The naked truth and other necessities of life by panyasan
Summary:

MU Tucker meets RU Tucker and T'Pol.


Categories: Het > Tucker and T'Pol Characters: Tucker
Genre & Keywords: Mirror Universe
Story Type: Story
Warnings: None
Challenges:
Series: None
Chapters: 7 Completed: No Word count: 21216 Read: 22494 Published: July 20, 2016 Updated: May 15, 2017
Story Notes:

Author's notes: In 2011, I wrote a series of 20 short chapters, around 200 words per chapter, about the Mirror Universe of Enterprise, called The Naked Truth. The story was liked but some reviewers preferred a more extended version. This story is that extended version and, just like its predecessor, mostly from MU Tucker’s point of view. All the scenes take place in the Mirror Universe. I hope you enjoy. Thanks to my amazing beta EntAllat.


Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. No copyright infringement is intended.


Time line: This story takes place in 2155, shortly after the episode In a Mirror, Darkly in the Mirror Universe. In the Real Universe it takes place shortly after Terra Prime (2155) and one year before the Romulan War (2156).

1. Chapter 1: Empty by panyasan

2. Chapter 2: Empire by panyasan

3. Chapter 3: Think by panyasan

4. Chapter 4: Naked by panyasan

5. Chapter 5: Trip by panyasan

6. Chapter 6: T'Pol by panyasan

7. Chapter 7: Picture by panyasan

Chapter 1: Empty by panyasan

They were sitting at the breakfast table, chatting and eating. Lisa was playing with her cereal in her bowl; Ian was talking about his new toy and taking an bite now and then. Dad told both of them to eat their breakfast, before taking a sip of his coffee. Mom was busy with Lizzy, who looked adorable with her shiny blond hair with a pink ribbon on top and her pink flowery dress.

 

Suddenly there was a banging at the door. A man shouted and called out Dad's name. A small explosion followed, and the door smashed open. Five men dressed in black military uniforms marched in the room. Two of them rushed to Dad, grabbing and cuffing him. “Charles Tucker, you're under arrest for treason against the Terran Empire,” one soldier declared. A plate fell on the floor and smashed into a thousand pieces, Lisa and Ian screamed, and Lizzy started crying big tears. Dad was taken away.

 

A theater. They were standing before a window, in a perfectly straight line, viewing the empty theater floor. Mom was holding Lizzie close to her with one hand and the other hand was for Ian. Lisa was clutching his mother’s leg. Only he, the eldest, stood alone.

 

“Don't cry,” his mother hissed to them. “If you cry, they are going to take you, just like Dad.”

 

At the scene before them, five military men marched in and made a line as well. Two other men walked in, holding Dad between them. Dad looked gray, thin and old. They placed him on the red spot on the floor. The five men in line took their phasers and aimed. A blast of phaser fire hit Dad. Electrical currents consumed Dad’s body and then he fell. He knew his father was dead and in his mind the phrase repeated, “Don't cry, Trip, don't cry. They're going get you if you do.” He swallowed his tears and the darkness of the world suffocated him...

 

With a scream Charles Tucker woke up and stared in the darkness of his room.

 

He’d had that dream again. That dream about Dad's execution. Sweat was dripping off his face. He felt gross. Charles stepped out of his bed, the floor underneath his feet felt cold.

 

In the bathroom he looked at his gray, worn-down face. His ugly face. Half of it looked normal, but the other side looked melted, full of ugly scars. His bad eye was prickling again. “Hello monster,” he grinned to his reflection in the mirror, “you look handsome today.”

 

 

 

He threw some water on his face and walked to his bedroom. It was only two o'clock in the morning. He didn't want to go back to sleep again, but he had too. He only had given himself four hours of sleep, before he returned to work again. He needed the sleep, but he’d only had one hour.

 

He returned to the batch room again, took some sleep medication and dragged himself back to the bunk. On his bed he stared to the ceiling in the darkness without seeing. And finally, sleep came.

 

He was dreaming again. He knew it, this was a dream, but he couldn't stop the pictures in his mind. And it wasn't his dream, but hers. Her memory. He saw a Vulcan man, tall, black hair, dressed in a burgundy red robe. A woman, dressed in a light blue robe, her brown hair cut half way. They were having breakfast; he ate some kind of porridge and had a steaming cup of tea in front of him. The woman ate a fruit salad and she also drank tea. They ate in a peaceful silence.

 

An explosion at the door, a door smashed open. Five men walked into the room, blue men with antennas on their head. They ordered the family to stand up. The man protested loudly, as the soldiers grabbed the woman. Suddenly, one of the soldiers took a phaser and shot him. The man fell on the floor. Blood dripped from his face. The woman broke free and rushed to him, but two soldiers pulled her way. They slapped her face. They kicked her down. Then, as she was on the floor while a soldier knelt down and held her, another tore her robe. Then the tallest of the soldiers climbed on top of her, while the other two held the woman down. The woman screamed.

 

The world became black and contained nothing but the sound of cries. Cries of despair, and every one of them makes him feel like dying. Every scream breaks him down, every cry is like a stab in his heart. Waves of fear, terror, disgust and total despair washes over him. He is lost in a see of pain, as the child in him is dying....

 

The alarm pierced through his nightmare and he opened his eyes. He felt sick. Slowly he returned to his own world, retreating from this world he had just seen, T'Pol's world when she was a child. As he took a shower – there wasn't any use trying to go back to sleep again – he tried to shake of the feeling of horror. Was his dream her memory? It must have been. He shivered under the warm beams of water.

 

Then he pulled himself together. Whatever happened to T'Pol in her past, that didn’t change the fact she was now a lying, manipulative bitch that had treated him as dirt, no, less than dirt. She had invaded his brain and used him like disposal waste. Two days in the agony boot for him, two weeks for her, and now months in an isolation cell. Why Sato hadn't executed her for treason was beyond him. “Let her rot there, Tucker, he thought. “Keep her out of your life.”

 

But it was strange how the mind worked. He got dressed and walked towards work, but his feet found the way to the holdings cells. Tucker was so deep in his own thoughts that he only realized it when a soldier addressed him and asked him what he was doing here.

 

It was Corporal Cole, a fierce soldier, an attractive brunette, and an old girlfriend of Colonel Reed. Quickly he searched his brain for a plausible explanation. “We think T'Pol can help us with the investigation of the Vulcan computer viruses,” he answered. “I’d like to speak with her.”

 

Cole raised an eyebrow. “I don't think you get much out of her. Tolaris did a real number on her.” She smiled widely. “Not that she doesn't deserve it.” She then gave him a nod as a gesture that he could pass.

 

He walked through, his mind reeling, his stomach in a knot. Tolaris was one of the Vulcans who collaborated with the Terran Empire. He had heard Tolaris used some kind of mind technique to harm Vulcans. He was praised for his torture techniques by Sato. And Tucker knew all to well, how hurtful and traumatic an invasion of the mind could be.

 

Cole had followed him and guided him to the door. She opened it. “Here it is,” she said. In her eyes he saw a glint that she was mocking him and he knew she was going to tell Reed right away about his visit. This move of his could get him in a lot of trouble. The door was closed behind him and he could hear that Cole had engaged the door lock. He was in the cell.

 

The room smelt - like any cell he’d ever stayed in or visited - of urine, although this odor was more pungent. The cell itself was chaotic: paper towels and clothing, a prison overall and underwear, was splayed across the floor. There were two water bottles: one still stood, but the other had fallen, spilling water. The water had crawled underneath a filthy looking mattress on the floor, and the toilet bucket lay upside down on the floor. The mess took him by surprise. T'Pol always had been a organized person.

 

In a corner of the cell a slumped figure sat. He immediately recognized it as T'Pol.

 

Gone was her straight posture. She was sitting like a rag doll, her shoulders huddled, her arms loosely next to her.

 

He treaded softly towards her, squat down and said to the huddled figure. “T'Pol, can you hear me?”

 

There was no response. She just sat there with her head bowed. It moved him. He felt all the fury, and the anger that was burning inside of him, fade away.

 

He looked at her. Normally, he only had to see her and her perfect body to feel desire for her. He always had been attracted to her but ever since he had done her that “favor”, ever since he had had touched her during her pon farr, the longing for her had been in his blood. The pulse of desire went through his veins if he saw her and it had driven him mad. But now he only felt pity - the emotion of the weak - watching her being totally numb.

 

Charles noticed a glint of urine on the floor she was sitting and the discoloration of her skirt. It spurred him into action, without thinking. In boarding school he’d had plenty of experience with cleaning up dirty stuff. He grabbed the towels, took the water and cleaned the floor next to T'Pol. Then, with some hesitation, he gently took off her wet clothes and quickly cleaned her. He tried not to think so much about it and T'Pol was completely passive, he just acted. He dried her, looked for other clothes. He managed to find and get some dry underwear on. He put her t-shirt on; it was dirty, but dry. Then he took the water bottle and gave her a swig of water, trying hard not to spill any. T'Pol responded by drinking the water quickly, as if she was very thirsty. “T'Pol,” he said, but she seemed to have returned to her passive state.

 

Charles went on to get her in the dry overalls. When he stood behind her, trying to get one of her arms in the overall sleeve, her head went up. She looked at him, but didn't seem to see anything. Her brown-green eyes almost looked black and empty. Gone was her passion, the fire, that spark, that drive for life, she always had. All that was there were two empty eyes. “T'Pol, can you hear me?” he asked again. But her stare stayed focused into nothing. There was just emptiness in her gaze.

 

Not knowing what to do, Charles decided to clean and dry the floor and sort the cell out, so it looked more ordered. He straightened the toilet bucket. It was empty. T'Pol hadn't been able to use it. Then he stood up. There was nothing else for him to do. He could try again to speak to T'Pol, but he knew she was too far-gone.

 

He paused at the door, trying to get his emotions in check. “Calm down, Tucker,” he thought. “She was punished for a reason. A very good reason.” He took a deep breath and an old mantra came to mind.“Keep your emotions to yourself, they're going to get you if you don't.” The words his mother had said at his Dad's execution.

 

So he called Cole, who had been waiting. She opened the door, looked into the cell. Cole gave him a skeptical look, but he kept his face straight. “I got nothing out of here,” he said to Cole. Then he walked back to his cabin, as the words went on and on in his mind. “Keep your emotions to yourself, they're going get you if you don't.”

Chapter 2: Empire by panyasan

The next day, Major Reed called him to his office.

 

His day was already miserable, but this made it worse. Reed was a psychotic creep and he had no question in his mind that Cole had reported his visit to T'Pol and that Reed was ready to use it against him.

 

The day had started badly. As he woke up, Charles had a terrible headache and a general feeling of malaise. And his bad eye was hurting like hell. It looked like he had a huge hangover, but in fact he never took a drink when he was working. Especially now, with the stress he was under, he had to stay focused.

 

Major Reed smiled at him as he entered the office, which alarmed Charles even more. Of all the people you had to watch your back around (which was almost all of the senior officers) he distrusted Reed the most. Rumor had it that Reed and Empress Sato were having a sort of power struggle, which made the man in front of him more dangerous then ever.

 

Charles walked towards the desk and stood still.

 

“Sit down, Commander,” Reed started.

 

Charles preferred standing, but he sat down on the chair.

 

“I’ve been told…” Reed continued, “that you’ve made some progress in your research of the Defiant’s systems. The viruses are causing major malfunctions.”

 

“I know,” Tucker answered, surprised about the topic of their conversation. Sato and her advisors had been calling him every day for an update on the repairs. She really wanted the crises with the viruses fixed completely soon as possible. Reed, however, never showed much interest in his projects, no matter how important they were.

 

“As I reported in my daily debriefings,” Tucker continued, “We developed a re-route system for the computers that blocks the spread of the viruses. If ships use that re-route system, they can still operate primary systems: warp drive, weapons and life support.”

 

Charles looked at the man in front of him, wondering if anyone ever had told him his goatee looked ridiculous on him, and hoping this conversation would end soon. He had work to do.

 

“Empress Sato wants the virus crisis fixed today,” Reed answered calmly. “She says it makes the Terran Empire look weak if some rebel Vulcan group can so easily plant a couple of viruses and limit our maneuvering abilities.”

 

Charles was annoyed. “Empress Sato needs to be more patient. This can't be fixed in one day,” he replied.

 

“You can't fix this in a day?” answered Reed, almost cheerful. “Maybe we need another engineer to work with you. Another genius just like you.”

 

Charles knew he was the best engineer in the Terran Empire. He shrugged. “As long if this guy doesn't get in my way, I welcome the help. Do I know him?”

 

“I think you two will get along,” Reed smiled like a predator before attacking his prey. But Reed was wrong to believe he was going to be an easy target.

 

Reed took a PADD from his desk and handed it to him. Charles glanced at it and to his surprise he saw a picture of his youngest sister Lizzie. The report next to it read that she had been arrested at a free thinkers meeting at the university. He froze.

 

He had warned Lizzie about such events when she entered college to study architecture. Being the daughter of a registered traitor and bearing his last name, the intelligence services would watch her. For a normal person it was risky enough to be associated with the free thinkers, but for Charles's family it was even more so. The risks were too high. Once you were marked as a free thinker, or any one else who had a different opinion about the Terran Empire than its rulers, the Empire would put her claws in you, punish you and never let you go. Your friends were in danger too, guilty by association. How could she have been so foolish...

 

“Free thinkers. If people can think for themselves,“ Reed mocked. “But don't worry Tucker. Your unique engineering skills have saved you again. I’ll make you a deal,” Reed said. “Your sister made a huge mistake. I don't have to tell you that. I will use my contacts with the authorities and she and her friends will be off with a severe warning and without registration of this crime. In exchange, you’ll help me with my special project. For the glory of the Empire,” Reed ended with that last bit of slogan they all had been raised with.

 

“For the glory of the Empire,” Charles repeated automatically and added the full slogan “I will serve with my whole heart for the glory of the Empire.”

 

Reed grinned. Charles pinned him down. “First I want proof that you will help my sister,” he grumbled. “And what is this project you speak about?”

 

Reed waved another PADD. On it was a list of all the projects Charles had ever been involved with, from his Academy days until now.

 

“You’ve done a great variety of different projects,” Reed said. “Ranging from a scanning program that can track a man down out of a billion inhabitants on a planet, to warp engines, shield enhancements, studies on traveling through worm holes, your research on that ship from the future, the Defiant. With most of those projects, you worked with T'Pol. In fact, you get your best results working with her. She is a rotten little Vulcan with a big mouth, but she gets the work done.”

 

Reed paused to see his response.

 

His mouth felt dry, but he reacted coldly. “All my engineers get the work done, Major,” Charles answered. “Hess, Rodriquez, Colby, to name of few.”

 

His mind however, was not on his crewmembers. It was with T'Pol. Reed was right. He and T'Pol worked great together. T'Pol was cold and distant, and not exactly a nice person – but in his world no one but Lizzy could be could called nice – and he hated what T'Pol had done to him, but he had to admit he worked the best with T'Pol.

 

He always had clear pictures in his mind for solution to engineering problems, visualizing complex schematics and designs in his brain, but he had a hard time communicating them. T'Pol alone seemed to understand at once what he was talking about. In fact, with her looking at a problem from a totally different angle, it helped him develop even more new things, while he seemed to successfully challenge her to think outside the box. If he was honest, he missed working with her. When they worked, there had been a sort of chemistry that was fruitful. Until her pon farr messed up everything...

 

“Tolaris enjoys his work a little too much,” Reed broke through his thoughts. “He had to be stopped. I don't mind that T'Pol has been punished, but if he continues there won’t be much left of T'Pol for the Empire to use. Although… maybe we can find someone else to replace her.”

 

Tucker knew Reed didn't care what happened to T'Pol. But clearly he needed her for his projects. For Charles, it was different. He could still see those black, empty eyes that wanted him to cry inside. T’Pol was his weakness.

 

“We don't need to look for a replacement,” he replied to Reed. He quickly added, “Empress Sato was right in punishing her, but it would be a shame to lose the scientist.”

 

Reed smiled again. “For the glory of the Empire,” he said.

 

“For the glory,” Tucker repeated. They fully understood each other.

Chapter 3: Think by panyasan

The next day Charles Reed sent him a message, saying that he’d dealt with his sister’s situation. He checked the database and Reed had kept his word. There was nothing to be found about Lizzy's arrest and even when he looked in the database’s deleted files by using his own special logarithm, there was no reference to Lizzy. It was as if it had never even happened.

He called Lizzy. It took a couple of seconds before the image became clear on his monitor and his sister’s lovely face appeared. She had cut her blond hair short, which he thought was a shame, and she looked clearly annoyed.

“You may not believe this, Charles,” Lizzy said, “but some of us don't take everything for granted what the Terran Empire says.”

As if he really believed everything the Empress and her power hungry friends said! Early on, Charles had adopted a single policy: do your work and keep your nose clean. He stayed away from the power games everybody seemed to love. All he wanted was to be an engineer, to work and try to live his life.

“Look, sis,” he started. “Everything we do is monitored. I don't want you to get in serious trouble.”

“But that doesn't give you the right to interfere with my life, Charles,” Lizzy interrupted.

So much for gratitude for saving her ass. “I don't care if you hate that I look after you, Liz,” he grumbled. “We live in dangerous times and I prefer you alive and well, not dead.”

Lizzie's face softened. “I know you mean well, Charles.” She sighed. “We must see each other soon, don't you think?”

He knew she meant she wanted to speak to him in private, away from the monitoring cameras, if that was possible. “Good idea,” he said.

“You look tired, Charles,” Lizzie continued, looking somewhat worried. “Do you have trouble sleeping?”

Lizzie knew of his old problems with sleep.

Last night’s nightmares aside, he’d also experienced some strange sensations. He found it hard to describe, but now and then this morning he felt like a wave of emotion washed over him. They felt like anxiety, confusion and shame. But he didn't couldn't figure out why he would feel that. He wasn't ashamed, nor confused, and anxiety and fear had been his companions for so long, had been such a part of him, that he hardly noticed them. But still, even at this moment, there were emotions humming in the back of his mind. Not strong, but they were there and they almost felt if they weren't his, as if they were alien to him.

It was probably lack of sleep. Or the aftermath of T'Pol messing with his mind. Or he was losing his mind.

“I’m fine,” he answered Lizzy. “Just a lot on my mind. Work stuff.”

“Take care,” Lizzy said. He wished her well and ended their conversation.

He checked the work progress of his team and then went straight to Reed. The major had given so many mysterious hints about his new plans, he was curious what he had to tell.

Reed seemed glad to see him, which deepened the mistrust Charles had against the man.

As soon as he sat, Reed handed him a PADD. “I have found a very interesting article about a research program in the database on the Defiant,” he started. “It's written by a scientist named Elizabeth McGrath. You’ve heard about this other universe? According to this study, it's possible to transport someone from that universe to ours by use of a gateway. I noticed from the logs, you also had read it.”

Charles had read the piece, but hadn't reported the study. He didn't want any one getting wrong ideas in the name of the Empire. “There were a couple of studies in the Defiant database about the spatial interphase, the gateway you mentioned, between our universe and that so-called other universe. I didn't found it very useful,” he answered Reed. “The interphase is a sort of worm-hole. It can be instable and it could have unknown effects on our technology. Even if we're able to scan through this worm-hole, there is still a high risk that if we use our transporter technology in combination with the interphase, we’d kill someone in the process.”

Reed shrugged. “McGrath also suggested we can also travel through the spatial interphase.”

“I know, but can our ships withstand the enormous pressure in the spatial interphase?”

“What about the Defiant?” Reed suggested, “She’s the best ship we have.”

“If we enhance the shields, it may work,” Charles admitted. “But it's still a great risk. If we travel through, we may not survive.” He was impressed that clearly Reed had done his homework, but he still thought the whole plan was madness. In the back of his mind suspicion began to rise. Why would the Major want to travel to other universe? To gain more power himself?

“So this is your new project,” Reed ignoring his warning. “Enhance the shields, study the interphase, and make sure we can travel to this other universe. According to the study, traveling to a future universe is not possible or possible only in a distant future,” he continued, disappointment dripping in his voice, “But we can start our tests by traveling to a universe in the same time frame. You can make the proper calculations to get us there.”

“Does the Empress approve of this plan?” Charles asked, thinking how much Sato had pressured him to finish his current projects and how she always aspired to be in control of every new direction or new plan.

“Totally,” Reed confirmed, “Without her permission, we wouldn't be having this discussion.”

A thought dawned him. “You want to use the people and the technology of that other universe,” he said to Reed, trying to keep his voice neutral. “That's why you ask about transporting people through the worm hole. You and Sato want to kidnap scientists from that other universe.”

It was wrong. In spite of his policy of being neutral, in spite of him only wanting to do his job, in spite of the fact that he didn't know these people, this wasn't good.

“You're smarter that I thought,” Reed answered with a huge smile. “Think of all the technology we can learn more about, think about all the people we can take and use for the Empire. Think of the people of this universe.” He empathized his last sentence, took a PADD and lay it in front of him.

The PADD had a split screen. One showed Lizzie, walking around the university. On the other, T'Pol's cell was to been seen. T'Pol was sitting in a corner, unmoved.

Reed removed the PADD without a word, but his message had been clear. Both Lizzie and T'Pol were monitored, so for both of them, he’d better do as he was told. Think of the people of this universe. He thought about his baby sister, almost happy. He thought about those empty eyes of T'Pol when he had visited her cell. And he made his decision

“I will make the calculations,” he muttered. “Send the information to my desk.”

“Will do,” Reed answered. “I’ll also send you the information on our target, a genius from that other universe. We like to travel to that alternate universe, scan for him, transport him aboard the Defiant and bring him home to us.”

 


Charles walked as quickly as possible to his desk. He was curious who the poor man could be that was the subject of a devious political game and deadly riskily scientific project.

When he opened the file Reed had sent, he gasped. It felt like someone had stabbed him in the heart. Before him was a picture of a young man, smiling. It was his old face, before the accident but it wasn't him. It was Commander Charles Tucker, chief engineer of Enterprise, his counterpart of that other universe.

He breathed deeply and regained control. He shouldn't care. This was not him. He only had to care about himself, not about this stranger.

But deep inside, he felt like the earth had opened and swallowed him. He was in trouble, more than ever before in his life.

Chapter 4: Naked by panyasan

“On screen,” Reed commanded. The tension at the bridge of the Defiant rose. The image on the screen became clear. A unique kind of wormhole, beautiful and different than anything Charles had ever seen, appeared. It was the spatial interphase.

Sooner than Charles had imaged, they were face-to-face with the gateway to another universe. Putting everything aside, he had worked day and night with his team, enhancing Defiant’s shields, creating a cloaking device, calculating how to enter in - and travel through - the interphase, making a new sort of transporter device designed specially for this mission.

He had tried to focus on this unique project. With all his might he had buried his qualms about what they were about to do. He had to do this. He was a servant of the Terran Empire and he had to protect Lizzy. And T'Pol, though he didn't like to think about her. But at times, mostly when he was alone in his bed, his doubts had begun eating him from the inside.

That morning they had gathered on the Defiant. The small crew consisted of Major Reed, three guards - including Cole, the very talented pilot Rivers, their transporter experts Hunter and Gardner, shields expert Hemingway, and, from his own engineering crew, Hess. The soldiers Reed had picked were always at his side. They helped his quest for power that had already led to his promotion to Corporal.

They started their journey fully cloaked. The trip was tedious, but when they finally came eye-to-eye with the gateway to the other universe, everyone was on alert. The pilot maneuvered the ship into interphase and with ease the Defiant went through. It was completely dark. They had to rely on sensors only. Relief and pride welled inside Charles. He had done it. They went through safely.

They traveled for a couple of minutes, when he noticed a new development in the interphase. “The energy density is degrading at the threshold out,” he reported. “This could endanger the stability of the threshold.” Hemingway reported also that the shields were down forty per cent.

As they entered the threshold, the whole ship started groaning and moaning. Several systems went down. Life support was at its minimum. Sensors weren't functioning like they should do.

“Shields are down seventy-five per cent, sir,” Hemingway shouted. “We're not going hold much longer.”

“We need to abort the mission,” Charles told Reed. “The ship is going to be destroyed if we continue.”

“We’ve almost reached the end of the threshold,” River reported.

Reed only seemed to hear what River had said. “As soon as we're out, scan for our test subject, bring him in at once and go back to maximum warp, before the threshold collapses. We can make this work.”

“With all due respect, sir,” Charles protested, “The threshold is destabilizing more every second. We better turn around and forget about this.”

“We have the technique and the opportunity," Reed said. “The test subject is important for the Empire.”

Tucker stared at the transporter, a machine, built by him for this purpose. He knew this ship and crew was capable of achieving the highest. Still, he didn't like Reed's new plan. "We don't need him."

"He's a genius who knows ships like the Defiant as well as the back of his hand. We'll use him. That's an order," Reed replied sharply.

The ship was finally through the threshold and had entered the other universe. All had become quiet around them.

Reed turned to the two engineers standing by the device. "We have a lock on him?"

"Yes, sir," one of them replied. "However, there are two identities. We can't separate them. They are united, intertwined."

Perplexity flashed over Reed's face. Then he grinned nastily, with a dawning awareness. "That's even better. We get Tucker's girlfriend as well. Engage."

Before Tucker's eyes, two people materialized on the platform. He saw his own naked form, holding a female in his arms. A blanket lay half way on top of him, wrapped around one leg. His counterpart had no deforming scars and both eyes were intact; he looked up in shock, tightening the grip on the woman as if wanting to protect her. She looked so much like the person whose smell, curves, and soft skin plagued his own memories. This T'Pol had short hair and a softer expression than the T'Pol of his universe. His counterpart was to be envied.


The world had changed. Trip Tucker had been celebrating his love for T'Pol and their recent marriage, when suddenly he felt a strange buzz, and a vibration throughout his whole body. He could feel himself being dematerialized and when it was through he wasn't in his warm bed anymore. He and T'Pol were on a cold floor, and they're weren't alone. Eyes were watching them.

“So much for privacy,” he muttered. Luckily his bed blanket had also been transported. He pulled the sheet and covered both him and T'Pol. He felt the floor shake slightly beneath him, and recognized the vibrations of a powerful - but straining - warp core. He heard the moaning and groaning of a ship in need. A man called out that the shields were down ninety per cent.

“We've been transported,” T'Pol said, still in his arms, stating the obvious. “We're on a ship now.”

“And we're in trouble,” Trip added.

T'Pol searched his face. “But we're in this together,” she replied.

“Stay where you are,” a man shouted at them, as T'Pol slid closer to Trip. He counted three men standing over them, with phasers pointed right at them. From their uniforms, it was clear they weren't Starfleet. He could also tell that the ship had at least the capacity of warp eight by the sound of it and, he wryly noted, they were capable of transporting two persons at once. So this ship was technologically more advanced than anything in Starfleet. With that, he could also rule out Terra Prime.

Around them was chaos, Trip heard noises like something in space collapsed with great force, reports being shouted, loud cracking sounds at where the hull used to be. The ship moved with great difficulty, like they were pulling away from a gravitational field.

“We're almost through the threshold,” a man shouted.

Then, suddenly, the shaking, moaning, cracks, and other loud sounds ceased. A deep silence fell. Only the sound of steps, of a man walking back and forward, was to be heard.

“I believe we've been traveling through a worm hole,” T'Pol said softly.

“I thought of that too,” he said, “So the question is, where are we going, who're these people and what do they want from us?”

“Status report!” The shouted command cut off whatever T'Pol was going to say in response. The voice sounded familiar, almost like Malcolm Reed.

“The ship is in bad shape, sir,” a male voice answered. “Major damage to the hull plating, warp core is holding, but also damaged. It's going be a rocky road home.”

There was something very familiar about that voice. Through the bond he could feel T'Pol was shocked and intrigued by it. Maybe she knew who this man was.

“Ensign Johnson, bring our prisoners to sick bay,” the same man that obviously was in charge shouted. “And get them some clothes. Guards, you go with them. Put them in the brig afterwards.”

A little stiff from laying still on the cold floor, Trip and T'Pol managed to get up together and still stay, mostly, covered by the blanket. A young man, perhaps as young as sixteen, stood before them. “Follow me,” he said.

As he and T'Pol shuffled down the bridge in the direction of sickbay, Trip got his first good look at the crew..

With a shock, he saw that the man standing in the middle of the bridge - obviously the leader here - didn't just sound like Malcolm, he looked like him. Trip tried to get a better look without being noticed. This man’s face had a much more aggressive expression, and a goatee - he couldn't be Malcolm.

Another quick glance, before they were shoved into the turbolift, and he saw a woman who strikingly looked like Anna Hess, only she had short hair and a much older look. He also noticed a woman that could be a dead-ringer for Amanda Cole.

Once they were in sickbay, the ensign got them two overalls. As Trip and T'Pol got dressed, the men talked voices so low that he couldn't hear what was being said. Laughter followed their conversation.

T'Pol gave him a small poke. “Did you hear what they said?” she whispered. He shook his head. Vulcan hearing was much better than Humans, so he figured she had. “They talked about the fact that you look so much like Commander Tucker,” T'Pol revealed.

“That's because I am Commander Tucker,” he whispered back a bit annoyed.

“I have a theory,” T'Pol continued, speaking softly. “They spoke of a Commander Tucker who had been in an accident, and they joked that he had the same taste in women. When we walked across the bridge, I saw the person they’re referring to. He has scars on his face, but other than that, he looks remarkably like you.”

Trip didn't like the idea of a double of him walking around. “You're right, something really weird is going on,” he whispered back. “I saw something who could be Malcolm's evil twin brother, and someone who could be Anna Hess’s older sister. You know, there are some scientific theories...”

“Of parallel worlds on the other side of wormholes,” T'Pol finished for him. “Yes. It sounds absurd, but it's a logical explanation given the current information. These people likely aren't clones. They aren't exact copies and what would be the purpose in creating so many individual clones?

One of the guards banged at the door, ending their whispered conversation. As they came out, one of the guards pointed them to the door with his phaser. “The brig is over there.”

As they entered the brig area, Trip saw a couple of holding cells. In one of them, a chair stood, amid all kinds of electrical wires. He shivered. He had no doubt that in this universe they didn't shy away from torture.

The guards placed both of them in one holding cell and sealed it. One of the guards stayed, the others left. All was silent around them.

T'Pol sat down on the bench. He stayed close, but remained standing. “I think they're after you,” T'Pol whispered. “They want to use your engineering skills. That's the best explanation.”

“Maybe you're the target,” he answered back in a whispering voice.

T'Pol shook her head. “I think I was transported with you by accident,” she said. “But I am glad we're in this together.”

Her remark, almost emotional coming from T'Pol, was an echo of his own words, a saying that he and T'Pol shared when faced with troubles. He had said it to her when they discovered that they shared a psychic bond. They’d had a hard talk about their relationship afterwards in which many a miscommunication and cultural misunderstanding had been clarified. “We're in this together,” he had said to her, “And we have a lot of work to do. But I want to make this work.”

T'Pol had agreed and, while their relationship not always went smoothly - to say the least - and being bonded with T'Pol proved more difficult than he had thought, the bottom line was they had chosen each other.

In their darkest hour, when he’d seen their baby girl die, T'Pol had said that even more she wanted to be with him. “We're in this together, and I really need you.” She had kissed his eyes, swollen from the tears and even without telling he could feel her love for him.

Just thinking about that moment provoked a deep pain inside of him, as always when he was remembered of his daughter. He had held her only twice and he had wanted to hold her forever. He loved her unconditionally and the thought of her passing caused almost a psychical pain, every time he thought about it. His slip didn't get unnoticed by T'Pol, close to him, who gave him a worried look

The door opened. Their guard straightened himself quickly and saluted the two men who entered. It was the leader of the crew and a man with a disfigured face and one other guard. He had about the same height as his.

The man in charge walked towards the holding cell and inspected them from head to toe.

“Why have you taken us?” Trip demanded to know. “What's your name?”

“I am Major Reed of the Terran Empire,” Reed answered. “And we want your engineering expertise.”

The other man also moved forward. His eyes went to T'Pol who he examined from her face to her legs. Trip moved automatically closer to T'Pol and looked this man straight in the eye.

He saw a face with two sides. One side was disfigured, the other side was identical as the face he saw every morning in the mirror.

"I am Commander Tucker of the Terran Empire,” he said in a voice Trip recognized now as his. “This is a different universe.”

Trip stared into the much darker face of his counterpart. We're in trouble, he thought again. Big trouble, and in a much more darker universe.

 

 

Chapter 5: Trip by panyasan
Author's Notes:

Thanks to my beta Dinah. 

“Commander Tucker here.” From the bridge of the Defiant, Charles contacted engineering. “What is our status? Did the warp core sustain any damage?”

 

 

 

He already knew the answer, because the warp core felt off. Somehow, he only had to the feel the vibrations of the core to known something was wrong. And given their turbulent journey through the interphase, the odds were great engineering had sustained some heavy damage.

 

 

 

 “I send you the status report this moment sir,” Kelby, one of his engineers, answered. “As you can see, we can really use your help.”

 

He was already on the way, as Reed stopped him.

 

“We have to pay our prisoners a visit,” he told Charles.

 

As much as he was curious about the other Tucker, he had a more urgent priority.

 

“I am needed in engineering, warp core problems,” he explained.

 

“It will only take a few minutes,” Reed said, his cold eyes close to him.

 

Charles decided that the best way to avoid any further delay was to go with the major and get to engineering as soon as he could.  As he arrived at the brig, the first thing he noticed was the newly arrived couple, standing in a joined holding cell. In the cell next door stood a new version of Reed's favorite toy, an agony chair.

 

The Charles Tucker of that other universe stood close to the other T'Pol, as he arrived with Reed. His eyes went from her face to those awesome legs. His counterpart moved closer to her and gave him a disgruntled look. Then the other Tucker squeezed his eyes and studied him from head to toe. He looked at his marked face, his bad eye and scars, before recognition came.

 

"I am Commander Tucker of the Terran Empire,” Charles introduced himself. “This is a different universe.”

 

After a short explanation, Reed asked “Tucker number two, have you noticed anything about this ship?”

 

His counterpart seemed to be annoyed to be addressed as the other Tucker, but he replied, “Other than this is a technological very advanced ship?” he asked.

 

“Yes, please,” Reed said cheerfully.

 

“For starters, your warp core is off. The vibrations feel different.” Charles had felt the same. It somehow felt good that his counterpart and he shared the same talent.

 

Major Reed looked at Charles triumphantly. “I said so, he's a genius.”

 

“Major,” Charles answered, “I just told you the same thing.”

 

But Reed didn't seem to hear. “Take the female,” he ordered the guards.

 

The holding cell opened and the guards grabbed the Vulcan woman. His counterpart tried to prevent them for taking her and shouted, “Leave her alone!” One of the guards hit him hard on his face and the other Tucker fell down. The guards dragged the other T'Pol to the other holding cell and bound her to the chair.

 

Charles felt a chill coming up his spine. "Sir,” he said strongly to Reed. “This isn't necessary.”

 

Reed gave him a furious glare, but his voice was dead calm. "I have orders from the Empress to return at once when we have finished our mission. Without the warp core functioning, we can't.” Reed walked into the cell, knelt down at the place where the other Tucker tried to stand up and hissed to him “If you don't work with us, see what we do to your love ones."

 

The major nodded to one of the guards, who turned the machine on. T'Pol, chained to the agony chair, cringed and her eyes widened. He heard a muffled sound from the other Tucker. “Stop this,” his counterpart said. “Stop what you're doing. I will do whatever you want.” His eyes were wide in shock and pain. His expression showed burning pain and complete helplessness. It was like the man had tasted the burning agony of the chair, a feeling Charles knew so well.

 

“Major,” Charles said, “If you want his cooperation and to get back on time with the Defiant, you better stop this and get the woman out of the chair.” He waited a second before adding. “Before I will.”

 

To his surprise, Reed grinned. “You Tuckers are all the same,” he said and ordered the guard to stop the process. He turned to the other Tucker. “We don't mess around, Mister Tucker. You do as you're ordered, otherwise both of you will experience a great deal of pain; torture in your universe is like child’s play compared with our ways. Got it?”

 

His counterpart nodded. “Got it, sir.”

 

The machine went silent and T'Pol's double was released from her chains. With difficulty, she stood up and hobbled towards the other cell. Charles stepped forward to help her, then he stopped in his tracks. He shouldn't help her, a mere prisoner.

 

As she passed him, Charles looked at her intently. Her eyes had the same brown-green shade as T'Pol's but they held a warmer, more open look.

 

She was weak.

 

As she entered her holding cell again, the other Tucker was waiting for her, ready to give her his support.

 

Reed seemed very amused by this sight. “So you give me your word that you will work with Commander Tucker to fix our engines and the warp core and help us in any possible way, for the glory of the Empire?” he asked the other Tucker.

 

“I will help you with the engineering work, sir,” his counterpart answered. 

 

“Vulcan,” Reed addressed the woman, “if I notice the slightest attempt at sabotage, I will put you in the agony chair long enough to cook your brains. But if you are as clever as the T'Pol in this universe, we may have some use for you.”

 

Apparently Reed wanted the two to gather all the information he needed before disposing of them, in his own cruel way. Reed turned to the guard. “Jackson, get them some electronic ankle bands and get the other guards to engineering to keep an eye on these two.”

 

“Major,” Charles interjected, “We can place the devices on some security boots, because if they’ll be working in engineering, they will need them. And given the surveillance in engineering and the electronic devices, two guards would be enough.” He hated too many guards in engineering.

 

“All right. Two guards in engineering and the prisoners sleep in the brig,” the major said and finally Charles could go to engineering, with his counterpart, T'Pol's look-a-like and the guards. He gave them their assignments. T'Pol would be working on one of the consoles and he and his counterpart on the warp core.

 


 

"Call me Commander Tucker or Tucker," he said to his counterpart, as they walked towards the core.

 

"Okay," the other Tucker replied, "In that case, you'd better call me Trip."

 

Trip... that had been Charles's nickname when he was young. He hadn't been called Trip since after his father died, when he was eight years old. Mom never called him Trip anymore, only Charles. Not that they’re on speaking terms. He hadn’t been close to his mother since he was nineteen years old and had discovered what a bastard of a husband she had been remarried to.

 

As Trip and he worked together, inspecting the warp core and discussing the options for repairs, Charles realized how great it was to work with a man who understood right away what you wanted. They fixed the warp core in no time and ended up in a short but animated discussion. He pushed a button for a test run and a buzz filled the room.

 

Trips eyes sparkled. "The vibrations are deeper."

 

"My tests showed she can make warp nine," he answered.

 

"Fast and beautiful!"

 

Why was this man so like him?

 

T'Pol, who just finished her work, came by and made a remark, clearly amused. Suddenly he felt his anger rise. They were innocent and so happy together. This universe would eat them alive.

 

He turned to T'Pol. "How did you find the agony booth?"

 

T'Pol's eyes darkened. "It was disturbing."

 

"Disturbing. Such a Vulcan expression for burning agony," he mocked. "It's a small taste of this universe. They will watch you and hurt you. You'd both better wake up, otherwise you'll end up dead. And not in a nice way."

 

"We're aware of this, Tucker,” Trip said calmly. T'Pol just looked at him with her green-brown eyes.

 

His T'Pol would have challenged him, with that impudent spark in her eyes; those pursed lips, her body straight, like she was untouchable and cared about nobody. And he would have wanted to kiss her senseless to show that was all a lie, but instead he would have scoffed at her. A headache began to loom behind his temples and he realized T'Pol wasn't his and she was farther away from him than ever.

 

"I understand we're finished here and we have another job to do.” Trip's calm voice pierced through his thoughts.

 

He turned to Trip. “Yes, the hull plating is damaged due to our turbulent journey through the interphase. We can't fix the hull plating while traveling, but I developed a plan to place isolation plates on the inside for protection and use hologram technology to create a sort of camouflage for the ship. He showed Trip his plan and explained it in more detail.

 

“I don't get it,” Trip said to him. “You’re a Commander, you have brilliant ideas and you outrank Reed. So why is he is charge?”

 

“It’s complicated,” he answered, disliking the question.

 

“When I started working on Enterprise, I thought the captain knew it all,” Trip started to tell. “I questioned myself if I could lead my team. But I found out I have a talent for bringing the crew together as a leader, just like you. And sometimes I did strongly disagree with the captain and said so.”

 

Charles understood what Trip was trying to say and he appreciated it. He hated power games, but Trip was right. He should be more aware of his own importance and power. But his world didn’t function in the same way. “In this universe it matters more who your allies are than what your rank is,” he explained to Trip. “The Empress is the head of the Terran Empire. But the real decisions are made by the Council, a group of ten admirals. Admiral Reed is the most important one. He’s major Reed’s father and Reed is also the favorite of four other admirals. The Empress has agreed with this plan to bring you to this universe with the full support of the Council. I am not sure, but my guess is it was probably their idea as well.”

 

“I see,” Trip responded. “But one thing still isn’t clear to me. This ship is far more technologically advanced than anything I have seen. So why does this council think we are needed in this universe?”

 

It was time to explain the situation of the Defiant to Trip. “I didn't have anything to do with the building of this ship. I just made some adjustments. The ship is from the future, from your universe.”

 

Trip shook its head. “So we have not only parallel universes, but also future universes? This is enough to give me a headache,” he joked.

 

“We found this ship near the interphase,” Charles explained further. “The Defiant gives the Empress and the Council their power. A month ago, two unknown men appeared on the ship and inserted a vicious virus, messing up several systems. The techniques they used led us to your research, Trip. According to the Defiant’s database you will develop some very interesting new technologies. I also noticed some Vulcan influence. Reed dismissed that."

 

"Not any more. Why else would Reed let T'Pol assist us?" Trip replied. "So was it Reed's idea to build the transporter? Who designed it? You did?”

 

He had been a fool, furious at T'Pol, shocked when he saw what they had done. Those empty eyes of T'Pol’s. “Yes,” he replied shortly, not wanting to talk about this. “Let's us get back to the work.”

 

“I have some suggestions, if you’d like to hear them,” Trip answered. Charles eagerly started discussing those ideas with him, as they walked to the area where the work on the hull plating was done. There they worked in relatively silence.

 


 

Working with Trip had somehow helped him relax a bit. He had missed talking to someone about his work, like he used to do with T’Pol in the old days before her Pon Farr.  As they returned to engineering, the subject turned to education and favorite scientists and books. Charles always loved to read. It was his escape from a young age. He saw himself again, a small child, alone, sitting in the corner of his room, his own special safe place, reading a book, drinking in knowledge. It seemed that Trip had the same thirst for science as he had and also been the only genius in his family. Charles knew how lonely that was.

 

“I went to a boarding school for talented children when I was nine,” he told him. “Then I got my degrees in physic, mathematics, warp technology and engineering.”

 

“Favorite scientists?”

 

“Do Henry Archer and Saburou Ishikawa mean anything in your world?”

 

“Oh yes,” Trip's eyes started to gleam. “I know their works by heart. But my favorite is Daniel Salomon, especially his first book.”

 

“Me too!” Charles smiled. “I loved that book. In this universe he has only written one book. They're some issues with the Emperor's science council, so he stopped writing.” His bad eye started to prickle. Automatically he got his eye lotion from his shirt pocket and dripped it his eye.

 

“Does your eye hurt a lot?” Trip asked.

 

He shrugged. “It's nothing.”

 

“Do you mind my asking how you got your injuries?” Trip asked.

 

“I do. Why do you want to know?” Charles replied, feeling annoyed. He never liked talking about his accident. “Is your plan to became my friend, gather as much information as possible and then use me to escape from all of this?”

 

“I’d like to be your friend, Tucker,” Trip answered calmly. He continued more passionately “Because I am curious about a man who is just like me, but grown up in a different world. And yes, I can use any help to enable me and T'Pol to survive in this universe. Can you blame me? I am not totally happy in my universe, but it's mine and I prefer it over this one anytime.”

 

He sounded so sincere that Charles didn't doubt for a moment he spoke the truth. “It was during the Xindi War. Enterprise, the ship I served on as Chief Engineer, was hit by enemy fire,” he started to tell his story. “The damage was near the warp core. If I didn't repair it, the warp core would explode and the ship with it. I had to protect the crew. So I got my protective suit on, sent everybody anyway, sealed the area off and fixed the damage.”

 

He went silent. In his mind he saw T'Pol again, protesting against the fact that he went in alone. Hess agreed with her. They wanted to come with him, but he said no. It was too dangerous.

 

“I thought I made it, but then another bomb hit the area next to the warp core. There's a massive explosion, the whole thing collapsed and I got stuck between the rubble. I was exposed to gamma radiation, enough to let my grandchildren glow in the dark,” he continued. “It felt like I was in flames, in a burning, all consuming fire. And the pain, like I was skinned alive. T'Pol and Hess got me out, got me to sickbay and decontamination. I heard someone scream the whole time, but only when everything was over and the pain ceased, did I realize it was my own voice.”

 

Trip looked at him in shock. “You're a hero,” he said.

 

He smiled weakly at him. “I am only an officer of the Terran Empire,” he replied.

 

 

Chapter 6: T'Pol by panyasan

She wasn't a person anymore. Her soul had ceased to exist. Her mind and body seemed to be separated, apart. Somewhere her body was there, functioning, but her mind, her memories, her inner being that contained her katra was so tainted, so invalidated, so broken, so completely sullied that she no longer knew who she was. She was filthy inside, sullied in every pore of her being, a thing without value, trash that had been thrown away. 

Day after day, hour after hour, Tolaris had invaded her mind, taking her worst memories and making her them relive them again and again. Then he had taken – o how much she had tried to stop him – her most precious memories, the ones that kept her alive, and mocked them. They weren’t many, but Tolaris had been there in every memory, every moment she had been content, telling her she betrayed her loved ones and her mate, yelling to her she was unworthy of any affection. He sullied her memories, humiliated her every chance he got, never mentioning her name, always calling her Fool or Trash or Whore, always laughing at her pain, over and over again. His maniacal laugh still ringed in her ears.

He had broken her, and she had only been able to keep one memory from him, as Tolaris's torture of her mind continued on.

And now, she was in her dark cell, a gloomy, black pit. She sat at the bottom and she lacked the strength to climb. And there was nothing to go to, because above, beneath, on all sides, there was nothing more than darkness.

Then a sound entered her foggy mind. A door opened. A small light entered in, only to vanish as the door closed. There were footsteps. A familiar smell entered her nostrils. It smelt like iron, antimatter, musk, myrrh, citrus oil. Then he said her name, a name she hadn't heard in weeks. Her identity. The person she was. “T'Pol.”

She couldn't react. Her head felt empty, her brain so hazey it couldn't give orders, her body stayed immovable. But she sensed him. She felt his strong, tender hands on her skin, as he cleaned her. She felt his care as he put some clean clothes on her. Then she submerged again in the darkness and when she opened her eyes again, Charles, because she knew that it had been him, was gone.

He had showed her mercy. She had hurt him deeply and he had repaid her with kindness. He had cared. He had valued her.

Charles’s visit was the beginning of her healing, the rope of rescue for her to climb out of her dark pit. She found the strength again to start gathering the shattered pieces of her mind and being. For this, T'Pol returned to the past, to her childhood's mind. There she found, rooted in her katra, grounded in the bottom of her being, her childhood's meditation techniques. The ones her father had taught her. There was simplicity and order, a way out of the chaos.

As she reconstructed her mind again, as well as she was able to, T'Pol reconstructed the story of her life, piece by piece, starting with her happy childhood years, when Father was still alive, her friendship with S’Vai, her best friend from an early age, her assignment to Enterprise, her meeting with Charles and working with him, her betrayal of him, her punishment by the Empress.

It was a slow process, hindered by the flashes of Tolaris's torture that hid in her mind and came forward frequently. Every time they came, she felt sickened  by the rolling emotions of fear, disgust, shame and guilt. Her first instinct was to suppress those memories. But that wouldn't remove them. So she stepped back in her mind, looked at the accusations Tolaris had yelled at her and tried to pick them apart by using logic. She didn't succeed all the time, and some of the things he had said about her character were unfortunately true, but slowly, bit by bit, clarity and order returned into her mind.

While taking control in her mind again and forced to give herself a hard look during hours of meditation, she realized one truth that she had denied before. There had only been one memory that she had preserved during Tolaris’s torture. She remembered how she had primitively, without logic,  fought with all her mind to keep it out of his dirty hands.

It was a memory of her and Charles, after the frenzied hours of them sharing the burning furnace that is Pon Farr. It made her realize something. He was a central figure in her life, more important than she had imagined, a man who had given her strength, who healed her soul by showing her mercy. Charles Tucker, a strong, kind and good man. And how she had betrayed and hurt him.

Every time T'Pol was confronted with this, she opened her eyes in an attempt to stop her train of thoughts. She wanted to be truthful to herself, but the subject of Charles was something confusing and frightening for her, she didn't want to think about him. But deep down in her katra she knew she couldn’t escape now, she had to look in the mirror and face herself and the naked truth.

It was the least Charles deserved of her.

And so she made up her mind. In order to understand what was really true about their relationship, no matter how frightening that truth would be, she would go back and view her memories about Charles.

And so she did.

----

The first time T’Pol had heard of Charles Tucker was when she told S’Vai she was assigned to the Terran ship Enterprise. S’Vai had been her best friend since childhood, more than a friend, the sister she had never had. “Which department are you going to work for?” S’Vai, who had worked on Enterprise herself before her marriage to Korek, had asked. “Engineering,” she had answered.

S’Vai seemed to be pleased with her answer. “That’s good. Charles Tucker is the chief engineer of Enterprise. He is honest, hardworking and treats his crew well, even Vulcans.”

She had been surprised. “I hardly can believe that there’s such a thing as a good Terran,”T’Pol had said. “If they exist,” S’Vai had answered, “Tucker comes close. But watch out for Captain Archer. He has loose hands when it comes to women, and he doesn’t care if they’re betrothed or not.”

S’Vai  had proved to be right. T’Pol had spent her days avoiding Archer and his touchy hands, but she never minded working with Tucker. Her new boss never seemed to talk much and practically ignored her, but he valued her ideas and treated her fairly, like the rest of the crew.

And while she never would admit it, for the first time in her life, she liked working with a Terran. And he seemed to not mind to working with her. More and more she found herself  having some kind of argument with him, after him saying something that provoke an answer, or she making a remark.  When he did argue, she noticed a spark in his eyes, the small smile on his face, which suggested he took pleasure in their arguments. And if she was really honest, so did she and she hated him for liking him so much. What made it more complicated was the attraction between them. Deep down she knew it was there, but he would never show it and she would rather have had her right arm cut off before admitting it.

Things changed when Tucker had his accident. She had been there when it happened and his screams had still echoed in her own mind in the days after. T’Pol had been shocked about what had happened, but strangely also proud of this man who had saved the crew at the expense of his own life.

When Tucker returned to work, it had seemed that not only his face and body had been scarred, but his whole person. Tucker had never smiled much, but now his expression had seemed grimmer and his jokes, if he made them between the periods of silent work, had a taste of bitterness. Sarcasm had been dripping more and more into his speech.

Still, T’Pol had felt a strange kind of sympathy for this man, a Terran no less, who just like her fought for his place in this world, struggled to go his own way instead of being the Empire’s puppet like so many other officers.

Their strange connection that had evolved during the years they worked together, it stayed. Soon their arguments returned, but it was clear his pent-up emotions colored the discussion more than before. Sometimes, his eyes would admire openly the shape of her body, or he made some casual remark, that proved he was attracted to her. She seemed oddly pleased by it. Or he would look at her so intently, almost like he meant to devour her. She feared that look, because it provoked emotions that she had a hard time suppressing. She shouldn’t feel this way, it wasn’t Vulcan, it wasn’t right. She hated him for these strange feelings and spent hours in meditation just to free herself for it.

Then, in a period when she worked more closely with Tucker on a new project, she discovered she was suffering from Pon Farr. It was all clear: her mind was constantly busy with this the burning desire, the blood rushing through her veins, pumping in a rhythm: find a mate; quench the fire in a union with him. And in her mind an image rose of Tucker, but with all her mind she cast out any thoughts of him.

She had to talk about her condition, no matter how shameful she felt. She told S’Vai and Korek in the hope they would found some kind of solution. First they didn’t believe her. “Pon Farr is a unique male condition,” Korek had said. “You must be mistaken.” He had paused and S’Vai had taken over. “Or this happens because of the proximity of your mate, which can trigger Pon Farr with a woman,” she and Korek had exchanged a look which had made T’Pol very uncomfortable. “In very rare situations a virus can cause those symptoms with a female, but I haven’t heard of an active virus in our surroundings.”

T’Pol had clung to the idea of a virus as explanation for her Pon Farr.The symptoms were too specific to be anything else other than Pon Farr and she didn’t have a mate.

Since her betrothed had died many years ago, Korek offered to find and contact a male Vulcan on another ship to assist her. That thought alone had filled her with disgust and almost made her physically throw up. Her body, her blood only seemed to have one thought, sang only one song, over and over again, a repetition of desire: Charles Tucker.

Her longing for him grew deeper and deeper, unbearable, a fire burning in her body that intensified in heat every minute. Logic and nature dictated that she resolve the effects of this virus, otherwise it would kill her. Tucker was a discrete man. He was attracted to her. And her body seemed to ignore the fact that he was Terran, perhaps not cable of handling the violence of Pon Farr. The burning inside her swept away all rational thought and her feet found the way to his quarters.

She pulled herself together and knocked on his door in a controlled matter. After she told him she had an urgent matter to discuss, he let here in. “You’re sick?” he asked. “You look feverish and off. You have my permission to take a sick leave.” He sounded sincere.

“I need a favor,” she managed to say.

“Okay,” he responded, and gestured she should sit down on a chair. His room was orderly, with no decoration, except for a picture of a woman with long blond hair.

She swallowed. “Vulcans have a very violent past. Our ancestors saw that we were ruled by such strong emotions, that they decided that we had to contain them with logic. So we do. There is only emotion which in the root of survival, that is the need to propagate.”

“You’re pregnant?” he interrupted her.

She looked at him. Bewilderment filed her heart, the Pon Farr was driving her crazy.

“No,” she said sharply, then more softly “That’s not possible.” Ever since the first time she was forced to have intimate relations, she had made sure that she wouldn’t get pregnant.

A flash of sadness went over his face, and then it went neutral again. She blurted out the rest of her story. “Once every seven years a Vulcan experiences this urgent, very urgent need to mate. Otherwise we die. It’s called Pon Farr, blood fever. I am suffering from Pon Farr. That’s the favor I need from you.”

He looked bewildered. “T’Pol, Terrans aren’t monkey’s that mate, even if it looks that way. So don’t use that term. But to be sure, what you’re suggesting is…”

“That we have intimate relationships,” she said.

He looked at her with unbelief, but also with a hint of excitement. “You want to sleep with me?”

Her eyes went to the perfectly made bed in the corner of his room. “Yes. You will benefit from it. I will attend your needs.”

“My needs…”, he gave a short, bitter laugh. “What about yours?”

“They’re irrelevant.” She didn’t understand his question.

“Not for me. And why me? Why not find a Vulcan guy for this Pon Farr?”

“You’re discrete, you’re attracted to me and you're available,” she said.

He stood up, grabbed her arm and pushed her to the door. His voice was soft, but determined, his eyes close to her. She could see fury in his good eye. “Don’t think I am a fool! I am still your superior officer and I can have you thrown in the isolation cell. Who put you up to this? Archer?”

“No one, Commander,” she whispered back, but he didn’t hear and continued with his rant “To think I would believe this story, from a cold fish like you, the ice princess, you’re here to taunt me…”

She kissed him and all her passion and desire broke free and stopped him. The blood fever took over and the flames, the heat, took everything over and he kissed her back with such passion she thought she was going to die. And she did, and so did he, in the hours to come, the night spent in the throes of that burning desire, the lava of emotions, to burn with wild flames and still live.

Hours later she woke. She was in his arms, under the sheets. He had wrapped his arms around her and held her tightly. She felt his cooler skin on her warm body, a pleasant sensation, just like the ones that she had experienced last night. And now, when the morning had come, those feelings she had experienced confused her to no end. Charles was sleeping, his head on the pillow of the bed, his bare chest with the scars, as she slowly moved away from him.

She sat on the edge of the bed, naked, looking at Charles sleeping form. If he was Vulcan, he would be her husband, her mate in every sense of the word. But he was Terran, as his blond hair, now draped on the pillow showed. She had always hated Terrans, they had caused her so much pain. Why had she chosen a Terran to fulfill her Pon Farr? Why had she enjoyed it, was she like those men who had taken her and took pleasure in having power over her? She thought about her father, being shot before her eyes, the sounds she had heard when her mother was violated and the child in her had died. She thought of all the pain and sadness this universe had offered her.

Her body became to shake, first slowly, than harder, making Charles awake. He rose somewhat from the bed, saw her and asked “Are you cold?”

“So cold,” she whispered.

He moved up, took a blanket and wrapped it around her shoulders. His strong arms surrounded her, he held her tightly, until the shaking started to cease. “Better?” he asked. She nodded, unable to speak. Then he kissed her tenderly on her neck and she just melted away. She couldn’t fight him.

But she should. There was no way a Terran-Vulcan relationship would exist in this world and he would break her katra so many times, finding a Terran mate. She couldn’t allow herself to be broken, she had to be strong to survive, to make it to another day without being killed.

So she made up her mind. T’Pol would push him out of her world, not letting him get close, because otherwise she would be lost.

----

“Stop!” her mind said. T’Pol opened her eyes. She remembered this moment if it had been yesterday. And she had been good to her word. Fueled by her fear of loosing control, by her hatred of Terrans, especially after the useless death of S’Vai at Terran hands, T’Pol had cast Charles away. She had used him, manipulated him, and even invaded his mind for her own causes.

She had made a terrible, terrible mistake. T’Pol had hurt the only man who ever cared for her, because she didn’t want to be weak. But she had been weak in doing the wrong things, she had been so treacherous, so horribly wrong.

Guilt washed over her. She had hurt her mate in every way possible. There were no excuses, no redemption for her. She had been so wrong and he was so right to hate her for it.

And there was nothing T’Pol could do to make it right.

 

 

 

 

 She wasn't a person anymore. Her soul had ceased to exist. Her mind and body seemed to be separated, apart. Somewhere her body was there, functioning, but her mind, her memories, her inner being that contained her katra was so tainted, so invalidated, so broken, so completely sullied that she no longer knew who she was. She was filthy inside, sullied in every pore of her being, a thing without value, trash that had been thrown away. 

 

 

Day after day, hour after hour, Tolaris had invaded her mind, taking her worst memories and making her them relive them again and again. Then he had taken – o how much she had tried to stop him – her most precious memories, the ones that kept her alive, and mocked them. They weren’t many, but Tolaris had been there in every memory, every moment she had been content, telling her she betrayed her loved ones and her mate, yelling to her she was unworthy of any affection. He sullied her memories, humiliated her every chance he got, never mentioning her name, always calling her Fool or Trash or Whore, always laughing at her pain, over and over again. His maniacal laugh still ringed in her ears.

 

He had broken her, and she had only been able to keep one memory from him, as Tolaris's torture of her mind continued on.

 

And now, she was in her dark cell, a gloomy, black pit. She sat at the bottom and she lacked the strength to climb. And there was nothing to go to, because above, beneath, on all sides, there was nothing more than darkness.

 

Then a sound entered her foggy mind. A door opened. A small light entered in, only to vanish as the door closed. There were footsteps. A familiar smell entered her nostrils. It smelt like iron, antimatter, musk, myrrh, citrus oil. Then he said her name, a name she hadn't heard in weeks. Her identity. The person she was. “T'Pol.”

 

She couldn't react. Her head felt empty, her brain so hazey it couldn't give orders, her body stayed immovable. But she sensed him. She felt his strong, tender hands on her skin, as he cleaned her. She felt his care as he put some clean clothes on her. Then she submerged again in the darkness and when she opened her eyes again, Charles, because she knew that it had been him, was gone.

 

He had showed her mercy. She had hurt him deeply and he had repaid her with kindness. He had cared. He had valued her.

 

Charles’s visit was the beginning of her healing, the rope of rescue for her to climb out of her dark pit. She found the strength again to start gathering the shattered pieces of her mind and being. For this, T'Pol returned to the past, to her childhood's mind. There she found, rooted in her katra, grounded in the bottom of her being, her childhood's meditation techniques. The ones her father had taught her. There was simplicity and order, a way out of the chaos.

 

As she reconstructed her mind again, as well as she was able to, T'Pol reconstructed the story of her life, piece by piece, starting with her happy childhood years, when Father was still alive, her friendship with S’Vai, her best friend from an early age, her assignment to Enterprise, her meeting with Charles and working with him, her betrayal of him, her punishment by the Empress.

 

It was a slow process, hindered by the flashes of Tolaris's torture that hid in her mind and came forward frequently. Every time they came, she felt sickened  by the rolling emotions of fear, disgust, shame and guilt. Her first instinct was to suppress those memories. But that wouldn't remove them. So she stepped back in her mind, looked at the accusations Tolaris had yelled at her and tried to pick them apart by using logic. She didn't succeed all the time, and some of the things he had said about her character were unfortunately true, but slowly, bit by bit, clarity and order returned into her mind.

 

While taking control in her mind again and forced to give herself a hard look during hours of meditation, she realized one truth that she had denied before. There had only been one memory that she had preserved during Tolaris’s torture. She remembered how she had primitively, without logic,  fought with all her mind to keep it out of his dirty hands.

 

It was a memory of her and Charles, after the frenzied hours of them sharing the burning furnace that is Pon Farr. It made her realize something. He was a central figure in her life, more important than she had imagined, a man who had given her strength, who healed her soul by showing her mercy. Charles Tucker, a strong, kind and good man. And how she had betrayed and hurt him.

 

Every time T'Pol was confronted with this, she opened her eyes in an attempt to stop her train of thoughts. She wanted to be truthful to herself, but the subject of Charles was something confusing and frightening for her, she didn't want to think about him. But deep down in her katra she knew she couldn’t escape now, she had to look in the mirror and face herself and the naked truth.

 

It was the least Charles deserved of her.

 

And so she made up her mind. In order to understand what was really true about their relationship, no matter how frightening that truth would be, she would go back and view her memories about Charles.

 

And so she did.

----

 

The first time T’Pol had heard of Charles Tucker was when she told S’Vai she was assigned to the Terran ship Enterprise. S’Vai had been her best friend since childhood, more than a friend, the sister she had never had. “Which department are you going to work for?” S’Vai, who had worked on Enterprise herself before her marriage to Korek, had asked. “Engineering,” she had answered.

 

S’Vai seemed to be pleased with her answer. “That’s good. Charles Tucker is the chief engineer of Enterprise. He is honest, hardworking and treats his crew well, even Vulcans.”

She had been surprised. “I hardly can believe that there’s such a thing as a good Terran,”T’Pol had said. “If they exist,” S’Vai had answered, “Tucker comes close. But watch out for Captain Archer. He has loose hands when it comes to women, and he doesn’t care if they’re betrothed or not.”

 

S’Vai  had proved to be right. T’Pol had spent her days avoiding Archer and his touchy hands, but she never minded working with Tucker. Her new boss never seemed to talk much and practically ignored her, but he valued her ideas and treated her fairly, like the rest of the crew.

 

And while she never would admit it, for the first time in her life, she liked working with a Terran. And he seemed to not mind to working with her. More and more she found herself  having some kind of argument with him, after him saying something that provoke an answer, or she making a remark.  When he did argue, she noticed a spark in his eyes, the small smile on his face, which suggested he took pleasure in their arguments. And if she was really honest, so did she and she hated him for liking him so much. What made it more complicated was the attraction between them. Deep down she knew it was there, but he would never show it and she would rather have had her right arm cut off before admitting it.

 

Things changed when Tucker had his accident. She had been there when it happened and his screams had still echoed in her own mind in the days after. T’Pol had been shocked about what had happened, but strangely also proud of this man who had saved the crew at the expense of his own life.

 

When Tucker returned to work, it had seemed that not only his face and body had been scarred, but his whole person. Tucker had never smiled much, but now his expression had seemed grimmer and his jokes, if he made them between the periods of silent work, had a taste of bitterness. Sarcasm had been dripping more and more into his speech.

 

Still, T’Pol had felt a strange kind of sympathy for this man, a Terran no less, who just like her fought for his place in this world, struggled to go his own way instead of being the Empire’s puppet like so many other officers.

 

Their strange connection that had evolved during the years they worked together, it stayed. Soon their arguments returned, but it was clear his pent-up emotions colored the discussion more than before. Sometimes, his eyes would admire openly the shape of her body, or he made some casual remark, that proved he was attracted to her. She seemed oddly pleased by it. Or he would look at her so intently, almost like he meant to devour her. She feared that look, because it provoked emotions that she had a hard time suppressing. She shouldn’t feel this way, it wasn’t Vulcan, it wasn’t right. She hated him for these strange feelings and spent hours in meditation just to free herself for it.

 

Then, in a period when she worked more closely with Tucker on a new project, she discovered she was suffering from Pon Farr. It was all clear: her mind was constantly busy with this the burning desire, the blood rushing through her veins, pumping in a rhythm: find a mate; quench the fire in a union with him. And in her mind an image rose of Tucker, but with all her mind she cast out any thoughts of him.

 

She had to talk about her condition, no matter how shameful she felt. She told S’Vai and Korek in the hope they would found some kind of solution. First they didn’t believe her. “Pon Farr is a unique male condition,” Korek had said. “You must be mistaken.” He had paused and S’Vai had taken over. “Or this happens because of the proximity of your mate, which can trigger Pon Farr with a woman,” she and Korek had exchanged a look which had made T’Pol very uncomfortable. “In very rare situations a virus can cause those symptoms with a female, but I haven’t heard of an active virus in our surroundings.”

 

T’Pol had clung to the idea of a virus as explanation for her Pon Farr.The symptoms were too specific to be anything else other than Pon Farr and she didn’t have a mate.

 

Since her betrothed had died many years ago, Korek offered to find and contact a male Vulcan on another ship to assist her. That thought alone had filled her with disgust and almost made her physically throw up. Her body, her blood only seemed to have one thought, sang only one song, over and over again, a repetition of desire: Charles Tucker.

 

Her longing for him grew deeper and deeper, unbearable, a fire burning in her body that intensified in heat every minute. Logic and nature dictated that she resolve the effects of this virus, otherwise it would kill her. Tucker was a discrete man. He was attracted to her. And her body seemed to ignore the fact that he was Terran, perhaps not cable of handling the violence of Pon Farr. The burning inside her swept away all rational thought and her feet found the way to his quarters.

 

She pulled herself together and knocked on his door in a controlled matter. After she told him she had an urgent matter to discuss, he let here in. “You’re sick?” he asked. “You look feverish and off. You have my permission to take a sick leave.” He sounded sincere.

“I need a favor,” she managed to say.

 

“Okay,” he responded, and gestured she should sit down on a chair. His room was orderly, with no decoration, except for a picture of a woman with long blond hair.

 

She swallowed. “Vulcans have a very violent past. Our ancestors saw that we were ruled by such strong emotions, that they decided that we had to contain them with logic. So we do. There is only emotion which in the root of survival, that is the need to propagate.”

 

“You’re pregnant?” he interrupted her.

 

She looked at him. Bewilderment filed her heart, the Pon Farr was driving her crazy.

 

“No,” she said sharply, then more softly “That’s not possible.” Ever since the first time she was forced to have intimate relations, she had made sure that she wouldn’t get pregnant.

 

A flash of sadness went over his face, and then it went neutral again. She blurted out the rest of her story. “Once every seven years a Vulcan experiences this urgent, very urgent need to mate. Otherwise we die. It’s called Pon Farr, blood fever. I am suffering from Pon Farr. That’s the favor I need from you.”

 

He looked bewildered. “T’Pol, Terrans aren’t monkey’s that mate, even if it looks that way. So don’t use that term. But to be sure, what you’re suggesting is…”

 

“That we have intimate relationships,” she said.

 

He looked at her with unbelief, but also with a hint of excitement. “You want to sleep with me?”

 

Her eyes went to the perfectly made bed in the corner of his room. “Yes. You will benefit from it. I will attend your needs.”

 

“My needs…”, he gave a short, bitter laugh. “What about yours?”

 

“They’re irrelevant.” She didn’t understand his question.

 

“Not for me. And why me? Why not find a Vulcan guy for this Pon Farr?”

 

“You’re discrete, you’re attracted to me and you're available,” she said.

 

He stood up, grabbed her arm and pushed her to the door. His voice was soft, but determined, his eyes close to her. She could see fury in his good eye. “Don’t think I am a fool! I am still your superior officer and I can have you thrown in the isolation cell. Who put you up to this? Archer?”

 

“No one, Commander,” she whispered back, but he didn’t hear and continued with his rant “To think I would believe this story, from a cold fish like you, the ice princess, you’re here to taunt me…”

 

She kissed him and all her passion and desire broke free and stopped him. The blood fever took over and the flames, the heat, took everything over and he kissed her back with such passion she thought she was going to die. And she did, and so did he, in the hours to come, the night spent in the throes of that burning desire, the lava of emotions, to burn with wild flames and still live.

 

 

Hours later she woke. She was in his arms, under the sheets. He had wrapped his arms around her and held her tightly. She felt his cooler skin on her warm body, a pleasant sensation, just like the ones that she had experienced last night. And now, when the morning had come, those feelings she had experienced confused her to no end. Charles was sleeping, his head on the pillow of the bed, his bare chest with the scars, as she slowly moved away from him.

 

She sat on the edge of the bed, naked, looking at Charles sleeping form. If he was Vulcan, he would be her husband, her mate in every sense of the word. But he was Terran, as his blond hair, now draped on the pillow showed. She had always hated Terrans, they had caused her so much pain. Why had she chosen a Terran to fulfill her Pon Farr? Why had she enjoyed it, was she like those men who had taken her and took pleasure in having power over her? She thought about her father, being shot before her eyes, the sounds she had heard when her mother was violated and the child in her had died. She thought of all the pain and sadness this universe had offered her.

 

Her body became to shake, first slowly, than harder, making Charles awake. He rose somewhat from the bed, saw her and asked “Are you cold?”

 

“So cold,” she whispered.

 

He moved up, took a blanket and wrapped it around her shoulders. His strong arms surrounded her, he held her tightly, until the shaking started to cease. “Better?” he asked. She nodded, unable to speak. Then he kissed her tenderly on her neck and she just melted away. She couldn’t fight him.

 

But she should. There was no way a Terran-Vulcan relationship would exist in this world and he would break her katra so many times, finding a Terran mate. She couldn’t allow herself to be broken, she had to be strong to survive, to make it to another day without being killed.

 

So she made up her mind. T’Pol would push him out of her world, not letting him get close, because otherwise she would be lost.

 

----

 

“Stop!” her mind said. T’Pol opened her eyes. She remembered this moment if it had been yesterday. And she had been good to her word. Fueled by her fear of loosing control, by her hatred of Terrans, especially after the useless death of S’Vai at Terran hands, T’Pol had cast Charles away. She had used him, manipulated him, and even invaded his mind for her own causes.

 

She had made a terrible, terrible mistake. T’Pol had hurt the only man who ever cared for her, because she didn’t want to be weak. But she had been weak in doing the wrong things, she had been so treacherous, so horribly wrong.

 

Guilt washed over her. She had hurt her mate in every way possible. There were no excuses, no redemption for her. She had been so wrong and he was so right to hate her for it.

 

And there was nothing T’Pol could do to make it right.

 

She wasn't a person anymore. Her soul had ceased to exist. Her mind and body seemed to be separated, apart. Somewhere her body was there, functioning, but her mind, her memories, her inner being that contained her katra was so tainted, so invalidated, so broken, so completely sullied that she no longer knew who she was. She was filthy inside, sullied in every pore of her being, a thing without value, trash that had been thrown away. 

Day after day, hour after hour, Tolaris had invaded her mind, taking her worst memories and making her them relive them again and again. Then he had taken - o how much she had tried to stop him - her most precious memories, the ones that kept her alive, and mocked them. They weren't many, but Tolaris had been there in every memory, every moment she had been content, telling her she betrayed her loved ones and her mate, yelling to her she was unworthy of any affection. He sullied her memories, humiliated her every chance he got, never mentioning her name, always calling her Fool or Trash or Whore, always laughing at her pain, over and over again. His maniacal laugh still ringed in her ears.

He had broken her, and she had only been able to keep one memory from him, as Tolaris's torture of her mind continued on.

And now, she was in her dark cell, a gloomy, black pit. She sat at the bottom and she lacked the strength to climb. And there was nothing to go to, because above, beneath, on all sides, there was nothing more than darkness.

Then a sound entered her foggy mind. A door opened. A small light entered in, only to vanish as the door closed. There were footsteps. A familiar smell entered her nostrils. It smelt like iron, antimatter, musk, myrrh, citrus oil. Then he said her name, a name she hadn't heard in weeks. Her identity. The person she was. "T'Pol."

She couldn't react. Her head felt empty, her brain so hazey it couldn't give orders, her body stayed immovable. But she sensed him. She felt his strong, tender hands on her skin, as he cleaned her. She felt his care as he put some clean clothes on her. Then she submerged again in the darkness and when she opened her eyes again, Charles, because she knew that it had been him, was gone.

He had showed her mercy. She had hurt him deeply and he had repaid her with kindness. He had cared. He had valued her.

Charles's visit was the beginning of her healing, the rope of rescue for her to climb out of her dark pit. She found the strength again to start gathering the shattered pieces of her mind and being. For this, T'Pol returned to the past, to her childhood's mind. There she found, rooted in her katra, grounded in the bottom of her being, her childhood's meditation techniques. The ones her father had taught her. There was simplicity and order, a way out of the chaos.

As she reconstructed her mind again, as well as she was able to, T'Pol reconstructed the story of her life, piece by piece, starting with her happy childhood years, when Father was still alive, her friendship with S'Vai, her best friend from an early age, her assignment to Enterprise, her meeting with Charles and working with him, her betrayal of him, her punishment by the Empress.

It was a slow process, hindered by the flashes of Tolaris's torture that hid in her mind and came forward frequently. Every time they came, she felt sickened  by the rolling emotions of fear, disgust, shame and guilt. Her first instinct was to suppress those memories. But that wouldn't remove them. So she stepped back in her mind, looked at the accusations Tolaris had yelled at her and tried to pick them apart by using logic. She didn't succeed all the time, and some of the things he had said about her character were unfortunately true, but slowly, bit by bit, clarity and order returned into her mind.

While taking control in her mind again and forced to give herself a hard look during hours of meditation, she realized one truth that she had denied before. There had only been one memory that she had preserved during Tolaris's torture. She remembered how she had primitively, without logic,  fought with all her mind to keep it out of his dirty hands.

It was a memory of her and Charles, after the frenzied hours of them sharing the burning furnace that is Pon Farr. It made her realize something. He was a central figure in her life, more important than she had imagined, a man who had given her strength, who healed her soul by showing her mercy. Charles Tucker, a strong, kind and good man. And how she had betrayed and hurt him.

Every time T'Pol was confronted with this, she opened her eyes in an attempt to stop her train of thoughts. She wanted to be truthful to herself, but the subject of Charles was something confusing and frightening for her, she didn't want to think about him. But deep down in her katra she knew she couldn't escape now, she had to look in the mirror and face herself and the naked truth.

It was the least Charles deserved of her.

And so she made up her mind. In order to understand what was really true about their relationship, no matter how frightening that truth would be, she would go back and view her memories about Charles.

And so she did.


The first time T'Pol had heard of Charles Tucker was when she told S'Vai she was assigned to the Terran ship Enterprise. S'Vai had been her best friend since childhood, more than a friend, the sister she had never had. "Which department are you going to work for?" S'Vai, who had worked on Enterprise herself before her marriage to Korek, had asked. "Engineering," she had answered.

S'Vai seemed to be pleased with her answer. "That's good. Charles Tucker is the chief engineer of Enterprise. He is honest, hardworking and treats his crew well, even Vulcans."

She had been surprised. "I hardly can believe that there's such a thing as a good Terran,"T'Pol had said. "If they exist," S'Vai had answered, "Tucker comes close. But watch out for Captain Archer. He has loose hands when it comes to women, and he doesn't care if they're betrothed or not."

S'Vai  had proved to be right. T'Pol had spent her days avoiding Archer and his touchy hands, but she never minded working with Tucker. Her new boss never seemed to talk much and practically ignored her, but he valued her ideas and treated her fairly, like the rest of the crew.

And while she never would admit it, for the first time in her life, she liked working with a Terran. And he seemed to not mind to working with her. More and more she found herself  having some kind of argument with him, after him saying something that provoke an answer, or she making a remark.  When he did argue, she noticed a spark in his eyes, the small smile on his face, which suggested he took pleasure in their arguments. And if she was really honest, so did she and she hated him for liking him so much. What made it more complicated was the attraction between them. Deep down she knew it was there, but he would never show it and she would rather have had her right arm cut off before admitting it.

Things changed when Tucker had his accident. She had been there when it happened and his screams had still echoed in her own mind in the days after. T'Pol had been shocked about what had happened, but strangely also proud of this man who had saved the crew at the expense of his own life.

When Tucker returned to work, it had seemed that not only his face and body had been scarred, but his whole person. Tucker had never smiled much, but now his expression had seemed grimmer and his jokes, if he made them between the periods of silent work, had a taste of bitterness. Sarcasm had been dripping more and more into his speech.

Still, T'Pol had felt a strange kind of sympathy for this man, a Terran no less, who just like her fought for his place in this world, struggled to go his own way instead of being the Empire's puppet like so many other officers.

Their strange connection that had evolved during the years they worked together, it stayed. Soon their arguments returned, but it was clear his pent-up emotions colored the discussion more than before. Sometimes, his eyes would admire openly the shape of her body, or he made some casual remark, that proved he was attracted to her. She seemed oddly pleased by it. Or he would look at her so intently, almost like he meant to devour her. She feared that look, because it provoked emotions that she had a hard time suppressing. She shouldn't feel this way, it wasn't Vulcan, it wasn't right. She hated him for these strange feelings and spent hours in meditation just to free herself for it.

Then, in a period when she worked more closely with Tucker on a new project, she discovered she was suffering from Pon Farr. It was all clear: her mind was constantly busy with this the burning desire, the blood rushing through her veins, pumping in a rhythm: find a mate; quench the fire in a union with him. And in her mind an image rose of Tucker, but with all her mind she cast out any thoughts of him.

She had to talk about her condition, no matter how shameful she felt. She told S'Vai and Korek in the hope they would found some kind of solution. First they didn't believe her. "Pon Farr is a unique male condition," Korek had said. "You must be mistaken." He had paused and S'Vai had taken over. "Or this happens because of the proximity of your mate, which can trigger Pon Farr with a woman," she and Korek had exchanged a look which had made T'Pol very uncomfortable. "In very rare situations a virus can cause those symptoms with a female, but I haven't heard of an active virus in our surroundings."

T'Pol had clung to the idea of a virus as explanation for her Pon Farr.The symptoms were too specific to be anything else other than Pon Farr and she didn't have a mate.

Since her betrothed had died many years ago, Korek offered to find and contact a male Vulcan on another ship to assist her. That thought alone had filled her with disgust and almost made her physically throw up. Her body, her blood only seemed to have one thought, sang only one song, over and over again, a repetition of desire: Charles Tucker.

Her longing for him grew deeper and deeper, unbearable, a fire burning in her body that intensified in heat every minute. Logic and nature dictated that she resolve the effects of this virus, otherwise it would kill her. Tucker was a discrete man. He was attracted to her. And her body seemed to ignore the fact that he was Terran, perhaps not cable of handling the violence of Pon Farr. The burning inside her swept away all rational thought and her feet found the way to his quarters.

She pulled herself together and knocked on his door in a controlled matter. After she told him she had an urgent matter to discuss, he let here in. "You're sick?" he asked. "You look feverish and off. You have my permission to take a sick leave." He sounded sincere.

"I need a favor," she managed to say.

"Okay," he responded, and gestured she should sit down on a chair. His room was orderly, with no decoration, except for a picture of a woman with long blond hair.

She swallowed. "Vulcans have a very violent past. Our ancestors saw that we were ruled by such strong emotions, that they decided that we had to contain them with logic. So we do. There is only emotion which in the root of survival, that is the need to propagate."

"You're pregnant?" he interrupted her.

She looked at him. Bewilderment filed her heart, the Pon Farr was driving her crazy.

"No," she said sharply, then more softly "That's not possible." Ever since the first time she was forced to have intimate relations, she had made sure that she wouldn't get pregnant.

A flash of sadness went over his face, and then it went neutral again. She blurted out the rest of her story. "Once every seven years a Vulcan experiences this urgent, very urgent need to mate. Otherwise we die. It's called Pon Farr, blood fever. I am suffering from Pon Farr. That's the favor I need from you."

He looked bewildered. "T'Pol, Terrans aren't monkey's that mate, even if it looks that way. So don't use that term. But to be sure, what you're suggesting is..."

"That we have intimate relationships," she said.

He looked at her with unbelief, but also with a hint of excitement. "You want to sleep with me?"

Her eyes went to the perfectly made bed in the corner of his room. "Yes. You will benefit from it. I will attend your needs."

"My needs...", he gave a short, bitter laugh. "What about yours?"

"They're irrelevant." She didn't understand his question.

"Not for me. And why me? Why not find a Vulcan guy for this Pon Farr?"

"You're discrete, you're attracted to me and you're available," she said.

He stood up, grabbed her arm and pushed her to the door. His voice was soft, but determined, his eyes close to her. She could see fury in his good eye. "Don't think I am a fool! I am still your superior officer and I can have you thrown in the isolation cell. Who put you up to this? Archer?"

"No one, Commander," she whispered back, but he didn't hear and continued with his rant "To think I would believe this story, from a cold fish like you, the ice princess, you're here to taunt me..."

She kissed him and all her passion and desire broke free and stopped him. The blood fever took over and the flames, the heat, took everything over and he kissed her back with such passion she thought she was going to die. And she did, and so did he, in the hours to come, the night spent in the throes of that burning desire, the lava of emotions, to burn with wild flames and still live.


Hours later she woke. She was in his arms, under the sheets. He had wrapped his arms around her and held her tightly. She felt his cooler skin on her warm body, a pleasant sensation, just like the ones that she had experienced last night. And now, when the morning had come, those feelings she had experienced confused her to no end. Charles was sleeping, his head on the pillow of the bed, his bare chest with the scars, as she slowly moved away from him.

She sat on the edge of the bed, naked, looking at Charles sleeping form. If he was Vulcan, he would be her husband, her mate in every sense of the word. But he was Terran, as his blond hair, now draped on the pillow showed. She had always hated Terrans, they had caused her so much pain. Why had she chosen a Terran to fulfill her Pon Farr? Why had she enjoyed it, was she like those men who had taken her and took pleasure in having power over her? She thought about her father, being shot before her eyes, the sounds she had heard when her mother was violated and the child in her had died. She thought of all the pain and sadness this universe had offered her.

Her body became to shake, first slowly, than harder, making Charles awake. He rose somewhat from the bed, saw her and asked "Are you cold?"

"So cold," she whispered.

He moved up, took a blanket and wrapped it around her shoulders. His strong arms surrounded her, he held her tightly, until the shaking started to cease. "Better?" he asked. She nodded, unable to speak. Then he kissed her tenderly on her neck and she just melted away. She couldn't fight him.

But she should. There was no way a Terran-Vulcan relationship would exist in this world and he would break her katra so many times, finding a Terran mate. She couldn't allow herself to be broken, she had to be strong to survive, to make it to another day without being killed.

So she made up her mind. T'Pol would push him out of her world, not letting him get close, because otherwise she would be lost.

 


 

"Stop!" her mind said. T'Pol opened her eyes. She remembered this moment if it had been yesterday. And she had been good to her word. Fueled by her fear of loosing control, by her hatred of Terrans, especially after the useless death of S'Vai at Terran hands, T'Pol had cast Charles away. She had used him, manipulated him, and even invaded his mind for her own causes.

She had made a terrible, terrible mistake. T'Pol had hurt the only man who ever cared for her, because she didn't want to be weak. But she had been weak in doing the wrong things, she had been so treacherous, so horribly wrong.

Guilt washed over her. She had hurt her mate in every way possible. There were no excuses, no redemption for her. She had been so wrong and he was so right to hate her for it.

And there was nothing T'Pol could do to make it right.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 7: Picture by panyasan
Author's Notes:

A/N: see chapter 1. Many thanks to my beta Cap'n Frances.

At the end of a long day, Major Reed came down to Engineering to see Charles in his office. Charles couldn’t remember a time he had been there.


“I heard you gave the prisoners food,” Reed said as soon as he saw him.


“You want Tucker to be productive and share his ideas with us,” Charles was tired and in no mood for discussion with Reed. “He needs food to do that.”


Reed looked at him coldly. “There’s nothing wrong with working on an empty stomach. And the best tool for persuasion is still the agony booth.”


“That would work only for a short time with Tucker. I get better and quicker results when I offer him food and support. You can tell the Empress that.”


Reed smiled like he understood. “Guess you know the man better than me. He is kind of a weakling, isn’t he?”


The insult was also directed at Charles, but he didn’t care. Reed was a coward, masking his weakness with cruelty. Trip was a strong man, perhaps stronger than he thought himself.


“Tucker just came up with the idea of cloaking a shuttle pod,” he replied, ignoring Reed’s remark.


“Why would we want to do that?”


“Think about it. A cloaked shuttle pod is a great tool for spying on our enemies.” Now he had Reed’s attention. “It’s also a great instrument for exploration. You can travel to planets; see what’s there, and no one would know. It saves costs because you don’t have to send a whole ship which is much harder to cloak.”.


Reed scowled at his last words and interrupted him halfway. “You heard Enterprise is on her way to us? We’ll meet in about two hours.”


Charles nodded. He wasn’t surprised the Empress had ordered the second best ship of the Terran Empire, - the best being the Defiant - to join them. The Defiant was too important to be out of sight. The ship was an essential tool to keep Sato in power. He didn’t doubt she had been in contact with Reed continuously during their mission.


Reed asked him some other questions and then, to Charles’s relief, he left. Charles went to check on Trip. Earlier in the evening, they had been working on the warp core again. Two hours before he had left Trip to complete the repair on his own while he did several tests to make sure every other system was functioning well again.


Charles liked walking in these late hours in Engineering, with the smell of iron and lubricants in the air, feeling the familiar vibration of the warp core beneath his feet. The lights were dimmed except in the areas where repairs were still being done. He had sent most of the day crew to bed for a couple of hours sleep. His team had done an amazing job, working tirelessly.


Trip had grime on his face. Sweat plastered his hair to his skull, and his coverall was dirty and wrinkled. He looked pale, with dark circles under his eyes.


“We’re done here,” Charles said. “We’ll discuss tomorrow’s work in my quarters.”


A flash of disappointment went over Trip’s face. He probably had thought he would get some sleep. He nodded, moved to a console, checked the readings, made a final scan of the warp core, checked the readings again, and closed the console. He showed Charles the readings. “Looks good.”


Charles nodded. “Follow me. We’ll get a meal at the dining area and take it back to my cabin. We can discuss tomorrow’s work there.”


He rarely invited people into his own personal space, but he didn’t mind Trip being there. Maybe Trip could also take a shower. He looked like he could use one. Charles didn’t know if he thought of a shower because of his irritation with Reed or because of Trip’s tired and dirty face. Probably it was both. Spending more time with Trip in a somewhat relaxed environment would also give him an opportunity to gain more information about him and his universe. That was one of the things he had been ordered to do.


Trip’s face lit up. “What about T’Pol?” he asked.


Charles wasn’t in the mood for her company, but he knew Trip wouldn’t rest before she got a meal. He called for her and the two guards who were ordered to stay close to Trip and T’Pol. T’Pol looked pale, her eyes dark, and she moved slowly. The three of them headed to the dining area of the Defiant, guards in tow.




As they entered the dining area, it was dim and almost deserted. There wasn’t any food on display, but the smell of herbs and spices still lingered. Chef Hazal, an old Denobulan woman, was cutting vegetables in the corner, the first preparation for the next day’s meals. As she saw Charles, she came to him with a broad smile. For some reason, Hazal had a soft spot for him.


“Commander Tucker,” she said cheerfully. Her short gray hair was tucked away under her white chef hat, making her bright, gentle brown eyes even more clear. In contrast to her fellow Denobulan Phlox, there was no hint of sarcasm or cruelty in her face.


“I’m glad to see you here. You need to eat well,” Hazal said. She turned to Trip. “You must be Commander Tucker’s double. Welcome, sir.” Then she spotted T’Pol, and her smile froze.


“What’s she doing here?” Hazal said, contempt in her voice. “I thought she was still serving prison time. She should be locked up.” T’Pol raised an eyebrow at her remark, but she stayed silent.


“She’s with my double, from that other universe,” he said. Hazal looked surprised. She snorted. “We’re better off with no T’Pol, and now we have two. I don’t have to remind you to watch your back.”


“I will, Hazal,” he said. “I’d like risotto, a green salad and a fruit salad for each of us.”


Hazal packaged the food and added pecan pie for Charles and Trip. She also packed food for the guards.


The five of them went to the turbo lift which would bring them to his quarters. T’Pol stood close to him. She smelled the same as his T’Pol. He felt irritated by her close proximity.


“Is the T’Pol from this universe in prison?” she asked.


“Yes.” Charles turned his back on her and tried to push himself into the turbo lift wall. He needed to create more distance between them.


Suddenly images entered his mind, flooding him with alien emotions, feelings that weren’t his: fear, despair, pain, loneliness. And in the background, there was a whisper, a female voice that sounded like his T’Pol’s. The sound became stronger, repeating aksh'lz, asksh’lz, asksh’lz. A feeling of nausea came up. He tried very hard to stand still and keep his face straight.


To his relief, the lift stopped. He turned to the group. “Into my quarters. We have work to do.”


He let Trip and T’Pol into his quarters. The guards stationed themselves outside the door. It had been a long time ago since he had had guests. His quarters were clean and spare. A picture of Lizzy was the only decoration.


But it was that picture of Lizzy, still with her long blond hair and a broad smile on her face, which caused his guests to react.


Trip’s face turned pale and grim. Charles could understand his pain. He had read in Trip’s file on the Defiant’s computer that the Lizzy of his universe had died.


But T’Pol reacted in a way he didn’t understand. As far he could tell, Trip’s T’Pol had never met his sister in that other universe. But when she saw the picture of his sister, her face turned dark.


She sat down on the bench beside Trip with her package of food still in her hands. He noticed how Trip placed his arm around her. He seemed to want to protect her.


Charles handed her the cutlery and asked her if she would like something to drink. She looked up. Her expression could only be described as raw pain. It reminded him so vividly of the way his T’Pol had looked, the morning after their first night, with those naked eyes, like she was carrying the whole weight of a life full of suffering and almost would collapse under it.


In silence, they started to eat their evening meal. To break the tension in the room, Charles started a conversation with Trip about the repairs and the work that had to be done tomorrow. T’Pol began to eat, but she didn’t seem to pay much attention to her food. Trip searched for and found her hand. Her small hand disappeared in his. It was a unique display of two people comforting each other in silence.


“You can have a shower if you want,” he said to Trip, nodding to his bathroom. “I’ll get some fresh clothes for you and T’Pol.”


“That would be great.” Trip smiled. “But it’s your cabin, so please go ahead first.”


Charles concluded the couple wanted some time alone, so he went first. While he was enjoying the hot streams of water, he could hear T’Pol’s soft, sad voice and Trip’s gentle, reassuring one. The fact that those two were comforting each other caused a pang of envy in his heart. He shrugged, turned off the water and dried himself. “Don’t be so sentimental, monster,” he mocked himself, staring at his disfigured face in the mirror.


T’Pol looked calmer when Charles emerged from the bathroom. She took a quick shower before Trip took his.


While Trip was in the shower, Charles was alone with T’Pol. It was a situation he had been trying to avoid. She sat on the bench dressed in a coverall. Her hair was still a bit wet, her face fully neutral,


“Thank you for taking care of us,” T’Pol said softly.


“I take care of my workers. They work harder and more efficiently if I do,” he said coldly.


“I understand.” In the awkward pause that followed, her eyes wandered to the picture of Lizzy.


“I have a question,” Charles said.


“I have many questions as well,” T’Pol responded, “Perhaps this is the time we should both ask them.”


“All right,” Charles agreed. “You know, this ship is from the future and from your universe. So we have a whole database about your time and about Trip. I have read both of your files, and something really doesn’t fit the way you’re acting today. Like Trip, he supposedly blows himself up, because he’s such an admirer of Admiral Archer, using a method not even the lowest ranking officer in my engineering department would use. It’s so stupid. And you and Trip are not together anymore, and you’ve never met Lizzy. But judging from the way you looked at Lizzy’s picture, it’s clear you have.”


“I agree with your first points,” T’Pol said. “Historical files aren’t always accurate; they typically fit the needs of the persons in power. Trip would never blow himself up. As to your second point, we are together, but that has taken a lot of effort on both our parts. This is a difficult time for us.”


Her voice started to waver, and then she regained her control.


“You became upset when you saw Lizzy’s picture. This is not just a difficult time for you because you’re in a different universe. How is this related to Lizzy?” He was very curious about that other Lizzy in Trip’s universe.


“I have never met her. But she was very important to Trip,” T’Pol said. She sighed, hardly audible, but with his experience with T’Pol, he could tell. “I am telling you this because you will find out anyway. In the data files you saw, is there a mention of Trip’s and my daughter, Elizabeth? She was named after Trip’s sister,” T’Pol said, her voice cracking ever so slightly.


Suddenly it became clear to him. The data files had said the death of his little daughter had been a terrible blow for Trip. It must also have been a horrible ordeal for T’Pol. And that event just happened in their universe. This was a couple in grief.


He looked at T’Pol. “You just lost your daughter.”


She nodded, pained by his words.


“I’m sorry,” he said softly. He stood up, unable to say more and made coffee for himself.


In the silence that followed, Charles tried to imagine losing a child. He always had wanted children, but now, after his incident, he couldn’t have them. The sadness he always felt about that mixed with the sense of the overwhelming grief and pain Trip and his T’Pol must be going through. He was surprised he felt that way.


Then, without thinking, he made T’Pol chamomile tea and gave it to her. “La masu,” he said in automatically in Vulcan, using the few words he knew. “Drink it.”


T’Pol took a sip. “You’re familiar with my counterpart and with Vulcan culture.”


“A bit. Your counterpart is a lying bitch. She seduced me, invaded my brain and manipulated me. It’s better you don’t know her. I want nothing to do with her.”


“I see.” If she was shocked by his remarks, she didn’t show it. Her eyes were emotionless again.


At that moment, in the middle of the night, someone knocked on his door. He thought it was the guards, probably to complain about waiting so long for the prisoners to return to the brig. He opened the door and saw Reed.


"I’m a man of my word, Tucker." He grinned. "Welcome your prisoner." Reed pushed a woman inside, turned around, and left.


It only took a second for him to realize who she was: T’Pol. The T’Pol from his universe.


She looked pale and emotionless, and her steps were stiff. Her eyes were half closed. In the back of Charles’ mind a voice started to sing over and over again: aksh'lz, aksh'lz, Then her eyes went wide. She looked at the other T'Pol. Her eyes went to Charles’ coffee cup and the cup of tea in the other Vulcan’s hand. Slowly Trip’s T’Pol placed her cup on the table.


At that moment, the other T’Pol frowned, pursed her lips and glowered at her double. “T'nash-veh!” she hissed. She ran toward her, grabbed her, and slammed her against the wall. Trip’s T’Pol leaned over and placed two fingers on the other woman’s shoulder before she could strike again. The woman froze before she fainted and fell to the floor.


Trip stepped out the bathroom fully dressed. “What’s going on here?” he shouted.


Charles pointed to the woman lying unconscious on the floor. “Meet the T’Pol of this universe.”

This story archived at http://www.thedelphicexpanse.com/archive/viewstory.php?sid=522