Disclaimer: All things Star Trek are the property of CBS/Paramount, not me.
Spoilers: We have minor references to "Shadows of P'Jem," "Stigma," "Precious Cargo," "Impulse," and "Daedalus."
Author's Note: Mostly fluffy TnT. It takes five years, but T'Pol finally gets into the spirit of the holiday. Happy Halloween! I thought I'd celebrate our ridiculously early snow storm by staying indoors and writing something to mark the holiday. My apologies if this is similar to anyone else's Halloween tale. I'm sure it is in some ways. Reviews of almost any kind are always appreciated.
The Humans aboard Enterprise celebrated a curious holiday called "Halloween." As far as T'Pol could tell, it was a practice derived from sober religious festivals venerating one's ancestors, along with harvest celebrations, the culling of livestock, and superstitious fear of the dead, although it appeared that none of the Humans on board took any of those origins very seriously. Rather, they appeared to welcome it primarily as an excuse for what Commander Tucker described as "cutting loose." This appeared to involve a sudden ferocious attention to costuming, accompanied by a décor and a menu that emphasized oddly morbid themes.
"It was my impression that Humans do not generally welcome reminders of their mortality," she said to Commander Tucker, who had just festooned a wall of the mess hall with a string of incongruously glowing skeleton figures.
Tucker smiled. "We don't … generally. But it's not really our own mortality we're thinking about at Halloween. It's just…" He shrugged. "Spooky stuff. You know."
"I don't know."
"Spooky stuff," Tucker repeated, as if it should be obvious what he meant. "Things that go bump in the night." He gestured at the wall. "You've got your skeletons … your ghosts … your bats …." He looked about the room, ticking off the decorations already in evidence. "Gravestones … black cats… spider webs…" With that last one he actually gave a slight shudder.
Spiders did not prey on Humans, so she failed to understand that reaction to them, or to other harmless insects, though this was not the first time she had noticed a deep aversion to tiny arthropods from the Chief Engineer. And why should black cats be any more frightening than any other cats? In her experience on Earth that was a rather common color for felis catus. Also, if cats were indeed considered 'spooky,' why were they so commonly kept as pets? She was trying to decide which of these questions to ask, if any, when Tucker continued.
"Not that it's all spooky," he said. "When it comes to costumes, anything goes. You can be the sugar plum fairy if you want to. Heck, some people might even come as Vulcans. Hope you won't mind."
"I am unlikely to 'mind,' but I fail to see the point."
"It's just fun," Tucker said. "You get to be something different for a night."
Lieutenant Reed, who had been assisting Ensign Sato in the arrangement of a buffet table of food colored in a statistically improbable mix of black, brown and orange now spoke up. "Halloween is actually an old Celtic tradition that got taken up by Americans and then endlessly flogged to the whole planet, Sub-Commander. Somehow it got crossed with fancy dress parties and here we are today, in utter madness."
"So it would appear," T'Pol said. She had already had to remind the crew that the quartermaster was not available to provide party costumes or material for party costumes - "no matter how nicely they ask!" the harried woman had said.
"What will you be wearing tonight, Sub-Commander?" Tucker asked, his smile turning just a bit predatory. No doubt he was hoping to tease her in some way about it.
"My uniform," she said. "I will be on duty."
"Ah, that's no fun," Tucker said, without rancor, and moved off.
"I will be on duty and in uniform as well," Reed said. She turned with him to watch Tucker approach others and ask them what they were doing for costumes.
"How is Mr. Tucker going to dress?" she asked. Was he perhaps one of those who would dress as a Vulcan?
"He hasn't said," Reed said. "But I'm sure he'll come up with something."
"And the captain?" T'Pol asked, with some apprehension. She hoped Archer would not order her to participate in this bizarre costuming ritual. He hadn't done so yet, but it was not beyond the realm of possibility that he would still insist on something for morale's sake. Morale was the excuse given for much that she deplored aboard Enterprise.
Reed folded his arms. "I don't know, actually. This is our first Halloween together. I suppose we'll find out." He frowned just slightly. Perhaps he was also concerned about the breach of decorum if the captain appeared as anything other than the captain.
x x x
T'Pol was somewhat relieved, later, to see that Archer himself had not dressed for Halloween, but his dog had not escaped the costume craze. Porthos was following the captain around in a tiny satin cloak and feathered cap.
Archer did not insist that she costume, but he did insist that she make an appearance at the gathering while he monitored the bridge for her. Tucker, it turned out, was not costumed as a Vulcan. (Nobody was, although there was at least one putative Andorian present.) Instead, Tucker wore a casual, short-sleeved shirt in a startlingly busy pattern, long baggy shorts, and odd floppy sandals, and was busy throwing a large, inflated, multi-colored ball around the mess hall. He directed it at her, so she caught it.
"You're supposed to throw it back," he informed her, so she did. "You don't have to throw it back to me," he said, and quickly tossed it to Ensign Masaro, who was sitting alone at a table. The ensign smiled tightly and tossed it off to another crewman, and the ball continued on its way from there.
"What is the significance of this activity?" she asked him.
"It's a beach ball. It's fun," he said. He lowered his voice and spoke into her ear. "It's also a way of getting people more involved in the party."
It appeared that people were not supposed to know that he was trying to involve them, so she lowered her voice as well. "Perhaps they don't wish to become more involved."
"Nonsense," he said. "They wouldn't be here if they didn't want to be involved."
"I do not wish to be more involved. I am only here because the captain insisted."
"Guess you're the exception to the rule, then," he said cheerfully, and turned away. "Hey, where's my ball?" he yelled. "Don't tell me you let it just fall on the ground, Alex!"
T'Pol reflected that she could have been on her way back to Vulcan by now, forever free of all these bizarre Human behaviors. She watched the strange ball flying through the air, and the Humans giggling as they threw it back and forth with varying degrees of effort and intent.
Was any other space-faring species quite so capable of regressing into infantile behavior at will?
At least it was clear that they badly needed her here.
The second Halloween party on Enterprise was, if anything, more raucous than the first. It was apparent that the crew had planned ahead to costume themselves, for they were dressed in outfits drawn from all the inhabited planets and space stations at which they had managed to take any shore leave, as well as some costumes they had donned to blend in to other cultures that were not warp-capable. Risa was quite well-represented, and one ensign had come as an ersatz Suliban, complete with intricately made up skin that would not have fooled anyone.
T'Pol had once again refused to wear a costume herself. However, when Ensign Sato had asked her if she had anything distinctively Vulcan she could lend out for the party, she had offered the ensign her formal robes. With the help of pointed ear appliances from Phlox, Sato made a rather convincing Vulcan – she also maintained an admirably impassive face, and made various puzzled or disapproving comments that made her fellow crewmen laugh.
"I hope I'm not offending you with any of this," Sato said at one point, as T'Pol stood against the wall drinking chamomile tea and calculating how much time she would have to spend in the mess hall before the captain would be fully satisfied with her efforts to maintain morale.
"You are not," she said. She supposed that another Vulcan might have been offended at Sato's exaggerated pantomime of rigid Vulcan propriety, but in the wake of what had happened at the Interspecies Medical Exchange Conference on Dekendi 3, she was not actually inclined to dispute any of it.
"You know, if you ever want to borrow the kimono I wore last year, you're welcome to it," Hoshi said. "I'm sure it would look great on you."
"I will keep that in mind," T'Pol said politely.
Tucker had dressed in a rather ornate robe and a fez-shaped cap that made him look like an alien dignitary, though T'Pol did not recognize the culture. "And what are you tonight, Commander?" she asked him.
He flushed slightly pink. "A Kriosan nobleman. Princess Kaitaama sent this to me, along with an invitation to attend her wedding."
T'Pol drew herself up in surprise. "And will you?"
"No. Getting all the way to Krios Prime just isn't feasible," he said. "She said she knew it was unlikely. Still, it was kind of nice getting an invite to a royal wedding. I'm pretty sure that's never happened to a Tucker before." He smiled, bouncing just slightly on his toes.
"I would have assumed that an invitation to the wedding of any former sexual liaison would be quite unusual," T'Pol said stiffly. She considered it quite appalling that Commander Tucker had indulged in relations with an alien female he barely knew. Had he learned nothing from his mistakes in the past?
"Well, yes, this was definitely a first," Tucker said. "I'm pretty sure it will be the last, too."
When October 31 came around, T'Pol was still recovering in her quarters after her exposure to Trellium-D on the Seleya. Phlox and Archer and Tucker all stopped by at various times, dropping off her meals and asking her how she felt, but none appeared in costume, nor did any of them mention any festivities.
This was just as well. The nightmares she was suffering whenever she tried to sleep were already bizarre enough.
"Would you like some neuro-pressure?" Tucker had asked her, the night before.
She had demurred, for she still felt herself far short of the control she needed. That night, she dreamed that she had accepted his offer, and his massage had triggered terrible, irresponsible cravings in her … which she had indulged without any regard to propriety.
Not that the Tucker in her dream had seemed to mind.
Actually, she wasn't entirely certain that dream was a nightmare, but she assumed it was. She had actually enjoyed it a great deal, at least until the Tucker in her dream had smiled at her and said, "That was fun, T'Pol. Would you like to know how many alien women that makes for me now?"
When the day came to celebrate their fourth Halloween on Enterprise, T'Pol caught herself wondering how the chief engineer would dress that year. He could wear the formal robes her mother had left him, she supposed, but she doubted he would. Indeed, she would not be surprised to learn that he had destroyed them. He was avoiding her more than ever, which was perhaps understandable given what she had recently told him about her need to concentrate on learning what it meant to be Vulcan.
But wondering about his Halloween costume was of course extremely illogical and counter-productive and would not help her learn what it meant to be Vulcan.
That night the captain was quiet at dinner. Eventually, he said, "Halloween is just silliness, of course, but it used to be linked to tomorrow's religious holiday, All Saints Day. That's a day for people to remember their dead."
"Indeed," T'Pol said, and thought of her mother's primitive grave in The Forge.
Archer said, "I can't stop thinking about Quinn. Once, when I told my father I really preferred flying to engineering, he warned me how dangerous it was to be a test-pilot. He said, 'But you go ahead and do what you have to do. Who knows, maybe someday you can test my engine'."
"If he could see you in command of Enterprise now, no doubt he would be pleased," she said.
"Yes," Archer said, a touch grimly. "But maybe he would just be relieved I didn't die before he did. When I think about Emory and Danica, it's as if they've both been trapped in time… almost as much as Quinn himself was. For all intents and purposes, they've truly been haunted. I hope that now they can finally let him go."
T'Pol stared down at her soup. Would she always feel haunted by her bond? Would she ever be able to let Trip go?
"Are you going to stop by the festivities tonight?" Archer asked.
"I would prefer not to," T'Pol said.
Archer nodded, and for once he didn't insist. "All right."
Any time she could spare from duty would be spent in meditation, she decided. The more meditation, the better.
"What are you going as for the Halloween festivities tonight?" T'Pol asked her bond mate over breakfast in the mess hall.
He looked up from the padd he was examining, startled. "What, is that tonight?"
"Yes," she said.
He shrugged. "I don't know. Maybe I'll go as the chief engineer of a starship."
She examined him with concern. "Are you feeling all right?"
He smiled. "I'm fine. Just busy trying to help Mal incorporate all the new weapons upgrades." He looked back down at his padd. "These new phase canons were obviously designed for EPS relays that can handle a lot more juice than ours can."
"Can you replace the relays in the affected systems?"
"Not if we want to get them installed as fast as the captain wants them." He sighed. "We'll jury-rig our way through it. It's just not the way I'd prefer to get the job done."
He looked back down at his padd, tapping some notes in, then back up at her. "You haven't shown up at that party in years. You actually want to go tonight?"
"I believe I should at least make an appearance."
He chuckled and said, "You had me a little nervous for a minute there," and returned his attention to his padd. T'Pol stared at his bent head. Her mate did not seem unhappy.
So why did he not wish to have 'fun' as he had in the past?
x x x
At the party, T'Pol stood against the wall and watched Trip work the room. He ate and drank and greeted everyone and chatted with everyone. He looked over at her often, especially every time he spoke to another female, and she looked back, her face impassive, but inwardly pleased. Her jealous tendencies had calmed over recent months, reassured by the steadiness of his regard and the regular efforts he took to calm her fears.
But she couldn't help a continued feeling of concern. Why was he wearing no costume? What did it signify that he was no longer choosing to indulge in what he considered fun?
Newly-promoted, Lieutenant Sato was attending with her hair up in two of what the Humans (strangely) called "pony tails," a short plaid skirt, and a simple white shirt, along with white knee socks and black pumps. T'Pol asked her, "What does your costume signify, Lieutenant?"
"I'm supposed to be a school girl."
"Ah," T'Pol said, still mystified.
"Don't ask me why," Sato said, a little sourly. "I think maybe I'm suddenly feeling my age. I noticed a few grey hairs this year." She lowered her voice and leaned in. "Maybe it's just me, Commander, but I get the feeling some of the guys here find this school girl thing a little too fascinating."
Indeed, Reed had been eyeing Sato rather speculatively. He had finally shown up in a costume himself this year, as a Tellarite.
"Maybe they're feeling their age, too?" Sato said, but she sounded uncertain and rather nonplussed.
T'Pol said, "In my research, I have read that some Humans enjoy role playing during intimate encounters."
Sato's brows went up in surprise, then back down in something that looked like consternation. "I've always figured those must be people who've had the opportunity to get bored with plain old regular intimate encounters." She surveyed the room rather dourly.
T'Pol's eyes went to her mate, affably talking to an engineering crewman who had come to the party as a giant hypospanner. Trip's smile struck her as more patient than it was animated. "Lieutenant, you once mentioned that I could borrow a costume from you if I wished."
"You want to borrow my kimono?" Sato said, sounding a bit puzzled, as well she might. It would be quite late to dress for the party.
T'Pol said, "Perhaps we could we discuss the matter in a more private location?"
x x x
Later that night, T'Pol lit candles in her quarters and waited for her mate to appear. They usually found some time together each evening, but with the current fevered pace of upgrades, their visits had been briefer than she would have preferred.
He buzzed and let himself in, saying, "Why'd you leave the party so early?" Then he stopped and his mouth fell open.
She had borrowed the Lieutenant's kimono, as well as a set of impractically skimpy lace underwear. Hoshi had recommended that she not bother with the proper tying of the kimono, which was quite complicated, so T'Pol had instead treated it as a robe.
An open robe.
Her mate just stood there, eyes darkening with desire.
"Happy Halloween," she said.