Solitary Confinement by Djinn

Personal Log: Stardate 4225.8

I'm finally here. This ship is everything I expected and more. It is spotless and I know it has to be the model of efficiency for the rest of the fleet. I love that when an order is given here there is no hesitation, no subtle pause to digest. The way the crew works makes sense. It lends order to the process. There is no wasted effort here. Sheer perfection. And that's a word I got in trouble for using at the Academy, and later during my first assignment. My peers considered me a pain in the butt. "She's a perfectionist. None of us can ever measure up." But is it unreasonable to expect that things run efficiently? Logically? That if you do something, it makes sense? I never thought so. And now that I'm here, I see that it really can be done.

I was honored to be chosen for this position. I'm the only human aboard this ship yet I already feel at home here after only a few hours. Maybe it's the atmosphere? I mean the emotional atmosphere. It's so calm, so serene. Like the whole crew has found zen. In all my meditation groups we never achieved this level of inner quiet. Such a nice change of pace from the hustling world that was Star Fleet Command.

I have to admit though it's a little hot onboard. The first thing I did when I finally had some time to relax in my quarters was turn the heat down to a more Earth-like norm. I also added a bit more oxygen to the filtering. At least they don't have the gravity turned all the way up to Vulcan norm or I'd really be in trouble. They keep it sort of midway between what I'm used to and their standard. My supervisor told me it was "logical to keep it lower as it allowed them extra strength and stamina, thus adding to the overall efficiency of the crew." He said that when they were scheduled for a return to Vulcan for any length of time they gradually turned the gravity back up to allow the crew to readjust. I'm glad we aren't due there any time soon.

I saw the Botany lab during my tour. It's amazing. Absolutely huge and with all the most advanced equipment. And the energy in the place. So many people working together for the same goal. I can't wait to start work.

Personal Log: Stardate 4235.8

I think I'm actually homesick. I seem to be comparing everything-the food, the crew, stupid little things--to what I knew before. I never thought I'd miss Earth.

I know I'm incredibly lucky to have been chosen for this assignment but I wish there were a few other humans to hang around with. I haven't exactly made any friends here. Not that I had that many back home. Or at least I didn't think I did. But I'm noticing now how much I miss the interaction. Maybe I didn't realize all the relationships that made up a normal day.

And the food. I thought I liked my food hot but this is inedible. I finally had to ask for the codes to download the non-Vulcan menu to the replicator. I know that they were probably just conserving space. But wouldn't it have been logical on their part to anticipate that I might not like their dishes? But I'm just the lone human. The needs of the many and all that.

I know I'm projecting. They warned me about this during the psych part of the orientation sessions. And they said it would start hitting around five days out. I made it to ten. Yay me.

So my crewmates are certainly typical Vulcans. It's all business and I like that. Really. Efficiency is good. But...I don't know. I guess every now and then I think of something funny to say and there's no one to say it to. Like in staff meeting the other day. I totally forgot myself and muttered something under my breath. Overlooked that whole acute hearing thing. I felt so stupid as our section chief paused for a moment then looked at me and asked, "Did you have something to add, Lieutenant?" I stammered something lame. He just looked at me. "Indeed," he replied then went back to what he was saying. It was so creepy. He totally dismissed me without changing his tone or moving a muscle on that stony face. Just not human. And yeah, I'm laughing at that statement. Of course he's not human, Tish. Isn't that the whole idea?

So I should think of a better example, something that isn't my fault. Some instance that I wasn't stupid. Like how there's no one to really talk to. I sit at meals and people are pleasant and ask me polite questions about my home and schooling. But we don't connect. We talk but I don't feel like we're communicating.

I know that I'm just feeling isolated. Loneliness is normal even for someone who spent as much time alone as I did. I'm sure it will get better soon.

Personal Log: Stardate 4250.3

God this environment is unpleasant. I don't think I've ever felt so physically uncomfortable. The ship would give a sauna a run for its credits. A dry sauna, there isn't an iota more humidity in the air than is required for the machines to run at peak. The dry heat is bad enough but then add in the thin air. Together they suck the life out of me and make me feel even more isolated. I spend my entire shift sweating and trying to catch my breath. I've completely abandoned the concept of makeup. What's the use? Nobody here notices one way or the other, and it slips off my face as soon as I put it on. And don't get me started on the gravity! Everything I try to do takes twice as much effort. And expending that energy is not fun when I'm having trouble breathing doing anything more strenuous than meditation.

So it's hotter than hell on this ship but inside I feel as if I'm freezing to death. I've never felt so alone. These people give a whole new meaning to cold. I haven't connected with anyone since I got here. They just keep their distance. I feel like they are always observing me. Judging me. Nobody ever exchanges small talk. What would be the logic in that? It is an inefficient use of time. I feel as if I can't approach anyone unless I have a work question or proposal.

All my life I've aspired to be like Vulcans. To embrace logic and reason. Now I want nothing more than to walk up to a group of them and scream at the top of my lungs. I know I'd never do that. But they seem to bring out all the worst traits of my humanity.

I miss so many things that I never thought I would. I miss loud music after a long work period and drinking beer with my shift mates. I miss flirting, and gossip, and sarcasm. I miss the sound of arguments and the gurgle of laughter.

I can't say I wasn't warned. My sponsor told me it would be hard. He'd spent some time on a Vulcan ship years ago. But he said that I fit the profile of people who excelled at adapting to this environment. He said I'd overcome any problems that would arise. I hope to god he was right.

Personal Log: Stardate 4254.3

Today I sat in my room and cried for what seemed like hours. I have to pull myself together. This is so unprofessional. And the worst part is that I don't want to walk back out of this room. I don't want to face them again. I don't want to wonder if they could feel this firestorm of emotion and if it made them uncomfortable. I know they'll be too polite to say anything. Courtesy is a given here. But will they look at me with more disapproval than I already feel?

Nothing really happened to set me off. Nothing here I mean. My shift was uneventful. My experiments are going well. I was fine, or my current version of that state, until I got back to my quarters. There was a comm from home waiting for me. The whole family had gathered for Laurie's birthday. They all took turns saying hello, catching me up. I was okay till Mom came on. I miss her so much. I miss them all so much.

Personal Log: Stardate 4260.6

T'Shel asked me to work on her alyrium cansidia project. I'm stunned. That plant is so delicate and I would have thought that she would consider me incapable of the precision needed to handle it. And she had her choice of just about anyone in the lab. I'm not really sure why she chose me. I'm excited though. I've always wanted to work with this type of plant. I never thought I'd get the chance.

She asked me to eat with her at the mid-shift break so we could discuss some strategy for germination. It's the first time I've really eaten *with* someone. It was nice. She was nice. I mean in a really non- emotional way. It's hard to explain, but for the first time in a long time I didn't feel like I was being judged. I felt like an equal.

She was curious why I didn't order Vulcan food. When I told her it was too hot she let me try hers. It reminded me of the food back home in Albuquerque. She told me she didn't like it so fiery either and offered to give me the codes for her favorite dishes. If they all taste like the one she had today, that will be great.

Personal Log: Stardate 4262.6

Our alyrium died. I couldn't believe it when we came in and it was just dead. Our strategy was a complete flop. I expected T'Shel to ask me to find another project. But she didn't. She asked me what I thought went wrong. We studied all our work and decided our ammonia to nitrite mix was off. So we are trying again with another one tomorrow.

The strangest part of it all was when I realized she was saddened by the death of the plant. Her expression was barely different than it had been the day before but somehow I was reading sadness from her. And I know I wasn't imagining it. She felt the loss even though her nature kept her from expressing it.

She invited me to come with her tonight to eat with some of her acquaintances from engineering. They are from the same town she grew up in and they get together to exchange news from home. I was surprised to be included. And nervous. But when I got there everyone was nice to me. They didn't grill me as I expected but allowed me to settle into their group as they caught each other up. I kept expecting to be bored but I wasn't.

And I could have sworn that one of the men was teasing me about my aversion to the very hot dishes. His face remained impassive but Sylar seemed to take an interest in me and in making me smile. At the end of the meal he asked if I would like a tour of engineering some day. I would have sworn he was interested in me except he must be bonded. Not that I didn't notice that he is very handsome. But I don't care. I am just happy to feel comfortable around someone here.

Personal Log: Stardate 4265.8

Success! The alyrium is germinating. We hit the mix right and now must nurse it to full growth. One of the stages will include the alyrco stage. I have always wanted to smell this short-lived bloom. It is said to be better than any earth flower, a mix of rose and frangipani, jasmine and iris. T'Shel said that it will appear in the next few weeks. She told me to be sure to analyze the essence so that when we are off duty she can show me how to make a perfume from the chemical signatures.

Personal Log: Stardate 4270

We are in orbit around Delta Thespax IX a class M world that Star Fleet is interested in using as a science base. The surrounding planets are inhabited but none have developed space flight so we will not be in contact with them. But we are free to roam Delta Thespax while the engineers and geologists determine the best site for the base.

This is a botanist's fantasy. I have only dreamed of such a profusion of plants in their natural state. The soil here is incredibly fertile and things appear to bloom easily. The smell is amazing too, perhaps to entice the little flitting insects that appear to be the main pollinator.

I am enjoying the respite on the planet because it has earthlike conditions. It is a relief to be able to walk and not feel heavy and winded. Sylar accompanied me on one of my walks. He was on a break from the site analysis and seemed to seek out my company. I find that I enjoy his company more than a little. I must remember to keep my emotions in check. This man has a wife back on his home world. He is only being nice to me.

But still, I love the sound of his voice. He tells me many stories of his home in ShiKahr. He grew up with other Vulcans who left for the stars. Also one who went to the Academy. I was surprised at this but Sylar explained that Spock was a blend of Vulcan and Human. I had not realized that was possible. I must admit it set my mind down paths it probably should not have traveled.

Personal Log: Stardate 4285.3

The alyrium bloomed today. I have never smelled anything so lovely. T'Shel too seemed lost in its essence and we noticed that crewmembers we never see down in Botany found a reason to come in today. The flower will be withered by this time tomorrow but for this one day it was perfection.

Sylar came in to smell it when I was analyzing the scent. I told him T'Shel was going to teach me to make perfume. I don't know if I can do justice to his reticent charm but he said something like "the smell would serve to enhance what were already most pleasant interactions." This man is dangerous. I find I like him. So much it scares me. When he asked me to eat with him after shift I made an excuse and declined.

Personal Log: Stardate 4293.4

Today was the celebration of Ni'Vakral'Tai. The time of the gentle winds, literally. The crew celebrated for two days. Not in the human tradition of raucous fun and drink. But in the Vulcan's gentle observance of a treasured time. We traveled from room to room on the ship to sample regional delicacies. T'Shel and Sylar were with me to steer me away from the dishes they knew I would not like. And there was music and entertainments. As I watched the faces of my crewmates I began to see the subtle shifts that marked the change of mood, the amusement, the sadness. And I felt welcomed and warm. Even the heat didn't seem to bother me as much.

I wore my perfume. It made me feel free and serene. Here I was appreciated for my brain, for my efficiency, for my initiative. But in the beauty of the scent I could also be appreciated for myself, the person that was made up of more than just brain. Every emotion I had was spilling up in me, yet I had never felt less inclined to show them, to let them rule me. Was this then serenity? I seemed to finally grasp the Vulcan way, the balance of emotions with logic.

Later though, when Sylar stood close to me and recited the ritual blessing of the winds, I did not feel calm. I felt altogether too human. But I know he was just being kind to me.

Personal Log: Stardate 4294.4

Sylar doesn't have a wife! Ok, I shouldn't be happy about this. It's tragic after all. I shouldn't be rejoicing that the woman he was married to died in an accident four years ago. And I'm not. But at the same time, I am far from unhappy that he is free. Because it means that all those things I thought I sensed from him, the signals, the interest, were really there. Not that he has done anything to dishonor her memory or his culture. He has been the picture of decorum. But when I look in his eyes, I see something there. Something buried. A fire. Banked yes. But there.

T'Shel was the one to tell me about his wife's death. T'Shel had known her all her life. Said it grieved her to lose a childhood companion, one for whom she had cared. I was surprised by this admission. But I was shocked when she told me that she felt she must tell me about this so that I understood how things were. She said that without this information I was perhaps not correctly assessing a certain situation. For a moment I thought I saw her eyes twinkle.

How could I ever have thought these people cold?

Personal Log: Stardate 4306.3

Yesterday, T'Shel and I were chosen to accompany Captain Satak and the landing party to the science exchange on the homeworld of the Gamma 7A star group. I was pleased to be included although I missed Sylar. I have grown accustomed to spending much of my free time with him and it seems strange not to have him near. If he heard this, he would tell me to quit being emotional. He has lately taken to teasing me gently about my nature. I don't mind the ribbing. He does it without malice and with much affection. He moves slowly, this Vulcan, but with the implacable assurance of a lava flow. It seems he is courting me in the steady way of his people. It is totally logical. And yet underneath I think he has started to burn as deeply for me as I increasingly do for him. I have never felt so comfortable with a man. It will take time to get to know one another. I like the careful pace, the unhurried feel of it. This will not be one of those relationships that one rushes into and then out of. This will be for keeps, forever. There is no reason to think this cannot last until one or both of us dies. And I am comfortable with that.

I am so glad that I came here. Aside from the unexpected emotional fulfillment, I am satisfied with so many things that are unfolding for me now. I have been given the chance to excel at my career, to enjoy the company of dedicated and brilliant scientists. And I am making friends, closer I think than those I knew on Earth. Sylar of course. And T'Shel. But also others that I have worked with during my time here. What I saw as coldness seems now to be a cautious reticence, a willingness to let things unfold in the manner and time that they are meant to. Nothing is forced here. I like that.

I have the best of both worlds. I am on the biggest adventure of my life exploring space and making a difference in the world around me. And I am surrounded by those who don't think it odd to occasionally seek solitude in order to nurture the inner being. I have found my true self on board this Vulcan ship. The Intrepid has indeed become my home and I never want to leave her. I am so lucky.

FIN