A shipper manifesto for T'Pol/Mayweather from Star Trek: Enterprise
Author's notes: Thanks very much to susan217 for the beta.
Enterprise is the latest series in the Star Trek universe. It is set about 150 years before the time of Kirk, Spock et al, and as such set before the establishment of the Federation. As a result, this ship has an almost entirely human crew. The exceptions are the Denobulan doctor, Phlox, plus his menagerie, the Captain's pet beagle, Porthos (who probably deserves a whole show to himself) and T'Pol, the Vulcan first officer.
Now, T'Pol is no Mr Spock. She is not a member of Starfleet, but a member of the Vulcan High Command. She is full Vulcan and, at least initially, seemingly in complete agreement with the Vulcan High Command's view at that time that Humans are not up to the task of space exploration. Humans are too impulsive, ruled by their emotions, unable to take the logical view of the issues they encounter. Placed on Enterprise in the opening show as a chaperone on their first mission, she is by the end of that programme the ship's official first officer as some sort of respect for Archer and his crew settles in , even if it is a little grudging at that stage. Through the three seasons of shows since then we have seen a more complex character emerge. She moves away from accepting her superiors' views of human abilities, and reveals that, like some of the friendlier Vulcans we meet in this series, she has some fascination with the species. She slowly starts to understand human ways, even if she does not always agree with them. And as her human companions' attitudes to her changes, so do we see her ability to be compassionate, loyal, and funny.
Ensign Travis Mayweather is also there on that first voyage as the helmsman. Brought up in space by his freight hauling Human family (a group of people who are known as boomers), he has made a conscious decision to join Starfleet rather than continue in the family business. This is a decision that at least disappointed his father. We have in Travis a character that could be a bit too sweet. He is very enthusiastic, trusting of his superiors, always trying to do the right thing. But there is more to him than being the poster boy for Starfleet recruitment. His decision to go against his family's expectations shows his ability to think and act independently. He can think on his feet in a crisis, both as a pilot and as an officer, takes the initiative, and is obviously loyal to those he cares about. He is bit of a prankster, and, as the show has progressed, has increased his demands on his seniors to at least explain why they are doing something. He makes mistakes and is probably the most accident prone character we've ever had. But perhaps most importantly for this essay, his upbringing amongst the stars means he is actually the most experienced character, outside the aliens, in dealing with other species and other cultures. And perhaps because of this he is the most accepting, and at least initially, the least distracted by what they come in contact with.
So, how do Travis and T’Pol fit together then? Certainly canon has few directly shippy moments, but there is enough to ignite at least my own particular brand of muses. Let's start back in season one. The major episode that stands out for me is Two Days Two Nights, possibly because that is the first with any real interaction between the two. Travis comes back injured from the planet's surface. On meeting him in the shuttle bay T'Pol queries his need to come back to the ship. When he explains that he wanted to see his own doctor and didn't like being treated by others, he seems to forget both that T'Pol is Vulcan, and indeed that his doctor is Denobulan. Human arrogance, or acceptance of his two alien companions? Considering his previous experience I would think the latter. And then there is Vox Sola. With the Captain and second officer currently out of action T'Pol has to leave Travis in charge of the Bridge. His actions to find the Kreetassens, and his use of initiative in that episode would surely impress a Vulcan officer.
Moving into the second season, we have a range of moments that show hints of what could be. Early on, in Marauders, we have the wonderful self defence lessons. He partners T'Pol as they teach the colonists some moves. T'Pol's reassurance that he will not hurt her, is met with the lovely response of, "It's not you I'm worried about." Now there is a man who knows and respects a Vulcan's strength! A pity that TPTB forget it. But I digress. As we continue through season two small interactions continue to show the possibilities. In The Catwalk, Travis is willing to challenge T'Pol's orders to stay on target with the plasma storm, though he does as ordered. He accompanies Archer and T'Pol in The Seventh on their secret mission. I'm presuming that Archer asked him to come, but that T'Pol would have approved the choice, and possibly not just because her Captain trusts him. Travis by that stage would have had to prove he could cope with the sensitive nature of what they were trying to do. And then we have Singularity. Travis, affected physically by the radiation that is affecting almost everyone else's behaviour, is being treated by an obsessive Phlox. About to undergo brain surgery, it is T'Pol who saves him by knocking the good doctor out with the Vulcan Nerve Pinch. To top this, we have the end scene in Sick Bay. Travis leaves, oblivious to the danger he'd been in. It is T'Pol, with her lingering look on him as he leaves that both acknowledges that he'd been in serious danger, and that, at least to this viewer, that she had been concerned on a personal level for the young Ensign.
With the third season came opportunities for T'Pol and Travis to continue to interact on a professional level. They do spend a lot of time on the Bridge together, and I have to say at this stage, that in all three seasons, T'Pol has seemed very comfortable leaning over the helmsman when checking information and giving orders. The nature of season three has given less opportunity for character moments, outside the main storyline, but there is one episode. Chosen Realm has the Enterprise invaded by terrorists. The Bridge is emptied apart from T'Pol and Travis. At one point, in an act of defiance, T'Pol tries to fight back. Unable to regain control she is forced to give her agreement to their demands. Travis, with a gun to his head, looks to her for confirmation that he should do as ordered. His trust of her is obvious in his face, as is his courage to do whatever is demanded of him.
So what can we surmise from all of this? I believe that it provides at least some basis for why T'Pol would find Travis a possibility as a mate. He is understanding, respectful, accepting and easy going enough to cope with the demands a relationship with a Vulcan would bring. T'Pol respects his skills as a professional, and this in turn should spill over into the individual. And, as some people have pointed out to me, Travis is certainly strong enough to deal with a Pon Farr. What about the other way around? This is harder to sum up, because so much less is known about Travis than T'Pol in canon. However, the character comes across as someone who would find T'Pol an attractive mate. Travis strikes me as someone who wouldn't necessarily go for the ordinary, and in the most positive way would want someone who challenged him.
As for why I ship them? Well, if you take out the fact that I tend to go for the unorthodox ships anyway, the main reason is that if you wanted to look at ships for T'Pol, Travis is, if you pardon the pun, the most logical. For all the reasons cited above. Even Jolene feels that Travis should have his time with T'Pol, and it certainly can't be any more illogical that a certain honky tonk, catfish eating engineer (to paraphrase the good actress).
So, what if you want to find out more? You want fanfic. You want… well… um… me. I believe that I am the only person regularly writing fanfic for this pairing. There is only one other story to my knowledge. It's over at fanfiction.net and is called ''An Experiment' by Apocalypse1 (thanks for the reccy stexgirl2000 I post on my LJ, the LJ community who_needs_canon, at Linguistics Database and at EntSTCommunity By the way EntSTCommunity is good for both fic and information on the series. You can also try Delta Story's Enterprising Times which has both episode synopses and reviews by the wonderful monkee.
Anyway, back to the Travis/T'Pol fic. Look out for the Logical Boomer series, which is currently made up of:
The Six Steps to Love
Three Sides of the Same
Spin the Bottle
I am currently working on the next story in the series. It’s called ‘Sticks and Stones’ and will be with you… well as soon as I can push some other plot bunnies out of the way. Come over and check them out. You know it is only logical.