A Ring and a Prayer

By Capn Frances

Rating: PG

Genres: drama romance

Keywords:

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Disclaimer: I do not own Star Trek Enterprise or its characters, and no profit was made or will be made by the creation of this work.

Summary: Trip wants to create a very special evening for T’Pol. This is 90% romantic fluff and 10%...

The story is set after the episode “Terra Prime”. Translations for the Vulcan words and phrases are given at the end.

 


 

As Enterprise’s first officer entered the Mess Hall for breakfast, she was greeted by her Chief Engineer. “Good morning, T’Pol. Happy Valentine’s Day!”

She was not sure of the correct response. “Happy Valentine’s Day, Trip,” she replied with a bit of hesitation.

She picked up her plomeek broth and headed for the table where Trip had placed his tray. She had heard crew members mention that occasion in the past, but had never thought it relevant. Now she was curious.

They spent most of their meal discussing the sensor upgrades they were working on. As they were finishing, she said, “What is Valentine’s Day?”

“I think the best way to tell you would be to show you.” His smiling blue eyes showed a hint of mischief. “Meet me in my quarters at 1900.”

She wondered if this was another one of Trip’s courtship rituals. In the days after Elizabeth’s death, she had not thought she would be able to survive the loss. She had tried to push Trip away, but he stayed close to her, sharing his grief, his love and his strength. Once she had struggled through the worst of her grief, she realized how essential Trip had been. After many hours of meditation and reading the Kir-Shara, she concluded that there was no logic in denying how much she loved him. She realized how little they knew about each other in some essential areas despite having been friends and colleagues for years. Their romantic relationship had suddenly flared in the Expanse and then seemed to collapse. They had missed some important steps, steps that were especially vital because they were so different. Sadly, she had no idea what those steps were.  

After Elizabeth’s funeral, Captain Archer had insisted that they take bereavement leave. Three weeks after their return to Enterprise, the ship had been rocked by an ion storm. After it was over, T’Pol worked late into the night recalibrating the sensors. She decided to stop by the Mess Hall on the way to her quarters for a cup of chamomile tea, and saw Trip sitting alone with a large mug on the table, looking out a view port.

As she sat down with him, she said, “Coffee so late at night will not be good for your sleep.”

“It’s not coffee; it’s warm milk with honey. That’s what Mama always used to give me when I couldn’t sleep.”

“You are still having trouble sleeping?”

“Not as much now, but I’m still having some nightmares.”

“We should resume our neuropressure sessions.”

Trip had smiled. “I’d like that.” He paused for a moment with his tongue pressed against the inside of his cheek. “T’Pol, that brings up something I’ve been wanting to talk with you about. I’ve been thinking a lot about what’s happened between us and what kind of future we could have. I know I love you. I think you have feelings for me, but it seems like every time we get close, you get scared and push me away. Then I get hurt and angry and pull away from you. And I still don’t really understand this whole thing with the bond. I think it could be great, but sometimes it scares me.

“I’m not Vulcan, but I think I can imagine how overwhelming all these feelings must be for you. Human couples usually have problems when they’re getting to know each other and develop a relationship. For a Vulcan-Human couple, it’s got to be a lot harder. There’s so much we need to learn and understand about each other and about Vulcans and Humans. I think we need to take it slow, give each other time to learn and adjust.

“Where I come from, a gentleman may court a lady as a way of getting to know her and helping their relationship to grow. I’d like to court you.”

She’d raised an eyebrow. “What would this courtship entail?”

He said, “We’d start with little things like sharing meals and recreational activities. I don’t think it should all be what Humans usually do. I’d like us to share some of your culture, too. Hoshi told me that we just got an English translation of the Kir-Shara. We could read it together and discuss it. Maybe you could even teach me to meditate.”

Her eyebrow almost disappeared into her hairline. “Anything is possible. How would you like to start?”

He smiled brightly. “Tomorrow is movie night. We’re showing a classic Marx Brothers comedy, ‘A Night at the Opera.’ I think you’ll find it intriguing. Let’s meet here for dinner at 1800 and then go to the movie.”

“Agreed. I will meet you here tomorrow at 1800.”

He rose from his chair and glanced around the Mess Hall to be sure they were alone. He put his hand on her shoulder and gave her a light kiss on the forehead. “Good night, T’Pol.”

She had always considered Human courtship rituals to be illogical, but in the months that followed, she had begun to understand their hidden logic. She found the activities they shared to be a highly agreeable way to learn more about her t’hy’la. His joy in simple things fascinated her and added to her contentment. His perspective on the Kir-Shara gave her new insights; teaching him to meditate proved to be much easier than she expected. Resuming the neuropressure sessions helped them both to heal and to strengthen their bond.  

Now, almost a year into their courtship, Trip was still coming up with Human traditions that intrigued and surprised her. Throughout the day, she wondered about this mysterious Human tradition of Valentine’s Day. She tried to look for information in the database. That left her even more puzzled. Why would Trip want to commemorate the death of a priest who died over 1600 years ago? Apparently this priest was considered a saint but as far as she knew, Trip was not particularly religious.

At lunch, she asked Hoshi. “Trip wishes to celebrate Saint Valentine’s Day. Why would he wish to commemorate the death of a priest who was executed over 1600 years ago?”

Hoshi almost choked on the bite of tuna salad she had just taken. She laughed. “T’Pol, the tradition may have started with that but now it’s about romance. Lots of hearts and flowers. And lots of chocolate. Especially chocolate.”

“I see,” T’Pol said, although she was still puzzled. Before Hoshi could explain further, she was called to the Bridge to deal with a problem with an encrypted message from Admiral Gardner.

T'Pol didn't have time to inquire further before she was due to arrive at Trip's quarters. She rang the chime at exactly 1900. Trip immediately opened the door and gave her a welcoming smile. He was dressed in a cobalt blue silk shirt and tan tropical wool pants. His hair was still damp from the shower; she smelled the sandalwood of his soap.

As she entered, he gave her a gentle kiss on the lips and handed her a bouquet of red roses. “Happy Valentine’s Day, T’Pol!”

The room was pleasantly warm. The cabin lights were off, but there were a number of candles burning, softly lighting the room. She recognized John Coltrane's saxophone playing “Like Someone in Love” quietly in the background. He had cleared his desk and covered it with a white linen tablecloth. She wondered for a moment where he had stowed all the PADDs that usually covered much of its surface.

“The roses are beautiful,” she said. Their scent was almost intoxicating.

“Let me put them in some water for you.”

As he put them in a vase on the table, the door chimed again. “Come in,” he called.

A steward entered with a trolley. Trip and T’Pol went over to sit on the bed to give him room to work. She brushed her hand over the soft burgundy duvet; she did not recall having seen it before. They watched as the steward expertly set the table with the china, silver, crystal and linens Enterprise carried for special occasions. He placed a chilled bottle of champagne in a silver ice bucket and placed the food on the table.

As he was leaving, Trip said, “Thanks, Cunningham. Please thank Chef again for me.”

“You’re welcome, sir. Happy Valentine’s Day!”

Trip gestured for her to take her place at the table. As she did, she noticed a card on her plate. It had a large red heart on a white background. Written in gold in ceremonial Vulcan script was:

Ashal-veh,

Nam-uh t’nash-veh Valentine.

 “‘Beloved, be my Valentine’,” she translated. “But what does it mean to be someone’s Valentine?”

“Hoshi helped me with that. It’s traditional to give one’s sweetheart a card on Valentine’s Day asking her to be one’s Valentine. I don’t know exactly how to translate that.” His brows knotted for a moment as he thought; then he smiled. “I guess ‘beloved’ would be pretty close.”

Warmth spread from her chest throughout her body. “In that case, it would be most agreeable to be your Valentine.”

Trip grinned. “It’s also traditional to share a special meal in a romantic setting. Romantic settings are a little hard to come by on a starship so I had to make do.”

“I find this setting quite aesthetically pleasing.”

“I hope you will find the meal equally pleasing. Chef made a wild mushroom risotto and a mixed green salad with toasted almonds and an herb vinaigrette. We have a 2144 vintage Dom Perignon champagne. And of course we have dessert, but we’ll get to that later.”

Trip opened and poured the champagne. He raised his glass. “To my ashayam, sochya eh dif. Taluhk nash-veh k'dular.” She was surprised how little of his usual drawl she heard in his Vulcan words. He must have spent hours practicing with Hoshi. 

She raised her glass. “Peace and long life. I cherish you as well.” He clinked his glass against hers.

She took a small sip of her champagne. “Intriguing.  I do not believe I have had a beverage like this. There are many layers to the aroma and the taste. The bubbles are … stimulating. Are they natural?”

He nodded.  “Yes, the wine was fermented in the bottle so that the carbon dioxide bubbles could be captured. Then it was aged for several years to allow the flavors to develop.”

She tasted her risotto. “The food is excellent. How did you arrange all this?”

“I’ve been planning this for a while. When we stopped by Andoria a couple of months ago, I went to the United Earth Embassy. They have an excellent gourmet shop. I got what we needed for this and a few things Chef wanted. I also picked up a few things for Ensign Richards in Hydroponics. That made things pretty simple.”

“I do not recall Chef putting almonds in a salad in the past. They are a quite agreeable addition.”

“I’m glad you like them. I asked him to include almonds in the meal. That’s a tradition for Valentine’s Day in my family.”

“Please tell me more about this Valentine’s Day.”

“There are many legends about Valentine’s Day; it was originally the Feast Day of Saint Valentine in the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Churches on Earth. Saint Valentine was said to be a Christian priest in Rome in the 5th Century CE. At that time, the Roman Empire persecuted Christians. He was said to have performed Christian marriages for couples who were forbidden to marry. He was jailed and eventually executed. One legend said that, before his execution, he healed Julia, the blind daughter of his jailer. Julia planted a pink flowered almond tree near his grave.  

“Since the 14th Century on Earth, Valentine’s Day has been associated with romantic love. The almond tree became a symbol of abiding love and friendship.”

“Indeed. Perhaps someday we should plant an almond tree.”

He reached across the table to gently squeeze her hand. “I’d like that. We already have the abiding love and friendship but growing a symbol of that would be mighty nice.” He looked as if he were imagining planting that tree in front of the house he hoped they would build.

They savored the rest of the meal in silence until it was time for dessert. When they had finished the risotto and the salad, Trip lifted a silver dome to expose two dessert glasses. He gave one to her and put one on his own plate. She looked at the stemmed glass holding a dark brown creamy substance garnished with red raspberries and a sprig of mint.

Her t’hy’la smiled at her, his hand indicating the dessert. "Chocolate is also a Valentine's Day tradition. Many men give their sweethearts a box of chocolates. Considering how Vulcans are with chocolate, I thought I should skip that part. But Chef insisted that his vegan chocolate mousse was better than sex. I'm not sure about that, but it's damn good. Close your eyes."

“Why should I close my eyes?”

“You’ll get the fullest appreciation of the flavors that way. Trust me.”

T’Pol closed her eyes. He picked up a dessertspoon to give her a taste of the mousse. When she felt the cool metal against her lips, she opened her mouth. She almost gasped at the rich flavors on her tongue, sweet accentuated with a hint of bitterness and a complex aroma of dark chocolate, vanilla, ripe berries and mint. The creamy mousse slowly melted on her tongue.  

“Most agreeable,” she said as she opened her eyes.

Trip smiled brightly. “There’s plenty more where that came from.”

“I believe it is my turn to help you appreciate this fully. Close your eyes.”

Trip closed his eyes and opened his mouth. As he tasted the mousse, he murmured in appreciation.

As they reached the bottom of their dessert glasses, she realized how truly intimate they had become. She had never felt this close to anyone before.

Trip poured more champagne into each of their glasses and took a sip. He took a deep breath and said seriously, “T’Pol, Jon called me into his Ready Room yesterday for a talk. He reminded me about that MACO fraternization case that went all the way up to the United Earth Supreme Court a couple of months ago. They ruled that people have a right to marry; if a couple is married, it’s not fraternization. I hadn't thought much about it, but apparently Starfleet has. Jon said there will be a new reg coming out any time now saying that Starfleet personnel can marry without it being considered fraternization. They'll still need a waiver to be in the same chain of command, but it will be decided on a case-by-case basis.”

He paused and took another deep breath. “Jon said he thought we should consider it. He said he was almost certain we could stay together and that he'd do everything he could to keep us both on Enterprise if that's what we want."

Before T’Pol could reply, Trip knelt on the floor in front of her. He took a small velvet covered box from his pants pocket and looked into her eyes. “T’Pol, you are my k’diwa, my soul mate. I love you more than I ever thought I could love anyone. I’ll love you every moment of my life and beyond. Would you do me the honor of becoming my wife?

“You don’t have to answer me right now. I don’t want you to ever think I took advantage of you when I’d gotten you drunk on chocolate and champagne. But it would mean more to me than you’ll ever know if you’ll just consider it.”

Looking into his beautiful blue eyes, she saw his deep love for her and his hope for their future, but she also saw a tinge of apprehension. Could he still be afraid that she would reject him? “Trip, I don’t need to consider it. You are my k’diwa. We are bond mates. By ancient Vulcan tradition, we are married. That is what is important to me. But if it would please you to undergo the rituals to make it official, I wish to do that as well.”

Trip looked at her with an expression of stunned delight. “T’Pol, I can’t tell you how much that pleases me, but maybe I can show you.”  

He opened the box.  The box contained two simple gold rings and a third ring with a flawless emerald flanked by six small diamonds. “On Earth, it’s traditional to give your beloved a ring when you become engaged. Grandmother Tucker had left her engagement ring and her wedding ring to me for when I was ready to marry. When we shipped out on Enterprise, I left them at my parents’ house for safekeeping. They were lost in the Xindi attack.” His features briefly clouded with sadness.

She wanted to comfort him, but before she knew what to say, his smile returned. "I'm sure Grandmother Tucker would want me to create a new tradition. I thought something I made by hand would be best. I made three gold bands, a wedding ring for you, a wedding ring for me and an engagement ring. When we were on Andoria, I went to the jeweler at the Embassy compound and found that emerald. There are probably even more legends on Earth about emeralds than there are about St. Valentine. They’re a symbol of love, loyalty, hope, and healing. I thought it was perfect for you. I had the jeweler set it on the engagement ring and add some small diamonds on the sides.  It was beautiful, but I thought it still needed something, so I added an inscription inside the ring, ‘Kol-Ut-Shan.' But if it's not what you want, I can get something to replace it." He picked up the ring and placed it on the ring finger of her left hand.

“ ‘Infinite diversity in infinite combinations.’ ” She paused, her eyes bright with wonder. “Trip, it’s perfect.”

He enveloped her in a hug and kissed her deeply until the intercom interrupted, “Archer to Tucker.” The captain’s voice sounded urgent. She silently cursed the interruption, but the urgency in Archer’s voice made her concerned.

Trip sighed. “Tucker here.”

“Sorry to interrupt, Trip, but I need all the senior officers in my Ready Room ASAP. If T’Pol is with you, let her know.”

“She is. We’re on our way.”

 

 

As they entered the Ready Room, Trip realized he had not seen Jon look so grim since the Xindi had attacked Earth. He started to ask what had happened but decided he should wait.

Travis was the last of the senior staff to arrive. As soon as he was seated, Jon said, “The Romulans have attacked the colony at Mu Virginis III.  The colony was able to get a message to Starfleet saying that they were being attacked by at least three warbirds. Starfleet hasn’t been able to get in touch with them for the last two hours. We’re the only Starfleet vessel within 24 hours’ travel of their location. We will arrive in three hours and 22 minutes.”

The Romulan War had begun.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Author’s Note: The idea that chocolate is intoxicating to Vulcans came from Putaro’s excellent story, “Setting the Course”, which is posted on Triaxian Silk. Lady Rainbow was very helpful with my questions on the Vulcan language. She didn’t review all of my Vulcan text. Any errors that crept in are mine alone. Also, many thanks to my wonderful betas, Eireann and Frakme. Reviews would be very much appreciated.

Vulcan words and phrases:

ashal-veh – darling; person; term of endearment (noun)

ashayam – a beloved person; used as a term of endearment; similar to t’hy’la but more personal and with emotional connotations

k’diwa – a shortened form of address for beings who are each other’s k’hat’n’dlawa; equated to the Terran term “beloved”

k’hat’n’dlawa – one who is ‘half of my heart and soul’ in its deepest sense; became unfashionable after Reformation because of its emotional connotations (anc.)

Kir-Shara – a sacred artifact believed to contain Surak’s original writings

Kol-Ut-Shan – Infinite Diversity in Infinite Combinations (IDIC)

nam-uh – be (imperative mood)

sochya eh dif – peace and long life

Taluhk nash-veh k'dular. – I cherish thee. A declaration of love between bond mates that is accepted by Vulcan society

t’hy’la – friend; lover; lifelong companion; blood brother/sister, soul mate; soul-brother/sister

t’nash-veh – mine

Except for nam-uh, the definitions above are from the Vulcan Language Dictionary, http://www.starbase-10.de/vld/ .


Comments:

Weeble

I think i just read a chick flick. :s

Linda

A very sweet (pun intended) romantic story.  And emeralds are my favorite gem.

Cap'n Frances

Thanks, all of you! I'm glad you enjoyed the story. There should be more coming soon.

Eireann

I already had the pleasure of reading this, but it's always well worth another read.  I think what makes it all the more striking is the fact that the coming of the war strikes right in the moment of their happiness.  They'll need each other more than ever now, and it's a terrible juxtaposition of hope and fear for the future.  An excellent story.

Lt. Zoe Jebkanto


Elegant!  You have beautifully crafted a tender, romantic story with a bit of pathos, some humour and some (really!) interesting information!  I liked how Trip conveyed the ancient and modern traditions of Valentine's day to T'Pol-  a cultural blending they can both respect- along with the love and hope for their knowing and loving of each other to grow.

Thank you for writing this!  It was a pleasure to read (and I lookdforward to more!) ZJ 

Asso

Simply a gem.
But not as cold as a diamond.
Hot. As a red ruby.

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