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Speaking With the Devil
Author - Evalyn A. | Genre - General | Genre - Romance | Main Story | Rating - G
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Speaking With the Devil
By Evalyn A
Rating: G, General
The message from the Horizon was brief, and to the point. Paul and Nora were to be married. The date had not been set, but Travis could tell by his brother’s tone of voice that he was impatient for it to happen – impatient and happy. Yet he was also apologetic; it was obvious he wasn’t entirely sure how Travis would take the news.
Travis and Nora had been close, like brother and sister. Although there had never been anything of a romantic nature between them, still, it was unsettling to think of his brother and his best friend getting married. In fact, since the message had taken some time to reach them here in the expanse, it was entirely possible they were already married by now.
His life aboard the Horizon was behind him, and he had many friends on Enterprise, but to see his family and friends moving on without him left him feeling somewhat bereft. He punched the button on his monitor and the screen went dark.
“Well,” he said aloud to himself, “no point sitting here feeling sorry for myself.” He decided he could head over the gym, maybe do some cycling.
Mayweather had reached the gym and had just finishing laying his bet with Takanashi on the progressing relationship between O’Donnell and Kalesh when Tucker entered, towel around his neck. Takanashi departed and the commander asked, somewhat chidingly, “Think it’s really appropriate to be laying bets on other people’s personal lives?”
“You’re just mad because I took your bet in the Parker/Katsua pool,” Mayweather retorted. “Besides, if they hear about my bet, maybe it’ll motivate them to work things out a bit sooner; Kalesh can’t stand it when I’m right.”
“Try gettin’ your own personal life and see how it feels to have other people bettin’ on it,” Tucker said dryly as he reached towards the ceiling with one hand then the other.
“Have I been missing something, sir?” Mayweather asked, his ears perking up. “Because if there’s a betting pool on you I want to get in on it.”
Tucker flushed pink as he touched his toes. “I wish.”
Mayweather had already moved on – “Anyway, speaking of personal lives, I just got a message from my brother saying he’s getting married to my best friend on the Horizon. Could have happened already, the message took so long to get here.”
Tucker stepped onto the treadmill and started to walk briskly. “You must be happy for them …” he said, making it more of a question than a statement.
Mayweather climbed onto the cycle beside Tucker. “Sure, I’m happy. Who wouldn’t be?” Only a selfish, thoughtless, mean-spirited son-of-a-gun, he chided himself, wouldn’t want to see his brother and his best friend both made happy in one fell swoop.
Tucker glanced sideways at him for a moment. “It’s only natural to be a bit resentful, when two people you’re close to cut you out …”
Mayweather smiled a little in spite of himself. Trip was pretty good at seeing what made people tick. “Yeah, you’re right, I’m cheesed off. What right have they got to go and be happy without me?”
“None at all,” Tucker said encouragingly. “In fact you should send ‘em a letter right now telling them you hope it doesn’t work out so they can go back to bein’ miserable like the rest of us.”
That made Travis laugh aloud. “All right, you’ve made your point. Not like I didn’t know it already,” he said. “But it still takes a bit of getting used to.”
Don’t I know it, thought Trip to himself. This conversation was hitting a bit close to home for him. He had noticed over the last year the closeness that was developing between his best friend and the Enterprise’s first officer. More and more often, where before Captain Archer would have called Trip for advice, now he spoke to T’Pol. She had secrets she confided only to Archer. Tucker could tell, even when he wasn’t supposed to know. Archer would glance at her sometimes when he thought no one was looking, and it meant he was concerned about her, why exactly Trip didn’t know, but he knew there was something going on.
Trip tried not to take it to heart, but it left him hurt and more than a little lonely. He and Jon had gotten together less and less after hours. There were others on the ship glad to socialize with him, but it wasn’t the same. And then there was Lizzie. That didn’t bear thinking about. He ramped up the incline and jogged faster, trying to obliterate her image as he had last seen her, at Enterprise’s initial departure on their mission.
After a time, Mayweather climbed off the bike next to him and excused himself. By now it was late, and Trip was the only one remaining.
The door swished open and a slight figure entered and stepped onto the bicycle beside him. He looked over, and to his irritation saw that his companion was T’Pol. She nodded to him, punched the buttons and started to pedal steadily.
Great, Tucker grumbled to himself. A guy can’t even have a bit of peace and quiet to feel sorry for himself, without her intruding on that too. He continued to jog, sweating heavily, hoping that she might be driven off.
It was apparent to T’Pol from the glance he had given her that her presence there had irritated Commander Tucker. She had no idea why – their interactions during the day had been minimal and contained none of the sniping that often characterized their exchanges. Although she knew it was frequently not polite in human society to ask direct questions, for some reason this evening she had little patience. She stopped pedaling and turned to him.
“You appear to be aggravated by my presence here, Commander,” she stated. “Have I done something to offend you?”
Startled, he stopped jogging and looked at her. Yeah, he felt like replying, your entire presence here on Enterprise offends me! Then, he felt sudden remorse and his irritation bled away as he thought about all the ways in which she had contributed to their mission, and how she had helped him sleep when nothing else could. Hell, her recent bad experiences on the planet made her deserve a bit more civility.
“Aah,” he muttered in disgust, “I’m sorry, T’Pol, I just had a bad day and I was kinda feeling sorry for myself. Sometimes we humans enjoy wallowing in our bad temper.”
Oddly, she appeared to accept his apology. “Would it help,” she paused for a moment, “to talk about it?”
Was that a peace offering? he wondered. But how could he begin to tell her what was bothering him? “I don’t know, T’Pol, it’s all kinda personal.”
“Perhaps some other time, then,” she said, resuming her pedaling.
“Yeah, sure,” he replied uncertainly, and departed hastily before things got even more peculiar.
Mayweather was sitting in the mess, eating a late-night snack of cottage cheese with extra pepper, when Tucker entered. He watched as Tucker pulled out a slice of pie from the dispenser and then joined him.
“Feelin’ any better?” Tucker inquired.
Mayweather made a face. “Yeah, I guess. You can’t really expect your life to be full of fulfilling relationships when you’re trying to save Earth out in the middle of hostile space, can you? I’m just happy they’re happy.”
Tucker nodded. “That’s a good start. But don’t give up on enjoyin’ yourself just because of everything that’s goin’ on. There’s still time for a bit of fun now and again.”
Travis scooped the last mouthful out of the bowl and looked at him sideways. “Maybe you need to take a bit of your own advice, sir. You’ve been awfully antisocial lately yourself.”
“Yeah, maybe I have,” Trip agreed running his fingers through his hair, still damp from his shower. “I guess maybe I was talkin’ to both of us.”
Mayweather slapped him on the back as he stood up to leave. “See you in the morning,” he said.
Trip watched him leave and took a bite of pie. He stared blankly out the viewport at the passing stars, feeling like he no longer knew himself. What can I do about any of this? How can one starship hope to stop the Xindi? he fretted. They could have destroyed Earth already and we wouldn’t know. And the Vulcans, they were being their usual pig-headed selves; unwilling to help and yet watching every move we make and criticizing.
Speak of the devil, he continued in his silent monologue, as T’Pol entered. She stopped beside the table, and asked in an apparent attempt to be sociable, “What type of pie is that?”
“Blueberry,” he mumbled around a rather too large mouthful that he had put in his mouth in the hopes of stalling further conversation.
She retrieved a similar piece from the dispenser and returned to the table. She inclined her head at him, silently asking permission. He nodded curtly. They ate in silence for a few minutes.
“I have observed that humans usually feel better after they speak to others about their problems,” she prompted him, after it became clear that he didn’t intend to initiate the conversation.
“Yeah, maybe,” he said, embarrassed at the whole situation.
She simply raised an eyebrow and waited.
“Aw shoot, T’Pol, when did you start bein’ such a psychiatrist? All right,” he continued, exasperated. “Travis and I were talkin’ about stuff, personal family stuff for him. It reminded me about some personal stuff that’s been botherin’ me”.
“Your sister,” she stated.
“Yeah, partly,” he agreed, hoping that she would not probe further.
“And the other part?” she asked.
He leaned back in his chair and regarded her silently for a moment. “The other part is you.”
“So I have done something then.”
“In a way.” He sighed. “But it’s not your fault. It’s just –“ he paused, unsure how to continue, “it’s just that you’ve been takin’ up a lot of the Captain’s time lately. He seems to spend a lot of time with you. Asks for your advice. Consults with you at all hours.”
“I am the first officer on this ship,” T’Pol stated reasonably. “It is only natural that the Captain asks for my advice.”
“Sure, I know that,” Trip said, “but it doesn’t make it any easier to take. He used to ask for my advice. And we used to have fun--him and me. Now,” he paused, unsure how to continue, “I guess maybe there just isn’t any more fun left in any of us,” and he looked out the viewport again, his throat tightening.
They sat in silence for a few moments. “I have observed,” T’Pol said, “after the time I have spent with humans, that one of your strengths is the ability to find hope, and moments of happiness, in the midst of terrible situations. In fact, such situations often bring out the best in humans. It was not that way with my people,” she noted, apparently more to herself than to Tucker. Looking at him again, she continued, “I envy you your relationship with the Captain. He does not trust me, or know me, the way he does you. Perhaps that is partly why he asks for my advice more than yours of late. He already knows what you will say. My opinion is – often different, permitting him to view situations from another angle.”
Tucker was unconvinced. “Maybe he’s just decided he prefers your company to mine.”
“Do you honestly believe that?” she asked him sharply. “The events leading to this mission are causing him grief and pain, just as they do you. He feels responsible right now for the fate of his home planet. Perhaps he is simply incapable of dealing with your pain on top of his. It is also for us to help him do his job, not make it harder.”
Startled and chagrined, Tucker replied curtly, “So what am I supposed to do, just pretend it’s not a problem? That everythin’s OK?”
“Perhaps you can just share your feelings with someone else, and allow him his for now,” she said, surprisingly gently. “Perhaps with the doctor, or Mr. Reed? In the meantime,” she finished, as she stood up from the table, “it is late now, but I will expect you tomorrow night for our neuropressure session.”
“Huh, yeah,” he replied, nonplussed.
As she reached the door, T’Pol turned back slightly, and remarked, “I don’t believe I thanked you properly for the peaches. Or for your assistance in retrieving us from the planet. They were … both appreciated,” she concluded, and exited.
Tucker shook his head, wonderingly. He continued to contemplate the conversation just past for several minutes as he returned to his quarters and prepared for bed. Maybe I see why the Captain talks to her after all, he thought. He lay down on his bed and closed his eyes. He still wasn’t expecting a good night’s sleep tonight. But for once, he felt as though maybe he would sleep again, before too many more nights had passed. As he drifted off, Lizzie’s face appeared in his head, laughing at something he’d once said. And he slept, his lips curved in a small smile.
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Three people have made comments
now blueberry...they must be having sex or they would be as big as houses...another cute story.
Not necessarily, it could be low-fat Blueberry pie... I did enjoy this, it was a nice angle and I loved how much T'Pol has grown in her understanding of humans and her insight into Trip is terrific. Many thanks! Ali D :~)
Liked the way you wrote T'pol so sensitively.