Mutually agreed time and place of meeting for the purpose of furthering a romantic relationship
This is my first shot at a word prompt challenge story. It's for the November challenge at TriS. This months prompt is DATE - to good a target for TnT. This short bit starts shortly after the hilarious ending scene of "Bound", so all this happens in the short space of happiness that the two are (maybe) granted before the tragedy of Elizabeth pushes them back into the eternal loop of suffering that TPTB obviously liked to throw them into. This has not been beta read yet, so if you find any mistakes, you may keep them ;-)
"Guess we got a lot of work to do" – those words had kept her brain busy for quite some time. So much in fact that she almost forgot to lower that very elevated eye brow back to its normal position. It was obviously not a work related comment – it couldn't be – not after that very clear demonstration of affection she had displayed – in a public place. T'Pol was aware that this was everything but Vulcan behavior, but there wasn't any other Vulcan to take offence and she wasn't dealing with a Vulcan after all.
It had taken a long time and a physical separation for her to finally admit to herself that her attraction to this human engineer was real and not deniable – she even had a mating bond to prove it. Although Trip had used his trademark teasing to get her to admit that she wanted him back on the ship, their developing bond had allowed her to sense the hurt feelings and the bottled up anger of his, caused by the never ending series of rejections, which had taken a toll. Nonetheless it was obvious that, although she had hurt him so much times - never on purpose but nonetheless - his attraction to her was still overpoweringly strong.
Meditation wasn't possible that evening, too many thoughts occupied her and the tranquillity of her white space wouldn't come. So T'Pol found herself doing, what Trip usually did, when he was preoccupied – she went for a walk through the corridors.
Her mind raced back to the time before the Xindi mission. Back then she was still a Subcommander of the Vulcan ministry of security and her emotional control was still intact, although slowly being eroded by the Pan'ar syndrome after she contracted it in a mindmeld turned mind rape. But upon honest reflection, she had to admit that even at that time she was closer to Trip than to any other member of the ship. Outwardly emotional and acting impulsively, the ships chief engineer was hardly a model officer, but his constant miracle working in engineering had won him the trust and respect of the ships sceptical science officer.
As she recalled the time when the initially strained relationship between her and Trip evolved into a relationship of mutual trust and respect – something that she learned to be called a friendship by humans – she also recalled the many times that Ensign Sato had helped her by providing explanations and clarifications about seemingly illogical and redundant human customs. That was a major factor in the improved interaction with the crew. She still found it illogical that the crew found it easier to deal with her, just because she started attending movie night, but the fact was undeniable.
As logic dictated, being stuck with a human behaviour conundrum again, she made her way to Hoshi's quarters. Just as she came around the corner, she almost bumped into Lieutenant Reed, who very obviously just came out of Ensign Sato's quarters. In any other case, she would have dismissed it as an after-effect of the pheromones, but anybody with working eyes could see that the ships tactical and communications officers where 'an item', as humans said.
"Lieutenant," T'Pol greeted.
"Commander," he replied, seemingly calmly.
"As far as I am aware, you have to walk a considerable distance to your cabin, so you might want to avoid a public display of Ensign Sato's affection," she said high-browed while pointing to the side of her neck – the same position at which he sported a very pronounced hickey.
"Uh, Commander, it isn't…," he stuttered and turned a nice shade of purple.
"Lieutenant, there is no need to be embarrassed. You are not in the same chain of command with Ensign Sato and besides that, your personal life is not anybodies concern."
"Thank you Commander," Malcolm said and sped off, clutching his neck, still baffled by the unusual nonchalance of the Vulcan.
"Come in," Hoshi prompted after T'Pol had sounded the signal.
As T'Pol entered the familiar quarter of the young linguist, she noticed some items, that where not usually part of a females possessions, like the electrical shaver that was lying amongst the cosmetics near the mirror.
"There is no need to hide anything, Ensign." T'Pol said, when she noticed how Hoshi tried to position herself in order to hide the suspicious object. "It is illogical to hide the evidence of Lt. Reed's presence while manifesting your attraction very unmistakably on his neck. Your private life is not subject to public scrutiny as long as it does not interfere with your duties."
"Thank you, Commander." Hoshi stammered wide-eyed and matched the shade of purple that Lieutenant Reed had displayed just minutes earlier. "What can I do for you?"
"I believe that I am in a comparable situation to you," T'Pol answered vaguely.
"Trip?" Hoshi asked and flashed a happy smile.
"How do you know?" T'Pol inquired about the unexpected question.
"If you allow me to speak freely Commander, the whole ship knows how much Trip feels for you and it was an open secret that he left for Columbia, because you wouldn't give him the time of day."
"I am aware of that and I am planning – as you say – to give him the time of day, but I do not know how to do that. Human customs appear to be very complex regarding that matter."
"I don't think so, Commander," Hoshi giggled. "Since Trip already has it bad for you, all you need to do is go on a few dates."
"The Vulcan database would probably describe it as a 'mutually agreed time and place of meeting for the purpose of furthering a romantic relationship'."
"Do the Commanders repeated attempts to invite me to movie night fall into that category?"
"Took you only 3 years to notice, Commander," Hoshi giggled.
"So, would you advise me to invite the Commander?"
"No, usually that's the man's job. But you can drop a hint or two. Just don't make them too subtle. Subtlety doesn't work well with human males."
"Thank you, Ensign." T'Pol nodded and left Hoshi's quarters, leaving a broadly grinning communications officer behind.
* * *
"What will be shown at the next Movie night?" T'Pol asked during the joint evening meal with Trip, a custom that they had started even before the mission into the Expanse, but only recently resumed.
"Er, I don't know," Trip answered, confused by her sudden interest. "Do you plan to go?"
"That depends on the company," T'Pol added calmly - a tad too unsubtle.
"Let me guess, Vulcans do not engage in subtlety," Trip laughed.
"I was told that it does not work with human males." T'Pol added, not understanding the cause of Trips amusement.
"Ok, ok, let's have a date then. How about tomorrow evening for dinner in my quarters? Chef still owes me a favour."
"That is agreeab… It sounds very good."