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Of All the Times, Places, and People!
Author - Eratta | Genre - General | Main Story | O | Rating - PG-13
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Of All the Times, Places, and People!
A/N: Yay! Finally, I've found the time to start this story! I deserve credit just for that, considering both Matrix Reloaded AND Down With Love came out last weekend. But instead of going out to see those, I relaxed after one of the most stressful weeks of my life and began this story. I'm quite pleased actually, since this has been floating around in my brain for close to 6 months now. But I have a thing about writing more than one story at a time, and that's why the debut is so late. A thousand apologies.
A/N: Okay, enough about that. This story is a definite T/T, but I'm thinking it will be more witty and about personal discovery than smut. Be assured, smut can be good, but I'm not in the mood for that kind of thing right now. But hey, that may change as the story goes on. Also, there have been quite a few "away-missions gone wrong" lately, and this is to ensure that the idea is entirely my own and that I have not been influenced by other writers. As I said before, I've been developing this idea for a few months now. Anyway, thanks for your attention and now on with the story!!!
Dammit. Dammit Dammit Dammit! Why does this have to happen to me? Why me, of all people? Why can't things go my way, just once?
Lost in his own self misery, Trip Tucker failed to notice his returning companion. He was sitting on the edge of a murky pond, wringing water out of his dirty uniform. 'Thank God I thought to bring an extra this time.' He thought to himself. He continued to twist his strong, large hands around the soggy material.
A few meters away, his companion was silently taking readings on her tricorder. Things were not looking very good, to say the least. Glancing away from the electric blue lighting of the miniature instrument, she quickly surveyed her immediate surroundings. Absently, she wondered if Commander Tucker's question "Why Me?" didn't completely describe her own feelings about the situation.
Being a Vulcan, she was never pleased to encounter a planet that was more water than land. She preferred the red, barren deserts to lush, green tropics such as this. And being marooned, with limited food and little equipment, and with a human as unpredictable as she was logical, was not her ideal situation.
Trip's thoughts were not too different T'Pol's. Watching her out of the corner of his eye, he instantly had an idea of just how much of a pain she could become. Though they had long since established a truce of sorts, she could still manage to exasperate him, probably even unintentionally. They could be out here for days, and he might be forced to put up with her superior Vulcan moods. They had become rarer, but every now and then she turned back into a typical Vulcan. This was definitely not good, he thought. Why the hell am I always so eager to be on away teams?
His suit was now only moist, so he tried to stand. Immediately, he fell back down, cursing himself as the pain shot through is calf and chest. T'Pol was immediately at his side with her tricorder, trying to find the damage to his body. He waited quietly as the pain faded into a dull throbbing under his skin. After a time, she lifted her large, intelligent brown eyes to his. Her look was as blank as ever.
"You have cracked two ribs." She stated matter-of-factly.
Trip frowned. "Well, that explains why it's so painful ta breathe, but my ankle hurts too." He winced at his tone. That sounded way too much like whining.
T'Pol said nothing, but moved her instrument slowly over his ankle.
"It has been sprained, most likely from the crash."
"Dammit." he growled, massaging his aching ankle, which was swelling quite nicely.
T'Pol rose and moved away; pausing by the smoky little fire they had built. The wood here was too wet to burn properly, and she shivered despite herself. Her body was not built for conditions like this. Moving on into the overturned shuttlepod, she located the emergency medical kit. Bringing it back to the injured and irritable man, she gingerly sank to his level, balancing on her heels. She opened the kit, looking for the gauze and bandage. Locating them, she lifted up the roll of gauze and moved towards Trip's ankle. He shrunk away instinctively. He never liked others treating him, even when it was someone he trusted.
"I can do that." He said quickly.
"Individuals often do not treat their injuries as they should."
"I can take care a' myself." He replied loftily. But the look in her eyes told him that she wasn't going to take 'no' for an answer. He couldn't really put his finger on it, but she had this . . . this LOOK that made you want to comply with whatever she said, even if it wasn't an order. She rarely used it, but this was one of those rare moments that had him wishing he was back in his own quarters, where she couldn't use it.
Reluctantly, he rolled his cuff up where they could both see the purple and blue bruises decorating the swollen flesh. Her hand reached for it, and he stiffen instinctively. But surprisingly, she was very gentle about it. She lifted his foot, wrapped it with cotton, and then wrapped the gauze securely over it. Her warm fingertips felt wonderful on his clammy skin, and he was almost sorry she stopped.
"Thanks." He mumbled.
"You are welcome" she returned.
Trip looked at her quizzically. She had never said THAT before. Usually, a nod or a flicker of the eyes was all she would acquiesce to. Shaking his head at the mystery that was female behavior, Trip turned away and focused on the problem at hand.
'Okay,' he told himself, 'here's the cold hard facts: We lost navigation, but we don't know how. Every other system was workin' just fine, but for some reason, there was a bug in the nav system. T'Pol found the planet with a breathable atmosphere, and we made an emergency landing.'
He stopped the internal investigation to look at the little cylinder next to him. 'This is the emergency beacon, which is our best bet fer locatin' the Cap'n and the ship. It doesn't look damaged, so why won't it work?'
He frowned and wiped a dirty, damp sleeve across his face. The engineer in him was screaming in frustration, but he would never give T'Pol the opportunity to comment on his 'excessive' human emotionalism. But what was he supposed to do? He didn't bring any tools with him because this mission was purely for scientific reasons. He had no reason for going along except to give T'Pol a hand. This was not good. Definitely not good. Damn.
"How goes the diagnosis?" The lovely Vulcan asked softly.
Trip shot her an irritated look. She may not have deserved it, but he wasn't going to pretend that he was happy with the situation.
"Not good. I don't know what's wrong with the damn thing, and even if I did, there's nothin' I can do about it!"
She looked up from her readings. Her face was blank, but something passed across her eyes that a man like Tucker wouldn't miss. Was she worried? 'Hell,' he though, 'If Our Lady of Logic is worried, I may as well start diggin' our graves!'
"You have no tools?"
"Of course I don't have my tools!" He said in vexation. "I was only on this mission ta help you out with yer science stuff. Not to mention getting' a little break, for a change."
He broke off, and ran a tired hand through his hair. Hazarding a glance at T'Pol, he was surprised to notice that she looked pretty uncomfortable. He realized that no matter how uncomfortable he was, it must be much worse for her. From what he knew, Vulcans weren't too keen on tropical places. He softened with that thought. 'She wasn't bein' mean or anything, and I've been a jerk.'
"Look," he sighed, turning back to face her seated form. "Maybe it's just a . . . a little wet. Once it dries out a bit, it'll work an' we can contact Enterprise."
It was a bluff, but he figured a bluff was better than nothing. To his mild dismay, she didn't seem convinced at all. He could see her digesting the possibility, and then came the inevitable raising of the eyebrow which signaled her discovery of a flaw in his theory.
"In that case," she began seriously "It seems highly likely that it will never work. This entire planet is tropical and wet."
"Yeah, well . . ." As Trip cast around for ideas to counter that, he glanced at the sky. The two green moons were rising; one was already high in the sky and the other was just barely visible above the mountains.
'Wait just a cotton-pickin' minute,' he mind mused. 'That might be it!'
"Correct me is I'm wrong, but aren't there mountains close by?"
"If by close, you mean a few hundred kilometers, yes. What is your point?"
"The atmosphere gets thinner the higher up ya go, right? So technically, if we can get to higher ground, then maybe this thing has a shot." He finished with a wide gesture to the beacon.
"It's possible, but we do not know how thin the atmosphere will become."
He rolled his eyes at her.
"It's gotta be better than stayin here."
She paused and looked away while Trip waited patiently. She had a far-away look in her eyes that told him she was thinking about what he had said, probably calculating the probability of his theory actually being correct.
He had always been curious to know exactly how sophisticated Vulcan thinking was. They always hinted at being capable of 'high mental functions', but no one had ever told him what, exactly. Could they solve matrixes in their heads? Could they enter trances in which they could do God-knew-what? Or were they just making up bullshit to keep Earth in place?
T'Pol turned back to him and calmly said,
"I agree with that assessment. However, it is too late to start now, as the sun has already begun to set."
Trip nodded. If she kept being this agreeable, maybe this wouldn't be so bad after all. Silence hung between them for what seemed like an eternity, and finally Trip asked,
"So, what have we got ta eat?"
T'Pol didn't even bother to look up. She was deeply engrossed by something far more interesting than him, he thought wryly. He gingerly stood and crossed the short distance to the bin containing ready-made food. Opening it, he grimaced at the site. The only food to be found that wouldn't require the shuttlepod was little packets of oatmeal bars, nuts, pretzels, raisins, and other little things. Thank God there was plenty of water.
"I am not hungry."
He shrugged and fished a canteen and minimeal out of the bin. He munched on it quietly, trying not to think too hard about the dry, gritty taste.
Meanwhile, T'Pol pursed her lips and thought. Surprising as it may be, there was solid logic behind Trip's words. There was nothing she could present as a valid argument against his theory. Wryly she noted that despite her carefully formulated opinion of him, he always seemed to 'throw her for a loop'. She raised her patient, wise eyes to his fiery blue ones.
"Perhaps we should study the data we collected before sensors went offline."
He nodded his head and busied himself with getting back to work. A comfortable silence was fostered between them, each working on their respective tasks. Notwithstanding the fact that both had analyzed more information then they could use, the repetitive motions were genuinely calming. It took the tension out of their situation. A good while later, as the last rays of the dying sun cast blood red shadows on them, T'Pol noticed a significant change in the sounds that she had been hearing all day. She looked up from her book of Vulcan philosophy and focused on them.
Trip glanced away from his specs to find his companion staring at him. He narrowed his eyes at her, wondering why she staring so intently. He was about to speak when he realized that her eyes, though directed towards him, were not exactly focused on him. He shook his head and looked away, uncomfortably aware of her piercing gaze.
Finally, T'Pol's eyes cleared and she stood. Trip turned around and asked the question that had been on his lips for a good while.
"What the hell were you doin'?"
She raised an eyebrow at his language. While she had long since been accustomed to his particularly unique dialect, she still had not yet learned to predict his moods or tones.
"I was listening."
"Oh." His face fell a little, but he couldn't understand why. What had he hoped she was doing? As if she could read his mind, the lovely woman asked that very question.
"What did you think I was doing?"
He stalled for time as he felt his face flush red. 'Damn it, Trip!' He told himself, 'You're a grown man and her equal; stop actin' like a seventh grader!'
"Um, nothin'. What were you listenin' for?"
'The wildlife has become more active."
"Well sure, that's what usually happens, isn't it?"
"Perhaps. However, this could signal that the indigenous carnivores are beginning to hunt."
Trip was confused. In his experience, more wildlife noise meant less carnivores.
"I think there may be a flaw to your logic." The formality of his tone was lost on the austere and stoic woman, whose current opinion of the man was strengthened by his rueful grin.
"Perhaps I wasn't clear." She began as she went to the pod and removed a bedroll. "There isn't more noise, but subtler sounds have replaced the louder ones that were so prevalent earlier."
"Leaves rustling underfoot, sudden silences. One might say the lack of noise punctuates the sounds of hunting."
It only took Trip a minute to digest this information. Having gone on several safaris, he knew exactly what she was talking about. He was somewhat surprised that he himself hadn't heard it yet. But then, she had that supersonic hearing. He stood gingerly and moved to the pod, pulling out another bed roll as he said,
"Then I guess one a' us should stay awake tonight."
"Indeed." She replied, offering him the bedroll that she had previously extracted from the wreckage. Trip looked at her in confusion.
"I will take the watch tonight." She said, correctly interpreting the source of his confusion.
Trip frowned slightly, and then shrugged indifferently.
"Okay, you'll wake me when it's my shift?"
Now T'Pol was the one to look confused. The expression on her face did not change, but Trip was beginning to suspect that he was slowly becoming able to discern the understated changes in her face.
"I meant that I would remain awake for the entirety of the night."
If he had been speaking to anyone other than T'Pol, Trip would have been offended. He was raised to offer rest to a woman whenever the occasion called for it, and this was definitely one of those occasions. 'But,' he reasoned with himself, 'Vulcans don't know about that kinda thing.'
"That's alright, I'm not tired anyway. I'll take the watch."
"If we are to travel tomorrow, you should be rested." She deadpanned.
"So should you." He countered. What was it about this woman! Couldn't she accept an act of courtesy like a normal person?
"Vulcans require less sleep than Humans and I am not injured."
Trip was getting frustrated now. She was treating him like a baby! It wasn't like he couldn't take care of himself! If she was afraid that he would slow them down tomorrow, she had another thing coming!
"I don't need that much sleep and I'm not that badly injured!" He retorted hotly. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he realized that he shouldn't be getting so worked up over this. But he was tired, wet, stranded in the middle of the universe's nowhere, and he wasn't used to arguing with women.
"Your mood betrays you." She replied coolly. Taking a seat on the cleared ground below her, she arranged her limbs into a lotus position, readying herself for meditation. Trip took several calming breaths, grabbed his bedroll, and settled himself across from her. If she wanted to do this the hard way, fine. He would show her that he could stay awake too.
Nearly an hour later, T'Pol's eyes opened and rested on the form of Commander Tucker. As she had predicted, he had succumbed to sleep soon after lying down. Watching his chest rise and fall with an easy rhythm, she realized that her own breathing was slightly labored. Brushing the mild irritation away, she decided it must simply be the humidity. It certainly was nothing to be concerned about. Shifting herself into a more comfortable position, she took about a PADD that had been salvaged and began reviewing letters that she had downloaded onto it before embarking on the away mission. As she learned about new theories and discoveries begin made on her home planet, she carefully monitored the sounds of the swamp and the sleeping chief engineer.
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