Disclaimer: Trip, T'Pol, Cutler and Hoshi belong to the stars.
Summary: A story about laughter and T'Pol. Yes, you read that right. Feedback is almost as good as Engine Boy in the shower. Woohoo!
The clamor no longer gives me a headache.
Shuffling feet, scraping chairs, the clash of spoons against metal trays, voices raised in greeting or farewell; this is the din of humanity, gathered together for the second execution of a thrice-daily ritual.
This is lunch.
I stir my soup and compare this chaotic scene to the silent repasts of my own people. On Vulcan, the proper nutrients are consumed in quiet contemplation. Here, the poorest food choices are devoured in a hectic display of indulgence. Like Klingons, they tear into their food with gusto. I saw at a dinner roll, and have just succeeded at breaking through the thick crust, when an increasingly familiar sound reaches my ears. I get busy chasing bites of bread with my fork, and contemplate laughter.
According to tradition, to laugh is also to giggle, titter, guffaw, snicker, crow, cackle, burst out, roar, mock, shout, fling one's cap, or make merry. As with all things they enjoy, humans have given laughter many names. It is also to rejoice, hold jubilee, chuckle, exult, bust a gut, or yell huzzah!.
My keen ears trace the merriment to its source, who is seated three tables away. Dark head bent, she is holding a "private" conversation with Ensign Cutler. These people are so unfamiliar with Vulcans, they forget that I can hear the grinding of the engines, far below us, and the shuffle of a shift change, five decks above. I can avoid encounters with the Captain's canine by listening for the jangle of his collar, echoing down the corridors like a warning bell.
Therefore, Ensign Sato might as well be shouting through a bullhorn.
From her previous chats, I am aware of my own status as a wet blanket, that Captain Archer is perceived as total eye candy, and that Lieutenant Reed is probably in the closet. Like most young human females, the Ensigns discuss everything from sexual encounters to monthly visits to last night's dinner. I give up on the roll, concentrate on forking grapes, and try not to listen.
Inevitably, however, I catch the tail end of a sentence.
"…. nicest one on the ship." The Ensigns lift their heads and titter. Curious, I follow their mutually adoring gaze to what I assume is the nicest…whatever…on the ship.
A backside is also a rear end, a posterior, a buttock, a rump, a background, a hinterland.
Commander Tucker is bent over, peering into the replicator, likely looking for food that will shorten his life. Most of the galley has a nice view of his hinterland. He mutters something crude and bends even lower to examine the bottom shelf. The cap-flinging and merry-making from table three reaches a crescendo. The Commander finally notices that he has an audience and turns around with a sardonic grin. I succeed in mashing one of my forgotten grapes with a butter knife.
"Enjoying the view, ladies?" He tilts one blonde eyebrow skyward. I mash a second grape.
Hoshi Sato beams him a coquettish smile.
A coquette is also described as a flirt, a seductress, a geisha, a lolita, a siren, a vamp.
Something…not logical…unfurls within me. I feel I should speak up. While my nature, and my upbringing, prevent me from joining in the joi de vivre, from holding jubilee, I know things she doesn't…that he's admired one Vulcan in his life and a second, perhaps a little…that he likes pecans and hates injustice…that he rubbed my ears once…
"Oh, yeah," the Ensign agrees. I consider attacking the roll again, but decide to have my say. I search for something relevant to the situation and blurt--yes, I, T'Pol blurted for the first time in my life--the first words that migrate to my tongue.
"Yes," I hear myself saying calmly, in my normal voice, "Total eye candy!"
There is a beat while they stare at me, mouths agape.
Humiliation, otherwise known as embarrassment, horror, shame, shock, mortification or dying a thousand deaths.
Then Commander Tucker starts to laugh, snicker, guffaw, crow, cackle, etc. Ensign Sato joins in, and I realize that her laugh is different than her giggle, more musical and bell-like. Soon the three are howling with glee, pounding their hands on all available hard surfaces, while I just sit there, wishing, for a fraction of a second, that I could join in.
Instead, I commit this moment to memory. When I go home again, to the silent repasts of Vulcan, I will miss the sound of laughter, the knell of supreme well being.
Total ear candy.