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A Foolish Mission
A | Author - Aquila | F | Genre - Action/Adventure | Genre - Angst | Genre - Drama | Main Story | Rating - R
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A Foolish Mission
Astral cartography was not her area of expertise. However in comparison to the rest of the crew T’Pol’s knowledge was encyclopedic. Archer had no choice but to add the role of cartographer to her already substantial list of duties.
“Consider it a reward,” he explained, “for all the hard work you did deciphering the intelligence that Hayes and I collected.”
“I was one of two on the deciphering project,” she countered, “Shouldn’t Major Hayes and I share the duties?”
Hayes, sitting at Archer’s left, demurred, “Have you not heard, XO, human males do not read maps. Assigning me to astral cartography would not be in the best interest of our mission.”
T’Pol felt her jaw clench and her teeth begin to grind. Hayes had called her XO again. She had tolerated the presumption when he was new to the ship and she had been unduly influenced by the unusual physics of the Expanse. As soon as she regained control of her emotions she had expressed her dislike of his affectation.
“Major Hayes,” she recalled telling him on more than one occasion, “I would prefer that you address me by my rank, First Officer, or my name, T’Pol.”
Despite her objections he continued to address her as XO. She refused to consider the possibility that her irritation salved his wounded pride at her rejection of his advances. Such a reaction in her estimation would be childish and immature and not worthy of the MACO major.
Did I say that out loud, she wondered? Carefully she swiveled to regard the faces of Archer and Hayes. No reaction. She felt a modicum of relief until she caught the eye of Commander Tucker, sitting across the table. His upper lip was twitching in amusement. The Chief Engineer had heard. What is more he had heard her use a description that he frequently applied to the Major and that she had admonished him for using.
The meeting was not going well.
“T’Pol, you are scowling.” Phlox waved a hypo spray in the air. “You know the serum is not as effective when it is administered while you are emotionally charged.”
“I assure you Doctor that I am neither emotionally charged nor scowling.” T’Pol insisted. “This expression is, according to Commander Tucker, my game face.”
T’Pol pursed her lips. That is the second time today that I have quoted the man. Do I not have an original thought of my own she asked herself?
A shower of saliva, the aftermath of a large guffaw from the doctor, brought her back to the present. When he was calm again, Phlox pulled a handkerchief from his pocket and offered it to her.
“Forgive me, T’Pol. Please take a seat. Would you care to elaborate on what the Commander meant by your game face?”
“No, I would not,” she snapped, as her womb contracted at the memory.
Commander Tucker had not shaved that morning, so his continued assault on her mouth, eyes and cheeks had resulted in whisker burn. He apologized insincerely. He took pride in marks on her body that were silent witnesses to their passion.
“Honey, you’re frownin’.” He traced the frown with his finger. “Really frownin’. I prefer it to your game face, the one you wear on the bridge through crisis and comedy. It makes my face ache watching you. By the end of the day, your jaw must be locked from the tension.”
He was wrong about the tension. She had spent years perfecting the muscle control that permitted her to maintain that look. Any other expression now felt foreign to her.
“Mmmm, that’s better, baby,” he whispered in her ear as she melted in response to his fingers that were working their magic in a region south of her navel. “That’s my favourite expression, the one that tells me that you would beg me to continue if I stopped.”
“Excuse me, ma’am?” an apprehensive female crewman interrupted T’Pol as the computer flashed ‘unable to open file’ for the tenth time.
T’Pol lifted her head and sat back in the chair, “Yes, Walowsky?”
“My shift ended an hour ago,” Walowsky looked at her shoes then found the courage to look the First Officer in the eye. “I am supposed to meet some people in the mess hall for movie night. Will we be much longer?”
“What movie has Commander Tucker scheduled this evening?” was the surprising response.
“The Way We Were, ma’am.” T’Pol provided no physical signal that she recognized the film, so Walowsky continued, “It’s about two people who have nothing in common but their love for each other. It doesn’t have a happy ending.”
“I sense an overarching theme,” T’Pol speculated, “Last week it was An Affair to Remember, the week before Sweet November.”
“I see what you mean, ma’am.” Walowsky lowered her voice confidentially. “Scuttlebutt has it that someone broke Commander Tucker’s heart. About three weeks ago, as a matter of fact, ma’am.”
“How interesting, Crewman, scuttlebutt as fact,” T’Pol dead-panned.
“Ma’am?” Walowsky ventured, “Did you just make a joke?”
“Yes, ma’am,” Walowsky was out the door before T’Pol could change her mind.
Reed referred to Trip’s current programming trend as the Hankie Movie Festival. Although he did not appreciate weepers per se, he did appreciate the increase in female attendance. He felt it was his duty to offer a shoulder or two on which to cry. The first night he had no competition, but the success of his ploy spread quickly. By this, the third film, there was standing room only, with the women out numbering the men two to one, which were great odds from Malcolm’s point of view.
Malcolm shook his head when he glimpsed the Engineer in the back row by the door. He too had heard the rumour that a female had trampled on his emotions. Lucky sod. The combination of hankie movie and a rumoured broken heart trumped anything the rest of the men on board had to offer. Why the man did not take advantage of the situation Reed could not understand?
Just as the opening titles began to roll, the mess hall door opened, casting a streak of light across the screen. The audience roared its disapproval at the latecomer, but did not turn around to see who the culprit was. T’Pol gratefully slipped unidentified into the last remaining empty seat.
At the first sight of the male love interest, T’Pol blinked in appreciation. What a beautiful man, she thought. She could almost understand why the intellectual with the limited people skills would become enamored of the charmer - almost, but not quite. If she was as intelligent as she was purported to be, the woman would have known the handsome fellow was a temptation to be resisted.
The film ended in a crescendo of strings and sniffles. When the lights came up, T’Pol looked about her fascinated, as female after female dabbed at her eyes or drew in deep, shaky breaths. The First Officer stole a glance at the person seated to her left. A pair of brilliant blue eyes, sparkling with unshed tears, held her gaze.
“Excuse me, First Officer, but I don’t want to keep my date waitin’.”
T’Pol swiveled her body to allow him to pass. The door to the corridor swung open. This time without boos and catcalls.
“There you are Commander,” Nelson, his engineering protégé beamed with satisfaction. “I’m looking forward to learning how to play Go.”
“And I’m lookin’ forward to teaching you.” His voice faded as they disappeared down the corridor.
T’Pol did not move from her chair until the clean-up crew arrived to return the room to its usual configuration.
“Excuse me, ma’am,” said a nervous steward, “But we have to clean up now.”
“Of course,” she replied distantly, “I should be retiring for the night.”
T’Pol hesitated in the hall outside her door as the sound of laughter drifted from the Commander’s quarters, which were located across from hers. When they had played Go together no one passerby would have heard laughter. Trip had smiled, grimaced and spoke warmly to her in a low voice meant only for her ears. She, she remembered, basked in the glow, watching him calmly, egging him on with wry observations that were rewarded with a smile.
When they first began working together, he had often chided her for her inability to interact in a human fashion. It was her inability to ignore those sentiments that had contributed to the dissolution of their relationship. Although over time he had dropped his criticism, even coming to appreciate her unique qualities, she did not trust that his acceptance would last.
“So here I stand,” she said to no one in particular, “Shut out of his life.”
Distracted by the unfamiliar feeling of regret, she failed to notice that the door to the Commander’s quarters had slid open.
A “Good evening, First Officer T’Pol,” from Lieutenant Nelson, caused her to start.
“Good evening, Lieutenant.” T’Pol’s reply dripped with innuendo that was not lost on the younger female.
“Commander Tucker was teaching me to play Go,” she explained too hastily.
The Commander silent through the exchange came to Nelson’s rescue. “If you think there has been any inappropriate behaviour between me and a subordinate, take it up with me, T’Pol.”
“Please, Commander,” Nelson put her hand on his arm, “Do not trouble yourself on my behalf.” She turned to T’Pol and continued, “I’m surprised at you, ma’am. Doubting someone with whom you are unfamiliar is understandable, but the Commander? Enterprise has no more honourable officer. If you will excuse me, sir, ma’am.”
The two senior officers watched Nelson march stiffly to the elevator, where she stood with indignation showing in every muscle.
“She’s in love with you.” T’Pol declared in a low voice. “A friendship with her can only end in disaster.”
“Like us, ya mean?”
When Malcolm Reed passed by two minutes later they were still staring at each other, neither willing to make the first move to separate.
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One person has made comments
Oh, this is good. I thought I'd feel sorry for Trip only, you know, but by the end I was feeling bad for T'pol as well. She truly doesn't know what to do, does she? That's quite a bit of angst she's carrying around with her, isn't it. Write on.