - I love  T'Pol's uncle. Maybe a little manipulative (like all Vulcans, actually), but - by golly! - how he is humanely prepossessing!;)

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