A strong sun shone through the bedroom window. Without opening his eyes, Trio could the warmth of the sun on his bare skin. He'd spent a night of love making with T'Pol that was even more intense then the first time together. Surprisingly, he could feel her cool body next to his. Yes, cool body.
The average Human thought a Vulcan's body temperature to be higher than a Human's but it wasn't. A Human's body temperature ran at 38 degrees Celsius while a Vulcan's body temperature ran at 32.78 degrees Celsius. It was part of their natural cooling defense from living on a desert dominate world with two suns. During the night she had moved closer to him for warmth.
So, now Trip felt the warmth of the sun on his skin and the coolness of T'Pol skin against him. He turned onto his side, wrapped an arm around her stomach, and then kissed the tip of her ear.
"Sleeping late for you, aren't you?" he said.
T'Pol slowly opened her eyes. She wasn't able to meditate or sleep well when he left to visit his family, but after last night she had slept soundly and deeply.
"I needed the sleep," she simply said.
"I can't believe how much I missed you," said Trip.
And she couldn't believe how comfortable she felt with him. Growing up she was always comfortable with her father, who accepted her for who she was. Her emotions did run deep and often on the surface, at least, on the surface for a Vulcan. Her mother would tell her to meditate whenever she saw her daughter's emotional control slip. This led to her over controlling when she was in the presence of others, and also led to her feeling uncomfortable in the presence of others. Yet, with Charles she felt at ease, almost at peace.
"We need to talk, Charles," she said.
"About what?" he asked, as he kissed her ear again then kissed her neck.
A very soft moan escaped her lips causing Trip to kiss her neck a little more passionately.
"Charles, we must talk," she said.
Trip stopped then gave her some space. T'Pol moved on to her other side, so that she could see Trip's face. He stared into her face and was nearly overwhelmed at how beautiful he found her.
"Talk, darlin'," he said.
"As I told you that Vulcans on the whole mate for life. They bond with one mate and live their life out as mates. There have been cases of Vulcans' relationships not working and a form of divorce happening, as well as a severing of their bond," she explained.
"Sever the bond? What does that mean?" he asked.
"Our bonds are based on developing a telepathic connection," said T'Pol.
Trip smiled, "I have a PSI rating of zero."
"There is a belief that Vulcans are not able to bond with Humans," she said.
"Yeah, especially one with a PSI rating of zero," Trip chuckled.
"Charles, we have a nascent bond," stated T'Pol.
Trip felt like he was slapped by reality. His face took on a serious expression. They had a nascent bond. He needed clarity.
"What does that mean?" he asked.
"It means that the bond is newly formed, young, and growing. The bond will wants us to be together, to be in each other's presence, until it is fully mature," she said.
"So, one of the reasons I was missing you much was because the bond wanted us together. It was making me miss you," he said, though he had a hard time believing it. Even before they had slept together, he recognized that he had feelings for T'Pol. There was no bond then.
"Yes, though speaking for myself I missed your presence without the bond," she said.
"How strong does this bond get?" he asked.
"I will speak from my point of view because I am not sure how it will affect you. In time I will be able to feel your emotions. This is part of the mind-link, which is part of the bond. I will be able to put my mental shields up and block them when I wish, but otherwise they will trickle through our bond. Also, if the bond is strong enough, we will be able to communicate mind to mind," she said.
He'd be able to talk to her without speaking. It was a scary thought. Just the thought of having T'Pol in his mind was a scary thought.
"Will you be able to influence me through the bond?" he asked.
"If we do not build up your mental shields then yes, I will be able to influence you, not control you, but influence you. I can train you in developing your mental shields," she said.
"When I am injured or you are injured, we will heal better in each other's presence," she said. "There are other factors and affects but they can be discussed later. First, I must tell you that I did not mean to bond with you."
"Jeeze, thanks," Trio huffed.
"Do not be insulted by that. I did not intend to bond with you because I did not believe I could bond with you. Now that I have bonded with you, I am not dissatisfied," she said.
"You're not dissatisfied, huh? Of course, you'd prefer to be bonded with a Vulcan male and not a Human male," he said.
T'Pol was never comfortable with Koss and the thought of a Vulcan mate judging her for her moments of over-emotionalism left her with a feeling of distaste. Somehow this sometimes overly emotional and often exasperating Human felt right being bonded to and that confused her. He needed and deserved an honest answer.
"I prefer you, Charles," she said.
Trip was shocked by her answer. She wanted him. Bond or no bond, he knew that he wanted her.
"I see," he said softly.
"If you wish to sever our bond and our mind-link, I can request a priest or priestess to perform p'pil'la'ai. This will sever the bond before it becomes too strong to severe," she told him.
He didn't know if he heard it in her words or somehow the bond let him feel, but he knew that she was disappointed. She didn't want to sever their bond.
"No one asked for that did they?" he asked.
T'Pol was now bemused now by Trip.
"Do you wish to sever our bond?" she asked him.
He thought about. His instinct told him no, even though his brain was saying yes. He didn't want to let go of her, though.
"No," he said.
Now it was T'Pol turn to be surprised.
"Do you wish to keep the bond and let it strengthen?" she said.
"So this bond means that we'll get married, right?" Trip asked.
He hadn't considered marriage and he really wasn't looking for it, but the thought of spending the rest of his life with T'Pol didn't scare him.
"According to Vulcan tradition and law once the bond is formed we are married. A ceremony would just be a formality," she said.
"So, according to Vulcan traditions and laws, we are married now?" he asked.
"Yes, Charles," she said. "Do you wish to keep the bond and let it strengthen?"
Did he love T'Pol? He wasn't sure. There was the possibility that he was in love with her already, and the truth be told he could see himself easily falling in love with her. He was definitely drawn to her and had always been drawn to her.
"Yes," he answered.
He could truly feel for the first time T'Pol's joy. She showed little in her face, but he was sure that she was happy.
"How do we strengthen the bond?"
"By contact. The more contact we have with each other the more the bond will grow," she told him. "Inevitably I will need to perform a mind meld."
"What does the mind meld do?" he asked.
"It balances us. Both our minds will be completely open to each other. They'll be no secrets, no hiding, during the mind meld," she explained.
"Well, that doesn't at all sound intimidating," he said sarcastically. "I'm not too sure you want to know everything going on in my head."
"The feeling is mutual," said T'Pol, "but it is important for us to do as adun and adun'a."
"Huh? As what?"
"Husband and wife."
Trip smiled. Suddenly, the idea of them being husband wife made him happy.
"Have you got any other surprises for me about Vulcan mating habits?" he asked jokingly.
"We must discuss Pon Farr next," she said.
They sat in a white room with chrome and plaz-glass furniture. The temperature was set for Andorian physiology not Human, so Archer remained dressed in his winter gear. General Ghorev and Shran downed their Andorian Ales, while Archer sipped his not wanting to get much more drunk than he was. This was his first experience negotiating a treaty while drinking. Most of the diplomats he'd met in Starfleet and the UE would be sound asleep right now from several glasses of Andorian Ale. Maybe it was a smarter way of negotiating than he thought.
"We have discussed preliminaries, as well as our history of distrust with Vulcans," said Ghorev, "so now let us get to the core of this negotiation."
"Speak, Pinkskin, offer us something worthwhile, so we can go to the feast and truly enjoin ourselves," said Shran.
Archer took a breath to clear his mind. He was drunk but he wasn't that drunk just yet. His senses and brain were still working. Leaning back in his chair, he yawned, which amused Ghorev. Shran closely watched the Human.
"I know warriors find this work boring, but we do as duty tells us," said Ghorev. "If the Emperor told me to destroy a world, I'd do it, but he tells me to talk with a Human about a treaty."
"You'd rather destroy a world?" asked Archer.
"I want to hear your offer."
Archer smiled then spoke, "Here is my offer. The Vulcans wish to win your trust, but that will take time. Earth on the other hand wants to make you an ally. Here is our best offer. You get P'Jem. The Vulcan Government in Exile signs it over to you, but under two conditions: one, the Vulcans still are allowed their monastery and two, a Starfleet Marine base, near the monastery, is allowed. The base will be modest size, 2500 to 3000 Marines, battle equipment, and vessels. If this appeals to you then we can then sign a mutual defense treaty. If you are attacked, we are attacked and vice versa. How does that sound?"
Archer could tell by their antennae that both Andorians were happy. He waited for their reply.
"Archer, we could just take P'Jem, if we wanted it," said Ghorev. "I could call on the Imperial guard to wipe you and your fellow Starfleet starship away."
"You could try," smiled Archer. "Because of the Vulcans our ships are now equal to yours and I'd say the chances are our weapons are stronger. Go on and test us. We don't back down easily."
Shran looked at Ghorev and Ghorev looked at him then they broke out in laughter. Archer didn't know whether to be insulted or relieved.
"I told you that you'd like the Pinkskins. They are fighters and defiant. Their only fault is they have compassion," laughed Shran.
"I can live with them as allies if they are like this one," laughed Ghorev.
Ghorev gained control of himself then he looked at Archer. He was starting truly to like this Human.
"I shall present the offer to the Emperor and endorse it as well. He always wanted a vacation home on P'Jem," smiled Ghorev.
"Now," Shran stood up, "it is time to get into dress uniforms and feast."
"And drink," added the General.
Archer stood up, "Let's party."
Admiral Mendat observed the skeleton of the giant space station being built by Reman workers shipped from the homeworld. He watched as they floated about in their EV suits constructing what would be his first base in the Alpha Quadrant. True to its Romulan nature it would be large and impressive, but also be symbol of Romulan superiority.
His Warbird the R'Hal leisurely circled the construction site. A centurion escorted a Tal Shiar agent Tulan into the observation room. Mendat looked over his shoulder, nodded towards the centurion who left, and then turned and faced Tulan.
"Major Tulan, you have something to report," Mendat said.
"A threat is developing in the Alpha Quadrant," said Tulan.
"Tell me about it."
"The United Earth and its military wing Starfleet have become a growing threat. The Vulcan refugees have allied themselves with them. This has led to an upgrade of their ships, but they are not done. These Earth people are not counting on just Vulcans for help. They have allied themselves with the Andorians. A treaty is to be signed," said Tulan.
Mendat had read up on Starfleet and the UE. He had them marked as a threat and a prime target for invasion. It looked like he needed to slap down this threat earlier than he expected.
"Growing threat, hmmm," said Mendat. "The best way to handle a growing threat is to cause it great damage. Intelligent sentient beings when faced with overwhelming pain and death tend to become malleable and easily dealt with. They don't want more pain and death and are willing to compromise. I have a mission for you, Tulan. You are to choose a crew from one of the bird of prey crews and prepare their ship or a suicide run on Earth."
"Suicide run," repeated Mendat.
"Yes, I want four of our old 50 megaton nuclear missiles mounted on the ship, four missiles to be fired on Earth. Think of the damage and carnage, Major," said Mendat. "They won't be a growing threat for long."
Tulan grinned, "Yes, sir."
Tulan looked like he wanted to say more but held back.
"What is it, Major Tulan?"
"Why call this a suicide mission?" he asked.
"They have a chance of surviving, though I would think even a cloaked ship in the middle of an enemy fleet has a limited chance of survival," said Mendat. "Tell the crew that their families will be well compensated and they will be considered heroes of the Empire."
Tulan nodded, "Time table, sir."
"16 light years away. That's three weeks at warp 4," Mendat said to himself. "Six weeks. Three weeks to pick crew, refit ship, and train and three weeks to Earth."
"Yes, sir," said Talon.
Trip wore his Starfleet uniform while T'Pol wore a Vulcan catsuit uniform with thermal lining. They arrived at Utopia Planitia on a shuttle, or to be more exact they arrived at the complex of labs, offices, messes, quartermaster, and residential area. An ensign was waiting for them. This was going to be their new homes until the Liberator was built and ready for warp trials.
"Captain Tucker, SubCommander T'Pol, I'm to show the officer quarters that we have available. Vice Admiral Jefferies let it be known that whatever you want you get," said the Ensign.
"Lead on Ensign Hill," said Trip.
Trip looked over at T'Pol, but she ignored him. This made him smile. At first he was afraid that they wouldn't be able to keep their relationship secret, but T'Pol had the perfect poker face. He promised himself never to teach her how to play cards because he'd never know when she was bluffing. Carrying their bags they followed the Ensign to a cart. They loaded their bags on the cart then got in the back passenger seats. Ensign Hill sat in the driver's seat and took off. Driving past non-coms and officers walking through the wide corridors they whizzed along until they came to the residential section.
"Ensign, SubCommander T'Pol and I will be working closely with each other on this project, so we'd like quarters that were close by each other," said Trip.
"No problem, sir. There is a section just completed. If I'm not mistaken only one or two units are been spoken for. You can have your pick there," said Hill.
The section had fifteen new apartments with only two taken so far. Trip and T'P9ol took side by side apartments on the last hallway. They entered their chosen codes twice in their pad locks making it their new quarters and then they entered their new homes.
"Well, sirs, it looks like you're settled here," said Ensign Hill. "Are you having any other belongings shipped here, sirs?"
"I am not," said T'Pol.
"I am," said Trip.
"I'll keep a look out for it to make sure it is delivered to the right address, sir. If you need anything else you can order it from the quartermaster," said Hill.
"Thank you, Ensign," said Trip.
"Well, I hope you like your new places," he said then headed off on the cart.
"Shall I see you for dinner, Captain" asked T'Pol.
"We aren't on duty until tomorrow. How about I get us dinner and we eat at my place," said Trip.
"That sounds satisfactory," said T'Pol.
They had spent three days in Alabama and didn't leave their room more than twice. Trip was intoxicated with the T'Pol, who he now thought of as his wife, his adun'a. T'Pol nodded then she entered her new quarters, as did Trip. He was happy that they were able to get side by side rooms. Now it would be easier for them to secretly be together, at least for the next six months.