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A Logical- Part 2
Author - Shouldknowbetter
Fan Fiction Main Page | Stories sorted by title, author, genre, and rating
A Logical Proposal
Category: Open Topic
For once, Archer found his chief engineer in his office, drinking coffee and almost idly doing paperwork. “Don’t tell me you’re up to date?”
“Sure am.” Tucker looked up with a grin. “Only minor fault reports outstanding, no major complaints, weekly report all written, personnel records up to date …”
“Good. You can address this one, then.”
“Aw, hell, cap’n, its Friday night!”
“You got a heavy date planned?”
“As if.” Tucker flicked through the sensor mod.s he’d been handed. “When d’you want this?”
“Oh, I think I can give you until tomorrow.” Archer perched on the edge of the desk. “Trip, are you and T’Pol fighting again? You usually handle this sort of request between the two of you.”
“We’re not fighting. I’ve hardly seen her all week.”
“I don’t think anyone has. She hasn’t said an unnecessary word to me since Storan arrived.” Archer studied his friend suspiciously, noting the signs of unease. “Spill! What’s the problem?”
“It’s personal, cap’n. She’ll sort it out. Just something she’s gotta work through.”
“Well, if she’s talked to you about it, it’s more than she’s done with me.” Archer was frowning, torn between concern for his first officer and annoyance that T’Pol hadn’t turned to him. “Trip, will you have another word with her? I don’t think she’s looking well and she snapped Hoshi’s head off earlier today; poor kid was nearly in tears. I think T’Pol needs a friend.” Perhaps that was it, a friend rather than someone who would like to be more.
“It’s Friday night!” but Tucker’s protest was half-hearted. Archer knew he would find the Vulcan woman and badger her until she talked – Trip was good at that.
T’Pol went back to her self-appointed task in some irritation. She had not expected anyone to find her here – and by anyone she really meant Storan and Tucker. Now the latter was there and was that a very small part of her that was glad to see him? No, of course not.
“What are you doing?” he asked again and she sighed. Tucker could be very stubborn.
“There is a problem with the environmental controls.”
“No, there isn’t!” He had just finished checking outstanding work and that one would have been right at the top of the list. “Now just a …” He grabbed for the PADD at her side before she could retrieve it. “I thought so. There’s a minor problem with the humidity regulators on E-deck. Minor.” He scrolled through the information on the PADD. “What’s going on, T’Pol? There’s nothing urgent here and even if there was, there’s a team of engineers on board whose job it is to fix things.” She didn’t reply, just kept working. “You’re avoiding Storan, aren’t you?” Still no reply. “Aren’t you? Damn it, T’Pol, look at me when I’m talking to you!”
Slowly she closed the access panel and turned to face him, expressionless. “It is none of your business.”
“Yes, it is. You’re white as a sheet and the cap’n’s worried about you.” A small pain twisted inside T’Pol. So Archer had ordered Tucker to find her? That momentary pang was what she deserved for having been pleased to see him.
Deliberately he shifted to block the hatchway even more completely, crossing his arms. “Not until you talk to me.”
“I have nothing to say to you.”
“Fine. We can just sit here all night and not talk to each other.”
“You will leave as soon as you get hungry.” Wasn’t she supposed to be maintaining a dignified silence?
“I already got hungry looking for you.” His eyes narrowed. “I’ve not seen you in the mess hall all week. Have you been eating?”
“Vulcans are accustomed to fasting. It promotes constructive meditation.” Although fasting and carrying out double duty shifts was not recommended.
“Crap.” Surprisingly there was no venom behind the profanity. “You’ve been staying out of Storan’s way. He’s always hanging about there.”
Tucker was only half right. She had been avoiding him too and he was just as likely to be found in the mess hall as Storan.
“You’ve not been sleeping either, have you?”
“I have been meditating.” Whenever she tried to sleep, Tucker was there, touching her, making her shiver with desire. She blamed Storan for having forced her into a comparison of her physical response to the two men. “The effect is similar.”
“But not the same! You’ve let the guy tie you in knots, T’Pol!” Tucker was angry again. “He’s not worth it.”
“You do not understand.”
“I understand that you’ve not been eating or sleeping; and you’re starting to let it affect your work.” He saw her react to that as he had known she would, as he would have done. “If you don’t want the cap’n reporting you to Dr Phlox and him asking all sorts of personal questions then you’re gonna come eat with me; now.”
“Storan will be there.” She had not meant to say that but she really was very tired.
He gave her a long searching look then shifted to reach the nearest comm. outlet. “Tucker to Storan.”
“Lt. Storan here.”
“Are you busy, lieutenant?”
“I am just finishing dinner, then I was anticipating a discussion with Sub-Commander T’Pol.”
“Sorry, but I’m gonna have to change your plans. The cap’n wants some sensor modifications made asap. The spec.s are on my desk. Shouldn’t take you more than a couple of hours. Is that all right, Lieutenant Storan?”
It clearly wasn’t, but Storan was a Vulcan, well drilled in the importance of duty and Tucker was his superior officer – in name if not in thought. “Very well, commander. Storan out.”
Tucker flicked off the comm. and looked questioningly at T’Pol. “Feel safer now?”
“I exaggerated. Cap’n said tomorrow would do.” He nodded to the hatchway. “C’mon, T’Pol, I’m starving.” Still she didn’t move and he sighed, stepping a little closer. “You gotta eat and that means with me because I don’t trust you not to bunk off to your cabin as soon as I turn my back. And you need to think about something else for a change.” He gave her his widest, most annoying grin. “I promise to be as obnoxious as possible just to give you something to moan about.”
She was tired and the thought of company other than her own was welcome, even if it was Tucker’s. “How will I tell the difference from your normal behaviour?”
If anything, the grin widened. “Ah, darlin’, I haven’t even tried lately.”
“What did you call me?”
“You heard. Now get in that tube so I can watch your butt.”
He laughed and inserted himself into the hatch with the ease of long practice. “Told you!”
By the time they reached the mess hall, T’Pol was in a simmering temper, even if it was well masked. Tucker was right, he could be effortlessly rude and she had remembered exactly why she disliked him so much. She glared when he steered her away from the salad. “I want that.”
“Tough. You need protein.”
“You know nothing about my dietary needs.”
“I know two bits of lettuce aren’t enough if you’ve not eaten in a week. Have the pasta.”
“I suppose I will have to watch you consume large quantities of animal product.”
“Wrong.” He snagged another bowl of pasta. “I’m not having you throw up after all the trouble of getting you here.”
She subsided, annoyed that she couldn’t be annoyed, then stared at the mug of mint tea he placed beside her. “I do not want it.”
“Don’t drink it then.” He looked thoughtfully at her over the rim of his own glass. “You really are in a foul mood, aren’t you? I thought meditation was supposed to calm you down. Eat!”
T’Pol closed her eyes, seeking to centre herself, to find the calm point beyond the turmoil. She should not have allowed herself to be so intimidated that she stopped eating. Now it was an effort to start again and she knew she was becoming weaker and therefore less able to withstand the pressures of her violent, passionate, ever-denied heritage.
“T’Pol.” A cool, long-fingered hand covered one of hers. “Don’t think about it. Just eat.”
She looked briefly into a pair of surprisingly kind blue eyes and reached for her fork, withdrawing her hand from under Tucker’s. “Chef prepares a great many pasta dishes.”
“Everyone likes pasta.” She was aware that he was still watching her, no doubt to ensure that she really was eating. “You still get the best stuff in Italy though. I guess that was another place you never got to visit?”
“Starfleet’s got a place in Marseilles. We used to use weekend passes to cross over into Italy.”
“Of course for food! Not my fault Italian girls are real pretty and like blonds. That really used to annoy Jon.”
“Yeah. He used to be a real tearaway before he made captain.”
“I do not believe you.”
“Honest truth,” and he proceeded to tell her discreditable stories about their captain. She was fairly sure that he had switched the names around.
“Dunno.” He looked up with a smile. “What’s playing?”
“Star Wars Part IV.” She grimaced. “There are too many men on this ship. All we get are action films.”
“Don’t think so. I never could figure out how those light sabre things worked.” He looked over at T’Pol. “Unless you want to go, sub-commander? You’d like it, it’s got aliens in it.”
“All human films contain aliens.”
He grinned at the correction. “Aliens to us.”
She looked suspiciously back. “When was it made?”
“Late 20th century.”
“Humans,” she said in disgust. “Humans in anatomically implausible costumes.”
“They’re meant to be aliens. It would give you an insight into how Earth thought about aliens in that period.”
“It would not.”
“Would too.” He leant closer. “Or d’you go for the theory that first contact occurred years before Zephram Cochrane and the 20th century entertainment industry was being run under alien direction?”
“You are being ridiculous.”
“Yeah, but it was a theory. So was …”
Hoshi shook her head and left. Tucker was obviously just bored and playing his favourite game of winding up the resident Vulcan. But it was a shame he hadn’t wanted to see the film. She was missing Malcolm’s gloomy company and Tucker was great fun when he was in a good mood. Mayweather it would have to be, then.
T’Pol made a neat stack of the dirty dishes while Tucker rambled on about another preposterous ‘abducted by aliens’ theory and admitted that she felt better for the meal. Perhaps her meditation would be more productive for the calorific intake although at the moment she felt uncomfortable full. She picked up the tray. “Goodnight, commander.”
“Not so fast.” He took the tray from her and deposited it with the rest, following her into the corridor. “And not that way.”
“That is the route to my quarters.”
“You can’t go to bed yet, not straight after stuffing yourself like that.”
“You forced me to consume too much.”
“If you go back to your cabin now, what will you do?” He forced her to face him. “Honestly, T’Pol!”
“Exactly. You need a break.”
“Vulcans must meditate every day.”
“Fine. You can do it later. But first you need to stop thinking about Storan for a while. Did you think about him over dinner?”
“And do you feel better for it?”
He was very annoying and in this case correct. “Yes.”
“So let’s go find something else to do for a while.”
“I do not wish to impose on your free time.”
Tucker gave the woman a searching look, although she would not meet his eyes. She looked rather more healthy for the meal but underneath the composure he was almost certain that she was miserable and he didn’t like people he was fond of to be miserable. “You’re not. C’mon.” And when, he wondered, had a Vulcan he despised and disliked turned into a friend? That was a much too difficult question for a Friday night.
T’Pol halted abruptly at the entrance to Enterprise’s recreation room. “This place serves no useful purpose.”
“Yes, it does. It’s for having fun in.” Tucker continued before she could protest, “Yeah, I know, Vulcans don’t have fun. So don’t you think that this is the best place to hide out from Storan?”
“There is a certain … perverted … logic to your argument.”
“Sure there is. I’m gonna play pool. Want to join in?”
T’Pol found the hour she spent sitting in a corner watching Tucker drink beer, play pool and laugh surprisingly peaceful. She was still tired and for once in her life inactivity had some appeal. She didn’t quite achieve a meditative state but she was able to suspend her thought processes for quite some time. It was only towards the end of the hour that she realised she had spent of the time glazing idly at a man she found physically attractive and that her body had taken advantage of her abstraction. It was throbbing gently but insistently, suggesting that really it would quite like to held tightly against that long lean body and perhaps stroked a little at the same time. T’Pol looked away quickly, almost gasping as the wave of desire hit her. She was a fool who was old enough to know better. Her mother, her teachers had all warned her about this as they did every Vulcan woman as she hit puberty – control your urges or they will control you. Vulcan men had to be locked away into the safety of marriage or risk death in pon farr, but so too did women. The marriage bond helped control the primitive desire to mate, as did motherhood. But T’Pol had rejected Kos and now she was suffering the consequences in the form of the fierce attraction she felt towards Tucker. No, not towards him but towards the body he inhabited. It could be controlled, had to be controlled, or she would lose every shred of self-respect. She didn’t even like him. Almost fiercely, she turned her attention to Storan. Perhaps it was the answer. Perhaps the fragile link that would only be cemented when they mated would be enough to control her lust. Perhaps … she would learn to appreciate orchids.
“Penny for ‘em?”
She looked up into Tucker’s enquiring gaze as he seated himself at the small table she had chosen. At least he was on the other side. “I beg your pardon?”
“It’s a saying. ‘Penny for your thoughts’. What were you thinking about?”
“I thought I told you to take a break from that!”
Since the alternative had been to think lustful thoughts about him, she hardly thought the complaint was justified. “I must come to a decision.”
“Why’s that so difficult, T’Pol?” He sounded genuinely confused, not trying to provoke her. “You don’t like the guy. He’s boring, humourless, no where near as intelligent as you and so full of his own opinion it makes me sick.” He read her surprise – too easily. “While you’ve been avoiding him, I’ve had the pleasure of his company too often this week.”
She regretted Tucker’s all too accurate summary of Storan, an opinion that coincided with hers. It made it more difficult to explain, but perhaps explaining to someone else would clarify her own thoughts. “Vulcan women must marry. As you know, I have already rejected one mate. Storan has my parents backing. If I reject him too, I do not know if they will continue to acknowledge me.”
“That’s harsh,” he said softly and she shrugged very slightly.
“It is traditional.”
“So you need Storan to reject you.”
“Yes.” She had not thought of that, perhaps because he had been so persistent. “But if not him …”
“That’s crap! There must be dozens of guys better suited.” Then a thought occurred to Tucker. “But you don’t get the chance to meet anyone suitable on Enterprise, do you?”
“Same for all of us,” he muttered, frowning. “So … how do we put Storan off you?” It was clearly a rhetorical question. “You’d think keeping the guy stringing along for a week would have told him something.” He grinned suddenly. “Have you let him kiss you yet?”
“Maybe you should. He might not like it. Or maybe he won’t want you if he thinks you’re coming on to him.”
She was not familiar with the term but the amusement in Tucker’s eyes made the meaning clear. “Has that ever dissuaded you from pursuing a relationship, Commander Tucker?”
“Hell, no, but I’ve never been a guy looking for a nice biddable girl to stay home and raise the kids.” He was teasing her but then she had been doing the same. Then he sobered, eyes a little sad as he studied her. “I keep remembering something my mom used to say whenever I brought home another unsuitable girl and then dumped her the next week. ‘Happiness is momentary. Contentment lasts a lifetime.’ I never really knew what she was getting at back then, but now … You need to be sure you’ll be content, T’Pol, whatever you chose to do.” She struggled to breathe evenly, moved by the unexpected sympathy and he grimaced. “I haven’t helped, have I?”
“No.” Except to demonstrate that, on occasion, Trip Tucker could be very likeable; too likeable.
“Want me to go back to being obnoxious, then?”
If T’Pol had not been Vulcan, she would have smiled. “Perhaps that would be as well.”
He gave her an extraordinarily sweet smile that made her ache a little then it dissolved into a Tucker-normal smirk. “Did you watch me play pool?”
She thought carefully about the answer. “I observed the game.”
“What d’you think?”
“It is a pointless and primitive application of Euclidian geometry and Newtonian forces.”
“Primitive, huh?” He glanced over his shoulder and before she could anticipate his intentions had bounced to his feet, grabbing her wrist to pull her with him.
“Let’s just see how superior Vulcan reflexes play pool shall we?” He snatched a cue from the table, levelling it for her, the other hand on her waist. “You hold it …”
T’Pol grabbed it from him, stepping out of his partial embrace. “I was watching, Mr Tucker.”
“See, I knew you couldn’t resist … Hey!” She had swung the cue around at groin height.
“Do you wish to break?”
“Are you sure you’ve never played?”
He grinned and slid around her to the top of the table, brushing against her. T’Pol had to make an effort to glare at him for the quite unnecessary physical contact. “Want to make it interesting?”
“I do not understand your meaning.”
“A bet. A wager.”
“Star Fleet regulations prohibit gambling on board ship.”
“For gain. Not for anything else.” His eyes met hers. “If I win, you have to call me Trip.”
“It is a stupid name.”
“What’s wrong with that?”
“Vulcans do not address anyone except family and close friends in an informal manner.”
He rolled his eyes at her and broke, muttering when nothing fell and handing her the cue. “Want some advice?”
“No.” She made some basic calculations, lined up a shot and missed, staring at the outcome as she re-ran her maths. It was not logical.
Tucker retrieved the cue, breath caressing her ear. “Should have taken the advice.”
She had drawn the only possible conclusion. “The table is not level.”
“That’s right.” He lined up a shot, sinking the ball squarely. “Pulls left to right.” He made another couple of pockets then missed. “Damn! Want some advice this time?”
“No.” She had adjusted her calculations; and still missed.
“Not bending over enough,” he told her. “You need to get your right eye in line with the cue. If you’ll just let me …”
This time she avoided him. “If you attempt to touch me again, Commander Tucker, I will …” Then she had to break off as a suitable threat failed to materialise. She was Vulcan, she did not resort to violence.
He chuckled and went to finish potting the balls.
Watching from the doorway, Archer wondered if he was hallucinating or whether he had just walked into another dimension. Had he really seen Trip flirting with Enterprise’s first officer? And more unbelievable yet, had she almost responded? Never mind the fact that they were together at all. He waited for Tucker to sink the nine ball then went over to find the pair arguing, although it still sounded a lot like courtship to him.
“So now you have to call me Trip.”
“I did not agree to the wager.”
“Or Charles. Charles is a nice name.”
“Give you best of three?”
“I do not …” T’Pol broke off as she saw Archer; he was sure that her expression cooled to near absolute zero.
“Hey, cap’n.” Tucker showed no such inhibition. “Want a game?”
“Not this time.” Archer was making an effort to play it cool. “Would you care to explain, Commander Tucker, why I’ve got a pissed tactical officer complaining about erroneous orders?”
“Oh.” The engineer glanced at the woman at his side. “When?”
“About five minutes ago.”
“Took him that long, huh?”
“Care to explain, Trip?”
“I asked him to implement those sensor mod.s you wanted.”
“The requirements were wrong. He’s probably been going round in circles.”
“I wrote the requirements.” T’Pol was frowning slightly.
“Yeah, but you wrote them around the assumption that the calibration factors were to Vulcan standard. Enterprise’s systems use Earth standard. I … um … forgot to mention the anomaly to Storan.”
“So,” Archer said slowly, “you purposely set a junior officer a flawed task then came down here to enjoy yourself?”
“Sort of.” Tucker glanced sideways at T’Pol again, but her expression was unreadable. “Trust me, cap’n, he deserved it.”
“I will correct the problem.” T’Pol started towards the door, but Archer held out a restraining hand, noting that she drew back to avoid contact with him.
“Ay, sir.” Archer’s evening took another turn for the worse as he noted the reassuring look Tucker turned on T’Pol as he passed her and the way her eyes briefly followed the engineer before turning back to him.
“If you’ll excuse me, captain?”
“Of course, Sub-Commander.” And that served him right for failing to notice that his best friend appeared to be trying to cut him out. Not that Trip knew about that, of course, but when the hell had T’Pol and Tucker stopped fighting and started acting like … whatever they were acting like? Not when Archer had been around, that was for sure. And he’d make damn certain that in future they never had time to meet except when there were plenty of other people around.
“Not this time.” Archer gestured towards the science station. “T’Pol’s found something you might want to play with.”
“Deuterium?” The engineer turned towards her with a pleased grin. “Tell me you’ve found a source of deuterium.”
“Sensors have detected a possible source,” she admitted coolly. “However, it will certainly require extraction and purification, even before you run the proper tests to ensure that its use will not endanger Enterprise.”
“So are we going to go prospecting?”
“That’s the plan,” Archer confirmed. “Go power up a shuttle pod, Trip, and pick out a couple of people to go with you.”
He headed for the bridge doors and T’Pol suggested hurriedly, “I believe that I should accompany the mining team, captain. They are likely to require further analysis of samples on the surface.” Anything to get away from Storan for a few hours.
Archer frowned; this was exactly the sort of circumstance he had planned on avoiding, even if there had been no further sign that T’Pol and Tucker were anything other than professional associates.
He swung round. “Yes, Storan?”
“I believe it would be a wise precaution to include myself in the away team. It is never certain that a security situation will not arise.”
“Sensors indicate that the highest form of life on the planet are microbes,” T’Pol said pointedly. “I do not anticipate that they will cause a security risk.”
“All eventualities cannot be anticipated. However adequate planning can reduce the risk. During one mission to …”
“Thank you, Storan.” Archer had also learnt that the Vulcan tactical officer could lecture for hours. “You’ve convinced me. Even Trip can’t get into trouble with two Vulcans along.” And flirting should be impossible.
“The planet’s surface is 95% water,” T’Pol translated before Storan could simply read off the numbers again. “The remaining 5% is only marginally above sea level. Deuterium is found in solution in shallow pools on the ‘high’ ground. Surface wind speeds vary from 40 to 200 km/hour.”
“That’s not good. The pod can’t operate much above 100 km/hour.”
“Affirmative. Lt. Storan, locate an area of low wind speed.”
It took him a few minutes before he fed her the coordinates and even then it was qualified. “Current wind speeds are in the order of 55km/hour but are subject to rapid change.”
“How rapid?” Tucker asked anxiously and winced at the answer.
“I estimate that they could increase to 95% of maximum within a 30 minute time period.”
“Can you rig an automated detector to warn us?”
“I will endeavour to do so.”
The shuttle pod dropped lower and they could all feel the buffeting even through the isolation provided by the inertial dampers. “Wish I’d stayed home,” Tucker mumbled to himself, then swore. “Shit! T’Pol, take us up. The …”
The howl of over-stressed metal drowned him out as the shuttle pod veered alarmingly then heeled back as T’Pol fought the wild movement. “Commander!”
“Starboard thrusters failed,” he yelled back. “I’m re-initialising. Try to fix her attitude at 45 degrees.” There were another few moments of the wild ride then he nodded. “OK, they’re back on line. Feeding power in now. Got it?”
“Confirmed.” Slowly the shuttle pod righted itself. “We have overshot the landing site. I will bring us round again.”
The landing wasn’t the smoothest in Shuttle Pod 1’s history but they were all relieved to be down. Or at least Tucker was. The two Vulcans, of course, showed no feelings one way or the other.
“What caused the failure?” T’Pol had come to peer over Tucker’s shoulder at the diagnostic information.
“No idea.” He ran another set of tests through the now working thrusters. “Nice flying there, by the way.” He turned to smile up at her and noticed she was absently rubbing her wrist. “Hurt yourself?”
For a second she allowed the gentle exploration then drew back. “It is of no consequence. If you will remain here, commander, and attempt to isolate the failure, Lt. Storan and I will locate a deuterium sample.”
“OK.” He followed them to the exit. “You rigged that warning device, Storan?”
“Fine.” The hatch opened and they all stepped back from the icy blast that carried a fine spray of moisture with it. “Watch yourselves out there. It looks pretty nasty.” As far as the eye could see – which wasn’t actually very far in the misty conditions – there was nothing but low banks of glistening mud and the deeper shine of water between.
“There is no cause for concern. Proper attention to one’s footing and an excellent sense of balance …” Tucker thrust a container at Storan and winked at T’Pol as she led the way down the ramp, hefting another container. She didn’t respond. In fact, she had gone back to ignoring him the last couple of day. Who would ever understand Vulcans?
“T’Pol here.” She sounded breathless, making Tucker very glad he was in the shelter of the pod.
“The wind’s rising. Get back here.”
“Acknowledged. We are returning now. We will rendezvous with you in fifteen minutes. T’Pol out.”
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