There was a scar across the Earth made by an alien race. Millions were killed, murdered for a reason no one understood. Commander Charles Anthony Tucker III lost his baby sister in the attack, his Elizabeth. He still had other siblings, but he just wasn't as close to them as he was with her. She was special, not just because she was his sister, but because she was special.
Now, he was back on the Enterprise, which was given the task to find the race that attacked Earth and make sure it never happens again. Adjusting his flight suit uniform, he buzzed the Captain's Ready Room then took a deep breath and exhaled.
"Enter," Jonathan Archer barked.
Just from the Captain's tone, he knew that Archer was in a bad mood. Trip entered the Ready Room to see SubCommander T'Pol in her purple Vulcan catsuit looking slightly fidgety, which for a Vulcan was as good as pacing out of frustration. He had learned to notice these little differences.
"You called for me, Cap'n," he said.
"Yeah, Trip. SubCommander T'Pol has been recalled by the Vulcan High Command. We are rendezvousing with the Ti'Mar so that ship can take her back to Earth where Ambassador Soval is waiting for her," he said barely containing his anger.
Trip looked at T'Pol, who seemed as if she didn't want to make eye contact with him. Over the first year of their mission, he and T'Pol argued over almost everything. During the second year of the mission, they had become friends. Hell, he even started to become attracted to her, really attracted to her. Why wouldn't he? She was beautiful for a Vulcan or a Human woman with sensuous lips, bedroom eyes and a body that made him lose his concentration.
"I'm surprised that you'd want to leave us," Trip said.
"I do not wish to leave the Enterprise, Commander," she said sounding as if she was overly controlling herself. "I have been order by Vulcan High Command to leave the Enterprise before it reaches the Delphic Expanse. I cannot go against their orders."
"Damn the Vulcan High Command," growled Trip, "we need you. You're the best XO in Starfleet."
Archer smiled at this exchange. There was a time when hearing a compliment coming out of Trip's mouth for T'Pol would have floored him, but they had grown closer and become friends.
T'Pol looked at Trip and stared at him. This Human has always confused me. He causes emotions to stir in me. Maybe it is a good thing for me to leave.
Trip stared back at her. Suddenly, everything he wanted to say escaped his mind. God, she is beautiful.
"With T'Pol leaving, Trip, you are doing double duty," said Archer. "You're my First Officer and Chief Engineer now."
"Damn, Cap'n, I can't be your First Officer," Trip protested.
"Yes, you can," said Archer then he looked at T'Pol. "We rendezvous in forty minutes with the Ti'Mar, SubCommander. That doesn't give you much time to pack your things. I wish this ended differently, T'Pol."
"As do I, Captain Archer," said T'Pol.
She headed for the door when Trip spoke up, "I'll escort her to her quarters."
"Good idea, Trip."
Trip and T'Pol exited the Ready Room and started walking down the corridor towards the turbolift. They walked in silence until they finally reached her quarters. T'Pol entered her access code into her door's lock then she turned and looked at Trip.
"It has been a pleasure serving with you," she said.
"Yeah, same here," he replied.
"I need to pack now," she stated, even though there was part of her that would prefer to just stand there with Trip.
"I know, T'Pol," said Trip with some apprehension in his tone. "I really don't want you to leave, but I know you have no choice."
"I do not want to leave, either," she said simply.
They stood making eye contact with each other for a few moments until T'Pol realized just how attracted she was to this blonde hair Human.
"I must go," she said.
"Maybe I'll see you one last time before you go," he said.
"That would be satisfactory," she said then entered her quarters leaving Trip standing in the corridor with a sad expression on his face.
After a moment, he turned and strode down the corridor. He really was going to miss T'Pol. In some ways, she had become closest friends on the ship, even closer to him than Archer or Malcolm. They spent a great deal of time with each other working on problems and the more time they spent together the more time he wanted to spend with her.
T'Pol had her duffel bag over her shoulder and another bag in her right hand, as she stood by the hatch where the Vulcan shuttle was going to dock. Captain Archer was speaking to Captain Vanek and would join her soon. She had said her goodbyes on the bridge and now wished a few moments alone.
She believed the Vulcan High Command was wrong in their decision to remove her from the Enterprise. If Vulcan was a true ally to Earth, then having her on the Enterprise was a symbol of that allegiance. Instead of support, Vulcan was showing a lacking of support to a people and planet in mourning and pain. She was highly disappointed.
"T'Pol," Trip's voice broke her rumination.
She dropped her duffel and bag and turned to see Trip standing there. He looked slightly flushed, as if he had been running.
"I didn't want to miss you so I ran from Engineering," he smiled.
"I would have understood if you missed the opportunity to offer me a farewell," she said.
"I wouldn't have understood, though, darlin'," he said then moved closer to her.
Darlin'. The word almost took her breath away. She knew it was a form of affection he used, but it perplexed her that he used it on her.
"I really wanted to say a proper goodbye to you," he said.
Unexpectedly, Trip reached with his right hand and gently caressed her left ear. T'Pol was shocked by his boldness, yet she did nothing to stop him other than feel the burn of blushing. She knew that the tips of her ears must have a slight greenish discoloration at the moment.
His hand moved from her ear to her chin. Since he was much taller than she was, he gently moved her chin up towards his face then he captured her lips with his own. At first, she didn't respond to his boldness, but within seconds, she found her mouth opening and their tongues caressing each other. The kiss stopped and he stood back.
"I know that was bold of me and I broke every rule and regulation there is when dealing with a Vulcan, but I'd hate myself if I didn't kiss you before you left," he said.
"Why?" she asked in a cracked voice.
"Why did I kiss you or why would I hate myself if I didn't kiss you?" he asked her.
"Both," she said.
"I kissed you because I have feelings for you and I would have hated myself for not doing it because I'd probably never get another chance to do it. Maybe it's my sister's death which makes me feel like I shouldn't waste any more time, or maybe as far as I can see without backup this mission we are going on is probably a suicide one, but I thought this was as good as time as any to kiss you," he said.
"Commander, you have…," T'Pol started to speak.
"No need to finish what you're going to say, darlin'. I know you probably don't have feelings for me," he said then his demeanor and body language became more professional and less Trip-like. "I apologize for being so forward, SubCommander. I hope you have a good trip,"
Before he could turn and leave, T'Pol closed the gap between them. Her hands went up around the back of his neck and pulled him into a long, passionate kiss. For what seemed like a brief eternity, they kissed by the hatch finally separating, though their eyes never broke contact.
Has he always had such blue eyes? T'Pol regained her composure. She was about to speak when they heard someone clear their throats.
"You two saying goodbye?" asked Archer as he exited the turbolift and came down the corridor.
Trip didn't know how much Archer had seen, and he didn't care. Suddenly, there was a slight movement of the ship, as the Vulcan shuttle docked. T'Pol picked up her bags.
"Captain, it has been a pleasure serving with you," she said then she nodded towards him.
"T'Pol, I'm going to miss you," he said then offered her his right hand to shake.
She took his hand and shook it. It was a quick handshake. Trip then offered her his right hand. She took his hand and allowed all her ability as a touch telepath to reach into him. In the few seconds, they shook hands she felt his affection for her and desire for her. She released his hand. Instinctively, she reached up and touched the PSI points on his face and made a quick connection, a koon-ut-la, betrothal bond, replacing the one she used to have with Koss.
Trip felt a slight buzz in his head, as he suddenly himself almost attached to T'Pol in some way. She put her hand down, realizing in Commander Tucker, an emotional, obstinate, and frustrating Human that she may have found her t'hy'la. Quickly, she formed the Ta'al.
"Live long and prosper," she said.
"Same to you, T'Pol," Trip said.
Trip moved over to the hatch door, checked to see if the connection between the ship and shuttle was clean then opened the hatch. T'Pol nodded to both men then exited the Enterprise and entered the Vulcan shuttle. As she made her way into the shuttle, a Subaltern greeted her and told her to strap into a seat. After stowing her bags, she sat down and strapped in then she brought the fingers of her right hand up to her lips and touched them. They still tingled from her kiss with Trip. Trip.
Back on the Enterprise Archer had a quizzical look on his face as he stared at Trip.
"Is there something you wanted to tell me?" he asked.
"Nope," answered Trip.
"Well, you're now my First Officer, so why don't you come up to the Bridge with me. I want you there when we enter the expanse."
"You're the captain, Cap'n," he said.