Genre: Scene illumination, with a hint of T/T.
Archive: Please ask me first.
Disclaimer: Star Trek: Enterprise is the property of Paramount Pictures, Inc. All original material herein is the property of its author.
Spoilers: "Broken Bow."
Summary: Trip's perspective of his first meeting with Sub-Commander T'Pol.
A/N: Thanks to beta goodness by boushh, Jenna, TJinLOCA, and slj91.
April 10, 2151
Captain's Ready Room, NX-01 Enterprise
Spacedock, Orbiting Earth
The door chime sounded. Trip, stretched out in the comfy chair opposite Archer's desk, watched the captain take one last sip of coffee. "Here we go," Archer said. He set his mug down and faced the door. "Come in."
Trip wondered what sort of Vulcan the High Command would pick for the unenviable job of being cooped up on a ship full of humans for the eight-day jaunt to the Klingon homeworld and back. A female version of Soval? Some snooty old battle-ax?
The door slid open, admitting the Vulcan spy— er, "chaperone". She wasn't old. In fact, she was the youngest Vulcan Trip had ever seen. Not that he could actually determine her age from her appearance; with a two-hundred-year lifespan, a Vulcan who looked to be in her late twenties, as this one did, could easily be twice that age. Interestingly, she wasn't swathed in the layers of patrician-looking robes that Vulcans all seemed so fond of parading around in. Her uniform was a jumpsuit of muted grays... a skintight, formfitting jumpsuit that hugged the most spectacular set of curves Trip had seen on a woman since, well, ever. And topping off that stunning figure was a face so exquisite that he almost forgot about the rest of her. Her dark cropped hair framed her face in wisps, setting off high, delicate cheekbones and deep brown eyes.
Damn, she's beautiful.
Where the hell did that come from? It was a fool thing to be thinking about a Vulcan. Trip mentally chastised himself for getting so distracted by the view. They're machines, walking calculators. Beauty wouldn't even enter the equation for them.
The Vulcan gave Trip a passing glance before turning to the captain. Those incredible brown eyes of hers were remote and brittle, with a disdainful "I'd rather be anywhere else" look about them that spoiled the whole picture for him.
Archer stood to meet the woman, who handed him a PADD. "This confirms that I was transferred to your command at 0800 hours," she said crisply. "Reporting for duty."
As the captain read over the orders, the woman's nose wrinkled briefly. Trip thought idly that, under different circumstances, he might consider the tiny gesture cute. She glanced toward the corner of the room, where Porthos was perched on his cushion, watching her with bright-eyed curiosity. Trip saw the Vulcan's eyes narrow with what looked like irritation before she turned to face Archer again.
Trip settled back more comfortably in his seat. Oh, now this is going to be interesting.
Archer looked up from the PADD. He must have seen something lingering in her expression. "Is there a problem?" he asked.
At once, she composed her face into a mask of Vulcan calm. "No, sir."
Archer studied her for a moment... then turned, his gaze following the same path that hers had, until he saw Porthos. "Oh... I forgot," the captain said. Trip picked up the barest hint of oh-so-subtle needling in his voice. "Vulcan females have a heightened sense of smell."
Archer's eyes flicked to Trip, who kept his face carefully neutral. A Vulcan female in nasal distress, sealed inside the same ship as a smelly dog. It was downright rich.
Archer resumed his seat. "I hope Porthos isn't too offensive to you."
"I've been trained to tolerate offensive situations," the Vulcan replied dryly.
Hoo, she has bite, Trip thought with amusement. He couldn't resist. "I took a shower this morning," he offered pleasantly. "How about you, Cap'n?"
Archer smiled in polite apology to the woman— for his own social carelessness or his impudent Chief Engineer, Trip couldn't tell which. "I'm sorry," the captain said. "This is Commander Charles Tucker III." He turned to Trip. "Sub-Commander T'Pol."
Trip stood as Sub-Commander T'Pol of the Vulcan High Command— quite a lot of name for such a tiny thing— turned to him. He offered his hand. "Trip. I'm called Trip."
T'Pol eyed him with cool condescension, not even looking at his hand, much less taking it. "I'll try to remember that." Then she smoothly turned her back on him, focusing her attention on Archer once more.
Trip glanced down at his forlorn, disrespected hand. This was going to be a long eight days.
He spotted Archer struggling to hide a smile. Glad you're gettin' your jollies, Cap'n, watching Miss High-and-Mighty lord it over ol' Trip.
Quickly, Archer got back to business, putting on his no-nonsense command face. "While you may not share our enthusiasm about this mission," he said to T'Pol, "I expect you to follow our rules. What's said in this room and out on that bridge is privileged information. I don't want every word I say being picked apart the next day by the Vulcan High Command."
Out of the corner of his eye, Trip spotted Porthos getting to his feet and approaching the newcomer. Apparently the beagle had waited long enough for an introduction, and had decided to take matters into his own paws.
"My reason for being here is not espionage," T'Pol stated evenly. "My superiors simply asked me to assist you."
The "chaperone" was evidently so focused on denying she was a spy that she didn't see— or more significantly, smell— the oncoming olfactory nightmare. Trip wasn't about to alert her, either. He simply observed, a slow smile spreading on his face in sweet anticipation.
"Your superiors don't think we can flush a toilet without one of you to 'assist' us," Archer retorted sarcastically to T'Pol.
"I didn't request this assignment, Captain," she responded flatly. "And you can be certain that when this mission is over, I'll be as pleased to leave this ship as you'll be to have me go—"
She stopped with a startled gasp at the feel of doggy-paws scrabbling up her leg. Porthos had reached as far as her shapely hip. He stood on his hind legs, gazing happily up at her, his tail wagging in enthusiastic greeting.
For a moment, Trip thought the Sub-Commander was actually going to blow a gasket. But then both her face and body became, if anything, even more tightly controlled. She turned away from the dog as if he no longer existed. "If there's nothing else?" she asked Archer quietly.
Her voice was lovely when it was pitched softly, Trip noted... almost musical. What a mixture of the ridiculous and the sublime.
Archer followed T'Pol's lead, content to treat Porthos as a non-issue. "That'll be all," he replied succinctly.
T'Pol nodded. Then, without so much as a backward glance at either the aromatically disadvantaged dog or the impertinent commander, she turned on her heel and left the ready room.
Archer finally smiled as he looked to Trip for a reaction. Trip raised an eyebrow and shrugged. If you've seen one Vulcan bein' a stuck-up, supercilious botheration, you've seen 'em all.
At least this one was easier on the eyes than Ambassador Cranky.