Dusk

By Honeybee

Rating: R

Genres: angst romance au

Keywords:

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Chapter 1

 

A/N: As a die hard TnT shipper I have a love-hate relationship with the episode Twilight. This is my attempt to write TnT into that universe. Okay, shoehorn them in, with all due respect to the others who have done the same. This is my take.

Warnings: Canon AU

Rating: First Chapter PG, subsequent chapters will be R

Disclaimer: Don't own these characters or this world. It's not mine.



Chapter 1

Trip looked grimly at the Minshara class planet on the viewscreen. It was barely Minshara, and life for the scattered remains of humanity wouldn't be easy down there. Not that it was a picnic on Enterprise, either. He glanced over at the Captain, whose face was its usual emotionless mask as she sat in the big chair.

Perhaps its better this way, he thought. He wouldn't have been able to live with himself if Earth had been destroyed on his watch, whatever the circumstances. At least she had all that Vulcan logic and control to rely upon as she dealt with their mission's failure.

Some days, he had to remind himself that it wasn't her fault. She wasn't responsible for Archer's illness, though he knew she blamed herself for that. She also wasn't responsible for the Xindi firefight that resulted in the starboard nacelle being blown to hell. If anything, she'd kept them all alive that day. Still, whenever he looked - really looked - at her in that blue uniform, with those captain's pips on it - he felt angry. Illogically angry and bitter. It shouldn't have been her sitting in that chair, and they both knew it. If it had been Archer, Earth very well might still exist.

Trip closed his eyes.

Nearly every night, he dreamed he was standing on his favorite Florida beach with the wind blowing. He could see children playing in the sand, hear the squawking of seagulls and smell the salt of the vast gulf. Then, it would dawn on him. This isn't here anymore, and he would wake up, alone in his room in a cold sweat.

"Commander Tucker," said the Captain, "Lt. Reed, please join me in the ready room."

Malcolm and Trip followed her, glancing at each other with curiosity as to her intentions. When the door closed behind them, she reached into her desk and retrieved a velvet box.

"This isn't a time for celebration," she said, "but I thought it was time to formalize Lt. Reed's role as second officer. Second officer is a position which is traditionally held by those with the rank of Lt. Commander."

Trip looked at Malcolm and for the first time in many months, he smiled. It was a small, half-smile, but it felt good.

T'Pol approached Malcolm and clipped a new pip to his uniform.

"Congratulations, Lt. Commander Reed," said T'Pol formally.

Trip smiled, this time fully.

"Thank you, Captain. It's an honor," said Malcolm.

"It's an honor to serve with you," said T'Pol, as she nodded in a most Vulcan manner.

"Congratulations, Mal," said Trip, shaking his friend's hand, "It's about time. Just remember, I still outrank you."

Malcolm smiled at his friend.

"I'll put out a formal announcement over the comm," said T'Pol, "I also told Captain Archer today. He fully approved of my decision. I asked him to join us, but he decided against it."

"That's too bad," said Malcolm.

"I agree. From now on, you will attend the senior command meetings each day with Commander Tucker and myself."

"Yes, Captain."

"You may return to your post. Dismissed."

Malcolm nodded at his two superiors and turned on his heels and exited. Sometimes Trip wondered why they maintained Starfleet regulations, given that Starfleet essentially didn't exist anymore. But the head of the colony, an Argentinian member of the United Earth cabinet who had been visiting Jupiter Station at the time of Earth's destruction, had requested they do so. He was busy on the surface of Ceti Alpha V, supervising the construction of the new capital city using parts from the small, battered fleet ships Enterprise had escorted from the Sol system.

"I saw you got another letter from Soval today," said Trip, "Anything in it I should know about?"

"He is again requesting that I return to Vulcan. I refused."

T'Pol gestured that Trip could sit down, which he did. She began preparing tea at her desk - the tea kettle and pot being the only physical evidence in the room that Archer was no longer captain.

"Would you like some?"

"Yes," said Trip, who had switched to tea since Chef had begun rationing the coffee. Tea plants grew well in the hydroponic garden, coffee beans not so well.

"Thank you," said Trip, "Thank you for staying with us."

"It is my duty," she said.

"Is it a duty to us. . .or to him?" asked Trip.

T'Pol carefully measured a portion of mint tea into the infuser and poured the boiling water into the kettle. Trip inhaled the air. The room had started to smell of mint and Vulcan candles, rather than dog and coffee.

"Both," she said softly, meeting his eyes.

Trip held her gaze for a long while, remembering the closeness they had before Archer had become ill, and everything had gone to hell. He missed the time he used to spend with her alone. Not just the neural pressure, but the way they had talked about everything. . .and nothing. He remembered telling her about his boyhood in Florida and how he used to take apart boat engines. He told her the story of how a physics teacher at his high school had taken a chance on putting the C-student into the honors class, and for the first time he started enjoying school. He remembered the way she had helped him through the death of his sister. . .just one death that he had been so broken up about. Now, he was the only Tucker left. On top of that, he had lost his best friend to a crazy, alien brain injury, and T'Pol to. . . his own bitterness and need to blame someone for what had happened.

Whatever had been going on between them before, he missed it.

She broke the moment by looking down at her desk. She poured him a mug of tea, which he took.

"Captain. . .T'Pol, I've been having trouble sleeping again," he lied, "I was wondering if you would. . ."

"Come to my quarters at 2100 hours," she said.

"Thanks," he said.


T'Pol removed one of the pips from her collar, placing it carefully in her pocket and hit the chime on the door of what had once been the captain's quarters, and now was the former captain's quarters. She was greeted by a wagging dog and a confused looking Jonathan Archer.

"You do not remember our earlier conversation today?" she asked.

"The one about Rosemary's Baby?" he responded.

She took a deep breath. Some days he retained his memories long enough to have dinner, some days he didn't. She wasn't up for the full explanation again today, so she would have to play-act.

"No," she said, "you've had a head injury. But Phlox is working on a treatment. Commander Tucker has the bridge and we are searching for the weapon. However, for your own safety, the doctor has requested you stay in your quarters."

Archer reached for the comm.

"He's already explained it to you more than once," she said, "I suggest you don't interrupt him."

"How long has it been?"

"Only a few days," she said, "He's close to a cure, and the mission continues. I promise to inform you if there are any major changes. Now, sit down. You're still not well. Chef is sending up dinner for us."

She looked up at her friend, hoping her words would work this time. She didn't want to tell him the truth again.

He sat down, and she was relieved. There would be no struggle.

"Can you give me a report?" he asked.

She had done this before. There was a day shortly after his illness began, when things were still hopeful, that she remembered for these occasions. When she spoke, she enjoyed pretending her words were the truth.

"It sounds like you and Trip have everything under control," he said.

"You should be very proud of the entire crew," she said earnestly, "These days haven't been easy."

"Well," said Archer, "hopefully Phlox will come through soon."

Another chime rang, and Chef arrived personally with their meals.

"How are you, Captain?" he said, half-smiling. He glanced at T'Pol, knowing the Captain was ignorant of the truth.

"I could be better, but I'm glad you are here with that," said Archer.

"Glad to see you feeling okay," said Chef as he disappeared.

"It's rare that he delivers meals himself," said Archer.

"He's worried about you," said T'Pol, "The whole crew is, but we must trust in Phlox."

With that, they began to eat, mostly in silence.


Later that night, T'Pol sat before the meditation candles, waiting for Trip. She was puzzled as to why he requested neural pressure again. She supposed that it could simply be that he needed help sleeping. However, humans had a habit of hiding their true motives.

She had missed their friendship, and she dared hope that perhaps he had missed it as well, and that was his true motive for returning to her. Inwardly, she chided herself for such selfishness. On Vulcan, friendship was frowned upon. It was acceptable to have collegial working relationships, such as the one she had with Captain Archer, but what she had had with Trip was taboo. The private jokes they had shared, the gifts he had brought her. . .these expressions would have been considered vulgar. Even among mates, such dynamics were not acceptable.

Mates, she thought sadly. Her mother had written her that Koss had chosen another mate when he had heard of her choice to stay and captain Enterprise. When she got the news, T'Pol had felt relief but also sorrow. She was at an age when she should have been married and been gradually building a mating bond. . .Vulcans weren't meant to spend their lives alone. It was in their nature to bond with another.

T'Pol closed her eyes.

Only in her deepest meditation, in the safety of her white space, did she admit to herself that the hours she had spent with Trip had been a kind of substitution for the early rituals of Vulcan marriage. Before the onset of Pon Farr, couples would spend at least a year together. During that time, they would get to know each other and ideally start to develop an affection for one another before their final mating. What Phlox had not known when he suggested neural pressure for Trip was that the practice was often used between Vulcan newlyweds to create physical intimacy between them. That intimacy helped facilitate the deep telepathic bond that would align their mating cycles. Clinically, neural pressure was only practiced on members of the same gender and only then if they were heterosexual.

She would have been within her rights to refuse Phlox. She should have refused him, but she hadn't. T'Pol still didn't understand why she hadn't. Initially, she told herself it was for the betterment of the mission, and that she was just helping a colleague. Looking back, however, she realized that was untrue. She had also convinced herself that because Trip was human, the neural pressure would be purely clinical. Yet, she knew she wouldn't have engaged in such intimacy with any other male member of the crew, including the captain.

She suddenly realized she had been attracted to Trip, and she had allowed that to cloud her judgement. The direction of her thoughts alarmed her. It was for the better that Trip had broken off their sessions. Nonetheless, she found herself looking forward to his visit.

She inhaled sharply and went into her white space. These thoughts needed to be banished. She was captain of the ship, and Commander Tucker was her first officer. Resuming their friendship would be a good thing, but it could never be more than that. It took a few minutes, but her control returned to her.

When the chime on her door rang, she felt serene and at peace.


Two hours later, T'Pol found herself lying on the floor of her quarters in Trip's arms. She had applied pressure to a neural node on the back of his neck that was particularly sensitive to humans. She had then reversed positions to allow him to apply pressure to the same point on her neck, but sleep had overtaken him. Before T'Pol had realized what was happening, he had pressed her into the floor, his head resting against her back. She had waited patiently for him to shift position so she could extract herself from his embrace, but when he did move in his sleep, it was to gather her into his arms more fully.

Now, they were spooned together, and T'Pol made no move to disengage herself.

Resuming these sessions had been ill-advised, she thought.

He hadn't said much of anything when he had arrived, nor did he meet her gaze even once. She had immediately noticed there was far more tension in his body than there ever had been before, which given horror of the past months was understandable. But he was so quiet, she had wondered if he had come to her simply because he needed to sleep. Despite herself, she worried that he still carried resentment against her.

Yet, he was holding her in the way that humans held their mates.

It is not advisable or appropriate to allow this practice to continue. She would definitely discontinue these sessions, she thought, as she too drifted off to sleep.


Trip was walking along his favorite beach, one of those local, secret beaches. It was located down a dirt road and hidden behind some dunes. The sand felt wonderful, massaging his bare feet. Even the air smelled good, salty and fresh. The wind blew in his hair as he looked out across the water at the sailboats cruising along using only wind power.

Strangely, though, the beach was nearly empty. There was only one other person there, a woman. She stood with her back to him, her dark hair blowing in the wind. She was wearing a blue Starfleet jumpsuit. Strange, he thought. Even stranger, he recognized Subcommander T'Pol. She always wore her High Command uniform. She turned to look at him.

Suddenly, a feeling of absolute dread washed over him. He ran to her. Oblivious to Vulcan's sensitivity to being touched, he grabbed her shoulders.

"T'Pol, we have to get out of here now," he said as the panic overtook him.

"Why?"

"This place. . .it's going to be destroyed."

"No," she said, "This place will always exist here."

Trip looked around. His knees threatened to buckle, and he could barely breathe.

"This place is gone. It's all gone."

"We're in your mind," she said softly, "This place will always exist in your mind."

"You're sayin' I'm dreaming," he whispered.

"In a manner of speaking," she said softly.

Except this is the part where you wake up, in a dream, he thought.

He dropped his hands from her shoulders. She reached over and took them into her own hands. She guided him to the ground, where they knelt together on the sand.

"You can always come here, in your mind," she said, "Whenever you need to feel at peace."

His breathing calmed. The panic slowly drained away.

"Why are you here?"

"Because you wish me to be here," she said.

Trip opened his eyes and realized quickly that a pajama-clad T'Pol was in his arms, asleep. No wonder he had dreamt about her. He started to remember where they were and all that had happened. Not for the first time, he found himself envying Jonathan Archer's illness. Sometimes he'd given anything to forget for just a little longer. He knew he should probably disentangle himself and head back to his quarters, but he didn't. He just dozed off again, this time without dreaming.

 


Comments:

Linda

I like the details that flesh out your story: the tea making, that Archer sometimes remembered better than at other times.  But this version of Twilight seems like the start of a story I am just getting into and then it ends.  Please write more on this version of Twilight.  

Asso

"Twilight" is a strange episode in my opinion. I don't want to speak of its qualities, better not to talk about that.
But, what hell meant it? Or rather, what hell would it have wanted to mean?
An AU where T'Pol and Archer would love each other?
It doesn't seems so, to me.
An AU where T'Pol sacrifice herself for Archer in the name of the friendship between her and him? In the name of the consideration that his illness is indirectly due to her, because Archer didn't leave her when the anomaly struck?
Damn, what a logical Vulcan, I would say, in this case.
More. Is "Twilight" an AU of the lost opportunities? Of what could  happen and, at the same time, of what couldn't happen?
Honestly, for me "Twilight" is only an enormous mess, furthermore showed just when spectators are expecting for the series' follow-on, and it breaks off stupidly the tension.
So, considering these premises from my  part, you, Honeybee, have to understand the real apprehension with which I approached this story, and even more in the light of the fact that, as you know, AU are not exactly my forte.
OKAY. All that said, thank goodness I read this first chapter. BRAVO!:p
I don't want to read your story on FFNET. I prefer to discover every chapter here, as you will post  them on TS.;)

Silverbulllet

Middleman. I am part of your small minority.  When I read that Sussman wrote Twolight as a Archer/T-Pol love story I knew I would never watch it.  I haven't although I have it on DVd.  The thought of an Archer/T-Pol love story revolts me. 

Honeybee. I love your writing and this is an exxellent example of it.  You keep writing and I will keep reading.

The Middleman

Honeybee: You already know that I'm one of a very small number of Enterprise fans (if not the only one) who truly despises the episode "Twilight"; for several reasons besides the obvious A/T reason. Your re-write of this was a story was awesome and it's a story that needed to be told. It was very nicely done and is something I could imagine would have happened in that alternate universe, where duty and personal obligation had to come before personal wants and needs. I won't comment on the rest of the chapters that you will post here at TS but you know that I enjoyed the whole ride. It's truly a shame that "Twilight", which could have been an excellent story, was written by Sussman to satasify his perverted fantasies and to "throw a bone" to a minute A/T portion of the fan base.

pdsldl

Honeybee you already know I like this from FF but just wanted to let those who are reading it for first time it is very good.   Best rewrite of this episode, which I never liked for A/T intonations and feel resets are a waste of time and effort because they do nothing to add to the show but this makes better use of the whole incident than the writers did and includes others in the crew.  Again great job.

Honeybee

Transwarp, I hear you. I am trying to sound like the show's writers re the Archer illness. All the better for the reset button Glad everyone seems to be enjoying it so far. Warpgirl, your praise makes me blush. If I ever write a novel of my own, I'll let you know.

panyasan

I really enjoyed this chapter - and I don't like Twilight at all. The ending - with the dream and both of them stay where they are was great. Thanks.

Transwarp

Honeybee,

This is excellent writing.  Powerful and direct.

Peronally, I never had a problem with the episode 'Twilight'.  It did not seem to me that T'Pol and Archer had any kind of relationship beyond her role as Archer's caretaker, which her sense of honor and duty required of her.  I always imagined that Trip and her had continued their relationship.

One tiny issue I have.  You say:  It shouldn't have been her sitting in that chair, and they both knew it. If it had been Archer, Earth very well might still exist.

You sound like the show's writers here.  In my humble opinion, Enterprise's mission to the expanse was always a desperate long-shot, with a very HIGH probability of failure, and all hands would have realized that.  Anyone on board who believed that Archer would have successfully saved Earth had he not been injured would be delusional.  Or an 'Enterprise' script writer.  Or both.

Aside from that, this is VERY good.

 

WarpGirl

I know that you're a non-fiction writer, but have you ever thought of wwriting a novel of your own? I'd pay for it. I love your style. And I find it ironic that the E2 universe is much too depressing for me, but the Twilight universe is just right. I'm a freak! I can't wait for the rest. You're really brilliant.

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