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Author - Sue | Genre - Fluff | Genre - Friendship | Genre - Season One Challenge | Rating - PG | S
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Season One Challenge Fic
Category: Friendship/Possible Romance
If this mission was going to succeed, forming solid friendships was certainly one of the keys.
Charles 'Trip' Tucker, III was hunkering down with a mouth-watering slice of pecan pie, fresh from one of Chef's utilitarian ovens. He looked the chunky wedge over admiringly before helping himself. Not exactly like his momma's. The woman was a cooking, baking wizard, second to none, but close enough, considering he was light years removed from his mom's "down home southern cookin'."
With fork in hand he was just about to dig in when he happened to look up just in time to see the Vulcan sub-commander step up to one of the beverage dispensers. The phrase, 'cold fish' flashed in his mind and he couldn't help but smile. Curious, he kept watching, wondering what she was selecting for herself.
She hated coffee. Hate...well, maybe that was a pretty strong word for the likes of her. Numerous times now, she'd made it clearer than rarified crystal to the captain and him that members of her species were emotion-repressors from way back. Trip couldn't say he thought much of her diet either. Small wonder why a mechanical pencil was fatter than she was; she barely ate. A sparrow would die of starvation. What she did manage to force between those... Well, the blue-eyed human had to admit, she had some very lovely lips in tandem with other attractive parts on her person that had practically left indelible impressions.
No, no argument there, none at all. She was hardly hard on the eyes, he freely admitted, despite her, 'Vulcans are superior to humans in every way' attitude. It didn't take much effort for Trip's thinking back to their less than routine decontaminating interlude in Decon. If his hands had stayed on her a moment longer, he would have had some serious explaining to do about a certain region of his anatomy bulging more than it had had a right to.
He recalled, that as pissed as he had been with her at the time, her innate sensuality had not fully registered. At most, it had been a passing thought. It certainly wasn't now. Too bad she was as off limits as a gal could be, coupled with her knack for making solid ice seem warm and toasty. Her inflexible attitude made for some memorable squabbles which they'd already had, to star date.
'Some piece of work, she is,' Trip thought, chuckling again as the identical bodily reaction she instigated began robbing him of his 'cool.' Squirming where he sat, he said in a low voice, "Whoa!" When had it become this hot in the mess hall, or was this destined to be his predictable reaction whenever this beautiful, cantankerous woman came into view? Aside from his wanting to strangle her more times than not, he wondered if she'd ever permit him to glimpse who she truly was behind her militant Vulcan armor.
Any hint of his smile vanished on the strength of that thought.
Although...he was also forced to admit it was sort of fun being at loggerheads with her; not seeing eye to eye had its points. Her deadpan face could give a cast-iron mask a run for its money, but, and he knew spirit when he saw it, there was fire in those lovely cocoa-brown eyes whenever he got her going. He'd also noticed how her little nostrils twitched as they slowly began flaring when he purposely said and did things he knew would get under her skin.
Like that first time, in the captain's ready room, meeting her initially. Porthos had clinched the whole thing after Tucker had made the crack about his having taken a shower. Trip had almost split a gut seeing the dog show her its way of getting acquainted. Hoo-boy how those pretty Vulcan peepers had flashed then.
'Stunners, out an' out stunners for eyes. I give her that.'
For a crazy second he thought about asking her to join him in the 'sweet spot' one of these days. Hanging out in zero-g had its own unique appeal, at least for him anyway. Trip blinked several times more and muttered the same word of caution he had moments ago. "Whoa, boy. Don't. Just don't. Doesn't she stomp on your pride enough as it is? If she thought you were even thinkin' 'bout makin' a play, she'd shoot ya down faster than greased lightnin'. She's Vulcan and don't ya forget it."
T'Pol, or as he was finding himself referring to her as lately, 'Little Miss Prim and Proper Prima Dona,' was holding a cup. Even at this distance he made out its contents was steaming. Grinning, Trip knew the feeling. She walked, or had she sashayed over to a food
Okay, he had nothing against vegetarians, he'd known some outstanding ones who did not feel the need to rub his nose in the fact that he liked his T-bones and spareribs on a regular basis medium rare.
The woman whose ears were tipped, however, made it plain every time she saw him sitting down to a healthy piece of meat at the captain's table how, to quote her, 'barbaric the consumption of animal flesh' was. And despite her claims that Vulcans had a tight grip on their emotions, he could swear she delighted telling him so every chance she got.
'Well, here's to ya, darlin',' Trip awarded, tipping his tall glass of milk in her general direction. He focused on his pie, clutching his fork in renewed earnest. He was just about to shear some off his piece when a stiff voice, mired in formality, addressed him.
"I have been unsuccessful trying to locate an unoccupied table. The mess hall is filled to near capacity. You appear to be alone, Commander." She seemed to struggle with the request. "Would you mind if I--"
"Help yourself, Sub-commander." He glanced from her to his barely-touched dessert and said anyway, "I was just finishin' up anyhow." He would wrap his pie and take it to Engineering. No sense letting one of his favorite taste treats go to waste just because 'Little Miss' so
T'Pol eyed him warily at first but her bearing suggested curiosity, and he felt obliged to whisk his milk mustache away with his tongue. "Better?" Did he really expect a response? Was it his imagination, or wasn't it? The high and mighty Vulcan seemed to be struggling again. Trip slowed his roll, wondering what she had on her mind.
"I was considering something and thought perhaps you might lend some insight. We could discuss it later if that is agreeable."
Trip did a double-take. ‘Insight? Me?’ He wasn't sure how to take her newfound humility, if, indeed, that's what it was. He eased back into the seat as T'Pol seated herself. "Shoot..." When she raised her eyebrow the way she always did, he was getting to know what it meant.
Before sipping from her cup she commented, "I am unarmed, Commander, and even if I were armed, why would I want to shoot you? You are a fellow officer, and a colleague. Unless there were just cause, such an action would be illogical."
'Priceless,' banged in Trip's head. 'I've got to record some of the stuff she comes out with, with that dead serious look on her face. They'd never believe it back home.' Then he couldn't help think, 'That's some face.' He gave her a nod, looking game. "Just another one of our colorful expressions, Sub..." His voice faded as he
"What is the human conception of, 'having fun?'"
"Why do ya ask?" Now this was a subject he could sink his teeth into.
"The captain asked me if I had ever visited the Grand Canyon or the Big Sur Aquarium."
"Let me guess. Your answer was, 'no' to both," Trip followed up knowingly.
"As I told him, sightseeing was not one of my assignments. He mentioned something that sounded much like all work and no play. He concluded by advocating that everybody should get out for a little fun now and then."
Trip felt the urge to wink at her, but his powers of repression were kicking in. All he said was, "And what did you say?"
"I informed the captain that the Vulcan Compound provided for our recreational needs. 'V'taar'lau'ti' is highly recommended."
"Oh, yeah?" Whatever mumbo-jumbo she'd just said was. "Highly recommended for what?"
"Expanding one's mind for heightened awareness during mediation."
'That figures,' Trip mulled over, sorry he'd asked. His eyes lit up as he recalled. "So that's why cap'n brought up your livin' at the Vulcan Compound when I came in for dinner."
"Did you actually live a relatively short distance from the Compound when you first joined Starfleet?"
There was something in her tone, frankly, it was her interest, unmistakably there, that made him fess up. "Not as close as I led ya to believe. I lived closer to Chinatown. I could've had a slew of different take-out every night of the week if I'd felt like it."
He saw she was giving what he'd said a good think. Not for the first time was he realizing just how fine she was. Her hair, though shorter than he normally liked most women wearing it that way, looked right on her. It shone as though it had been polished. Her forehead was high and regal. Her eyes, well he'd mentally extolled their virtues from far across the room. And her lips, her lips, Trip honed in on them, and sighed. They felt near enough to taste, like *that* was ever gonna happen, he rued.
Certainly, on a scale of one to ten, their resident lady Vulcan was a shoo-in for a ten point five. Amused, Trip knew how much T'Pol appreciated precise measurements; with her, it was always twenty point three this, or eleven point one that. 'Uh oh...' T'Pol had caught him staring a little too intently at her.
"Commander," she said with a marginal hitch that suggested affront in her voice. "Is there something wrong?"
Trip ground the tip of his tongue against the inside of his mouth. Really though, what did he have to feel guilty about, he figured, forcibly extracting himself from his innocent reverie. He could think what he wanted, when and where he wanted, about her and she'd never be
"Not a thing, Sub-commander." He gave her a patient look that easily became pointed. "So...you wanna know what we humans do to have a little fun." Though Trip had restated it, hers was a loaded question if ever there was one. Now, where to begin? ‘Begin with yourself,’ he advised. 'You'll be a great jumpin' off point.'
"Do you enjoy sightseeing, Commander?"
Enjoying what he had just witnessed was a start. Trip drank her in; her arresting eyes had actually widened with her asking. "Lots."
"You have seen the Grand Canyon?"
"Three times. Once, with my family when my sister and I were kids. Twice more on field trips with classes."
"And you have visited the Big Sur Aquarium?"
Tucker shook his head, giving her an apologetic pout. "Can't say I have. Guess I'll put it on my to do list once the mission's over." He did not see the harm in adding, "Maybe we could visit it together, uh, that is if you're not all tied-up in the Vulcan Compound." He
T'Pol behaved as though he had never extended the backhanded invitation, and taking another sip of, what Trip had supposed was a kind of tea, she remarked, "After this mission concludes, I intend to return to Vulcan." She left it at that. She looked at him as though she had made an evaluation and he'd come up short, way short.
'As usual,' Trip concluded. He assumed by her brusque tone that this iffy conversation was at an end. He took his cue, gathering it was time he clear out. He started to, making his move. "Well, it's been...uh, different. See ya later, maybe? If you're stuck for somethin' to do...couple of us are gettin' together in the auditorium. We're startin' up this thing called movie night. Bunch of us watch movies. Motion pictures..."
"Films," T'Pol stated flatly, as though, possibly, she was brooding about something.
"Yeah, that's it, like back home on Earth. Everyone's invited."
She put two and two together and came up with the germane answer. "Would this be considered fun?"
"Yeah, you bet ya."
"I will consider it."
Trip was pleased, but not overly confident. The dry, lifeless tone her voice lent was a far cry from being a ringing endorsement. "Okay, then. Hope to see ya there. So long--"
"What other pursuits do you consider fun, Commander?" Missing from her voice was her customary combative quality.
Trip found he was mellowing and his eyebrows zipped up and down several times. What game was she playing, if it could even be called that. He got the feeling she didn't want him to go, but she'd be damned if she would be straightforward about admitting it. "What else?" A part of him sued for his getting up and going through the mess' doors; another part was reluctant for him to part company. His reluctance won out. "Fun for me is just about anythin' makes me feel good. Snorkelin' is a big favorite. I love barbeques, surfin', power bladin', hikin', campin'...watchin' water polo with the cap'n. All under the headin’ of bein’ fun things to do. And there’s, uh...troubleshootin' the warp matrices, tinkerin' with the inner workin's so we'll streak even faster, break all kinds of records."
"That is your commission, is it not? You have the expressed responsibility to improve functional capabilities wherever possible to achieve optimum results."
"And I *like* doin' it. To me it's big fun. Fun with a capital 'F.'"
"I see," T'Pol practically murmured. "Commander..."
"Trip, why don't ya? It's my name, ya know, and it's not like we're on duty."
Her look wasn't quite patient since more condescension was involved. "Mister Tucker, the items you have specified. Are they the only entries you consider fun?"
Well, now since she'd asked, Trip thought of one he generally categorized as being reserved for once he had gotten to know someone of the opposite sex much better. Deftly, he substituted a less provocative choice. "I'd say what we're doin' now falls under the general headin' too. Ya know, if memory serves, this is the first time we've ever held a conversation for more than two minutes that has nothin' to do with the specifics of the mission. Kinda refreshin', don't ya think?"
"One of my reasons for deciding to remain aboard Enterprise is to examine human modalities and norms more closely."
Nodding, Trip offered by way of speculation, "Livin' in the Vulcan Compound didn't lend itself for doin' that much, huh?"
Instead of answering his rhetorical question, she looked at him that way. She brushed her fingers against her fork, picked it up and poked the tines into her crisp romaine. What did he expect her to say?
"This situation should give ya ample opportunity to study us to your heart's content," Trip jovially supplied, eager now to keep talk flowing. Maybe, just maybe, with just the right amount of gentle prodding, given enough time, he could get this enigmatic woman to open up. He wasn't sure why, but something that was fuzzy at best told him
T'Pol stopped chewing and eyed him closely. Once she had thoroughly chewed her food and swallowed, she returned, "What further stipulation do you have?"
"Which is?" she persisted, and had sounded a shade less patient.
"Makin' a new friend."
"Vulcans, as a rule, do not engage in the active acquisition of...acquaintances."
"Ya should give it a try sometime. It's a hell of a lot of fun, and speakin' of which. So how about it?" His eyebrows were at it again, animating the liveliness of his hopeful face.
"Mister Tucker, do you consider, I believe the human term is, 'guessing games' fun?"
"Only if I win." Trip's eyes were agleam since he sensed he had definitely gotten a rise out of her. "Show up for movie night. There'll be two features, the genre's horror, one of my favorite types of movies. The first one's real old, the second's considered a more modern classic."
"What are the titles of these films?"
"The first one's 'Frankenstein,'" Trip said proudly.
"I have heard of it," T'Pol countered. "What is the second?"
"'Fatal Attraction.'" Trip couldn't stop fidgeting in his seat; the chilling bathroom scene had his mind racing.
"I have heard of it as well."
"Have you seen 'em?"
"No, I have not."
"At what time will the presentation begin?"
T'Pol diverted her eyes from his intense scrutiny.
"Well, ya comin'?"
The Vulcan sensed his zeal, it bordered on burning, for her being in attendance. She wondered why it was of such critical importance she be present. Then, before the supposition surfaced in her own mind, the chief engineer beat her to the punch.
"Live a little, T'Pol. It'll be fun. Did I say watchin’ movies is fun before?"
(Ah...fun) she realized, the crux of the matter, after all.
Sagely, she replied, "Perhaps..."
"I'll save ya a seat," he warmly threw in. 'Right next to me,' he mentally anticipated, picturing it...Lon Chaney, Glenn Close, Michael Douglas...and T'Pol of Vulcan by his side.
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A whole mess of folks have made comments
Yippee! I'm first again! Really cute story. Sums up the possible interaction between Trip and T'Pol during their flegling friendship.
That was great! I'm really starting to get into the feel of this challenge! :)
I loved the fact that this felt so in character and what fun to revisit the early days of Trip and T'Pol's relationship. Well done, hope you write a sequel. Ali D :~)
Really terrific interactions... very in character. Thanks!
Gorgeous!! In LARGE letters!
I haven't had time to sit down and read in awhile......But it's fantastic, real goood season 1 T'Pol. :)
Sounds almost like it was in the show. Good story.
Nice interplay between the characters. T'Pol struggles with the concept of 'fun' like Seven of Nine did on Voyager. Not that the Borg and the Vulcans have much in common but... Very nicely done.