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A Logical Proposal
A | Author - Shouldknowbetter | Genre - Action/Adventure | Genre - Angst | Genre - Contest Winner | L | Main Story | Rating - PG-13
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A Logical Proposal
Category: Open Topic
Disclaimer 1: Paramount owns the characters, the Star Trek franchise and the universe. I just use them for my own private, non-profit making amusement.
This story is part of a series. You may want to read them all:
1.A Logical Proposal
7. Cry Havoc
“Yeah, should be right up your street, Malcolm. You can be as uptight as any Vulcan if you put your mind to it.”
“Well, thank you, sir!” Reed glowered at his alleged friend. “I suppose Captain Archer was afraid of the political fall-out when he struck your name off the list.”
“Yup. Jeez, just the thought of being on a Vulcan ship for a day gives me the shivers, never mind a fortnight.” They rounded the last corner and approached the airlock where captain and first officer were already awaiting them. “Now just you remember, lieutenant,” Tucker’s voice had grown secretive although Malcolm was close enough to see the laughter lines around the American’s eyes as he kept them on the science officer, “I want those spec.s and I won’t ask too many questions about how you got them.”
“I remind you, Lieutenant Reed,” T’Pol said coldly, her excellent Vulcan hearing having caught the comment as it was supposed to, “that this is a cultural exchange intended to give you an insight into the protocols operating on a Vulcan ship, not,” and she glared at Tucker, “an espionage mission.”
“Cultural, huh? Well, there you go, Malcolm. You’ll just have to hope that all the women over there have got nice … what was that word again?”
Reed also glared at the grinning engineer as he stepped past him. “Reporting as ordered, Captain.”
“So I see.” Archer was repressing a smile at Tucker’s endeavours to wind up all and sundry, wondering when it would be his turn. Trip rarely let anyone get away when he was in this sort of mood. “Ready to go, Malcolm?”
“Good. The Suran’s shuttle is expected to dock any moment.” There was the sound of metal on metal. “Right on time.”
The airlock hissed open once the pressure had equalised and Enterprise’s officers politely turned their attention to the short, rather stocky Vulcan who stepped through. He looked around him, nose twitching in the characteristic manner of most Vulcans entering a human ship and focussed on T’Pol, speaking in Vulcan. She gestured at Archer. “This is Captain Archer. I suggest that you direct your greeting at him.”
The newcomer never twitched a muscle as he turned to the tall human. “Captain Archer, I am Lt Storan, tactical officer of the science vessel Suran. I will be attempting to interface with your command structure for the next fourteen days Earth standard time – or less, if mutually agreed.”
Not promising, Archer thought broodily and went the round of introductions; the only one Storan acknowledged was to T’Pol.
“Well, I’ll be off then,” Reed observed as soon as the introductions were over and headed into the airlock, hastened by a friendly thump on the shoulder from Tucker. “Goodbye, sirs, sub-commander.”
“Don’t forget to check out the …” Tucker caught Archer’s eye and resisted the urge, hard though it was.
“Lieutenant Storan,” having quelled his chief engineer’s levity – at least temporarily – Archer turned back to his new crewman, “I hope you won’t find your stay on Enterprise too tedious.” An eyebrow lifted very slightly as if that conclusion had already been reached. “You’ll be working under the joint supervision of Sub-Command T’Pol and Commander Tucker.” They hadn’t been able to agree a job spilt and Archer had got fed up with the arguing. “They’ll give you your work assignments.”
“I would prefer to work solely with Sub-Command T’Pol.”
“Well, that wouldn’t be much of a cultural exchange, now, would it?” Tucker drawled, effortlessly sliding Storan into his private ‘don’t like’ folder. “Don’t worry, lieutenant, I won’t be requiring anything too challenging.”
“And you’ll be joining the three of us for dinner this evening,” Archer concluded smoothly. “Now I’ll let T’Pol show you to your quarters and let you get settled.” The two Vulcan’s departed, leaving the humans to exchange rueful grins. “Well,” Archer sighed, “at least T’Pol will have someone to talk to.”
“I took the precaution of using one before boarding Enterprise. I was merely testing the efficacy.”
“A wise action.”
“Why does the captain wish us to dine together?”
T’Pol sighed but only internally. “A human custom. They believe that by spending ‘social time’ together it gives them a better insight into each other’s characters which can be of use in a professional context.”
“It sounds inefficient and unnecessary.”
“Indeed.” She rather thought that, for now, she would keep to herself the fact that, on occasion, she actually found the captain’s dinners pleasant; usually when Tucker wasn’t there.
“The chief engineer is obnoxious.”
“He is.” Storan immediately went up in her opinion for having so quickly drawn that conclusion, but she had to preserve the chain of command. “However, he is your superior officer for the duration of this assignment and he is,”
“I will, of course, obverse the formalities.”
“I have no doubt of it.” She halted. “These are your quarters, lieutenant. You will find details of your first assignment on the computer. Dinner is at 1900 in the captain’s dining room. Good day.”
She spoke over Storan which was also rude, but she too was bored, although it annoyed her when Tucker winked at her as he answered, as if she had in some way colluded with him. “Did you like it?”
“’Like’ is hardly an appropriate term for a technical document. I found your conclusion ill-founded.”
“I thought I’d expressed it so logically and all.”
“You do not understand the word.”
“Aw, c’mon, T’Pol, you gotta use a little intuition sometimes.”
“Not when ship’s safety is involved.”
“I’m not endangering anything!”
“What does Trip want to do, T’Pol?” Archer asked, as happy as the other two to change the subject even if it meant having to referee another argument.
“He wishes to use an enriched deuterium mix in the intermix chamber. Fortunately, we do not have sufficient deuterium reserves or he may already have proceeded.”
“It would be more efficient. Reduce heat build-up and allow us to stay longer at warp 5.”
“You have not proved your case.”
“I know it’ll work!”
“A logic-based, progressively argued case is the only way to approach the possibility.”
“It’s one way,” Tucker corrected firmly. “Another is to just …” He searched for a phrase, hand waggling.
“’Fly by the seat of your pants’ was the last term you used in a similar situation.”
Reluctantly she conceded, “You were.”
“So why don’t you get those scanners of yours to find us a nice rich source of deuterium?”
“Perhaps because the last fault report I filed is still outstanding.”
“Ouch,” but he didn’t look in the least repentant as he laughed at her.
“Some members certainly are. Others show promise. I have been impressed by certain of the decisions which Captain Archer has made over the time I have been on Enterprise.”
“Perhaps,” although he did not sound convinced. T’Pol, I am aware that your marriage contract with Kos was terminated. I find myself in a similar situation. I accepted this assignment in order to suggest to you that we become betrothed.”
Very nearly T’Pol said, ‘Excuse me!’ until she remembered that it was one of Tucker’s favourite rejoinders when faced with a situation he did not seriously believe in.
“I have already spoken to your parents,” Storan was continuing, having taken T’Pol’s silence for encouragement. “They have no objection. Indeed, they seemed favourably inclined. It seems to me a logical proposal. It is not anticipated that I will enter pon farr for the first time for some years yet, so you may continue your career until that point; although I cannot say that I would recommend further service aboard an Earth vessel. Once we are married, I would, of course, expect you to act as mother to our children. After our first year of marriage, I would return to the exploration service, but my family would provide support in raising the children. As to …”
“Storan,” T’Pol found her tongue, “it is a most logical offer but …”
They had reached the door to his quarters and he turned to face her; they were much of a height. “You should also bear in mind, T’Pol, that with one broken marriage contract already and with little logical justification, you will not find it easy to procure another offer.”
“I am aware of that,” and did not take kindly to pressure. “I will consider your offer, Storan. It is not a decision to be taken lightly. Good night.”
“T’Pol.” Storan seated himself cautiously opposite. She had noted that he seemed to have a distrust of human furniture. “Have you reached a decision?”
“Hmm.” He seemed surprised – in a well-disciplined Vulcan way, of course. “When do you estimate that you will have reached your decision?”
“I do not know.”
He would have continued but a lanky, blue-clad form flopped gracelessly into the chair next to hers. “Hey.” She had never expected to be so glad to find Tucker at her side. “Found your fault report, T’Pol. Perhaps next time you want something fixed in a hurry, you could file it under ‘urgent’, not ‘low’.”
“It was not urgent. It was you who wished to find deuterium.”
He scowled at her. “Whatever. Want to come help me diagnose the problem?”
“That would no doubt be the most efficient approach,” she agreed with alacrity and rose.
“Don’t you want to finish your breakfast?”
“I am not hungry.” Not since Storan arrived.
“OK.” Tucker bounced up, fishing a piece of banana out of her abandoned fruit salad. “Storan, if you come by my office after lunch, I’ll get you started on those hull plating enhancements on T’Pol’s list.”
Storan included his head in acceptance and watched T’Pol as she followed the engineer out of the room. In his opinion, she allowed the unruly human a great deal too much licence. When they were betrothed, he would correct her behaviour.
“How’s that look?” There was no response and irritated, Tucker repeated the question then twisted to see out of the compartment in which he was half buried. “T’Pol! Hey, sub-commander!” She stared blankly at him and he frowned. “You OK?”
“Then what did I just ask you?”
She looked uncomfortable. “I was … thinking.”
“Real hard thinking,” he muttered. “I said are those ghosts gone yet?”
“Damn.” He crawled out and came to her side to see for himself – as if that would make any difference. “You sure it’s not just a glitch in the image processing software?”
“OK,” he drawled slowly and ran an apparently random series of numbers through the front-end assemblies. T’Pol watched with mild fascination. She never could follow Tucker’s diagnostic processes but annoyingly often they produced results. “OK,” he repeated more briskly, “let’s take a look at the phase blocks. Maybe one of Malcolm’s modifications is feeding cross-talk into the sensor net.”
“Perhaps you should consider taking some of Lt. Reed’s modifications off-line.”
“Because he’s not here to object you mean? Not fair. Besides, the cap’n likes to have better offensive capability.”
“Even at the expense of scientific exploration?”
“Now don’t be nasty. We’ll get you fixed up too.” His top-half disappeared back into the compartment leaving a pair of long slim legs slicking out. “Damn. Pass me the phase metre, will you?”
T’Pol sighed and found the instrument, having to kneel at Tucker’s side to get it where he could reach it. Perhaps this was not a very efficient use of her time, but it had provided an opportunity to get away from Storan. Storan. The reason for her earlier abstraction and a problem that would have to be dealt with before he annoyed … approached her with more questions about her decision making process.
“T’Pol!” She jumped and met a pair of accusing blue eyes. “What is it with you this morning?”
“I …” She couldn’t possibly tell him. Or could she? He had unfortunately been privy to her break up with Kos and he had a great deal more experience of relationships than she did despite her greater age.
“What’s wrong?” Tucker’s tone was abruptly gentler, having lost the irritation and professional impatience, and T’Pol was surprised into looking straight into his concerned gaze, for once minus its characteristic mockery.
“Storan has asked me to marry him.”
“Jeez, he didn’t waste any time,” but he was frowning, still not laughing at her. “Is this because of Kos?”
She was relieved that he understood. “Yes. Storan and I are both unattached, therefore a betrothal between us is a logical proposition.”
“D’you like him?”
“That is hardly relevant.”
“Huh?” He had twisted to sit facing her with his back against the console, one leg stretched out, the other hitched up to his chest mainly, T’Pol presumed, to keep out of contact with her in the tight corner they had worked their way into. “How’s it not relevant? You’re gonna have to go to bed with the guy.”
“Well, forget the sex then,” Tucker grumbled, “but it is true. But hell, T’Pol, you’re still gonna have to live with the guy. If you don’t like him it’ll drive you nuts.”
“You forget, commander, I have had much experience on Enterprise with people I … do not relate to.”
The insult only appeared to amuse him. “Right, but at least you know this is temporary. You’d be stuck with Storan for life.” She could not immediately find a reply to that one and he sighed. “Do you like him, T’Pol?”
“I … do not yet know.”
“Then you need to spend some time with him, get to know him better. You’ve got a fortnight.”
“We will no doubt be working together.”
“That’s not good enough. All you’ll find out is if he’s competent. You need to find out personal stuff.”
“’Personal stuff’ is an irrelevance to Vulcan marriage.”
“So if he detests jazz and Vulcan poetry and isn’t interested in micro-singularities you won’t care? C’mon, T’Pol, be sensible. I know more about your interests than Storan does right now and you know me better than him. You never make a professional decision without all the facts. You can’t do it over marriage.”
That was actually a logical argument although she would laugh before admitting it. “How do you suggest we ‘get to know each other’?” Her tone was sarcastic but Tucker wasn’t put off.
“Have dinner together.”
“We have already dined together.”
“Nah, by yourselves. Not with me and the cap’n playing gooseberry.”
“I beg your pardon?”
“Chaperoning you,” he interpreted. “Just talk.”
“Vulcan’s do not indulge in idle conversation.”
“Well, try!” Tucker was growing impatient. “You do it with me and the cap’n sometimes. I’ve seen you and Hoshi chatting. Talk about your interests, career aspirations, tell him funny stories about us inferior humans. If all else fails, talk about him. All men like that.”
“You speak from experience, commander?”
“Sure.” He grinned at her. “Nothing like having a pretty girl asking questions about you to boost a guy’s ego.”
She gave him a very level stare. “Have you ever considered, Mr Tucker, that there might be more to life than engineering, food and members of the opposite sex?”
“Hell, no.” He was laughing at her. “Can’t think of anything else.” His eyes went behind her and up. “Lt. Storan, you looking for us?”
When T’Pol looked, her compatriot’s expression was stiff with disapproval. “I have finished my assigned tasks for the morning. I was in search of Sub-Commander T’Pol to enquire as to my next assignment.” Very deliberately he looked over science officer and chief engineer who were sitting close together and, from what he had overheard, not discussing sensor diagnostics. “I understood her to be working here.” The human’s mouth twitched and Storan saw T’Pol shoot him a sharp look before she rose to her feet, having to lean on the engineer to do so.
“I believe Commander Tucker can complete the adjustments without my assistance. We will review your task list, lieutenant, and readjust your workload appropriately.”
“T’Pol.” Tucker’s voice was casual but she whipped around to face him, frowning. “Kick the toolbox my way, would you?” She moved it reluctantly and he took the opportunity to whisper firmly, “Ask him!”
She glared and left with the disapproving Storan in tow.
“Yes.” He paused eating long enough to provide his opinion. “They are primitive, transitory and of no worth.”
She had once spent most of dinner arguing a similar viewpoint with Archer and Tucker but at least the debate had been … stimulating. “Do you read poetry?”
He cocked a querying eyebrow at her. “I find it of no relevance to my tactical studies. Do you?”
“Yes, I …”
“Neither can I see its relevance to your work,” and he returned to eating.
T’Pol glared at his downbent head, although most of her irritation was directed at Tucker. How had she allowed herself to be persuaded that this was a logical course of action? “I have found it necessary to adopt humour in my dealings with humans.”
Once more he looked up at her. “A habit you will do well to suppress. Humour is an inefficient means of communication. It leads to ambiguity of meaning.”
“And your conclusion?”
“I have not yet reached one.”
One eyebrow quirked up. “I would have thought it a simple matter.”
With something that might have been annoyance, T’Pol realised that he did not expect her to refuse and that might have contributed to her hasty retreat, hands clasping behind her, as he held out his right hand, first two fingers extended. “We are not yet betrothed.”
It was his turn for annoyance, poorly masked in her opinion. “I had not thought you so traditional, T’Pol.”
She did not have time for an answer as someone rounded the corner far too fast and collided with her. “Whoops! Sorry.” She stepped away, glaring, and Tucker scowled back. “Don’t blame me! You were the one standing in the middle of a corridor.”
He continued onwards at a much slower pace and T’Pol turned back to Storan who was looking after the engineer with distaste. She didn’t blame him; Tucker had obviously been to the gym for he was dressed only in a sweat-soaked tee shirt and shorts and even with her nasal suppressor she could still smell him. “I will wish you good night, Storan.” He inclined his head and she left him, not surprised to find Tucker lurking a few metres down the corridor. She had known he would wait for her, no doubt to ask further impertinent questions. “You stink.”
“Yeah, sorry.” For once he didn’t take offence. “Showers are out in the gym. I’ll get someone on fixing them tomorrow. How’d it go?”
She didn’t really want to talk about it but she was sure Tucker would just keep pestering if she didn’t answer. “I followed your conversational gambits. Storan was unresponsive.”
“No kidding? I thought the guy never stopped talking.”
“Indeed. I attempted your ‘last resort’.”
He had caught her dry tone and was watching her with a faint grin, eyes dancing. “And?”
“I now know a great deal more than before about the difficulties of orchid growing.”
He chuckled appreciatively then sobered. “Perhaps he’s just shy.”
“I think not.” She was starting to believe that Storan was a boring prig, but that could never be repeated, particularly not to Tucker.
“What was with the finger thing?” He waggled his hand at her and she looked away. How had he seen that?
“It is … none of your business.”
He gave her a wicked look. “Kissing on a first date, huh? I didn’t think Storan had it in him.” T’Pol didn’t reply and he inspected his hand thoughtfully. “Is that really how Vulcans kiss?”
She could tell him again that it was nothing to do with him or just ignore him or deny it, but it had been a long day. “It is one way, yes.”
“Seems a bit boring.”
“It is considered a highly sensual experience.” Now why had she said that?
“Yeah?” He was looking wicked again. “I’ll have to give it a go one day.” He caught her look. “Don’t panic, sub-commander, I didn’t mean with you.” They had reached her cabin and Tucker turned to face her, expression serious. “Do you know what you’re going to do, T’Pol?”
He sighed. “You don’t like him, do you? So just tell him no.”
“It is not that simple.”
“Ought to be.” They were silent for a few moments then he grimaced. “I’ll see you in the morning.” Gently he touched her arm in what she recognised as a very human gesture of support, perhaps even of affection, and turned away. “’Night, T’Pol.”
“Good night, Commander Tucker,” and she retreated into her cabin for another long session of meditation on the wisdom of rejecting another marriage proposal.
T’Pol sat up in her narrow bunk, gasping, aware that her heart was racing and she was damp with sweat and … with something else; she could smell the evidence of her own arousal even without the wetness between her legs. Stiffly she clambered out of bed and crossed to collect the meditation lamp from the low table before seating herself cross-legged on the floor. It wasn’t the first time she had had the dream, but her level of annoyance ramped up each time it reoccurred. She didn’t like Tucker; he was an irritating, rude and thoughtless human with a puerile interest in the opposite sex and no control over his emotions. It was only her unruly body that insisted it was attracted to his and that could be mastered with discipline and meditation. She just hadn’t mastered it yet. Every time they went though decon together, however long she meditated afterwards, the dream came back even though they had never had to touch each other again. Her treacherous body evidently liked the sight of Tucker’s well-defined muscles, reminded of cool, firm hands stroking …
With a steady hand, T’Pol lit the lamp. He was a very unpleasant human colleague with whom she had to interact. She would master this ridiculous physical attraction and then she would no longer be able to remember how good it felt when he …
Meditate. She would focus and she would mediate for the remainder of the night and for as many nights after was were required to rid her of this notion that she could possibly be attracted to a human whom she did not like; not at all.
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