Shore Leave

By Asso

Rating: R

Genres: angst drama romance

Keywords:

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This story is number 1 in the series Shore Leave


Chapter 1

Shore Leave

(The Whys and Wherefores)

By Asso

 

 

 

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Rating: G (For now)

Genres: romance, drama, angst (For now)

Keywords: FATHER! And... Well! You will see.

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I'm a lucky man.

When I began to write Fics, who helped me? justTrip'n.

Then, who else wanted to help me? Let's see. Linda, Aquarius, pdsldl, Alelou and finally... Dinah.

Just so! Dinah, just she, is the beta of this story!

Now, how do you think the shameless Italian male that I am can feel at the thought that such a fantastic maniple of smart and skilful women wanted to aid me?

All kidding aside, I'm very grateful to Dinah, who edited this story with the most airy of the hands.

The present story is about a shore leave, sure. But not only about that, and you have to be patient. Anyway, don't worry: all is planned, all is ready.

Well, I'm still the same narcissist, I think.

One last thing. Do you know that Vulcans are divided in clans? blacknblue established that!

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

 

PART ONE.

Some years before. (We are in 2139)

DESTINY BEGINS ITS WORK. (Or maybe is it simply continuing the work it started long ago? Very long ago.)

It was annoying.

The young Vulcan woman who was sitting quietly and dignifiedly among the few Vulcans, who were waiting to be taken to the Vulcan Compound as new members of the Vulcan Ambassador's staff, didn't display any trace of discomfort. Her face was totally deadpan as any Vulcan face has to be, but unequivocally it was annoying and discomforting to have to stay so, under the bombardment of so many noises and of so many voices, coming from a lot of people who were chatting aloud, moving often rashly, while not few a children were running along the floor in a very indecorous way.

It was true that she was sitting into a well delimited area reserved for Vulcans, but it was unbearable that it was necessary to stop and to remain in the middle of San Francisco's spaceport with its chatty Human crowd before getting transported to the Vulcan Compound.

The woman was reflecting to herself.

On the other hand, it would have been completely illogical to build a spaceport only for serving the Vulcan Compound. Illogical and politically incorrect. But, definitely, at least a more comfortable and separate waiting lounge could have been provided, where Vulcans, as Humans' tutors, might be allocated during the wait, instead of having to stay seated under the curious looks of Human people. Curious and not exactly friendly.

Probably there was something premeditated and calculated in all this, if rumours were true that Humans didn't willingly tolerate Vulcans' tutorship. If what she had learned about Humans squared with truth, it was perfectly possible that when Earth Government decided to construct a spaceport in order to better serve Starfleet and its space exploration plans, the faction prevailed which resented the constraints many Starfleet Officers thought Vulcans were interposing between the Human desire to fly freely into space and the realization of this desire, affirming that Humans were not yet ready for that.

So, considering that Humans were absolutely aware of the importance of privacy for Vulcans and of their unease when they have to face a crowd, disarray and public curiosity, nothing strange that someone had contrived such sort of - the woman had to seek in the Human vocabulary to find the exact term, so foreign to her and to her mind - of pique against those who were deemed by many Human VIPs as an unwarrantable obstacle for Earthmen's ambitions.

And this pique was definitely consistent with the childlike conduct she knew Humans often showed, even if her great-grandmother, T'Mir, disagreed with this vision about Humans, which she defined as "foolishly simplistic." These were her second foremother's own words. The young woman did remember them plainly, although she was really a little child at that time. But the words of the woman, who at that time was approaching one hundred and ninety years, and the tone in which she had uttered them had remained graven in her young mind.

Anyway, childlike conduct or not, most likely this pique was compatible with that famous "sense of humour" Humans were so proud of, if what she had tried to understand about it from her teachers and from many educational files didn't deceive her. But it was just an impression because it was very hard to comprehend something about this "sense of humour," to elicit something reasonable and understandable from those strange and unclear phrases which Humans call wisecracks or jokes, accompanied by smiles less or more sly, and not rarely by sonorous laughs.

Nevertheless it would be illogical to deny that this "sense of humour" was intriguing. She wanted to be capable of understanding it.

She was curious. She had been curious all along and of everything, like her father said her great-grandmother was.

And, to tell the true she was particularly curious about Humans themselves. She had been so since she had listened to the words her great-grandmother told her mother and her father. She wasn't able to remember well, obviously, because she was too young at that time, but she was able to remember the perception that her second foremother seemed... fascinated by Humans. She was able to remember all that, as well as the disapproving eyes of her mother and the benevolent and interested look of her father.

Her father...

Her father had gone. Long ago now. And still she missed him. He was able to understand her. He didn't always rebuke her because her emotions were so often just under the surface. He...

The young Vulcan shook herself mentally.

Still feeling sad because of an event which had occurred so long ago was illogical, and even more so because death is a natural thing, against which nothing can be done and which is part of life itself.

And... this new job on Earth had nothing to do with her own desires. It was only a matter of duty, nothing else. In reality, Humans were merely an immature race, almost barbaric in some respects, which, maybe, just because of that, was able to attract a young Vulcan woman too much inclined to be... emotional. She was aware of this flaw in her, and that her mother was right. But life had been a great teacher for her, and now she knew how to handle her irrational wishes, her feelings. She now knew that there is only duty and ambitions which must find their realization in this duty.

But, unwelcome, images and sensations of her past life came suddenly to her mind.

Duty...

Because of duty she had done things she felt ashamed of.

Duty.

Duty is...

Once again the young Vulcan woman shook herself.

Duty is duty. The Vulcan way. She was here now because of duty and nothing else.

Her own desires, her own... feelings, her... emotions had nothing to do with her presence on Earth. She simply knew that she was at the turning point of her career. It was a great thing being chosen by Ambassador Soval as his scientific attaché. The man was well-known for his ability in choosing his assistants, and Earth, a young world whose youthful impetuosities had to be led wisely and knowledgeably, was for better or worse an important ally for Vulcan. If she was capable of acting in the right way, the young woman most likely could come close, sooner or later, to fulfilling her fair aspirations. She could become a well-respected teacher, a quiet scientist like her mother wanted her to be. Yes. No... no more adventures, distant worlds, strange discoveries, un-Vulcan-like exploration excitements.

She could become a perfect component of the High Command.

Sure.

In the well settled world of her race.

Well settled. Not like the seething world of the Human race.

Surely... surely, yes... it wouldn't be pleasant to move through this world. No. Without... without doubt. The childlike attraction she had felt for this world would fade when she met the irrational members of this race. That's for sure.

Such an emotional race. Such an illogical race. Such a... smelling race.

Suddenly, the young Vulcan became alerted.

There was... a smell.

Strange. Powerful. She had never been triggered by male Pon Far, but she was able to recognize this sensation - powerfully... terribly... masculine.

The woman felt immediately ashamed of this thought and of the fact itself that she wasn't able to suppress her emotions once more.

But the smell was there, strong and palpable.

And impossible to ignore.

It wasn't a mere scent, simply a puissant and manlike scent. It was a... a call. It was saying... I AM HERE FOR YOU. I CLAIM YOU. I AM YOUR FATE.

The Vulcan woman's eyes snapped open almost as by their own volition, searching for the source of the scent.

And found it.

And she recognized that the smell wasn't coming from a Vulcan male. The smell's waves were coming from... from a young Human male who was walking along the corridor, looking for something, and casting only a distracted glance at the group of Vulcans who were placidly sitting in their places. His hair was blond, indeed different from Vulcan males. And... and he... he looked handsome.

The young Vulcan woman wasn't able to help but follow the blond Human with her eyes.

He halted in front of the information point and coughed slightly, attempting politely to gain the attention of the gracious and very young Human woman, practically an unripe girl, who was sitting behind the reception desk, focused on her job.

Stronger than her Vulcan control, the... the necessity to see and to hear compelled the young Vulcan to look hard and to prick up her ears, in an attempt to understand what was happening to that... to that Human male.

The Human woman working in the information point raised her eyes and saw the blond-haired man. And she immediately smiled radiantly.

And the Vulcan woman felt something strange inside. A... a sort of pang. Unknown. Hurting.

Her keen hearing permitted her to perfectly follow the conversation between the young Human male and... and that... that shameless Human woman.

--------------------------------------------

"Ooohhh, good morning! How can I help you?"

"Well. I'm looking for the Starfleet terminal."

"Ooooohhhhh, you are one of those i-n-t-r-e-p-i-d men who wants to go into space, aren't you?"

"Well, Ma'am, I would like very much to be one of them. At present I'm simply a new recruit. I'm an engineer and Starfleet accepted my enlistment.

"Ooooooohhhhhhh! I knew Starfleet had good taste!"

"Uh?"

"I mean... surely you will be a great engineer."

"I hope."

"I'm sure"

--------------------------------------------

Shameless! No other way could be found to express the indecorous deportment the Human woman was showing for the blond Human man. The Vulcan had studied hard. She was capable of recognizing that genre of behaviour the Human woman was displaying. She was... flirting. Yes! Shamefacedly and in the open air. With a man she saw for the first time.

And the fact that this man was... was attractive wasn't a good enough reason to act thus.

--------------------------------------------

"You're indeed gentle. I hope I won't disappoint anyone. Anyway... about Starfleet terminal?"

"Oh! Ahem! Sure! You have to go to the reserved terminal. It is on the third level."

"Third? That's me. I'm... Well, my real name is not important, everyone calls me Trip."

"Trip?"

"Yes. Trip."

"Well... Trip... are you alone?"

--------------------------------------------

Shameless woman!

--------------------------------------------

"My family is far away and I don't have friends here. Yes, I'm alone."

"Well, if you need anything, I'm here."

--------------------------------------------

Shameless woman!

--------------------------------------------

"Oh... Uh... thanks."

"Here is my phone number, if you think it would be of help."

--------------------------------------------

Shameless woman!

--------------------------------------------

"Uh... sure. Thanks. If I need your help..."

"You will be able to call me. For... whatever you need."

--------------------------------------------

Shameless woman!

S-h-a-m-e-l-e-s-s!

Shame...

All of a sudden the young Vulcan realized the incredible course of her thoughts and of her actions and almost jumped. But... but what was she doing? And thinking? She was focusing her attention on a conversation between two Humans, spying on them, disapproving mentally of the Human woman's conduct. They were not her business. The Human woman had a right to act the way she wanted to. If she was so fortunate as to meet that handsome man...

For... fortunate?

Handsome?

The Vulcan began to breathe regularly and quietly, even if discreetly, attempting to control these strange and shameful thoughts which were whirling in her mind.

What was happening to her? How was she able to think about that Human male like he... like he...

She felt abysmally ashamed. Incredulous too. She was Vulcan, not Human. And she was betrothed. To a Vulcan male. Coming from an honoured family. And that male... that male who was arousing these... these sensations... these unknown sensations...

He wasn't a Vulcan male. He was... he was... a... a Human male!

An emotional, illogical, volatile, barbaric... marvellously smelling Human male!

"Please, be ready."

The words coming from the intercom did luckily wake the Vulcan woman from her unspeakable thoughts.

"You are about to be taken to the Vulcan Compound."

Every Vulcan stood up, including the young Vulcan woman.

Doors opened toward the shuttle which would transport the small Vulcan group to the Vulcan Compound.

"Please take your place."

Every Vulcan moved to reach his assigned place, according to their job.

But that smell was still there, and while she was walking toward her place, the young Vulcan woman couldn't help but cast a last glance at the blond Human male. He was putting into the small pocket of the horrible, motley shirt he wore, the note that the... the shameless Human woman had given him.

And, before the doors were closed behind her, the Vulcan woman was able to listen to the last words the Human man told that woman.

With a tone which resounded not warm.

"I'll try to remember that."

 

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

 

Time passed. Many things happened. And many are happening and are about to happen. Now we are in 2151.

"Come in."

The young Vulcan woman entered the room and stood respectfully and in silence in front of the desk behind which the Ambassador was seated. She waited patiently and quietly for him to raise his head from the papers he was working on and pay attention to her.

The stern and vigorous man condescended finally to look at her. He did a polite gesture with his hand, inviting her.

"Good morning, T'Pol. Please, sit down. "

The woman followed the invitation, wondering what was so important and unusual that the Ambassador had to summon her in the dark of the night, and she seemed to be the only one he wanted to talk with. In reality, even the Ambassador's deportment was unwonted for him. He wasn't in the habit of inviting his subordinates to sit down in front of him; that was not normal Vulcan etiquette unless there were exceptional circumstances, which required this. And, besides, he sounded... worried. Yes. The woman believed she wasn't deceiving herself. The Ambassador seemed worried and ill-at-ease. And he wanted her to feel comfortable.

Once again, like every time she had to face weird and difficult ordeals, thoughts of her father surfaced in her mind. She had always clung to his memory when she had needed aid and comfort.

And her father had told her many times that she was able to read people, much more than other Vulcans. ("The simple, normal Vulcans, my daughter.") And she was sure that, now, it was one of those times that she was displaying this ability. She was sure that the Ambassador was attempting to smooth someway, to make more agreeable, what he was about to tell her.

Something which was really unpleasant.

Duty. Yet again.

"T'Pol, you were quite harsh with Captain Archer yesterday."

The woman arched her eyebrow. "Ambassador, I simply told him that, before Humans go into deep space and face alien races, they have to prove they are ready..."

"I know, I know." The Ambassador repeated the exact words she had pronounced: "To look beyond their provincial attitudes and volatile nature."

"I thought you were in agreement with me. Captain Archer's reply absolutely testified to the truth of my assertion."

"When he said to you that you had no idea how much he was restraining himself from knocking you on your ass?"

There was a strange expression, now, on the Vulcan Ambassador's face. A hint of quiet amusement. Was it possible, by chance, that he had lived with Humans for too long a time?

The woman watched the man without replying, waiting for him to explain what he meant.

He regained his stern and keen expression.

"T'Pol, I'm in agreement with you. You don't even imagine how much I agree with you."

The young woman felt something, some kind of foreboding, running as a disagreeable shiver through her spine.

"And, in fact, since Humans seem to want to pursue their purpose whatever the cost, I suggested to the High Command that a Vulcan should go with the Humans on their ship as an observer, someone capable of preventing them from making mistakes."

The shiver intensified.

"The High Command shared my concern and accepted my suggestion. Even more, after hearing the exchange between you and the Enterprise's Captain, I told the High Command that the most suitable person for this task is you, T'Pol."

(*No! *)

"You are capable of standing your ground with Captain Archer. To tell the truth, I got the impression that he seemed to be without arguments before you, judging from the rapidity he lost his patience because of your statement. He did not answer back to you by means of solid reasons, but only with that annoying stab. This has great value for the achievement of our purpose. If you will be capable of using that wisely, you will be able to dominate every situation. That man is strong and artful and clever, too, definitely. But surely not to such an extent that he can get the best of you. He is not Admiral Forrest. Rather, you will probably have to beware of his Chief Engineer and friend, Charles Tucker the Third. It is likely that he likes Vulcans even less than his Captain, but, in addition, our observers report - and I can personally testify to it - that he is more stubborn and, above all, smarter than Archer. Luckily, however, he is young and countrified. And a little too impetuous. That will play in your favour, I think."

(*No. Not this! *)

"Your credentials and your experiences are the best proof that you are the most qualified person for this job."

The deadpan, immovable face of the young Vulcan didn't show the smallest sign of the inner turmoil that the Ambassador's words were provoking inside her. From that time, when she had sensed... that smell, in the spaceport, she hadn't allowed herself to go alone through the Humans without the comforting companionship of her Vulcan comrades, and she had been right. She had only made that mistake once before. One evening, ceding to her repressed curiosity and desires, she hadn't been capable of resisting the siren call of the strange music coming from a nightclub. She had entered it, and she had felt... emotions. They hadn't been unpleasant, not at all. But they had been emotions, and it isn't right that a Vulcan savours and tastes emotions, that he doesn't want to restrain them. These Humans are... too tempting; they are as tempters for her. And fortunately that evening no... no smell had been perceived by her similar to the one she had experienced at that time when she had arrived on Earth. But, at least, if that had occurred, she would have been able to withdraw headlong toward the Vulcan Compound. Instead, now, the Ambassador was saying to her that she...

"You have successfully faced spies and traitors and passed fearlessly through many combats, in space and on Earth."

...that she should remain alone, the only Vulcan, on a starship populated only by irrational, barbaric... tempting... Humans!

"You were capable of controlling any event."

Alone! With that odious captain Archer.

The ability you displayed here on Earth in dealing with Humans was excellent. You have dealt with some peculiar circumstances as that one yesterday. Most likely, that's due to your unique experience. Actually, even though people think you have only been on Earth for one year, in reality the lapse of time you lived here is longer and you were capable of making the most of your permanence, as well as from your work with important and thorny missions, far away from Earth and from Vulcan still during your service as a member of my staff. That has increased your expertise, but, at the same time, you acquired a great knowledge of Humans, of their frames of minds and their behaviour patterns. Your scientific approach, the way you are capable of facing any difficult eventuality with a cold and still open mind, are a undoubted guarantee for the mission's accomplishment."

And... and with that Commander Tucker about whom they vociferated such terrible things.

"You have to add that your loyalty to Vulcan and to High Command is undeniable and - using one of the colourful expressions of that notorious Commander Tucker - bomb-proof."

That Commander Tucker! That Commander Tucker she hadn't ever known in person and who had became a sort of bogeyman for every Vulcan who had the... the bad luck to meet him, and to face his vitriolic sarcasm, impossible to understand by anyone from her race and against which no Vulcan seemed to have weapons. That skilful and unpredictable man who seemed only Captain Archer was able to control, at least a tiny bit, in the name of their friendship. The man owing to whom, it was rumoured, Enterprise was able to fly.

"You will be alone, that's a fact..."

Alone! And... and if she would sense that... that smell? Or some scent which would remind her of that one? What... what could she do? Where could she take shelter? Alone and in charge as a Vulcan observer on a Human starship, where all eyes would be pointed at her?

"... but, I don't doubt you will be capable of extricating yourself from any difficult situation. And then..."

What could she do?

"... that's your duty. Your duty as a Vulcan and as a member of my staff."

The young woman winced inside. Yes, that was her duty and duty is duty, the Vulcan way. She would be capable of facing and of doing it, as every true Vulcan has to do. Her... her father would help her.

The memory came to her mind of that time when she was a child and she was walking with her father, through the garden of their house. Hand in hand. She was able to remember perfectly their words.

--------------------------------------------

"Father, it is agreeable to hold your hand, but mother says it's not proper deportment for a young Vulcan girl."

"Your mother is right, daughter, but I think you are not already a young Vulcan girl."

"Do you think I'm yet a child, father?"

"You are, daughter."

"I don't like to become older, if I won't be able to hold your hand, father."

"My hand will hold yours always, daughter. Even when I won't be physically near you. And I hope my hand will be capable of aiding you to bear your tasks and your duties, so that you will be able to achieve them, whatever they will be."

--------------------------------------------

(*Your hand will help me, father. *)

The Ambassador's voice recalled the woman from her memories, and his words resounded as if he was capable of reading her thoughts.

"T'Pol, you know I was a friend of your father and if a part, even a small part, of his spirit is living in you, of which I'm firmly persuaded, you don't want to disappoint him. He was absolutely sure you are capable of doing whatever you desire. Remember that."

The young Vulcan straightened herself in pride and acceptance, even if her expression wasn't betraying the smallest emotion.

She replied with a steady tone.

"I'll try to remember that."

 

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

 

The day after. In front of Captain Archer's quarters.

"Come in."

She had pushed the button of the Enterprise Captain's quarters.

She had hesitated, for awhile, before pushing the doorbell, but at last she had to do it.

Now the Captain was calling for her to enter his room. And, beyond the threshold, she would meet her coming destiny.

Beyond that threshold there was the Captain, the ordeal she would cohabit with during the next period. And maybe... probably... that Commander Tucker, whose presence seemed to flit everywhere on Enterprise.

She straightened her shoulders. Enough now! She was T'Pol. T'Pol of Vulcan. The daughter of her matchless father. She was capable of living for a few days on a Human vessel. Wasn't she a woman who was capable of coping with many dangerous and risky ventures?

She entered the room.

And...

Like a punch! Sudden! Terribly powerful! Stunning! Such that she remained out of breath.

She sensed it! That smell! That irresistible, unconquerable claim!

That one she had perceived at that time.

Even the disgusting smell of that animal, that dog the Captain was taking with him in spite of any good reason, faded away like it did not exist.

There was only... HIS PRESENCE!

She made the greatest effort of her whole life, imposing on her face the most deadpan mask she was able to wear. She acted as if she was another person, as if she wasn't herself.

She addressed the Captain. "This confirms that I was formally transferred to your command at eight hundred hours. Reporting for duty."

The dog's stink plagued her, but it was totally powerless to hide THAT smell.

The Captain noticed her hurt expression. "Is there a problem?"

"No, sir."

"Oh, I forgot. Vulcan females have a heightened sense of smell. I hope Porthos isn't too offensive to you."

"I've been trained to tolerate offensive situations."

A voice, behind her. A voice teasing and deep and enthralling. A voice coming out from the source of... that smell. "I took a shower this morning. How about you, Captain?"

The Captain smiled, and then there was no longer any excuse. The Captain was about to introduce to her the man who had speaking. And who was smelling in that way. And she would have to face him.

"I'm sorry. This is Commander Charles Tucker the Third."

She had to turn toward that smell.

The Captain went on with the introductions. "Sub-Commander T'Pol."

She watched the man. He was blond-haired. He was handsome. He was...

"Trip. I'm called Trip."

(*Father, help me! *)

Commander Tucker was...Trip! That Trip! The one she had observed at that time. The one she had seen interacting with that shameless Human woman. The man...THE HUMAN MAN... whose scent... whose invincible recall was irresistibly claiming her!

He advanced slowly toward her. He stuck out his hand.

She looked at the outstretched hand. She should shake it. But she wasn't able to do it. She wasn't able.

(*Father, help me! *)

She... wasn't able! If she would do it, she would be lost. Forever and without hope.

(*Father, help me! *)

And her father answered. Or, rather, that's the way it sounded to her.

She should deal with Humans in the worst way. She should treat them as if they were undeserving people. And, above all, she should treat the Commander as he was a foolish, untrustworthy, childlike man, unworthy of her attention, so that he would avoid her as he would a pest. Only thus could she be capable of resisting his claim. And she would be capable! Yes! She would be!

And this task had to begin as of now.

She turned away hastily with hands intertwined behind her back, displaying the mask she should show to all Human people.

She talked coldly to the Commander, with contempt and haughtiness, without turning toward him.

(*Father, help me! *)

"I'll try to remember that."

 

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

 

Time passes. Destiny works.

(*Father, you didn't help me! *)

Little by little she had begun to interact with Humans. That was inevitable, but the fact was that her fears had proved anything but unfounded, because, in fact, her interacting wasn't unpleasant. She had begun... to like Humans.

And, little by little, she had learned to cohabit also with that man and... and with his ravishing smell.

Because its captivation was stronger than her dread of its recall.

Little by little she almost had started to enjoy her daily battle, her struggling within, and the even more intriguing bickering she and the Commander had begun to have, practically every day and on every matter.

It was so... delicious to bask in his smell while they were discussing with concealed pleasure.

And so, little by little, she had fallen into the Human's tempting traps. What she had fear of, it was coming true day after day, for the great as for the small things.

And the maker was HE.

The Vulcan woman thought about the pecan pie she had begun to enjoy because of HIS unconscious invite.

She went with her mind to a phrase her father was in the habit of telling her.

"You don't have to be worried by tasting the little and great joys of life."

(*I'll try to remember that. *)

 

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

 

Time passes, a little bit yet. And Destiny is still working.

(*Father, you didn't help me! *)

The Vulcan woman had asked the Commander for advice. Yes, just him. And... she had decided. She wouldn't reply to Koss' missive, to the letter coming from the man who should become her husband. She wouldn't honour her betrothal. Because... because...

She didn't dare to give free course to her thoughts, but she brought to her mind what her father had said once to her.

"You, only you, are the owner of your pathway."

(*I'll try to remember that. *)

 

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

 

And Destiny works. Slowly. Secretly... discreetly. But it works.

(*Father, you didn't help me! *)

The Vulcan woman had betrayed the High Command. She would follow the Humans into the Expanse. Because she had learned to understand and to care for them. And because... because...

The... the Commander...

Trip.

What was that sentence her father had told her?

"You don't have to be ashamed of your heart's desires."

(*I'll try to remember that. *)

 

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

 

Do you know that Destiny is always at work?

(*Father, help me! *)

He was dying. Yes! He was dying! And just to have a very little hope that he would be able to live, she had betrayed all ethical principles her father had taught her.

She didn't contrast what she would have had to do if faced with the immoral Phlox's suggestion to create that clone, Sim, and the Captain's bad order to proceed to do it.

Of course, their mission needed the Commander, but deep in her katra, she... she knew... that... without him...

Without his... necessary... presence...

She closed her eyes, remembering what she had done, at nighttime.

She had gone, alone, to sickbay. She had entered it, careless that Phlox was able to see her.

And she had been standing, in silence, in front of the bed where the Commander was waiting for his fate.

 She had watched his deathly pallor, his dewed skin.

 She had moved slowly to reach for him.

 Her fingers had delicately touched his face, and they had perceived his flesh's coldness.

 And... his unique, defiant and enthralling smell was vanishing... overwhelmed by the smell of death.

 She had turned hastily, unable to bear that sight, the lack of his scent, and left without the Doctor having noticed anything.

 And, at that moment, while she was hurriedly coming from sickbay, she had made her decision. She wouldn't oppose the clone's creation.

 And Sim was born. And he was like Trip. And he had his memories and... his feelings. And he...

He had revealed his love for her, the love... the love the Commander... was feeling for her.

And now she had become aware, now she knew the Commander... Trip... was in love with her.

And... she... had... been... GLAD!... that Sim... would meet death... so as to give life to... to her Commander!

(*Oh father! How had I been able to fall so low? *)

And her father responded to her with one of the wise remarks with which he was capable of smoothing her troubles, and which she remembered perfectly.

"Surak understood that only in logic was our salvation because our emotions are so strong that they can destroy us. But he also knew the soul is too complex to be regimented into the cold constriction of mere reason. Maybe I sound like a heretic talking in this way, but I am convinced that if, one fine day, we would be able to retrieve his corpus, we would find that all he desired, we were capable of doing, it is that we possess a true katra purity."

The Vulcan woman saw again the tender look her father had given her, and she heard again his sweet words.

"I know your katra, daughter. I can perfectly see it. And I can sense its pellucid clarity, its purity. If you will be capable of keeping this purity, the concealed and rude clashing of emotions which is inevitably lying in ambush for each of us, it will not be able to befuddle your soul and your mind."

(*Father, I'll try to remember that. *)

 

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

 

Destiny's job doesn't end. Never. And it knows very well its job.

(*Father, you didn't help me! *)

The Vulcan woman had fallen at last. Totally. Three times.

She had fallen because of need, of the need to be capable of loving. Yes. Of loving and of loving the human way. After too much time fighting her daily battle, she had to cede and she had thought, almost without revealing it to herself, that Trellium D would be the way. She had permitted herself to become... an addict!

And HE had been the unaware cause!

She had fallen because of jealousy. She! A Vulcan woman! Logical and rational. She had become jealous of the attentions HE seemed to pay to another woman. She... she had felt jealous pangs other times, but now it had been different, now that... that there was this new intimacy between her and him, these... these marvellous neuropressure sessions. So she hadn't been capable of counteracting jealousy.

And HE had been the cause!

And finally she had fallen because she had given herself to HIM! For the first time in her life she had given herself to a man, and this man hadn't been a Vulcan, the Vulcan man who would have had the right to have her. This man had been a Human, had been HIM! In the end, she hadn't been able to resist. And she had sought the way to do it.

And HE had been the cause!

She had been weak. She had betrayed her Vulcan heritage.

But how splendid it had been to wallow - finally, completely, without any restriction or shame - in HIS intoxicating smell. And not for one only night!

(*Father, father! *)

And, as a light, her father's words came again to her mind.

"Are you really sure that weaknesses have to be foreign, always, to Vulcans? And that these weaknesses are always wrong? Do you not think they are a part of all of us, of life, and that sometimes it's good to surrender to them? It's irrational and illogical to believe that there can be strength without weakness. I don't think Surak was a blind man. It's impossible that he wasn't aware that 'Strength' arises from 'Weakness.' And remember, daughter, one can even die of too much strength. "

(*Oh my Father! I'll try to remember that! *)

 

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

 

But Destiny is evil. It scoffs at Human... and Vulcan... desires.

(*Father, you didn't help me! *)

Just when she had began to understand, to accept herself for what she was after she had withdrawn from her Commander because of her inability to control her new and disturbing emotions...

Just when she had understood, finally, that she had caused his and her suffering, that old T'Pol was right, that only Trip, the same man who stirred in her these powerful and frightening emotions, was able to be the outlet she needed, and trying to push him away was foolish and useless...

Just at that moment... Vulcan duty had called her.

AGAIN!

She had hoped for too much. There wasn't room for a love between a Vulcan and a Human.

Koss had claimed her. Her mother had needed her sacrifice.

And she would be lost for eternity.

(*Father, father! What did you tell me once, my father? *)

"Hope is the only way. It never fails. There is no certainty in life, but you have to cling to hope. Always. It will be capable of giving you strength, and you have to believe in it. Logic doesn't shut out hope."

(*My father, I'll try to remember that. *)

 

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

 

Destiny. Destiny is always working. It works and laughs at people's vain efforts.

(*Father, help me! Please!*)

She had regained her liberty; Koss had released her. And... fear had clenched her heart. Everything she had believed in was false. Vulcan had betrayed its sons. She knew her... her Trip was the sole thing which was true, but... she was afraid. She had to learn the real Surak's teachings; they were the first thing. She had to be a true Vulcan, and, to do it, she... she had to sever ties to any diverting thing.

She had to regain the true Vulcan path even at the cost of being unnerving and glacial to him.

Glacial... because otherwise she wouldn't be capable of doing what she believed she had to do.

Glacial... even more than she had been in the beginning.

Glacial... like she had been when he wanted to console her for her mother's death.

... Or like that time she hadn't paid the smallest regard to his concern because she wanted to test that telepathic device.

... Or when she had tried to hide from everyone, even from herself, the heartbreaking pain she was feeling inside, watching him dying once more because of that fatal virus. Uncontainable, the words that had left her mouth betrayed the reality of her sorrow, destroying her show of disinterest. - "Captain... if Commander Tucker... becomes conscious...".

Words that he wasn't able to hear.

Glacial... to such an extent that... he had gone away.

He had treated her the way she had deserved.

He had left her.

His smell... she wouldn't experience his smell... nevermore.

And in her mind the bitter words he had told her when she had tried to prevent him from going away resounded like living wounds.

"Are you leaving because of me? " That had been her weak attempt, and he had replied to her that, even if it could be a shock for her, not everything in his life revolved around her.

And she hadn't been capable of finding the words, of replying to him that it was her life which was revolving around him.

Since forever.

That she needed him.

More, infinitely more than any Vulcan path.

But she hadn't been capable of opening herself to him, finally, as he deserved, of revealing to him that their relationship, their... love story had been for her a continuous battle between her need for him and the rigid culture she had grown in. Or that, because of this, it was easier for him to defy his customs and traditions than it was for her.

(*But, in any case, he has done that, like when he endured the sight of me marrying another man in the name of Vulcan traditions and customs, and...in the name of the needs of the many, like Vulcans... not Humans... say.

Yes, father. He has done that, he has been capable of soaring over his boundaries, for me. Instead...*)

... Instead, she hadn't been capable of moving beyond the narrow limits of her culture as he had done not only one time. She hadn't been capable of trusting him as he had trusted her, as he would have wanted her to do.

And... he... had gone.

(*Oh Father, why are you silent? Why, father? Why? I don't want to... to hear your silence, I don't want to! *)

"Sometimes silence is the sole thing we can do."

(*I don't want to remember that! *)

 

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

 

Do you know that Destiny isn't always ugly? That sometimes it has pity on us?

(*Father, you helped me!

He is back! He is again with me!

He defied space's void clambering dangerously along that precarious cable to save us.

Me!

And he is back, with me. And he... he is bonded with me!

I bore myself the same Vulcan way I always had with him, afraid once again, of what I would do. But this time, at long last and thank Surak, he took the initiative, using his unique and enthralling human mood. His... triptical mood.

He... pulled my leg! Yes! Now I can understand his slang, this Human sense of humour. Because I'm bonded with him!

I'm... his bond-mate! I'm... his! And he wants me!

And he forced me to tell him I wanted him back. And I did. Finally, finally, FINALLY I DID! And I feel... happy that I did it.

I kissed him shamelessly. In the corridor. In open air. To show him that... that I was... that I'm... in love with him, clutching the last opportunity he was offering me. And I did, from the depth of my heart without hiding myself, eventually, under the easy scutum of my Vulcan being.

And... and I don't feel ashamed.

I feel realized, at last.

I... feel... HAPPY!

I'm Vulcan. Is it fair to feel... happy?

Is it fair to wait so eagerly for him to come to my quarters to explain to me what he meant with that, "This thing between us isn't that big of a deal?" And, even more, what he meant with that, "Guess we got a lot of work to do?"

Is it fair, this gladness, this reassuring completeness I feel, fully and really, for the first time in my whole life?

This... this happiness. Yes.

Father, have you any response?

Father... *)

Her memory was silent, she didn't find any word her father had told her, capable of giving her some response.

Or maybe...

"How you are beautiful, daughter. In you, your great-grandmother's beauty is glowing. And her anima, too. I'm proud of that. And she, too, was aware of your similarity to her. She felt you were the person who more than any other would be able to understand her and her aspirations. I'm proud she wanted you to have her inheritance, the things she cared so much about, like that Terran handbag she so greatly held dear."

That Terran handbag...

Maybe...

She felt the irrational desire to watch that handbag, to touch it. On the other hand, what had there been which could be called rational in her desire to bring it with her on Enterprise?

She stood up and reached for the cupboard. She opened it and the handbag appeared.

Carefully, respectfully, she took it. A long time had passed since she had touched it.

She observed it, turning it attentively between her hands.

Slowly, she opened it.

From within an odour bubbled over. A scent of antiques. And it smelled good.

She put her hand inside the old, vintage purse, almost caressing with her fingers its inner walls, and she perceived something that she hadn't noticed before. Perhaps the lining had gotten dry with the passing of time. She didn't know, but the fact was that there was a small laceration in the lining, and through it... a piece of paper was peeping out.

With an infinite attention she took it out from the interstice between the lining and the handbag's external wall, and the crumpled sheet of paper was in her hands.

She unfolded it with endless care, afraid that it may suffer some break from her manipulation.

It was fragrant with a trace of scent, yet perceptible to her sensitive nose. A scent... of ink.

She sat down slowly on the floor, the paper sheet in her hands. Her eyes fixed on it, and on the writing on its surface. Lines, words, noted down by hand, with an elegant and ornate handwriting.

She began to read.

 

--------------------------------------------

My dear great-granddaughter,

I don't know why I relented to the irrational impulse to write these lines, let alone why I wanted to hide this paper sheet in this handbag in the illogical hope that one fine day you would be able to find it.

Probably this paper sheet is fated to go mouldy inside this strange Human artefact, which you won't care about and which you won't understand why your weird great-grandmother wanted you to have.

And, most likely, if by chance you find it, you will wonder why I wanted you to read it. You won't understand what I wrote and the reasons why I did it. And you will find its contents illogical and strange. Like me, after all.

Actually, how could it be possible for you not to judge such a very old woman, who, wanting to transmit to you a post-mortem message, chose this bizarre and dysfunctional way instead of some modern and secure means?

Denying all that would be illogical. But what do you want? You know that my reputation was not exactly good during my life. On the other hand, how could I misjudge our rational, upright, fellow countrymen for their diffidence toward a woman, an independent woman, intolerant of Vulcan society's restrictions in regard to women and in regard to a lot of other rules, who thinks - and proclaims - that the other races can have more than a few things better than those which we have? And those... barbaric Humans, in particular, among whom she had the mischance of being shipwrecked. Just so, those Humans. And who knows what happened really on Earth, what happened to that... Mestral.

You know what happened to him. You and your father. And you, like your father, always showed a great respect for me, even in your very young age. You, my great-granddaughter, showed a respect which was going beyond the formal respect that every Vulcan child has to display for every elderly person. You... did say that you would like to be like me.

And I gained endless contentment and satisfaction from your words and from the features you displayed while growing up, so similar to mine, as was your mind. I don't believe I'm mistaken.

So, I wanted to let to you these lines, which only you will be able to read, if, as Humans say, Destiny will want it.

And only Destiny knows if they will be of some help for you, or, even more simply, if you will be in a situation for which my words might aid you. But if by chance it happens that the little story of myself and of Mestral will help you to make a wise and right decision, I will know - if something of me will live yet, as Humans believe... and I... hope that my life hasn't been in vain.

Many times during my long life the thought of Mestral came to my mind. And many times I asked myself why he wanted to remain on Earth, and why I supported him.

Of course, it is not a secret that I liked Humans, that I began to understand them and to think, as Mestral, that they deserve something else than our magnanimous and interested tutorship. You know how much I paid because of these ideas, ostracized from the self-righteous, superior (square-toes and holier-than-thou, Humans would say) Vulcan society. I, a humble Vulcan female who dared to express her thoughts, her profane and ridiculous opinions and attitudes, who dared...

But I'm digressing. Excuse me, excuse this old weak woman who thought, after she met Humans, that there could be another fate for Vulcan women instead of being property of their families and of their pompous and, most likely, not always appreciative betrotheds. And it's useless to say that men, too, have the same fate because, in the end, it is the women who have to obey, to bow their heads, in this evolved society we have, more evolved, surely, more evolved than Human civilisation.

And now we are at the point. Why didn't really Mestral want to return to Vulcan? Only because he had found Humans very interesting and he had became fond of human culture?

My dear great-granddaughter, the truth is that he became romantically involved with a Human female, or, as Humans would say, he fell in love with her. And for her he gave up his job, his family, his friends and his homeland.

And when Captain Tellus asked me about him, I became suddenly aware, and I understood him, and I would have wanted to be in his place, because he had found something I hadn't, which would be capable of making more agreeable and less hard the duty and the rigid logic that constitute the essence of Vulcan life, and which, in all likelihood, my betrothed - the betrothed my family had chosen for me - wouldn't be capable of giving me.

Where is Mestral now? What happened to him? I don't know, but I know that he gave me strength, the strength to invoke the Kal-if-fee. Yes, the rumours are true, my child, even if our respected family prefers not to talk too much of what I did. I, the member of the most orthodox of Vulcan clans. I, the Vulcan woman who dared to think that 'Ashaya' is a word which exists, in our language.

For it I defied our deep-seated traditions, our customs, our beliefs, resorting to an ancient and barbaric ritual on which, nowadays, Vulcans look with a cloud of suspicion and dispraise.

My opinion about it is not different, but it was the only way, and so I resorted to it.

And my champion, my... loved one... won, and I was his.

And so, as my descendant, mine and of my chosen one, you are born.

Surak, my child, gave us logic and stability, but I'm sure he never wanted to constrain us in the narrow boundaries of stagnation. And arranged weddings could make us run this risk. But above all, they make us run the risk of living a dull life, dull and flat, without the smallest hint of joy. Yes, my dear child, I wrote exactly that: joy. There was a time in which Vulcan females recognized who were their men, the men able to give them this joy. The smell was sufficient, the smell of the truth. Why do you think Vulcan women have such a developed olfaction? We are not the only example in nature. Now, all is predetermined in the name of logic and stability, but I don't think this is right.

I followed the smell of my man, and I lived happily. Happily, yes. And I don't feel ashamed of that.

That's the reason why I felt it was necessary to write of this to you. I said already that probably you won't understand my words. But...

If you are struggling within because you are living my own experiences, and if you need someone who will be able to aid you, remember...

You don't have to be shamefaced if you feel. Surak himself knew perfectly that emotions and... 'ashaya'... exist, and that sometimes they cannot... and mustn't... be repressed. It's hard for Vulcans to handle them, and nevertheless, one day, they will claim you. Inevitably.

'Ashaya' will claim you. Inevitably. And it will be necessary to make a choice.

If that happens to you, remember... the man who deserves you is the man who is capable of waiting for and of understanding you. The man who doesn't want to overwhelm you with his own will. But, above all, the man who loves, yes, loves you. And who is capable of conquering your heart.

And for that, for 'Ashaya', there are no boundaries, no races. Mestral taught this to me.

Remember, happiness isn't an empty word. And duty is not contrasting delight. Vulcans mustn't forget life's reality, the sweetness and the blissfulness of a true 'Ashaya'. Remember that, my loved child."

 

Peace and long life, my great-granddaughter.

A life enwrapped with 'Ashaya'.

 

T'Mir

--------------------------------------------

 

T'Pol remained motionless for many moments, her hands holding the paper sheet, her eyes wide open and locked with it, her breath light as a feather.

Then she folded the paper sheet attentively, so that it was in its previous state.

She put it back in the handbag and closed it. Then she got up and closed the vintage purse in the cupboard.

She watched it intensely, until a noise shook her.

And a smell.

The doorbell.

His scent.

She shouted. She shouted, yes.

"Come in!"

While the door was opening revealing his figure, she raised a thought.

(*My great-grandmother, I never will forget. Forever I'll remember that! *)

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

End of Part One.

And that damned Shore Leave?

Bad grin, bad grin, bad grin...

 

 

 


Comments:

Reanok

I really enjoyed reading this story again. But it seems in the last part of the story the text is so large it stretches out of the story and I wonder why it's so large. I'm not complaining It just takes longer to print when the text is so large.

Asso

And I don't forget that you helped me, at the beginning, Ann, and also later on.:D

Asso

You're absolutely right, JT. As I said, I'm very grateful to Dinah, who edited this story with the most airy of the hands.:D

justTripn

I alos especially enjoyed that opening scene in the lobby of the airport where the clerk flirts with Trip while T'Pol  flirting woman and T'Pol fights to control her own thoughts and feelings about it all. I will also complement Dinah's work here and second what Linda says about the Triaxian Silk community. I am not sure how common such a thing is: that new writers are encouraged and nurtured. (I experienced this too, starting out a HoT four years ago.) Distracted was everyone's beta back then. It is a really wonderful thing whether you are receiving help or enjoying the success of someone you once helped.

panyasan

:p Touché! as we say in Dutch. ;)

Asso

Hey! And thank you AnaM and B! :D

Asso

Thank you, Linda, and thank you, Panyasan.

I repeat: Thank you, Panyasan.

I repeat: Thank you, Panyasan.

I repeat:.... :p:p:p:p:p

panyasan

P.s. To sum up my comment: well done!

panyasan

Asso, I really liked your first scenes; the scene at the shuttle port and the scene when T'Pol is introduced to Archer and Trip. Your descriptions in the port scene are good and I liked how woven in some details about how Vulcans and Humans are struggling to find a good relationship. I know you repeat sentences as part of your style and in the port scene that really works. You can feel that T'Pol rage is boiling, while she isn't aware of her jalours reaction towards the flirting women. Nice touch that in one line you made it clear that Trip didn't like this coming on to him strongly-women. You continue your story with some snap shots out of T'Pols life - her thoughts - and I had liked some more interaction with Trip/dialoque/description there, but I can understand for the whole of the story you choose to give some flashes of thought to make your point. I did like the connection to T'Pol father, but I thought that the repetition of the two lines concerning father and remembering could have been less. So be encouraged to develop your writing skills even more and I am curious about the next parts.

Linda

Great job, Asso!  I enjoyed reading this story very much.  It moved with a nice pace and had some innovative plot points.  I like the interplay of T'Pol's thoughts with Soval's words.  I thought that having Soval decide on sending T'Pol on Enterprise because of her harsh comments to Archer was a brilliant idea.  She got what she deserved, as a Human would humorously put it, for those remarks of hers.  And having T'Mir leave a note in the handbag was also a great idea.  I agree with other comments about your improvement. Your creativity which was evident in your early stories has blossomed into delightful stories.  If Triaxian Silk does one thing well, it is nurturing writers from raw talent to publishable quality work.  Poocket Books (which has the franchise on Star Trek books) would do well to scout for its next generation of Star Trek novelists at Triaxian Silk.     

B.

The rate at which your command of english is improving is nothing short of remarkable. Each story is better than the last, both in structure and in tone.

 

anaM

Beautiful story! I loved that T'Pol had in her mind her father's thoughts and ideas as a guide and guardian and great-grandmother's letter was a very nice touch. About Trip and his scent...  we all know that T'Pol was lost from the moment she refused to shake his hand, so, that was the reason ;) I enjoyed reading this chapter very much, now I'm anxiously waiting for that shore leave of the title:D

Asso

A grateful thank to everyone.
You know: I'm firmly persuaded that T'Pol was needing a little poke and I thought her great-grandmother was able to give her this. She and her father.
Definitely, besides, it's indeed Logical to say that Destiny is really a flippant and pert chap, isn't it?:p

Honeybee

Just absolutely lovely. I've said it before, your passion for the characters really shines through in your writing making them a pleasure to read.

bluetiger

Dear Asso, what a wonderful story you have given us. I can totally believe that T'Pol would remember Trip's scent and it would haunt her for all those years. I also can imagine that she was closer to her father than her mother, that just seems so right.

When Soval calls T'Pol in to tell her about Enterprise and to beware of Commander Tucker, I laughed at the line 'he is smarter than Archer'. How funny was it that the man she was being warned about was the one she had smelled years before!

It was very nice to drop in on T'Pol throughout her years on Enterprise and see what she was feeling at these pivotal moments in her life.

Finally, how nice for her to find the note from T'Mir in her purse. The smell of truth indeed. You know we are all now waiting for more. do not take too long!

Transwarp

I enjoyed the glimpses into the life and mind of the young T'Pol, and her relationship with her father.  I also enjoyed the letter from great-grandma.  Well done!

willow

loved it looking forward to reading more

Reanok

This a wonderful look into T'Pol's point of view of why she made certain choices and feelings about Humans and Trip is well written. i can't wait to see part 2 of this story Asso. Bravo!:D

pdsldl

Loved the letter and T'Pol's  connection back to her ancestry.  Always thought love was a chemical as well as emotional thing between two people and the sense of smell only adds to that.

Slverbullet

Wish I could write such a great story as this.  Loved it.  will read it again only slowly  so I can Savor it's richness.

My hat is off to you Doctor.

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