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First Choice

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Author's notes: For Mana, g_chocolatequeen, and Ina who ask me to write this based on a little piece of dialogue I wrote in my review for the ep which this takes place after.


T'Pol left decon and opened the drawer that she'd put her uniform in and got dressed. She was trying not to think about what had almost happened.

"How are you feeling?" Archer asked her as soon as she stepped out into the corridor.

"Better. I'm sorry I wasn't able to assist in your rescue."

"That's ok. I'm sorry I wasn't able to be here to take care of you." T'Pol raised an eyebrow wondering if he really understood what's been going on in his absence.

"Me too Captain." She simply left the statement hang in the air. She was afraid to say anything else.

"Would you like to join me for dinner?" T'Pol wasn't sure she wanted to face the crew by walking through the mess hall, but embarrassment is an illogical emotion and she wanted to be near her Captain.

"Alright, I'd like to take a shower first."

"Me too." T'Pol had been holding her scanner but that went crashing to the floor. Archer bent down to pick it up and T'Pol closed her eyes and tried to get the thought of herself and Captain Archer showering together out of her mind. Communal bathing wasn't something that Vulcan normally engaged in, but she'd seen it in a human movie once and ever since than whenever Archer said "shower" she had a hard time getting the image out of her mind.

"I'll meet you in the mess hall then." Archer nodded his head and they proceeded to their respective quarters.

In the sanctuary of her quarters T'Pol considered meditating to help relieve herself of some of the errant emotions she was still feeling. But in all honesty she didn't want to get rid of them. She stretched herself across her bed, closed her eyes and tried to deal with the fact the only thing she wanted to do was turn back the clock. Yes, that was it, she wanted to turn back time and make it be Archer who was in decon with her, then everything thing would be alright and she wouldn't feel this way. She felt so lost, frightened and exposed.

"T'Pol?" She jumped as Archer's hand touched her shoulder. "I'm sorry, but when you didn't show up in the mess hall, I started to worry. Are you alright?"

"No." Some of the color drained out of Archer's face.

"What's wrong?"

"I need to take a shower." She got up and headed for the bathroom. Archer grabbed her arm and turned her around to face him. A gesture that would've frightened anyone else, but she felt his worry, he was frightened for her.

"Talk to me. Tell me what's wrong."

"Let me take a shower, then I'll tell you everything."

"Fine." Archer sat down on her vacated bed. "But I'm staying here until you get out, and if you're not out in twenty minutes I'm coming in after you." She blinked and inclined her head, her gesture of acquiescence, and went into the bathroom. Once inside she leaned her head back against the door. Why did he have to say that? It certainly didn't make things any easier for her.

When she came back out Archer was lying across her bed with his eyes closed. She was tempted to go over and touch his face to get his attention. But she knew better then to think that could do anything but make things worse. "Captain." She called, she could still her the echoes of desperation in her voice, she just hoped that he didn't hear them.

At hearing her voice he sat up. "Tell me what's wrong. Tell me happened while I was gone."

"It'll be all right. I'm suffering some after effects, but in time I'll be ok."

"You don't look ok. And you certainly don't sound ok."

"It's you."

"Excuse me?"

"Your presence is making me uneasy." He turned away and looked hurt.

"But you're sure you're going to be ok?"

"Yes."

"I'll go then." He got up and headed towards the door.

"Captain." He turned around and looked at her. An empty lost look, as if she'd told him she never wanted to see him again. And it wasn't that she didn't want to see him, it was that she wanted to see too much of him. "I owe you an explanation."

"No, you don't. If you don't want to be around me that's your prerogative."

"I didn't say I don't want to be around you. I do. It's just I don't think this is the best time to be spending time together."

"Why not?" T'Pol considered it, but there was not other choice. She had to tell him, she couldn't bare him feeling hurt because she was too embarrassed to tell him the truth. Embarrassment was an illogical emotion.

"Let me get dressed and meet you in the mess hall. Then I'll tell you everything." He nodded and left without a fight.

T'Pol joined Archer in the Captain's mess, but said nothing until after they had finished their meals. He had respected her silence, he knew she would tell him when she was good and ready. There was no use in pushing her.

"What I'm about to say, I'd like to be kept between us."

"Alright."

"I once mentioned that Vulcan only require mating every seven years."

"Yes."

"It's called Pon Farr." Archer gave her a confused look, but remained quiet. "The cycle of mating. Every seven years Vulcans enter into Pon Farr and must either mate or die."

"And that's what happened to you. You went into Pon Farr." She blinked, her version of an affirmative head nod. "But you…you're ok now?" Why had he pushed her for knowledge? Now he knew, he knew what he didn't want to know. It hurt his heart knowing that she'd mated with someone else. He wished he'd been there in decon with her. It was an inappropriate thought to have be he couldn't help it. Then again, maybe it was best that he wasn't here. What if he'd been there but she hadn't wanted him. That would've hurt even worse.

"Yes, I'm ok. Because my Pon Farr was brought on artificially Dr. Phlox was able to create a medicine to stop it."

"That's good to hear." Archer breathed a sigh of relief, it felt as if a giant weight had been lifted off him. She looked down at her hands folded in her lap and Archer wondered what he should say to her.

"Eventually I will enter my Pon Farr naturally."

"And when you do?"

"I'll need to mate."

"I assume you want me to set a course back to Vulcan when that happens."

"I'd rather that be my second option." He wrinkled his brow in confusion

"Then what's your first option?" He took a sip of iced tea.

"You." Archer began to cough on the liquid.

"Me?"

"Yes. It would be a more tolerable experience if it was you. I realize it's an inappropriate thing for a First Officer to ask her Captain. If you don't want to I certainly understand. I don't want to make you uncomfortable or put a rift between us."

"I'm flattered that you'd ask." T'Pol lowered her eyes, expecting to be rejected. "If you want it to be me, then it will be." T'Pol met his eyes and he could've sworn they almost sparkled.

SIX MONTHS LATER

Archer reached for the blanket and pulled it over T'Pol. Her breathing slowed and she blinked her eyes, as if the action would help clear her mind. This was the part he was dreading. She had told him that she would most likely remember very little and now he would have to tell her.

"Captain?" She looked up with innocent eyes. It was hard for Archer to accept that the woman looking at him now was the same woman who had begun to rip his clothes off the moment they had gotten in the door.

"How are you feeling T'Pol."

"Tired, but content. I'm assuming since we're in bed together unclothed that I went through my Pon Farr."

"Yes."

"Are you alright?"

"I'll live." Archer smiled down at her. She blinked her eyes and allowed herself to

relax. Archer watched as T'Pol closed her eyes and seemed to drift off to sleep. He wondered weather or not he should stay.

"Thank you for agreeing to help me." She said, without opening her eyes.

"I'm just happy you're ok.

"Captain."

"Yes?"

"Would you stay with me a while longer."

"Gladly." He bent down and kissed her forehead in a soothing gesture, and snuggled in beside her. "I'll stay as long as you want me to." Maybe it was the exhaustion, maybe her mind was still not yet clear enough for her to censor what she was saying, but either way her words were honest although something she would normally have repressed.

"I want you to stay forever."

"Forever sounds wonderful." And they both meant it.