Hoshi lifted her fists to protect her face circling the mats as her opponent did the same. A slight twitch preceded the punch that came toward her and the Ensign side stepped to avoid the strike. She stepped into her opponent, who was still in midst of completing the strike, and grabbed the arm nearest her dropping to one knee and sending her sparring partner over her shoulder.
T'Pol hit with barely a sound rolling back up into her fighting stance and swiftly shooting out a leg to knock Hoshi off her feet. The Ensign lifted up her leg to defend taking the roundhouse on the shin rather than on her thigh. The pair lunged back and forth each occasionally landing a blow though neither was decisively winning. It had been more or less the case since they'd begun sparring together a couple of months ago, shortly after the Ortega incident.
T'Pol had accompanied her to the gym only to watch Hoshi cycle through a number of opponents without any more challenge than Ortega. It was then that T'Pol had revealed her proficiency in Vulcan martial arts and volunteered to spar with Hoshi. Ever since then they had made it a regular appointment meeting twice a week to keep each other's skills sharp.
Though T'Pol had a number of years experience on her as well as some strength Hoshi had no trouble holding her own. As one of the few women in her old dojo she'd always sparred people more powerful than her and had learned to tailor her fighting style to defend against strong blows.
Hoshi moved around the mat warily the Vulcan had a habit of lunging at her with surprising speed and taking her to the ground. The Ensign wasn't uncomfortable wrestling but once T'Pol had her pinned the Vulcan's superior strength made it difficult to dislodge her.
Hoshi loved sparring with her skilled friend, it was like being back at her old dojo. The Vulcan forced her to be creative in technique and application. The only thing it lacked was the fiery passion that came with most fights.
Many times over the course of her life Hoshi had let pride or anger carry her into some knock down drag outs with her opponents. Matches where, -no matter whom was the supposed victor- both participants were lucky to limp away with limbs intact.
She had not engaged in any sparring matches that even came close to that with T'Pol. The Vulcan was well aware of her superior strength and kept tight reign on the force of her blows, careful not to hurt Hoshi. Her technique was calm and methodical, like each fight was a scientific equation which could be solved successfully if one only had the proper information.
Where Hoshi relied on instinct T'Pol relied more on the logical sequence of moves to put her opponent down. It was this lack of instinct, or perhaps T'Pol's unwillingness to follow her gut feelings, that occasionally allowed Hoshi to win the match definitively. Even then, the Vulcan's feathers remained unruffled, gracefully conceding defeat for the time being and allowing Hoshi her small moments of victory.
The Terran took a step back as she realized her musings had allowed T'Pol to close the distance between them. It was too late though, she saw the almost imperceptible gleam in the Vulcans' eyes moments before the long legged woman lunged at her. With viper like speed T'Pol struck ducking low as she swept Hoshi's legs from beneath her. The Ensign grunted as her butt made impact hands already up to defend against the attack she knew would follow.
She and the Vulcan grappled for dominance T'Pol predictability ending up on top, straddling Hoshi whose back was to the ground. The Terran struggled to free her hands both of which T'Pol had easily pinned with one arm.
"Concede?" T'Pol asked with a quirk of her lips, a small sign Hoshi had learned, that meant the Sub-Commander found the situation amusing. Hoshi returned the almost smirk with one of her one.
"You wish," the Terran planted her feet and threw her hips towards the ceiling unseating the Vulcan before scrambling out of range. T'Pol would not be deterred and lunged again. Hoshi was prepared and stepped out of the way taking hold of the Vulcan's arm and flipping her to the mats. She straddled her friend locking her legs around T'Pol's to ensure the woman couldn't unseat her while Hoshi tried to pin her arms.
T'Pol laced Hoshi's hands with her own pushing up on the Ensign to try and force her back. Hoshi leaned down hard trying to use all of her body weight to counteract the Vulcan's strength.
The attempt brought Hoshi's face to within inches of T'Pol's and the Ensign felt a shiver run down her spine. She looked into the hazel eyes of her friend and felt as though she could see all of the Vulcan. Past the veneer of emotional repression that was her culture to the passionate person she knew lay somewhere underneath.
Moments of awareness such as these had become increasingly common over the last few weeks. It was almost as if T'Pol wouldn't mind if Hoshi just leaned forward and…
"Archer to T'Pol." The moment was broken and as she looked down at her friend Hoshi could see the shuttering of T'Pol's eyes. With a grunt she stood holding out a hand to the Vulcan so she could pull herself up. T'Pol quietly thanked her before walking over to the intercom system to respond to the Captain's hail.
Hoshi gazed at the lean form of the Sub-Commander feeling the now familiar lust creep up on her whenever she saw the woman in her training clothes. Or in her uniform. Or her night attire. Basically any time she was in prolonged contact with the beautiful Vulcan.
She was quite enamoured with her friend, and knew it. She'd resolved early on to simply put the feelings aside and continue on as normal. However she'd been getting the distinct feeling of late that the attraction wasn't one sided. She even thought on more than one occasion that T'Pol might have been gently flirting with her, -in so much as Vulcans were capable of flirting-. Still, Hoshi had yet to make a move.
It wasn't that T'Pol was a woman, foolish prejudices regarding same sex relationships had gone more or less unheard of for the past century or so. It wasn't even that the older woman was of a higher rank, technically T'Pol was outside the command structure of Starfleet as a member of the Vulcan High Command.
Hoshi wasn't actually certain what was keeping her from proposing the idea of a romantic relationship to her friend. T'Pol obviously enjoyed her company. And, over the course of various philosophical discussions, the Sub-Commander had expressed that Vulcans, -generally speaking-, had no overt cultural taboos about two women together.
If anything, Hoshi surmised the biggest problem between a pairing of their nature might be that T'Pol was a well respected Vulcan who would be considered to be abasing herself by coupling with a human.
Perhaps, Hoshi thought, that was where her problem lay. What if T'Pol thought Hoshi was good enough to associate with only so long as they were on Enterprise? The Terran had to admit she didn't think that was likely the case. T'Pol seemed the type to choose being alone over trying to foster a friendship of convenience with someone she considered beneath her. No, if T'Pol and she had come this far in their friendship it had to be because the Vulcan held some kind of genuine affection for her.
That being the case there was really no reason Hoshi shouldn't bring the subject up. Even if the Vulcan rejected the idea she wasn't the kind of person who would make Hoshi feel poorly about it.
If anything, the Vulcan would quietly state she didn't think a relationship of that nature would be a good and/or logical idea. Hoshi would nod and accept the Vulcans' decision before asking if they could 'just forget about the whole thing'. And T'pol, a diplomat to the last, would nod her own agreement and things would carry on as before.
So why couldn't she just get up the guts to go for it? She wasn't usually such a coward.
Hoshi cursed inwardly at her plight, knowing that if she even so much as sighed too loudly the Vulcan's sensitive hearing would pick up on it. For an emotionally repressed being, T'Pol was remarkably astute when it came to picking up on Hoshi's mental states. She watched as T'Pol clicked off the intercom and walked back toward her.
"Supper with the Captain?" Hoshi asked picking up hers and T'Pol's towel from the floor. She handed the Vulcan's towel to her and began wiping down her body. T'Pol nodded in answer to her question allowing Hoshi to precede her to the door.
"He wishes to discuss matters of first contact with the nearby planet."
"How advanced are they?" Hoshi asked, she hadn't been on duty when contact had been established.
"Warp capable though scans indicate they can only travel up to Warp 2."
"Hmm, you on the away team?" T'Pol nodded. "Who else?" Hoshi asked as they made their way to the turbolift.
"I believe that will be one of the topics of discussion."
"Well if the Captain needs a translator I wouldn't mind getting off the ship."
"You are in need of more texts already?" T'Pol asked with something akin to surprise. Hoshi laughed shaking her head at her friend.
"No, I'm still working through half of the ones you gave me for my birthday." Hoshi answered as the lift came to a stop. "I'd just like to get out of here and talk to some people, learn the lingo, that kind of thing."
"I see. I will inform the Captain that you are willing should your skills be required." Hoshi smiled, she knew that was T'Pol saying she'd put in the word for her. If the Captain didn't realize he needed Hoshi yet by the end of supper T'Pol would have him convinced of it.
"Thanks," she said keying in the code to her door. "Well, this is my stop." T'Pol nodded looking all the world like a child who wanted something but didn't know how to ask. Hoshi recognized the look, T'Pol only got it when she was going to ask a favour or enlist Hoshi for some kind of help. Even after all these months the Vulcan was still reticent to ask for any but the most minor things of Hoshi.
"T'Pol," Hoshi reached out touching the Vulcan's arm to get the woman's attention. "Whatever it is you can ask." The Vulcan looked down at the hand on her arm and back up at Hoshi. "Sorry." Hoshi removed her hand and took a step back. She was still trying to figure out boundaries when it came to touching T'Pol.
"No apologies necessary," T'Pol said, "I was… That is… I'd like for us to dine together." Hoshi's scrunched her eyebrows in confusion.
"Aren't you eating with the Captain?"
"Yes, I meant at another time, perhaps tomorrow." Hoshi smiled, why the Vulcan was making a big deal out of a simple dinner wasn't something she understood. Unless the older woman had some sort of ulterior motive.
"Of course T'Pol, don't be silly. We'll meet after shift okay?" Hoshi said to the Vulcan who nodded. "If you're bored after supper come find me, I'll be in the mess playing poker with Travis and the others."
"Alright, enjoy your meal Hoshi."
"You too T'Pol."
"Why do we need Hoshi?" Archer asked with a raise of his eyebrows.
"It is prudent to have a linguist with us on the away team in the event the universal translator malfunctions," T'Pol stated reasonably as she ate her supper. The dinner was tedious and Commander Tucker's constant conversation was beginning to grow tiresome. Archer shrugged.
"Good enough for me. We leave at 12 hundred tomorrow," he said taking a sip from his iced tea.
"I'll inform the Ensign to prepare her kit." T'Pol said as she finished the last of her meal and placed her napkin on the table.
"No need to rush off T'Pol," Tucker said in his slow Southern drawl. "Hoshi won't need all night to get ready, why not stay awhile?"
"Thank you Commander, but I have a number of things to prepare for the away mission as well." T'Pol stood.
"See you in the morning," Archer said as she headed for the door.
"Goodnight Captain, Commander." And with that she took her leave. She was relieved to be out of the confined space. The smell of human food coupled with the smell of humans themselves could prove to be quite… overpowering.
T'Pol was certain that was one of the reasons she enjoyed Hoshi's company so much. Whether it was the woman's borderline obsessive behaviour with taking at least twice daily showers or the Ensign's cleansers themselves, Hoshi was definitely the most pleasant smelling person aboard Enterprise.
T'Pol decided to forego changing in to her night attire deciding instead to go to the mess in her uniform. She heard Hoshi's laugh long before she reached the doorway and took a moment to contemplate the sound.
Hoshi's laugh was neither overly loud or forced, nor was it shy or timid. It was a perfect compliment to the Ensign's cheerful if slightly reserved personality and T'Pol found she was quite fond of it.
T'Pol recognized that her enjoyment of essentially all things Hoshi meant that her initial feelings of friendship and affection for the young Terran had grown in to something deeper. She was attracted to the human, that much was not in question, had not been for some time. Her only issue remained in trying to reconcile with the idea of taking on a non-Vulcan as a partner.
It was the reason T'Pol had asked Hoshi to dinner. Though the Ensign did not realize it yet, it was T'Pol's attempt to determine whether they could be compatible not only as friends but as romantic companions.
She was aware the Terran found her attractive. She had heard comments to that effect accidentally while walking in on a conversation between Hoshi and Ensign Mayweather. Now, it only left to be seen whether Hoshi was willing to attempt a relationship. A question T'Pol intended to raise at supper tomorrow, assuming they wouldn't be remaining on the planet.
Pulling herself from her thoughts T'Pol walked into the mess. Once upon a time, before she'd become acquainted with Hoshi, the entire room would grow silent upon her entrance. Now, she'd become a regular fixture of the mess and it was no longer a grand event when she walked in.
T'Pol easily spotted Hoshi, the raven haired woman was sitting at a table with several others, a large stack of chips in front of her. She approached quietly not wanting to disturb the Terran as she considered her latest hand. When the hand had been played she touched the woman's shoulder to get her attention.
Hoshi turned to look a smile crossing her features as she caught sight of T'Pol.
"Hey, how was your supper?" She asked pushing some of her tablemates down the bench to make room for T'Pol. The Vulcan sat in the small space forcing her into close contact with the Terran. The Science Officer clamped down on the warm sensation that had been sparked by the physical contact with the Ensign. Now was not the time nor the place to have such a discussion.
"It was enjoyable. You'll be accompanying the away team planet side tomorrow at 12 hundred." Hoshi gave her a wide smile nudging her gently with her shoulder.
"It was the Captain's decision," T'Pol said. Hoshi smirked but said nothing, they both knew T'Pol had gotten Hoshi on the mission, it didn't really need to be said.
"Alright guys, after this hand I'm out. I've gotta get my gear ready for tomorrow." There was a groan around the table, likely because Hoshi had the largest stack of chips in front of her. T'Pol leaned over and picked up a chip inspecting it. It was a credit for hot water minutes. So this was how the Terran managed to be able to take so many showers. T'Pol had wondered.
The hand was quickly played and Hoshi bowed out of the game taking her stack of chips with her as she stood.
"Nice playing with you boys, see you all next week," she said following T'Pol out of the mess. The Vulcan was sporting an almost smirk as they headed for the turbolift. "What?"
"I had been curious as to how you were able to take so many showers," T'Pol stated as they reached the lift. "I had not realized you won them in your poker games."
"Oh," Hoshi said before letting out a laugh. "Yeah it's usually a good idea to stay away from some of those guys at the end of the week. They don't have any hot water left and they're too much of a baby to just take a cold shower." T'Pol nodded, she could understand that, she wasn't fond of the cold either.
They reached Hoshi's quarters, T'Pol's were further down the hall.
"Want to come in? It won't take me long to pack." T'Pol nodded and followed the Terran in to her quarters. She took her usual seat in the comfortable desk chair leaning back as she watched Hoshi begin packing a small bag of essentials. The Ensign finished her task and sat cross legged on her bed leaning against the wall.
"Can I ask you a question T'Pol?" The Vulcan raised an eyebrow at her young friend.
"You do not need permission Hoshi, ask and I will answer as best as I am able."
"Do you ever wish for…more?" The Terran asked, her facial expression indicated this wasn't exactly the way she'd intended for the question to come out.
"I do no understand what you mean."
"Yeah that was kind of open ended, I meant, do you ever wish for more than just being First Officer on a Terran ship? I know when you got here you didn't have the highest opinion of humans. I'm just wondering if you're happy here or if you'd rather be back on Vulcan. Is there something in your life that you're missing here?"
"What brought this question on?" T'Pol asked curiously with a cant of her head. Hoshi shrugged picking at her blanket.
"I dunno, just something one of the guys said at the game. He just… he said no Vulcan could ever be happy serving with a bunch of humans. It was just a stepping stone for you to something bigger. Basically that you're just biding your time until the High Command finds a better assignment for you."
"And what do you believe Hoshi?" T'Pol asked as she moved from her seat and sat next to Hoshi on the bed. The Ensign gave a tiny shrug of her shoulders and looked away, out toward the stars, before answering.
"I dunno. Sometimes I think you'd rather be anywhere but on the Enterprise. But, then there's times when you seem… content, I guess, to be here." T'Pol took the Terran's chin in an elegant hand and turned Hoshi's head to look at her. She gazed into the young woman's deep brown eyes trying to convey her sincerity
"It is when I am with you that I am most content to be on Enterprise. I am settled when I am with you Hoshi. You bring me calm."
"Oh." Hoshi said looking at her friend in surprise. That wasn't quite what she had thought T'Pol would say.
"I intended to explore this topic tomorrow at dinner," the Vulcan revealed, releasing Hoshi but not putting any distance between them. The Terran raised an eyebrow.
"Now I think I'm the one who doesn't understand," Hoshi said with a small smile.
"I wished to know if you were interested in pursuing a more… physical intimacy," the Vulcan said. "I find you attractive and intelligent and I believe we could be content together as partners."
It wasn't an overt declaration of undying love or even deep affection, but Hoshi had never expected that. She knew what lay beneath the words, the unsaid emotions which T'Pol's culture and upbringing would not allow her to bring to the fore.
The Vulcan was offering all she was capable of and Hoshi accepted its limits. Just as the Vulcan accepted her occasional flares of temper and illogical behaviour. It would take work, whatever this was going to be, just as their friendship had. But it would not be without its rewards, Hoshi decided. To have T'Pol at her side as her partner would be worth whatever would come their way.
All the issues that surrounded them, politics, rank, biology, none of it mattered. She loved T'Pol and, in her own way, the Vulcan loved her back, even if she would never say it in so many words.
"I think 'pursuing a more physical intimacy' would be a very logical step in our relationship," Hoshi said leaning in to T'Pol and pressing her lips to the other woman's.
She was surprised by the passion she felt in the kiss and brought her hands up to T'Pol's neck pulling the Vulcan closer. T'Pols own hands landed on Hoshi's hips tugging the Terran towards her on the bed. Hoshi felt T'Pol deepen the kiss and responded in kind her tongue duelling with the Vulcan's as she moved her body impossibly closer to the other woman's. Long minutes later she pulled back to look at her friend and soon to be lover.
The Terran licked her lips in wonder already aching to be back in T'Pol's comfortable embrace.
"Wow, you… You're really good at that you know," was all Hoshi was able to come up with.
"I believe Commander Tucker once said, 'it takes two to tango,'" T'Pol answered. Hoshi smiled and leaned forward tucking herself into the Vulcan's strong arms.
"This isn't going to be easy you know," Hoshi said.
"Even on Enterprise, a lot of people aren't going to like this."
"Well you know what?" Hoshi asked pulling back to look up at T'Pol's attractive face.
"What?" The Vulcan asked with a raise of her eyebrow.
"They can all go to Hell, I want you in my life and there's nothing else to be said about it," Hoshi stated with confidence. "Besides, if anyone really starts bitching I'm sure between the two of us we could take 'em on." She was surprised to see the Vulcan give her a small smile, not an 'almost smirk', not a 'quirk of her well shaped lips', an honest to Surak smile.
For Hoshi Sato, Communications Officer of the Enterprise, it was more than enough.