T'Pol led the way to the mess hall, and the two didn't speak until both had gotten their meals – a traditional salad for T'Pol and fruit salad for Kamea – and seated themselves around a table in the farthest corner. Kamea offered to get their drinks and was gone before T'Pol could protest, but thankfully the girl returned with two mugs of chamomile tea. She sat down and the two women began to eat in uncomfortable silence.
Several minutes had gone by before Kamea spoke. "You wished to speak with me?"
Suddenly T'Pol's logic seemed flawed. Why had she wanted to speak to Kamea? She couldn't even remember any more. "You should not be so forthcoming with your information." Kamea raised an eyebrow, and T'Pol could sense that she was confused, so she continued. "Informing Commander Tucker of the existence of a cascading ion drive was – "
"Irrelevant," Kamea said, taking a bite of her fruit salad, "as the probability of developing such a drive without the proper equipment is virtually unfeasible, even for someone with Commander Tucker's abilities."
T'Pol bristled at the backhanded compliment, though she knew it to be true. Very few people were as capable as Trip. "Vulcans are a very private people. They don't appreciate disclosures of that nature."
"I know that, but I didn't realize I was breaking any rules by revealing the results of an experiment that was deemed a failure more than a century ago." She picked up a grape with her fingers and popped it into her mouth. "I shall review my handbook of what is considered un-Vulcan."
T'Pol ignored the sarcasm, though Kamea's response was dripping with it. "You are very open about your past." The crew of Enterprise still knew very little about T'Pol, even though she had been on the ship for three years. Even Trip, who knew her better than anyone, wasn't privy to the more intimate aspects of her life. But Kamea seemed to have no problems detailing moments of her life to the others – notably the commander. In fact, she appeared to enjoy it.
Kamea tilted her head to the side. "I suppose I am. It must be a result of being back among humans. I can't explain it adequately, but even though I've only been on board a short time, I feel like…I belong here. Like I'm meant to be here." She looked pointedly at T'Pol. "Like it was buk."
T'Pol glanced up sharply at the use of the Vulcan word. "I was under the impression that you only knew a few words in Vulcan."
"My father only taught me a few words," Kamea said, engrossing herself with her fruit. "I took it upon myself to learn more." She chewed slowly, obviously thinking. Then she swallowed and said, "I find it is generally useful to learn more about your culture. You never know when it might be required."
"But when you were unconscious, you spoke in Hawaiian."
Kamea bit her bottom lip. "I talked in my sleep?" T'Pol nodded and Kamea groaned. "The captain said as much. I'd hoped he was kidding. I hope I said nothing that would disgrace my 'ohana." T'Pol looked at Kamea with confusion. Kamea glanced up and coughed. "Sorry. 'Ohana means 'family' in Hawaiian."
T'Pol nodded. She didn't understand why Kamea would sometimes speak in English and sometimes speak in Hawaiian. T'Pol only spoke English in front of the other crewmembers. It was only logical, as only Ensign Sato and Phlox were able to speak Vulcan. "The words seem to come out of nowhere," she said.
Kamea lifted an eyebrow. "I'll admit that they tend to pop out when I'm not thinking." She returned to her fruit salad. "Usually, though, I use them when I'm referring to something for which I have great respect or affection. I also tend to swear in Hawaiian." She glanced at T'Pol, her fork poised halfway to her mouth. "But it surely not my choice of language that you wished to discuss."
T'Pol opened her mouth to speak but Kamea apparently had not finished. "Unless you wish to talk about my father."
"I am," T'Pol paused, considering her next word carefully, "curious."
Kamea looked at her. "Curious."
The action and the way she repeated her word reminded T'Pol so much of Trip that she felt the familiar pangs of jealousy once more creep into her stomach. But it was the same situation that it been with the MACO, Amanda Cole. Trip and Kamea got along so well because they had so much in common – that was all. Kamea had somehow uncovered the truth about Trip and T'Pol's relationship, and T'Pol trusted Trip enough to accept that he would never hurt her by cavorting with Kamea.
She cleared her throat. "Yes. Curious."
Kamea narrowed her eyes, as though scrutinizing T'Pol, then sighed and asked, "Anything in particular you wish to know?"
What she wanted to know was if she and Trip had any hope of a future together. She wanted validation that it was all right for her to have such powerful feelings for a human, when her entire life up until her assignment on Enterprise had told her differently. She wanted to know if her decision to marry Koss had been based in logic, as she'd claimed, or in fear. T'Pol considered the question thoughtfully, figuring how best to word what she desperately wanted to know. "Were your parents…happy?"
If Kamea was surprised by the question, she didn't show it. She took a sip of her tea and said, "I believe so. Most Vulcans wouldn't recognize that they have the ability to be happy." She set down her mug. "I understand how powerful a Vulcan's emotions can be – I have them, too, you know – and that if you open yourself to them, you will be consumed by them." She traced the rim of the mug with her finger. "But if you close yourself off, you miss out on some pretty amazing things." She looked at T'Pol. "My father would have done anything for my mother. 'K'hat'n'dlawa' is what he called her. I wish one day I could be as happy as they were."
T'Pol could see the tears in Kamea's eyes and was on the verge of tears herself. She had not believed that a Vulcan could feel that way about a human, but that was how she felt about Commander Tucker. K'hat'n'dlawa – that's what she'd called him on their trip to Vulcan. "He did not regret his decision, then?"
Kamea shook her head firmly. "Not for a minute. I think he regretted turning his back on his 'ohana, but given the choice, he would have done it again. Of that I am certain." She looked away. "Love is a strong motivator, Commander."
"My mother does not believe that humans are mature enough to handle an interspecies relationship." She hadn't used those exact words, but that was the meaning T'Pol had inferred from the heated discussion with her mother before her wedding. T'Les had correctly deduced that T'Pol's hesitancy to bond with Koss was due to her feelings for Trip and had chastised her daughter for her illogical behavior. "I believe that she considers humans to be…beneath us."
Kamea snorted in response. "Many Vulcans have that attitude. Some will always have that attitude. But I like to think that, as years pass, the Vulcans will realize that humans are capable of more than they are given credit for." She picked up her mug and swirled the tea around. "Great things can come of a true human/Vulcan alliance. It may even happen in our lifetime."
"You do not consider an interspecies relationship to be illogical?" T'Pol asked, although she knew the answer.
"There were two logical conclusions at which my father could have arrived," Kamea said. "The first, and most obvious to other Vulcans, was to marry the woman to whom he was bonded and lead the life befitting of a typical Vulcan. His family would not have been dishonored, and he would have led a miserable life, separated from the woman he loved."
T'Pol had chosen that option, thinking it to be the only logical choice. She had chosen to do what was best for her family rather than herself and had allowed herself to enter into a sham marriage. She had no affection for Koss and knew that she would never develop any.
"The second was to marry my mother, the woman he loved. Yes, he would bring shame upon his family, but he would be happy. In the end, there was no question. What is the point of living almost two centuries if you're miserable for two-thirds of it?"
"The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or one," T'Pol said, quoting Surak. "Where is the logic in dishonoring your family?"
Kamea raised an eyebrow. "Where is the logic in marrying someone you do not love? It can be argued that his decision to wed my mother came from emotion and not logic. But his decision to assist his family would have had some basis in emotion as well. Logic will always be polluted by emotion, no matter how hard Vulcans try to suppress it."
T'Pol pressed forward as casually as she could. "But how can it be considered logical to marry a woman who would only live half of his life-span?"
"I assume Phlox told you about my father's experiments," Kamea said, and T'Pol could have sworn there was a twinkle in the younger woman's eye.
"He mentioned them," T'Pol said, reaching for her tea.
Kamea cocked her head to the side. "And you were curious?"
Her tone was amused and not mocking, but it irritated T'Pol all the same. She was making assumptions. "Yes. As a scientist, I find them quite interesting."
"As a scientist," Kamea said, unable to rid the skepticism from her voice. "Of course. Well, I suppose a scientist can appreciate my father's work, but the only people who can truly benefit from what my father discovered are those involved in interspecies relationships." She picked at her fingernails. "Is that an accurate description of you, Commander?"
T'Pol fought to keep the ice out of her tone but wasn't successful. "My husband is Vulcan, if that is what you're asking."
"It isn't, and I already knew that." Kamea took another sip of her tea, regarding T'Pol over the rim of the mug. "But I find it interesting that you used the term 'husband' and not 'mate'. Your husband is Vulcan. Your mate is not." Kamea must have seen the confusion in T'Pol's eyes, because she continued. "The thing about telepaths, Commander, is that we can sense connections. The bond between you and Commander Tucker is very strong." She drained the rest of her tea and placed her mug on the table. "It is the marriage bond, and not the kind of bond formed between Vulcans who have been intimate but are not bonded in the kah-ka."
How Kamea could possibly have known that, T'Pol had no idea. "You speak as though you know what you are talking about."
Kamea raised her blue eyes to meet T'Pol's steady brown gaze. "You may be older than I, krei, but there are some areas in which I have more experience." She ran her fingers through her hair. "The bond to which I refer would fade in time, provided that the two of you were not intimate again." She paused. "Although there are times when I can still feel Wat inside my head. It is not a pleasant feeling." She sighed. "But the bond you have with the commander…that's something permanent."
A familiar scent hit T'Pol's nose, and both she and Kamea turned toward the door at the same time – just as Trip walked into the mess hall. His eyes searched for a moment before resting on T'Pol's. He smiled and waved, then headed over to pick up a tray of food. T'Pol turned back to her companion and found her almost smiling.
"He doesn't know."
T'Pol knew that was referring to the bond. She shook her head. "I believe it would make our present situation that much more awkward."
"But he suspects something."
T'Pol glanced up, hoping that she managed to conceal her surprise. "What makes you think that?"
"People can be surprisingly open when they believe that no one is listening."
T'Pol narrowed her eyes. "You were eavesdropping?" She could hardly be mad at Kamea for that, though, as she herself had been caught doing so less than an hour ago.
Kamea shook her head. "Not intentionally. But you might want to remind him that Vulcans have a much keener sense of hearing." She raised an eyebrow. "You also might want to tell him what's going on. He has the right to know."
"No," T'Pol said, almost violently. "He can never know. He would reject me."
Kamea sighed and shook her head. "Vulcans never did give humans much credit."
T'Pol raised an eyebrow. "You are Vulcan."
"You see me as human," Kamea said, a statement that T'Pol could not deny, "because I am more emotional than a Vulcan." She nodded at the assembled crewmen, who were busy indulging in their evening meal. "They see me as Vulcan because I am Vulcan in appearance. The truth lies somewhere in between."
Trip appeared beside their table and dropped his tray of food, causing it to spatter. Both T'Pol and Kamea looked at him in disgust, and Kamea used her napkin to wipe the offending food particles from the tabletop.
"Am I interruptin'?" Trip asked. But he seated himself before either could respond, indicating that he did not care if he was interrupting a discussion on menstruation and childbirth – he intended to sit.
"Would it matter if you were?" T'Pol asked, cocking an eyebrow.
Trip grinned. "Nope."
"Then why did you ask?" Kamea asked.
"Common courtesy," Trip said.
"In that case," Kamea said, with more than a hint of distaste, "you may want to reconsider your method for placing your food on the table." She pointed to a stain on her shirt that had most likely been deposited by the commander's dinner. "Yougot sauce onmy shirt."
He shrugged and dove into his meal. "Sorry."
"It is my experience that people rarely place any meaning behind that word," T'Pol said, and Kamea glanced at her, the ghost of a smile playing at her lips.
Trip's eyes danced back and forth between the two women, and he let his fork fall to his plate with a clatter. "Since when are you two so buddy-buddy?" he asked. "The other day I coulda sworn y'all got into the Vulcan equivalent of an all-out argument, and now you're acting…well…like friendly acquaintances."
Kamea and T'Pol exchanged a look. Kamea leaned forward on her elbows, her hands clasped in front of her. "I believe that the first officer and I have reached an understanding."
"That is correct," T'Pol said, mimicking Kamea's position. "An understanding."
Trip chuckled, shaking his head. "I guess I oughta be glad you at least didn't define it for me."
Kamea gathered her tray and her empty mug and stood. She addressed Trip first. "Excuse me, but I am overdue for my daily appointment with Phlox." She then turned to T'Pol. "It was a pleasure to speak with you, Commander." She turned to walk away.
"Kamea," T'Pol said, and Kamea turned back to face her. "You are…" She paused, about to say "not Starfleet" but decided instead to say, "…family. You may call me T'Pol."
Kamea nodded shortly, and T'Pol thought she saw a smile. "Good night, T'Pol. Trip."
She turned on her heel and was gone.
T'Pol swiveled in her chair to find warm blue eyes gazing fondly at her. "What?"
Trip smiled and shook his head. "Nothin'."
"It will be agreeable to have another Vulcan aboard Enterprise," T'Pol said. "Even if she is a rish-ha-vel."
"Glad to hear it, T'Pol."
And so ends Book 2 of the Kamea Chonicles. To be continued in Book 3: "'Ohana". As soon as I can crank that puppy out. I've already got it started, so don't you worry about that. Oh, and I promise that there will be an actual plot to that one.
A/N: buk - fate
k'hat'n'dlawa - one who is half of my heart and soul
kah-ka - the marriage bond
krei - cousin
rish-ha-vel - hybrid