Missing Scenes from Season Four: Divergence

By Alelou

Rating: PG-13

Genres: drama missing scene romance

Keywords: bond Columbia

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This story is number 16 in the series Missing Scenes from Season Four


DISCLAIMER: All things Star Trek belong to CBS/Paramount. "Divergence" was written by Judith Reeves-Stevens and Garfield Reeves-Stevens.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Many thanks as always, dear reviewers. Thanks to Putaro for pointing out an issue with this one that I was able to attempt to fix, and I suppose I also just went in and messed with this one a little. Jon didn't sound quite right on rereading it.


In his captain's mess, Erika lifted a glass of Andorian ale and said, "To working together."

Jon clinked his glass against hers. "To working together … and playing together, if you feel like sticking around for awhile."

She smiled tightly. "About that…"

Damn. He probably should have phrased that a little more romantically. Or maybe she was just too busy being a new captain. He swallowed a gulp of the ale and steeled himself for rejection.

She leaned forward across the table and lowered her voice. "What would you do with Porthos?"

He laughed. "Porthos? I guess we could lock him in the bathroom. What, you don't want my dog staring at you?"

"Might be a little distracting."

"You know, that particular issue hasn't come up before." It really hadn't, at least not on board ship. This was clearly not a good indicator about his love life.

"He won't howl if you stick him in the bathroom?"

"You find howling distracting, too?" he said, and grinned. "He's a good boy. I'll give him something to chew on. Or, we could go to your place. You could give me your very special tour for fellow NX captains."

She grimaced. "New crew, new captain … I'm not sure I could be entirely comfortable doing that on Columbia."

Jon frowned. "Starfleet gossip travels far faster than any ship in the fleet. If that really concerns you, it might be better if we just leave it on the mountain."

"Excuse me?" She gave him a disgusted look. "Where's my determined hero of the Expanse?"

He'd find her use of "hero" really irritating if she wasn't using it to try to talk him into having sex. "I want you to succeed, Erika. So here's my advice, from one captain to another: If you're not going to get tight-assed about fraternization, you can probably get away with it. But if you are … well, in that case, any rumors that get started really could be problematic."

She frowned. "I wasn't planning on getting 'tight-assed' about a little low-key fraternization. These are pretty damned long missions, after all." She took another swig of ale. "Speaking of long missions … dare I ask who broke your former chief engineer's heart?"

"You noticed that?"

"How could I not?"

Jon sighed. "This is between us?"

"Of course."

"I believe that would be my first officer."

Her lips pursed into a near-whistle. "Oh my. I'd heard that rumor, but I thought it couldn't be true. She's Vulcan. A married Vulcan. And above him in the chain of command."

"T'Pol's not your typical Vulcan. And that marriage is over. Apparently it was just a marriage of convenience anyway. And the chain of command hasn't been a problem with those two for years. I have no complaints there."

Erika finished her glass. "But she and Tucker…?"

"I can't give you details. Neither confides in me. I just hope they know what they're doing, trying to go their separate ways. Vulcans mate for life. It's not a matter of choice for them once it's done. That's just it, until somebody dies."

"I'd heard they never divorced, but I figured that was because they didn't find divorce very logical."

"It's rare, and usually because of some problem with the mate bond. Mind you, I only know this because I carried Surak around in my head for awhile. He knew a mate bond when he saw it. And with those two, he was pretty sure he saw it. At least from her. Trip's Human, so who knows with him."

Erika stared at him, clearly nonplussed. Too late, Jon reflected that casually telling your lover and a fellow captain that you'd carried the long-dead father of Vulcan logic around in your head might not be the wisest move. "Look … about the Surak thing. I know it defies belief. I wouldn't believe it, either, if it hadn't actually happened to me. I can understand if you're a little worried that I've suddenly gone around the bend. All I can tell you is that I haven't. Talk to Ambassador Soval if you must. He knows all about it."

She blinked and he hoped she wasn't trying to decide whether she should make a report to Starfleet Command. At least Gardner already knew about it. Soval had been quite useful in making it sound like little more than an obscure administrative detail, best kept private to protect delicate Vulcan sensibilities.

Finally she said, "So, Jon … possibly insane Surak claim aside … why would you concerned about your two senior officers separating? I would think you'd be relieved."

He sighed. "For Vulcans, it's just a Very Bad Thing - very painful … distracting … and, of course, illogical."

"It seems pretty logical to me that two officers in the same chain of command would realize they shouldn't be serving together. Sometimes it's better to just accept that something isn't going to work out, for whatever reason, and move on."

Just as he and Erika once had, Jon thought, and perhaps she did too, for she suddenly looked self-conscious. He said, "That's part of the reason I let Trip go without a fight. But now I've got a very lonely and depressed first officer, and Trip doesn't look too happy either. It just feels like … I don't know. Like I'm watching a train wreck in slow motion."

"I have to agree. I don't even know the guy, but everything about him is just screaming that something's terribly wrong."

"So ... give him back. I've got a newly-minted chief engineer I'd be willing to trade. He comes highly recommended."

Erika grimaced. "Kelby has a reputation for being technically brilliant but alienating the hell out of people. That's not what I need. They're already having a hard enough time surviving an unhappy Commander Tucker."

Well, he'd tried. "Black pretty much insisted I give him at least a trial so he could get some hands-on experience. I shouldn't have let him talk me into it."

"I need a capable Chief Engineer just as badly as you do, Jonathan. More than you do. Except for Ensign Rivers, my staff lacks any previous deep space experience."

"I know." Erika had proven to be formidable in her quest for talent. He'd had to spend some political capital protecting his senior staff from her grasp before this – in Trip's case, ultimately for nothing. He frowned. He didn't like being in competition with her about something this basic. Especially not now.

She looked appraisingly at him and said, "If Trip feels that he needs to come back, that's different. We could put together a trade. I'm sure you have other staff in engineering who wouldn't mind a bump up. And I'd sure like to get my hands on a more experienced tactical officer."

"Not Reed," Jon said, though this time it wasn't purely out of a desire to hang onto his senior staff. People like Harris never liked taking no for an answer. Who knew how long it would be before Malcolm's loyalty would be tested again? Erika didn't need that kind of problem at this stage of her command.

"What about his second?"

"That might work. Let's explore that if we need to. If Trip doesn't want to come back, this is all academic."

"You could do it just to be nice to me." She smiled.

"I've got other ways to do that," Jon said, and smiled back.

x x x

Trip clicked on the lights in Enterprise's guest quarters and looked around. He still hadn't gotten around to unpacking on Columbia, so he was used to this kind of chilly utilitarian blankness by now. He sniffed. Was that a whiff of Tellarite in the air?

Well, no matter. It was time for a shower, sleep, and then another double shift. He'd agreed to stay and help Kelby get the engines back up to speed, but if he'd realized just how awkward it was going to be commanding his old engineering staff over the head of their new chief engineer, he might have said no.

Might have.

He certainly could have said no. It wasn't like he didn't have a big enough job back on Columbia.

Why had he said yes, again?

Maybe it was the relieved looks on the faces of his old engineering staff.

Maybe it was the way he still didn't know what the hell had happened with Malcolm.

Maybe it was the way Captain Hernandez said, "It seems to me, Commander, that you might have an unresolved issue or two here on Enterprise. Why don't you help them out for a couple of weeks, and then let me know where you really want to be."

Maybe it was the way Jon had smiled sadly and said, "It's damned good to see you, Trip."

Or maybe it was that unexpected raw anguish he'd sensed in that last handshake with T'Pol before he left – and again, in Engineering, when he'd put his hand on her back.

It certainly couldn't be the way she'd suddenly started following him around, asking him questions about how he was sleeping. He'd lied and told her he was sleeping fine, and she'd lied right back at him.

He sighed. Why had he lied, again? Why was it so important to pretend he didn't think about her at all, when she was practically all he could think about?

And why was she asking, anyway? Was this about their strange little conversations in the white space? At first, Trip had assumed they were some sort of weird waking dreams, or daydreams, or perhaps outright hallucinations, but as the days passed and they became practically routine, he had arrived at two hypotheses.

One: he was cracking up. Two: they were real.

If one, he was managing to remain surprisingly functional in every other aspect of his life, but perhaps that's what people who were cracking up always thought. If two, T'Pol had some explaining to do. He supposed she might have actually attempted that with those questions about his sleep, but there was something about her approach that just annoyed the hell out of him. He just knew she was gong to try to deny it meant anything that she couldn't seem to stop runnning into him in la-la land.

He got out of the shower, put on some fresh underwear, and brushed his teeth. Maybe he should go talk to Phlox. Rule out the 'cracking up' hypothesis.

Unfortunately, Phlox might decide he really was cracking up and pull him off duty. Either that, or he'd tell him he clearly had unresolved issues. Well, duh. Even Hernandez could see that and she'd known him for less than a week.

He got into bed and stared up at the top of his bunk. If he didn't get some sleep while he could, he was going to be useless tomorrow.

That was when everything faded to white. Again.

"I really don't have time for this," he growled from where he lay on his back in the middle of T'Pol's oddly warm white space. He was glad it was warm, since he was in nothing but his underwear. "I'm trying to get some sleep here."

"Perhaps some neuro-pressure would help." She was sitting in her meditation pose in the red pajamas, his favorite.

"No thank you. That's how we got into this mess in the first place. Why the hell didn't my blanket come with me?" He turned on his side, curling up a little to obtain some modesty. This would be a very bad time for those red pajamas to work their magic on him.

She just watched him. She looked tired and depressed.

"So, what the hell is going on here?" he said. "I've never had daydreams like this before, and suddenly I'm in the white zone once or twice a day. Am I cracking up, or is this some weird Vulcan thing?"

She frowned at him. "We appear to have established some kind of psychic bond."

"I kind of assumed this would stop when I returned to Enterprise."

Her chin lifted with interest. "You're staying?"

"No. I just meant … I thought maybe it was some kind of distance thing."

"Apparently not physical distance," she said, and wrapped her arms around her knees, forming a tight ball - the smallest possible target, he realized.

"Is this maybe because I was a little mean when I left?" he said, thinking out loud. Maybe that was what was unresolved here. He did feel a little bad about some of the things he'd said. "Look, I'm sorry if I hurt your feelings." He waited, but nothing happened. He was still there. T'Pol said nothing, just sat in her fortified little hunch.

"This is where you're supposed to tell me you have no feelings," he said, prodding her. "Come on - your mother dies, you're fine. Your marriage ends, you're fine. Your pesky old human lover takes off … that should be no problem at all, right? Hell, it should barely even register."

She tucked her head into her knees and began to rock just a little.

"Maybe you're the one who's cracking up." He managed to feel a little concern mix in with the anger and hurt that generally ruled him whenever they talked. "Is that what this is, T'Pol? Are you having a little Vulcan breakdown?"

"Perhaps." She said it into her knees.

He sat up. If she was admitting it, it must be bad. "You should talk to Phlox. Or, hell -" He waved his hand around. "I'm here." Wherever the hell here was. "Whether I want to be or not, apparently." This was just so insane. "So talk to me. What's going on?"

She said nothing, just rocked.

"Look, I don't understand," he said, exasperated. "If you're not going to talk to me, why am I here?"

But then he wasn't. He was back in his bunk, in the same position as when he'd left.

Damn it!

He probably should get up and go to her quarters and demand an explanation – provoke a fight – try to get some sort of resolution.

And he'd get up right now, if he thought he could fight fair - or that she'd even admit that what just happened had in fact happened.

Maybe it hadn't happened, even though he was pretty sure it had.

Either way, part of him was just becoming so furious at her for denying him what felt like his rights that he didn't entirely trust himself to go talk to her about it in real life at all. Truth was, he wanted to scream at her. He wanted to smash her precious goddamn Vulcan things on the deck, especially that goddamn Kir'Shara.

And what was the point of trying to resurrect a relationship that had gotten that unhealthy?

Better to leave it alone before somebody got hurt even worse. He'd just do his job. When she was ready, maybe she would tell him what the hell this was all about. Or maybe he'd just get over it. Or maybe they'd ship him off to a mental hospital until he stopped experiencing these delusional episodes.

He just hoped this wasn't what he was going to feel like for the rest of his life.


The End


Comments:

Cogito

It's achingly painful, especially Trip's response to T'Pol during their whitespace encounter. The image of T'Pol is heartbreaking, and yet Trip comes across as completely unsympathetic. Even his offer to talk about whatever was bothering her seemed reluctant.

Shame on you, Trip. :(

It's a tribute to your writing that you have managed to make it so painful, Alelou, but the angst burns. It burns!

Alelou

Thanks, Panyasan.  At this point, I think the bond is having more of an effect on Trip than he has any way of intellectually understanding.  I did actually tone his rage down a bit from the ff version, but I can't help thinking that the animalistic mate bond that Vulcans form must be having some effect on him.  (And God knows plenty of plain old Human guys are capable of getting violently possessive about their women without a Vulcan mate bond, though I don't think Trip would naturally be one of those guys.)

panyasan

Jon and Erika deserves every bit of happiness. But why are they so very happy, when T'Pol and Trip are not? :!@

So now I got this from my chest :D: I a bit torn about Trip. I understand his madness, applaud him for sticking up for himself, but... his anger has gone too far. T'Pol is just lost in this chapter. And a bit stubborn - this could have been a chance for her to talk with Trip. And yes, I agree with Putoro, the appeal of this chapter is the vulnerablity of T'Pol.

You have painted the emotions very realistic and well. As madness and being a genius are also close to each other, love and anger are also such great emotions that are close. As much as you can love someone, the more you feel anger at that person when things go wrong. You showed that well.

Alelou

Thanks!

Yes, go for it, Cogito. :)

Distracted

Oh, poor T'Pol. I can just see her curled up in a ball on the floor in her pajamas with her face on her knees. It's a pitiful image. Trip needs to run right over there and see about her.

Cogito? How about it? We need another Missing Missing Scene.

putaro

I still think Trip Tucker is a cold hard man if he is able to resist the red PJ's and a disconsolate T'Pol.  As far as angsty bits go, this is one of my favorites, probably because T'Pol is so vulnerable.

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