Undelivered

By enterprikayak

Rating: PG

Genres: angst drama romance

Keywords: bond character death

This story has been read by 621 people.
This story has been read 894 times.


Author: enterprikayak
Disclaimer: Star Trek is owned by Paramount. No infringement intended.
Feedback: Do!

Spoilers: The Good That Men Do (If you haven’t read it, you may be confused…)

A vignette inspired by the undelivered letter discovered by T’Pol.

Timeperiod: the day Trip died, February 14, 2155.


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

I walked down the corridor, my heart beating faster—as it always did when I took these particular turns. However, this evening, the rapidity of my pulse was not due to an illogical thrill of anticipation, as it had been in the past. Tonight it was simply the thready rhythm of despair. And—irrationally—panic. I swallowed as I reached my destination, and slowed my step. Without good reason, I waited before the door—for a summons that would never again come—and then quickly pressed my thumbprint against the panel.

As the door swished aside, I unsuccessfully tried not to recall the sick knot my stomach had formed when I had visited Reed earlier, to gain access to Commander Tucker’s quarters. The lieutenant had quietly nodded at my request and accessed the crew quarters database. The look on his face had been the worst of it, I decided later…the look as he forced his eyes to meet mine after a moment examining Trip’s security index.

“He’s, um….” Malcolm lost the battle to hold my gaze. His eyes dropped back to his console and he tapped a few keys pointlessly, as he quietly informed me, “He already added your print. Three months ago.”

I had carefully frozen my features upon hearing this news: the only way that I and Lieutenant Reed might both be spared the awkwardness of my anguish. He, like only a few of the others, understands the need for propriety. Simply nodding my thanks, I had walked away from the man.

And so I alone bore witness to the sick shock that poured through my body at the revelation that Trip had already made his home mine. He trusted me enough that he wanted me to be able to walk in whenever I pleased. And yet he had never said a thing about it. The incongruity of my human lover’s actions had always been a most perplexing study, and I puzzled—realising it would be the last time—over his reasoning behind such an intimate, and yet undisclosed, deed.

The smell of his room enveloped my senses as the door silently closed behind me. I stood in the darkness, my eyes closed and burning, wishing against everything in this relentless universe that he was here with me, in the velvet dark—breathing, and waiting, and warm.

Not so.

Without activating the lights, I took two blind steps and sat tensely upon his mattress—shoulders tight, hands clasped—and looked out at the softly sparkling field of stars beyond.

The main thing that paralysed me was the daft inexplicability of his death. Marauders from nowhere? Gone and vaporised in an asteroid field just minutes after? And Trip—left burned and broken by his brief interaction with them. Trip—alighting from this life as easily as he had ever laughed at a joke or taken my hand. As simple as that…and he was gone? I could not comprehend it. Perhaps the strain of so rapidly losing every single person who I had held ‘close to my heart’—as the humans say—was working upon my mind that night, for I was unable to move or think for a very long time.

When finally I placed weary palms over my dry, desolate eyes and called for half-lights, I felt nauseous. The act of sitting here, marinated in the personal space of my dead friend—my sometime lover—the father of my poorly-made little girl…it was too much for such a one as I: damaged and battered beyond the ability to protect myself from my own emotions.

I stood—breathing deeply—and went to the closet for Trip’s bag. This had to be done. It had to be done by me. I needed to do it. I pulled the small case from the bottom of the tall, narrow cupboard. As I did so, however, my face brushed against the soft leg of one of Trip’s hanging uniforms. I stood slowly, placing the case at my feet, and reached the garment from off of its hook. Logic having been left in the outer corridor, I will say that it was reverence—and nothing less—that softened and slowed my actions, making the moment dreamlike, as I held the uniform up by the shoulders and looked long at its front.

A strange low, sob finally tore unbidden from my throat at the sight of his habitual, familiar clothing, and my legs seemed almost to melt out from beneath me…as if they had never properly worked in the first place. I fell to my knees on the floor and sobbed out my electric, gasping grief for the first time since the captain had delivered the appalling news of my t'hy'la's death, hours ago.

His uniform served as a towel for the tears that wet my cheeks and a muffle for the low screams of agonized bereavement I was utterly unable to hold in. It was only then, as I noisily crushed his uniform to my face, that I became certain that Trip had been my one and only bondmate—whether I had ever had the courage to suspect it before or not. It was then that I began to think of myself—privately—as a widow.

It is vitally important that I recall this detail, as what I found next threw me into such extreme turmoil, it may have been impossible for someone like me—lacking a lifetime of emotional experience—to sort out where my torrid emotions had originated from…who they belonged to. However, I do recall it—this moment of my first and deepest despair—and so I am certain that the feelings that I held for my departed mate as I keened upon my knees were utterly my own…and not to be blamed upon anything that happened immediately afterward.

Feelings, emotions…always a sensitive point for me, and so Trip—ever the sensitive human man—rarely pushed me farther than I wanted to go. Though I am more than old enough to have been his mother, he always seemed to envision himself in a protective role, divining (quite correctly) that I am often out of my depth with his species and our crewmates. However, this sensitivity of his always simply allowed me the luxury of never having to name my emotions, never having to own them, nor admit their existence. I liked to pretend I had none. It was easiest.

And so Trip certainly went to his death thinking me fickle and indecisive—caring for him, but not loving him: taking him for granted—and assuming that, should I ever have need of him, I would find him there: simply waiting patiently for me.

Knowing what I know now, I was not far wrong in my assumptions. I believe, had he been handed a different fate, he would have waited—undeserving though I may have been of such constancy—until I finally woke to the undeniable fact of our destiny. Logical or no. However, in this universe—in my universe—it was fated that Trip Tucker should go young to bravely meet the next phase of existence—whatever that might be.

And so I was left, lying on the floor in his quarters, my face pressed, damp and cold—and quiet now—into the sturdy blue material of his uniform. I tried to sniffle, but found my nose too stuffed with the uncomfortable remains of my violent crying jag, and so I had to settle for breathing raggedly, childlike, through swollen, puffy lips, swallowing every now and again—as shakily I stood and tried to regain control over my inner demons.

Needing something to do with my hands, I swiftly gathered up all of Trip’s clothes from the closet in one armful and lay them down upon the bed next to the case. I quickly folded the items and placed them, one at a time, into the open case. I left the loudest Hawaiian shirt for last, and shaking it out, I nearly smiled for a strange moment in recollection of Trip’s uniquely bold sense of fashion. Then, I flattened the garment on the bed to fold the short sleeves inward, and I noticed a bit of paper sticking out of the breast pocket.

Having no idea of what was about to happen to me, I simply pulled the thing out, in order that I might place it in the suitcase for his parents, along with his other papers and mementoes.

It was an envelope, rather thick, and folded in half. I smoothed it out to its full width—and nearly fainted with adrenaline as my own name stared up at me from its front, in Trip’s unmistakable handwriting.

Again sinking to the floor, but this time under my own volition, I crossed my legs and stared at the artifact in my shaking hands. My heart was hammering harder than it ever had before. He wasn’t dead. This was why I hadn’t felt my bond fluttering bloodied: torn asunder in some frigidly fateless wind. This was why the back of my brain was so restless with denial. He was alive…and here was the note in which he would explain everything.

I turned the envelope over and slid a finger under the small, sealed portion of paper. The contents were several pages folded together. As I extracted the wad of paper from within its cocooning envelope, I realised that he had used a schematic of Enterprise that had always hung on the wall above his desk, looking up now, I could see it was gone. It had been a smallish poster, with fold marks dividing it into four equal squares. Trip had clearly turned the poster over and torn along these fold scores, creating four sheets of white paper, with cropped, Starfleet diagramming patterning the backs.

I opened the triple-folded pages with bated breath and then nearly cried out at the sight of the date on the top. January 31. Only a day after Elizabeth’s funeral on Vulcan. The likelihood of the letter containing a last-second explanation of today’s disappearance had just plummeted to nearly nothing.

I closed my eyes as the final reality of his loss hit me anew, and I didn’t think I had the strength to read these…the last fresh words of Charles Trip Tucker. I knew that when I had done with them, he would truly be gone. I rubbed the thick paper between my fingers, my eyes still closed—hot, irritating tears dripping quietly out of them onto my lap.

The last paper note I’d received had been from Koss. I decided I didn’t like paper notes and opened my eyes to get through whatever it was Trip clearly hadn’t been able to say aloud. The handwriting style started out somewhat formally, his all-capitals method small and square and efficient. However, after a few sentences, the script became messier and more hurried…and I could see him momentarily, as if he were right before my eyes, tearing his poster to pieces the night after we interred our daughter and pouring his heart out via pen and ink—full to the brim with emotions for a woman who didn’t want to hear about them.


>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Dear T’Pol,

I hope you’re sitting down when you read this. If I give it to you. I might not. I’ll say that first off, and I’m writing it down with my pen here, so that I’ll feel free to be completely honest. For some reason, whenever I try to write this letter with the idea that you’re going to read it, my hand freezes.

I’m doing it this way—writing it down—when I should just drop this pen on the table and stand up and go to your quarters. I’ll admit the reason: cowardice. No point in pretending otherwise. I should drop this pen, like I say, and stand up and leave, and walk down those long corridors that separate us, and I should ring your bell. And when you open the door, I should just let myself in and sit stubbornly down on your floor, no matter what you happen to be up to, no matter what you say. And then when I’m there, safe and secure, in your quarters—where you bought me back to life, by the way—I should just tell you the truth.

I love you, T’Pol. I love you.

You already know it, of course. You’ve got to. I know you love me. That has never really been the question, has it? The way we feel? Our feelings have always been pretty evident, even if we never say anything. No, it’s always been the issue of being together. As if somehow, ‘being together’ could possibly be any harder than being apart.

Could it be? We seem to think so, you and I. We keep deciding that we think it’s best if we maintain our distance. But some part of me (all of me) keeps shouting at me when I’m awake (and dreaming at me when I’m asleep) that us maintaining our distance is wrong, wrong, wrong.

I know I can’t simply convince you. I’ve heard all your circular logic (and mine), and we can spend hours and days thinking up reasons for this not to work. It’s a game we’re both good at. But then, after we’re done, and I’m alone again—well, all of these soft, quiet reasons for why it would be the best thing that ever happened to either of us keep popping into my head.

We just buried a second Elizabeth, T‘Pol. We just left our hearts on Vulcan in broken pieces atop a grave containing your mother and our daughter, and my brain is so sore from sadness that I just want to go to sleep and not wake up again. And yet, even now, my traitorous mind thinks of you—pictures you—alone down the corridor in your room, holding your grief tight to your chest. I ache to go and gather you up. And the only thing in the world keeping me from your side is the fear that if I do go to you, you will send me away again.

And so I sit and think of you instead. A million real and imagined encounters flicker past my mind’s eye any time I have a free moment for random thoughts. I am a man obsessed against his will. I think it has something to do with that damn bond. And thoughts of our damn bond lead to thoughts of its accidental creation and the best night of my entire life. A night when everything suddenly seemed so simple and right and pure that my chest still crushes when I remember it.

And the worst day still hurts my stomach. I can smell the lava and the heat and the sulphur. I can see the perplexed despair on your face as your katra and your mind made different, tearing demands upon your person. I can hear your exact words: “I’ve decided to marry Koss.”

That’s when the door came down, you know. Stupidly, illogically, that’s when I fell completely in love with you, T’Pol. Right at that moment. When I could no longer have you. And I didn’t say one damn thing.

I take all of the blame for this, by the way. I feel sick as I write all this out. It feels almost like a heinous, shameful crime I am confessing. You were never brought up to the idea of marrying anyone but Koss. It’s not part of your culture. My planet’s the one with all the flirting and dating and bold suggestions. I should have had the guts to grab you by those delicious upper arms of yours and hold you still long enough to say some of these things. Any of them. I never should have left that lava plain letting you think I was content living as no more than your colleague. Commander Charles Tucker the Third.

But I did.

You read the top of the letter. I’m a coward. I think the biggest reason I’m afraid to tell you I love you, is that once I do—once you reply that it is ‘illogical’ one last time—then my final hope will have gone. I will have laid it all out, and you will have said no. And that will be that.

Look, I don’t have all the answers, T’Pol. I have no idea how to work out a relationship like ours. There’s never been a relationship like ours. But as I laid here in my lonely bed tonight, picturing Elizabeth’s cold little face, some part of me was going to break out of my skin if I didn’t just get up and write these things down in a letter.

I should take it to your quarters. I want to watch your face change as you read it, want to have you stand and come to me and put your arms around me, so I can hold you and lay my face in your hair. I could live the rest of my life standing there with you like that and never complain.

God, the dreams I have, grieving or no. And I know you’re having them too, T’Pol, so don’t even try to pretend you’re not. And then, in the morning, you sit there at breakfast with the captain, and look at me over your tea—as if we hadn’t just spent the night…well, anyhow. No need to go into detail. Either you know what I’m babbling about or you don’t.

I’m not going to show you this letter now. It’s 0300. You’ve got more than way too much on your mind. Hopefully, though, over the next few weeks, we’ll keep talking. We’ll keep trusting one another. Hopefully, soon, we’ll both start to realise that we’ve been through way too much together to be apart now. It’s nothing short of illogical for two single people who live a few metres apart—longing for one another—to spend every night in a miserable storm of angst. Especially when they could be the two happiest people on the ship.

The fact that I know this even tonight—the worst night of my life, the night after burying a daughter who would have forever linked our bodies and our souls—proves that I am right. There will be a time and a place for us, T’Pol. And this is my pledge, here on this page: that I will spend the rest of my life trying to create that space for us. God grant that it will not take long.

I have been so proud of your bravery over the past few days, my girl. I know I’ll be proud of you tomorrow too, and the next day, and the day after that. And I know that one day, you will feel happy again. And I know that one day, after that, you will come to me smiling, and I will kiss you, and then our lives will be complete. I know it.

Goodnight T’Pol. I love you.

Trip

>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>


The act of reading Trip’s letter aged me and injured me and youthened me and healed me all in one horrible, simultaneous process. My emotions swirled sickly as I finished it, as I read his hopeful words for the future. Our future. He had two weeks to live when he penned them.

I spent a few minutes sitting, stunned, my heart still hammering unhealthily against my ribs. The various interactions I had shared with Trip over the last few months since he’d secretly added my print to his door—and then over the last two weeks since he’d written the letter—reshuffled themselves excruciatingly as I sat, staring. Every look and word and touch took on a possible significance of double meaning now.

Two weeks ago, a day before we’d put Elizabeth in the ground, I had forced myself to articulate my logical concerns over our relationship. The fact was that my secretly Trellium-shattered control simply couldn’t take any more. It killed me to tell him that I didn’t want us to be together, but it was killing me staying as we were: in limbo, neither mates nor not mates—never able to express the sensations that burned in my chest, eating away at my mind and my control. Trip had agreed. He had agreed. And then he had written this letter the very next day.

With cold, wet hands, I folded it up and replaced it in its envelope. I bent the thick envelope in two again and thrust it deep into my hip pocket, before standing and mechanically beginning to reach down the mementoes and photographs from the shelf above his bed. The pain in my stomach was so intense that, in any other scenario, I would have been certain there was a serious physical problem.

The case was beginning to fill. I stopped again, looking at the small collection of possessions. Before his clothing became completely buried, I lifted one of the folded uniforms carefully back out and held it to my cheek. Trip had worn it at least once since it had been laundered, and his faintly pungent personal smell permeated the fibres of the cloth. I held the thick, folded square to my face, inhaling deeply and wondering that I—a Vulcan woman—had fallen so completely in love with his aroma. The scent of humans had never been one I preferred, though after coming to Enterprise I had grown completely used to it. However, Trip’s scent always seemed unique to me. Illogically intriguing and attractive, somehow. It startled me now to feel warm comfort soaking into my bones—as I closed my eyes, and breathed, and imagined him near me one last time.

The door swished open and Captain Archer entered. I didn’t care to have him intrude on my personal moment and so I simply shook the garment as if refolding it and replaced it in the case. The captain spent a few awkward moments with me, exchanging information and making a few brief, caring attempts at condolence, before finally sensing that I was desperate for solitude—and leaving me alone in Trip’s quarters. I crawled up on to my t'hy'la's bed and pushed my face into his pillow. Weeping, cocooned in Trip’s scent and bedding, I fell asleep.


Fin


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Aikiweezie

I can't believe I just found this story.  Damn, damn good stuff.  My heart was pounding and I was feeling T'Pol's nausea and grief.  Excellent writing.

Larry
I hope you do a sequel
evcake
Favorite lines: The smell of his room enveloped my senses as the door silently closed behind me. I stood in the darkness, my eyes closed and burning, wishing against everything in this relentless universe that he was here with me, in the velvet dark—breathing, and waiting, and warm. Nice. Double nice.
eKayak
But you live with me. You don't count. I could have tied you to the computer and made you type that.
Priso-McCisor
Awe... Poor dear! Maybe you could prod people into passionate comment-making fury with another hotly contested topic, hmmm? Maybe a veiled commentary on Race, Sex, or Religion? lmao I still love this one! I think you captured T'Pol perfectly... And in the first-person: Not Easy ;)
eKayak
Awwww, me comments are all gone. :@

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