Note : I assume here that Shran got on the Enterprise as an officer, like it was supposed to happens in the fifth season of the serie, if it was ever made.
I always want to write some Shrancher, but every time I try I can do something good, so I decided to take it easy this time and do something simple and sweet.
Also please agknowledge that english is not my first language, please be tolerant, I'm still learning, it's not an excuse, just an explanation.
Hope you enjoy
They're on Earth. The NX-01 Enterprise need some improvement, so they are here for at least a month. Every dignitary, ambassadors, admirals and generals took this momentary stop as a good opportunity for diplomatic meeting and discussions since Shran integrate the Enterprise a year ago as a special officer. It's a crucial example of how their species could work and function together. It's an experiment and it help collect data about how they could make work a Starship with a multi-species crew, Humans, Vulcan, Andorian, Denobulian and soon to be added in the NX-01 crew, a Tellarite. It's a good occasion to learn from each other and to reinforce the fragile building alliance.
After all this fuss around them, the crew finally got a few days off to relax and see the family and friends they left on Earth. But this, is for the rest of the crew, because Archer has other plans. He wants to show to Shran his planet, his world, his culture. If the Andorian is not enthusiastic about it, he is still interested, Archer doesn't ask for more.
Their already existing friendship had got stronger and deeper in the past year. They really started to know each other, beyond the personal information they shared with the other. They understood each other more than they could have the years before when they meet here and there. A comfortable familiarity between them was born, a complicity that Archer had with nobody else. It could have been a one similar to the one he has with T'Pol, but it was too different. Anyway, Archer found comfort and pleasure in the contact with Shran and he was always eager to strengthen the familiarity they shared. There was no other way to do that, but to pass time together, so he was particularly happy when Shran accepted to share a big part of his free time with him. Trip had told him he was far more too enthusiastic for this and that generally, on shore leave, you wanted everything except to see your colleagues, Archer didn't cared, he wanted to pass time with the Andorian.
« I'm not going to wear a hat. » Groaned Shran pushing away the object Archer was giving him.
« It's a cap, and come on, it will be better if our outfit matches for the camera, it's just a cap. »
Of course, when you were the first captain of a Starship on your planet and that you were hanging out with your alien friend and crewmate it was almost impossible to not be tracked by a reporter, no matter where you were going and no matter if you wanted privacy on your shore leave.
« You exagerate, they already got a lot of us, there will be no camera, maybe a photographer or two, that's all. »
« Well, yes there will be camera, it's a water-polo game with famous equip it will be retransmitted on TV. »
« Yes, so the camera won't be for us. »
« They will spot us anyway, even for a few seconds. »
« Everybody will see the blue guy. » He said, because he knew that new species were always an attraction.
« Excuse me, the Blue Bug ! » He said, it was Jon way to tease Shran, since he was the Pinkskin, Shran was the Blue Bug. The Andorian didn't contest it, he was smiling at it, each time, yes, Andorians were part insectoid, and he liked when Archer mentioned it, because most of the time people forget it. « Please, try it at least. » Archer continued in a beg.
« Fine. »
Archer took the cap, but seemed to hesitate to put it on Shran.
« Uh, your antennas.. Can you ? » Shran groaned in annoyance. « Just put them down, just you know.. uh.. crash them on your hair. »
Both antennas came lay down between the white soft hair. For Archer it almost looked like the way they retracted back when Shran was angry, but their position here was more relaxed and actually touching the skull, a thing that angry antennas didn't do. They moved, trying apparently to find a comfortable position. Shran nodded when he was satisfied so Archer could place the cap on his head.
« Don't. »
« What ? »
« Nothing, that's nothing. »
Then Archer percuted, he touched one antenna in the process and he knew how sensible Andorian antennas could be. He remembered how angry Shran had been when someone touched his antennas the first few days he came on the Enterprise. They learned afterward that it was extremely displaced to touch antennae and that it could be taken as a provocation for a combat and in some circumstances lead to a death battle. Nobody really tried again after that, but he had sometime, involuntary touched Shran antennas the past year and the Andorian seemed less jumpy with him, more tolerant. If he was anybody else he would have received a punch in the face.
« Nice. » Archer took his cap and put it. « Look, we are matching ! I find this great. » He said, enthusiastic. He grabbed Shran by the arm to push him in front of the mirror, where both of them weared a black cap with NX-01 on it.
« It's weird. »
« What ? Us ? »
Shran rolled his eyes, a too happy Archer always meant a more stupid Archer.
« No, the cap on my head, it's weird. »
« Give it time, you will get used to i.. »
Archer didn't finish his sentence and just exploded in a laugh. Shran's antennas just pushed the cap who fallen on the floor. Shran smiled to it, it was absurd. He took back the cap, letting Archer calm himself after his loudly outburst.
« Let's try again. » He said, placing the hat on his head.
« You're great with it. »
« If you say so. »
« Anyway we have to go, I don't want to be late for the match, the Red Raven against the Crashing Meteor, it's going to be something ! You'll see, a retranscription of a match is nothing against a real one. » They put their shoes on.
« If I remember, it's the Meteor who are your favorite. »
Archer turned to him with a 'How dare you' 'Can't believe you forgot' look on his face.
« Relax, I'm kidding, I know everything about the Red Raven, you talked about it so much. »
« Yeah.. ? » Archer asked still doubtfully.
« Do you want to me give you the name and position of each member of the RR ? Also the name of the captain's daugther who is a fan of space and of Starfleet ? Anna, and she's nine. Don't worry, I know everything, except the rule of this battle. »
« It's a game. »
« Yeah whatever. »
The antennae pushed again the cap out.
« I can't. » Shran said, looking sorry.
« Why not ? You just have to keep them on your hair. »
« It's too hard, I can't control them all the time. »
« Try harder. » He said simply, almost with a smug.
« They have an automatic behavior to emotions, instinct and environment. If I got distracted they go back to their life. »
« Try again, please. »
« Fine, but I guarantee nothing. »
It's on the way to the pool where the cap fallen again. Shran just laughed, it was absurd.
« Give it to me. » Shran gave Jonathan the cap. « Your hair. » He said whiles turning his gaze on Shran.
« What my hair ? »
« They got all tangled. »
« No kidding, my antennas kept moving under the hat. »
« Wait I will.. »
His hand just reached Shran's head, and this one just bends it to let Archer pass his finger on his hair to make them tidy again.
They were soft under his fingers, so soft. His nails scratched gently the skull to act like a combs. Jonathan always found great when Shran let him touch him. Not that the Andorian was as closed as T'Pol on the contrary, he was very tactile, but the head was something else, more intimate because of the antennas, but Shran trusted him enough to lower his guard and he felt honored.
« Here it's better. »
It felt too short.
« Thank you. »
Archer focused his attention on the cap and asked a pen to the taxi driver, who gave him one once they were stopped by the traffic. He didn't have a better idea and anyway nothing better under his hand, like scissors or a knife. Well, it would have to do the job. He turned to Shran again and spotted the place where it would be better to pierce holes. Once he has done that, he started working on the cap.
Shran didn't say a word, but his body relaxed and he placed himself in a position where he could see Archer better as he was struggling with the cap. He was smiling, a wonderful bright smile that didn't stop until Archer finished.
« It should be enough. » He said, giving back the cap.
« Give me a hand. » He asked.
Almost shyly Jon helped Shran, trying not to touch the antennas, but it was difficult when the whole point was making the antennae pass in the holes. So he touched the antennas, it was more like a light brushing, but he still touched them. They twitched a little at the contact and it felt weird, not in a bad way. It was strange to have caused this twitch, not that Shran's antennae never reacted to him, but it never was for a physical contact.
They finally made it, both antennae were now moving freely, well, almost freely.
« I have made the holes at the wrong place. » He said, looking disappointed.
« I have to say, you could have done a better job. » He said jokingly.
The holes forced a little the antennae to torn, it looked uncomfortable. For the next minutes the Andorian didn't stop to touch and replace the cap.
« It's pointless, take it off. »
« Why ? »
« Because it's not comfortable for you, nor to keep your antennas on your skull, nor not place them in the terrible holes I've made. It's ok if you take it off. »
« I won't. »
« Don't force yourself. »
« I don't. »
Archer found himself ridiculous to have made such a fuss around the cap.
« You're not going to wear it for a few hours. »
« I wear it ! You wanted me to wear it, I wear it, I'm not going to take it off. »
« You'll look ridiculous on the photo. »
« So ? »
« You don't have to wear it. »
They arrived. Shran stepped out of the taxi.
« Try to take it off my head and I will fight you. » He pushed the door and waited outside for Archer.
Jon reached his side, put a hand on his shoulder and they started walking to the enter. The captain smiled, yes the cap made the antennas in a strange position, but to be honest, it was because he was used to see them in another position. For anybody seeing an Andorian for the first time it wouldn't look weird or bad.
Someone of the staff shows them their place. Luckily, their popularity offered them some of the best seats to see the match. Archer would have felt a little bad to have this privilege few years ago, but his work in space wasn't easy and honestly right now he just enjoyed the whole thing.
« Who are the Red Raven ? » Asked Shran whiles watching the men prepares around the pool.
« The one with the yellow bathing cap. »
After a moment Archer continued.
« Thank you for accompany me here. »
« It's normal. »
« Normal ? »
« Yeah, to share the interest our friends have, even if I had still no idea of the rules of this battle. »
« Game ! »
« Whatever. »
« Don't exaggerate, you watched, like, five matches with me, you know some of the rules at least. »
« I think I mixed them, because it made no sense in my head. »
« Well, you'll, OH ! It's starting ! » He said in an enthusiastic voice.
In the excitation, his hand grabbed Shran's arm and squeezed it nervously. The match started and all Archer's attention focused on the match. The Andorian tried to follow the match, but when half the stade yelled in victory, because they had a point, and that Archer get up and yelled too, he knew he had still no idea how it worked.
« Yell with me next time. »
« I will if I know when I should yell. »
Archer explained the rules to him, but in a quick, chaotic manner. Shran still didn't get it.
He followed Archer the second time, but with delay and he didn't yell encouragement, disturbed by the wholes things.
« We're winning ? » He asked.
« Won't say that yet. But they seem in good forms, so it's good. »
« I should watch you instead of the match. »
« Wha.. What ? I beg your pardon ? » Archer turned his head to Shran, disturbed.
« It would be easier to understand the match if I see your reaction to it. »
« So you're going to stare at me ? »
« No, I can watch two place at the same time, it just needs some concentration. »
« That doesn't make sense, what do you mean ? »
« Why do you think we have eyes and antennas ? »
« Seriously ? »
« Well, it's not like seeing exactly, but somewhat close enough, it's hard to explain. »
« Oh, ok » Archer blushed, but quickly got back into the match.
The next time the Red Raven marked a point, they both get up at the same time, apparently the trick Shran used worked.
He yelled something like « destroy the meteor. » In a too warrior-like tone and Archer just found that so amusing and completely Shran-like.
The match finished.
« We won ! » Jon said with enthusiam. « Did you liked the game ? »
They walked in the street, trying to find a place where they could grab something to eat.
« I did, but I still don't get it. »
« What you still don't get ? The rules ? »
« No, all this competition thing, the way you do sport. »
« How you do your sport on Andoria, then ? »
« We don't have sport like you do, we train and we fight. »
« That's why you keep calling it a battle instead of a game. »
« Doesn't make much sense to me. » Archer smiled.
« I should take you play countless team sport, then you will understand. »
« Like what ? »
« Volley Ball, Basket Ball, American Football, I think you would like the last one. »
« Fine, I'm in, show me, but only if I figh.. play.. alongside with you. »
« Of course. »
They finally found something to eat, they opted for pizza. It was a goal for Archer to make Shran eat every kind of Earth food and the Andorian didn't have tried pizza yet, so. It was very amusing to hear Shran comments on new, for him, Earth food, he always had something to say and it always was pure gold. If he could, Jon would have stuffed Shran with all sorts of food just to hear his comments, wait no, it was weird, he pushed back the idea who spotted in his head.
It was also very funny to see how Shran eaten some food, not like he had a weird way to eat in general, but it was the food who made all the difference, like bitting a lemon as it was an apple. Fortunately Shran liked lemon. They continued to talk about the match and walked again in the town.
Archer stopped at a moment and put his hand on Shran chest to stop him too. Thy'lek looked at him.
« Wha.. »
« There's cap in this shop, let's go grab you another one. »
Shran insisted with the fact he didn't need a new cap but it was pointless against Jon. So he chooses a cap, a green, orange, purple one that nobody sane would have picked in the first place. They asked for scissors and the captain did a far better job to make holes this time. A brush on antennae later and they were walking outside again. The cap alone looked terrible but on the Andorian it looked wonderful.
They continued their date, wait, what ? It was a date ? Was it ? Is it a date if none of the people concerned know that it's actually a date ?