A.N: Urgh, all I can say is that college is a lot more work than I ever thought it would be. I promise I will do my absolute best to be more vigilant with the updates from now on and keep myself motivated when writing future chapters and what will be to come in this fun little AU.
Chapter Two – 'My Name Is T'Pol'
T'Pol was not one to consider consequences, at least not when it suited her and her logic best to ignore them. Nonetheless, she was well aware of the possible consequences of just now: To put it bluntly, she knew she would be sent to the brig for defiance, and without much reconsideration about it. Most likely she would then be relieved of duty until the Captain was finally able to reason with her thinking, which she figured if he were to be rational about it would not take too long. However, it was doubtful he would be rational.
The most tragic thing was that her thinking was so painfully simple in logic this time that even a human should be able to sympathise with it. Drawing on past experiences, it was wholly unlikely that Silik would want to just simply 'talk' to the Captain about whatever his business was this time and then leave it at that. And even if he wanted nothing more than to 'talk' to the Captain, she was sure it would not be in the traditional sense of a conversation, or even interrogation.
The memories of less than two months ago came back at her faster than she had time to block them. She did not react, not outwardly, not so Lieutenant Reed could see, but she remembered with clear distaste, and a mental shiver.
They had been standing at the doors that led to the main corridor of the alien ship from the shuttle bay, where Trip had decided to deposit them, for perhaps close to ten minutes now. And although it was not in Malcolm's professional nature to question his superiors, choosing trust over doubt, he knew when was okay to prompt.
"My apologies Lieutenant." T'Pol quickly consulted with her scanner and looked for a moment before decrypting the code for passage into the main corridor and typing it in. With a gentle swoosh they were on their way, and T'Pol pushed aside the inevitable thoughts of brigs and suspensions for the time being.
Orders and directions were given in hand gestures and nods from there on in, not a sound made by the couple save their hushed footsteps as they twisted and turned through the helix as if they were old hands at sneaking around inside the Suliban's prided domain. Of course the constant stream of data fed into T'Pol's scanner by Commander Tucker did help, but T'Pol's last memories of entering the helix were not so worn that she didn't recognise turns and landmarks every so often.
It was in locking sights onto one of these landmarks that she suddenly froze, Malcolm within inches of cascading into her backside as she threw herself to a dead halt.
"What is it?" he whispered almost inaudibly.
She took a moment to be sure of herself before she turned back to her partner.
"Behind that door can be only one of two things."
He looked on with her, seeing nothing of interest himself but instead just another branch-off from the main corridor, a short alcove with a heavy-duty door at the end of it. No numbers or markings, a worn, dirty red paint job and a dusty-looking, automated lock invited no interest to his imagination. Only the piercing watchfulness of the Sub Commander's unblinking gaze told him there might be something more to it.
"And what are the two possibilities?"
She took a brief look around, ears open for the sound of lurking Suliban, but as of yet it seemed the enigmatic crew of the helix were oblivious to their new guests' uninvited appearances.
"Either it is their central control room where the Captain claims Silik and his men receive their orders from the future, or it is a room used for… interrogation purposes."
The brief pause in her voice did not go unnoticed, and she knew it. A silence held between them before Malcolm took a cautious step forward.
"Has Commander Tucker still not been able to locate exactly where on the helix the Captain is?"
T'Pol rose her scanner to eye level, looking almost disappointed Malcolm thought, as she looked on again. "No."
"Then in there seems as good a place to start looking as any."
The Vulcan had to admit to herself, and on a few occasions now, that Lieutenant Reed's logic was almost on a par with her own at times. She appreciated his suggestion and took a small step forward to match his own. He immediately held his phase pistol raised in steady hands, hands with reflexes which were terrifying to watch in combat.
They had both traipsed onto the same trail of thought now –the helix was too quiet. No glitches on the scanner detecting an approach of the enemy, or camouflaged soldiers above and around them. Nothing from Trip to say they were in danger of unwelcome company heading their way. And there had been no welcome party. The Suliban had the technology to be able to detect them mid-transport on their way from Enterprise. They must have known they were on board by now. Together Malcolm and T'Pol felt the hinges of the Suliban's trap creaking as they faced the door's lock together.
"Workable?" he asked.
She looked briefly back at him and nodded. Within a minute of typing and translating the elusive red door was open.
T'Pol had been right the first time, about what the room was as she had suggested it could be one of two things. Instinct had won as well, as the two officer's found themselves in front of exactly what they had been looking for.
He stood solo at the other end of the room, still armed and as physically intact as he had been before he had left, when he had stood in his ready room with T'Pol and Trip debating his safety and the logic of this mission with the best of them. He hadn't looked lost and angry, however, or frustrated at his loneliness until now. T'Pol holstered her scanner onto her utility belt as she walked around a roof tall, waist wide, white cylinder in the middle of the room to reach him, Malcolm at her heel.
The anger liquefied with the heat in his scorching hazel gaze as he watched their every step as they fearlessly approached him.
"The only way you're getting out of this one Sub Commander, is if that's you in disguise Silik."
"Sir, you're alright."
"T'Pol, you're in big trouble."
She looked on calmly. "A First Officer's job is to protect his or her Captain, whether the said Captain be in immediate danger or suspected. I was merely abiding by Starfleet regulation."
Perhaps best for the Lieutenant's own health, both the Captain and T'Pol missed his subdued smirk as he loitered behind the Sub Commander, watching her compensate for lack of height against their generously tall Captain by holding a steady gaze and even tone as she presented her perfectly legible statement.
"Sir, she does—"
Shots suddenly cracked through the air as lashings of furious, green light skirted mere millimetres over their heads, the heat turning their scalps a shade of bright pink. The trio fell into action immediately, pivoting sharply on their heels. Malcolm was the first to face the source of the sudden onslaught; three fury-shaken Suliban, cut and bruised around the eyes, unleashed their second volley of shots. Their aims were as close, but also as harmless, as the first time and quickly their targets became moving ones, springing into action around the room, Archer and Malcolm taking one side and T'Pol ducking off to the other.
The wilful Enterprise crew shot back – the red from their own phase pistols clashing in the middle of the room with the enemy's green ammo as a shoot-out erupted.
"Silik will have your officers for this, Captain! You were insane and foolish to bring them with you."
Archer chose against returning banter with banter, instead returning the shrill threat with a well-aimed shot from his phase pistol. It connected clean with one soldier's shoulder. They brought the opposing team down to two.
The couple became foolishly audacious as their companion fell in a bundle of searing pain, no sympathy spared as they scrambled over him and split to cover the entire room. T'Pol moved away from the wall as she sized her competitor, none too threatened in truth by his lanky frame, and scarred face and missing index finger on his left hand – even as it clutched a pistol that was raised as he came at her in a sprint.
She shot before he had a chance to pick a body part to aim for, releasing a bolt that only sliced the skin of his forearm, not intending to grievously hurt him if he could be persuaded to back down first. No such luck.
Archer and Reed made the assumption that T'Pol could handle things herself, and so poured their full focus onto their own adversary.
Their opponent was a polar opposite to his mate; he ate his meals, stocked up on his iron and had all his fingers. He growled with red, watery eyes and bared yellow teeth as he sniffed the air around the duo with distaste.
Appearing the natural show-off he dropped his gun and opted instead to take a heavy fisted swing for Malcolm which, due to surprising speed for such a bulky arm, made sure it connected with the officer's chin in mere fractions of a second. He went down before he even had an honest chance.
There was a yelp and a clattering at the other end of the room, distracting the bulky mass of Suliban long enough that Archer was able to throw his elbow and all his weight into the bulky soldier's stomach. He was surprised it made such an impact, standing back quickly to watch the Suliban double over, winded in pain and cursing – Archer assumed – in his native tongue.
The Captain took this opportunity to look over at the noise that had given him the upper hand for just that moment. T'Pol was unarmed and sparring fist to fist with her component now. The yelp had been her own, as he had taken the butt of his pistol and struck her across the side of her head with it, causing a small running cut over her left eyebrow which spat out little droplets of dark green blood.
Archer swooped down and gave Malcolm a hearty pat on the back. The officer replied in his reliable manner, pulling himself up immediately and delivering a swift kick to the shins of the complaining, crippled Suliban. He folded down to his knees, the two men watching the pathetic display for a moment before they gripped their pistols fresh again and took off to aid their fellow officer.
The Suliban runt pulsated with a sudden surge of strength and, grabbing T'Pol by the front of her uniform, threw her into the one standing object that was in the room – the shimmering white cylinder placed in it dead centre. There was a horrific smashing of glass as she was taken off guard and tossed roughly to the side, unable to do any more than brace herself for impact. Impact came in the form of a rush of heat, a monsoon of bright white light, and then, as quickly as the glass had been torn apart with her shoulders, she was gone.
Somewhere Far Away…
The morning after came with sunshine gently poking its way through the gaps in the curtains of the apartment as it rose slowly in the sky. The outside bustled with life already, the streets and roads filled with straight-faced commuters as they shuffled forward into the work place, mostly grudgingly. A few birds sung into the breeze and some content cats purred long apartment windowsills, but mostly the city outside belonged to the man-built environment and its particular emotions; grey, cool and dull.
He had never been much of a morning person. Not in the typical grumpy way that many people were, but more in the naturally lazy way that most people were. However this morning, the changes that had occurred last night within his humble home forced him awake at almost precisely seven.
Barking filled the tiny apartment, the insane noise cutting right through Jonathan's sweet, warm dreams. He found himself staring suddenly at the early morning sun that seeped through his drapes, almost falling out of bed onto the hard wooden floor below as he did.
At first he moaned with confusion, clumsy fingers rubbing at his bleary eyes as he tried to focus. Then, suddenly, he was on his feet as memories came flooding back from last night. He flung the bedroom door open just as he grabbed his night robe.
Somewhat of a mess greeted him outside. In the main room, which happened to be the living room, dining room and kitchen all rolled into one, a heap of blankets had been left lying haphazardly across the red carpet floor in the living room at the foot of a long cream sofa where a stack of crumpled pillows sat at one of the arms. A lamp had been knocked off the side table beside it and the television remote seemed to have been flung to one side, the batteries thrown out the back as it had fallen.
The kitchen was where all the commotion and noise was coming from though. Water had been spilt across the small patch on linoleum that marked out the kitchen space from the rest of the room, and soggy paw prints had made their way up the unit doors as well. Breezy was skittering back and forth between one end of the lino and the other, barking merrily, tail swinging at one hundred miles an hour.
Sat atop the kitchen units, beside the sink where water ran freely from the cold tap, was Jonathan's new friend, her long legs tucked neatly away from the floor as she attempted to sit as far away from the beagle as possible.
Despite his early morning start, and despite the mess that was there to greet him, Jonathan let himself smile at the scene, clearly amused.
The woman quickly looked across the room towards him. Her face was almost completely derived of any expression, though she dared to raise one eyebrow up ever so slightly, and tilt her chin up expectantly.
"Breezy," he ordered, trying not to laugh as the dog stopped to turn and look up at him with eager brown eyes. "Come here and leave the poor woman alone."
After a moment's hesitation spent looking longingly up at their guest, Breezy did as she was told and retreated quietly to her basket in the corner. Jonathan then turned his attention back to his new housemate. He didn't even need to ask, she simply told.
"I only wanted a drink of water. I apologise for getting you up."
She looked at him steadily, no emotion, no quirks or jokes about it. He could tell, somehow, that she was being sincere to her word and her apology, yet there was not even a single note in her voice to show it. He simply just could tell.
"That's alright. Here."
Stepping over the cold lino in bare feet he stretched over the units beside her and reached up, opening a cupboard against the wall to pull out a talk drinking glass from within. For a few seconds then he held it under the running tap and then handed it to her.
"San Francisco water. It might not exactly be from the springs in the Highlands of Scotland but it's clean, which is more than what most of America can say these days."
Tentatively she took the glass from him as he urged her with a warm smile. Then carefully, she uncurled her legs and gingerly placed her feet back down on the floor. All the while she warily watched the canine in the corner. Jonathan laughed sympathetically.
"Don't mind her. She's still quite young, gets excited by strangers and such. She's harmless though, likes most humans…"
He trailed off and helplessly found his gaze drawn towards those fascinating ears of hers, as he was reminded again that what he was dealing with was not human.
"Remember anything yet?" he asked a little hopelessly, as if words desperately needed to be spoken to interrupt his own stare. But then to his surprise she nodded.
"Yes," she answered simply again as she cautiously stepped over the kitchen lino, watching his eyes as if waiting to see if this was okay. He nodded and walked with her to the couch where she had slept the night. There she sat down, perching right on the edge of the cushions as he sat across from her on a coffee table.
"My name is T'Pol."
For a moment Jonathan was quiet, contemplating quite hard it seemed as he gazed at nothing in particular while absorbing this little piece of information. Then he nodded, as if accepting her word before he smiled warmly again.
"T'Pol. As in T with an apostrophe, eh?"
Immediately he noted that his lame attempt at humour was lost on her. He simply shrugged.
She shook her head silently.
"How's the war wound then?"
"The cut on your forehead. How is it this morning?"
Carefully she touched on the little blue plaster he had stuck to her head last night, only now remembering it. She stroked it gingerly and then looked back at him in silence for a moment.
She remembered, as she watched his hazel gaze, which watched her back, just how gentle he had been as he had washed the little cut then dressed the fairly insignificant wound for her with care and concern. He had been sympathetic towards her, patient at her silence even when he asked questions, acceptant that she did not want to talk any more than she had to, and above all indifferent to the fact that it was clear she had nothing to give in return for his generous hospitality.
He had been all this to a complete stranger, who so far had given him nothing but a sense of wonderment at who she might be, and even where she might have come from. Although she was confused and thoroughly lost upon everything around her at the moment, she knew this was above and beyond the capabilities of most people's kindness, and believed she had luck to thank for that.
"It is fine," she finally answered, coming out of her contemplations, "thank you. The pain has subsided now."
"Glad to hear," he nodded wholeheartedly.
There was a long pause between them.
"So…" he started again, though got no further than that. She understood quite well that he was itching to ask her a whole bundle of questions all directed at what were to him her 'unusual' bodily quirks, she could tell by the darting of his eyes onto her ears as he tried to gaze wondrously upon them without being noticed. So she decided to pay him back for his kindness now by revealing what little she discovered she could recall in this new day.
"I am from a race of people known as the Vulcans. A race, I believe I can safely assume, who do not come from this planet, but somewhere else in space, probably beyond this region's galaxy. That would explain the features you seem to find so… fascinating about me, such as my ears and green toned blood, which is copper based and so gives it that colour. These are all features of my own race.
"I also speak the Vulcan language, yet I am fluent in your own tongue too, as you can tell. This I cannot explain, it just seems a natural trait. And this is all I can tell you. This and I feel strongly that I do not belong here, in this place, or even in this time zone for that matter. 2021 you said it was, correct?"
For a moment Jonathan could only stare at her, both absolutely fascinated and completely bemused by this random influx of information that she had just sprouted. Even more so however, he was caught by just how calmly she explained herself, without getting wound up or distressed despite just how obviously wrong her situation was, to be in a planet and a time zone no less, that all seemed wrong to her. He felt he had to admire that.
One of her eyebrows peeked up again as she watched him, waiting for him to respond. He nodded vigorously, as if making a quick attempt to recompose himself.
"Yes, 2021 – third year now of what's become known as 'America's 2nd Great Depression'."
For the first time this morning Jonathan's new friend – T'Pol with the apostrophe – seemed interested in what he had just said.
Jonathan jutted out his bottom lip and shrugged slightly, casually, as if he wasn't so sure why this should interest her, this everyday fact.
"Yep, last one was in the 19hundreds, though I don't suppose you would have known that."
T'Pol shook her head honestly.
"Well that doesn't really matter right now. You must be hungry, I know I am. I make good toast and mushrooms, which is lucky really because bread and mushrooms are all I've got at the moment. I make it best with a heap of butter thrown in for good measure and a cup of tea to drink if you'd like. I always have tea and coffee."
Before she could begin to protest Jonathan was in the kitchen, pulling out frying pans and a whole box of mushrooms from his fridge, a small triumphant smile stuck to his face as he lit a gas fire on the cooker.
A few minutes later, as T'Pol slowly sat further back into the comfy sofa and watched Jonathan and his every move as he cooked, he began to hum gently to himself. He became submerged in the task of scrambling his eggs to perfection, and T'Pol felt herself ease into the cushions of the sofa completely, her eyes drooping slightly as she concentrated on his humming, and the smell of frying mushrooms…
Rumbling seemed to fill the air, a low guttural noise of hunger and impatience. Something seemed to shake with it, but she could not tell what, nor could she even see. Everything was black. She could feel the corners of her mouth twitch and her fingers flex, and for a moment her heart seemed to beat a little faster as if reacting to a sensation deep within her mind. A sensation of… panic.
It was then she realised she was in limbo; stuck half way between being awake and being immobilised in sleep. It was as if there were two forces fighting at either side of her, one determined to keep her in darkness and unmoving, and the other intent in bringing her into light and back to the conscious world, where far off she could hear a voice calling out a name she vaguely recognised.
There was rumbling again, and suddenly, with a short gasp as if she had been held under water she felt her eyes fall open and light sting across her vision.
"Well you can't tell me you're not hungry now."
She blinked furiously, sitting up sharply from where she had fallen asleep again against the arm of the sofa. Her mouth was bone dry and she felt a cold tremor run down her spine as she tried to suppress feelings of confusion and fright. She knew she should not have been experiencing any emotion – as was the Vulcan way – but for a fleeting moment she felt she could not help it, and that her hurried heartbeat would never calm.
"Hello, Jon to T'Pol – are you alright?"
She blinked again and this time tilted her head up, where she found her new companion Jonathan Bakula standing across at the other side of the coffee table from her, two large plates held in each of his hands served with generous portions of mushrooms laid on top of a couple of slices of toast.
"I'm sorry if I woke you, I just heard your stomach rumbling, which means you can't deny you're not hungry anymore."
A large lopsided grin slid onto his face as he put one plate down in front of her on the table, along with a fork. He seemed happy to be right, and even happier when T'Pol, his own new companion, decided to pick up her fork without arguing and start eating.
Jonathan jumped back into the kitchen and grabbed two mugs filled with steaming hot liquid – the tea she assumed – before he himself sat down to eat on the other end of the couch, only a cushion's length separating them.
It was only as she started to chew on the buttery breakfast meal that T'Pol realised just how hungry she really was. After a few hesitant mouthfuls she took the rest of the food contently, saying nothing as she concentrated simply on eating.
After she was done with her mushrooms and toast curiosity urged her to pick up her mug of tea. She gazed at the decorations on the mug, which happened to be some pictures of a creature that looked very much like the same creature sat in the corner of Jonathan's living room. The same creature that was starting intently at her right now…
She diverted her eyes away from the dog and peered over the rim to spy the brown liquid contained inside. The smell was rather strong, but vaguely familiar, as if it were something foreign and unusual but still well recognisable to her.
After this cautious ritual she decided to allow her curiosity to carry on governing her will as she placed the rim of the mug to her dry lips. Then she took a mouthful. Immediately she relished the soothing remedy of the milky liquid as it was delivered down her parched throat and so carefully, as the beverage was still very hot, she carried on drinking, allowing her tongue and lips to be wetted and relieved as well. It was not long after she finished the tea too.
T'Pol placed her mug back down on the coffee table, beside her empty plate. Her gaze fell forward, and for a moment she was at a loss on what to do. She felt hesitant to turn round and face her host, for reasons she could not explain. She simply felt herself stiffen, and very quickly her eyes fell to the floor before her as if she had grown meek.
Jonathan had no such modesty problems. He was still grinning as he slowly finished off his own tea, never before seeing anyone eat up his cooking so hungrily, not even Breezy.
He found with no surprise that he was enjoying having company with him in his home once again. He had not had a flatmate for over a year now and although he was not short of friends, he was finding it comforting to have another person around to speak with, even if she was a reluctant talker.
Suddenly she turned round to face him and he found himself holding eye contact with a striking pair of olive green eyes.
"I have nothing to repay you with," she rushed.
Jonathan blinked, then let his lips crease into a gentle smile.
"I know," was all he said quietly.
Then he stood, stretching up to the ceiling and yawning with a powerful pair of lungs. T'Pol found she was watching his every move carefully.
"You could do with a few new clothes, couldn't you?"
Immediately T'Pol protested. "I am fine. These clothes will suffice until I figure out where I should go from here."
He looked her up and down. Her black trousers and figure hugging white t-shirt were dirty from her time spent lying in the alleyway, as well as scuffed around the knees and across her back. It appeared no less that she had been in a fight, most likely with someone bigger than her and armed.
If nothing else though he understood the importance of buying her something that would discreetly hide her curious pixie-like ears. Her hair was too short for that and all he had in his closet were a series of out-of-fashion bandanas and woolly winter hats from last year's awful winter.
"Come on. I don't know a girl yet who would say no to a shopping trip on the house."
He simply received a blank stare.
"Okay… Well how are you going to figure out where to go from here?"
"Well then, until you have, you are my guest for as long as you want or need to be."
"You're hospitality has already been very kind. I cannot accept anymore without being able to pay you back for it."
Jonathan simply shrugged. "There are too many people in the world right now who would take the money off their own grandmother for nothing short of letting her go through the door of a shopping mall first. I don't want to be another one of them. My good-will is free and all I ask in turn for my 'hospitably' is that you accept it without feeling bad about it."
It was plain to see T'Pol was still reluctant.
"Just come out shopping with me today and afterwards I can take you to meet my friends. Don't mention anything about the ears and they should love you. Enjoy the day and we'll see how you feel after about staying with me come this evening."
Jonathan went back to smiling invitingly. For a moment T'Pol studied him, examining his deep-set hazel gaze and all his sturdy facial features. But she could find no trace of dishonesty or grave alternate intentions within it. He seemed genuine in his kindness, and honestly appeared only to want her to ease into his company, and in turn provide him with a new friend.
To say she found it odd would be a slight understatement. But then to say she was appreciative of the man's seemingly limitless kind-heatedness was the very truth.
Slowly she nodded, to his delight. He quickly gathered up the plates and mugs from their breakfast and bunged them in the sink to soak forgotten for now. Breezy jumped out of her bed, tail wagging hurriedly and tongue lolling happily.
"You don't mind if my dog tags along with me, do you? It's just I don't usually go anywhere without her."
T'Pol was in no position to protest. Jonathan carried on by ducking into his bedroom, promising to be just a minute. Breezy stayed out in the living room, turning round to stare intently at T'Pol once again. She could not tell if the pet approved or disagreed with her owner's new choice of friend.
"Here," Jonathan emerged from the bedroom again and threw something at T'Pol. Lightning reflexes caught it deftly in one hand and she found herself holding a long black coat.
"It belonged to an old girlfriend who left it behind then never showed up for our third date. I knew it would come in handy one day. It looks like it'll fit you. Try it on."
T'Pol eyed it carefully.
"It's not rigged, you know."
She looked up at him. "I had not considered it would be."
Jonathan raised an eyebrow. "Tough crowd, eh?" he said to Breezy.
T'Pol slung the coat behind her and neatly slid her arms into the sleeves. It hung down to the back of her knees and indeed was a perfect fit.
Jonathan threw something else and again T'Pol caught it with fast fingers.
"It's a little out of fashion, but it'll do the job."
She held a bandana out in front of her, black with vivid red and orange flames along the edges of it. She did raise one quiet eyebrow up at it, but apart from that put it on without a word this time.
"Great, no more ears."
She mused silently to herself. At least someone seemed to be pleased with it…