Time Zone Interludes - Carbon Creek

Author's Note: There was a wee bit of shippage in this one, but not enough! NOT ENOUGH, I TELL YOU! CURSE YOU, PARAMOUNT!
Oops... shouldn't say that or I'll be sued within an inch of my life.

That said: none of this is mine. Only the desire to see a pure, pure T/T world.

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T'Pol looked up as the buzzer on her door was activated. Quickly folding the small purse and sliding it back into the cupboard, she stood to face the door. "Enter," she called.

The door hissed open and Commander Tucker poked his head in. "Hi, T'Pol," he said hesitantly. "Ya busy?"

The Vulcan inclined her head. "No. Please come in, Commander."

Tucker stepped in and looked around him, then settled himself in a chair next to the desk. T'Pol watched him serenely, notingthe sweeping glance that he gave her quarters before looking at her. Crystal blue eyes met dusty brown, and neither seemed to want to move.

"So," Trip said after a moment's pause. Relieved to have the awkward moment broken, although careful not to show it, T'Pol sat on the edge of her bed and folded her hands. "May I help you, Commander?"

He waved away her formalities. "We're off duty, ya know, y'can call me Trip." Glancing around once more, he continued. "I was wonderin' whether or not that story ya told us really happened - me an' the cap'n were curious," he told her.

T'Pol raised an eyebrow. "You said yourself, it was a story."

"So it didn't happen?"

"It was a story."

"C'mon, T'Pol, you're not answerin' the question. You're just makin' it sound like it didn't happen. All I'm askin' for is a
yes or no answer."

"You can decide that for yourself."

Trip stood up, stretching and grimacing. "Guess I'll hafta sleep on it," he yawned. "'S'awfully frustratin', though. You Vulcans'r all the same - damn stubborn," he said, shaking his head.

As he turned to go, T'Pol spoke. "Do you believe Vulcans are all the same?"

Trip stopped. "What?"

T'Pol stood as he turned around with a puzzled expression. "You said Vulcans are all the same. Do you believe that?"

"Well, y'look kinda the same, but I mean... okay, that isn't what you meant. Y'all got pretty much the same attitude - but that probably isn't what you meant either." Trip sighed. "I dunno - I guess I kinda get the feelin' that you're different from other Vulcans, but I haven't known that many Vulcans, so I wouldn't take my word for it."

"You believe I'm different?" T'Pol's question was not posed as a challenge but as a query, something Trip was not used to hearing. He tried to articulate his thoughts, a task made more difficult by the fact that T'Pol was standing there in her pajamas staring at him. //Think happy thoughts,// he told himself desperately.

"I didn't think a Vulcan - any Vulcan - would stay a year on a human starship and not get himself killed, but you managed to fit in pretty well with most'a the crew. You made a lotta friends. You went outta your way to try human culture and you still stayed on Enterprise. I just think that's great."

T'Pol seemed to be thinking, looking at the ground, and Trip waited for her to come back to the conversation.

"It was not my intention to be a Vulcan on this mission, Commander," she said.

"Trip, remember," the engineer interrupted.

"Trip." T'Pol tried out the nickname. "It was not my intention to be a Vulcan. It was my intention to be a science officer. If you believe I have accomplished that goal in creating an image of being different from Vulcans, then I suppose I am. Most of my species do not choose a career guided by desires to explore and discover. I did - I wished to explore humanity."

"You wanted t'learn about us?" Trip was nearly speechless.

"It has been a - frustrating period. But it has been rewarding as well." She turned her large brown eyes on him. "I have discovered many things here and I do not wish to leave soon. Most Vulcans would see this as an opportunity to gather information for Vulcan culture. I see it an opportunity to gather information for myself. I am a scientist before I am a Vulcan."

Trip's jaw was permanently fixed to the carpet. "You don't care 'bout bein' a Vulcan?"

"I didn't say I was not a Vulcan. I said I was a scientist."

"Okay." Trip found it better not to argue at this point. "Well, I guess that does make you different."

Pausing at the door, he frowned. "You still haven't answered the question," he added.

T'Pol faced him directly. "Yes."

Trip stood for a second. "Okay," he said to himself, before thumbing the door panel and leaving.

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You know, I might actually expand on that, it seems weird to me. Meh. Hope you like.